Monday, October 28, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Some of my guitar students really like playing and improving their technique.  Some of them love their guitars and for them, their music is an extension of themselves - a very important, serious and passionate pursuit. Then there are some who love the instrument so much that they want to know everything about it and dabble in guitar building.

Most of the students I have had, who became guitar builders, began with a guitar that needed repair.  Some of them wanted to tackle the task alone and others made it a project with a friend or their dad. Some of them looked for cast off guitars, just so they could fix them.  Others, went whole hog and began  from scratch or ordered kit guitars, tools and made dedicated spaces in their dwellings, in which they planned to make guitars.  

I have been thinking a lot about one student, in particular, who was bitten by luthier bug.  Several years after we stopped having lessons, I taught a student in the same town in which he lived, who had a really nice guitar. It was a no-name guitar, which is unusual.  I asked the new student where they obtained the guitar, and sure enough, that former student had built it.  Apparently, he had a very lucrative business making semi-custom guitars while he was in college.

If you or someone you love has a Fender that needs a fix or the idea of building a guitar, not exactly from scratch, appeals to you, Fender is offering necks and bodies that might be just what you're looking for.  Maybe you have your dad's old Fender that isn't worth "restoring" but is worth the price of a genuine, precisely measured and fretted Fender neck.  

Check  out Fender necks and bodies, if the smell of luthier's glue makes you giddy.

2014 PRS Private Stock

Private Stock.  It's a great term and depending upon who you are: age, background, social circle etc., the term may conjure different images.  When you put PRS in front of Private Stock, my mind's eye beholds guitars that are works of art.  I know,  works of art is a term I frequently use in regard to PRS guitars, Private Stock models or not, but it's the right description.

PRS Guitars is proud to officially announce the 2014 Collection Series by Private Stock. Introduced in the fall of 2011, the PRS Collection Series is made up of a very limited number of instruments each year that are made with the most prized components in the company's possession, using PRS's most exacting methods. Paul Reed Smith, along with the Private Stock team, designs and oversees all aspects of production, including the selection of all woods.

The 2014 Collection Series is comprised of one steel string acoustic, one nylon string acoustic, and one electric model. These instruments proudly incorporate a balance of PRS traditions and innovations.

These guitars are not entry level instruments (there will be a future post on that topic if it interests you). They are works of art in design, craftsmanship, tone and quality.  If you're in the market for that oh-so-fabulous new axe, you should definitely check out these beauties.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Update or Upgrade?

I still don't know what to call it.  Last week I had yet another reprise of telling  a young guitarist that it's time for a new axe. In this case, my student has outgrown the Little Martin she's been playing for a couple years.   She grew a lot over the summer and when we resumed lessons, I realized that the Little Martin was now, a travel size guitar for her, not the right size for her to play regularly anymore. When I brought it up, she wasn't as enthused as I'd hoped she would be.  This is a student I have always seen respond to new and different with eager delight.  At first I was a bit surprised, but after I thought about it,  I realized that despite her tender age, she loves her guitar. It was her first guitar and the instrument she held and heard every time she played, since the very beginning.  I was viewing it as a temporary measure, but it has become as intimate a part of her musical expression as any adult's beloved instrument. 

I'm not big on anyone playing a guitar that doesn't fit them. That usually means that someone has a guitar that is too big either in body, neck length or neck width.  But in this case the old faithful friend has become a liability because it's too small. My student is still what I'd classify as petite, so this week, I took my acoustic electric when I taught her.  I wanted to satisfy myself, that the correct acoustic electric will fit her, if the bout is the proper dimension. I also wanted to whet her appetite for an additional guitar, not a replacement, because her Little Martin can never be replaced. 

My scheme was highly successful. (I haven't been doing this for decades without learning something about my students' human nature, as well as their musical gifts.) I had her play her warm ups on my guitar.  She didn't have any trouble.  I thought she would want to play her lesson  on her guitar, since she practiced on it, but when I asked for mine back, she wanted to continue playing it .  By the time I  left, she was looking forward to a new guitar, but she sharply told her mother that she will never part with the Martin.  I chimed in that it would be the perfect travel guitar for her.  

