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The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine


The story of their success



Four stringed wonder






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Kevin Aram

Issue 49 January 2011 UK £4.25

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A TRADITION IN TONE. A tradition born of 57 years of old world craftsmanship and the finest materials, in the skilled hands of builders dedicated to the unique quality and tone of Guild guitars.

D-55 Find out why players know Guild.


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Foreword Thinking I don’t know about you but I always find the end of a year the time for reflection. As the nights draw in and those long summer walks give way to long evenings on the sofa, I find myself looking back and weighing up how the year has panned out. For Acoustic it’s certainly been a bumper year, with all kinds of awesome gear and amazing artists gracing our pages. One thing I’ve tried to do with the magazine is keep it packed and keep it eclectic, and by and large you seem to have gone along with it, so my thanks to all of you for sticking with us, particularly through these lean times. The flip side to thinking on the year gone by is looking forward to the coming year and all the new challenges it will bring. January brings us NAMM and with it a whole raft of new gear that will find its way into our pages throughout 2011, and there are several artists planning new albums and tours for 2011 that I want to get in the pages for your reading pleasure. So it seems 2011 will be much the same as 2010, a frantic effort to bring the best content to you, our loyal readers. ‘Enough of this waffling! What about this issue!’ I hear you cry. Well, I like to think we’re ending the year on a high note. Kaki King is our lead interview this month, a young woman who’s earned a reputation for her impressive playing, catchy songs and edgy lyrics. She’s not to everyone’s taste, but who wants to listen to an artist whose success is built on blandness? She gave a great interview to Joel McIver and I’d urge you to check her out if you haven’t already. There’s plenty of gear this month too, with a spread of steel-strung, nylon-strung and tenor guitars, with some amps and ukuleles thrown in as well. We can’t include everything in an issue, but no one can accuse us of not trying! So have a good read and think about what you enjoyed in our pages this year, and if you think of something you would like to see covered in 2011, well, my email is just over there on the right, so drop me a line and who knows? Enjoy the issue and see you in 2011! Ben Cooper Editor

Subscription Hotline Tel: 01884 266 100 Fax: 01884 266 101 subs@acousticmagazine.com Subscription details on page 50

Acoustic Foreword 49_BC.indd 1



Issue 49 January 2011

Cover Photograph: Courtesy of The Windish Agency Managing Editor: Ben Cooper Email: ben@acousticmagazine.com Deputy Editor: Russell Welton russ@acousticmagazine.com Technical Advisor: Paul Brett Production Manager: Paul Crosby Email: paul@acousticmagazine.com Graphic Design: Dan Hobday and Steven Jones Marketing Director: Michaela Montgomery-Swan Studio Photography: Peter Phelan Columnists: David Price, Duck Baker, David Mead, Lin Flanagan, Chris Gibbons, Pierre Bensusan, Gordon Giltrap, Simon Mayor, Ray Gamble, Ray Burley Writers: Joel McIver, Paul Brett, Graham Hazelwood, Sam Wise, Andy Hughes, Richard Thomas, Huw Price, Noel Harvey, Stephen Gordon, Gareth L. Powell, Kate Lewis, Russell Welton, Ben Cooper, Leon Hunt, Julian Piper, Brooks Williams, Joe Matera, David Mead. Advertising Manager: Neil Golding Tel: +44 (0)1884 266100 Fax: +44 (0)1884 266101 Email: advertising@acousticmagazine.com Email: neil@acousticmagazine.com Accounts: Liz Smith Tel: 01353 665577 Fax: 01353 662489 accounts@oysterhousemedia.co.uk Printing Pensord, Tram Road, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood, NP12 2YA Distribution COMAG Specialist, Tavistock Works, Tavistock Road, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QX Tel: 01895 433800 Publishers Oyster House Media Ltd, Oyster House Hunter’s Lodge, Kentisbeare,Devon EX15 2DY T: 01884 266100 F: 01884 266101 info@acousticmagazine.com © Copyright - Oyster House Media Ltd. Printed in the UK All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher. The views expressed in Acoustic magazine within editorial should be assigned to the authors concerned. The Publishers do not accept responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or alterations, or for any consequences ensuing upon the use of, or reliance upon, any information contained herein. The printing of an advertisement does not mean that the Publishers endorse that company, item or service advertised. The Publishers cannot guarantee exact colour representation in advertisements. Thank you.

Any problems getting this magazine call: Comag Specialist Tavistock Works, Tavistock Road West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QX T: 01895 433800

26/11/2010 10:44




Like skinning a cat, there’s more than one way to play an acoustic as Kaki explains.

ALSO ACOUSTIC 14 This month:

Joe Satriani


30 3 Daft Monkeys

something new.

The trio from Cornwall are destined for big things. We find out why.

43 Fran Healy

The Travis frontman talks to Acoustic about his new solo album.

47 Chrissie Hynde and JP Jones

We talk to The Pretenders singer and JP about their new project

32 Ramon Goose

The UK bluesman tells us why he’s exploring world music

25 Michael Chapman

The Yorkshire folk legend talks to us about his prolific career.


80 UK Luthier Kevin Aram

If Julian Bream plays your guitars you know you’re doing something right.


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Guitar Techniques

Gear Reviews


Acoustic keeps you up to date with whats hot and whats not in our gear reviews section.

TECHNIQUES SECTION With 13 pages of different level specific techniques, whether you’re a novice or an expert our columns have something for everyone. Acoustic Techniques

Acoustic Techniques



Ray Gamble started his musical career on piano, but later in life fell in love with the humble ukulele. His regular column in Acoustic is designed to help the competent acoustic guitarist ‘migrate’ to the ukulele.

Tom Bowling

Myth-busting With Lin Flanagan

Techniques Skill Level This is suitable for beginners

A famous sea song by a sadly forgotten composer. Splice the main brace!

Bossa Nova: The Old Beat

Biography Lin Flanagan is one of the foremost pedagogues in the UK. Aside from his work in education, he has performed in various settings including solo classical guitar, smallgroup jazz, folk, blues and rock. www.linflanagan.eu

Skill Level: Intermediate

Charles Dibdin may not be much remembered these days, but during his life he enjoyed great popularity as a composer of “musical entertainments” and popular songs. At the time of the Napoleonic Wars his patriotic sea songs were greatly appreciated – “Tom Bowling”, one of his most beautiful melodies – belongs to this genre. As you scan through the tune you will notice that it is entirely diatonic – no awkward sharps, flats and chromatic chords – its beauty lies in its simplicity. When you prepare the piece, therefore, do focus on achieving a legato, cantabile line. When I made this arrangement I was particularly pleased with bar 10. Here the melody, which is slightly syncopated, is harmonised in sixths and thirds – not difficult to play and very effective. In the


52 Peerless PD-85E

With a name like Peerless you are setting yourself on a high pedestal. How well seated is this guitar on that lofty throne?

RGT Guitar Tutor Skill level: Suitable for all penultimate bar a couple of discords move the music along into the final cadence. Budding composers might appreciate making the comparison between bar one and bar thirteen. Note pitches are identical but the addition of dotted rhythm patterns in bar thirteen brings variety. If you have the opportunity of hearing the song you will enjoy the word painting that Dibdin employs. The rising melodic idea of the penultimate bar emphasises Tom Bowling’s demise as his “soul is gone aloft”. I pitched the arrangement in the key of “D” so that I could make use of the low C# in the harmonisation. Choice of key is so important on the ukulele with its relatively narrow range. If you perform this song with vocalists, make sure they’re happy with top F#’s!

Welcome to this new column, the successor to ‘Thinker’s Corner’. Over the next 12 articles we’re going to look at some of the many myths that exist within the music world, and, as the column title suggests, bust them right open and help you to see things from an accurate perspective. Some of our topics for discussion will be historical, some will be practical and some will be philosophical. I want to begin this column by busting the myth that the acoustic music that we know as ‘bossa nova’ is so named because it translates as ‘new beat’. In the process of doing so, we’re also going to look at what bossa nova is, and also what it isn’t. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, it’s story time. Bossa nova evolved in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950s. Until this time Brazil had been an utterly destitute nation, even more so than it is now. When Kubitschek became president in 1956, he introduced new policies and ideas (including the creation of a new capital city, Brasilia) that permitted the rise of a new middle class. Of course,

Tom Bowling



trying to figure out or copy solos, the repertoire. After the high academia melodies and chord progressions etc. of bebop and cool jazz there was an João Gilberto was one of those audience waiting for something that youngsters who used to hang around they could listen to without needing the Copacabana record stores. a PhD in jazz theory. Getz and Byrd’s Influenced by the music that he was album, Jazz Samba, sent the USA hearing, in his apartment he began absolutely Latin crazy. They quite to develop his own distinctive style simply couldn’t get enough of it, and of performance to accompany the hence a lot of musicians who were less equally distinctive pieces that he was skilled in the Latin style jumped onto composing. His songs were quiet, the bandwagon with embarrassing intimate, introvert and used extended musical consequences. Incidentally, chords that had been gleaned from his Getz and Byrd’s influential album took limited access to North American jazz only three hours to record. Now there’ s recordings. However, he also used the an abject lesson in true musicianship old rhythms of the samba dance. He for those who think that it takes 12 called his new style ‘bossa nova’, and months in a recording studio to come he envisaged it as being the next new up with something worthy! craze. This, dear reader, is what bossa Notice that Getz and Byrd called nova was intended to translate as: new their album Jazz Samba, not ‘Jazz Bossa craze/trend/fad/wave – not ‘new beat’ . Nova’. This is important. They knew While Gilberto was responsible for that they were not playing bossa nova. the performance style of the bossa They took the bossa nova repertoire, nova music, it was Antonio Carlos removed some of the bossa nova the wealth of this middle class was Jobim who came to compose the performance style and added North largely still impoverished by European better and most popular songs within American jazz to it, thereby creating and North American standards. They the genre (eg ‘How Insensitive’ and a new style of Latin jazz. However, were wealthy only by Latin American ‘The Girl From Ipanema’). Jobim was much of the USA, including many standards. already a recognisable figure in the jazz musicians, did not realise this. As Those who financially benefited Brazilian music scene when he and a result, almost all Latin jazz or jazz from the economic reforms were Gilberto began their short association samba at this time was erroneously mostly based in the Copacabana together. Jobim composed both alone labelled ‘bossa nova’. This included district of Rio de Janeiro. Here, some and in collaboration with others, but a subsequent Getz album, Big Band of the younger generation spent largely in the bossa nova style that Bossa Nova, which by the nature of the a large part of their time in record Gilberto had presented to him. large amount of instruments involved shops, often just to listen to free So, how did this musical style come was far removed from Gilberto’s ethos music over the stores’ tannoy systems. to take the West by storm? Well, in for the genre.We have to blame record The most popular recordings were the late 1950s and early 1960s the US company executives for that ‘oversight’ rare imports of North American jazz . State Department organised tours by So, bossa nova was certainly not a musicians and singers, such as Dick cultural representatives, such as jazz new beat, and was never intended to Farney and Frank Sinatra. As most of musicians, to Latin American countries be translated as such. It is an intimate, the young Brazilians, even those who in order to promote the wonders of the reflective, performance mood of music were comparatively wealthy, could USA. The guitarist Charlie Byrd was one that used old samba rhythms and not afford to buy many recordings, of the musicians who took part in these jazzy chords. When somebody asks their access to imported music was tours. Having been exposed to the you to play a bossa nova rhythm they rather limited. Don’t forget, until fairly bossa nova music that was prevalent are either ill-informed or they mean a recently, when music tutor book in Rio at the time, Byrd returned samba rhythm in an understated and publishing and the World Wide Web home with a suitcase packed full of intimate manner. In my experience it’s went into overdrive, as musicians our recordings. He played these to his usually the former. Thanks for listening. main educational sources for decades friend, the tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, were recordings. Guitarists traditionally with the intention of subsequently Lin Flanagan used to play along to records while recording their own interpretations of

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104 Gordon Giltrap

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Another classic from Gordon’s back-catalogue.

106 Pierre Bensusan Learn part of a piece from Pierre’s new album.

110 Chris Gibbons Exploring exotic timings to improve your playing.

114 Simon Mayor A relatively simple Irish tune to get your mandolin singing.

118 Ray Burley The importance of sight reading.

Special Features

56 Faith FMTB Trembesi Mercury Parlour

Is this Faith instrument something you could or should hope for?

60 Aria AF Tenor N

Aria always appear to be able to fill a niche where there is a demand for an instrument. Will they fulfil the demand here?

64 Martinez Classical Guitars MCG-70C and MCG-150S Can these two classical guitars marry American design and aesthetics with Chinese manufacturing?

68 Laka VUC80EA and VUT90

The ukulele market is flooded, but can Laka paddle their way to the front? Sam Wise finds out.

72 Kustom Sienna 65 and Sienna 16

In terms of price per square foot, the chunky Sienna 65 is a bargain, but how does it stack up to its smaller brethren?

76 LR Baggs M1 Active

Huw Price tests an active offering from LR Baggs

80 UK Luthier Kevin Aram 84 Patrick Godin

We find out the facts behind the success of the Canadian manufacturer.


If Julian Bream plays your guitars you know you’re doing something right.

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90 History Of Guitar

Paul Brett concludes his series with an overview and an eye to the future.

94 Sons of Seasick Steve

Hobo blues is all the rage at the moment. We look at some choice acts following in the bearded one’s wake.

Receive a free set of Elixir 80/20 Bronze Nanoweb strings, available in .012 -.056 (light - medium) gauge.

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Elixir Strings coat the entire string and not just the wrap wire with a flexible, strong, yet micro-thin polymer tube that defends the entire outer wire from all contaminants. —inner than a human hair, yet it prevents anything getting between the windings and lasts 3-5 times longer than ordinary strings!

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THIs IssUe All the lAtest products And news

NewsDesk Acoustic Magazine brings you all the latest products and news from the world of acoustic guitars.

In Tune With Guitarists Freshman launch three new tuners. UK guitar manufacturers Freshman have announced three new tuners for guitarists, each of which includes a Samsung chip for perfect tuning. The F1 is a dedicated chromatic tuner that does exactly what it says on the tin. Its large display means no squinting and makes tuning a doddle.

If you want something a little smaller, the F2 clips on to your headstock and has a green backlight so you know exactly when you’re in tune. The tuner also swivels through 360 degrees, meaning it fits perfectly for the southpaws out there. Being perfectly in tune obviously makes you sound

better, but if your timing is off, well, you’re still going to sound rubbish, aren’t you? That’s where the F4 comes in with its built-in metronome. All tuners are in selected stores now. Go to www.freshmanguitars.co.uk for more info.

Hobgoblin Music Open Canterbury Store

Folk and traditional instrument specialists Hobgoblin Music have opened a new shop in Canterbury. The shop stocks hundreds of acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles and other traditional instruments. Hobgoblin Music have eight other shops across the UK, but until now customers in Kent have had to travel to Sussex or London, or use the mail order service in order to buy their traditional instruments. The new Hobgoblin branch is in the premises formerly occupied by

the keyboard and rock ’n’ roll shop Musicland. As well as having a big folk music department, Hobgoblin in Canterbury will continue to serve the local demand for mainstream musical instruments too, with a big keyboard and electric piano department, a big range of electric guitars, amps and basses, a selection of drum kits and accessories, and racks and racks of sheet music. Company owner Pete McClelland said: ‘We are so pleased to have this opportunity to open in

Canterbury. There is a huge interest in traditional and folk music in Kent, and in the past customers have frequently travelled from Kent to our other branches for our specialist range of instruments. In the last two years, Hobgoblin has been very successful, despite the recession. It would seem that when times are hard, people turn to music to cheer themselves up – playing a musical instrument is a great way to relax and enjoy yourself.’ www.hobgoblin.com

Sting’s Strings Sing With DPA It’s a far cry from his days with a little-known power trio called The Police (they did a few gigs here and there and were pretty low-key), but Sting’s new Symphonicity world tour sees him performing his hits and more unknown work with a full symphonic orchestra. Front-of-house engineer for the tour, Howard Page, has ensured that the entire string section is mic’d with DPA 4099s, with several more on radio packs for clarinet and trumpet soloists. Traditionally the mic-ing method for an orchestra entails mics being shared between two chairs or desks. But Howard feels that there is an issue with this: ‘The problem with that is the moment you add even a semi-rock group to a symphony orchestra, the inherent dynamics between the two are so out of balance; the natural volume that a violin puts out compared to what a guitar or a drum puts out is so wildly different. The DPAs are the best mics I’ve ever, ever found. They give me absolute separation: when I turn on a DPA 4099 on one violin I get one violin and barely anything else,.’ Page is convinced that the DPA 4099 instrument mic series will take off in a big way in the world of orchestral amplification, pointing to consistent mention of the rich sound of the orchestra in reviews. For more information visit www.dpamicrophones.com


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Martin Expand Performing Artist Series

Planet Waves Launch New Slide

Five new models announced Martin Guitar have expanded their Performing Artist range to include five all-new models, each of which features on-board electronics courtesy of the Fishman F1 Aura. The GPCPA2 is made with a solid East Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. This model also features an elegant three-piece back and fullgloss finish. The soundhole rosette is adorned with pearl. Available only in the Grand Performance cutaway body shape, the GPCPA Mahogany is the latest entry in Martin’s certified wood line-up. The Mahogany has a solid FSC-certified mahogany back, sides and neck, and a solid FSCcertified European spruce top.  The GPCPA3 is a gloss-top model built with solid East Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. The DCPA3 is built with solid East Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce

top, and comes in a gloss-top dreadnought model. The OMCPA3 includes the Fishman F1 Aura system. It comes with a gloss-top body and is built with solid East Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. The Fishman F1 Aura features on all the guitars include digital chromatic tuner, volume and blend controls, independent three-band EQ for both pickup and image signals, compressor, phase control, and an automatic anti-feedback filter with up to three notches. The F1 can also replicate the sound of nine different microphones, which can be blended in with the Gold+Plus undersaddle pickup. For more information visit www. performingartistseries. com and www.martinguitar.com

Rotosound Relaunch Super Bronze Acoustic Strings Rotosound have over 50 years’ experience in making some of the best instrument strings on the planet. In 1974, Rotosound’s founder James How pioneered the ‘contact core’-designed acoustic string originally known as ‘Country Golds’. The initial design was based on a string’s centre core resting

on the bridge of the guitar, which helps make a brighter sound, improve sustain and volume, and also slightly reduce the instrument’s action. The use of phosphor bronze (an alloy of copper, tin and phosphor made to Rotosound’s exact specifications) gives the strings a rich, full tone. Now the Super Bronze strings are back, using the latest manufacturing techniques and finest-quality materials. They are used by many top artists, including

Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Walter Trout, Bob Geldof and many others. Super Bronze strings are available in the following gauges: SB10   10/14/20w/28w/40w/50w SB11   11/15/22w/30w/42w/52w SB12   12/16/24w/32w/44w/54w The strings are available worldwide, and for further information on the range see www.rotosound.com/ super_bronze.html.

If you play slide but you don’t play it all the way through your set, it can sometimes be a hassle to find somewhere safe and secure to keep it when not needed. Odds are that if you put it on the floor or on top of a speaker, when you go back for it you’ll find it gone, often never to return. The new Takslyd by Planet Waves is a solution to this dilemma. With a Velcro material adhered to the custom flat surface of the slide, it means it can be placed on any surface, such as on the back of a headstock, an amp, a mic stand … or wherever you want. ‘When it comes to standardised musical accessory products, you have to think outside the box,’ says Rob Cunningham, Planet Waves product specialist. ‘The Takslyd from Planet Waves makes it possible for the average player to switch from standard to slide playing without effort. Plus, you’ll never lose it!’ Planet Waves’ Takslyd is available now. For more information visit www.planetwaves.com

Kit Holmes

New Album For 2011

Singer-songwriter Kit Holmes has recently finished recording her third album, which is due for release in early 2011. A collection of new songs and instrumentals, the album is full of Kit’s trademark sultry vocals and slick guitar playing. Having gone down a storm with audiences while supporting John Etheridge, Kit will be touring with her trio in support of the new album. Check out www.kitholmes.co.uk for more info on the album and tour dates. 09

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THIs THIsIssUe IssUeAll Allthe thelAtest lAtestproducts productsAnd Andnews news

John Hornby Mabon To Skewes Introduce New Fishman Amp Feature Loudbox Mini PRO-LBX-500 On New Compilation

Two Old Hippies Bedell Guitars Now

Available In The UK

The Bedell range of guitars have been gaining quite a name for themselves thanks to their premium construction and great tones, while not breaking the bank. Their all-solid-wood guitars start at £679 and are all handcrafted from high-grade hand-picked tonewoods. Bedell electro-acoustics feature Fishman electronics, with each series model sonically ‘image programmed’ using Fishman’s Aura Technology to ensure a perfect pickup blend within the acoustic properties of the guitar, ariauk.com and utilising soundhole controls Look out for a review of one of for a subtle cosmetic approach. the Bedell guitars in an upcoming Irish guitarist and co-founder of The Boomtown Rats, Gerry Cott, is set to The guitars are now available in issue. release an album of instrumental solo acoustic guitar songs. Entitled Urban the UK, via Aria Distribution: www. Soundscapes, the album comprises 12 original guitar pieces and a unique arrangement for solo guitar of Lennon & McCartney’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’. With Urban Soundscapes Cott has recorded a guitar album for aficionados and players alike. It was rehearsed and recorded in the old-fashioned way – live in the studio, in single takes without editsand or clean-ups – on University of over Sound Records. A former editor of Guitarist Guitar Techniques and with 150,000 guitar says: ‘I wanted guitar recordings to engage the listener’ s right tuitionCott books sold, it goesthese without saying that David Mead knows his stuff. He disengage the left! No narrative to impose or direct hasbrain nowand released an all-acoustic solovocal album, Arboretum. Produced by attention; Martin thethe listener decides go withinstrumentals it. Since childhood, village,the town and city Taylor, album offerswhere up 13 to engaging that display breadth soundscapes have me. We travelthe through detail our daily lives, of David’ s talent on thefascinated acoustic. Thematically tracks the act as the of soundtrack alone likeanEleanor Rigby, or in the midst of album family, friends or strangers. to aperhaps day in the life of imaginary woodland, and the is now available for But always we travel solo within an urban soundscape. ’ direct order via his website: www.davidmead.net. David has also recently joined the ranks of Acoustic’s contributors, so look out for guitar reviews and interviews outwell theas website, for moreDADGAD info. by Check David, as his newwww.gerrycott.com, tuition column for beginning playing.

Fishman’s Loudbox series has won many awards and plaudits so far, and the Mini is the most compact and portable in the range. With 60 watts of power Welsh band Mabon have at your disposal, the Mini offers been creating quite a stir of late enough grunt for most of your and have now been chosen small-gig needs. Features include: for inclusion on a box set that highlights the finest artists in modern Celtic music. Beginner’s Guide To Celtic is compiled by Mary Ann Kennedy, presenter of BBC Radio 3’s World On 3, and is out now. The 44-track three-disc set traces the history of Celtic music from the acts that ignited the Celtic music scene

to leading contemporary acts and bands like Mabon, who mix Celtic influences with mainstream sensibilities. Other acts featured include Cerys Matthews, Capercaillie, separate instrument and vocal Karine Polwart, John McCusker channels with master volume, , Peatbog Faeries, Salsa built-in digital reverb andCeltica, chorus, Altan, Brenda andplayers, the auxiliary inputs Wootton for CD/MP3 Battlefield balanced XLRBand. DI output, and a Says Mary Ann Kennedy: feedback-busting phase switch. ‘This compilation represents the RRP: £449 broadest possible side to Celtic www.jhs.co.uk music and reclaims the territory from all that Celtic pish! When we were researching artists for the album, Mabon stood out as a breath of fresh air in Welsh music.’ www.mabon.org www.myspace.com/ mabonband

Boomtown Rat Goes Acoustic Gerry Cott to release solo album

David Mead Releases New Solo Album

rotosoundacoustic acousticguitar guitarstrings strings rotosound Jumbo (Phosphor Bronze) Jumbo KingKing (Phosphor Bronze) Our selling best selling acoustic string. Phosphor Our best acoustic string. Phosphor Bronze wound Acoustic strings Bronze wound Acoustic GuitarGuitar strings with with superb and sustain. superb warmwarm tone,tone, clarityclarity and sustain. Favoured by such as John Favoured by such artistsartists as John Renbourn and Geldof. Bob Geldof. Available Renbourn and Bob Available in in five,string six string gauges and three, twelve five, six gauges and three, twelve gauges. stringstring gauges. Super Bronze (Phosphor Bronze) Super Bronze (Phosphor Bronze) Originally known as Country Gold’s, Originally known as Country Gold’s, a great sounding acoustic a great sounding acoustic stringstring due due it’s ‘contact design. Pioneered to it’sto‘contact core’core’ design. Pioneered by Rotosound in 1974. The choice by Rotosound in 1974. The choice for for long sustain and brightness, long sustain and brightness, thesethese strings also slightly reduce the action strings also slightly reduce the action on on any instrument, available any instrument, available in in six string gauges. three,three, six string gauges.

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Tommy Emmanuel 50thAnniversary Tour Workshops added to gig dates

Find Guitar Lessons

As part of his 50th-anniversary celebration tour, Australian guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel will be touring the world with his band and content. They have the ability to developers Edoru LtdUK. have willWeb be doing five shows in the ‘associate’ with registered students, justthis launched Guitar Since period ‘Find falls over theLessons’ May , instant-message their approved a site designed to simplify finding bank holiday weekend, he is unable students and share lessons.  local his guitar tuition. The siteevent has to have annual Tommyfest The website is free to register developed to tie beinmore butbeen he has decided to some for students and there is a four-tier thanworkshops just a directory, though, guitar with the tour, and system in place for teachers, from to help thewith first additional confirmed features date, tickets for a free basic listing to premium tutors students which aresupport now ontheir sale, is taking via memberships which start at just uploaded lessons, and1stlinks place in Newcastle onMP3s Sunday £25 for the whole year and include to2011. YouTube videos. May Other datesRegistered are to be all the features mentioned above. players confi rmed. can post their music The site focuses solely on guitar events, access secure resources tuition and subsequently Edoru and submit news articles for Sunday 1st May 2011 publication on the main site,The Clunyare Guitar workshop: Newcastle, 2, investing 2.00pm heavily in substantial media and online marketing providing additional exposure to the Tommy Concert: Tommy Emmanuel with Emmanuel Band! campaigns. Sister sites covering their teaching services. Newcastle City Hall, 7.30pm (no support) Premium tutor listings Box offi ce telephone: 0191include 261 2606 piano, vocals, bass and drums are due for launch. a fully user-managed microsite, www.tommyemmanuel.com www.findguitarlessons.co.uk giving tutors 24/7 access to their www.nemproductions.com

New site to help find tuition

Sandarac Official Distributor New Classical Guitar Rangefor Schatten Design From Freshman

Pickup manufacturer looking to grow business lyre-ended gearedUK machine head

Freshman have announced the UK launch of their new range of Canadian pickup manufacturers Manuel Ferrino classical guitars. The Schatten Design have first available model is theteamed Student up with Sandarac to bring their Classical. Each guitar comes complete wide range acoustic with a carry bagofand has a instrument high-gloss pickups the UK.binding, Schattena offer spruce top,to multi-ply handpickups for almost finished Spanish-style every rosetteacoustic and instrument on the market, from

with pearloid butterfly buttons. steel-and nylon-string guitars The instruments are available to archtops, banjos, mandolins, in three sizes – full, 1/2 and 3/4 – andare more. A highly andukuleles all guitars available for an respected wallet-friendly company in North unbelievably price of America, under £100. with many artist endorsees, Sandarac’s Garry Tyrell is excited www.freshmanguitars.co.uk by the new partnership: ‘Schatten

New Online Strung Out Mixing Service Launched D’Addario introduce new strings Several UK engineers havea D’Addario have announced pitched in together and couple of new additions to their launched Music Mixing, a product line:Online flatwound Mandolin new and online service thatBanjo provides strings stainless steel direct access for labels and artists strings. to some of the best production The flatwound Mandolin talentareinconstructed the industry.using The line-up strings features suchofwell-respected a combination interlocking engineers as on Nicka hex Terrycore, – whose underwindings credits include Simian Mobile which builds the foundation The outer Libertines and The forDisco, a delicate flat (ribbon) KlaxonsCreated – and Dave Pemberton, winding. for jazz, who has closely with classical andworked folk players, they are Liam Howlett of the Prodigy designed to deliver unparalleled on their album, and also comfort forlatest playing closedwith Orbital, Theand Tingup Tings position fingerings the and Goldfrapp. Clients can fretboard. tailor the service their own The stainless steeltoBanjo requirements by requesting strings were developed in a specific engineer conjunction with someand of then fromplayers a range of service thechoosing finest banjo in the levels andextensive price points. They world. After research, also have encouraged to provide D’Aare ddario determined extensive notes and references

Design deliver intelligently designed, great-sounding pickups for a wide range of acoustic instruments that accurately and consistently reproduce the true sound of your instrument. We are delighted to bring these affordable and highperformance pickups to the UK. We are particularly pleased to be able to offer pickup solutions for some of the more niche instruments or styles found in the traditional folk, bluegrass, rockabilly and Celtic

they upload theirratio session thewhen optimal core-to-wrap ‘Wetension. make sure forfiles. proper Theythe areengineer is always to chat if designed toavailable be extremely longnecessary, ’ MD Daniel Hulme lasting and contain a stainless says. ‘Our aimhas is tobecome create a onesteel 4th, which to-one dialogue between a standard for today’s most client and engineer, even though the admirable banjo manufacturers. service is provided remotely. alsoinformation send a proof ForWe more onof the mix so visit any final D’Abefore ddariocompletion strings, please adjustments can be made.’ www.daddario.com For more information go to www.onlinemusicmixing.co.uk

music world, along with some great products for the more mainstream acoustic and classical guitars.’ www.schattendesign.com www.sandarac.co.uk

s Tru Bronze (80/20 Bronze) Tru Bronze (80/20 Bronze) Our alternative acoustic Our alternative acoustic guitarguitar stringstring to to the 92/8 series. Comprising the 92/8 series. Comprising brassbrass wire wire covers, strings the resonant covers, thesethese strings offer offer the resonant advantages of such coupled advantages of such coupled with with considerable and tone, available considerable clarityclarity and tone, available in three, six string gauges. in three, six string gauges. Nexus Acoustic Poylmer Coated) Nexus Acoustic (Clear(Clear Poylmer Coated) a great acoustic our JK Take Take a great acoustic stringstring from from our JK range, it a smooth polycoat dressing range, give itgive a smooth polycoat dressing andhave you have `Nexus Bronze` the string and you `Nexus Bronze` the string fornext the generation next generation of acoustic sound. for the of acoustic sound. It offers a unique its with own the with the It offers a unique tone tone of its of own enriched way to softer usualusual enriched highshighs givinggiving way to softer gentle mid-tones a smooth gentle mid-tones with awith smooth feel, feel, longer lifetarnish and tarnish prevention built in. longer life and prevention built in. Available in three, six string gauges. Available in three, six string gauges.

www.rotosound.com www.rotosound.com 16:46

News 48_BC.indd News 49_BC.indd 11 11

21/10/2010 16:47 25/11/2010 14:06 19/07/2010 10:26 19/07/2010 10:26


The London Acoustic Guitar Show 10th-11th September 2011

In Association with Acoustic Magazine

When it comes down to brass tacks the most important aspect of an acoustic guitar is its natural, unplugged sound. Players spend their whole lives hunting for that particular combination of

tonewoods and design that will take them to sonic heaven. Sadly, it can be almost impossible to gauge an instrument’s qualities and subtleties at a guitar show when you’re up against a wall


of distorted electric guitars. But Oyster House has the solution. The London Acoustic Guitar Show 2011 will be the event for anyone who has a passion for the acoustic guitar. Held at the prestigious London Olympia, to offer the finest exhibition experience, this new show will be the industry’s greatest opportunity to showcase its products to an eager and specialised audience. The exhibition hall will house stands by ‘blue chip’ companies, leading brands and specialist luthiers, all offering their instruments for perusal and testing. In addition to the exhibition, the show will include a 300 capacity educational room with clinics and workshops provided by leading players, plus live performances from artists in the 450 capacity live stage

auditorium. The London Acoustic Guitar Show 2011 will be an event like no other: a show with the sole mission of being the greatest live advocate of the acoustic guitar and its music in the UK. The whole team will be at the show and we look forward to meeting our readers and serving up a packed weekend full of acoustic guitar

Charity Auction and Concert for Rob Armstrong

We mentioned in a previous issue that Gordon Giltrap would be auctioning off a tenor guitar made by the late Dave Hodson in order to raise money to help Rob Armstrong. Rob’s workshop was destroyed in a fire, resulting in the total loss of his entire set up. We’re happy to announce that John Hornby Skewes are also joining the effort and offering the chance to win a Vintage Gordon

Giltrap signature model too. The guitar was reviewed by David Mead in issue 48 and he was left astounded at the quality of the instrument, so much so that he actually bought the review guitar direct from JHS! Acoustic is putting up both guitars for auction via EBay. Go to our website and click on the Charity Auction button which will direct you to the bidding pages. And don’t forget that Gordon will also be performing a fund raising concert at St Michael’s Church in Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire on March 26th at 7.30pm. Tickets will cost £12 (concessions £10). For those of you with SatNav, the postcode of the venue is CV47 2QJ Postcode for satnav’s : CV47 2QJ Tickets will be £12 (concessions £10)


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WIN: A signed Rodrigo Y Gabriela Poster Former Acoustic cover artists Rodrigo Y Gabriela are world famous for their technical acoustic re-workings of classic rock and heavy metal songs. As such they’ve found fans on both sides of the plugged/unplugged divide. Yamaha guitars have kindly put up a signed poster of the Mexican duo for one lucky reader to win. To be in with a chance go to yamahadownload.yamahaeurope.com and find the answer the following questions: 1. Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela both use Yamaha NX guitars to perform their unique style of music. Which guitars from the NX series do they play?

