Friday, April 21, 2017

Taylor's 910 Guitar, Taylor's Top Of The Line Flat Top

The top of the line dreadnought by Taylor guitars, the Taylor 910

Beautifully ornate and designed to the highest standards of tonality and playability, the Taylor 910 is the flagship instrument of Taylor guitars. The combination of solid rosewood bodies with a solid spruce sound board in a dreadnought size has proved a very enduring configuration for six string and twelve string guitars all over the world. When you purchase your Taylor 910 you're not just getting the classic dreadnought design and much loved sold rosewood and spruce combination, you're getting a very elegant and ornate guitar with the best hardware and cuts of woods available to one of America's largest and most prestigious guitar manufacturers.
This Taylor 910 guitar isn't something one would purchase save their wanting and needing the very finest sort of acoustic steel string guitar available. The Taylor 910 is just that sort of instrument, and should it be cared for it will outlast a man or woman's life, and then become a cherished heirloom and amazing musical instrument for someone else, and then again many times over. It's impossible to get a "better" solid rosewood and spruce guitar than the 910, one could only have different tastes and preferences.

Dreadnought design with rosewood body and spruce top - the Taylor 910

The body of the 910 is of solid East Indian rosewood, and of course this has been the primary rosewood used for rosewood body guitars since the 1970's. The 910 is available with a Brazilian rosewood body, but of course you can expect to pay a lot more for that instrument, as Brazilian rosewood is now very rare and hard to come by. Rosewood body guitars always have darker tonal characteristics than do mahogany body guitars. Rosewood provides a lot of overtones when playing, and a guitar such as these 910's should only be purchased if one first knows for certain they prefer the sound of a rosewood instrument to that of a mahogany body instrument.
The top of these fine guitars are of sitka spruce, but only the very best cuts of sitka spruce are used on the flagship dreadnought by Taylor. So while one should always be aware of the tone wood used for the sound board of an instrument, they should also know that no two sound boards are equal for merely being from the same species of tree. These instruments can be purchased with Adirondack spruce tops as well, but the most of them will always come with sitka sound boards, and one should absolutely know that instruments featuring an Adirondack or red spruce top are going to cost more for having that tonewood.
These lovely Taylor 910 guitars all come with a solid tropical mahogany neck, and a gloss finish. Taylor engineered its own gloss finish. It's said the new Taylor gloss finish is more environmentally friendly than was the previous lacquer finishes used, and also provides superior protection to the instrument.
The Taylor 910 is, of course, available in a left handed model, but you're unlikely to find a left handed one on every showroom floor you go guitar shopping at. You can always contact Taylor directly in order to get a left handed model, or order one through a dealer of fine musical instruments. Most Taylor 910's I've personally seen were acoustic/electric models with the Taylor Expression System on the guitar. It is also very common to see Taylor brand instruments with a Venetian cutaway AND the fine electronics inherent to the Taylor Expression system.

Taylor 910 With Venetian Cutaway

Specifications for the Taylor 910 guitar

  • Dreadnought body size and shape - the dreadnought is the world's most preferred shape and size for an acoustic steel string guitar, and this is one of the world's single best models of such an instrument
  • Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, and in the 910 model, the superior cuts of the wood available to Taylor guitars. This guitar is available with Brazilian rosewood at a higher price
  • Solid Sitka spruce top, and the best cuts or AAA grade cuts are used as sound boards on the Taylor 910 guitar. For an additional cost these instruments can be purchased with Adirondack spruce sound boards. Sometimes Adirondack spruce is instead called "red spruce."
  • Solid tropical mahogany neck with black ebony fret board or finger board.
  • Taylor's CV bracing with relief route.
  • Rosewood binding with red purfling.
  • "Cindy" style fret board positioning markers done with abalone inlay
  • Ebony bridge pins with abalone inlay dots
  • Nut and saddle of bone for optimized clarity, sustain, and volume
  • Gotoh tuners or tuning machines
  • Gloss finish with satin finish on the neck

