SUMMER 2016 edition
the acoustic guitar player’s quarterly
In conversation with…
10 tips for
sharper practice Tommy Emannuel shows you how p100
Sharing the secrets of his virtuoso technique
Reviewed Wee Lowden Fan Fret Rodríguez Nylon-Strings D'Angelico Acoustics AND MORE!
Peter Frampton Acoustic album and tour Clive Carroll On his masterful new album competition Win a Tanglewood Crossroads acoustic!
Martin's 17 Series New Models
Going Live Amp or DI?
All strung up Rotosound visit
Planet Sweet The Faith Venus
Celebrating Buddy Atkin's Holly j-45
f i r st p l ay
Martin 000-17 £1,649 WHAT IS IT? 14-fret 000 in smart Whiskey Sunset finish
Martin 00-17s £1,649 WHAT IS IT? Black-finished, no-frills 00 model
Just Seventeen Martin’s long-standing 17 range returns to the fold with some delicious new finishes and a distinctly stripped down vibe… Words David Mead Photography Joby Sessions
ccording to Martin’s catalogue, these brand-new models are reflective of the company’s desire to, “address the challenges facing musicians by introducing austerely appointed models, devoid of fanciness, but certainly not lacking in craftsmanship or excellent tone.” As we all know, Martin’s numbering system gives a clue to an individual model’s level of luxury with the super cheap and ecologically sound 16 Series, right up to the heady heights of the 45s and beyond. So, with these spanking new 17s, at least we are prepared for a no-frills ride, but the expectation is that we’re still going to discover some stunning tone lurking within these ‘austerity’ Martins. So what exactly do we have here? The 00-17s is a 12-fretter, available in either the Black Smoke finish seen here, or the Whiskey Sunset livery of its partner in crime, the 000-17. As you can see from the photographs, despite these
Acoustic Summer 2016
Martin 000-17 & 00-17s
D’Angelico SD-300 Lexington
reason you couldn’t bash out Wonderwall on this thing, but greater rewards come when you comp chords with your thumb or pick out single note runs. The EX-63 is fitted with roundwound nickel strings – not the phosphor bronze wires as shipped with The Lexington – and they collude with the pressed laminate top to propel notes from the fingerboard. The overall sound is bright yet warm with a tightness and subdued sustain not unlike the report you’d expect from a Maccaferri or a jazz box with flatwound strings.
We buy with our eyes and this wouldn’t be the first time we were sold on a guitar the moment we opened its case. Yet, while The Lexington and EX-63 are drop dead gorgeous as the condescending old adage goes, they ain’t just got a pretty face. Both guitars deliver a level of tone and playability that we expect of a brand with the heritage and reputation of D’Angelico, and that’s at a lower price point than we initially suspected. While we’re not surprised that D’Angelico nailed it with the EX-63, we applaud their bold entry onto the crowded streets of the flattop electro-acoustic market. It’s not just the woods, it’s the way that you use them, and with all that tone, playability and those unique D’Angelico good looks on their side, The Lexington and EX-63 are as aweinspiring as the city that inspired them.
Acoustic summer 2016
Price: £849 (inc case) Origin: Indonesia Type: Dreadnought-size electro-acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid sapele Max rim depth: 114.3mm Max body width: 400mm Neck: Nyatoh, glued-in Scale length: 638mm (25.3”) Tuners: Gold-plated Grover Super Rotomatic Nut/width: Bone/43mm Fingerboard: Rosewood with block mother-of-pearl inlays, 320mm (12.5”) radius Frets: 20, medium/large Bridge/spacing: Rosewood with bone saddle/55mm Weight (kg/Lbs): 2.4/5.3 Pickup/preamp: Fishman INK-4 system with onboard tuner Range options: The Brooklyn (£849) and The Bowery (£949), cutaway, available in left-handed at same price. There are also two grand auditorium electro-acoustic models, – The Mercer (£849) and The Gramercy (£949), again both cutaway and available left-handed. The Madison (£849, no left-hand option) is an electro-acoustic jumbo Left-handers: Natural Tint finish only (£849) Finish: Natural Tint (as reviewed), Black, Cherry Sunburst, Grey Black, Vintage Sunburst Face +32 3 844 6797 www.dangelicoguitars.com
D’Angelico EX-63 Price: £1,499 (inc case) Origin: Korea Type: Archtop electro-acoustic Top: Laminated spruce Back/sides: Laminated flame maple Max rim depth: 76mm Max body width: 431mm Neck: Maple, glued-in Scale length: 635mm (25”) Tuners: Gold-plated Grover Super Rotomatic Nut/width: Bone/43mm Fingerboard: Rosewood block mother-of-pearl inlays, 320mm (12.5”) radius Frets: 20 medium/large Bridge/spacing: Floating ebony with passive piezo pickup/54mm Weight (kg/LBS): 2.8/6.1 Range options: Those looking for a more traditional jazz vibe should investigate the D’Angelico EXL-1, a single-cutaway archtop with f-holes and a floating neck pickup (£1,299, available left-handed at £1,4990 Left-handers: No Finish: Natural Tint (as reviewed), Vintage Sunburst
PROS Loud, well-balanced, with bags of sustain. It’s perhaps the prettiest dread’ we’ve ever seen...