2. Which colours are the NTX700’s available in? 3. The Yamaha NX Series uses  A.R.T pickups.  What does A.R.T. stand for? Once you have the answers go to www.acousticmagazine.com and click on the competitions button, submit your answers and contact details then cross your fingers! Closing date: 14th of January 2011. The winner will be picked at random and notified by telephone. Employees of Oyster House Media and Yamaha may not enter. There is no cash alternative, the editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to. Multiple entries will not be accepted.



An exclusive guitar designed and built by Michael Sanden and Tanglewood Guitars.

This issue we feature an interview with luthier Michael Sanden, who talks at length about his association with Tanglewood Guitars. And thanks to the kind folks at Tanglewood and Michael we can offer one lucky reader the chance to create a bespoke one-off MasterDesign guitar with Michael. The winner will get the chance to make selections of wood combinations and other aspects of the guitar to ensure that theirs is a true original that no other person can buy.

To be in with a chance to win this amazing prize go to www. tanglewoodmasterdesign.com and find out the answer to the following question:

When you have the answer go to www. acousticmagazine.com and click on competitions and submit your answer and contact details.

Closing date: 28/01/2011 The winner will be picked at random and notified by telephone. Employees of Oyster House Media or Tanglewood Guitars may not enter. There is no cash alternative, the editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to. Multiple entries will not be accepted. The winner will be required to provide a photograph of themselves with the prize and an accompanying statement, to feature in a following issue.

How many models of MasterDesign guitars are available?


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#26430 - Acoustic Rodrigo Ad:Layout 17/12/2009 12:41 Page 1

Rodrigo y Gabriela and Yamaha NX Guitars. Break the boundaries. On stage and in the studio, guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela's fast, precise picking and energetic rhythms demand new levels of dynamics, tone and playability from a nylon-strung guitar. They choose to play Yamaha NX. Developed in conjunction with leading guitarists, including Rodrigo y Gabriela, the NX Series combines the class-leading technology from our innovative APX electro-acoustics with our decades of experience in classical guitars to create an instrument that evokes the rich tonal heritage of nylon-strung guitars while allowing players to escape the technical and stylistic boundaries of what is possible on the instrument. Visit our website to discover more about the the full range of Yamaha NX guitars, with prices starting from under ÂŁ600rrp, and hear them in action on Rodrigo y Gabriela's highly acclaimed third studio album, 11:11.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - 11:11 Available now For news and tourdates visit www.rodgab.com

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www.yamahaacoustics.co.uk Download the latest Yamaha podcast at www.yamahadownload.co.uk

25/11/2010 15:58



The legendary shred master lets us in on his acoustic side

On my new album, Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards, I used a 1948 triple-O Martin that I’ve owned for a very long time. Most of the electric guitars were already recorded and I decided to play acoustic around them. I remember this one take where I was doing this kind of triplet strum, and it really came alive. That guitar is just so beautiful when you play it delicately. It looks

terrible – maybe it sat in a puddle of water or something for a long time, because the front looks pretty bad, but I had it restored and now it has the most intense intonation you can imagine. It has a split bridge, which allows me to play all the way up and down the neck. I’ve been playing it on records ever since Crystal Planet back in 1998. It’s a very popular guitar in my house – it was my son’s favourite guitar for a long time. I also have a signature Ibanez, the JSA. When we made it we set about solving some problems. First there’s the feedback issue of playing an acoustic live, then there’s the intonation issue, and then, of course, there’s the problem that when you’ve been playing electric all night and you pick up an acoustic it can’t have a high action. For players like myself, you really need to work on an acoustic to fit it into a show seamlessly, so we came up with a body that wasn’t too big or too small. I wanted extended cutaways so I could get way up there on the neck. I insisted on really great intonation and we came up with materials that I thought would work acoustically. I didn’t want a cardboard-sounding guitar that was mainly for plugging in, because I knew that at home

I wouldn’t be plugging it in at all. I think we got it right – the body isn’t so big that I have problems onstage, where you can only set up in a certain spot or you can’t have floor monitors. I also wanted to simplify the electronics; my big thing was that I didn’t want them to cut a hole in the side of the body to put some awful electronic device in it! That way, the tone is gone. It was so great that Ibanez wanted to do a signature guitar for me, because I’d been wondering what to do – the acoustic guitars were starting to pile up but I didn’t have one that I could really take on tour. As a lot of people with old guitars will know, some of these antique instruments have value as collectable items but they don’t actually work very well. I really didn’t have a guitar that I could just take out and it would be reliable without being a risk; I only had these expensive guitars. I have a 1932 Martin, for example, and there was no way I was going to bring that out on the road. Yeah, I know – it’s a nice problem to have … Joel McIver Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards is out now. Info: www.satriani.com


‘GREAT CANADIAN SONGBOOK’ TOUR, EXETER PICTUREHOUSE It’s easy to forget that prior to Paxton, Dylan et al, folk singers rarely used their own material, nor were they expected to. And it’s easier still to forget (or never even know) that after the contemporary folk movement had taken root in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village in the 60s, many of the finest singersongwriters to emerge from that golden era were Canadians. Whether Keith James’s Great Canadian Songbook tour was motivated purely by a love of the music, or by a more messianic urge to put the record straight, isn’t clear. Either way the tribute is both welcome and long overdue, and never more so than when offered by an artist such as James, who has the range and ability to do justice to so weighty and culturally significant a catalogue. Indeed, James’s expressive, confident baritone and baroque-folk guitar style is ideally suited to the task. What’s more, he clearly ‘gets’ the

music, and appreciates the issues and idealism that underpinned so much of the 60s and early 70s. Which might explain why, for the most part, he opted for singing ’em straight, with a sensitive, pleasingly understated delivery – all the better that the songs might speak for themselves. And 40 years on they still can, with remarkable self-assurance. Neil Young’s ‘After The Gold Rush’ is as lyrical and puzzling as ever, ‘Southern Man’ as incensed, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ as quixotic, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ as multilayered and enigmatic. The rogue number, though no less worthy of inclusion, was Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’, a song that tends to stretch things a tad on the simile front, but hey, so does Keats. Call me oldfashioned, but they don’t, they just don’t, write ’em like that anymore. Noel Harvey


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Headway Equalizer Direct Blend EDB-1 Preamp


nown and respected for their excellent snake pickups, Headway products have certainly lived up to the company name. Where this preamp makes headway beyond much of the competition is not only its compact and rugged construction, but more importantly in its feature set and sonic qualities. Included are: independent channels gain for your stereo inputs; an XLR channel two-microphone input; five-band active EQ; phantom powering for both jack and XLR; balanced XLR and jack line-out outputs; phase switch and impedance selector for each respective channel; and switchable notch filter and Quotient width control knob. The impedance selector allows interchange of instrument with almost any acoustic guitar or microphone you may choose to plug in, also accommodating most pickup types imaginable. There is a mute switch and a master volume output potentiometer to further manage your output signal levels and an all-essential ground lift switch which works as a tag team player in beating feedback into submission with the notch filter. The unit is bristling with well-thought-out and comprehensive functionality, but what exactly is the Q knob for? What does the Range switch with interesting bass, guitar

and violin settings do for you? Will it cook my dinner? The notch filter works for both channels and the line-outs. The Q knob is a tone-cut control and controls how wide a cut you make from the frequency you have selected on the frequency control knob. If you wish to remove more bandwidth or more cut of a given frequency, turn the Q knob anticlockwise. If you want the same frequency to have less bandwidth cut from it, turn the Q knob clockwise – simple. As such, you can use this control as an additional EQ feature, cutting heavily or subtly certain frequencies from your sound, allowing great tonal personalisation. To modify bottomor high-end feedback problems, it is good practice to start out with minimal cut on the undesired frequency and then gradually increase this cut according to your desired sound, avoiding too much thinness of tone. To shape your mid range more effectively, do the opposite by starting out with more cut (Q knob turned anticlockwise) and gradually dial in less cut/more width of signal (turning the Q knob clockwise) to produce the main bulk of character of your tone. A feedback buster, or relocating microphones, may also be very practical considerations should problems persist. The Range switch cuts out bottom-end

boominess from the respective instrument setting selected while allowing the desirable treble frequencies through. The unit is mains powered or will take batteries, and in phantom-powered use will last about 100 hours with lithium batteries. You can double this if phantom powering is turned off. Because this is a power-thirsty unit, you cannot phantom-power it off a mixing desk via the XLR output. Although there are side dishes all over this platter, no, it will not cook your dinner, but it will aid a great night out gigging. Russell Welton

Peavey AmpKit LiNK A portable amp and effects unit


his little and unassuming box is an interface to a great many creative sound tools between your guitar and iPhone by means of an additional application that you are required to download. It is compatible with the iTouch, iPad and iPhone. The small white box contains two AAA batteries, an input to plug your instrument into, and a headphone-out cable. The download application itself is £11.99 and for this you receive four different amplifier heads modelled on Peavey’s Colonel Vintage, 3120, ValveKing and Grit units, along with their respective controls all nicely simplified into sliders on screen, plus a selection of effect pedals. The 3120 has three channels, but perhaps one of the best assets of the software is that you can use different settings on each of the different channels of the simulated amp. On the negative side there is a small degree of latency, which you may expect, but you soon get more accustomed to this if you continue playing for a little while. You

can monitor your input and signal levels for clipping and there is a built-in digital tuner and metronome which allows you to easily select different tempos with a touch screen slider. There is also a noise gate effect and an overdrive pedal called the Eleveniser, Peavey’s Tube Screamer-esque unit. In trialling this unit, one of my friends decided he wanted an iPhone just so that he could use this application. The more desirable delays and reverbs are what you will find yourself hankering after, and although you are not obliged to purchase the basic suite of effects for £11.99 as they are available separately, it works out more cost-effective to do this. Alternatively, use the basic AmpKit Free collection of tools. All interfacing is very intuitive and easy to navigate your way around, making for a smooth ‘workflow’ of musical ideas. All in all a handy piece of kit that drags amp modelling into the 21st century. SRP: £29 Russell Welton


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© Getty Images



LOVE OVER GOLD Artist: Dire Straits Label: Vertigo Released: September 1982 Album track listing: Telegraph Road Private Investigations Industrial Disease Love Over Gold It Never Rains


ire Straits’ fourth album is considered the group’s most ‘progressive’ effort of all its. Featuring only five songs in total Love Over Gold is underscored by long, experimental passages, atmospheric flourishes and acoustic-tinged shadings. It was also the first album to feature the 6-string contributions of guitarist Hal Lindes, who joined the group after the release of Making Movies in 1980. After the group’s ’80/’81 Making Movies world tour, Mark Knopfler made the decision to spend some time in New York City. Afterwards, upon his return to London, he reassembled the group at Wood Wharf Rehearsal Studios in Greenwich, South London. Situated next to the Cutty Sark and overlooking the Thames, it provided a picturesque setting for the album’s songwriting process. ‘It was a somewhat rough-andtumble place with an organic vibe that was highly conducive to the creative process,’ remembers Lindes today. ‘At low tide, there was the banging of hammers against barges in need of repair, and at day’s end the red sun would set like a

fireball over the Thames. Mark would run down a tune, usually on his Ovation Adamas, while the rest of us would scribble down the chord changes. If Mark had a specific part in mind, he would spend some time with the player and craft the part. At some point the song would be played by the band, and Mark would usually hear something in one of the parts one of the musicians was working on and would spend time with that player refining it. Little by little, the tunes would get shaped and fine-tuned.’ By the time the band holed itself up in Studio A at the legendary Power Station recording studios in New York in March of 1982, Love Over Gold was slated to be a double album. A good number of songs were eventually recorded, but at some point the core album became the five songs featured on the final record. ‘Private Dancer’ (later recorded by Tina Turner) and ‘The Way It Always Starts’ were just two of the songs that were left off the album. Lindes also notes that during the sessions ‘…a young Jon Bongiovi (later to become Bon Jovi) was sweeping the floors and making the tea, while his

cousin Barry was assisting the engineer, Neil Dorfsman. And through the three or so months it took to complete the album, pretty much every artist who was relevant at the time, from David Bowie to Bruce Springsteen to the Rolling Stones, could be found in the TV lounge outside Studio A.’ When it came to the acoustic guitars for the basic cutting sessions, Lindes used a 1972 Martin D-35. For both the tracks ‘Love Over Gold’ and ‘Private Investigations’, Knopfler played an Ovation Classical for the main guitar part. When it came to capturing the acoustic tones in the studio, the process was meticulous. ‘For my acoustic rhythm overdubs,’ explains Lindes, ‘I had a small silver condenser microphone – possibly a Neumann KLM84 or an AKG 451 – pointing towards the top of the soundhole just below where the fretboard meets the body. There was also a second microphone – possibly a Neumann U 67 – about a foot or two away from the guitar between the bridge and the bottom edge of the guitar. It’s quite likely that Neil Dorfsman would have taken a direct feed from the Ovation pickup and possibly included it into the overall blend.’ The album’s centrepiece is the epic tour de force ‘Telegraph Road’, which Knopfler first began writing back in the autumn of 1980 while on the US leg of the group’s Making Movies tour. ‘He would stay on after soundchecks, working on composing the music on the stage piano,’ recalls Lindes. ‘It was while the band’s tour bus was slowly inching its way into Detroit, frozen in the concrete- and pylon-encased traffic jam, that Mark sat alone at the front of the tour bus and began scribbling the lyrics to “Telegraph Road”. It was later added to the set list during the world tour, and had the opportunity of being well played in before it was recorded.’ Recording subsequently wrapped up in June, with sessions moving into the adjoining Studio B of the Power Station’s complex for mixing, using the studio’s own SSL console. The artwork on the album pretty much sums up the atmosphere of the mixing sessions – low, subdued lighting and plumes of cigarette smoke wafting across the greencoloured letters on the SSL computer screens. In August 1982, one month before the album’s official release, ‘Private Investigations’ was released as the album’s first single, eventually peaking at number 2 in the UK charts. The album ultimately climbed all the way up to the top of the UK charts, spending four weeks at the top, a feat it achieved in 16 other countries as well. Joe Matera


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RETUNE YOUR EARS Presenting new, interesting or alternative musicians. Listen to something different. With Joel McIver. RETUNE


YOUR EARS Acoustic tunes with retro style



My acoustic playing has evolved since my thrashy, angry teenage years to a mellower, delicate approach. I find that the softer you stroke and pick, the more the notes ring and sustain. That sounds a bit sensual, but that’s what I want to hear. Bert Jansch has to be my favourite acoustic player; when I was a kid, my parents had records by Pentangle and his solo records. What I love about his style is the combination of American blues, jazz and English folk. I would love to jam with him someday. Another hero is Nick Drake – so concise and yet so fluid and free. I love the sound of a 12-string, especially on the early Bowie records, but I personally find it somewhat limiting as an instrument. Try a quatro instead: it has eight strings in four pairs, is normally tuned to GCGC and is really fun to play – like a mandolin, but less plinky. I spent years searching for the right acoustic, and then three years ago ‘Jolene’ – my Tanglewood jumbo hard-top – came to me almost by

accident. One day I was on Denmark Street in London, buying picks, and I just liked the look of her. Then I heard that sound – so lush and warm – I couldn’t believe it wasn’t some vintage Gibson and way out of my price range!  I hate acoustics with cutaways, buttons and faders. They always sound horrible through a PA. What you need is a guitar that doesn’t need EQ-ing or any tweaking, especially if you’re doing a walk-on at a festival or something where you don’t have your own sound engineer. You just wanna rock up, plug in and go. I sometimes use open tunings, but my thing is to use a capo and play different chord inversions way up the neck. I know some players who automatically drop the tuning open as if that’s going to make your playing instantly more distinctive. It’s more challenging to make something new with conventional tuning – that’s where it’s at for me. www.myspace.com/ nickmarshmusic

Digital Age in Denmark and will be recording my next album in the winter. My other band, Mimas, is releasing Lifejackets, our second album, and we’ll be touring heavily

throughout the autumn in the UK, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg. www.dadrocks.co.uk www.mimassite.com


Dad Rocks, Mimas

For my live set-up I mostly use my Garrison G20. I go through an RC-20 Boss loop pedal and a delay pedal called a Replica, which is a really nice, warm Danish pedal from T-Rex. I then go through a BigTone amp, which is also a T-Rex product. My style is mostly fast fingerpicking, with a certain amount of hammer-ons and pull-offs, and all the strings tuned into an open chord. I like chord progressions to move a bit slowly, but with a lot of notes that make up a good melody on top of bass notes and chords. One of my acoustic heroes would be Mike Kinsella, and another one would be Bill Callahan. They’re very different guitar

players, but there is a lot to love in both their styles. One of the best songwriters I’ve encountered recently would have to be Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem. I witnessed them live a month or so ago and was moved to tears. This is gonna sound like a cliché, but the secret of good playing is a lot of rehearsal and also not being afraid to discover other ways to play your guitar, such as using alternate tunings. It’s not going to make you a great guitar player if you tune your guitar differently, but it might teach you a bit about going in a different direction and not being afraid of making mistakes. I use DADF#AE a lot and GHDGHD sometimes. I just released an EP called


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YOUR EARS Catchy folk-pop singer-songwriter


I use both a Martin HD-35 and a Martin 000-28EC at gigs. The HD35 was bought when I started to gig seriously, and the 000-28EC came about three years later as a backup guitar, in case a string broke at a gig – instead of the Yamaha APX-7A I’d been using, which sounded dead compared to the Martin. The roles have now been reversed and the 000-28EC is my main guitar: it’s so beautiful to play, with a wonderful tone, and it’s smaller than the HD-35, which suits me. At gigs I normally DI through the PA and use an inline Boss floor tuner, although I have been known to occasionally use my old but dependable Marshall AS50R acoustic amp. I tend to keep the set-up simple and make the guitar do the work via my playing style rather than piling on effects. I must admit to experimenting with a JamMan looper/phrase sampler and a T-Rex Tremster but I haven’t

yet gigged with them. On tour and on holiday I always take my Shapelywood travel guitar. I can sit in a hotel bedroom or the back of a car and strum contentedly. I started playing classical guitar when I was six and didn’t buy my first acoustic guitar, a Yamaha APX-7A, until I was 14. I took to it immediately and loved it until I discovered Martin guitars. I still have the Yamaha but rarely play it. I never sell any of my guitars, so it shall remain with me forever. I don’t have one favourite acoustic guitar, I have two – either one of my Martins. They’re absolutely amazing guitars. At this moment I haven’t found anything to replace them, so we’ll probably be together for a long time. In any event, they just get better as time goes on. www.myspace.com/ ethanashmusic

– but I love my Gibson and my Baden too. Hardly any of my songs are in standard tuning. I use drop D, DADGAD, DADEAD, DF#DF#AE … I get bored easily and alternate tunings often mean interesting chord shapes and harmonies. I never, ever get tired of listening to James Taylor. His

guitar work is so accomplished but never interferes with the overall sound of the song. I also really admire Carole King, Joni Mitchell, The Sundays, and more recently on the blues/jazz side of things, the legendary Etta James. I once owned a Garrison 12-string acoustic which I used to record parts of my first album, Before I Know. I never played it live, as although I loved the sound I have really small hands and extended playing caused me to have some muscle strain. I learnt classical guitar when I was very young, so I had a couple of nylon-string guitars which gave me a solid foundation for the fingerstyle playing I have adopted later in life. I left guitar playing for a few years, then when I was 13 or 14 I was bought an Ozark 3391. After I’d finished school I started playing seriously and making up tunes, and they turned into songs – which turned into gigs. www.hollytaymar.com


YOUR EARS Smooth jazzy folk

I have three acoustic guitars which I use for different areas of my work. I write all my material on my beloved Ozark 3391 acoustic – it’s extremely playable and handy to have around when the mood takes me. I record using my Gibson SJ-200, for its luxurious bass tone. For practicality, when playing live I

use my Baden D-Style with an LR Baggs pickup – the guitar and the pickup combined give a crystal-clear sound through the best (and worst) of PA systems. Each guitar has its own qualities and character, and I usually find something I love about each one I play. For sentimental value, I’d say my Ozark 3391 is my favourite


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High energy flamenco strumming I play a Yamaha CGX-111SCA of the Stone Age, Jeff Buckley, classical guitar. I’ve been gigging Ben Folds Five and Rage Against very regularly with it for over a The Machine are some of my year now. It does the job and favourites. I have to admit that if I hasn’t put a foot wrong so far. met Noel Gallagher I’d probably be I also hit my guitar case with a slightly star-struck, as he was one bass drum pedal for some extra of the main reasons I learnt guitar rhythm. My music is pretty high in the first place. Even though I energy, with sound nothing like flamenco rhythms him now, he was a MY MUSIC IS mixed with blues bit of a hero growing PRETTY HIGH up, along with Jonny and folk. A lot of people have said from ENERGY, WITH Greenwood they can hear Radiohead. I detune Richie Havens, FLAMENCO my guitar quite John Martyn, to various RHYTHMS MIXED drastically Josh Homme and tunings in Bb. It Rodrigo y Gabriela WITH BLUES AND means I can get quite in my sound. In a lot of bass presence FOLK terms of acoustic and body to the artists, I like E from sound, while leaving the Eels, Seasick Steve, John Butler, quite a bit of room for more John Frusciante, Paul Weller and intricate lead parts if need be. Thom Yorke. A lot of the music I www.jameskellyacoustic.co.uk listen to tends to be non-acoustic, however, and I think that possibly influences my sound more. The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Queens




I use a pretty simple set-up, gearwise. Live, I have a decent DI box that goes everywhere, because you can never guarantee what a venue might have. My Takamine has a great EQ on it that does just about everything I need it to without colouring the natural sound of the instrument. My acoustic style depends on the song, but I’d say I’m half and half fingerpicking and plectrum work. My plectrum playing is fairly heavy and percussive, but being the only guitarist in our band I’ll often switch to more intricate arpeggiated stuff within one guitar part. I taught myself to fingerpick, and at the moment, if I pick up an acoustic to practise, fingerstyle will be what I’m practising. My favourite acoustic to date is the one I’m currently playing – my Takamine EG501S. It’s a smallish folk shape, which means that it’s incredibly comfortable to play. It has a beautiful tone and was perfect right out of the box, which I always think is the mark

of a great guitar. You don’t have to muck about with it to get it sounding and playing great! It records well and the preamp/EQ is seriously good quality. I’m always having sound guys tell me that it’s the best acoustic sound they’ve ever heard, so it must be doing something right. It has the right amount of brightness, with an incredibly rich tone for a relatively small-bodied guitar. Standard tuning works great for me, and I do like to use a capo to mix it up a bit. Apart from that I like DADGAD, but my favourite tuning at the moment is a strange one – CGEGCC. I’m not sure if it has a name, but it sounds great and has really changed the way I approach the instrument. www.myspace.com/ youngrunaways


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David Bateson The Tracks You Leave Behind

A first retrospective


Playing With Words

A second retrospective 2003-2006 Two albums, 44 acoustic songs. Gentleness for all. Enjoy what listeners in the UK, Canada, India, China, Singapore, Australia, Italy, Romania, France and Germany have discovered. Available on www.davidbateson.com

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CHAPMAN Yorkshire Folk Legend H

aving read previous interviews with Michael Chapman, the straight-talking, gruffly northern guitarist and songwriter, I was apprehensive about conducting what must seem, to him, yet another interview. After all, you could forgive a guy for being bored with it, having been a professional guitarist and songwriter since the 60s, and having produced and promoted over 30 albums in a prolific 40year career. But not a bit of it. Happy to tell all kinds of tales, I took advantage of the opportunity to take him back to when his musical journey started … ‘I was 15, I think. In school I hated history lessons and the teacher, so I used to sit and play guitar to annoy him, really. Which is not a thing to be proud of, is it? For some reason it turned out to be something that I could just do, it was never really an effort. I’ve no idea why, ’cause I couldn’t read or write music – still can’t. I just took to it like a fish to water.’

