One guitarist on board this time was in the "show band" that does everything from accompanying the singers at the big production shows, to playing jazz quintet stuff in one of the lounges. He was a guy in his mid to late 20s and he was a very good player, both rhythm and lead. But there was a problem. For some reason, he chose to employ a very nasal, thin tone out of his guitar, which was a double cutaway solid body with humbuckers. To my ear anyway, that thin annoying tone totally destroyed his technical facility. I was almost tempted to ask him just why he did it but it would have served no purpose.
But wait. Who says jazz and arranged big band music has to be played by a guitarist who uses a big hollow body with mellower (some might say, dull....) tone? It's always been done that way in traditional settings, although players like Pat Metheny and John Scofield shook the jazz guitar world up in the 1970s by using chorusing - and no one would accuse them of being anything but superb jazzers.
I guess it's what you're used to and what you expect. The audience didn't seem to mind and his playing and the rest of the band were excellent. So I guess it's my problem, not his!
Later in the week however, one of the big shows was one of those Beatles tribute bands and I have to say they were great! Note-for-note perfect and although the vocals were not quite as 100% they were more than good enough. The audience went crazy and I loved it. One reason beyond the musical perfection was their use of absolutely correct guitars - Gretsch Country Gentleman for "George" (and a Les Paul for the later Beatles stuff); Epiphone Casino and even the Gibson acoustic with the old school magnetic pick-up for "Hide Your Love Away" by "John." "Paul" used the required Hofner violin-shaped bass, followed by the correct Rickenbacker.
I love the Beatles and in this case, in terms of overall tone and sound, those guitars and basses were an absolute requirement as far as I was concerned. For some reason they didn't use Vox amps (or Fenders for the later stuff) but the amps they used were passably good sounding.
Now there was a case of doing the right thing, sound-wise, no doubt added immensely to the enjoyment the audience got from the performance. That's my opinion, anyway. Although I'm guessing no more that a handful would be able to define why the sound was "off" if other guitars had been used. Anyway, it was a great show.
Does any of this matter, really? I guess not. Not in these days of karaoke and "American Idol" where a loose approximation of an original musical sound is good enough.
But damn it, give me that great jazz guitar sound that you hear on Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass and my hero, Martin Taylor songs. For me at least, tonality and tradition DO matter.
Peace & good music,