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Summer 2017 edition

joE E x c l u s i v e

i n t e r v i e w

BONaMassa Live and unplugged at Carnegie Hall

“It was really one of those nights… a lifelong dream!”

Rare Interviews Dav ey

Graham

the acoustic guitar player’s guide

2017 Buyer’s Guide

Buying a guitar? We can help!

Artist Profiles Django Reinhardt Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson L e a rn t o p l ay… Dominic Miller’s arrangement of JS Bach’s ‘Air On A G String’

Be rt

Jansch Chet

Atkins

Digital Edition

The incredible story of Booker White’s 1933 Duolian


f i r st p l ay

Takamine GN75CE-TBK £569 WHAT IS IT? NEX shape electro that’s part of the G-Series, with a feature-packed TK-40D

Takamine EF740FS-TT £1,699 WHAT IS IT? OM model with deep body, 12th-fret join and artificially aged Thermal Top

Past & Present

Two electros offer two very different propositions for players with Takamine’s new Thermal Top technology and its affordable G-Series Words  Rob Laing  Photography  Neil Godwin

D

iversity is becoming a key issue in the electro-acoustic market. A competitive price-point isn’t always enough to stand out from the crowd and many players expect their electro to be more than just a stage-ready instrument, but one they can happily use at home and for recording, too. With years of experience behind it, Takamine has established itself as a trusted go-to electro manufacturer. And with the EF740FS-TT here, the company is showcasing an enthusiasm to innovate further with the Thermal Top. Thankfully, it’s not a woolly cover for your guitar but a process that amounts to artificial ageing. The guitar’s top is baked in a very high-heat, vacuum-free lowoxygen environment (the latter so it doesn’t catch fire). The desired effect is that the young wood’s water, sugar and resin are modified in the process. For players, the idea is to add some of the effects of time – an immediate vintage character, if you will. Takamine claims the baking creates a stronger weight-to-strength ratio as the wood becomes lighter and stiffer.

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ACOUSTIC  SUMMER 2017


SUMMER 2017  ACOUSTIC

7 


Wille Edwards

interview

Wille Edwards We sit down with the fiery frontman and slide-empowered acoustic wizard from blues trio Wille And The Bandits… Words David Mead  Photography Adam Gasson

P

laying around 200 shows per year keeps Wille And The Bandits busy. Guitarist Wille Edwards fronts the band with a choice selection of acoustic and custom-made Anderwood slide guitars. With a wide range of influences, the average Bandits gig takes the audience across a broad swathe of blues territory, with the guitar very much at the heart of the band’s sound. Purists might flinch at the thought of putting an acoustic through a distortion pedal in order to turn this usually meek and reserved instrument into a fire-breathing monster, but when you’re in the possession of the type of chops Mr Edwards unleashes every night, it’s as natural as mother’s milk. Wille stopped by our offices for a quick chat en route to yet another series of gigs across the UK. We were eager to hear about the gear he uses on the road, but thought that we’d begin our conversation by exploring the man’s roots.

So when did you first turn your attention to the guitar and blues music?

“I was probably about 14. I was always interested in music, my parents played a lot of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and I was always interested in listening to it. My dad had an old Eko and the action was huge. He said, ‘If you can learn to play that, I’ll buy you an electric guitar,’ and I remember spending ages trying to learn this thing – bruises on my fingers just to get a note out of it; you literally had to punch it. Dire Straits’ Sultans Of Swing was the song I wanted to learn. I just practised and practised because my dad always wanted to play it and I wanted to learn the solo so I could impress him.” What made you want to eventually turn professional?

“I went travelling when I was 18 around Australia and it was there that it really sort

of kicked in because I just had an acoustic and I’d play around the camp fire and my friend would say, ‘Why don’t you go out on the street and busk? You might earn some money,’ and so I went out there and I really enjoyed it. I liked the interaction with the audience. I ended up doing it for about nine months, up and down the coast from Cairns right down to Melbourne. I met quite a few characters on the road, one of them being a guy called Smokey who taught me slide guitar and the lap steel and I just followed him for three months, sleeping in tents just learning the craft.” Who were the players that you were introduced to around this time?

“In the beginning my mum used to play a lot of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. I enjoyed listening to it and didn’t really know the reason why because I was really young. I just liked the groove and it just

SUMMER 2017  Acoustic

25 


James Taylor

AUDIO    http://bit.ly/396audio

Video    http://bit.ly/guitarist396

interview

EXAMPLE ONE James starts by showing how he might fingerpick a chord progression. Notice how he’ll introduce notes from the next chord to add interest, such as that first A to Gadd9 change, where the F# prepares us for the new G bass note and the open B gives a suggestion of the new chord. “These are lines that are happening all around each other rather than all at once,” James says. “They’re independent. It’s very different from a strumming technique. I often and then break itJAMES up rhythmically, so it has an internal back-and-forth.” GUITARIST MAGAZINE issuelead 3 9with 3 a bass line Adrian Clark's TAYLOR FEATURE A

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SUMMER 2017  ACOUSTIC

43 


interview

James Taylor

Video    http://bit.ly/guitarist396

AUDIO    http://bit.ly/396audio

EXAMPLE TWO Below you’ll see a list of chords, all of which James considers to be typical of his sound. Let’s get stuck in and examine them   properly, in a sort of mini Substitute special!