Coming so naturally, I wondered whether not reading or writing music had made learning to play or Chapman’s subsequent success more difficult to achieve … ‘I think it’s been a help, because it made me play like me instead of just copying other people. I played quite a bit of jazz early on and everyone wanted you to play really fast, so I used to copy Django Reinhardt solos. But then, after that, I decided I wanted to play like me, and I think not being able to read or write helped me in that. I was in all kinds of different bands but I’d never play like they expected me to play. And I’d never have heard the records that they wanted me to copy, so I was clueless. Once I’d turned professional I ended up in Hull, which had something like 170 working men’s clubs. They all had acts on at least three nights a week and I went to an audition. I’ve forgotten what I played, some Big Bill Broonzy or some jazz tune, and they said, “Can you play like Duane Eddy?” And I said yeah,

© Graham Smout


but I didn’t say I will. Duane Eddy plays like Duane Eddy. He doesn’t do any of my songs. Why should I do any of his?’ Looking back, despite his initial success it took Chapman a number of years to turn professional. Given his obvious talent and passion for music, I was curious to find out why. ‘Well, I was doing an arts degree. My mother thought I should go into the steelyard with my dad, and I just fell in love with education, so I had to find some way to fund my college courses and the guitar did it for me. So I didn’t turn pro until I was 26; I got my degree and then I taught for three years. It’s an oft-repeated story that I wound up in Cornwall with no money, nothing to do, and I followed a van with a folk club sticker in the back window. At the end of the evening the guy said, “If you stay here, you can play six nights a week and you get a share of the take.” And I earned two pounds more than I did being a head of department. I thought, I

can handle this – lie on the beach all day, have a few beers, hot- and cold-running girls. Folk clubs were very trendy in them days. They were full of young people.’ Chapman’s next step was into the studio. His first album, Rainmaker, was, by his own admission, a bit of an experiment … ‘A lot of Rainmaker was made up on the studio floor – I just sat and played, and whatever happened, happened. I’d been in a couple of tiny recording studios but I had no idea what London studios with other musicians could do, not a clue. So it was a very hit-and-miss affair. I think it’s alright – it’s naive but it’s alright.’ By his second album, Fully Qualified Survivor, Chapman had many more ideas about songs and direction. That clarity of purpose secured Survivor’s place as a classic album in John Peel’s collection, who named it as his favourite album of 1970. ‘By the time it came to do Survivor I had a few ideas of my own, and I had


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© Graham Smout

My on-the-road guitars are a Larriveé 05, a big acoustic. My electric is a 1952 Gibson 125, which is a big ol’ vintage jazz guitar. And Elixirs. After you use Elixirs, everything else feels like barbed wire.

a complete set of songs. Survivor was considered, for the first time, because I knew what I could consider. They wanted me to have all these London guys on it, and I said no, I’m bringing them with me from Hull. And the bass player, of course, was Rick Kemp. And John did me proud. Everyone said, “It’s alright for you ’cause your mate John Peel plays your record all the time …” I think I only met John twice, for about ten minutes. He just genuinely liked the record.’ Rick Kemp, of Steeleye Span fame, is just one of an array of high-profile musicians that Chapman has worked with. With so much talent around, I wanted to know how they went about putting the records together – whether Chapman retained control, or whether it was a more organic process … ‘I get the people I want to play on the record together, explain the structure of the songs to them and let them play. There’s no point getting a great guitar player like Mick Ronson and a

great bass player like Rick and a great drummer like Keith Hartley, and me telling them what to play – ’cause that’s what they’re good at. So in a way I turn some of the control over to them. Play what you want, play what you hear.’ A relaxed attitude towards the arrangement of songs has helped shape Chapman’s sound, but what about the lyrics? I was keen to explore his inspiration, and how he feels about the writing process … ‘I wish there was one! I took three months off the road to write an album and never got past the second line. It happens in the back of cars, on planes, wherever. I’ve always said that my songs are a diary of my life and the mishaps that it contains. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, of course. My songs are dark, as there’ve been dark patches in my life. But when you tour as a solo, you get to spend an awful lot of time being lonely. You’re not surrounded by tour managers and road crews, so you get time to

brood.’ Over his long career, Chapman has not only written a huge number of songs, he’s also gone back over material and reworked it. I asked him what the motivation behind that decision was: ‘Because I’ve changed, so why can’t I take my songs with me? I’ve seen them in a different light, and to be completely honest, my writing has almost dried up. You try not to panic about it because that’s going to make it even worse. But I’ve written something like 400 songs. Maybe that’s all the songs there is inside a person. I hope not.’ Although he claims to be drying up, Chapman has released one album already this year, Wrytree Drift. ‘It started off as a covers album, songs that I really respected. And the one before that started the same way, and in the middle of it I started covering myself! I’m not great at making plans – I come up with an idea, and wherever it goes, it goes. I’ve been working with Alex Warnes

who started off roadieing for me, and he’s engineered for me since he was about 20, and now we’re doing co-productions. He’s got a different slant on it. Between us, it doesn’t get too technical and it doesn’t get too loose.’   For a man who has had a packed 40-year career, surely approaching 70 would make Chapman consider slowing down. Not so: he’s still touring and planning more releases before the year is out. ‘There’s a lot happening the other side of the Atlantic. They’re rereleasing Fully Qualified Survivor in California and I’ve got a double CD coming out in New York on 25th January on Tompkins Square Records. I did a five-week tour earlier this year after I came back from America. Yes, I’m tired! I’ve been doing it since 1966, for Christ’s sake. I’m 70 in January. So is it any wonder? But I go on the road a week on Saturday and I can’t wait. It must be built in. If I walk on a stage to play, I own the world. It’s what I do.’ Kate Lewis


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Iris DeMent

Her songs deal with life and its ups and downs. Iris talk to Gareth L Powell about her life as a songwriter


ris DeMent is a singersongwriter known for her evocative vocal style and spare, heartfelt performances. She released her acclaimed debut album, Infamous Angel, in 1992, following it with three further albums: My Life (1994), The Way I Should (1996), and Lifeline (2004). She has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home

Companion, and her music has appeared in a number of films and TV shows. What’s your favourite acoustic guitar? A couple of years ago I started playing a little guitar that my husband Greg Brown gave to me. It was made by a fellow here in Iowa named David Flammang, and it’s just my favourite guitar.


I really like it. It’s a small-bodied guitar but it’s got a lot of depth and range to it and it holds up really well on the road. I also have a Martin and I had a Gibson that I loved until recently, when I passed it on to a friend. Predominantly, I play the piano onstage and only do four or five numbers on the guitar, so I don’t really consider myself a guitar player. I used to use the guitar as accompaniment when I started out, before I got to the level where I could ask venues to provide pianos for me. For a few months I played with a band and carried a keyboard around with me, but I hate keyboards. I felt like a fool sitting up there with this tiny

thing in front of me. What got you into writing and playing music? A lot of my sisters and brothers were songwriters and formed music groups through the church, and travelled around and sang their songs. So I was around that kind of music since I was little, and had a great appreciation of that way of life and the idea that you could say what you wanted to in a song, and then go and play it for someone and have them get something out of it. I wrote my first song when I was 25. I put many hours of effort into it, and when it came to me I just knew that songwriting


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was what I was supposed to do with my life. I had this sense that nothing would get in my way. It was a really great time in my life. I moved to Nashville and met some great people and made a few records, and since then I’ve managed to continue going out and singing for people and doing what I love. What drew you to country music? My family’s from Arkansas, and even though I was a kid when we moved out to California, I had that atmosphere of Southern culture and music in the house, trickling down to me, and I couldn’t have wound up anywhere else. I grew up with a

great appreciation for country and gospel music, and a great appreciation for that world, and it feels familiar and natural to me. I think one thing about that music, like Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette and a lot of the gospel music, is that the people who were creating songs at that time had a real picture of themselves as being part of something, rather than being the something themselves. They understood the community and culture they were all wrapped up in, and a lot of great music came out of that understanding that they were a link in the chain, and I think that’s what pulls me back to Johnny Cash and Jimmy Rogers and all that great old

gospel music. They’re talented but they’re singing from a place that’s so much bigger than them, and I think I’m really lucky that I came from the place I did, because that was really impressed upon me in the church and by the way my family approached life. I knew music wasn’t about me selling a million records, it was about being a part of something, playing out my role in that big, old thing. That, to me, is the joy and beauty of the whole thing. Has your upbringing brought a religious or spiritual dimension to your work? I don’t think of myself as a religious songwriter and I’m not part of any formal church or anything like that. I couldn’t even tell you right now what I think of God. Is there one or isn’t there one? I care less and less every day. All I know is what I feel inside me when I sit down to write or sing, when I go down inside myself as deep as I can and feel very at peace and very hooked into the sea of life. If that makes me a spiritual singer-songwriter, then so be it.

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Do you prefer playing live to working in the studio? Oh yeah! I’ve gotten to where I prefer singing to an audience than singing alone in my house, which is quite a flip because it used to be the opposite. I still have nervousness about playing live, but it’s different than it used to be, and I feel more deepdown calmer up there than I do anywhere else. I probably feel best in life when I’m onstage really singing. Not chatting between songs, but really singing. I feel very close to people and feel like I’m sharing all the best parts of myself and the places where I came from; and even though the audience isn’t talking back to me, it feels like a two-way communication, like we’re all getting something out of this thing. Do you have a favourite live venue? One place that might be my favourite one year, and I might look forward to playing, might not be so great when I go back. I’ve realised over the years that the favourite thing is a result of what was going on with the audience that night, whatever was going on with me and the weather. It’s that mix of everything that can make a rotten venue perfect and a perfect venue rotten. A room where the sound

is always great is always going to be a pleasure to play, no doubt about that, but some places are dark and you just can’t rise above it. Do new songs come out of playing live? For me, it’s really separate, although it’s always a pleasure to look forward to, to take a new song out that I feel really strongly about and play it live. I’m sure that knowing I’m going to go out and sing is part of the motivation for creating the songs, but I wrote for years and years before I had the opportunity to play my music to people. I couldn’t write a song during a soundcheck because I’m usually too nervous between the soundcheck and the show to go into writing mode. I need to be away from everything and relax in a calm and unamplified state, although I have tried out a lot of songs in soundchecks, to see if they work, and I’ve ditched quite a few that didn’t feel right in that particular room. Of all your records, is there one that holds special memories for you? I have to say that the record that’s been least heard, and that I did absolutely no press for, is a gospel record called Lifeline that I put out in 2004, which kind of fell down the cracks. I took a lot of songs that I’d grown up singing and still had a place in my heart, and I recorded them and put them on a CD, and the whole recording experience was different for me because I wasn’t recording songs I’d written, so it took a little bit of pressure and self-consciousness off me. And I felt so much company with me when I was singing those songs: I felt part of a community and family, and all the history of those songs, and all the people who’d sung those songs over the decades, and I felt really honoured to sing those songs and make that record. It’s the only record of mine that I can listen to to this day. I can’t remember the last time I put one of my CDs on. I run out of the room if someone else does. I feel a connection to the songs and I love singing them, but there’s a discomfort that I have listening to my own records that I can’t get over. But I don’t have that with Lifeline. So I guess I’d have to say it was my favourite, because although it was the most emotional recording, it also gave me the most peaceful and whole feeling I’ve ever felt. www.irisdement.com Gareth L Powell 29

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3 Daft Monkeys Folk Three Piece From Cornwall


Daft Monkeys are a trio of musicians from Cornwall. Their sound blends world music influences with classic folk melodies. On 1st November they release their brandnew studio album, The Antiquated And The Arcane, through their own 3DM Records label. This hugely anticipated release is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2008 album, Social Vertigo. We spoke to guitarist Tim Ashton. ‘For live shows I’ve got a Faith 12-string Eclipse, black cutaway, which I’ve had for two and a half years now and which I play constantly on the road. When we were recording the album I used a Faith Saturn, without pickups and completely acoustic. I don’t use an amp at all, I go straight into the desk and have to rely on the monitor engineer to see what I sound like. We’re trying to cut down on the amount of equipment we take on the road, you see, so if we can cut

down on the amps it makes it a lot easier to get from A to B. Being an old busker, I like to travel light. I didn’t start out as a busker, I started out years ago on the rockier, more psychedelic side of music. I used to have an old Guild all-in-one electric guitar. Then I went travelling around Europe and took a guitar with me, an old Tanglewood, and did a little bit of busking to earn a few pennies. I met loads of other musicians out on the road and we’d swap tunes and swap ideas, and that’s what got me into the acoustic side of music. The funny thing is, I was in a psychedelic rock band for years and would have loved to have supported Hawkwind, but it never happened. Then we formed 3 Daft Monkeys and Hawkwind got wind of it, liked what we did, and invited us to play their festival, the Hawkfest, and then invited us to play with them in London at their 40th-year anniversary at the Astoria. It was a really odd mix, but their

fans seemed to like it. We’re a little acoustic three-piece from Cornwall, but they seemed to grasp our spirit. We’ve also been lucky enough to do a few tours supporting the Levellers and their fans were fantastic and really took us on board. The underground scene can be quite dark sometimes and we need a little bit of light and positivity thrown in there to address the balance. Folk traditionally has a bit of angst in it, but I try to write lyrics that have got a little bit of light and shade, and depending on what mood you’re in you can take the song either way. You can see the song as being about a relationship or about society at large. With the new CD we’ve tried to be less chirpy and there’s a dirtier, more down-to-earth feel to the new songs. We’ve kept the world music influences and extended them. We’ve even delved into the country and western dub side of life! I wrote a song called ‘Love (sic) Fool’ with

a country and western feel and our bass player said he’d only play it if we made it a dub tune, so we did and it seems to have worked. We’re expanding a little bit. There are some real slow numbers on there and not so much oompah oompah ska music. There is a little bit of that, of course, but we’re trying to delve into other areas. I’d describe our sound as honest and acoustic. It’s a reflection of the global society we live in. We’re all a lot closer than we were 500 years ago and folk music needs to reflect that. The different rhythms have spread over the borders between musical genres. We try to embrace those different styles of music but also keep the music as much ours as we can. www. 3daftmonkeys.co.uk Gareth L Powell


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ssex-based guitarist Ramon Goose is a man not to be bound by traditional genres. His last project, Nublues, melded raw, riff y acoustic blues with hip hop, and the present finds him working with Senegalese kora player Diabel Cissokho. The fusion of the kora, a West African instrument conceptually like a harp but sonically a million miles away with Goose’s rootsy leanings, has been making waves on the world music scene and might just be set to break out to a wider audience. We caught up with Ramon in the midst of the festival season to find out more. Where did your interest in African music begin? My father is from Argentina, so I’d always listened to Latin music growing up and I was always interested in world music more generally. I did Nublues, which mixed pop and blues, and it wasn’t so successful, but I met some great people, including Chris Thomas King, who was in O Brother, Where Art Thou? I signed for Dixiefrog and started playing with Eric Bibb, and that hip hop blues thing had got me into a really interesting place. I always thought, ‘I’m never going to make a straight blues album, cos that’s boring, and anyway I’m from Essex.’ I was studying jazz and blues for university and starting to think about the connections to West Africa. My first idea was to go to Cuba and make an album there, which I’ll do next year, but I thought this might be a really good precursor, to learn African rhythms, and to learn about the links. The 6/8 rhythm, which is really prevalent in West African music, ties in with shuffle and swing, and the pentatonic scale is there as well, but I found that was only five per cent of the music, and there’s 95 per cent of something else going on. I went and spent some time in Senegal, and it was a real learning experience. This first album working with Diabel, I had a great bass player and drummer, and they did the job more than admirably, but for the second album we’re going over to Senegal and will work with all Diabel’s family. I love to be around musicians who make you feel out of your depth, and Diabel is like that. I’m a typical Brit, apologising for being onstage, and Diabel is born for it.

FEATURE: RAMON GOOSE How did you meet Diabel? There’s this interesting lady called Nola Marshall who travels Africa doing various projects. She introduced us and organised this whole project for us. She came and saw my blues band, and I explained that I was interested in doing some African music, and she hooked me up with Diabel. I went to his house in Birmingham, and he’s a lovely guy but he’s very African, and Muslim, and there was me up from Essex and feeling a bit out of my comfort zone. One of the good things for me is that I knew nothing about African music, so I wasn’t going to try to fake it, I was just gonna do what I do. So we met a few times and then went into the studio to record, and each of those meetings we were building

up the album. And all the way I still didn’t know about African music and I think that really worked in my favour; I just stayed true to what I do and Diabel really liked that. Every time I did my thing he smiled, and every time I tried to sound African it ended up sounding like country and western, and he would give me a funny look. Are the structures of your songs traditionally African? They don’t sound like a 12-bar. Yes, very much African. When Diabel plays the kora he’s using his thumb and first finger, and it’s very similar to what Blind Blake and those old blues guys are doing. We’ve got two Senegalese guys, including a percussionist, and it’s really important to have a


drummer from that background if you’re playing African music. You need it to be really tight if you’re going to play 6/8; it needs to really be in the pocket. It’s all about the melody and time, less about structure, so we have little melodic cues that tell us we’re going to change or move, and me and the bass player can change the harmony a little to tell Diabel that we’re moving and changing. Socially, African music is for different things; it’s not all about getting up in the morning and having a three-minute happy song. You might need to play for 20 minutes at a time, just to fill the space. So what does the African nature of the music mean for you as a guitarist? The Senegalese have an instrument called the n’goni, a sort of banjo-type instrument that I’ve started to learn. It’s a precursor to both the banjo and the guitar, and it’s sort of a link in this stuff. The acoustic guitar has become a really important instrument in African music, but you have to make it fit. You can play an E-minor pentatonic but with a droning G, which is sort of an n’goni style, and I got to thinking that if I tune the E string down to a D, I can play slide as well. So then you have GADGBD, which means I can play slide and African music too, but I only use that on a few things. They seem to use the Dorian mode a lot of the time, and you need to have a really different approach to do that; it’s called ‘palm wine guitar’. It’s all about timing in the right hand; it’s almost more important than the notes you play. The kora is very expressive, rich, harmonic, and it tends to play long, complicated melodies, whereas the n’goni is more riff-based and sits under it, and that’s the role I’m taking with the guitar. Who have been the influences on the fusion you are making? All sorts of traditional music styles from Mali and Senegal and so on are coming from Diabel, music from all different tribes. We’re doing a Latin sort of piece that sounds to me like a Congolese tune, where they had lots of Latin influences. And of course, I’m bringing my blues thing to it; it’s really virtually impossible to leave your roots behind totally. How does your writing process work? Diabel knows thousands 33

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K Yairi FK6C guitar Fishman Humbucker soundhole pickup Martin strings, 13 for slide, 12 for regular AER amp National resonator Epiphone Bluesmaster

“IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING NEW, YOU WON’T GET BOOKED TO PLAY THE BLUES FESTIVALS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT; THEY’LL SAY, ‘THAT’S NOT THE BLUES.’” of African songs, but I was really busy and I didn’t really have any stuff ready when we started working together. We just jammed and jammed and jammed, and suddenly that was a song. I mean, I brought some riffs, but really it was us playing together and getting that to sound good – quite far from traditional songwriting but a very African way of doing things, or it seems so to me anyway! When you’re playing in several projects, how do you find time to move the music forward in each of them? To be honest with you, I don’t. There are lots of English blues artists who are all doing the same thing and sounding the same, and I was starting to find that hard. I used to take my electric and my acoustic to gigs,

and all the women would want you to play acoustic and all the guys wanted you to be Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you’re doing something new, you won’t get booked to play the blues festivals or anything like that; they’ll say, ‘That’s not the blues.’ So I started meeting people who were involved in world music, and that just opened the floodgates. When I started working with these Senegalese guys, the blues band just started to feel really weak by comparison. There’s a lot of people out there, intellectual people, who are real blues fans but who just aren’t interested in hearing yet another hackneyed blues-rock band. The idea of the project here is to explore the blues, but it comes down to Western music meets African music, which is really where the blues began.

So tell us more about the plans for the next album … We’re going back out to Senegal in January to play with his family. There are 30 or 40 of them living in a compound – his father has four wives and spends two days with each of them, so it gets pretty big and complicated. They all play different instruments, and when I went over there I assumed Diabel was the star of the family, but when we arrived he just sat in on djembe, and one of his brothers was playing amazing kora. These heavyweight guys, out there, will play the simplest of riffs, just to lock it in. I played with a n’goni player, and he was just sitting on this riff, keeping it together, but if he stopped it would fall on its arse. I’m interested to see more of Senegal too, to understand the music more deeply. Dakar is a bit showbiz and very cosmopolitan, but I’d like to go back and work in some of the more rural places, where you get the cotton fields version of it

– like the Robert Johnson instead of the BB King. I think it’ll be a very exciting album. Sam Wise


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interview: KaKi King

There’s more than one way to play an acoustic guitar- just ask tap-and-slap maestro Kaki King. Joel McIver investigates.


hether we admit it or not, as guitarists we often fail to establish our own identities, following in our predecessors’ footsteps rather than breaking away to new territory. A few of us manage to pull it off, though, and a recent musician who has done just that is Katherine ‘Kaki’ King, whose five albums to date demonstrate an eye-opening acoustic approach that has been compared with that of preston reed and the late michael hedges. Due to her use of tapping and slapping techniques that would suit a bass guitar as much as an acoustic, we’d add players of the calibre of Stanley jordan and Andy mcKee to that list. There’s even a touch of rodrigo y gabriela-style percussion in there, if you remove the Latino elements and replace them with a studied Atlanta swing. ‘essentially what I’ve done is separate the right hand from the left,’ begins King, ‘so the two hands can now work independently. The style can work in a lot of different ways. I realised at a certain point as a teenager that I could play all the pop stuff that I wanted to play. I could see these different roads opening up before me, one of which was the speed metal route and another was the jazz route and another was classical. but none of them was really what I wanted to do. because of more contemporary guitar players like johnny marr – in other words people who had done stuff outside the box – I thought I’d try and do something different of my own.’

King is keen to emphasise that this percussive approach is not what she’s all – or indeed mostly – about. Due to the attention she’s received in recent years after performances on prestigious uS tv shows such as Letterman, audiences have come to regard the slap and the pop as her signature style. not so, she insists: ‘I really don’t play the slapping style a lot, it’s just what everyone sees. I’m not even an expert at it. It’s just something that people have seen on tv. I’m actually a fingerstyle guitar player and I play with a lot of different tunings. That’s far more challenging to me… I’ve only written five or six songs that incorporate that technique over the course of five albums, and people focus a little too much on that aspect. I’m not knocking it, I think it’s great, it’s just that people sometimes say, “Oh, I couldn’t listen to a whole album of that stuff,” and that’s really not what my albums sound like.’ She adds: ‘There’s a huge misconception about what is and isn’t hard to do. by and large I get to be on tv because I play in a weird tapping style that looks cool, but if that was the only thing I did I would have no fans, because people don’t want to hear that over and over again!’ Armed with this elaborate style based on fingerpicking and tapping, and using as many as eight different tunings in her live show, King has a formidable pool of creativity to tap into. her recent album, Junior, benefited from abstract songwriting that somehow suits her guitar

playing – for example, one song is called ‘hallucinations From my poisonous german Streets’, which King explains has no significance: ‘Does an abstract painting need to have a meaning?’ however, the creative process was ring-fenced by a fairly stringent deadline, she explains: ‘It’s always difficult when you have a specific time frame, but that can also be what makes you more creative. you can’t just spend as much time as you want doing just anything you like – you have to rein in your creativity and make it work in the moment.’ For King, the onstage experience is the point of it all, although studio time and composition are both part of the fun too. ‘performing is what I enjoy most,’ she confirms, ‘although I do love writing and recording. In order to perform you have to get in the van and get there, so there are things about it which aren’t as enjoyable as others, but when you get onstage and you know you’ve done a great job, there aren’t many things that are more rewarding than that.’ most of King’s work is delivered via her signature Ovation Adamas, which the manufacturer describes as ‘the world’s most advanced acoustic guitar’ (see boxout), but she also plays several other instruments, including lap steel and electric guitars. ‘On the new album we used my newport guitars, as well as a Fender telecaster, a guild and the Adamas. It was mainly the newports this time, there were three or four of them – they’re really versatile guitars and they

sound great in the studio. They had so many different sounds. between the Adamas and the newports we pretty much filled it in.’ visit YouTube to get a picture of King’s astoundingly evolved fingerpicking technique, which she achieves with intimidatingly long fake acrylic nails. Asked if they get in the way when it comes to everyday tasks like teeth brushing, she explains: ‘no, the only thing that sucks is when I go to pick up a glass or something: sometimes it’s hard to grasp with them. I just get a fake nail and I paint acrylic powder on the top of it.’ These days King is routinely acclaimed by music magazines – guitar-focused and otherwise – as one of a new breed of supertechnical players, and has worked with luminaries such as pearl jam’s eddie vedder on soundtracks and other projects. It’s all a long way from her beginnings as a musician, which go back as far as 1984. ‘I was five years old and my parents made me learn the guitar,’ she recalls. ‘I was in a typical American middle-class family, where they said, “Oh, she should learn an instrument.” The first one was a classical 4-string guitar. It’s a good thing to do, even if it’s not exactly what the kid goes on to do. Starting early is the best.’ Did she keep it up for a few years, despite her tender years? ‘For a while,’ she nods. ‘I always played the guitar – I just never took it very seriously until I was a teenager. I never took lessons either, because I was a competent enough guitar player to enjoy 37

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interview: KaKi King doing it. Learning to play properly was never a thought process for me – it was just about finding myself all of a sudden listening to an album and then learning how to play it. That’s when I started to retune the guitar. I didn’t know what I was doing – I just spent a lot of time playing. I didn’t study music as such, but if there was something that I heard but couldn’t play, I’d play it until I could.’ Once King had hit on her unique style, she increased her picking speed and fluency to the eye-opening levels she displays today. Do the guitars ever break under the strain, we wonder? ‘Almost never. Sometimes I make some holes where there shouldn’t be, and I think one got damaged because I kinda threw it off my neck at the end of the show – I was very excited and I just tossed

structure for a song, and then I’ll write the lyrics, and once the structure is pretty much in place it’s a self-limiting system because you’ve done something that you have to work around rather than starting from scratch.’ King’s approach to songwriting is unique, it seems, quite apart from her practice of writing and arranging the musical elements of the songs in their entirety before working on lyrics. For starters, she’s aware of the old saw that songs come to the writer through the ether. ‘That was what people used to believe,’ she muses. ‘Some people still do, in fact. It’s interesting: there are people who think that the human being is just a vessel for the force or the genie that is actually creating the art, and if the art is bad it’s not actually the human’s fault. Then that belief shifted and the artist became the

“LeArnIng tO pLAy prOperLy wAS never A thOught prOceSS FOr me – It wAS juSt AbOut FInDIng mySeLF ALL OF A SuDDen LIStenIng tO An ALbum AnD then LeArnIng hOw tO pLAy It.” it on the stage. but I’ve never really damaged a guitar through my playing.’ most of the advanced players who appear in these pages tend to be of the opinion that the more a player learns, the more there is to be learnt, and King wholeheartedly agrees. Asked if she can now say that she’s mastered her instrument, she replies: ‘I can’t. I’m still working on it. For example, I haven’t played in standard tuning for so long that I’ve actually been going back to standard and learning more what a normal guitar player would know.’ She’s also attempting to improve in an unfamiliar area for acoustic guitarists, she reveals. ‘I’m trying to work on being able to play a decent guitar solo. I’ve never liked solos, I always thought they were a bit unnecessary, but I kinda realised that this was a gaping hole in my education. I can deliver a decent blues solo like the rest of them, but anything beyond that, I’m stuck. So I’m working on that.’ Asked how she puts together her songs, King explains: ‘It’s always the instrumental part first. everything gets thought out and put together. I’ll write an arbitrary

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interview: KaKi King that songwriting is neither simple nor consistent. ‘It’s a process,’ she notes, accurately. ‘It’s hard to know when you’re through writing a song. Sometimes songs land perfectly in your lap and you don’t know why they’ve worked out so well, or why you wrote one in half an hour or an hour, as opposed to a song which takes six months to write. It’s the beautiful mystery of music – you don’t know whether someone is trying to channel it through you, or if you’re just lucky.’ Having developed an individual playing style and gained a position

where people are prepared to listen en masse to that style, where does King plan to go next with her guitar playing? She shrugs: ‘I always tell people that if you play the guitar like I do, or to any kind of advanced level, it’s a challenge every day and every show. Really the guitar beats you: there’s so much to learn and so much to do that you’re never finished with it. I’m a student of music, that’s what I tell people. I definitely don’t have people blowing smoke up my ass, because they’re usually talking about the crazy tapping which is a lot easier to play than some really intricate, beautiful fingerpicking thing. You know, I’ll never stop learning, and it’s just one instrument among so many…’ Junior is out now. Info: www.kakiking.com Joel McIver

© Gregg Delman

creator, and that’s when the artists went crazy and started to commit suicide and hate themselves, because the criticism and the fame would be too much to bear, and all of a sudden it was all our fault! It’s not a point of view I agree with, it’s just something that a lot of people believe. There’s validity to a lot of things.’ Irrespective of her songs’ origin, King finds – like the rest of us –

Kaki poo poo.indd 4

Commander Adamas Kaki King’s signature guitar, the Ovation 1581-KK Adamas, is proof that perseverance pays off. King, a regular Ovation user for years, was invited to design a signature guitar by the company a couple of years ago – a form of karmic reward for her brand loyalty, maybe? Either way, the resulting axe is a serious bit of kit, labelled with arguable justification by its makers as ‘the world’s most advanced acoustic guitar’. The Kaki King Signature model comes with a black carbon-fibre suspended soundboard, with Adamas fan bracing and bass string soundholes. As long-time readers will recall from Acoustic’s John Williams interview and others, fan bracing is often a key feature when it comes to top-ofthe-market guitars, and in this case the bracing holds together a medium-depth cutaway body with a label signed by King. Its greatest strength, she says, is its pickup and preamp. ‘It’s a really nice preamp and it sounds pretty fantastic,’ she tells us. ‘You don’t have to worry about bringing a lot of other gear, as far as I’m concerned. It has fan bracing too, which is a very important part of the Adamas. That’s a standard feature on those guitars, but they made sure that they glued mine on really, really well, because I beat my guitars up!’ You, too, can pick up one of these superb instruments – that is, assuming you have approximately £1,800 to splash out. And no, they’re not cheaper on eBay. We checked.

26/11/2010 15:29

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25/11/2010 15:57

INterVIeW: fran healy

Fran Healy With millions of records sold, and stadiums packed, the Travis frontman’s new album sees him touring all acoustically.


ajestic choruses and wry, observational lyrics made music stars of Scottish band Travis. Hit songs such as ‘flowers In the Window’, ‘Why does It Always rain On Me?’, ‘Sing’ and ‘driftwood’ brought the band accolades from the start of their recording career in the late 90s. frontman fran Healy is the compositional force in Travis as he’s penned both the music and lyrics since their first album, Good Feeling. That songwriting expertise came in handy on his first solo venture, Wreckorder (the title is pronounced ‘recorder’).