We get so attached to our instruments.  I know I do.  Not in the material sense, but I think it's the intimacy.  I  have commented about this before - probably in a podcast: At one time, I had a student who loved music and particularly the guitar. He was an exceedingly serious musician, and I would probably still have him as a student if his wife didn't have chemistry issues with him whenever we had lessons.  I taught him for several years.  During one of his lessons, I took his guitar to demonstrate something for him.  At the time he was playing the same make and model guitar that I played.  Although the guitar builder was the same man and the instrument's dimensions were identical to the guitar that I played every day, it felt totally foreign to me.  In fact, it was almost confusing to play because it looked like my axe, but it didn't feel like it nor sound like it.  I never had that experience when playing  guitar models I didn't own.   Since that shocker, I have tried to express that connection as being almost spiritual.  Not in a religious way, but rather like an unexplainable connection. The more you play, the more that axe becomes an extension of you. It can't be an extension, if it isn't part of you.

If it's time for you or a loved one to update or upgrade their guitar, because of damage, fit or genre, see that it gets done.  It's a good thing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Little Fall Out

No, not radioactivity.  Not hair (gasp!)  No, this is good Fall Out from our friends at Gretsch.

There's a pretty white guitar on the scene, a new-comer to the Signature Series.  It's a Stump-o-matic!  Its full moniker is the G5135CVT - PS Patrick Stump Signature Series "STUMP-O-MATIC" Electromatic® CVT.

For the MSRP of a cool grand, you can appropriate this icy axe.  Gretsch's workmanship is great, especially on their Signature Series models.  Honestly, the $1,000 MSRP is reasonable for this instrument.  I found an online vendor offering a street price that is less, and quite enticing, if you're in the market for a guitar with the Stump-O-Matic's specs.

She's mahogany, 21 frets, the neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard. (I know the more correct word is fretboard, but in my first instructors called it a fingerboard, so in my vocabulary, that's what it is) It has 3 Mega'Tron pickups, vintage tuning pegs and an anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge. The hardware is chrome plated, which I think looks great on a white guitar with a few silver accent stripes.  For more details than this, check out the link above.

This interesting guitar was built to the specifications of the well-known Fall Out Boy singer/guitarist.  

A True Work of Art

A few days ago I received and email that thrilled me, but was no surprise.

If you ever listened to my podcast, when it was a weekly or twice-monthly broadcast, you  probably heard me gush over Paul Reed Smith gutiars.  I probably used phrases like, "I love, love, love them,"  or perhaps, "They are extraordinary works of art."  If you listened to my  podcast regularly, you may have heard it ad nauseam.  It's clear, I'm not the only one who holds these opinions.

On Monday, (that's tomorrow) a custom made PRS guitar will be presented to the Metropolitan Museum, in NYC.   The presentation, which will be made by Paul Reed Smith and Ricky Skaggs, will take place in the Sackler Wing's Temple of Dendur.  It's going to be spectacular! Following the presentation, John McLaughlin will demo the one-of-a-kind PRS for those in attendance.  

The Met has an extensive assortment of instruments and this will be a beautiful addition to its guitar collection.

Here is just a glimpse of the guitar that will be presented.

If you're in Manhattan on Monday, and you can get to the museum in the  afternoon, you can attend! Here are the deets:

  • Date: Monday, October 7, 2013
  • Time: 4:30 pm - 5:15 pm
  • Where: Temple of Denur in the Sackler Wing
In the event this is your first visit to the Met, allow plenty of time. The address is 82nd Street and 5th Avenue. It's a huge museum and it's always well  populated.  I would recommend arriving  (that means after parking, if you're driving) no later than  4:00 pm.  Earlier, is even better. If you walk in at 4:25, you may miss part of the program.  

This special presentation is free with the purchase of a general admission to the museum.

I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Paul Reed Smith and his company, and thank him for  decades of excellence, translated into the design and construction of a rarefied range of electric guitars.   As I've said before, and will continue to say, I love, love, love them.

~ Until next time, I'm D A Arlaus, doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time. ~