1

You can look at this in two ways, either as an E triad over an A bass, or as an Amaj7 variant. The major 3rd (C#) is replaced with a B, so it’d be Amaj7sus2.

4

This is the fifth string root equivalent of the previous chord.

2

This is always a great alternative to a standard Bm or Bm7. It also has a hint of ambiguity, with that A major triad on the top.

5

3

This is the sound of Every Breath You Take. The shape is less painful to play in open position, and this is an alternative to pretty much any E major.

James plays these two chords as a progression, joining them with a nice walking and alternating bass line.

Temper Temper Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Taylor’s technique is his approach to tuning the guitar: he tunes all the strings flat but by very specific, microtonal amounts. “In Bach’s time they came up with the tempered tuning that allowed you to play in different keys but still stay in tune,” he explains. “I do the same thing on the guitar. If I’m playing in A440 [standard concert pitch], the first string will be an exact E, but the sixth string will be 10 cents flat – 10 cents being 10 hundredths of a half-tone – 10 cents lower than an exact E, so it’s a wider tuning. But because I use a capo so often

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ACOUSTIC SUMMER 2017

and because the capo itself pulls the guitar slightly sharp, I actually tune the first string to minus three cents. “Because the second string is always such a devilish thing, it gets minus five; then I do minus four for the third, then it’s minus eight, minus 10, and minus 12. So that compensates for the capo pulling it sharp, but also because the bass strings ring sharp because they’re getting tighter as they vibrate. So as you play up the neck, this wider tuning is very forgiving; you don’t get the same problems with the 3rd in the chords ringing sharp. So that’s how I temper tune the guitar.”


chet atkins

classic interview

chet atkins

In 1994, when this interview was first published, Chet was already in his 70s – and still going strong. Gibson Keddie takes up the story… Words Gibson Keddie

I

© Getty Images

t’s all too easy to overlook the importance and influence of musicians such as Chet Atkins, or ascribe to him a solely insular musical role. But in his time he’s been a consummate blend of inspired player, innovator, visionary and businessman – more than enough to justify his legendary status. In a professional career spanning over 40 years, Chet Atkin’s style was developed enough in 1952 to launch a first tutor book co-written with Mel Bay. Later, in the early 50s he was responsible for putting together a studio in Nashville. As a player/producer/sessioneer he worked with the Everly Brothers and Hank Williams amongst many others, in addition to being an (uncredited) producer of early Elvis recordings. He developed a unique guitar sound in the 50s with personalised amplification and one of the first true signature guitars. Furthermore, his business acumen and shrewdness meant that by the 60s he was running industry titan RCA Records.

Neck And Neck, the album he cut a few years back with Mark Knopfler, pushed Chet’s name back out into the forefront, but the man’s own modus operandi is to give other performers the chance to cut loose on his album tracks. In the past, these have included the aforementioned Mr K, George Benson, Les Paul, Steve Lukather and Earl Klugh. On Read My Licks, George Benson is again featured, alongside the prodigious talents of Eric Johnson, Steve Wariner and wellknown Stateside country songstress, Suzy Boggus.But what of the man’s unique style and approach to the instrument with which he’s had a selfconfessed 40 year love affair?

“I’ve been playing the style I’m playing now since I was in my teens. I always played with fingers, but in the days of the Depression in the 30s we’d take a toothbrush, which was made of celluloid, cut it down thin and put it in hot water so you could manipulate it,

then wrap it around your thumb to make a thumbpick if you wanted to try that.” Hearing that almost brings out guilty feelings about how easy it is to take a small thing like a plectrum for granted…

“I once played a little bit with a straight pick when I was working in the 40s with my dad’s orchestra making a buck here and there. I’d play rhythm with a straight pick, and once in a while they’d let me step out. I know every song written from the 20s to the 50s from working with those bands. At gigs, once in every while the sax player would say to me, ‘Take it, kid. I want to go out front…’ He’d seen some girl he wanted to dance with so he’d let me play a break, which was nice because I wanted to play more than just rhythm.” Chet was one of the first musicians to be involved in a designer/guitarist role, developing a ‘signature’ guitar.