The collection is lavished with his clever turns of phrase and penchant for robust and accessible melodies. The singer and guitarist doesn’t take a well-conceived melody for granted. ‘I think it’s all about melody,’ fran states over midmorning coffee during a recent visit to London. ‘We live in a time when music is so mystified and complicated with respect to technology. It’s just a song, just a melody. It’s just a tune, really. And that’s where the focus should be in the first place. I’m not saying that it’s always easy to come up with a new melody. But when you do and you discover its

uniqueness, it’s kind of sacred and cool and that’s what I love about songwriting. This album is about ten fresh new melodies.’ fran’s been touring over the last several months with just an acoustic guitar (he’s a Taylor aficionado and his models include a 610, 855 12-string and a 410ce) in support of his new album. This stripped-down format leaves an artist nowhere to hide. But fran’s voice, guitar playing and songwriting soar in this acousticbased framework. Healy – who resembles a hippie-ish Clint eastwood on the cover of his new album – is an interviewer’s dream. Informed,

opinionated, with a magnetic personality, he’s up for discussing just about any topic. We chat about the pros and cons of living in Berlin where he currently resides with his german wife Nora and four-year-old son Clay (‘It’s a great city for raising kids, with amazing open spaces and parks,’ he enthuses. ‘The only drawback is the dog s*** on the pavements’), the itinerant touring life of a musician, the merits of running, and a bunch of other subjects. But the conversation eventually turns to his beguiling new album, and fran’s got plenty to say about that too. How has Wreckorder energised you creatively? That’s a great question to begin with. doing a solo record has been really exciting for me. When I was with the band I was always the principal songwriter and I’d have the band to help me along. But taking a small break from the band as they concentrated on their families and so on meant that I was able to produce songs and an album which was all me, and all my vision. I found it really stimulating and loved the whole process. I am very proud of this album. 43

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feature: fran healy You wrote the majority of the music for Travis. How was this process different than writing for the band? It’s different, but not too much. When I was with the band I was mostly in the studio alone, writing and working on my vocals and

“WrITINg fOr Me COMeS IN WAveS ANd TAkeS HOurS...I geT TO THe BLOCk ANd fOrCe MYSeLf THrOugH IT.” my parts, and then the band would come in causing chaos, and be a whirlwind, and I would watch all of the pieces come together. It is similar because I am on my own, and also the songs have a different vibe for me, but I work with a great guy and we have great chemistry and understanding. You’re touring with just an acoustic guitar and your songs. Do you think the true mettle of a singer-songwriter is measured by playing songs with only an acoustic guitar? Maybe. But I always found it harder in the studio, as in a live setting there is an atmosphere to feed off and a good crowd to fuel your music. In the studio you have to think about all the little

Fran Healy Interview.indd 13

touches and there is no audience to fuel you on, so I think the studio is maybe more exposed. I love both, though – performing and recording. On the record you have appearances from current and iconic musicians, such as singer Neko Case on the sultry duet ‘Sing Me To Sleep’, as well as Paul McCartney on bass duties for ‘As It Comes’. How did you get them involved on the album? I saw Neko Case play a show in America and I thought that she just had the most beautiful voice – all through her show I was just thinking, ‘I want to work with her, I want to work with her,’ so I thought that I had to ask her. After the show I managed to be introduced to her and plucked up the courage to ask. Luckily, she knew of Travis and said she really liked the band, so she said yes and gave me her email address. I emailed her when I got home and didn’t hear anything back for a few days and started to get really worried – I was like, ‘Oh no, what if she is just doing that thing which Americans sometimes do and saying “Yes!” to everything?!’ So I gave it a couple more days and still nothing; then eventually, three weeks later, I got an email where she said she’d love to do the song I wrote especially for a duet,

and I think it works really well. I love the song. With Paul McCartney, I knew that I wanted someone to guest on bass and I was thinking to myself who the best bass player in the world would be to have on my album, so I came up with him! Not many people really recognise his bass-playing skills but he is actually the most fantastic and talented bassist. So I sent him the track and he came back with three different ideas which blew me away. I couldn’t believe he wanted to work with me! We chose one song, and yes, I’m very proud that he recorded it on the bass, the violin-shaped Höfner 500/1 bass, which is the bass he used for all the Beatles records. Please fill us in on your writing process, both lyrically and musically, and how the songs ultimately take shape … Writing for me comes in waves and takes hours. I think that everybody can write a song but it’s just that some people get to the block and then stop. With me, I get to the block and force myself through it. I think it always pays off, and although a struggle, persistence has made me write songs over the years. It’s about persistence, really. I remember with one song on the album, I was doing the washing-up and humming to myself and I came

up with a melody which I thought was really cool! So I ran upstairs to turn on the recorder and play some rhythms out. But I’ve always been one of those scatty people and I must have forgotten something downstairs. So on the tape you hear me press record, and then you hear footsteps with me walking away from the recorder! And it was a recording of nothing but silence for hours. I had to sit through it all … I stop … and I can hear myself go back down the stairs and I am like, ‘Nooo!’ But luckily, as I’m walking down I can hear myself faintly humming the melody and I’m going, ‘A-ha! I got it!’ Now that is the definition of persistence. But it’s worth it. Is this album a sign of things to come, and will there be more solo albums in the future? I love working both solo and with the band, so I hope that there will be more of both to come. I haven’t stopped writing songs, there are more in me yet! I will be doing this solo project for the next year but I’m already thinking about Travis. I’m still playing the Travis stuff as I wrote those songs. But I would like to do both. What has your involvement in Travis meant to you, both musically and personally? Well, Travis really shaped my life. I was writing songs since as far back as I can remember, so to have the opportunity to do something I love as a job is amazing. Not only that, but it was also my personal life as well as my work life, and the guys in the band are my best friends. I learnt a lot from the band and it gives me a lot of happiness, and has done throughout my life. Teri Saccone

25/11/2010 11:00



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After a long hiatus from music Don is back, better than ever


Miss Forbes’ Farewell with Duck Baker

Gitane DG-455 Yamaha Nylon String Regal Resonator Rosetti Adam Black Freshman Combo

INTERVIEWS Seasick Steve Martin Harley Wizz Jones and more





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03/02/2010 16:37




Issue 39 March 2010 UK £3.95



Cover 38.indd 1


15/01/2010 17:50

By Paul Brett


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Issue 37 JANUARY 2010 UK £3.95

27/11/2009 16:25




Steve James Sam Lakeman Turin Brakes


Issue 38 February 2010 UK £3.95

The legendary guitarist on why acoustic music can be as powerful as rock.






414 & 714

The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine




We get the exclusive on these two NEW Taylors


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We test one of only ten available in the UK!


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DVD - 12 String Guitar & OF ON LINE GUITAR MUSEUM DIDN’T YOU ALWAYS WANT ONE THESE? Beyond by Paul Brett Steve Vai Rosanne Cash Blabbermouth and more...


Issue 36 December 2009 UK £3.95


‘Even my neighbour played guitar better than Robert Johnson!’

tunes inside FAITH








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KRISTOFFERSON “With just a guitar, there’s a communication with the listener that is so direct”

The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine





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Adam Palma, Ben Howard Lisa Hannigan, Jess Morgan

Stefan Grossman Sam Carter Wallis Bird Isaac’s Aircraft Kip Winger Ben Christo

Issue 35 November 2009 UK £3.95


Scores by Carla Zappala ISSUE 34 OCTOBER 2009

The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine






tuned to your needs

The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine




Impressive retro styling but do the sounds match?

INTERVIEWS Steve Tilston Sharon Isbin Derrin Nauendorf and more

Collectable guitars with Paul Brett




COLE CLARK Brad Clark ‘The man behind the brand’



The UK’s only dedicated acoustic guitar magazine


Will this new design alliance compel you to expand your collection?


Music & Tablature For Solo 12 String SERIOUS CHOICE Guitar




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Convert your guitar for lap-style playing Issue 34 October 2009 UK £3.95

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30/11/2009 19:05

Don’t miss this show . . .

23/03/2010 14:40 16/06/2010 10:58 11:21 22/07/2010 21/10/2010 18:02 26/02/2010 10 16/06/2010 10:04 28/09/2009 09:32 21/05/2010 15:16 21/06/2010 15:09 18/08/2010 10:26 30/11/2009 19:11 14/01/2010 23/04/2010 11:16 14:58 05/02/2010 1 18/11/2010 14:21 28/10/2009 17:13 17:33 22/03/2010 05/02/2010 13:38 24/02/2010 14:53



Golden Hynde

Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde is in a new band with Welsh singer-songwriter JP Jones. Joel McIver gets the acoustic angle.


P, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys are the rock sensation that’s sweeping the nation, and it’s all based on a doomed love affair that would make your grandmother weep – or at least that’s the impression that the more brainless members of the press have been giving over the last couple of months. In brief, the angle on the band that you’ll read about in lower-brow publications than this esteemed magazine runs as follows: 1) Chrissie Hynde (59) meets unknown singer chappie Jones (32) at a party and gives him her number. 2) He sends her some of his songs and a romance strikes up between them. 3) They head to Cuba on holiday, write songs and record an album, Fidelity, when they get back. 4) As she’s too old to have kids, the couple break up but stay friends in a heartstringtwanging battle of head versus heart. 5) A nation weeps, before turning to the latest X Factor story.

All nonsense, as it happens. On the phone from Milwaukee, Jones – who has just woken up – sighs: ‘We’re not a couple and never have been!’ Well, that’s that rumour quashed, then. Fortunately, he and Hynde have more important things on their minds at the moment, namely how to convert America, hick town by hick town, to the Fairground Boys cause, and also the small matter of how to stay sane while doing it. ‘It’s good to hear a British voice,’ Hynde tells us, which will come as no surprise to those who know that she’s been largely resident in the UK since she first came to prominence as a punk rocker in the 1970s. It’s not easy to take a new band on the road in these cash-strapped times, even if you’re the singer of one of America’s biggest postpunk bands. ‘The whole touring industry has collapsed,’ Hynde tells us. ‘People aren’t buying tickets so much because they don’t have

“THE WHOLE TOURING INDUSTRY HAS COLLAPSED, PEOPLE AREN’T BUYING TICKETS BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE MONEY” money, and with YouTube and all that there’s a bit of a dent in the live scene. It comes and goes, but right now it’s at a low ebb when it comes to any kind of sales – CDs, tickets, anything like that. It takes a long time for money to come in; this is all self-financed on a real low budget. The band and the crew are all on the bus and we’re sharing day rooms. We’re all pretty much like the crew.’ JP adds: ‘Everything’s on a shoestring, really, which is the way it should be. I love it, though. I’d get sick of it if no one was coming to the gigs and we weren’t selling any

albums, but as it is I love it. It’s been the best year of my life, for sure.’ As he implies, critical reaction to Fidelity has been generally positive, a reaction which Hynde feels is justified. ‘There’s been a real rapturous response. We weren’t intending to make an album – it was almost written as a conversation between the two of us. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never had as good a response to any album as this since my first one [Pretenders, 1980]. We have material for another album too. JP has a hundred songs and they keep getting better all the time, 47

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Go (Mid)West, Young Man Trying to break America? Head to the prairie, advises Chrissie Hynde …

© C. Taylor Crothers

so I want to record an album of his stuff sooner rather than later. I want to showcase JP as a singer and songwriter.’ As a guitarist, Hynde is known for playing electrics, specifically Fender Telecasters, while JP also dabbles in the plugged-in approach. At the core of the band lie the two singers’ acoustic Martins, however, with a large chunk of their live show and all the songwriting executed on acoustic. ‘We use acoustic guitars on a lot of the songs and Chrissie plays acoustic live too,’ says JP. ‘We play the same model of Martin, but I never know what model it is. We spent a lot of this year capturing Chrissie and myself just playing acoustic shows in America, doing promo for the album, and we also supported Lucinda Williams as an acoustic trio. We plugged them straight into the desk with no effects. It’s been really nice to start with that and then bring the band out to rock. I’ve always really loved playing acoustically, and it was nice to do that for the first five months of the year. I always write songs on acoustic: I’m not a lead guitar player.’ Hynde adds: ‘I loved JP’s Martin, so I went out and got one. We just bought them, we’re not endorsees or anything. Mine is a little bit deeper-bodied than his. They’re lovely guitars. I love my Martin.’ Neither guitarist is especially expert, they tell us, and both wish they’d studied the old axe a bit more diligently when they had the chance. ‘I don’t practise at all,’ mourns JP. ‘I’m really bad like that. I wish I was better, but I’m just a songwriter. I write songs and I try to play them as well as I can. I have my own technique, which is crap, basically.’ Hynde is more upbeat, explaining: ‘As songwriters we both feel that you can get two or three chords and write a song around them. I think we both regret that we didn’t dig into our guitar playing a bit more, but it’s helped us write songs more. I wouldn’t say I’m accomplished. I play at the same level I’ve been playing at since I was 18. I have to have my chops together to a certain level to play onstage, but I like to think I add a punk element to it. The punk scene ended when everyone started trying to be musicians, because punk was all about attitude. I just try to do what’s best for the overall sound; I’m not trying to be punk – I’m just saying that my playing lends the songs that element.’ Sharing the guitar parts has been made easier by the band’s secret weapon, their third guitarist: ‘We have another guitarist, Patrick

“AS SONGWRITERS WE BOTH FEEL THAT YOU CAN GET TWO OR THREE CHORDS AND WRITE A SONG” Murdoch, who fills the spaces that we leave, and he’s amazing,’ says Hynde. ‘He’s been blowing minds across America. Our album was made quickly, before we’d played this stuff live, so we change the guitar parts up between us a lot. JP and I both play rhythm guitar, so we have to be careful not to make it too muddy with three guitars.’ Like all gigging musicians, JP and Hynde are in the middle of the strange lifestyle inversion that occurs after too long on the road. ‘When you’re on the road all the time,’ explains the seasoned tourer Hynde, ‘you’ve got about 22 hours a day of hanging around and waiting and travelling, and then you’ve got two hours and you’re focused. For you that two hours

becomes the one moment of sanity in your day. You get used to going on stage to relax; the rest of it is just preparation for one show.’ JP is still cutting his teeth, admitting, ‘I haven’t done this anywhere near as much as Chrissie has, so I guess that’s why I still get nervous before shows. But I still love performing and trying to do my best. The songs have got better since we’ve been playing live, I’ve noticed. The set is just more rocking. That always happens live, because of the adrenaline, and anyway we have more songs which aren’t on the album that are more rockers.’ Expect more from the partnership, warns Hynde: ‘I’m really stuck into this now. The Pretenders is business as usual.

‘It was good to get JP over here, because he’s not an artist who’s going to have a big hit and then vanish: he’s going to be writing songs forever, and as a developing artist I can see him producing bands eventually. They love guitar bands over here, and when you tour America with a band like ZZ Top, which I have done, you see how many people come out to see rock music. It’s not beholden in any way to radio; it’s completely different. It’ll never go away out here. Bands like the Steve Miller Band have been doing good business every summer by going out and touring in the centre of America, most of which is the Midwest, for years. The UK is smaller and more fashion led; every year there’s a new hitmaker and then there’s another one the following year.’

We’re doing an Australian tour this winter, but there’s never any urgency with that band. I’d like to see where this goes, but it’s always good to know that the other band is there if you need it. This is different because I’m sharing the vocals and the spotlight with JP. It’s a real revelation for me. I’m really enjoying it because I only ever wanted to be in a band, not a solo act. I don’t like the focus exclusively on me; to me it’s always about the band.’ Fidelity is out now. Info: www.myspace.com/ chrissiehyndejpjones Joel McIver


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Vintage PILGRIM ad_Layout 1 16/11/2010 14:43 Page 1




One guitar name which created a real stir in acoustic guitar circles following its introduction back in the 1970’s, and which was available into the mid to late 1980’s, was that of Paul Tebbutt’s Pilgrim brand which gained cult status amongst players of the time, garnering many accolades and awards, and are still sought after today.

VPG100N Natural Satin

VPG100TSB Vintage Sunburst Satin

‘Pilgrim by Vintage’ keeps the spirit of those pioneering early Pilgrim guitars alive, with a narrow waist accentuating the pronounced body curves, the use of selected close grain cedar tops, premium quality timbers for the neck and fingerboard, and a superb overall build quality to achieve stunning looks, easy playability, projection and superlative tone. The specially formulated fibreglass bowl recipe, and mathematically calculated curved surfaces of the Pilgrim bowl project the full strength and majesty of the instrument far beyond the player. Following the designs of the original, Pilgrim by Vintage uses a slightly narrower than standard shallow profile, electric guitar-style neck and low profile frets, maintaining the well-deserved reputation for versatility, speed, comfort and responsiveness in the hands of any player. With factory fitted Fishman Sonicore pickup and Presys+ preamp providing the perfect medium to ensure that the rich, powerful and very focussed Pilgrim sound is faithfully tranmitted to any amplification system.

Acoustic Amplification

For further information visit our website or call in to your local Vintage Dealership today.


VPG100: Top: Solid cedar, satin finish, Body: Contoured fibreglass back, Binding: Ivory/multi wood Inlay, Rosette: Inlayed wood, Neck: Sapele/maple/sapele, narrow width, shallow profile, Fingerboard: Rosewood, Frets: 22, 2.2mm hard low profile, Headstock: Rosewood face, Top Nut: Bone, Bridge: Rosewood, Saddle: Bone, Scale: 642mm, Preamp: Fishman® Presys + brilliance control for additional tone shaping, notch, onboard anti-feedback control, volume control, bass, middle and treble control knobs, phase control button, low profile control knobs, low battery indicator (9V battery), flip-top housing to access integrated battery compartment. Pickup: Fishman® Sonicore®, Tuners: enclosed chrome die cast, Strings: high quality USA made. Guitar bag: High quality exclusive Pilgrim by Vintage carry bag. £419.00 RRP.

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Peerless PD-85E with Prefix Premium Blend With a name like Peerless you are setting yourself on a high pedestal. How well seated is this guitar on that lofty throne?


ringing much of their archtop experience to the field of acoustic guitar manufacturing is probably a lot more desirable for any guitar company than undertaking this task the other way around. Archtops require more labour, time and high tolerances for many of their components, so what can we expect from Peerless? Is this just another dreadnought acoustic?

Build and Features

From the off you can see and feel that Peerless have given much of themselves in the way of attractive design features, sonic enhancements and attention to detail, where they could so easily

have rested on their laurels. Rather than do the latter, we find this instrument is home to abalone-style binding around the top and soundhole, gold hardware, art deco styling both in headstock design and inlay font, inlaid Peerless ‘P’ logos (albeit arguably not the most attractive) on the bridge, and an additional gold strap button on the neck. Even the headstock and fingerboard are double bound with abalone and what looks like broad maple inlay. The back of the guitar is also bound, but this time with the adequacy of just the maple binding, which has detailed figuring and a textural warmth that contribute to a very attractive finesse. There is an air of opulence

The stereo blend allows superb control of your plugged in tone

“e neck is mahogany, featuring a very classy and artfully executed neck volute, which is not obstructive when you play open chords and is another example of considered design” and refinement about this guitar that could transport you to days of yesteryear and the golden age of guitar making. There is also, however, more than a remote injection of modernism by way of clinical finishing in the lacquer, fretting, polishing, sheen of the ebony fingerboard and, most importantly, very high-quality Fishman Prefix preamp with blend controls. It must be said that if the weight of a product is ever indicative of good quality and substantiality, then this PD-85E is a fully fatted heavyweight and in this case fills you with a resolute sense of satisfaction and confidence that this is a thing to be proud of. Nothing about this guitar is flimsy – everything is a bold statement. It’s not an arrogant, belligerent,

argumentative market trader struggling for attention, but rather a well-dressed spokesperson with something appealing in its command of presence. Poirot would be proud of its decorum. Additional sweet spots are the ebony machine head buttons on the Grover tuners, clean bracing struts for the top and back (the guitar has an X-braced top), evenly detailed grain within the rosewood backs and sides, and a gold-plated-effect endpin strap button on a chrome barrel. The neck is mahogany, featuring a very classy and artfully executed neck volute, which is not obstructive when you play open chords and is another example of considered design with practical strengthening in the right places. It appears as if the neck is made of two main 53

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PEERLESS PD-85E www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

Technicalspecification Manufacturer: Peerless Model: PD-85 Retail Price: £1299.99 Body shape: Dreadnought Top: Solid Spruce Back: Solid Rosewood Sides: Solid Rosewood Neck: Mahogany Fingerboard: Ebony Bridge: Ebony & Ebony Pins Frets: 20 Tuners: Grover GH102 GD Ebony Knob Scale Length: 648 mm (25.5”) Nut Width: 43 mm (1.69”) Pickups: Fishman Prefix Premium Blend Strings: Daddario EXP 16 Gig Bag/Case Included: Hardcase

Contactdetails Peerless Guitars Tel: 0208 942 7887 www.peerlessguitars.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Stereo blend, mutable tuner, great build. Cons: Weighty, superfluous bridge inlays cheapen the look. Overall: An intelligent purchase replete with quality hard case, duster and EXP strings.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.


The headstock is beautifully appointed

“...this is great value for money... many other manufacturers may take a leaf out of this Peerless book of generous offerings.” pieces – the heel and neck itself – with two additional mahogany wings on the headstock to complete the design. It’s a great combination of functionality and quality construction, prioritising tone while maintaining a great aesthetic.


I am always surprised that more manufacturers don’t take the opportunity to offer stereo-blend pickup systems such as this excellent unit made by Fishman. The stereo-blend function offers such a great range of control and true tonal

contouring, which empowers the performer to sound their best and accommodate the venue and PA as required. Fishman’s reputation for consistent quality is well earned, and this system is packed with practical and useful features: a built-in digital tuner, easy-access battery compartment, notch filter, phase switch, blend control between the soundhole microphone and bridge transducer, contour frequency slider and contour control. (You also have your mandatory bass and treble controls.) You can contour your tone with the selfnamed frequency slider as you

choose the specific frequency of mid range you wish to either boost or cut. When you have chosen the frequency you can then increase or decrease it with the corresponding contour slider (which is perpendicular to the horizontal control), giving huge mid-range scope (250 Hz to 50 kHz). A small toggle switch is situated on the side of the preamp to choose between mono and stereo outputs which you can then mix individually. The stereo outputs are the pickup running from the tip and the microphone from the ring output of the jack. Using a stereo Y cable keeps your sonic options maximised, with minimal fuss at the guitar end. You may also have the mic trim adjusted to balance requirements between the pickups, but this is unlikely to be necessary on your purchase as the factory presets were excellent.


Adjusting the gooseneck of the mic and having the choice to use the phase switch to cut out feedback gives you great additional control of your sound, which is very stable anyway. This rich and mellow quality of tonal output is made far more affordable by buying this guitar with the stereo system already built in. In other words, this is great value for money and less expensive than buying this preamp for a retro fit to your existing guitar or an external studio mic, and with such a practical level of control many other manufacturers may take a leaf out of this Peerless book of generous offerings. Russell Welton


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20/09/2010 16:28



FMTB Trembesi Mercury Parlour Is this Faith instrument something you could or should hope for?


arlours are popular. Everyone seems to come around to the attraction of the ‘small is beautiful’ ethos, and for many practical reasons also. What are some of these reasons and does this L-OO-style guitar fit the mould?

Build and Features

Part of the Trembesi series of guitars in the Faith range, one of the first things that may grab your attention is that this is a lightweight parlour guitar with a suitably lightweight and yet reasonably substantial hard case.

The Faith logo is the sole fretboard adornment

The case has attractive pile tan lining and a cambered top for added strength while keeping the weight down rather than using heavier materials. The catches are attractively plated in gold effect, with a sturdy and very well-padded quality handle which will bite into your carrying hand less readily than many other hard-case designs – a nice touch. The guitar comes with Elixir strings, Grover machine heads with ebony buttons, rosewood headstock plate and truss rod cover, abalone soundhole detail, and Faith 12thfret logo inlay at the body join.

“All of the solid tonewood elements are beautifully complementary...tallying together nicely with the gold hardware and cleanly inlaid bridge pins.” The headstock inlay also boasts the almost reverse-moon-like logo which breaks the symmetry of the neat and tidy headstock, creating some interest. The neck is made of a stackedheel construction using six pieces for the whole assembly, which is a resourceful approach to using materials in an environmentally conscious way, if a little less purist from a tonal point of view. I challenge anyone to hear the difference in a single-piece neck made of the same material on a guitar of this scale length. All of the solid tonewood elements are beautifully complementary, with the orangey hues of the dark-grained back and sides tallying together nicely with the gold hardware and cleanly inlaid bridge pins. These are really sweet. Do Faith make these available separately?

The saddle is well intonated, the strings have a good degree of rake angle, and the nut slots are each cut with precision, leaving each string appropriately seated in and upon the slots without pinching as you try different tunings. There is a slightly more satin finish to the neck lacquer than the matt body finish, which is an appreciated consideration for feel and sonic properties (see below). More variety and interest are offered with a gestural gift of a highly glossed rosewood heel cap.

Sound Quality

This is a smart and cute parlour with an equally smart and cheeky tonal quality. On such a small instrument many builders will prefer to use less lacquer or a nitrocellulose, which is thin and


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GEAR: FAITH FMTB TREMBESI MERCURY PARLOUR handmade guitar. This guitar has a narrative all of its own which is mature for a small-bodied guitar and will likely continue to unfurl over time. There is a lot of personality in the mahogany, topped off with a refreshing cap of top-end clarity, and together they move a lot of air and for a good period of time too. It naturally lends itself to dramatic endings, as you may recount your darkest tales, letting the resonance conclude with mystery and/or finality. There is also a spritely nature to the tone which is responsive to both a delicate touch and heavier approach.


FMTB Trembesi Mercury Parlour www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

Technicalspecification Manufacturer: Faith Guitars Model: FMTB Retail Price:£589 Body Size: Parlour Made In: Indonesia Top: Solid Engelmann Spruce (Gloss) Back and Sides: Solid Indonesian Trembesi (Satin) Neck: mahogany Satin Fingerboard: Macassan Striped Ebony Binding: Solid figured Rosewood Heelplate: Polished Macassan Ebony Headplate: Polished Macassan Ebony Frets: 20 Tuners: Grover Rotomatic Nut Width: 43mm String Spacing at Bridge: 55mm Strings Fitted: Elixir nanoweb 12-53 Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: Faith Hardcase


Overall, this short-scale and compact format works very well and is a pleasure to play with its medium set-up. It is a petite parlour but with punch. I would love to play this wood configuration in a larger-bodied format to hear if there may be a little more richness in the tone, which although it is full of sustain and is bright, is not without an element of hollowness in the low frequencies. This is largely because of the size of the

“ere is a lot of personality in the mahogany, topped off with a refreshing cap of top-end clarity...”

Contactdetails Barnes & Mullins Ltd 01691 652449 www.faithguitars.com

Whatwe think Pros: Hard case, rosewood details, select tonewoods. Cons: Dryness in the bass response. Overall: Cheeky and gets away with it with excusing flair.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.


The back is beautifully even

yet tough. Here, though, the stripped-down feel is consistent and doesn’t suffer any dampening in its frequency range as the wood’s pores are relatively open and in line with the thinking of producing a good volume. Although not monstrously loud,

the volume is good and contains functional bracing on the top and back. If the top were slightly thinner, perhaps there would be a marginal increase in vibrancy and volume, but at this price point we are looking at a wellmade fingerpicker and not a

instrument. As a fingerpicker it is a good tool, with hints of greatness surfacing within its humble proportions, and the combination of tonewoods gives it as much projection and calibre as you may expect, plus a little more. Russell Welton


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est. 1857

A proper music shop.

We are now a main dealer for Patrick James Eggle acoustic guitars: pictured left from top Saluda custom £3150 Linville cutaway £2500 Linville £2300 More guitars on their way including: Linville Gareth Pearson £2200 Etowah Standard £2650 Other British made acoustics Atkin: Retro D28 flamed mahogany £2595 AA deluxe £2095 BGW-H £1945 Many more on order. Fylde: Magician £2750 Falstaff £2595 Alchemist (pictured) SOLD Many more on order.

Ramirez: SP £4750 4E £2500 £2250 2CWE MIDI £2400 £1899 R4 £2100 £1890 AE £1875 £1595 S1CWE £1600 £1440 1NE £1495 £1270 FL1 £1450 £1305 R2 £1195 £1075 S1 £1095 £995 R1 £995 £895 Asturias: Model 25 £2900 Standard £1980 Standard Small Body 630mm scale £1870 Featured Folk Gibson1935-6 TG00 tenor guitar £1299 aNueNue Oahu koa soprano £459

Moon: 000-1 £1400 Many more on order.

Tenor guitars Fylde Tenor £1195 Martin LXM Tenor £550 £469 Regal vintage 1930s Tenor £349

Lowden: F35 koa & sitka spruce £3485 F35 flame mahogany & red cedar £3345 025 cutaway rosewood & spruce £2780 O23 walnut & cedar cutaway £2780 F23 walnut & cedar cutaway £2780 S32 rosewood and sitka spruce £2555

Ukuleles aNueNue: Oahu koa concert £513 Khaya mahogany tenor £379 Khaya mahogany soprano £249

Martin LXM Tres £499 £449

Other Acoustics Martin: 000-42 Marquis £6779 0-28VS £3600 £3199 D-21 Special £2770 £2399 D-18V £2399 £1999 HD-16R LSH £2239 £1999 DC-16E koa £2099 £1785 000C-16GTE Premium £1630 £1385 000-15M £1249 £1089 D-15M £1249 £1089 OM-1 £1049 £849 OM-1 left handed £1049 £849 OMCXK2E £875 £689 CLEARANCE D-12-X1 £680 £575 LX Elvis Presley £599 £539 DX1RAE £599 £499 Backpacker 11GBPC £275 £229

Asturias Soprano ukulele £999 Martin S-0 ukulele £349

Stonebridge: AS-17-21-SF jazz guitar £1999 £1799 GS-25-CR £1900 S-23-SF £1339 00M-32-SM £1339 DS-32-SM cutaway £1399 £1199 OMS-32-SM £1339 £1099 DS-32-SM £1339 £920 BA-40-CM bass £1099 £899 GS-42-CR cutaway £979

Mandolin family Eastman: MDC805 mandocello £1799 MD815 £1259 MD615 £999 MD514 £830 MD805 £825 MD605 £645 MD505 £499

Yairi: WY1 £1530 YB-1 Baritone £1299 G1F £949 FY40SBE £1249 £943 DY4012 £1149 YWY70OVA (pictured top right) £999 Featured Classical (pictured right) Yairi CY140 £1249 Burguet AC £3200 Classical Rodriguez Clearance deals: E £1399 £1119 FF £1299 £1039 D £999 £799 Burguet: Unico Especial £4500 Noguera double top £1840 Noguera double top - second hand £1499 Model 2M Especial £1999 Model 2M £1699 Model 2F flamenco £1395 Model 2 £1199 Model 3M £1135

Kala: U-Bass £450 KA-ASMTE-C £240 KA-SSCWTU-T £235 KA-PUASAC £213 KA-MC £178 KA-JTE £174 KA-MS £164 Carvalho: Soprano deluxe £170 Soprano standard £110 Concert deluxe £185 Concert standard £120 Tenor deluxe £190

Stonebridge MF-24-SF mandolin £1999 Stonebridge MF-22-SF mandolin £975 Moon Standard mandolin £610 John Hullah used 8ve mandolin £550 Buchanan quilted maple mandolin £774 Electric strings Bridge: Draco £2099 Lyra £898 Octave £850 Aquila £850 Ted Brewer: Vivo 2 £799 Vivo 2 5-string £950 We also have an excellent selection of electric guitars including one of the largest displays of Rickenbacker in the country. We’ve just taken on the Fender USA dealership and we have more USA strats, teles etc. arriving all the time. Great selection of Gordon Smith and Gretsch, Hofner and Hutchins, Burns and beyond... if you’re looking for something a little more electric then pop in and see us or drop us a line.