The Martin D-45 Madagascar Rosewood Guitar

A Beautiful Martin D-45 Madagascar Rosewood Guitar

Since the very beginning of production of the famous Martin dreadnought guitars, the D-45 has been their flagship instrument. When one sees the "45" after any letter used to describe a guitar produced by C.F. Martin & Company, one knows the guitar is going to be rosewood body, spruce top, all solid woods, and dressed up as if it were going to a wedding. In the beginning all Martin rosewood body guitars were of Brazilian rosewood, but after a time and the un-sustainability of the deforestation in Brazil, that peculiar and special wood was replaced by a different species of rosewood, and to this day East Indian rosewood is the most common rosewood used for such instruments. While East Indian rosewood is a very fine wood, it is now to the point to where there are untold thousands of fine instruments with bodies made from it; and persons who seek to stand out from the crowd with their guitars have demanded more options.
Everyone loves options. Having more options is generally a superior situation than having fewer options. With the Martin D-45, there are many options available to the consumers of such fine instruments, and the Madagascar variety of rosewood in the body of a D-45 is now one of them.
Insofar as solid spruce tops go, the most D-45 Madagascar instruments will ave the Adirondack spruce top. Sometimes Adirondack is referred to as "red spruce." There are some rarer D-45 Madagascar instruments that have Italian alpine spruce tops. These D-45's with the Italian alpine spruce tops and the Madagascar backs and sides are available as a special order, and are commonly called the 1968 D-45 replica. A Martin D-45 Madagascar is only available with Italian alpine spruce tops or with Adirondack spruce tops. If one wanted a very similar guitar with a sitka spruce top, then they could purchase a D-42 Madagascar which does have a sitka spruce sound board as a standard with an option for an Adirondack top.

Martin D-45 Madagascar guitar's backside

You can see in the photo above the fabulous binding and inlay around the back of the D-45, and the particular image above is of a Madagascar rosewood instrument. It is a lighter color wood than its East Indian cousin is in general terms, and there is a hint of orange or yellow in the grain. Like Brazilian rosewood, however, the Madagascar variety has a wide range of possibilities in how it will look whereas East Indian most always looks very similar from one instrument to the next.
There is a lot of talk on the web and around jam sessions about the difference between the sound produced by Madagascar's rosewood and the East Indian variety. I'm very certain there is no person who could, when blindfolded, consistently hear any difference whatsoever between the two woods. Once you've got an steel string guitar of all solid wood and a rosewood body, the defining things regarding how it sounds are going to be the internal bracing, the wood used for the sound board, and how old the instrument is, and how often it has been played. With Brazilian rosewood there may actually be some noticeable differences to the tone from either of the other two rosewoods; but one must take a great leap upwards in spending to own the Martin D-45GE with Brazilian back and sides.
Of course all new D-45 guitars feature Martin's famous pre war style forward shifted high X bracing. The necks of these guitars are solid mahogany with ebony fret boards. The width of the guitar at the neck has the option of being either one and eleven sixteenth inches at the nut, or you can order this guitar with a neck width at the nut of one and three quarters. You can even order this instrument constructed with Hyde glue.

Martin D-45 Madagascar Gutiar Specifications

  • Martin's original and timeless dreadnought body design 14 frets clear of the body
  • Solid Madagascar rosewood back and sides
  • Premium Adirondack spruce top or sound board
  • Ivoroid binding
  • "45" style abalone inlay featuring 900 separate pieces
  • "45" style abalone Martin logo on headstock
  • Solid mahogany low profile neck with "45" style large hexagon abalone inlay fret board positioning markers and ebony fret bard
  • Forward shifted X bracing
  • Ebony bridge
  • Available in standard or hide glue construction
  • Gold plated Waverly tuning machines
  • Deluxe Martin hard shell case
  • Limited lifetime warranty to original owner
900-piece abalone bindings and inlays, Abalone logo on headstock, Bound ebony fretboard,Rosewood sides and 2-piece back includes deluxe Martin hardshell case. This is the top of the line dreadnought guitar from the most prestigious guitar builders in the world today.

The Very Rare Martin D-19 Guitar

A Martin D-19

I've Only Ever Seen One D-19

I've only ever seen one Martin D-19 in my life, and I didn't even get to pick it any. I didn't get to even touch it. I asked about it, and saw it on a Gaston road pawn shop in Dallas, Texas, sometime in the late 1990's. It's a very rare guitar, the D-19. Traditionally, Martin solid wood dreadnoughts or smaller or differing sized instruments start with the number 18, which means the guitar is a mahogany body instrument with a solid spruce top. Following 18 series guitars one then jumps to 28, 35, 41, 42, and then ends at 45 series; but that is only traditionally, and Martin has added new series of guitars along the way, discontinued them, and since added 15 and 16 series guitars, and hopefully those will be here to stay.
Yes, thank you, I know about the 17 series, I own one. I also know about the 21 series, but I've never seen one of those. I have seen just the one Martin D-19, and boy do I ever wish I'd bought that guitar! When we look at the D-19, it is important to realize what we are seeing is something unlike other Martin flat tops, as what our eyes see is something very similar to instruments like the Martin D-17, or the D-15, but this is not due to the tonewood used for the top, it is due to the stain finish.

The Martin D-17 - Very Similar in Appearance, But A Very Different Guitar

C.F. Martin & Company introduced the Dreadnought D-19 flat top guitar to the world in the year 1976, and apparently the year was during a time when Americans had some fascination with the color brown. I've read Fender, Gibson, and Guild guitars were all also following the craze, and putting out new guitars with more brown, and less of creamy spruce color on top. I'm thinking the year was good for high quality finish/stain sales too. Martin produced the D-19 all the way through 1989, but in some years there's data to show they only produced in the range of 50 of these instruments in a year's time.
When it all is said and done, the D-19 is really a Martin D-18 with some dark stain on the spruce top with a D-28 style rosette, and some nice white purfling around the back. These instruments can be found online for around $3000 in good shape, or less should they be a bit scuffed, and maybe need some minor but expert repairs done.
While these guitars are very nice looking, and very collectible, Martin guitars from the 1970's have at times been considered inferior instruments to other decades, and especially when compared to a Martin made from the mid-80's to now, or before the 1970's. It is certainly important to know that these Mid-1970's Martin dreadnoughts DO NOT HAVE the forward shifted and scalloped bracing of the newer Martin guitars, or the Martin's from what is often referred to as the "golden era," and so they simply will not have the volume, clarity, and sustain of such instruments.If what someone is after is both a Martin dreadnought and a dark appearance to set themselves off with looks, then the interested party would do much better, in my opinion, buying a D-15M, or a D-17 if they happened to find one, depending on how much they were willing to spend.
It should absolutely be noted and also be rather apparent, these guitars will sound a lot differently. Nothing, in my opinion, sounds quite like a D-18, and the all mahogany D-15M or D-17 wouldn't sound nearly the same, but one may PREFER the all mahogany sound. The D-19, of course, will by and large sound identical to the D-18.
One thing that comes to mind here, and should be thought of for the very serious man or woman interested in such guitars is there's no possible way the dark stain could NOT affect the tonal characteristics of this guitar in some way. Most guitar tone comes from the topwood, or the tonewood used for the soundboard. Staining a soundboard will absolutely affect the sound; but it could be such a small thing the blindfold testing of D-19 to D-18 would conclude for one the differences are essentially not observable. Some folks have better ears than others though, no doubt about it.
Another thing which comes to mind here is that there are lots of us out there who're a bit "handy" at doing things, like to do things ourselves, and often simply can do outstanding work, even if we've never done that kind of work before. The D-19, however, was created by some of the best in the world, and the idea that one might have of refinishing their fine spruce top guitar to make it look like a D-19 is just a really bad idea. I'm not saying it can not be done, I'm saying only a truly and stupendously foolish person would attempt to refinish a fine guitar without having first experimented many times on such a project with much cheaper instruments - but I'm a pretty opinionated person, and that is my opinion. Thanks for reading.

Del McCoury And His Martin D-19

Robert Johnson And The New Gibson 1928 L-1 Blues Tribute Guitar

The great Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson is as iconic as the day is long. You should never believe such things, but he's the US version of the guy who sold his soul to Satan in order to get mastery of a musical instrument. The legends of people trading souls to the dark one for gifts is ancient as the hills. There's no reason Johnson would attempt such a thing, or that such a thing is even remotely plausible to begin with. He'd had Son House as a teacher of guitar. Son House was not the sort to cotton to the devil, but what do I know? I know people like their legends.
There is a statue which states he had done the deal with the dark lord. Something written in stone isn't all it is cranked up to be. We Americans seemed to need such a tale, however; and Johnson's prowess on the acoustic steel string guitar inspired many another guitar playing legend. He only ever recorded twenty nine songs. One of them, of course, was about trading the metaphysical to old scratch for legendary skills.
Robert Johnson died at the age of twenty seven years a long time before that, too would be cool. He lived the same length of time as did Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix may have been Johnson reincarnated. Hendrix, however, got a lot more done. Johnson mostly bustled for bucks, and played in juke joints when he could. He died having experienced none of the fame his music brought. His fame was all posthumous.
In 1961 his 29 songs were re-released on an album titled, 'King of the Delta blues Singers.' There are many distinct styles of blues music, Johnson's was the Delta Blues. Rural black blues musicians often believed mastery of the blues would give them mastery of their woman of choice. Well, that isn't so surprising. Using music to woo an object of physical desire is also, as old as the hills.
Robert Johnson was well thought of by his peers. People interviewed about him often said he was a nice, but kinda strange guy. The deals with the devil tales seemed to have stemmed from Johnson having been well known to be a good harmonica player, but a terrible guitar player. He was thought to have been fairly embarrassing on the guitar up until a point where he disappeared for a while. The next time people saw him he suddenly had the guitar mastered.
The people who did know about Robert Johnson when he was alive, and after he'd mastered the guitar, those people say they respected him the most for his ability to seemingly be able to play something after hearing it for the first time. In other words, he was one with that rare gift of ears which can just hear and know where on a fingerboard to find the notes to play a thing. He was said to perform in any style you could think of. So Johnson was better than what the mere 29 recorded songs can show us. From what we do have, his guitar playing was frantic, his singing tortured with anxiety.

There are very few photos of Robert Johnson, here he is again with his Gibson and a cigarette

Take a look at Robert Johnson's hands. His fingers look like they're longer than the average person's are. Those are hands which were born to play a guitar.
You listen to his music, and you notice he plays a percussive lead rhythm sort of style. What I mean is, he's not hitting single notes very often. He's not strumming full chords all that often either. Almost everything he plays is two or more strings at once, but seldom does he strum a five or six string chord. It makes for a very full sounding accompaniment to his singing.
Johnson would often sing a line, then use his guitar to mimic a second singer in a call and response sort of style. B.B. King would learn this technique, and use it his entire career and life. Johnson very often used a slide, but he was such a busy player, moving around all over the fingerboard, he could trick a listener into thinking they were hearing more than one guitarist.
His singing style was just as advanced, nuanced, and influential as his guitar playing. People can try to copy either of his techniques, and never come close. Some people just have that unique gift, and Johnson had two of them.
He died in Mississippi of unknown causes. Some say he was poisoned, others say he died of syphilis. The year was 1938. Was Robert Johnson the father of rock and roll music? His style certainly would have been called that were he to only have lived a couple decades later. As it is he helped spawn countless influential bluesmen and rock and roll guitarists. There are many scholarly books on the subject of the man. His guitar of choice? It was a Gibson L-1.

Gibson 1928 L-1 Blues Tribute guitar

While Robert Johnson had spectacular talent, there can be no doubt his guitar played a big part in helping deliver that sound which inspired so many, and continues to do so today. The guitar was a Gibson L-1, and Gibson has recreated the L-1 of so many years ago so that you too can own a guitar like the King of the Delta Blues used to play. But this is really a recreation plus some new things, like electronics so as to plug into an amplifier.
In 1928 when Gibson used spruce for a guitar's soundboard, they used Adirondack spruce. Adirondack spruce is a premium wood today. You have to pay more for a guitar with an Adirondack soundboard. Usually upgrading from Sitka spruce to Adirondack spruce is a cost increase of around a thousand dollars. Gibson is thermally curing the wood before it is used, so as to mimic old wood. It is a general truth that older wood produces more sound, and Adirondack is often thought to produce more volume than other species of spruce.
The Gibson 1928 L-1 Blues Tribute is one of the finest new, small body acoustic electric guitars available today. Gibson uses German Plek technology to ensure their fretboards and frets are as accurately and perfectly done as is possible. The braces are scalloped, and all guitars this fine are going to be fragile works of art used to create further works of art.
Nitrocellulose lacquer is used for the finish. This is something expensive and labor intensive to apply, but it ensures the wood vibrates to its maximum capacity for sound production, and that the guitar shines impressively when polished. This guitar's width at the nut is wider than most, so it is important to know your hands are large enough to wrap around the neck. There are just twelve frets clear of the body here, and such guitars are known to project in a different sort of tonal manner than the now standard 14 frets clear of the body guitars do. The electronics are by L.R. Baggs, and these include a pickup and pre-amp. I'm surprised these aren't selling for more, but how long Gibson will produce them is anyone's guess.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Glenn Frey And His Takamine Signature Series Dreadnought Guitar

The late and great Glenn Frey with his Takamine guitar

We lost a lot of musical celebrities in 2016. Glenn Frey was maybe the one who meant the very most to me.

2016 will long be remembered as a year when a lot of celebrity artists died. 2017 will likely be just the same way, as the baby boomer generation is experiencing the effects of father time. Maybe 2016 will be remembered as the year when the baby boomers started dying in large numbers.
The thing about the musicians who passed away in 2016 was the deaths were pretty unexpected. David Bowie apparently knew he was dying, but he never let anyone outside his inner circle know about it. The death of Prince was a shocker because he was quite young, and because of strict adherence to his religion, nobody considered he'd be a guy battling an opiate addiction.
I'll make no bones about it, Prince was a stupendous guitarist, he was as good as you can get. At least there aren't many people more talented at it than he was. David Bowie's classic rock was something I always enjoyed too, but the death which bothered me the most was the death of Glenn Frey.
I've always thought of myself as a bit of a redneck. I prefer to be out in the country where I could go outside and shoot a squirrel or whatnot, with a shotgun, and nobody would think anything of it. As a country sort of guy, the music of The Eagles, something which is really country rock, was like a constant companion. Glenn having passed away isn't going to change any of this, The Eagles and their awesome twang rock is here to stay. It's the kind of music a body can sing along to, even when you are like me, and can't really sing. Glenn wasn't the only vocalist in The Eagles, of course; but those guys were putting out singing in their songs which wasn't so technically challenging you didn't bother to try.

Glenn and fellow Eagle Don Henley with their acoustic guitars

The Eagles were a band where roles were loosely defined. They were like The Beatles in that way, you never know who's going to be the singer for the next song, because everyone in the band can sing quite well enough. So too with the guitar. You know Joe Walsh was the primary guitarist, but even Don Henley, the drummer, would play a guitar when the time was right.
As a Texan myself, I can tell you Don Henley, who is from here, is almost as Iconic in these parts as the great Willie Nelson. Texans love our fellow Texans. Me, I'm a heretic, and lucky to have not been burned at the stake, I always liked Glenn Frey songs better than Don Henley songs. I just loved Glenn's voice and his vibe, he could give me a peaceful, easy feeling, if you follow me.
While we're on the subject of diversity in entertainment roles, let us not forget Glenn Frey had been an actor too. After years of Frey and Henley doing a Lennon and McCartney sort of partnership, the good times ended for a while. The great Bakersfield sound of The Eagles landed, or went to roost. Glenn had a successful solo career too.
Glenn got older, and died way too young, at just 67 years. He was worth ninety million dollars. His music was the soundtrack to countless lives, including mine, and maybe yours too.

Glenn Frey could own any guitar he wished. He still chose Takamine.

When you're a guy like Glenn Frey you play whatever guitar you want. Glenn could have been playing the most expensive guitars Martin, Gibson, or Taylor could produce. But he did not, he played Takamine guitars. That really tells you something, or at least it should. Takamine is a damn fine manufacturer of acoustic guitars.
For long years people in the know have known about the great quality offered by Japan's Takamine. They are named after a mountain in Japan. They provide Martin level quality for less dollars than that upscale stalwart of US guitar manufacturing. The craftsmen and women of Japan will never shame themselves, they don't build a thing unless they're going to build it right. Takamine makes some less expensive models, student level or amateur level instruments, this is not one of those.
This guitar is a rosewood and spruce dreadnought with electronics. One could say, and be very correct, that it is a guitar much in the vein of the Martin HD-28, but with electronics added, as Martin isn't so much into putting pickups and such into their world renowned classic models.

The Takamine Glenn Frey signature guitar

Specifically, this guitar is known as the EF360GF. The 'GF' are the initials of the guy who it is made for. These aren't cheap, but they aren't expensive either. They regularly sell for around sixteen hundred dollars, and will hold their water with any rosewood and spruce Martin or Taylor dreadnought. You can hold me to what I'm saying when I'm talking about fine guitars, friends, I'm a full throttle addict of such information and things.
Rosewood body acoustic/electric dreadnought guitars are always going to be something used by the singer songwriter, and the reason is they offer so much in the way of accompaniment. Rosewood provides a dark, overtone laden tonality, and the spruce provides volume and clarity. The guitar would be equally terrific for rhythm and lead duties. Rosewood and spruce dreadnoughts are the stuff of Appalachian bluegrass music royalty. A guitar never cares what music one chooses to make with it though, it just wants to be played.
On-board here is the CT4B pre-amp, and this includes a three band graphic equalizer. Takamine's electronics for acoustic guitars are superb in every way. They are truly surpassing some of the long standing big names in that particular game. Because Takamine's electronics are so very good and useful, they're more competing with Taylor guitars than anyone else these days. That invisible hand of the market, you know, serves to give us what we both want and need. Also included is an extremely useful and accurate chromatic tuner.
This guitar, as most other Takamine steel string offerings, features the X bracing made famous and nearly universal by C.F. Martin & Company. What the bracing translates to for you, is the guitar will be pleasingly loud when played acoustically, not plugged into anything. The nut is of genuine bone. I can't say enough how great it is when a guitar manufacturer uses bone instead of some sort of plastic. Bone nuts absolutely make a steel string acoustic guitar both louder, and the notes clearer. The bone nut will also, naturally, increase the sustain of the notes played. This guitar comes with a hard shell case. Glenn Frey is gone, but never forgotten. Who knows how long Takamine will produce this instrument? I sure wish I owned one, and if you are into steel string guitar, then you definitely wish you had one too.

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