Friday, May 18, 2012

What I know about acoustic guitars has been tossed on it's ear . . .

I don't know 'nuthin . . .

Let me explain.

Today, I sang with Jim Newton and Paul Hill of Hugworks.  We all use Guild Jumbo's (theirs have maple, and mine are rosewood.)   Great guitars.  I love mine a lot.  My Guild F50R was the perfect guitar for my week at Philmont Scout Ranch this past September.  I played outside for all the stuff I did there.

I took my new Taylor Custom GS to play when singing with Jim and Paul today.  Was basically told to not bring my Guild back, but bring the Taylor back when I sing with them next.

Again, let me explain.

I am somewhat old school about acoustic guitars.  At least I have some old school assumptions.

1)  A "good" acoustic guitar has to have a spruce top and rosewood back and sides.

2)  A "good" acoustic guitar has to be a Martin, Guild or Gibson.

3)  A "good" guitar has to have phosphor-bronze strings.

4)  A "good" guitar has to be made in America.

5)  A "good" guitar has to be "hand crafted" ... at least most of the parts.

Stupid assumptions.  Wish I could remember how I came to these assumptions.  Probably from believing what others told me, that I believed without careful examination of the facts.

Could be because I have been helping at my friend's guitar store for the past 6 years, and have heard customers saying "spruce, rosewood, Martin, Guild, Gibson, phosphor-bronze, American, hand crafted."

For the past 4 years, I have been putting up Taylor's on display at Sean's store.  Initially . . . pretty much a machine made guitar . . . not in the same class as the others.   New company, upstart California owner, no track record compared to Martin, Guild and Gibson.

I've had a Taylor NS-74 for the past 3 years.  Love it!  But I just could not pull the trigger on getting a steel string.  Gave a GS-8 a hard look.  Gave a DN-5 a hard look.  But just couldn't do it.

Then, I play a Custom GS with the sinker-redwood and maple sides, and my guitar world turns upside down.  A few weeks later, Sean has it in my hands as a birthday present/pay for work I have done for helping paint and setting up his new showroom.

Last night, I play it at our 3rd Thursday guitar jam at the church.  Russ Logan, my musical "PaPa" bring in a brand spanking new Martin HD-28SV . . . a round shouldered, slotted-head, 12 fret to the body Don McLean guitar.  Frickin' awesome.  The consumate Martin folk guitar.

I play it for one-song . . . and then reach for my Taylor.  I wanted the Taylor back in my hands.  It was the best sounding guitar of all that were there (3 Taylors, 1 Martin and a freakishly great sounding Tak.)  How do I know?  Because everyone there told me it was great.

Today, singing with Jim and Paul . . . Paul tells me to bring it back . . . and he smiles like he found his first love when he plays it.

So, my sinker redwood top, mahogany back and sides Taylor, with bronze strings, made in America, most of the parts made by machines, bolt-on neck guitar . . . has just completely won me over.

It sounds totally different from the rich bassy sound I thought I wanted.  It is full sounding, brite, has a great balance of bass-mids-and highs.  The neck . . . well damn, it's just awesome.

I don't know anything about guitars . . . well at least I am going to profess from now on that I don't know anything about guitars.

But, I am learning . . . at least the following lessons.

1)  You can't depend on others to tell you what you want.  You have to play it, hold it, have a vision with it, let it talk to you.

2)  You've got to let go of every assumption you have about guitars.  There are a bunch of great guitars being built these days, and a high end Taylor . . . they are all great guitars.  You can play a hand made Gibson one day and it will be awesome.  Play the same model guitar made on another day, and it could be a dud.   Taylor's are much more consistent.

3)  You can't get a guitar based on what you think other people will say.   Screw them.  It's your guitar.

4)  If you want a good guitar . . . it's going to cost you some real money.  Save up.  Wait for the guitar.  You will find it one day.  There are a lot of wonderful used instruments out there.  Nothing wrong with a used instrument . . . if it speaks to you.

So much also depends on the style of music you like to play, and if you finger-pick or strum.  I am a strummer . . . so I went with larger bodied guitars (the GS is the next to largest body Taylor makes).  Strings (bronze or phosphor-bronze) are up to you . . . you just have to rotate a set of both on the guitar. You will know which one you like.

Am I going to part now with my Guild's?   No, I plan to use them a lot.

Am I going to part with my Martin?  No sir!!!   It's home, 5 feet from where I type this . . . retired to a life of luxury and playing songs here at home.   Now, if I ever do an all rock-n-roll concert . . . it's coming out of the case!!

But, through the summer, I will be mostly playing the Taylor.  I want to get to know it very, very well. I want to put it through the ringer a bit.

Truth is . . . it's the best sounding, playing 6-string guitar I have every owned or played.  And it's a custom one-of-a-kind guitar.  It's meant to blow you away.

Consider me blown away.

Sing loud and strum on!!!!

God's grace, and what little I know about guitars, still amazes me . . . ><>

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New song by Paul G. Hill