Visit our great, new-look website for much, much more

www.forsyths.co.uk As Manchester’s premier acoustic & classical guitar specialists we are main stockists for Atkin, Lowden, Fylde, Moon, Yairi, Stonebridge, Guild, Taylor, Seagull, Martin, Simon & Patrick, Art & Lutherie, Aria, Crafter, LAG, Ramirez, Sanchez, Burguet, Rodriguez & Admira amongst others. Large stocks of electric guitars including Rickenbacker, Gordon Smith, Fender, Gretsch, Gibson, Godin, Hamer, Hofner, Burns, Aria, etc. We also have a healthy selection of Resonators, Tenor guitars, Archtop and Gypsy Jazz guitars, including D’Aquisto, Hofner, Gibson, Dell Arte, Gretsch, Martin & Aria. 150 Years of expertise in musical instrument retail. Spacious city centre location, 15,000sq ft spread over five floors. We also stock an extensive range of folk, string, brass and woodwind instruments, acoustic pianos, digital pianos and keyboards, as well as sheet music, DVDs, CDs and software.

Please note that whilst all product prices and descriptions are checked to confirm accuracy errors may occur. Prices may be subject to revision. Special Offers and Sale items are available for a limited period only. Please contact us to confirm current availability and price of any item you are interested in.

Forsyth Brothers Ltd, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR 0161 834 3281 ext. 606 guitars@forsyths.co.uk www.forsyths.co.uk

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Aria Tenor.indd 48

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AF Tenor N Aria always appear to be able to fill a niche where there is a demand for an instrument. Will they fulfil the demand here?


raditionally, you may anticipate a tenor guitar to be home to a small body with perhaps a mahogany set of back and sides and top. This example is in fact mahogany at the back and sides, but this time with a difference in the top. The body size itself is also larger than some of the earlier Martins from the 1920s, for example.

Build and Features

The build quality, although simple in its visual and natural look, is very clean and well

The guitar is aesthetically clean and simple

arranged, and to say that it is cute may be a bit of an understatement. The pearloideffect headstock veneer pays homage to yesteryear in a bid to honour some retro folk and blues affections, and it does this very well. A more vintage lacquer on the top would probably help to complete the authenticity of an older-looking guitar, but its absence by no means limits the quality of its construction. On a shorter-scale instrument with high-tension strings, it is all important that it should maintain good intonation. Why?

“is guitar is very well fretted and has such a fantastic neck profile that I would encourage you to try one, particularly if you have never played a tenor guitar before...” Because the frets are closer together and less forgiving for variations in fretting pressure, as a little difference here may make a difference to good chord intonation and note accuracy. The strings also need to be tuned to a higher tension to reach concert pitch than on a regular-scale-length acoustic. None of these problems are overtly manifest here. This guitar is very well fretted and has such a fantastic neck profile that I would encourage you to try one, particularly if you have never played a tenor guitar before, or if you fancy learning some of Seth Lakeman’s repertoire. The neck itself has a compact, deep D-profile, with a very natural feel to its rounded contours, making for a happy seating in the left palm.

It’s also encouraging to see that a truss rod has been included for any personal adjustment which may become necessary, and the intonation is again further aided with a bespoke intonated nut. The top covers a simple X-brace pattern, likely offering more than adequate strength for this little fellow. I would love to hear one of these with a koa top, but at this price point that would be out of the question, let alone a departure from tradition. It is a 14-fret body join instrument, and although the machine heads look like a Gotoh design they are not, but they are perfectly adequate and feature very sweet concave kidney bean buttons. This is a sweet little instrument with a broad personality. Maybe a plain black scratchplate would 61

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ARIA AF Tenor www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

Technicalspecification Manufacturer: Aria Model: AF Tenor Retail Price: £429 Body Size: Full Size Made In: China Top: Solid Spruce Back and Sides: Laminate Mahogany Neck: Mahogany Fingerboard: Rosewood Frets: 21 Tuners: Enclosed Chrome Nut Width: 33mm Scale Length: 585mm Onboard Electronics: No Strings Fitted: D’Addario Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: No

The headstock gives retro charm

Contactdetails Aria Distribution Tel: 01483 238720

Whatwe think Pros: Sweet with retro appeal. Cons: No vintage bone nut or saddle. Overall: Great fun and adorable.

“Strum it with confidence to get the most from it, and experiment too with various tunings.” be more in keeping with the truss rod cover than the faux tortoiseshell one supplied, but this, too, would undermine Aria’s intention of touting for a more aged look. The double binding itself is actually a very subtle but specific tortoiseshell effect,

albeit somewhat unnoticeable by anyone other than the performer. So be it, as it is better than black plastic.


When compared to something like a grand concert, the body

size is, in fact, smaller but benefits from the projection a smaller-bodied instrument may offer. This is an impressively punchy personality but you will probably benefit from installing a pickup for work with your band. It could be drowned out if you are not going to use this as best intended as a catalyst for strong and earthy recalling of anecdotes and melodies alike. Strum it with confidence to get the most from it, and experiment too with various tunings. If you are put off from learning some music on your new tenor, start out with a simple guitar tuning of DGBE – the same upper register as the four strings on your 6-string – and play some open-D chord variations. If you want to learn some great slide technique tune to DADA, or perhaps CGCG, and get out your bottleneck. If you want an octave mandolin tuning use GDAE. It’s not complicated – it’s rewarding, and this affordable instrument has plenty of variety, sustain and sonic character to keep you interested. It’s not a toy.


Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.


Don’t be deterred – you may even find that using four strings instead of six may help you to simplify your perspective of chords and their fingerings, and develop a new-found appreciation for your approach to songs, songwriting, and even music in general. This is a great tool for building your musicality with the minimum of fuss. Russell Welton


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Martinez Double.indd 64

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Martinez Classical Guitars MCG-70C and MCG-150S Can these guitars successfully combine American design with Chinese manufacturing?


irst established in 1978 as a joint international venture in Guangzhou, China, Martinez Guitars specialise in high-quality classical guitars. Since 2002, renowned American luthier Kenny Hill has been involved in helping this small group of luthiers in China

develop world-class guitars for the exploding market in Asia and worldwide. The formula works well. I’ve previously reviewed Walden guitars in these pages which have the same pedigree – American design, Chinese manufacture – and both manufacturers show that

“they both have the hallmarks of excellence in construction, quality of materials and attention to detail.” a properly managed overseas operation can produce quality instruments at a fraction of the price of an entirely home-grown effort. Even though there is a considerable price difference between these two instruments, in the context of the price band they fall within they both have the hallmarks of excellence in construction, quality of materials and attention to detail. The more expensive MCG-150S in particular sounds like a far more expensive instrument.

MCG-70C Build and Features

The soundhole rosette is authentically designed

The MCG-70C has a western cedar solid top, rosewood back and sides, a nato neck with rosewood fingerboard, binding and inlays in wood, standard fan bracing, bone nut and saddle,

rosewood bridge and naturalgloss finish. A 650 mm scale length and Pro-Arté hard-tension strings through single drilled holes in the bridge complete the package. The guitar comes complete with a smart-looking padded soft case. The strings have been properly set up and tested (each guitar comes with a label detailing the finer points on a checklist – eg string action at the 12th fret is 4 mm on the bass side and 3 mm on the treble, etc – and is then signed off ). All this for an entry-level guitar costing £299 including the case. It looks like a bargain before I play a note!

Sounds Quality

Cedar tops usually give an immediate and robust response, play in quickly, and have a punchy and slightly percussive ‘background’ to the note. The 65

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response on the MCG-70C tends to favour the bass – usual in new instruments – and responds well to a range of dynamic demands. The core sound is even over the entire range, and the sonic decay in the higher register is limited only by the hard-tension strings. Stringing up a new classical guitar has been the subject of some debate. Some luthiers prefer hard-tension strings on the grounds that harder tension imparts more energy into the top, which is worked more and plays in quicker. Alternatively, normaltension strings produce a wider oscillation when struck, and this slightly larger sonic envelope works the top more – albeit in a slightly different manner – and gives more control over tone production. Minor quibble aside, the tonal balance of this guitar is good and will get better.

MCG-150S Build and Features

The MCG-150S has a quality fine-grained solid-spruce top, close-grained with the cellular

correctly executed ligados, and the same signed-off checklist applies. The MCG-150S comes with a deluxe hard case. This a mid-priced instrument at £949 (with the case), and as with the MCG-70C it looks like a bargain sitting in the case waiting to be played. This is a beautiful instrument to look at: elegant, excellent finish, tasteful bindings and a really attractive rosette.


“is guitar has a warmth and immediacy of response, overall clear and bright tone, and a clear and belllike quality in the mid register.” cross-hatching so beloved by luthiers, rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, binding and inlays in wood, standard fan bracing, bone nut and saddle, rosewood bridge and natural-

gloss finish. It also features a 650 mm scale length and normaltension Pro-Arté strings through single drilled holes in the bridge. There is more than enough room between the first string and the edge of the fingerboard for

As with new spruce-top guitars the tone changes dramatically in the first few days of playing and generally will keep on developing for months, if not years, until it peaks. The trick is to try and anticipate the end product. This guitar has a warmth and immediacy of response, overall clear and bright tone, and a clear and bell-like quality in the mid register. The bass is robust and bright, and most importantly the top three strings have a uniformity of sustain and clarity, especially in the upper register. The sonic decay between the 10th and 15th frets on the first string is a little short but this will play in. The MCG-150S responds well to a wide variety of demands, not a rattle heard with apoyando thumb strokes at fortissimo on the bass strings (and I’m a loud player), equally so with forte chromatic scales across the entire range of treble strings. Natural harmonics at the 4th, 5th, 7th and 12th frets are clear and strong, and as is often the case with a quality spruce top like this, it handles tonal extremes comfortably, sul ponticello sounding positively glacial, and the sweetness of mid-register sul tasto beguiling to the ear. For a new instrument


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this is very impressive – I’ve played guitars at twice the price that don’t come anywhere near the MCG-150S.


Guitarists have it easy when it comes to shelling out for a new instrument: a couple of hundred quid will get you a perfectly respectable entry-level guitar, and a couple of thousand a good working-professional instrument. Pity the violinists who expect

to pay thousands of pounds just for a bow – and yes, I do mean thousands… Amazing, really, considering it’s for a bit of pernambuco and a few strands of horsehair! For less than £1,000 you can buy a mid-range Martinez classical guitar, easily good enough for professional use, and the entry-level MCG-70C, a bargain in its price band. Steve Gordon



www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews



Manufacturer: Martinez Model: MCG70C Retail Price: £299 Body Size: Full Size Made In: China Top: Solid Cedar Back and Sides: Indian Rosewood Neck: Nato Fingerboard: Rosewood Frets: 19 Nut Width: 52mm Scale Length: 650mm Onboard Electronics: No Strings Fitted: Savarez Standard tension Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: Deluxe Hardshell Case

Manufacturer: Martinez Model: MCG150S Retail Price: £949 Body Size: Full Size Made In: China Top: Solid Spruce Back and Sides: Solid Rosewood Neck: Mahogany Fingerboard: Ebony Frets: 19 Nut Width: 52mm Scale Length: 650mm Onboard Electronics: No Strings Fitted: Savarez Standard tension Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: Deluxe Hardshell Case



Sheehans of Leicester Te: 0116 2557492

Sheehans of Leicester Te: 0116 2557492

Whatwe think

Whatwe think

Pros: Good tone, robust construction. Cons: Cheap-looking machine heads, but at this price you can’t really complain. Overall: Excellent value for money.

Pros: Beautiful-looking instrument, bags of potential. Cons: None, really. Overall: Attention to detail, quality materials and excellent build.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Ratingout of five

Ratingout of five




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Laka Ukes Double.indd 68

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Laka VUC80EA

and VUT90 e ukulele market is flooded, but can Laka paddle their way to the front? Sam Wise finds out.


intage have carved out a large chunk of the lower and mid market for themselves with a range of electric and acoustic guitars which are reliably playable and decent-sounding at very keen prices. Turning their hand to ukuleles, they’ve gone for a more Hawaiian-sounding brand

in Laka, and interestingly, mostly shot rather higher, price-wise, than their guitars, comparatively. The whole range are solid tops, variously of mahogany, spruce or koa, sprinkled with cutaways and pickups, if your pocket stretches to them, and retail for between £99 for the humble mahoganytopped soprano and £209 for

“...one of the ukes’ nicest features, a Laka script and palm tree design recessed into the wood, but with no inlay” a cutaway koa-topped electroacoustic tenor.

Build and Features

From this selection we have a koa-topped acoustic tenor, the VUT90, and a spruce-topped cutaway electro-acoustic concert, the VUC80EA, and there are many similarities. Both have laminate backs and sides, veneered in koa, which are two-piece, with a central stripe of spruce. Both have traditional-style rope binding, and a rope-style rosette too. Even the bridges, both rosewood, though considerably darker on the concert model, carry a little of the ropework theme. Fingerboards – 19 frets on the tenor but 20 on the shorter-scale concert, presumably to make the most of the cutaway – are

likewise rosewood, again much darker on the concert, and the necks are both nato. Both necks terminate in a simple radiustopped headstock, with one of the ukes’ nicest features, a Laka script and palm tree design recessed into the wood, but with no inlay. This looks very classy, certainly nicer than a sticker, and arguably nicer than many inlays too. Both carry simple openbacked Grover tuners with black plastic buttons. That’s not to say that there are no differences in these ukes, however. The most obvious is the top wood which, as the only solid wood in the soundbox, is pretty important. The tenor is koa, but very simple, straight-grained and mahogany-like; to be honest, I’m not sure I would have called ‘koa’ if asked to identify it (and the same 69

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Easy access battery compartment

“e concert, with the natural brightness of the spruce top, is unsurprisingly considerably brighter and punchier.” is true of the veneer on the back and sides of both instruments). The concert has a spruce top, and a pretty good one too – from the look of it, evenly and very finely grained. Then, of course, there’s the cutaway on the concert, and the fact that it makes the most of this improved upper-fret access by having one more of them. And finally there’s the pickup with which the concert is graced, a

Fishman Sonitone budget system, with a control box mounted inside the soundhole carrying the tone and volume controls, and a combined battery box and jack plate on the lower bout, a little below where the endpin would be. Both instruments are remarkably well put together for the price point: there’s no glue squeeze-out, the binding is even and well seated, and the

fret ends are beautifully dressed. The only slight party-pooper is that the lower machine heads on the tenor are installed at an odd angle, while the upper ones are correctly installed. It’s the sort of thing you don’t notice for ages, but once you’ve spotted it you can’t see anything else. The concert has no such issue, and I would imagine it’s a one-off ; perhaps enthusiasts of the unique would see it as a benefit? Cutaway spruce ukes tend to look too guitar-like for me, and the concert is no exception, but the tenor is a handsome instrument. While the koa really looks like a lightcoloured mahogany, the rope binding sets it off nicely, with just enough pizzazz to catch the eye, and I was quite taken with the centre stripe on the back also.

Sound Quality Koa traditionally has a significantly lighter and more delicate sound than the barking darkness of mahogany, and that’s somewhat in evidence on the tenor, though the laminate back and sides mute the prettiness of

the sound somewhat. I found the warmth and hollow sweetness very much encouraged me towards fingerstyle playing. That’s not to say that the uke doesn’t sound nice strummed; it certainly does, but again with a leaning towards the sweeter ‘Island sound’ rather than the barking, somewhat abrasive sound of the mahogany soprano that’s more associated with English players. The VUT90 is not a particularly loud ukulele either; counter-intuitively, tenors are often quieter instruments than their smaller brethren, and this is no exception. Tenors, of course, have a longer scale than either the soprano or concert, which gives you more room to play with if you’re attempting complicated fingerstyle stuff. This uke lends itself to the fingerstyle player who is ready to graduate from the bargain-basement all-laminate models to something with a little more depth of tone, but doesn’t want to break the bank. The concert, with its smaller soundboard and resonating volume, combined with the natural brightness of the spruce top, is unsurprisingly considerably brighter and punchier. It’s not a shrill sort of tone, though: there’s a pleasing roundness and fullness to the sound that I had not anticipated. The VUC80EA is great for belting out the strummed numbers, but acquits itself surprisingly well for fingerstyle, especially arrangements of jazz standards, where the fullness of the tone sounds almost plummy on single lines. Plugging the concert in immediately raises an ergonomic issue: the tone and volume controls are sited on a head unit inside the soundhole. This is all well and good on an acoustic

The recessed logo is classy 70

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guitar, but with the much smaller soundhole and clearances on a ukulele, it’s very difficult to adjust. Were this my instrument, I’d find settings I liked and never touch it again. Indeed, the pickup system overall is not what you’d call subtle: it’s loud, brash and doesn’t really reflect the sound of the uke. On the upside, it’ll be plenty audible at an open mic, and it’s powered by a PP9 battery, rather than the button cells that the otherwise ubiquitous Shadow pickups use – much easier to find if you run out of juice at a gig in a far-flung Welsh village.


At this price point, Laka are up against some tough competition in the shape of Kala and Ohana, to name but two, and they have a decent offering here to do it. Acoustically, both of these instruments more than hold their own against competitive solid-top instruments. The sweet-sounding mellow tenor and the punchy but pleasingly full-sounding concert deserve to be played and compared before you make your decision: they both have a lot to offer. Just don’t get too excited about plugging in the concert. Sam Wise



www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews



Manufacturer: JHS & Co. Ltd. Model: VUC80EA Retail Price: £189.00 Body Size: Concert Top: Solid Sitka Spruce Back and Sides: Koa Neck: Mahogany/Nato Fingerboard: Rosewood Frets: 20 Tuners: Grover® Nut Onboard Electronics: Fishman® Sonitone Strings Fitted (gauge and brand): Aquila Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: No

Manufacturer: JHS & Co. Ltd. Model: VUT90 Retail Price: £199.00 Body Size: Tenor Top: Solid Koa Back and Sides: Koa Neck: Mahogany/Nato Fingerboard: Rosewood Frets: 19 Tuners: Grover® Nut Onboard Electronics: N/A Strings Fitted (gauge and brand): Aquila Left Handers: No Gig Bag/Case Included: No

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Nicely made, punchy-sounding electro-acoustic uke at a great price. Cons: Pickup is a bit of a blunt instrument. Overall: Buy it for its acoustic properties and take the pickup as a bonus.

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Attractive, sweet-sounding picker’s uke. Cons: Poorly aligned tuners. Overall: Looks good against tough competition.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Ratingout of five

Ratingout of five




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Sienna 65 and Sienna 16 In terms of price per square foot, the chunky Sienna 65 is a bargain, but how does it stack up to its smaller brethren?


ustom amps have been around since the mid 60s, born of the somewhat dubious idea that guitar amps would be better if covered in the same material as custom car seats. Fortunately for founder Bud Ross, they offered rather more to the market than Naugahyde covers, and Kustom continue today, including in the long-overlooked cheaper end of the acoustic amp market.

Build and Features

The 65 is a big lump of an amplifier by acoustic standards, and that’s due to an unusual feature: the 12” speaker. In the electric guitar world these are

non-controversial and indeed the standard, but in the land of acoustics 8” speakers are far more common, with a pair more likely than a larger single speaker. Kustom’s devotion to good looks has not waned, and the Sienna diverges from standard black, with a caramel-coloured vinyl case and a natural-wood control panel. The cabinet appears very robust, with corner reinforcements all round and both the speaker and control panel recessed for protection. The Sienna is a two-channel amp, with one dedicated to mic amplification and the other to instruments, so there’s no using this beast to amplify an instrumental duo. The mic

channel has gain, a three-band EQ, and a push-button to switch digital effects in and out. The instrument channel has inputs labelled ‘piezo’ and ‘active’, which are probably high and low impedance, and has only a two-band EQ, lacking the mid control. It also features a notch filter to eliminate feedback, which to my mind would be better applied to both channels. Then there’s a master volume, and a digital effects section with eight selectable effects, which are reverbs, choruses, delays and combinations of the above, plus a level control, and an on/off switch which seems rather redundant, given that each channel also has an effects on/off switch.

The back panel contains the usual array of I/O jacks, a footswitch (presumably for the effects; does anyone ever use one?), an effects loop, and line and speaker outs. Unusually, however, these inputs and outputs, and also the power cable connector, are, in fact, mounted horizontally under the back panel. This makes it somewhat tricky to connect things, particularly the power cable, but there is a legend above the jack sockets to help you locate the right ones, and it would be exceptionally well protected in the event that the amp got knocked over. The 16 shares many features with the 65, including styling and the sensible, if fiddly, tucked-under back panel (in this case, carrying only an external speaker jack). Aside from power, however, there are some clear


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The control panel is cleanly laid out and easy to navigate

“Test number one for an amp is how it sounds with a guitar, with the EQ set at 12 o’clock, and the 65 passes with flying colours.” differences, most notably that the speaker is 8-inch rather than 12-, and that while there are two jack inputs (labelled guitar and mic) and two volume controls, there’s only one EQ for both. This is four-band, with high and low mid controls, and a lone reverb in place of the multiple effects on the bigger unit. The amps look very solidly

put together, and pretty with it. Certainly the 65 is big and muscular-looking, which you might or might not like, but it doesn’t look cheap and nasty, and at this price that’s good going. The little 16 has a bit of the practice amp about it but is still mighty stylish.

Sounds Quality

Test number one for an amp is how it sounds with a guitar, with the EQ set at 12 o’clock, and the 65 passes with flying colours. The sound is as robust and rounded as the cabinet size suggests, and has a very full and satisfying bottom end. It’s hard to say whether the 12-inch speaker is responsible, but this amp seems to have a greater richness to the tone than many others. This was confirmed by cranking the bass up: the Kustom was able to deliver at high volumes on max bass without a hint of distortion. This wasn’t a sound you would want every day, but it was far from unusable; I put my guitar in drop-D tuning and played some thundering fingerstyle, with the bass end just seeming to spread itself across the room in quite a wonderful way. Guitarists with particularly bassy instruments, such as the Gibson J-200, might find this response particularly beneficial. I did find, however, that I missed the mid control: the EQ was great for inducing booming low end or scratchy, hollowsounding blues sounds, but the

inability to scoop or boost the mid detracted from my ability to tweak for the richest, warmest fingerstyle tones. The vocal channel was also very easy to deal with; the three-channel EQ giving all the flexibility that was required. Like any other amp, the Sienna will not compensate for a cheap plywood guitar, and a mic that costs £25 from Argos will never be wonderful either, but with decent equipment you can make a decent sound. The little 16, by comparison, struggles to keep up, which given the price differential is perhaps not surprising. There’s nothing very wrong with the sound, but the smaller cabinet and speaker reveal themselves in a somewhat boxy tone, and I found I needed to tweak the EQ significantly to get a tone I was happy with. Even then, I couldn’t get anything that thrilled me, and there was always a slightly muffled edge, as though my guitar had a cold.


With a street price of £250 or thereabouts, the 65 is a bargain. There are other options at the price 73

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“I was very impressed [with the 65] and would be happy to use this amp on a daily basis” that are just as good, however, and your specific needs might be the deciding factor. For an acoustic amp it’s big, so if (as one of my friends does) you drive a Smart car, this might not be your best bet. If, however, you really need that big, powerful bottom end – perhaps you’re a fan of John Martyn’s C tunings, or play baritone – then this is the amp for you. It’s not without its compromises, most notably the lack of a mid control, but if you want to get picky about

such things you have the option to pay three times as much. I was very impressed and would be happy to use this amp on a daily basis. The 16, on the other hand, is more of a practice amp, and it sounds like it. The competition at £80 is not that hot, and it holds its end up well enough, but if you want your guitar to sound like the beautiful instrument it is, you’d be well advised to save for the bigger model. Sam Wise

KUSTOM Sienna 65

KUSTOM Sienna 16

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews



Manufacturer: Kustom Model: Sienna 65 Retail price: £299 Made in: China Power output: 65 watts RMS Weight: 14 kg (31 lb) Number of channels: 2 XLR input or ¼” jack: Both Additional inputs: Stereo line in, mini jack aux in Mono/stereo: Mono Speaker size: 12” Digital effects: Reverb, chorus, delay Footswitch: Available separately Feedback filter: Yes EQ – standard or parametric: Standard 3-band on mic channel, 2-band on guitar channel Outputs: Speaker out, line-out, effects loop Floor stand or PA mount: Floor Cover included: No

Manufacturer: Kustom Model: Sienna 16 Retail price: £79 Made in: China Power output: 16 watts RMS Weight: 10 kg (22 lb) Number of channels: 1, with 2 inputs XLR input or ¼” jack: ¼” jack Additional inputs: None Mono/stereo: Mono Speaker size: 8” Digital effects: Reverb Footswitch: None Feedback filter: No EQ – standard or parametric: Standard 4-band Outputs: Speaker out Floor stand or PA mount: Floor Cover included: No

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Bargain price, huge bottom end. Cons: No mid control on guitar channel. Overall: Really good for the money.

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Cheap as chips, good-looking, 4-band EQ is a nice feature. Cons: Sounds like a cheap amp as well. Overall: You could do worse for the money, but not a huge bargain.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Ratingout of five

Ratingout of five




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“I was very impressed [with the 65] and would be happy to use this amp on a daily basis” that are just as good, however, and your specific needs might be the deciding factor. For an acoustic amp it’s big, so if (as one of my friends does) you drive a Smart car, this might not be your best bet. If, however, you really need that big, powerful bottom end – perhaps you’re a fan of John Martyn’s C tunings, or play baritone – then this is the amp for you. It’s not without its compromises, most notably the lack of a mid control, but if you want to get picky about

such things you have the option to pay three times as much. I was very impressed and would be happy to use this amp on a daily basis. The 16, on the other hand, is more of a practice amp, and it sounds like it. The competition at £80 is not that hot, and it holds its end up well enough, but if you want your guitar to sound like the beautiful instrument it is, you’d be well advised to save for the bigger model. Sam Wise

KUSTOM Sienna 65

KUSTOM Sienna 16

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews



Manufacturer: Kustom Model: Sienna 65 Retail price: £299 Made in: China Power output: 65 watts RMS Weight: 14 kg (31 lb) Number of channels: 2 XLR input or ¼” jack: Both Additional inputs: Stereo line in, mini jack aux in Mono/stereo: Mono Speaker size: 12” Digital effects: Reverb, chorus, delay Footswitch: Available separately Feedback filter: Yes EQ – standard or parametric: Standard 3-band on mic channel, 2-band on guitar channel Outputs: Speaker out, line-out, effects loop Floor stand or PA mount: Floor Cover included: No

Manufacturer: Kustom Model: Sienna 16 Retail price: £79 Made in: China Power output: 16 watts RMS Weight: 10 kg (22 lb) Number of channels: 1, with 2 inputs XLR input or ¼” jack: ¼” jack Additional inputs: None Mono/stereo: Mono Speaker size: 8” Digital effects: Reverb Footswitch: None Feedback filter: No EQ – standard or parametric: Standard 4-band Outputs: Speaker out Floor stand or PA mount: Floor Cover included: No

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Bargain price, huge bottom end. Cons: No mid control on guitar channel. Overall: Really good for the money.

Contactdetails John Hornby Skewes www.jhs.co.uk

Whatwe think Pros: Cheap as chips, good-looking, 4-band EQ is a nice feature. Cons: Sounds like a cheap amp as well. Overall: You could do worse for the money, but not a huge bargain.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.