“That started about 1954/55 I guess. I’d

suMMER 2017 Acoustic

63


Techniques

Section A This section of the melody states the part of the melody which is best known. If you’re unfamiliar with the original piece – written for orchestra – then it’s worth tracking down a copy just to listen to how the melody works in far grander surroundings. The opening can be considered to be a D major chord with a descending bass line. Note that Dominic arpeggiates the chords here, rather than going for the famous walking bass line of the original. There are a couple of awkward chord shapes in bar 3 so study the transcription and get your fingers used to positioning them before you start playing through the piece. The stretch in bar 5 looks a lot more evil than it really is – only patient practice will iron out any wrinkles here. There’s another unfamiliar chord in bar 10 – treat it as before. Even a little preparation might be in order here. Single out bars 9 and 10 and Guitarist Acoustic 19to- make Year 2017 practisePresents them individually the fingers more aware of where they have to be-atDavid this point. Bach's Air on aG String Mead A section

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The stretches here are down to the fact that Dominic says he wants the notes to ring and playing them in an alternative position wouldn’t allow this to happen. One of the more notorious elements of arranging a piece is that it’s not always possible to keep notes ringing for as long as the written music demands and so the intellect has to step in and work out alternative fingerings in order to decide on one that honours the written part more successfully. There’s one of those awkward stretches in bar 18. Once again, isolate it and play through it a few times to give the hand a chance to orientate itself before dropping it into the piece itself. The next few bars – 19 to 23 2 – contain 2 0 a couple of trills which consist of rapid fire hammers and pulls, often between fingers one and   3 hand. These 3 5 can be tricky to pull off3neatly 2and so 0 a little 0 practice 2 3 might 3 be2 necessary 0 two of the left before they begin to flow. 1 2 0 4 4 0 2 There’s another stretch in bar 32, but it’s on the top two strings and, if you check2 your thumb position is right, shouldn’t cause too4  2 2 0 0 2 4 much concern. 4 0 0 0

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Summer 2017  Acoustic

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Buyer’s Guide

STARTERS FOR 10 (AND A BIT)  Three great dreadnoughts for beginners

Fender CD-60S All-Mahogany������������� £160 Fender is getting serious about value with its entry-level Classic Design dreadnought model here; low action and a lively, defined voice makes this a welcoming start for anyone.

Yamaha FG800M������������������������������������������ £221 An all-matt finish gives this dreadnought more of a lived-in look with the all-rounder character we look for with projection and a good low end presence, thumpy low mids and crisp highs.

Yamaha FSX830C  D’Angelico SD-300 Lexington £563 £849

ACOUSTIC STRING BASICS Helping you choose your wires… GAUGE & CORE Acoustic strings are usually thicker than electric strings, which means stiffer string tension. Broadly speaking,‘standard’ acoustic sets are 0.011 to 0.052 (extra light) 0.012 to 0.054 (light) and 0.013 to 0.056 (medium). There are many other variants and hybrid gauge mixes to suit different tastes. The wound strings’ steel core thickness has an effect, too: thicker core/thinner wrap gives you more volume and string tension; a thinner core/thicker wrap the opposite.

MATERIALS There are two main types for acoustic wound strings: Phosphor bronze (typically 92 per copper, 8 per cent tin), is the modern ‘standard’; a good allround choice that sounds less bright than bronze when new, and maintains a more consistent tone over the strings’ lifespan than… Bronze (also called ‘brass’, 80 per cent copper, 20 per cent tin). Brighter and more ‘rich’ than phosphor bronze when new, although loses brightness and articulation more quickly. It’s also worth looking our for different alloys that have a tonal effect, for example the new aluminium bronze from Ernie Ball and Retro ‘Monel’ (nickel) from Martin.

COATED/UNCOATED Most modern string brands offer a range of ‘coated’ strings these days, where either the whole string, or just the wrap wire, is treated to a coating of material that protects the metals and therefore extends string life: three or four times in our experience. The ‘downside’ (that may be an advantage, depending on your opinion) is that they generally feel and sound slightly smoother to a lesser or greater degree. They’re more expensive, too.

108  Acoustic SUMMER 2017

Washburn HD10S �����������������������������������������£249 Is it worth spending a little extra for a little more guitar? Always. And this Washburn proves the point; the thinner cut spruce top promotes a little more vibration for projection and tone.