PROS It looks fantastic and it backs that up with a sweet jazz tone and addictive playability
CONS Might need a lower action for less experienced hands
CONS The piezo is basic – a floating neck pickup would add versatility
Belfast-born Paul Bradley has been hailed as Bristol’s finest musician, as his idiosyncratic playing and unhinged live shows attest… Words Glenn Kimpton Portrait Joseph Branston
he fact that Paul Bradley plays his right-handed Kinkade acoustic as a left-hander, with his bass string down the bottom, fits nicely into his already unusual musical understanding and approach to playing. With a third album with acoustic trio, Three Cane Whale, in pre-production, Paul’s current release is his solo Banish Cherish record. It’s a concise album, loaded with a range of ideas, mostly improvised, from noise music to chanting to beautifully played acoustic melodies hiding political undertones, as on opening track, All Generalisers. “The title’s a joke, can you spot it?” he asks. “It’s generalising generalisers, so it’s a terrible joke. But it’s an improvised song and it’s a live take with no preparation or pre-production.” It’s an impressive fact, considering how well crafted the song comes across. “It’s a political song and I just thought: ‘right, bigotry’, and went from there,” he says. When Paul is talking about his career as a dogged musician working the scene in his typically unpredictable way, he is honest and realistic. “I’ve been doing it in Bristol for 27 years without stopping,” he says, with a hint of pride. “I’ve never had a break and I love it, I’m addicted to it, but I know that I still don’t get bums on seats. I’m not even cult; I have to work hard to get 50 people to come to my gigs. Me (Paul’s first Bristol band) were not cult and we were never cool. We undervalued ourselves and I think people were uncomfortable with that. We were doing a political comedy thing, saying ‘I’m not special and we’re not special; we’re going to be beautiful, but we’re not different beings, we’re just like you.” Trumpeter Pete Judge once told us that Paul was recruited to Three Cane Whale with the condition to behave at all times and just play the wonderfully calm guitar lines that are written for him. “Ah, Pete’s beautiful,” laughs Paul. “But he knows my reputation, and I’m awful. Once, at The Pelican in Stroud where I had a gig, I got into a certain state of mind, where I just stood there and said ‘fuuuck fuuuck fuuuck’ into the mic many
Acoustic Summer 2016
times, so it went far beyond it just being a joke. That was 25 years ago, but it became famous.” So, with the above example of loose behaviour in mind, it’s no surprise that Paul’s instructions are quite strict when it comes to the very well regarded and uncontroversial Three Cane Whale. “With the Whale it’s all written, including what I’m given to play; I’m probably allowed about 0,1 per cent room for interpretation and accenting. Mainly I just do what I’m told,” he laughs. “Having said that, I think my role in the band isn’t so easy to pin down. Because my part in some songs isn’t the melody part, I often feel like the cross between a pianist in a pit orchestra or jazz trio and the drummer or bass player in a band, especially a rock band, which is what I consider the Whale as, an acoustic rock band. My job I think is to represent the bass, piano and drums, in a setting where they don’t exist and don’t counterpoint each other. In a melody world like the Whale, my job is to anchor everything the way a pianist does and the way a bass player does, and I love that discipline, it’s such a relief!” As mentioned, improvisation is a key part of Paul’s solo work, so the Whale trio is an unsurprising exercise in restraint for the lively Irishman. “I suppose I’m an improvising singer songwriter,” he says “My goal is simply to document where I am there and then; not to present songs I’ve been working on. And that’s improvising in its true sense, but it’s also a truism. With improvising, it can only be a document of where you are because you can think what you’re thinking at the time. If you drift off course and use words that existed already, it can’t be improvising in the true sense of the word. On All Generalisers, the only thing that existed before the take was the title, nothing else was in the room before we recorded.” Our favourite lyric from that song – I too am a bigot, but I do got the nuggets – is, to Paul at least, an example of the flaws of improvising in one take. “Nuggets is a crap lyric!” he shouts, disturbing the lunchers. “It’s the exception of improvising; I couldn’t get rid of it without screwing up the whole structure of that verse, so it stayed. But it really was, ‘Oh