Ratingout of five

Ratingout of five




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Chris Smither and Collings Guitars

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Chris Smither and his custom 1998 Collings 12-Fret 0002H SS

Serious Guitars | www.CollingsGuitars.com | Collings UK, 01227 832558

19/10/2010 16:34


LR BAGGS M1 Active www.acousticmagazine.com for reviews

Technicalspecification RRP: £199.95


LR Baggs M1 Active

Strings and Things Tel: 01273 440442 www.lrbaggs.com

Huw Price tires an active offering from LR Baggs


he M1 is an active magnetic soundhole pickup with an integral Class A discrete preamp. As well as sensing string vibration like a regular magnetic pickup, it is receptive to body vibration. The humbucking dual-coil design features LR Baggs’ Tri-Axial Dynamic Technology, and a volume control is located on the treble side for fingertip control. A mini-jack connection for the output jack cable allows the M1 to be easily removed for battery changes. The battery is a CR2032 with an estimated life of 1,000 hours, so expect to change it maybe once a year if you play plugged in for about 20 hours per week. Compared to most other soundhole pickups the M1 is somewhat tricky to install. However, that can be forgiven because the hard-wired output jack socket makes it clear that this pickup is meant to be installed then left in place. A 1/2” hole will need to be drilled in the tail block to accommodate the socket, although you could opt to trail the wire out of the soundhole. The pole piece heights are preset for bronze acoustic strings but they are adjustable for optimum balance and tone, and two additional 3/4” pole pieces are provided for use in the B and high-E string positions with electric-style or nickel guitar strings,

plus there’s a 3/8” pole piece for acoustic sets with an unwound G string. Compared to most of the magnetic competition the M1 has very high output, thanks to the active electronics. It’s much brighter too; in fact its treble response is more like a condenser microphone. It’s a pretty good starting point, but a bit of judicious equalisation will be required to smooth things out. Through my monitor system I detected a very strong spike around 1kHz, but once I notched that out, then added a bit of bass and upper mid range, the M1 took on an uncannily realistic acoustic tone with excellent string balance. Of course, there’s no trace of piezo quack, but transmitted noise could be a problem for some players. It can get obtrusive, but it’s roughly in line with what you might expect from typical undersaddle systems and you can reduce it with thin cork spacers placed between the soundboard and the pickup clamps. All things considered, this is one of the most true-sounding soundhole pickups and a practical alternative for those who dislike undersaddle pickups. So it’s no surprise that the artist endorsement list includes names like David Gilmour, Coldplay, Tom Petty, Ben Harper and Ian Anderson because this pickup will cut through a dense rock band mix with ease.

Whatwe think Pros: Brighter, louder and clearer than most magnetic pickups. Cons: Lots of handling noise. Overall: A superior-sounding magnetic pickup that pulls off a pretty convincing condenser microphone impersonation.

Our Ratings Explained 5 Stars: Superb, Almost faultless. 4 Stars: Excellent, Hard to beat. 3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. 2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor.


LARRIVEE: Our test guitar explained When we began planning this series of pickup testing articles we realised that we had to select a single guitar that could take us all the way through the process. We also needed a guitar that was a good all rounder, so a classic Dreadnought was out of the question because they’re often too big in the bass and too scooped in the mids. Obviously parlour guitars, O and OO sizes were out of the question because they’re too bass light and specialised to provide any representative picture. Even traditional OOO models were considered but are a touch too bass light. We also needed a guitar that would present some

technical challenges for any system. After all it’s much easier to amplify an unresponsive plywood guitar than a resonant all solid thoroughbred that’s far more likely to feedback. The test guitar would also need to be robustly made because it would be subject to a fair bit of stress as the various pickup systems were installed and removed. We already had some experience of L’Arrivee’s L models and we knew the L-03R from the Recording Series ticked every box as a superb all-rounder. It’s a fine fingerpicker with an even frequency balance and a nicely extended bass end. It’s a powerful yet dynamic rhythm instrument

too. With its solid spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides we also knew that the L-03R could generate the degree of harmonic complexity that only the best pickup systems would be able to accurately reproduce. It even has a rosewood reinforcement patch glued onto the upper bout to provide sufficient structural strength to mount a control panel. So many thanks to L’Arrivee’s UK distributor Sound Technology for providing us with this wonderful test guitar. Contact Sound Technology Tel: 01462 480000 www.soundtech.co.uk www.larrivee.com


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Find your nearest Dealer: www.gremlinmusic.co.uk/dealers

missing goto.indd 71

18/11/2010 14:38



Another round up of vintage delights courtesy of Paul Brett


t’s that time of year again! If anyone wants to have a last-minute blowout of spare funds before the government’s spending cuts kick in – and the rise in VAT – or treat yourself to a gift, you may like to have a look at some of these beauties as future investments, plus the joy of playing them. Please note that as we work a good month in advance for copy submission, some of these instruments may have been sold. Neil Harpe is offering a couple of rarities in the Oscar Schmidt Stella range – for the blues players. First up is this excessively rare beauty: a Stella ‘Gambler’ 12-string, mid 1930s. It is a long scale (26.5”) Grand Concert size with playing-card decals and fancy embossed ‘mother-of-

replacement using the original ‘mother-of-toilet-seat’ overlays. The poplar neck has been fitted with a graphite reinforcement rod to ensure that it stays straight and true. Yours for a cool $8,500, including case. When you consider that a New York dealer was selling a normal Stella 12-string recently for $20,000, this extreme rarity looks cheap at the price. If you want to have a vintage ebony-finished 6-string to go with it, then Neil also has one on offer. Another rare model too. All-solid birch construction, no cracks anywhere. Original ebony finish with a thin clearcoat overspray. Engraved ‘mother-of-toilet-seat’ (faux pearl) fingerboard and headstock. Neck has been freshly reset. Long scale (26 1/2”), 14 3/4” lower bout and 1 7/8” nut width. Original

“There is only one other example of a ‘snakehead Stella 12-string’ known, and it was played by Blind Willie McTell and shown in a 1930s photograph.” toilet-seat’ fingerboard – tailpiece model. This guitar has been refurbished to ‘as new’ condition. Even more rare, it was one that had four, rather than the customary three, card suit decals. Furthermore, it has a very rare tapered ‘snakehead’ peg head. There is only one other example of a ‘snakehead Stella 12-string’ known, and it was played by Blind Willie McTell and shown in a 1930s photograph. The birch sides and back have several small crack repairs, invisible with the new ebony finish. The spruce top has no cracks at all. The fingerboard is an ebony

pyramid bridge has all six original bone bridge pins with abalone ‘eyes’. Visually striking, this is an excellent-playing, super-sounding guitar! Comes with a new hardshell case. On sale at $2,850. So for ‘men in black’ blues players, here’s a matching pair (almost) of vintage rarities, straight from the era where the working man’s guitars were king. At the other end of the price scale I spotted a guitar that may need some attention but would certainly be a fair buy, given the way vintage acoustics are edging up, as opposed to its vintage electric cousins, the high end of

1930s Stella 6 string Ebony which are tumbling down. It’s available from long-term vintage dealer George Gruhn. From the 1920s comes a 12-fret-to-thebody parlour guitar, made by JF Stetson. It has Brazilian rosewood back and sides, replacement top and neck, and George says that the repairs needed are: to glue and dress the frets, repair upperbout side crack and reglue the bridge. Sold as is – price $600. www.gruhn.com Shooting up the collecting price range Richter scale are some bank account clearers for those of you who can afford it! Here are some real stars of the game. Again offered by Gruhn’s is a Gibson F5 mandolin, on offer for a cool $130,000 – reduced from $150k. It’s a late-1924 factory order number (essentially an unsigned

Stella Gambler 12 string Loar), refretted with correct vintage-style frets – a superbsounding example, gold-plated hardware. Ouch! But hey! It’s $20k cheaper than it was originally. One of my favourite ‘spots’ on George’s site is this 1920s symphony harp mandolin, sold in excellent condition. It has a bassside body extension, mahogany back and sides, pearl top border and soundhole ring, with a treeof-life fingerboard inlay and fancy pickguard inlay. Sold with no case for $7,500. If I had the cash, I would have this. It is a beauty and Dyer were renowned for their harp guitars. I’d be surprised if this hasn’t been sold by the time we go to print. For banjo lovers, have a look at this Gibson Style 6 banjo. You can have this for $30,000. It was


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National Tri Cone Resonator Land H Washburn made by Gibson in 1932 and is sold in excellent condition. It has a replica gold-sparkle 5-string neck by Frank Neat (original tenor neck and OHC included). It’s set up with original highprofile, lightweight flat-head Style 6 tone ring, recovered from a banjo owned by JD Crowe’s singer/guitarist Ricky Wasson. Finally, for slide lovers with a few pesos to spare, here’s a 1929 National Style 3 tricone resonator, engraved with a lily of the valley pattern. This is an extremely rare model and has a round neck – yours for $22k. Maybe there’s a sparkle among the aforementioned that will entice you to invest, maybe not. But just seeing these beauties still around from those golden days is joy enough! I mention vintage instruments from the States because that’s where the source is at its most available, since that is where most of it was made. Even the vintage guitars of our own sadly departed star maker, Tony Zemaitis, are more readily available in the States than here in the UK. Here’s a rare offer, also from Gruhn, of one of Tony’s acoustics. It’s a Zemaitis Superior, made in 1971 and offered in excellent condition. It has a 25” scale, 17” body width, spruce top with D-shaped soundhole, Indian rosewood back and sides, neck set by Gruhn Guitars, truss rod and fingerboard replaced by Gruhn Guitars, excellent sound and playability, with case, and is on offer at $18,500. When you consider that Eric Clapton auctioned his 70s 12-string, fondly named ‘Ivan the Terrible’ , for $253,900 including buyer’s premium, this may be a bargain.

Gibson style banjo For sure, Tony’s guitars are considered by many to be true collector’s items in a world sense. I doubt there are any other UK makers from the recent past whose guitars command such respect and prices. It is getting increasingly harder to source good-quality acoustics from the Americana period, as collectors and players are snapping them up. Acoustics never reach the heady heights of electrics, but neither do they see the dramatic falls – mainly, I suspect, because vintage acoustics are bought by older players, who have a more realistic interest in collecting. Would that you could still pick up a Gibson L-00 for a tenner from a junk shop, as you could in the 1960s, or a Maurer for a fiver. But times change, and for those of us who like to find the odd bargain in this realm of antiquity, we have to look harder at our sources. I

Gibson F5 Mandolin

Dyer harp mandolin guess, with the decades I have been collecting guitars, I still have an advantage to sniff out the odd guitar in these financially uncertain times. I never buy at the high end of the market, basically because many of these instruments have reached, or are fast approaching, their zenith. I always try and source pieces that are a) rarities; b) reasonably priced and have the potential to increase in value; c) interesting to own, play and record. Two of my

Stetson 6 string

latest finds are an extremely rare 1895 Lyon & Healy/Washburngrade flat-top, model 345, with a natural-finished spruce top, edged with fancy inlays in a black amalgam. Beautiful sunburst flame maple sides and back, and bound ebony fingerboard with fancy engraved pearl inlays. It shows some play wear around the soundhole, but no cracks. Also, I sourced a very rare 30s Stella ‘Tree of Life’ parlour. It needed a refret but came out top-notch. Well, that’s it for 2010. I hope you find something of interest here to cheer you up during the chilly winter. If not, there’s always 2011. Good hunting, and please keep sending in your own finds as I use some of them in this column from time to time. Go to www. paulbrettguitarist.co.uk and click on the Q&A section. Scroll down the long list, enter a description of your guitar and upload one goodquality full-frontal photograph (1 MB at least). Paul Brett

Zematis Superior 1971 79

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When Julian Bream plays your guitars you know you’re doing something right. Russell Welton visits the workshop of classical guitar luthier Kevin Aram.

‘ I

first got started by repairing guitars, fixing them up and selling them on through the early 70s. In those days you could buy good guitars cheaply – a semi-acoustic Gretsch for about £75. They probably were not very playable at first, so I fixed them up and then sold them. This is how I really got started, and then I thought it would be nice to make a guitar. So I went to an adulteducation evening class which was then run by Dave Dyke, who now runs his luthier supplies business. Here I built an electric guitar with the help of Dave and the guitar maker Chris Eccleshall. Chris helped me a lot at this time. When I finished this guitar I thought it was OK and then started building an acoustic, with help from Chris, at the weekends. At the time he was living in Ealing and we were living in West London between Ladbroke Grove and White City. I was working for a charity which built and ran adventure playgrounds for children, and we also ran a play street in North Kensington in McGregor Road, which is just off of All Saints Road. Towards the end of the 70s it came to be known as a hot spot area for the police, but Notting Hill is seriously posh these days. I remember the early carnivals there, and then I went to the Central School of Art to work as a technician. I had previously been to art college in the 60s and, at the Central, worked with audio-visual aids, helping the theatre design students with their sound effects. They had a really good workshop and I was very friendly with the

“After I had built my first acoustic I became hooked. To make the acoustic I worked from a book written by John Bailey"

woodwork technician, so I would pop in and use the bandsaw and other tools. So the guitar building became a serious hobby and more than a one-night-per-week activity as part of an evening class. ‘After I had built my first electric and then acoustic I became hooked. To make the acoustic I worked from a book written by John Bailey which was published by the English Folk Song and Dance Society. It was a tiny little paperback with only a few drawings,

which I still keep on my shelves somewhere. I remember going to their headquarters at Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s Park to buy it. I was going to class, working from this book, doing repairs, and with the extra money I was making from that I started buying tools and treated it as a hobby until about 1978 when I started to make and repair as a fulltime occupation. My wife worked at the Opera House in Covent Garden, making the headdresses and jewellery, but she knew back


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“David Rubio said to me that really I should concentrate on classical guitars... something that is recognised as a handmade European skilled craft“ then that I wanted to do this work full-time and that I wouldn’t be happy until I was doing so. She said I should “have a go” and we would live off of the money she made to see if I could, in fact, make a go of it. ‘Dave Dyke gave up teaching the evening class and moved to Sussex to start his luthiers supplies business, and I took over. I ran the class for ten years. Bryn Hiscox and Bill Puplett made guitars at the class and we became friends. I managed to get a grant from the Crafts Council, which offered start-up grants intended for glass workers, engravers, potters or weavers, and I think I snuck in under the wire. There was a guitar maker on the panel called David Rubio who helped me obtain the grant, which was equivalent to a year’s student grant. This tipped the balance and meant I could keep going. At this time we had a rented flat in East Finchley, so I rented a workshop in Barnet. Here there was an arts centre in the high street called the Old Bull. This is now the workshop of Lipkin & Algranati Guitars. Initially it was just a block of garages but it is now more civilised. When I began to make a living from guitars I was doing a lot of repairs, and these would subsidise the making until we moved here to Devon 20 years ago. It was hard in those early days as there were not many full-time UK guitar makers in 1978. The difficult thing was that everybody wanted an American guitar: a Gibson electric or a Martin acoustic. There was no real tradition of English guitar making. When I received this grant, David Rubio said to me that really I should concentrate

on classical guitars because that was where a tradition of handmade guitars existed. From a pure business point of view, you would be doing something that is recognised as a handmade European skilled craft. With steelstring guitars you were fighting the factories [Martin and Gibson], and at that time that’s what the demand was for. He helped me a lot to make my first classical, which I found to be more enjoyable to make – I took to it and concentrated on it. Working continuously through the 1980s, my work gradually improved and I began to be recognised as a maker of fine guitars. ‘I had met Juan Teijeiro and his partner Pam Hoffman when they attended my evening class. They owned the London Guitar Studio and also imported and wholesaled guitars from Spain. In the early days they were having some problems with these guitars and I worked for them on a regular basis, helping with the design and set-up. They offered me a workshop above the warehouse and later sold my guitars at the London Guitar Studio. Then Ivor Mairants and the Spanish Guitar Centre, along with others, started selling these


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“If you are going to ask me, ‘What is the secret of your success?’ there is no secret. Experience is the key, and not to jump around with too many different ideas."

instruments. It was a very gradual process. My repairs continued to subsidise my making. ‘My guitars came to be more and more successful and I became more widely known. A lot of guitarists would then come to see me in my London workshop, and so it became harder to focus on making the guitars, which is what I really wanted to do. We decided that my wife would give her job up; we would move to Devon and endeavour to make a living just from the guitar making. When I was able to concentrate on the making and nothing else it went from strength to strength. Twenty years later we have no regrets – I make the guitars and Alison does everything else. ‘If you are going to ask me, “What is the secret of your success?” there is no secret. Experience is the key, and not to jump around with too many different ideas. One minute a luthier may be doing fan strutting, and then lattice bracing, and then sound ports in the side, changing things continually. It’s far better to be focused. This is how the makers of the golden era of guitar making from the 30s to the

60s used to work, and these are the guitars I really like. Santos Hernández, Manuel Ramírez, Francisco Simplicio, Marcel Barbero, Angel Fernández – you can just go on. There was a flowering of great guitar making in Spain at this time. This coincided with Segovia championing the classical guitar as a concert instrument, and a whole raft of guitarists picked up the baton and ran with it. Julian Bream and John Williams are the two names that spring to mind in this country but there were many others throughout the world. The whole thing blossomed through the 60s and 70s. These classical makers didn’t do anything else and started work when they were perhaps 14 years old. They didn’t have the distractions that we do today, such as the television or foreign holidays. For me, it’s nice to create something where you can make every part of it. Today there are not many things you can say that is true of.’ Russell Welton Visit: www.aramguitars.co.uk

FACT FILE These handmade guitars are the choice of Julian Bream who, in 1986, purchased a little Torresbased instrument with Brazilian rosewood back and sides. A few days later he gave a concert on this guitar at the Festival Hall. This was the start of a fruitful relationship between maker and player. Kevin Aram’s guitars range in price from £4,500 to £5,750. Each is given a woman’s name rather than a serial number. Kevin prefers to use European spruce (eg Swiss, Italian) for his tops, with Indian or Brazilian rosewood backs and sides, Brazilian cedar for the necks (for better balance than mahogany), and ebony for the fingerboards. He also uses yew, blackwood, sycamore, bird’s-eye maple, cherry, cypress and walnut, among other materials. His machine heads of choice are made by David Rogers, and these are, in Kevin’s opinion, the finest in the world. Kevin makes approximately 13 or 14 guitars per year. They are light in construction, small, strong and feature a powerful projection by virtue of their compact size, which is optimised for tonal integrity. The neck employs a traditional slipper heel which is glued to the top of the instrument and is not prone to creeping over time, and is held in situ with tapered wedges. Bill Puplett and Bryn Hiscox made guitars under Kevin’s tutelage. Rosettes are individually handmade and Kevin will also use reclaimed and storm-damaged woods to build from.


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INTERVIEW: PATRICK GODIN OF GODIN GUITARS re-educate people as to why his guitars were different


GET DOWN WITH GODIN GUITARS Few manufacturers have as many as six different guitar companies which specialise in acoustic instruments under their wings. Godin Guitars, however, are exceptional in many ways...

Many people like our Seagull guitars but want something more conservative and traditional with a square headstock. They have the same features, same woods and finishes. The name comes from my brother and I. For us it was very difficult to come up with a name. One day Robert was thinking about this and a good dealer in Maine said, ‘Why don’t you call the brand Simon and Garfunkel?’ But can you imagine the royalties that would cost? So one evening after Robert had a glass of wine I said, ‘We have a Simon. Why don’t we kick out Garfunkel and replace him with Patrick?’ So now we have Simon and Patrick.


We don’t call these classical guitars because they are not. We call them nylon-string guitars. We made this distinction with one of our Spanish partners in Barcelona because we wanted to sell them in Spain. Otherwise it’s like selling whisky to a Scottish guy. I told Robert how right our contact was about this distinction, because our guitars’ necks are rounder, they have a truss rod and are very different in their feel compared to a classical guitar. Also, in North America we don’t have a long tradition of Spanish guitar playing, so in our market it is very well accepted. In Europe it’s another story, but the mentality is changing.



This was our first brand. When Robert started he used to be a retailer with a repair shop in the 60s. He was the first one with the strobo tuner. At the time The Beatles were a big hit, Robert had many different musicians coming to him from Toronto and Vancouver to have their guitars set up in Montreal. Robert is not a hunter but one day he went hunting with one of my uncles and he met an old man in the village of La Patrie who was making wooden window frames. He also made guitars as a hobby and so Robert decided to try one of them. After

this he offered to sell them in his shop in Montreal and reorder more if it was successful. The old man was indeed very old and eventually he passed away and so Robert took over his legacy. Robert’s family is from Montreal but this is how we formed our connection with La Patrie. It’s a small village about 250 km from Montreal near the US border, with a population of only about 500 people. It’s a village where 250 of those people are guitar makers. You could have a date and likely she will turn out to be a guitar maker because 80 per cent of our workforce is female. Now we employ nearly 650 people.


It was quite difficult to start with because we had a new body design, pointy headstock and a satin finish. These guitars were one of our first brands which came with a satin finish. In the 70s, when Robert Godin was beginning to sell guitars, people told him he was crazy because only high-gloss-finish guitars are what sell and what people will accept. All the company reps we were using were initially very positive, but this turned out to just be empty talk. Robert had a hard time and so decided he had to conduct a series of clinics to

In the past Robert used to do a lot of OEM contracts for many famous big-brand companies which were great schooling from a specificity point of view. Back then he didn’t have the money to manufacture his own guitars. It put Robert in a difficult place when these companies couldn’t pay him, as he had a big inventory of products with their brand name. So after that experience, Robert decided now was the time to manufacture Godin guitars. This was now 1988 and the market didn’t need another copy of a Fender or Gibson, so we started out with the Acousticaster, an acoustic guitar with the playability of an electric guitar. Bird’s-eye and flamed maple were very popular then, and so this high-quality model was part of our Artisan series. It was very conservative but also very innovative.


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All Godin acoustic guitars are built using wood sources from trees which have been naturally felled and are not sawn down to meet production volumes. Godin 5th Avenue: This archtop jazz guitar features a silver leaf maple neck, an equivalent-quality alternative to mahogany with the same density properties and tonal characteristics. This is another conscious choice to be responsible for using resources in a planned and sustainable way. This guitar is also one of a tiny number of affordable archtop instruments built to a premium high standard, and is available with P90 Kingpin pickups and a cutaway. Try one.


The company came later on and this is a guitar that is designed more with the beginner in mind. The way it’s braced will resonate more on the player, whereas a Seagull guitar or Simon & Patrick will have more projection and less boominess. Here we also employ a concept of using 95 per cent Canadian woods. The remaining 5 per cent are the rosewood bridge and fingerboard components. They are fun guitars to play but not too expensive.


This is our latest solid-body guitar range in the company designed in-house by Fiocco. He loves everything to do with British style and vintage appeal, and they are so different we could not brand it as a Godin guitar. How did your relationship with Blue Rock Distribution come about? Ben started with us last June, but we have known him for four years and he came to visit us in Canada a year ago, last September. Ben came to me and spoke about working on this project, and although we were

not ready then, when we decided it was time things moved very quickly. What have been some of your favourite acoustic design innovations? With our Multiac guitar we first designed a double-chamber body. A big problem onstage or while recording is feedback, and Robert’s idea was to produce a guitar where the sound only goes out and does not go into the guitar body. The soundhole is located where the controls are. The double chamber is connected by a channel which also leads to the soundhole.

This way, when your drummer and bass player are performing with you, the sound table of the acoustic is not being put off balance because of their interference inside your guitar. Sometimes people use a sound blocker and fill the soundhole of the guitar, which kills your tone. The more you put on your guitar top, the more you are dampening your sound. The Multiac is a no-feedback solution to this problem. Also, the Multiac is a no-soundcheck instrument, in the sense that we give the minimum and effective control over the EQ. You can plug straight into the sound desk


For a comprehensive list of endorsees: www.godinguitars.com/endorsees.htm




Here are some practical suggestions: Beginner: Art and Lutherie Cedar or Parlour Ami spruce Intermediate: Norman B18 Advanced: Godin Multiac SA

with a flat EQ and it will sound good. When the soundmen see this guitar, they know what to expect and are very happy with the range of these guitars. When the Multiac SA guitar came to market it was the first ever synth-access guitar. Almost 20 years later people still think it’s a new model, but we are more discreet about this functionality. When people ask us what this 13-pin connector is for, we tell them it is for computer access. If they ask more we will tell them about how it works with Roland’s GR products and so on. About 98 per cent of people who buy a synth-access ACS or Multiac Nylon equipped guitar may not use this connection but they like the sound of its six individual microphone sensors and the guitar’s dynamic range, along with its noiseless operation. The Multiac Duet Ambience guitar employs a four-microphone casting/imaging technology which is totally different to the synth-access pickup technology and uses a piezo film-like pickup with no microphone inside. These microphone tones are built into the processor. The Multiac was also the first nylon-string guitar designed for a steel-string player. We also produce a grand concert model. It has a slimmer neck, more like an electric guitar, and a slimmer radius on the fingerboard, which you don’t find on classical guitars with a flat fingerboard. It was an instant hit. We initially produced an acoustic guitar neck width and then an ACS version, which is a solid-body with a Multiac neck and nylon string, and then we produced the CS Slim, like an electric guitar. It caters for hard rocking, jazz and right through to fingerpicking musicians. It is a guitar for everyone. Russell Welton Visit: www.godinguitars.com 85

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elcome to The Easy Guide – in this issue we will be looking at everything you need to know about recording drums to your music. We will study how both bands and solo artists go about achieving this, and some of the more common mistakes that can occur during the process. We will also look at the best way to mic up a live kit so that it’s ready for recording, and some of the more interesting sounds you can achieve by microphone placement. If you want to produce a fantastic track, then achieving a great drum sound is the perfect place to start. To help us along we will be calling on professional session drummer/tutor Greg Morgan. With over 30 years of drumming experience under his belt, Greg is

well known for the sheer amount of energy he hits the skins with – check out his YouTube videos! – while always maintaining an impeccable sense of time. We met up with Greg at Manchester’s Airtight Studios, to join him as he went about recording drums for Bluehand – you can listen to the results at www.myspace.com/bluehandone – and so now, for the very first time, using Greg’s astonishing drumming experience, we will take you, step by step, through all the things you will need to consider when recording drums to your music.

drum sound you want to achieve, before setting up the kit, so always communicate with the engineer and talk through what sound you are both going for

In his final article jack Baker investigates the tricky art of recording drums for your track. – for example, if the song is a pop/rock type, then I would use more damping and close-mic techniques, to achieve a more ‘controlled’ sound at the mix stage, which will give a lot more scope to the producer. However, if it’s a more ambient track, then less damping is used, along with more use of the overhead and ambient mics. It’s all about basic preparation: decent mics, drum heads that are correctly tuned and still have some life in them. Once the drums are set for recording you don’t want to tamper too much with them after that, as it keeps everything consistent for the engineer to work with later on. When playing with a band, do you record all playing live at the same time or do you prefer to record the drums first? It depends on the size of the studio. It’s always great to record as a whole at the same time to capture the live feel of the band; it really captures the whole vibe of the song. I do like to run through the song a few times with just bass, a click track, if required, and a guide instrument just to point out any changes – keeping it simple works for me; everything else can be built up around these guide tracks once the drums are recorded.

Hi, Greg. You are very meticulous in the way you approach miking up and recording drums; is there any basic drumming advice you can offer to the readers? It’s always good to know what


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FOR ALL YOUR DRUMMING NEEDS … Are you a drummer wishing to improve your overall technique? Or a musician requiring a session drummer for a song you have written? You can contact Greg on 07776 436812 or check out www. gregmorgandrums.co.uk

BLUEHAND Before writing each article, Jack Baker attempts the recording techniques he is writing about within a real studio environment, to hopefully provide a more realistic, hands-on approach to producing music. When not writing The Easy Guide To Recording Your First Song, Jack Baker tries to escape through music, together with Alana Danielle Richards, as ‘Bluehand’. Visit www. myspace.com/bluehandone.

Depending on the placement of mics, the same take could sound like a different kit entirely. How would you typically mic up a drum kit, and what are the benefits of doing it in this way? I would start with a pair of overheads to achieve an overall good-quality sound that will pick up most of what is being played, and from there introduce mics where they are needed, usually bass drum mics placed further away to pick up the overall ambience. The benefits of this, if put together properly, are to eliminate the need of a hi-hat and even snare mics, although it’s always good to have some control of the kick and snare. A recent project was recorded using only kick, snare and hi-hats, but we experimented with the placement of mics, which always yields some interesting results. We created a bass drum ‘tunnel’, where two extra bass drums were positioned in front of the first – the idea was to capture sound at different intervals so that we had three different bass drum sounds captured in one recording. Depending on the placement of mics, the same take could sound like a different kit entirely. A really simple rule is just to concentrate on what is being played – there is no point miking up each tom if the drummer only plays one of them! There are many great drumming software packages available, but can using MIDI drums ever really be as good as the sound of a live drummer? I think they are getting closer with recent technology. Some of the electronic kits now have a real feel and amazing sounds built into them, but they will never replace us. Hopefully!

