“Base hit!” The new Martin Dreadnought Junior. Just received one and this will be a sure winner for Martin. It is a 7/8-size guitar with the same shape as the iconic Martin dread, designed as a “travel guitar” but certainly appropriate for anyone with a smaller frame who wants a guitar that rivals its larger cousins in tone and volume. I’ve owned a few Taylor GS Mini’s and up to this point I’ve considered them the best option for a travel guitar but this new Martin is superior in every way. Sound-wise, this is probably due to the fact that unlike the GS Mini it is constructed of all solid wood, with a solid spruce top and solid sapele back and sides. The fit and finish are all Martin, too. My only complaint, a small one however, is that the gig bag that it is sold with is not as well padded or designed as the one that comes with the GS Mini. But this is a small issue – you can always buy a more robust gig bag. And with the astoundingly low price of $599 (with built in Fishman pick up), I am sure Martin will sell many, many Dreadnought Juniors.
“Swing and a miss!” The highly touted new Taylor 6-series guitars. Granted, I have only played one, but the 614ce First Edition I bought – and sent back the same day – was dull, lifeless and with its deeper than the normal neck (by Taylor’s standards) it was not even all that easy to play. What made it so appealing was not only the gorgeous brown stained maple body and redesigned bracing system but the “torrified” (heat treated) tops that are used with this new series. I was expecting some resonance and character from the sound of this new series but alas, it just wasn’t there. As I said, this was just one guitar and not a fair sample but at $3k I feel I was reasonable to expect much more.
“A solid pitching performance!” Stewart McDonald, supplier of guitar parts and accessories. Not only does StewMac have just about everything you could need to repair and upgrade your guitar, their site www.stewmac.com features an ever expanding library of “how-to” videos that explain various guitar fixes clearly and in detail. Their latest one, just posted yesterday, shows the very basic but interesting way to set up and string a classical (nylon string) guitar. Also has a nice bit of bossa nova playing from a young Brazilian guitarist. Check it out!
“Rain delay!” If you live in a part of the country where the seasons are changing don’t be surprised to find the action and even the sound of your guitar changing, too. Winter has finally (??!) loosened its worst-ever grip on New England and in spite of my diligence in maintaining stable humidity levels in my studio I’m already beginning to notice some slight changes in the sound of my two primary guitars, a Martin 000-18 and a Gibson J-45. Both have mahogany bodies, which are generally less affected by humidity changes than rosewood but I’m noticing a certain subtle loss of crispness and resonance that will only become more apparent as we get into the humid days of summer. Not much to be done about that, unfortunately. The action hasn’t changed – yet. But I fully expect the action to get higher as the humidity increases and the wood absorbs it, becoming more pliable and easily bent by the pressure of the strings. It will soon be time for a slight tweak of the truss rod. Oh well, so it goes. I’ll still take that over the 4+ feet of snow I’ve been looking at for the last three months!
“Double play!!” The duet performed by Sara Jarosz and Alison Krauss on the recent broadcast of “Transatlantic Sessions” on PBS television. Truly, like two angels singing together. Sara is an absolutely amazing young singer/songwriter and of course Alison is in a league of her own (oh – baseball reference again!). I was unfamiliar with this series and this was the first one shown in this country. See it if you can, the music is wonderful.
Peace & good music,