shit, what rhymes with bigot?’ That’s genuine improvisation and Pete still teases me and says, ‘What about spigot?’ But then he’s an English teacher.” Sometimes even the most spontaneous musician feels the need for a framework to create within, which for Paul is where that popular beast the loop pedal comes into play. “Looping allows you to have an instant backing track,” he begins enthusiastically, “on which you can go on a stream of consciousness. Now, that’s an overused term, so much so that it’s lost its meaning. To me it means to go on a ride in your imagination; musically it’s a bit like jamming, but you’re trying to pretend to the audience that it’s a finished piece. Except it never existed before that moment, and it won’t exist again and that’s the rule. What will happen is it will unofficially pop up in a mutated form; it will be reincarnated. That’s an important thing for me; all music comes from the river of music.” He stops for a moment. “I think that was my line; I made the music river up a long time ago. So as listeners we hear parts of the river and as practitioners we are unavoidably influenced by it. Nobody can say that they act in isolation, because everything we ever do as a musician will relate, even if it’s coincidental. There’s nothing new under the sun.” We’re still wondering what’s the story behind that old Kinkade acoustic though… “It was my brother’s guitar and he bought it for £250, 30 years ago,” he explains. “He loaned it to me, so officially I don’t even own a guitar! This one is actually made by Simon Kinkade, Jonny’s brother, who doesn’t build anymore – he changed jobs because the Kinkade workshop couldn’t support both luthiers. So it is quite rare now and very battered; I should get a gigging guitar really, this one is so fragile and damaged; the head has snapped off at least twice on the road, which makes staying in tune difficult!”
Paul Bradley’s current album, Banish Cherish, is available now. www.paulbradleymusic.com
Summer 2016 Acoustic
Travel guitar round-up
Small But Perfectly Formed?
Acoustic Summer 2016
Travel guitar round-up
Are so-called ‘travel guitars’ a viable genre or just another way of makers to grab our cash? We look at four of the best and find out! Words Dave Burrluck Photography Joe Branston
Summer 2016 Acoustic
We test the best of the rest of the season’s new gear Photography Joby Sessions
Acoustic Summer 2016
BOSS VE-8 £299 CONTACT Roland UK Phone 01792 702701 web www.roland.co.uk
If you sing and play acoustic guitar at
the same time and are looking for some facilities to enhance your performance, the Boss VE-8 could be just what you need. What you get is a battery or adaptorpowered three-footswitch floor-pedal unit featuring separate sections for processing the guitar and the vocals, plus a looper with 80 seconds of recording time that can record guitar and vocals either individually or simultaneously. The VE-8 fits plenty of connectivity into its back panel, including a headphone output and outputs on both standard jacks and XLRs so you can send the guitar and vocal signals to separate destinations if required. You also get an auxiliary input and a USB connection allowing recording direct to a computer. Sounds are instantly set up via the array of knobs and buttons and you get 50 memory slots to save anything that you create, so it’s quite possible to have guitar and vocal settings for a whole set of songs for instant recall onstage; simultaneously pressing the first two footswitches puts the unit in Memory mode allowing you to recall presets using the same two switches. If you want control over bypassing the guitar and vocal effects you can load your preset then go straight back into Stomp mode, where the first footswitch operates a guitar effect (it also mutes the signal and calls up a tuner when pressed and held), while the second turns vocal effects and harmonies on and off and also bypasses all the vocal processing with a press/hold for talk between songs. The looper, always available from the third footswitch, is easy to use for simple recording and overdubs, although there’s no ‘undo’ function – just a press and hold to clear the memory.
Sound adjustment for your guitar includes an Acoustic Resonance control, based on various guitar body shapes, that offers the sort of EQ tweaks that can make a piezo pickup output sound more like a mic’d acoustic. On top of this you have reverb and the switchable effect (marked as chorus on the button and footswitch) chosen from a range that includes chorus, tremolo, delay, phaser and more. The final knob in the section could be a gig-saver, as it’s a notch filter than can eliminate troublesome feedback by homing in on the offending frequency. Vocals get selectable automatic pitch correction and an enhance effect which keeps things tight with a combination of compression and EQ, plus reverb. For the switchable effect you get a choice of voice transformers, (auto tune, radio voice etc), doubling or five different harmony types that can be set to a specific key or be automatically generated in accordance with the chords you are playing on guitar. The VE-8 is hands-on functional straight out of the box and pretty intuitive with nothing difficult to slow your music-making workflow, but if you want to dig deeper there are sub-parameters and facilities such as using multiple effects simultaneously and external footswitching to explore.
Compact and portable with a practical array of sounds and facilities, the VE-8 is a great troubadour’s resource. [TC]
8 Summer 2016 Acoustic
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