I think in the near future I’m going to do a post along the lines of “Gene’s Favorite Stuff.” Not that an endorsement little old me is worth all that much but I’m hoping my experiences and way too much money spent on great and less-than great gear will be helpful.
A side note to that (as mentioned previously) I will be attending the huge NAMM show in Los Angeles in January where I am pretty sure I’ll discover more stuff I just have to have. These days my focus has been on getting the best, purest and most natural sound from the electronic sound reinforcement devices I use, rather than buying new guitars in search of the same. Still haven’t found the ultimate system that is both portable and affordable, however. If any readers (Tony?) would like to meet me there, January 23 – 25, I would be happy to get you show credentials as an employee of Cape Cod Acoustics. Within reason of course….I think I’m allowed to get two or three extra badges without charge. Should be a lot of fun with the latest/greatest from virtually every manufacturer in the music world on display, plus lots of free performances. Send me a message vis the Contacts Page if you’re interested.
Heard some live music a couple times in the last week or so. In both cases the players were very good. One was a duo at a local bar/restaurant and the other was at a private party where the performance of a trio was being filmed for use as a promo for their new CD release. At that one it was very cool to see both the band and audience loving the music so much. Although my wife and I were most likely just about the oldest people there it was fun to observe the energy of the event, something that I often find lacking at bars when a band is playing these days. Maybe it’s just the places I go…. Anyway, something else I found very interesting with this duo was that except for their original material, everything else they played was OLD. I mean, along the lines of Van Morrison and Allman Brothers, although they did put their own spin on the material. This further confirmed my opinion that when a band needs to default to non-original material it often is stuff that was popular when I was their age! What does this mean? I invite you to come to your own conclusions on that.
Right now and I think for the foreseeable future my guitar line up is as follows:
2017 Martin Custom Shop D-35 Seth Avett model w/Martin Gold-Plus electronics
2017 Martin OM-28 (one of the new “re-imagined” series) w/K&K Pure Western Mini pick-up
2015 Eastman AC-422ce w/K&K Pure Western Mini pick-up
2014 Prestige NYS Standard semi-hollow body electric
The most recent one is the D-35. I’ve been playing with a guy who has a truly amazing collection of recent vintage Martins and one of them is one of the now discontinued D-28 Marquis models. I’ve owned many, many Martin dreadnoughts over the years. I’d been without one for a while and his sounded so great that I found myself lusting after another although I find dreads to be a bit unwieldy to hold these days. My D-35 sounds absolutely incredible, different than his Marquis but that is to be expected considering the lighter bracing on the D-35, plus scalloped braces and an Alpine spruce top. The thing I like the most is the even response with nice crisp, clear treble and mids, making it better suited for finger-style playing than most dreads. However, I am not a big fan of the Martin Gold-Plus system as it doesn’t sound as “natural” to me as the K&K’s. So I may switch that out at some point in the not too distant future.
The OM-28 is not as in-your-face as the D-35 but is the one I reach for when I’m working out new songs for myself and/or my students. Just a classic Martin 000 size guitar in every way. Unfortunately, it tends to suffer from a certain amount of deadness when the humidity levels are high but I’ve had it long enough to know that it will improve as the weather moderates and cooler temperatures prevail in the fall. But regardless of that it’s the most comfortable guitar to hold and play that I have right now. It even made the trip to Florida with me last spring and most likely will again when we go again in the winter of early 2019.
The Prestige gets the least amount of attention but it’s a great guitar, equally at home in blues, jazz, country or rock. The fit and finish are superb and the Seymour Duncan special design P-90 type pick-ups have no “noise” whatsoever and sound just great. If you’re unfamiliar with Prestige, they are a company in Canada that assembles their guitars from components made in Korea. Based on what I’ve seen, they are identical to the Peerless line and I strongly suspect Peerless is making the parts for Prestige. These guitars although not very common in this country are worth a good look if you’re considering an electric. My only complaint is that thing is HEAVY, with a solid maple center that runs the length of the body. But that may be why it has such great sustain and sounds so good.
Which brings me to the Eastman. You know what? As much as I love my Martins – and will always love Martins generally – that Eastman actually sounds better than either of them when amplified and also damn good when not plugged in. Plus, the neck size and shape feels oh so comfortable to play. Combine that with superb action, a short-scale neck that makes barre chords easy and flawless fit and finish and it’s easy to see why this one has stayed in my stable for about two years now.
So I think I’m done buying guitars for a while. For a good, long while, I hope. Electronics on the other hand….
One final thought related to electronics and performance. That trio I was speaking of – acoustic/electric guitar, electric keyboard, fiddle, vocals by the guitar and keys players, made the best use of a looper I’ve heard maybe ever. As regular readers of this blog know I’m not a huge fan of loopers as I think they are often over-used for endless noodling by players who aren’t able or inclined to learn a lot of songs. Not so with this guitar player. He did utilize loops on just about every song but they were subtle and most importantly, didn’t last all that long. He was also very skillful at punching them in and out so they were not noticeable for the most part. Very nice. Maybe I’ll have to try a looper again (!).
Peace & good music,