Sunday, February 20, 2005

Acoustic Guitar

L to R: 1998 Gibson J-45, Mid'90's Gibson J-200,
'04 Taylor 510, '70's Epiphone El Dorado (MIJ).

I've been tracking acoustic guitars on my fiancee's record this past week and realized how much I love the sound of a good acoustic guitar. I never really owned a professional acoustic before I bought the J-45. It was the loudest guitar on the wall of Dave's Guitar Shop in LaCrosse, WI....I hit an open G chord and all of the other guitars on the wall started to ring in sympathy. It has the typical Gibson mid-range toughness that is so familiar from Beatle albums in their Perfect Pop period. They used J-180s - sometimes plugged in - on much of their mid-1960's work.

The J-200 is deep, fat and wide and great for solo/duo gigs where there is only one or two instruments. It takes up a lot of tonal range, and is both warm and sparkly at the same time. Awesome.

The Taylor belongs to my intended since the Dave's Guitar Shop savvy Santa dropped it off last December. It has a very balanced tone and sounds amazing. It will only improve with age. The Epiphone is a pawn shop special I bought for $150. Nice guitar for beating around on - I would not mourn it's demise or ransom it for more than the gas money necessary to meet at the drop off - but it sounds perfectly fine if none of it's brethren are in the room.

I started out playing my older brother's Teisco Del Ray into a Danelectro amplifier. I eventually got a cheap Aspen 12-string guitar, which was perfect for "Hotel California" and not much else. I later inheirited an Ensenada acoustic from that same brother and used that through college. I picked up an Aspen Luthier (no relation - reportedly made by Landola in Finland) at a music store in Madison and used that until it was stolen. I got it back, and now it is my "high strung/Nashville Tuning" guitar.

Lately I have taken to practicing with the acoustic instead of an unplugged electric. The subtleties of drawing a tone out of a guitar instead of just bashing away is something I have become more and more aware of. I had the good fortune to see and hear Vince Gill up close for several weeks this past winter, and he is expert at getting a good, strong, clean tone from an acoustic. He demonstrated the difference between using the pointed end of a standard flatpick and the rounded end. The rounded end is fatter and more centered. He thought it was because of the increased mass on the string - I suppose someone has studied this. but the audio demo was enough to convince me. That left me with learning to use a new pick - from the grip-grooved nylon I used to favor- to a standard Fender Heavy turned around backwards with the point towards my palm. It's slow going, but the tonal improvement is undeniable. I still like a thin nylon for strumming, and in fact have broadened my selection of picks to better suit the situation instead of making do with the plastic at hand.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That wall sure looks familiar......oh, and the guitars are nice too. WHERE ARE MY LINKS?

Love Andy

20/2/05 23:11  

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