Reviewed: GPA 15 Type: Folk-sized cutaway electroacoustic Top: Solid spruce Back/sides: Laminated rosewood Nut/scale: 43.48/635

Reviewed: GPA 12 Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid sapele Nut/scale: 43mm/638mm

Guitarist says: Potentially superb guitar: cramped bridge spacing and piezo-y plugged-in voice

Guitarist says: Loud, balanced, with bags of sustain. It’s perhaps the prettiest dread’ we’ve ever seen

Yamaha AC3R Tanglewood Sundance Performance Pro Series X70TE £899 £873 Reviewed: Issue 348 Type: Concert-size electro-acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid rosewood Nut/scale: 43/650

Guitarist says: A grade-A concert picker – great quality from Yamaha

Tanglewood Sundance Performance  Pro Series X15SDTE £899 Reviewed: GPA 17 Type: Slope shoulder dreadnought electro-acoustic Top: Solid AAA Torrefied solid spruce Back/sides: Solid mahogany Nut/scale: 43.4/650

Guitarist says: A rich character… more maturity than we’d expect

Reviewed: GPA 17 Type: Orchestra / 000style electro-acoustic Top: Solid AAA Torrefied spruce Back/sides:Solid mahogany Nut/scale: 43.3/650

Guitarist says: Excellent build, trendy old-school vibe

Faith Venus Blood Moon £929 Reviewed: GPA 12 Type: Cutaway electroacoustic Top: Solid Indonesian Trembesi Back/sides: Solid Indonesian Trembesi Nut/scale: 43.5/645

Guitarist says: Classy build from unusual and highly attractive hardwood with a powerhouse ‘tone engine’


Buyer’s Guide

THREE FOR PRE  preamp pedals to go live with

Fishman Platinum Stage������������������������ £229 This packs a lot into a small box; EQ modes for guitar and bass, three-band EQ plus a useful mid frequency control, phase switch, post-pre DI for stage-only EQ and a volume boost.

 Yamaha LS-TA Transacoustic  £938 Reviewed: GPA 13 Type: Jumbo acoustic with built-in effects Top: ARE-treated Engelmann spruce Back/sides: Solid rosewood Nut/scale: 44/650

Guitarist says: An enhanced playing experience, without the fuss of outboard effects

Takamine TT Series EF360S-TT  £1,249 Reviewed: GPA 11 Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic Top: Solid spruce Back/sides: Solid Indian rosewood Nut/scale: 45/645

Guitarist says: If you’ve got about a grand to spend on a dreadnought for both home and stage use, don’t think twice



Larrivée OM-3 Silver Oak  £1,449

Hotone A Station �������������������������������������� £129 There’s an effects loop here for select pedals and an input for a mic to give you the option to mix it with your pickup sound for duel output tone. There’s a boost switch here too.

Ashdown AA�������������������������������������������������������£99 A rugged design of metal and plastic houses a good value package; the Pre-shape preset EQ switch is especially useful as a quick access tone; adding bass and treble but cutting mids.

Yamaha LL16D ARE  £956 Reviewed: Issue 381 Type: Dreadnought electro-acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid rosewood Nut/scale: 44.5/650

Guitarist says: Poshed-up version of the LL16 offering stunning spec for very sensible money

Larrivée P-03  £1,249 Reviewed: Issue 372 Type: Parlour-sized acoustic Top: Solid spruce Back/sides: Solid Peruvian walnut Nut/scale: 44.5/610

Guitarist says: We dare you not to be enticed by such a quality of sound and spec at this price unbelievable price

Guild D-20E  £1,489

Takamine P3NY £1,118 Reviewed: GGPA 10 Type: Parlour-size electro-acoustic Top: Solid cedar Back/sides: Solid sapele back; laminate sapele sides Nut/scale: 42.9/629

Guitarist says: This little parlour combines a smart build with a very stripped down look

Larrivée OM-3 Swamp Ash £1,349 Reviewed: Issue 384 Type: Orchestra-size 12-fret acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid swamp ash Nut/scale: 44.3/648

Guitarist says: Really beautiful, using a less common timber. Nails looks, sound,feel and playability

D’Angelico EX-63 £1,499

Reviewed: Issue 384 Type: Orchestra-size 12-fret acoustic Top: Solid Sitka spruce Back/sides: Solid silver oak Nut/scale: 44.3/648

Reviewed: GPA 13 Type: Dreadnought-size electro-acoustic Top: Solid mahogany Back/sides: Solid mahogany Nut/scale: 43.29/651

Reviewed: GPA 12 Type: Archtop electroacoustic Top: Laminated spruce Back/sides: Laminated flame maple Nut/scale: 43/635

Guitarist says: Larriveé’s favourite tonewood with his preferred 12-fret neck: is it a surprise this is so good?

Guitarist says: Dark-toned big sound and excellent electro performance; a road-hog!

Guitarist says: It looks fantastic and it backs that up with a sweet jazz tone and addictive playability

SUMMER 2017  Acoustic

109 


Profile for Future PLC

Guitarist Presents 19 (Sampler)  

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Guitarist Presents 19 (Sampler)  

You can subscribe to this magazine @ www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk