By Jim Downey
I’m 62 now. I bought my first guitar (a Goya nylon string) as a knee jerk reaction to seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. And I mean seeing them! I was in the audience for that history making show. Remember when you first started playing? The pain, the seemingly impossible barred F chord and the millions of dissonant choices that eventually fell away as we fell in love with the guitar. Today, I can say that I appreciate the guitar just as much as when the romance was new. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to own some pretty great instruments. Examples by Dana Bourgeois, Richard Hoover (Santa Cruz) and Bill Collings were each stars in their own little universes. Oddly, I found myself dismissing Martin as a true contender. Sure, a pre-war D28 will certainly humiliate any banjo in its path and once you get up into the more deluxe models, a new Martin will still hold its own against most contenders. I guess, ashamedly, I’d become a guitar snob.
Continue reading “Lifelong Guitar Guy Encounters Milestone.” »
The moment is all too precious: the case has been laid at your feet; with trembling anticipation you reach down and unclasp the latches, carefully grasp the case top and lift to reveal the concealed treasure—a brand-spanking-new Taylor 454ce 12-string guitar! Someone hands you a flatpick; you lift this beguiling beauty from her resting place and make a quick mental notation: the ovangkol back and sides are wonderfully figured and the color a pleasant surprise (more “woodsy” brown, almost like walnut)—not what you expected. Suddenly, the guitar is resting on your knee and your hand instinctively finds the comfortable neck; your fingers naturally form a first-position, G major chord. The flatpick is ready, you make the requisite downstroke motion with your wrist and your reward is instant and oh-so gratifying: the sound is rich and full! The bass is strong yet not overpowering; there is that wonderful shimmering and glistening “chime” only a good 12-string guitar can deliver. For the next hour you are transported to another world, another dimension, as your new companion yields her secrets and caresses your ears with her charms.
Attempting to describe what it’s like to play a fine acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, harp, viola, flute, horn, etc., often elicits language evocative of love or romance. Why?
Continue reading “For the Love of Acoustic Instruments” »