What advice would you offer to a drummer who has not recorded in a studio environment? How is recording drums different from playing live? Well, a gig lasts for around two hours and it’s just a constant burst of adrenalin for that time. Whereas in the studio you could be recording one song in a day, repeating it over and over until it’s correct, waiting around during takes, dealing with technical faults, rechecking levels and tuning. So it’s an environment where you’ve got to take time to get it right, and work with the people who are making it happen for you – always respect the engineers: they are trying to help you achieve the best sound! You have over 30 years of experience. What is the most typical problem that can occur when recording drums, and how do you handle it? Breaking through a drum head …

And the solution? Put the kettle on! Seriously, though, many things can occur with drums – if you are playing continuously for several hours you might begin to get cramp, so always pace yourself. Also, if you’re working with headphones, then mind your ears – mine are a bit damaged from one too many loud click tracks! Jack Baker

RECORD YOUR SONG! If you’re eager to record your own masterpiece at an affordable price, why not have a gander at www. airtightproductions.co.uk – here you will find everything you need to know about producing a topnotch industry-standard album. Alternatively, you can send an email to alan@airtightproductions. co.uk or phone 0161 881 5157. To get you started you could book in for a taster session, where you will be able to have a tour of the great Manchester studio and quiz Alan on any questions you may have. Take the first step towards recording your first song …


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Just some of the crowd pleasing acts at Shrewsbury

SHREWSBURY FOLK FESTIVAL 2010 A cautious but well-judged line-up confirms Shrewsbury as the all-round crowd-pleaser. Words and pictures by Noel Harvey.


hile some folk festivals (most notably Cambridge) have waded boldly into genres that include mainstream blues, rock and jazz, and others, such as the Green Man, seem to have lost the plot altogether, Shrewsbury continues to play a cautious but well-judged hand. There’s great music, a beer tent that could hold its own as an ale festival, a staggering range of dance teams and bands, some novel children’s entertainers, and some intriguing workshops. In common with past years, the music line-up rarely strayed outside the comfort zone of British Isles folk, and when it did so it was usually to throw in a smattering of Americans, or the occasional token Canadian, or Antipodean. There were exceptions, of course, and very welcome they were too. In the burgeoning

arena of fusion music, the Afro Celt Sound System offered a sizzling blend of traditional Irish music with African percussion and electronica, while Oleg Ponomarev’s Koshka served up a virtuoso Gypsy exuberance with a classical discipline that would no doubt have delighted Grappelli, not to mention Bartók himself. There was a heartening showing too from the up, coming and newly arrived. Sam Carter stood out as one to watch, as did BBC 2 Horizon Award nominees Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts, with their sophisticated arrangements and delicious harmonies. Gilmore’s ‘Travelling In Time’ provided an especially poignant reminder of the vagaries of old age. Despite a message that these days seems to fall increasingly on deaf, or at least indifferent ears, Billy Bragg showed that he can still pack ’em in and drew as large and enthusiastic a crowd as any of

the weekend. Bragg classics such as ‘There Is Power In A Union’ raised rousing applause; the jokes, piquant as ever, got the laughs, and the encore ‘New England’ must have had every voice in the marquee (as well as those crowding around outside) raised aloft with a spirited vigour. Even Bragg’s cautions against cynicism were seemingly taken to heart, if only for what was left of the weekend. The Michael McGoldrick Big Band lived up to its name both in sound and presence, with around ten members onstage at any one time, McGoldrick’s driving, consummate prowess singling him out as one of the finest flute players around at the moment. From the other side of the pond, Richard Shindell’s intense, masterly balladeering continues to set the gold standard among the current crop of singersongwriters, and never more so than when joined by the gorgeously nuanced voice of

compatriot Lucy Kaplansky. Refreshing, too, to hear classics as diverse as ‘Poor Wayfaring Stranger’ and ‘Love Hurts’ thrown in with the mix of Shindell’s muscular catalogue. Elsewhere, fellow American Adrienne Young covered the ground with an eclectic set of bluegrass, country and old-timey. Irish legends Dervish closed Saturday evening to explosive applause, having been joined by an array of guests that included Steve Knightley (introduced as Show of Hand), Moya Brennan of Clannad, Karen Matheson, and Andy Irvine of Patrick Street. Monday evening’s highlight, Bellowhead, closed the festival, trotting out their inimitable line of boisterous onstage cavorting while managing simultaneously to produce an entertainingly waggish blend of Brit-folk, jazz and vaudeville. Keep on doing what you’re doing, Shrewsbury. It works. Noel Harvey


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WHO SAYS PROFESSIONAL GUITARS CAN’ T BE SEXY? Tanglewood, Britain's biggest selling acoustic brand introduce the new 2011 Evolution Exotic Series I� T������� B������... S������� P������ K��... E�������� F����� M����... C����� ���� ��� ��������� - P����� ����� ���� ���� £259...

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An historical overview

of the

with Paul Brett


his is the final article in the 12part series I have written on the overview of the history of the guitar. I have tried to condense a subject about which volumes could have been written. I hope you have enjoyed this journey that I have found pleasure in compiling. We began way back in Ancient Egypt in 3500 BC with Har-mose – the first musician found – who was buried with his lute and wooden plectrum, and we conclude with an appraisal of the enormous growth in the world markets of all forms of the stringed thing’s shapes, sizes and values. It’s probably true to say that the golden years of acoustic guitar makers was from the early part of the 1900s to the Second World War. The 60s onwards didn’t exactly produce a great deal of memorable acoustics, but this is understandable because the trend was in electrics. The Japanese companies entered

the fray in a large way and copied virtually all the American models, both electric and acoustic. This led to what is termed ‘the lawsuit era’. Many Japanese companies were tackled by American manufacturers over the issue of plagiarism, and rightly so. However,

PAR T 12


the Americans weren’t exactly innovating in acoustics either, and thus it was a fairly sterile time. Possibly the only new innovations in construction and materials were the Ovation fibreglass-bodied guitars. These were the subject of a ‘you either love ’em or hate ’em’ campaign. Yet many guitarists opted to play them, especially as they contained onboard pickups. When Aria guitars were first imported into the UK in the 70s by Peter

Tullet of Gigsville Ltd, the intonation was still ‘all at sea’. So, being a musician himself, Pete decided to bring in John Joyce to oversee the quality control of the imported Arias leaving the warehouse. This was a masterstroke, and it was the icing on the cake, establishing the brand in the UK. John designed his own 6- and 12-string guitars for Aria (JJs), and recently Guitar Magazine included them in the top 50 retro guitars ever made. I had a consultancy involvement with Gigsville too, and apart from having my own signature models available, I brought in endorsees of the likes of Police’s Andy Summers just before the band broke on the world stage. Yamaha, Ibanez and other Rising Sun companies were also very active, and flooded the world with their models. It

almost seemed like a new eastern tsunami had swept the globe. Indeed, the US manufacturers faced fierce competition that they had not experienced before. Yet, as history has proven time and time again, strange bedfellows can find common ground. In time, American brands were being produced on a large scale in … Japan. Labour costs were the main factor. When the costs rose, manufacturing moved to Korea, Indonesia, Mexico and now China. Why people should be snooty about guitars made in China is beyond me. While we in the West were still playing bone whistles, the Chinese were the ultimate in sophisticated craftsmen. ‘What goes around, comes around’ springs to mind, and the wheel of creation has now spun back to its roots. There has been an emergence by the large companies of putting out anniversary issues of historically famous models, and this has only reinforced interest in the originals. A plethora of new names has also hit the scene over the past few decades: Lowden, Larrivée, Breedlove, Fylde, Takamine, Simon & Patrick, Lakewood, Tanglewood, Taylor and a multitude of others. Yes, and still Martin pursue their standards of excellence, probably unsurpassed over the generations. There is another issue confronting luthiers and mass-production manufacturers these days, and that is the use of wood. Many species are now protected, as Gibson found out recently when they were raided for allegedly using illegal rosewood in the manufacture of their guitars. Reportedly, it was about the use of Madagascan rosewood, as America’s Lacey Act bans firms from importing it into the USA. The US Fish and Wildlife Service seized wood, computers, files and guitars from Gibson’s Massman Road manufacturing facility in Nashville, Tennessee. They were seeking evidence that Gibson shipped illegal rosewood from Madagascar via Germany. A double whammy in this scenario lay in the fact that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz sits on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, which lobbies for sustainable forestry. Gibson stated they are fully cooperating with the federal investigation. So wood is becoming a precious resource and the authorities are obviously tightening the screws in this area. There has also been the amplification of


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FEATURE: HISTORY OF THE GUITAR feature: History of tHe Guitar INTERVIEW: LOS LOBOS interview: JAckson Browne ACOUsTIC news ACOUSTIC NEWS

fatesamples on the one hand can be a cruel master, are played Grammy-winning say: ‘Hitler didn’t Does snub me – itSouth was Franklin America – it’s that in North America. and heby attended the CSN FRAN HEALY IAIN THOMSON JOHN PRINE yet on the other can be a protective mistress. guitarist Al Petteway. D Roosevelt who snubbed me. The president mojo, man, I don’t know Rosas feel proud that his show later the same week), Wreckorder Fields Of Dreams Inhappen & On Stage ofPerson Romany Gypsies, who what will in athe future? Which didn’t send a telegram. ’ It would exactly what it is. ThUnlike ere’sSothousands band areeven at the topme of their Jackson was dear friend of butchered infuture Nazi death camps,I Django brands will be collectibles? posed over seem‘Yeah, that anti-black ran as highin the airwere scene? but how sentimentsomething the late singer-songwriter enjoyedWarren themembers protection of a excellent Luftwaffe this question to of our type about Shakira? Haof ha!’ Zevon. 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If theHe. It in Guadalajara, Mexico. music traditional thing tofor say. was very saying it the was degenerate, sub-human music individual ‘creative voice’ surrounds him’. Clearly that natural that lead singer criminally underrated Kane, needed at those raucous bluegrass jams. (near Oxford) dedicated to providing your guitar anywhere with a clothes rail, called it affectionately ‘The Log’ . It was shoebox was pre-war, it would sell for where the hasn’t mariachi musicians from Mexico, but spontaneous and magical, some of the leading names from across the written Jews andFran performed byat’s blacks. perspective extended andby songwriter Healy Th Welch and Kaplin (on the will bemaple delivered atLatino thethe ICMP facilities inone London Those instruments The of neck resonator handcrafted steel-string acoustic and classical and acomplete non-mechanical locking yoke holds it Candelas sound was born. we’re not and I’m such a and fan of Tom’s of the first electrics to appear on to Iain’s songcraft, which is, solid-body would want topurists: do his it own thousands. ’wood Rodders stirring set closer, ‘Paradise’). music world are set to descend on Greenwich’s Two years later, in 1935, implemented this and key attributes include: explained invintage full atwardrobe best,traditional adequate, and notterms thing. if you’ve followed are stained inGibson a of rich brown and guitars, asAnd as select brands electric securely inwell place. Hanging it‘A in the Supported by grumbling make these we’ll mix instruments soRoyal that’s debatable. Benmont the market. guitars did not express ‘In future classics I concur spectacular Old Naval College from 21st to ban and proudly announced: s of of today, helped by laboured lyrics. with was Travis’s body ofaccess work, you’d bass and scratchy second enhanced a high-gloss fiall nish. guitars. According to Meera, the owner of fi ne allows for quick while keeping it safe. instruments in America, together to get a certain playing this piano with an interest in his idea of a solid-body electric that the usual suspects will play a major role, 25th July (excluding Saturday 24th) to celebrate Vihuela nigger jazz is finally switched off on German Swiss manufacturer Schertler have That’s a shame, because expect a solo album full guitar, creativity Prine’s in fine form Developing musical of course, but there bluegrass players and it was soundGuitars, that we want. So A striking new engraved inlay it is a place for you if you share a love The swivelling The vihuela, which has the same name as an until Fender started producing theirs. the musicianshipguitar and possibly also boutique builders like Collings of well-crafted indie pop, throughout: warm, droll, the history of London’s most visited tourist Radio. ’ Later, in 1939, Hitler almost managed revealed a new sensor for use on acoustic –album Challenging musicians to develop industry amazing. Somebody aren’t aproduction whole lot these in a sense, we’re sort of quality pattern designed byin Greg Deering onof the are sincere lyrics and unrelated Spanish string instrument, so don’t for all fithings guitar. yoke tsoff’ the entire most as aIFour desiccated cowboy In the early Gibson designed athrew guitar and Santa Cruz too. suspect output will be pro, and assist youdry choosing the right Opened in late the Coventry branch attraction –1950s, Greenwich. stunning open-air to ‘switch human race. In 1939, guitars. LYDiA is2009, the result ofcompanies over ten years acoustic guitars, either through the addition of of standard performance skills often exemplary. A heartfelt musicianship. Fortunately – most them in a Dylan song, I threw experimenting. ’ confuse them, is the favoured instrument boot, and clearly having a in a dresses the ebony fi ngerboard. It is The guitars on off er will cover the entire guitars and you taking Paul’s suggestions into account, and a major factor, mainly as more will survive. I instrument that suits your needs. It has a of Express Music welcomes you with a huge music events, themed around Greenwich’s the German Reich’s armed forces invaded research and development by Schertler in project, the album traces Wreckorder doesn’t stand-alone pickups, or the inclusion of built-in whale of a time. Josh Ritter – Entrepreneurship and business skills, of the mariachis, musical troubadours who are just mom-and-pop Warren Zevon song and it was Rosas deploys several available now exclusively through range, from aff ordable to mid-priced can hang the would hope that signifi cant UK builders like gave it to him to try. This led to a contract Iain’s roots, his move to the disappoint. Considerably homely environment, with comfortable sofas array of musical equipment, and over 2,500ft² sits in on the wistful, worldunique history and staged in a world-class Poland, thus the start of World War move from to place inTh Mexico the field ofheralding undersaddle systems. Based ontone pickups and preamp units, with volume, helpingMaster graduates exploit their creative ability allDealers so place uplifting. en delivering Gillian shops. Iflifeyou want instruments when playing Deering’s and mainland, as and a shepherd, lighter than Travis’s last including instruments from brands thatluthier include guitar facing left weary ‘Mexican Home’, Lowden will achieve that cherished between them for acelebrate guitar became armchairs, presenting atothat relaxed, lounge of acoustic instruments, avariety Martin impassioned songs the populace. It’status; sknown a role venue, will help to Greenwich’s II.electric For the six years, Hitler unleashed the the company’s ‘air chamber’ technology, Welch and Dave Rawlings more than that, you live, as well as and EQnext controls. Electro-acoustics areasnow – Teaching transferable skills that prepare then a lorry driver, and album Healy has clearly while Iris DeMent kicks back up a select premier dealers. Crafter, Takemine,household Tanglewood, Ibanez or right. 5-string instrument with a2012 bowl-like unfortunately the US market seems to have as the ‘Lesborough Paul’ model. rest is history! Just room and names, such as to Mull. asGood a host forand London as twofour horsemen the ongo the world, played. IThe recommend gotta to Mexico. ’ atmosphere. LYDiA uses an ultra-linear condenser acoustic. ‘Amuch lotother of them his return enjoyed experimenting very aof part ofApocalypse thewith modern sassy ruckus onthe ‘In students for real world, including selfandthe awry deep body for extra volume and range. Deering’s Eagle banjo is and Yamaha, with classical instruments by The Guitar the defi ning role in what’s hot about every guitarist since has either played or concept, but the poor lyrics a fresh palette and a more As well as thethem usual big names the store Washburn, Yamaha, anddiaphragm a full range of Taylor Spite Of Ourselves’. These year countdown to the Olympic and Paralympic because they’re on to So where do interested areand traditional ones made all changed once again. microphone with solid and acoustic player’s armoury, and management, career planning, marketing, Theversatile third, fourthso anditfican fth strings are tuned designed to be constantly mar the album. acoustic sound. Best Camps, Prudencio and tracks Hernandez. Top-end Hanger isexplains, priced lovely new versions of old and what’s not even over here. owned one. Les was also a lover of tinkering accommodates the lesser-known boutique and Takamine models. something amazing and are guitarists start if they want in Mexico, ’ he Games Greenwich Summer Sessions Despite this, music insettings. all and its forms survived. Acoustic solo guitarist recent Richard abegins. custom sethigher of our Master Class integrated electronic LYDiA is of potential, ansocial octave than the others, so ukulele is ’ many now play these guitars networking and Plenty then, are the anthemic ‘Anything’, favourites exactly fithe t promotion, into all genres of music. Itshow also handcrafted guitars willregularly include instruments at £18.99 RRP such good players. It’s real Markthom to go Latino? ‘Th ere are ‘but I also have a Martin and experimenting with all kinds of electronics. brands, including K Yairi, Peerless Baden. For any readers who shopped players will be right at home. Everybody else brainchild of local promoter and Hitler hated jazz, preferring the for intensely series ofthe round-cored strings, tailoring Acoustic interviewee Richard Capener available in diff steel-/ but by hook or by crook the moody ‘Sing Meversions To in preference toerent previous why this one-time ‘newcreative interpersonal skills carries the same adjustability, provided by luthiers such as(also Dave King, Pete inc. VAT music played by real people. ’     will fail. lotsG7th of diff erent regions D-28 that I use in the ‘My guess would be any It was during one such session in his garage in singing shepherd needs a Sleep’, the brooding ‘Rocking They also have a very good selection of at the previous shop, TMC known Bob Dylan’ has grown into producer Peter Conway, and will be a highlight Teutonic compositions of Richard Strauss and the core and wrapping gauges to suit his has struck endorsements with capos nylon-string guitars, for on-board installation microphone-amplified set-ups. – Opportunities to undertake industry comfortable neck profi le and decent lyricist. Chair’ and the catchy Beer, Stephen Eden and Rohan Lowe among www.jhs.co.uk Besides public acclaim for with their own instruments studio every once in a a songwriting legend in his fairly well-known handmade 1948 that Les recorded a record, later nylon-string guitars (brands include Perez as Musical Exchanges), there ishave a vast of work The Greenwich Festivals launched inreleased June Wagner, and he strongly identified himself with low tunings, ’ explains Newtone’s founder, and Newtone Strings. Campling, (on the shoulder of theNick instrument) or the with Th roughout history there experience www.iainthomsonband. ‘Moonshine’. Bajo Sexto own right. his musical accomplishments, lifetime warranty that is Highlights aasmade and styles, ’ says Rosas, while.improvement I also use Alhambra others. Guitar makers Chris Gillson and Mike guitars by that afolk single on the Capitol label, entitled ‘Lover (When and Raimundo), as well various inthe presentation and level by‘but Greenwich Council. include Seth Beethoven, citing composer as‘Richard ‘possessing Malcolm Newton. inventor of the G7th capo, says, external preamplifi er. The technology isofis co.uk www.franhealy.com always been those individual This is the giant acoustic bass used tocareer crop www.ohboy.com Jackson reveals that his ifenvironment a guitarist and guitars from Spain, and staple of Deering’s highHobbs are affiliated luthiers to fiyou’re ne Guitars luthier –and ’cause he/she won’t Express Music also have stores in be Paul Strange instruments. You’re Near Me)’ .Steve Les played eight different Paul Strange stock. This new, comfortable Bennett Lakeman, the the Royal Philharmonic upLevellers, ashimmer lot into lame 80s comedies starring Leslie that heroic German spirit’ . Of course, many ‘These strings feel like an impressive and innovative guitarist and also compatible with previous Schertler luthiers worldwide who set up For details on how apply for a place, or for hasIt’aff orded him an insight you like music, instruments from a custom quality American-made will be providing handcrafted andTex-Mex Nielsen. s surprisingly light considering around anymore. ’ Wild Violet Solihull. www.expressmusicstore.co.uk isand intended to help all players, beginner or electric guitar parts, some recorded at half Concert Orchestra and Jools Holland. orchestras were made up of Jewish musicians, lighter strings but with the punch and he writes great music. We’re delighted to undersaddle systems. their own small businesses in norteno as we callfurther information other courses events into aon lot of the issuesorwith or it, You shop commissioned called Candelas, who banjos. can find instruments on special order itswhen vast size, and delivers ‘Just look attortilla-shattering Jimmy speed, which played back at normal www.ticketmaster.co.uk/ who as ahim race felt the major brunt of sturdiness of heavier ones, ’ says Richard. have on board endorsing ’ Hitler’s The company also unveiled aus. new sensorthe north which they design and make at the ICMP, go to www.icmp.co.uk. which he’s grappled. ‘What which is from make traditional Mexican volume thanks to its 12 strings arranged in six PETER the authorised Deering through the shop. fine Guitars are located atROWAN THEA GILMORE SUZANNE VEGA D’ Aquisto as an obvious speed would double upme in tempo. According greenwichsummersessions hatred. Here’s aHeart list of the under ‘And the G7thdouble performance capo is simply a to Richard was searching forof strings that for banjo, based on theirrequirements DYN technology. their own instruments, and carve brings the most fulfi lment Mexico, buy a bajo instruments in Los Angeles. courses. There’ s a 10-string version too, Murphy’s Close-Up Vol 2, People And BLUEGRASS BAND Master Dealers atwas 24 Stert Street, Abingdon. example. ’ fiSteveh historians: ‘This thecanfirst time that multiNazis’ approved rules for music art: work of art – it’ll be a design classic. ’ withstand the abuse of several but even if you nd one, you won’t be able and makes me still want to The electro-dynamic transducer isand designed sexto in LA or in Mexico. Ththe esewould aretheir the guys out own who niche in history. Places Legacy www.deeringbanjos.com www.fineguitars.co.uk ‘I’m going to put Fylde on play without laughing at you. tracking been used inpeople a Irecording. These doitit is that get to answer Monterrey is a goodwww.richardcapener.com state had to who radical retunings during livewere performances used •Loyal to make for to giveNazi a guitars natural reproduction of talented the banjo’s Certainly farmembers more expensive the list simply because they recordings were made not with magnetic tape society? not been much of a struggle the big questions I have, and for those things, or if you José Feliciano. Th ey’re in musicians were guaranteed a job. www.g7th.com to promote his album, River . Newtone complex sound characteristics. than most mass-produced Guitarrón are outstanding instruments. todiscs. answer in ways that between art aand commerce ‘Everybody back then was butlike with acetate Paulthem would record a ’ want to made play vihuela East LA andNazi they’ve been www.newtonestrings.com •Loyal members who were not talented Strings provided the answer. ‘We’ve www.schertler.com guitars, many are handcrafted The guitarrón mexicano – again, don’t confuse help merecord understand better. as he has always followed his pretty smart, but the mindset the mariachi musicians Floatingwave good friends of ours for track onto a disk, then himself playing musicians were not guaranteed a job. this with the 25-string guitarrón chileno when to custom designs required by I’ve to paid owngo muse. ‘ForLA. me, there’s part you’re was new and bound who play, to East ’ another many years. ’ there’s ‘Ibeen think it’ll dictated with the first. He be built theget multiwalking thefortunate streets of Guadalajara atby •Any non-Jewish individual players.person Many are demonstrated to do it. ’ to live a rigorous life involved to be a lot ofthe human folly Hmm, that’s quitetrack a with Finding exact night, if you want – is another big old whichever musicians go down recording with overlaid tracks, rather a ‘genius’ for music and washighest a member of the superb examples ofnew the the concepts of being a rock astar that I’mparallel ones when you trythat to fashion acoustic bass. oneJim is fretless has both trip – maybe quick visit instrument Los Lobos inWith history. Olsen’s guitars than as heThis did later. Byand the time Reichsmusikkammer (Reichand Music Chamber) quality in craftsmanship, this steelfreedom and nylon strings; that doesn’t make and ifjustice currently not really cut be outinfor, ’ he approaches to living. It was to eBay might order need isn’t always easy, cost a bomb, partly because had a duty resulttricky he with was satisfied with, had of apart heavy 30mm ofwriting padding, stargazer by the new the besthe permitted employment. will always specialist enough to play, you tune it he ADGCEA. compromised, and laughs. ‘But of it itbag conceited too. It’sremain easy toabe fiis rst… he was tells us. ‘One of myFreshman the James Taylor connection, discarded some 500 recording discs. ’ That’ll keep you focused. multiple pockets, with heavy introductory level ukulele featuring Samuel once said: ‘Patriotism is the I never area forJohnson the more discerning ofthe autonomy. performing songs which isrange sangaccessory that way when you’re guitars comes allcosts theyoung way your local James dealer for “With the ofGilmore commissioning a highlearnt his but willEggle people still careAmpex about At only 30, Thea Having trade at Patrick Sensible idea, this. Take Always the innovator, Les duty rucksack style straps andpersuaded carry handle. geared machine heads and matching lastVenezuela. refuge of the scoundrel. ’ And thus itTrust proved players, and long may this be so. address issues head-on surely well enough or played well because everybody’s beautiful. Tin Can is out now. from Th ere is details and check out www.eggle.co.uk. endhas acoustic we’ve been Bensusan finding that already’sguitar, released 11 Pierre the feet of the legendary Jarana your most successful Acoustic very own James Taylor in 50–100 years to develop twoand three-track tape recorders. Available to fi t dreadnought, 12 string, folk colour coded bag. They are available in in the Third Reich’s case. must help make sense of a enough to be inbefore anyone’s band Th ere’sHere analbums immortality of examples are fiabout ne Info: www.loslobos.org something diffsome erent and can name Joanare Billto Monroe going on Aso songs from Dave the past mid-sized acoustic guitar with fithree ve strings, booked far include Mann more and more customers keen visit will beGuitar returning toenter the UK this May to right?Tours time? Onlyauditorium time can tell. Iclassical, think that people Gibson released Gibson Guitar machines became the standard for senseless world? ‘Oh yeah. [he’s kidding, TS], so I youth. I’ve kind stayed body, grand and no natural, pink, and yellow, retailing The Americans the war Joel McIver the instruments made ina red Baez, Bruce Springsteen to until explore range of of work onofblue, off erdidn’t from a few such luthiers: aa vastThese decades and rework them this tasty tel little0115 instrument is tuned to thirds Music (4th October, 941 the workshop to see what goes behind perform a Wainwright series shows in on preparation will still care about the old blues legends, App has witnessed an unprecedented and Martha roots stylings, goes acoustically. And while it’s professional recording studios in7955), the1950s/ It’s an incredible doing always did things Rowan my own way. certain age inand my head. Asof matter what model, the new DLX Bag will at£24.95 each. Freshman have also and often appears as part of anbalm ensemble as so 1941, after the Japanese had bombed Pearl beautiful, museum-quality baroque guitar Guitar Junction and Promenade Music with the scenes. ” says Patrick. “However, it is not among her fans –of and it’s back to the bluegrass well not an original concept, if you for the release his 11th studio album. names like Stella and National will continue response to its release. With well over this, ’ he confers. ‘If I didn’t And I guess I made a choice upsetting as it is to happen its voice is subtle rather than strident. early 1960s. He also paid Ampex to build the provideofthe protection in style. 1£44.95 each. announced their new in gig bag. The DLXclassy is collection Harbour. Then entered with athe vengeance, by easy Israeli Elkayam Boaz; to maker seethey why. Skilled forunique thisgive caught volume of Suzanne dates and further tours to beMartin announced possible toand dedicate the time to The forthcoming shows will see the have a way of describing to do it my way and through pastand myalways refl ection now to be big. I don’t see the name 360,000 downloads in the fi rst few days first eight-track recorder in the mid 50s. He proved toJoe beand the decisive factor in the self-penned originals songwriting musical mostly concept of Veillette’s Gryphon High Vega’s acoustic album Requinto Jarocho everyone the full tour when thethe order book things toyou’ll myself I itdon’t my own capabilities. Isubsiding try not see that I’m getting older, ’ he  introduction of new material, giving fans likeshortly. either – the brand has an the now sits at the top of free composition, Gilmore’s latest which sound they’ve series, works his own radio and TVknow shows inamazing the 50s, defeat ofapp Hitler and Japan. Guitars during this 12-string; and the UK’s own Dave King’s ‘Tree hosted Made in Veracruz, Mexico, this littleI chap is a know what I’d do… always screaming at you!”. todirection do been things I don’t want to laughs,is‘Imusic still keep aThe young Murphy’s Heart , free isthe a to album, around longer than an well. Solid, dependable andyears a sneak preview as to Pierre history and will be trading on that for apps. app is download and what he was achieving wasconventionally unbelievable period also suffered, as the vast majority of of Life’ classic 6-string. Th ere is also a major 4or 5-string guitar tuned and chocolate box full of fl avour, Appalachian log cabin front well worth the reworks, felt very fortunate to have do. I don’t worry about album mental age. ’ discussion some of hiswhich top is has taken with with his new album to come. ’ Gekko toAfter any iPod touch or iPhone through across the whole spectrum of musical used for single-note melody lines. As it’s also metal was channelled into the war effort for global market in collecting vintage guitars the only difference being porch. His high lonesome there are engaging tales this way of working the sales. ’ include Aside from the commercial UK retailers, including Walter Mann, of superblyinventions. due to released inat October. not known for itsthat volume, thefemmes requinto usually My feeling isdoubt asthere long asout examples Apple’s App Store. Celebrity users that there aren’t any left voice andown of children, aging I seriously has been thewhich making ofbe planes, ships and allBesides kinds has over the decades intoofis a solid intact, world and what goes on, or remaining close pressures, being agrown rock star appears as part of a group playing unison Nottingham based Dave Mann Music (who the end that no one likes. Rowan’s surrounded himself fatales, goddesses, queens, The tour promises to remind UK of theperson amazing array ofwhat guitars thatduring have : Sammy Hagar, Luis Fonsi, andvintage Chad another who did hemyself did That’s you see guitars made and sustainable market. Some guitars more or less, to and (David, Stephen has ordnance. gothas toFrom be one of why the most the big, choir-style with friends,and counterpoint figures. neighbourhood girls, unhappy been instrumental in thewith planCSN and heavyweight the fans why Bensusan is recognised been madeinover the years survive, and Kroeger. their lifetime the music-related industries. during the war years containing wooden have been reaching astronomical prices over clapping of ‘Love’s The including Del McCoury, Ricky wives, honest men and to others too. There’s a kind Graham attended Jackson’s covetedfirst jobs ever conceived. to sign up) the evolved. aim is Tim Even throughout the idea world as oneThe of the new models, designs andsome makers keep The app includes awould chromatic tuner that Greatest Instrument’, to Skaggs and O’Brien, to ifCuatro unsung heroes and soldiers. today, you listen to ofinvolved his early of independence  parts that normally have Hall show summer But tailpieces forthe Browne, there has pastand few years, and asthe farAlbert as acoustics are this beauty sheyou isLike (the guitar asbut well as my wife). Acoustic is delighted announce thedeliver a down-home totracks get select groups oftopotential customers dark, bluesy ‘Teach Me To help Often just accompanied by foremost innovators and composers pushing the boundaries of guitar genres, notes as you play them, a standard a ukelele in that it has four strings andisis and recordings can’t help be amazed where you can say, “Th is been crafted from metal. I dread to think how concerned, it doesn’t look like subsiding. Even Be to the emotionally acoustic ‘Catfifish crisp acoustic guitar, Vega’s The nish and tone woods used are superb. winner ofOswestry, the Freshman FA400GAC: Stephen along to soallows that they could not adelight.by dismissed byand fools as a novelty instrument, of Bad’, acoustic music. guitarists keep playing and experimenting metronome which you to choose what I believe, ” and people his guitar playing early tape echo many fine musical instruments destroyed through global inwere the fiBlues’ nancial painful ‘That’s downturns How The is a dusty gem, while the cuatro voice, seasoned by years, requires dexterity andthe restraint to I am a member ofLes’s folk band Mitres Well Swoff er. cHere’s what Stephen had tothere’s say even a Gillian only see the whole PJE process but could with new styles and techniques, then that specifi tempo, or can be set tapping have totireless listen to it ever. to make Love In’, Welch/ sounds better dedication than It’s effects. Without and during thisGets war, notGilmore toitmention thebymany fine markets, guitars have performed better on play properly. Handled correctly, its tone cuts Imusicians made a choice to do it my way and through who are about to record our next album so about the guitar: also be involved intimes choosing the wood, shows off her talent andwhich David Rawlings cameo on all high quality, but ‘Luka’, ‘In up their own minds whether will be suffi cient to keep the old ‘stringed the screen three allows you imaginative Ithedoubt very much that the through instrumentation of theDiner’ Latino average thantackling stocks andcult shares.ofFor great siteGood’ who died at19th the hands Hitler’s Wednesday Half Moon, Putney, input, London versatility, diffi thea lilting ‘So which Liverpool’ and ‘Tom’s thisthing’ Freshman FA400GAC with itshave Schertler “My wife has a wicked sense of humour inlays and hardware for the creation ofThe their they agree or not. It’s enjoyed all about alive and well for future generations to get the tempo ofmatter. a track easily. Also ensemble with great sweetness. solid-body electric guitar would my own capabilities. I try not to do things I selling many of the world’s individual luthiers’ tyranny. However, guitarists like Django andFriday varied subject confi dently brings the oldare especially impressive. 21st what I thought when Acoustic Festival of will Great Britain, Uttoxeter system be used inof the studio. I’veoftried so you can imagine instruments. sharing ideas. ’ unusual to enjoy. I’ve included a few designs included are links to tuition videos, new From beginning to end, thi is time authenticity bang up to One the highlights the popularity it does today. guitars have a look atactually Reinhardt, for example, benefited from Arts Centre, don’t want to do. Iwww.dreamguitars.com. don’t album Saturday 22nd Haverhill Suff olk Guitarra paella del costa del amp sol and it Teri Saccone it through my Marshall acoustic she me that Acoustic Magazine had There isannouncements, no charge for the tourworry and lunchabout atold meaty musical journey. date. 2010. that may make you smile! product endorsee news. Paul Brett It is a well-laid-out site, both www.compassrecords.com visual and Nazi patronage. I wrote thewith following earlier, in (Stop www.suzannevega.com fooling around – Ed.) www.play.com soundsBrighton SWEEEET!” rung toSunday say I but had won aare grand’s worth of 23rd iswww.gibson.com included, places limited andThe youPrince Albert, sales... sound of man’s the instruments on offBennett er. The Paul Brett a profile ofsamples the great life: ‘It’s curious how Kate Lewis Steve Paul Strange guitar. However, was true and what a to will need registerit to get a ticket. Speak

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Acoustic Legends: Richie Havens Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

‘ F

reedom … Freedom … Sometimes I feel – like a motherless child.’ When I hear that lyric sung by one of the great American acoustic folk guitarists and singers, Richie Havens, it rekindles memories of the ticket I had for Woodstock that still remains unused and in my possession today. After touring on the road for nearly a year solid, and someone saying that the weather would be awful in Woodstock, I decided to stay at home. With the benefit of hindsight, it was a big mistake and a huge regret of mine that I didn’t go to what turned out to be one of the best – and probably the – legendary music festivals of all time. Lots of the Brit acts appearing I knew, or had gigged or jammed with at some point, and some of the American acts I had already seen previously. Another reason for not going was that I was absolutely knackered. For those that made the trip, it lived with them forever. Unlike the watery and sparse conditions of the early Glastonbury mudbaths, Woodstock was an instant springboard for many of the acts appearing to play to the world. I first saw Richie Havens at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, way back in the age of innocence, and found his performance to be one of the most exciting I have seen. His unique style of thrashing out tightly constructed rhythmic classics, ably backed by percussion and other guitarists, had more

feel and drive than many electric bands could manage. The audience were instantly captivated, as was I, and to this day I remain a huge admirer of Mr Havens. He is a true individual in the acoustic music genre, a stand-alone among the many. He was born in Brooklyn on 21st January 1941, 11 months prior to America entering World War II, after the bombing of their naval base at Pearl Harbour by the Imperial Japanese Navy. He was the eldest of nine children, and life couldn’t have been that easy in his formative years. Nevertheless, he involved himself in music, and around the age of 20 he migrated, in the 50s, to the scene that was growing in the now legendary part of New York known as Greenwich Village. This was an area to which many creative musicians were attracted, and was a place where new ideas and artistic freedom could be expressed. All manner of poetry, music and art were on display, and there was a very healthy folk club scene too. Strangely, however, it wasn’t until 1967 that Richie released his first LP, Mixed Bag, on the Verve label. It was a great first release that had a balance of originals and covers, all performed in his own unique style. My favourite track has to be ‘Handsome Johnny’, a song about an ordinary soldier marching to various wars over the generations and reflecting, in the verses, the different kinds of guns that he carried – and no doubt he could

update it to include all the futile wars to date. It’s a timeless theme and an anti-war song that concludes with lines such as ‘Hey, what’s the point of singing this song? … Some of you aren’t even listening’ – a point no doubt aimed at politicians and warmongers. There is also an excellent cover version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Just like a Woman’. Both this LP and the following one, Something Else Again, catapulted Havens into the American Billboard LP charts. Yet probably Richie’s best-known song was a derivative of an old spiritual called ‘Motherless Child’, which he performed to worldwide acclaim when he opened the Woodstock festival in 1969. This song later morphed in name to ‘Freedom’, a theme that ran through many of his songs. Have a look at Richie’s live performance at Woodstock on YouTube. Usually, artists who begin as acoustic players find that the electric medium can be a more attractive and wider-appealing medium to further expand their musical horizons. However, some acts find the reverse can bring success. Such must be the case with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Graham Nash achieved success firstly in the UK with the great 60s harmony band The Hollies. They had a string of hits in the UK and Graham was an integral part of their success. In the States, David Crosby was playing with The Byrds, and his 12-string electric guitar opening on their version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’


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and the classic ‘Our House’ are my favourite tracks, and you can clearly hear a change of style occurring slightly from the first line-up with the addition of Young and other band members. Everybody in those days wrote songs about freedom and political comment, as it was the fashion. Music could, and did, change the world’s view at that time on many issues. Neil Young wrote a song reflecting the issues on the Kent State University shootings, which the band recorded and released in 1970. This was largely a protest by students on campus about the invasion of Cambodia, rubber-stamped by President Nixon – he of the Watergate scandal. The Ohio National Guard opened fire on the students, killing four and wounding nine. It was indeed a massacre of the unarmed by the state, and Young’s lyrics in ‘Ohio’ reflected this: ‘Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, four dead in Ohio’. All of these talents released their own solo albums in the early 70s, including Young’s iconic After The Gold Rush, my personal favourite of all his LPs. As in most fusions of great talent, differences and disagreements

It was decided after the success of the first LP to add to the line up … Enter Stills’s old band member, Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young. Young, at the time, had formed his own band, Crazy Horse, and while it is reported that both Stills and Nash had reservations about adding Young to the lineup, especially as he wanted to keep working with Crazy Horse, these doubts were allayed and CS&N became CSN&Y. The second LP was released in 1970 under the title Déjà Vu and was the first featuring Neil Young. Other musicians were added to these sessions, including names such as the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian. There were also contributions from drummer Dallas Taylor and bass player Greg Reeves. ‘Teach Your Children’, ‘Woodstock’

crept into their psyche, which led to fragmentation, with Crosby and Nash forming a duo, while Stills and Young went their own way. This is the way of things in general, with people wanting to follow different paths in their creative careers. Yet still to this day, in 2010, Crosby, Stills & Nash are undertaking tours together again and Neil Young has been performing solo dates. Without the unique input of Richie Havens and CSN&Y, would contemporary music have taken a different turn? Certainly I would have done, and possibly many others. We should be thankful that, over the years, their creative talents and songs have provided us with a rich tapestry of acoustic-based music that is still timeless. Paul Brett

© Getty Images

is still a memorable piece of playing: Stephen Stills was playing with Buffalo Springfield – with Neil Young – who were part of the 60s legion of American groups. History recalls that a party took place in Mama Cass’s house in 1968, where Crosby, Stills and Nash sang a Stephen Stills song called ‘You Don’t Have To Cry’. It was in that rendition that all three realised they had an empathy and sound, using a basic three-part vocal harmony backed by acoustic guitars. This was, in fact, the birth of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Their first LP, Crosby, Stills & Nash, was released in 1969, and from this LP two singles hit the Billboard singles chart, with the LP peaking at number six in the album charts. It contained some memorable songs which firmly established their unique harmony style. ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ was, and is, my favourite track. It was inspirational to many guitarists/ vocalists who were hovering between playing electric and acoustic guitars in the 60s. It was certainly a style which, mixed with Richie Havens’ approach, gave my Paul Brett Sage band a direction. Have a listen to ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ as performed live at Woodstock on YouTube.


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From cigar box guitars to beards, ‘real music’ is back with a vengeance. Julian Piper explores the unlikely worlds of Charlie Parr, Pokey LaFarge and Ben Prestage.


lot of people are getting keen on real music again: we get played a lot on public radio, Americana stations playing everything from bluegrass, old-time, folk-pop – whatever the heck that is. I don’t give a damn about it, but if people are playing acoustic instruments, then it’s opening people’s minds up in a lot of ways.’

Pokey La Farge’s pertinent comments on the state of the acoustic nation go some way to explaining just why we’re currently enjoying a tsunami of acoustic musicians managing to forge a career in a way unimaginable ten years back. The Seasick Steve effect? Well maybe, but I prefer to think it’s got more to do with X Factoritis – a lot of us are just plain sick to

the back teeth with the ersatz music that so often passes for popular culture. Sooner or later, of course, someone will turn around and wonder just what’s so good about musicians thumping out tunes on decrepit instruments recreating the sounds of a bygone age. But for the time being let’s just enjoy it. Real music, it seems, is back with a vengeance.

carrying one of those bulging fibreglass guitar cases that defy even British Airways to crush. Boasting a long straggly beard, denims and scuffed boots, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that he had a John Deere tractor parked outside. After his teacher wife Emily gave him the green light to chuck in his daytime job, Charlie first drifted over here seven years ago playing solo support to his friends’ band the Black-Eyed Snakes. It was a wise decision. As much as the quietly spoken Minnesota native jokes about the whole thing being merely a hiatus in his ‘normal’ career, it’s difficult to imagine the attraction of ever going back to his proper job working for the Salvation Army. The UK, it seems – along with Australia and all points in between – cannot get enough of this man. Charlie Parr’s music, as evidenced on his last album, Rooster, is a beguiling blend of country, blues and folk that makes no concessions to modernity but at the same time refuses to slavishly copy tradition. Rusty banjo workouts nestle alongside slide guitar gospel tunes, takes of traditional country songs and idiosyncratic self-penned original songs that owe as much to Nick Drake as Charlie Patton. And if there’s a stark monochrome feel to much of Charlie Parr’s work, then it’s hardly surprising. He grew up in a household fuelled by his father’s stories of being a hobo in Depression-era America, and the Parr family airwaves were saturated with the dusty sounds of the past: Alan Lomax’s field recordings and Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music. ‘My father was a big fan of all that stuff and I

© Julian Piper

Charlie Parr Charlie Parr comes into my sitting room


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FEATURE: SONS OF SEASICK STEVE York. Head west from my house and in five hours you’re in Fargo, North Dakota; another 11 hours you’re in Billings, Montana – you’re in the thick of it, just sky and land as far as you can see. A big expanse of prairie and sky, brown and blue, the road so straight you could tie a brick on the accelerator and sit on the back seat. ‘And the first song on my new album, I Dreamed I Saw Jesse James Last Night, is really about my dad. He had an unhealthy obsession with Jesse James, and when I was a kid he’d take us down to Northfield, Minnesota, which is where Cole Younger killed the bank teller – the robbery that got Jesse James all the notoriety. We’d go there for Jesse James days, when they’d re-enact the bank robbery and you could buy Jesse James paraphernalia, or we’d go way out of our way and happen end up at Jesse James’s birthplace by accident, or where he got shot. “Here’s the bullet hole in the wall …” At the time we’d go, “Oh Jesus,” but now my father’s gone and Jesse James looms everywhere. I went down to Australia recently and ran into all the Ned Kelly stuff ; he would have just adored that!’

Although he’s equally adept on slide – he plays a chilling version of Roscoe Holcomb’s ‘Walk Around My Bedside’ – Charlie’s regular guitar playing is probably best described as ‘Piedmont’, a title which, as he’s quick to point out, is decidedly nongeographic in its influence. ‘It’s hard to define because it really refers to a region rather than a style. Blind Boy Fuller is thought of as being a Piedmont player, as is Elizabeth Cotton, but there’s not much similarity. Then John Hurt plays in that kind of style and he came from Mississippi. But essentially it’s that action of keeping a rhythm going with your thumb and picking out the melody with your fingers, but I wouldn’t like to say it’s what I do. I probably learnt more from watching banjo players.’ When touring, Charlie’s main instrument is a National Delphi fitted with a Lace Sensor pickup. ‘I don’t find the 12 frets to the body restricting – there’s nothing worth playing below the fifth fret anyway! Out in the States I play in some pretty rough little bars, and if you want to get over, then this is a good way to do it, blended with a mic. Given a choice, though, I usually tell any PA guy to go 75 per cent towards the mic. But I still see myself as on a hiatus from my job; this is going pretty well now but I’m not an idiot – the bottom’s going to fall out of this pretty soon and I’ll go back to work.’

© Lucy Piper

was completely grabbed by that music at the beginning, and it never went away or stopped being as intense as it always was,’ Charlie enthused. ‘I like lots of types of music but old folk music and blues music gets me in a different spot and I always came back to it. When I was a kid I listened to The Clash; my dad came down and listened and said, ‘That’s just loud folk music …’ And of course, he was right. Then I drifted back to real folk music !’ Charlie began playing guitar when he was seven years old and, as he tells it, had little choice in the matter. ‘My dad traded a boat motor for my first guitar – he had a Johnson 9.9 hp and a Johnson 25 hp. Now, the 9.9 hp’s much better and good for the kind of trawling he did, but he still traded it for an old Gibson 12-string which he brought home and gave to me. So when I started playing guitar I was motivated by the fact that he’d traded the better of the two motors, so I had to do something! Great dad,’ he laughed. Seasick Steve’s debut release was apparently recorded in the distinctly lo-fi conditions of his kitchen. Yet compared with Charlie’s loose-limbed approach, it’s production comes over like Sergeant Pepper. ‘It’s almost all first takes. I worked with a guy called Tom Herbert who got hold of one of these single-track Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorders originally made for on-location movie stuff. He travelled with me for a little while and took it along everywhere – ran it on batteries, just one single track and one mic to worry about. We just set it up in the backs of bars, a basement, a friend’s living room or wherever we happened to be, and tried to see what those places sounded like. After a month we sorted through the tapes, and the ones we liked the best are the ones on there – just what it was at the time. It’s stereo sound but just a representation of what it was at the time,’ he grins. Much of the idiosyncratic nature of Charlie Parr’s work comes from his love for what he terms the ‘American Primitive’ cluster of musicians – John Fahey, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke and Robbie Basho. ‘Any attention that old music gets is good, especially if it leads people backwards a bit to stop and listen.’ No surprise, then, that the unnerving ghostly wail that is ‘Adrift In Lake Superior At Sunrise’ on his Rooster album is the sound of a violin bow being used on Charlie’s cherished 1933 National Duolian. ‘I did it once – you can’t do it live because it cooks the strings,’ he laughs. ‘But the stuff I listen to at home, like Henry Flynt, is outside the normal field. He’s an avant-garde guy who made two records called Back Porch Hillbilly Blues and I just adore them – acoustic experimental drone music that sounds like nothing else. I recorded that tune after about a month of listening non-stop to Back Porch Hillbilly Blues. One of Henry Flynt’s fiddle tunes is particularly disturbing: goes on for 18 minutes scratching, hissing and wailing – wonderful. But don’t blame me if you don’t like it! ‘I’m inspired by everything – the weather, the landscape,’ he explains. ‘I get claustrophobic in cities like Chicago and New

Pokey LaFarge

Just a few years back Pokey LaFarge was spending his time trying to find shade and busking on a street corner in Asheville, North Carolina. ‘I didn’t have a job and I had this old lady who was busting my balls because I wasn’t bringing in any money.’ Among the curious tourists and passersby were harmonica and washboard player extraordinaire Ryan ‘Churchmouse’ Koenig and bassist Joey Glynn, both of whom happened to be playing that night in a St Louis rockabilly band. After catching their show that night, Pokey followed them up

to St Louis where the trio teamed up with guitarist Adam Hoskins. The South City Three had arrived. They say that when Charlie Patton sung on his plantation porch, you could hear his voice a mile away in the still Mississippi air, but I never really believed that until I first heard Pokey LaFarge. Blessed with a voice that could shoot down Exocet missiles, watching the band in action doing one of their occasional forays into the audience it’s hard to know when the PA system’s switched on or off. They call it ‘riverboat soul’ – a disarming name for a sepia-tinged blend of ragtime, Appalachian, country 95

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FEATURE: SONS OF SEASICK STEVE and blues played with an almost punk sensibility, the energy level never letting up. Now in the middle of the band’s second UK tour and fresh from an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, the main man sits immaculate in red waistcoat, trousers with creases that could slice bread, and hair greased into a kind of Eton schoolboy conk. He’s voraciously spooning yoghurt into his mouth from a family-size pot, but as it’s 11 o’clock in the morning and there’s the prospect of a long road trip to Sussex, Pokey’s enthusiasm for the yoghurt is perhaps understandable. In the next room and the kitchen the South City Three quietly busy themselves with ironing boards, folding clothes and making toast. Rock ’n’ roll this ain’t. ‘It doesn’t matter where you’re from to play this kind of music – the country’s the city, the city’s the country, there’re no fine lines like there used to be back in the days,’ he begins. ‘Fifty years ago you knew where you stood – there were lines like segregation, but now it’s down to technology. We come from St Louis, the best city for music there is. ‘Frankie And Johnny’ was written there, stag-o-lee, a lot of people from Tin Pan Alley looked to it when they were writing songs, the birthplace of ragtime, arguably the most versatile of genres in the 20th century. That’s why it didn’t become popular – they couldn’t label it, it wasn’t to be exploited. In Mississippi they had a sound and we’re just proud to be out there playing this St Louis sound. Chuck Berry was thought of up there as being a hillbilly musician! People ask us what kind of music we play. I say, “F***, I don’t know.” We’re just playing songs.’ Paradoxically, perhaps, for a musician whose biog reads like an extract from a Jack Kerouac novel, Pokey grew up in the quaintly named small town of Normal, a two-hour drive south of Chicago. ‘The one pivotal moment for me was when I heard Muddy Waters’ Folk Singer album, his acoustic album with Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon. I was only about 13 years old and suddenly I realised that blues could

be acoustic. Up until that point, like most people now, I imagined it was all electric music – Stevie Ray Vaughan or BB King. There was a pizza shop where we could hide away and smoke cigarettes; the owner was from Chicago and there were blues murals everywhere – Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Junior Wells – every guy you could think of. ‘The blues hit me first but then I started listening to a lot of different things, and when I was 16 I heard Bill Monroe, got a mandolin and started digging back into old-time fiddle music. I was writing, reading a lot and a big fan of Mark Twain and Steinbeck; looking back I guess I felt a certain romanticism. But when I realised I wanted to sing, that’s when I bought a guitar – I thought this mandolin and fiddle isn’t really working so I bought some pieceof-s*** dreadnought!’ Your press release makes you sound almost like a character from the Dust Bowl days, busking and hitching your way around the States with nothing much more than a guitar on your back … ‘After I graduated high school I packed everything I had into this old van and drove out West. After three months my van got stolen and I was in Oregon, no money and no vehicle. So I started hitch-hiking and for the next year and a half that’s all I did, up and down the West Coast through Colorado, Wisconsin. I was busking a bit but wasn’t very good at it because I couldn’t sing and there were so many other people busking who could! I ended up forming my first band, but as I didn’t have a vehicle, I was still hitching everywhere. So there’s a certain amount of truth in it,’ he laughs. ‘But I’d like to get it rewritten so it doesn’t sound like a f*****g fairy tale – it’s a little cheesy.’ So it wasn’t as glamorous as you were hoping? ‘I had the honour of playing with a lot of wonderful musicians, but they were people

who just grew up playing music, it was just their hobby. People in the old-time scene knew who they were but they’d only really show their faces at something like an oldtime fiddle festival. It’s interesting, because one of the problems we have in the States is that it seems like everyone wants to be a musician; I don’t know if it’s that they don’t want to work in some stupid job, and see the freedom they might get from being a professional musician such as ourselves? I wish people would take pride in other jobs!’ And a casual enquiry as to whether he’s come across Mumford and Sons produces a typically forthright LaFarge riposte. ‘People talk about them, and although I’ve never heard them I can tell you right now that I probably wouldn’t like them. A lot of those new bands pick up a banjo, then think they can strum it like a guitar – I just don’t understand that attitude. If they saw footage of someone playing the banjo properly they might feel a little embarrassed – but my guess is they’ve never actually heard it. If they did they’d probably be so egotistical they’d think, “I’m just playing it my own way, man …” F*** that.’ In keeping with the general retro vibe of the band – although he adamantly refutes that their 50s clothing is a conscious image maker – Pokey’s instrument of choice is a 1914 Washburn parlour guitar. ‘It needs a lot of work. I’ve been on the road straight through for a year so it’s holding up wonderfully – I’ve had no work done on it. I have a pickup running through my DI box; ideally I’d like to just use a mic but the crowds are too loud.’ Adam Hoskins favours a brown 40s Kay archtop, gleefully admitting, ‘It’s pressed plywood so it’s cheaper to make; nothing but the best for me. But I like it – it’s a tough guitar with a heavy sound, and with heavy strings fitted it brings my chops up. Everyone always wonders why I’m so good when I’m playing electric guitar!’

© Lucy Piper

It must have been quite special to find yourselves appearing at this year’s Newport Folk Festival? ‘Absolutely – the biggest musical honour,’ Pokey enthused. ‘A lot of people think of the Dylan electric experience there back in the 60s, but we’re well past that now. That festival was just so important as a safe haven for black musicians from the South; they could play there and be sprung on that whole East Coast folk scene, or even sent over to Britain. It wasn’t just Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters either: when Skip James appeared he hadn’t played guitar for 20 years and he never missed a beat – his voice and guitar were untarnished. Then there was John Hurt and Robert Wilkins. But just imagine those white folks seeing those guys in their sharkskin suits … Every time I see the footage I get chills.’ 96

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feature: History of tHe Guitar tome offer a 12-string model. Others followed. genteel festival, had its Sunday lunchtime Spanish Antonio about how your relationship with which Tell is just basic and wefan-braced are always system lookingused to by studio, By 1966, Gibson, Martin, Harmony, GuildAnd de improve Torres and later developed by Hermann Forbes Henderson came about … reveries interrupted by ‘Sex And Drugs with bare walls. Th is had real our sound. We did andmet Goya were through all sellinga12-string guitars as Hauser So thesound basicusing principle system Forbes mutual friend Rock And Roll’, and by the time they got in Iit,first it was really have aI.better the is a personality fast as they could build them. 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Paul toldIn my1918 manager complex, ballads, to outwas her concerts, andsome he wasthat sentenced European spruce for the fitssubtle, intoturn the up soundholecheck and used by people he has got andsoundboard, if for we killingofa but see why she sells out virtually spirited covers of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ years inaastudio, Texas prison man. who would to the opening ofand an envelope. I wanted to do some workcaptured there, the everywhere she plays.. If ever Eventually his singing attention Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ a bass amp, and the other three through a just not I am where we of would be very welcome. The band is rhythm-heavy and the Texas governor andOf he wasam granted a like that. someone should have been headlining, it was separate guitar amp. It’s completely stereo, amnger, because worked course, weHopper were really pleased pound outthat the beaty songs that Dennis Choppers, pardon in 1925. A few yearsHonkeyfi laterI Lead Belly I have probably Newton. In fact, honour went and as I’m a fingerpicking guitarist anyway, every day for the past four with that invitation, and we make up her two albums, and Man From Uranus –the never heard of them? was in trouble with law again, sentenced to American legend Jackson Browne, another by playing those syncopated rhythms I of bed and didTh record a lotprison of the material Amy’s live vocal is more than a ink band in in theLouisiana UK years. and painful to tenone-man years time forI have got out quirky Cornbury fans, a can really make itchoice soundbut, like for twohis people. match for the punchy tight sound images of our old busker Don from Partridge attempted murder. He wasmate released the rare chance to see in the I tune it DDAD orhim DDEE, theUK. scale being they produce. groaning ‘Rosie’ will probably come notoriousout Angola Prison in 1934. However, really low so that2010. you can reach about five So, Cornbury little more ‘The A Youth Of Today’ checks in to But in time the States, with mosthis Lotte Mullan hismind. release this was notasby ‘singing octaves. It’sa alittle veryless simple instrument corporate, local, there was and quarter of the way through, withis things, been diffhe erent. From Austin way outit’soflong jail’. Instead, was simply released really a kind oferent modifi ed diddley bow, with certainly a diff ‘buzz’ about the place appearance in 2010. ‘Babylon’ , ‘You’re Th e more power and anger than the toasAtlanta there’s a whole host of one-man part of the state’s effort to reduce prison no frets ortofret markers. It’s diffi to play compared previous But wascontrol that a World To Me’ andin‘Jackdaw’ hadfootsteps the crowd studioyears. version, butcult with bands, following the ghostly overcrowding. anything complicated, and you have tofitoo think bad thing? Th e ‘Poshstock’ image was ne, built in – this band are far whooping, and he kept his fans with him of bluesmen likeefforts Dr Ross or Jesse Fuller, Through the of folklorist John differently when you play, works experienced to fiitreintimidating all of theiryour but the ‘Hoorays’ could be but quite and conjuring up some jumping during anLead energetic and unusual passionate set, but Lomax, Belly became an important brain and makes you think! guns at once. as they barged their way around the arena, along way. Now, withand a UK tour fixture innot thethe music movement of ifmusic you are afolk David Gray fan, thethe A lot of people in the USyou will you’re not getsay onstage imminent, if Ben Prestage has waytowe’re and the (fee-paying) What stallholders are is late 1930s and Soon afterhismoving to steady stream of1940s. people heading back the the real deal if you Amy’ don’t have a Stratocaster, s love of taking chances. about to get a taste of many what it’s all about. New York City inthat 1934, he became friends presumably happier now that the hampers campsite implied people weren’t, bass player and drummer, but what they Tonight it’ s a solo acoustic take Hailing from Florida with a father who withthings folk singers Woody Guthrie, and crates of Bolly been banned. Thtoe then did sound a bit ‘samey’Cisco . Getting fail to recognise is have that when you listen on Bruce Springsteen’ s ‘Thunder came from West Point, Mississippi – home Houston and Pete Seeger, among others. (For only that didn’t appear to be doingora lot David Gray for Cornbury was certainly a Samplace Chatmon, theRoad’ Beale Street Sheiks , which she invests with ofa detailed Howlin’ account Wolf and White – andlife, a I of business was the Pimm’s ofBukka Huddie Ledbetter’s bus, were and Dave, butfruitwoods he’s a bit of a ‘Marmite’ artist for a Spanish Muddy Waters, although there obvious makers, including Torres, towards somecoup, of the and English yew a new level of poignancy and great-grandmother who played trombone recommend reading the HarperCollins book Lydia Mendoza prime minister and man of the people, took musical similarities, all those performers headliner. the end of the 19th century. Itintriguing obviously has are excellent alternatives to exotic timbers, fragility, an break inwritten blackface Minstrel shows, he’s certainly by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell, The children tosound; the funfair rather than the had their own individual style; now that’s an his eff ect on the some say it improves thoughSunday with diff erent resonant qualities. It is traditionally folk day at from the tumultuous rockin’ andVIP got the credentials. He’s just played for his contribution. While the instrument Life Andright Legend Of Leadbelly.) being lost, it’sitall getting homogenised. Ibut do projection, and will undoubtedly lower really is the responsibility of luthiers to bring tent. Less posh, more people’s perhaps? Cornbury, and Danny George Wilson worked rollin’ that surrounds its briefand MerleFest, and hisLead newBelly album – adroitly betraditional treated as astuff doubled-up 6-string Unfortunately, died 1949, one thecan some –Battersby ofin the banjos resonance, producing asome deeper voice. thesepretty alternatives tohis theChampions attention ofofin players, Words and Pics by Bob © evening’ hard, but the World perfect sidetrack the entitled Real Music – is a rattling gumbo strummed accordingly, itsrevival true beauty only yearthen before his song ‘Irene Goodnight’ became ere and fiddleto tunes back to pre-Civil War be adate slight of interest who can antogether informed choice fornever second album there, done it.’ So youThare a seems musician entertainment. quitemake came during a pretty ofathe country, blues ragtime guitar that emerges when fingerpicked usingI’d various national hit for and the Weavers. In classical Britain, in the tornavoz, so it’s something like to – modern songs and even some songs that about what’s available. I think in the and Paul did come down on who happens to be engaged to a Amy Macdonald’ s appeal lies patchy set. Th e ubiquitous Fisherman’s certainly lifts himhad right outhit of with the gimmick tunings. Harmony put a leaflet in 60s Lonnie Donegan aare big another of experiment with,might even if,out atconsider endblues, ofofthe the guitar community players a little less people not a couple of‘I’d days, but thein days footballer? ‘No, hesome is a footballer entirely inthe the honesty herbut Friends did their Cornish ‘schtick’ and stakes. had bands the pastLine’ but 70s which said you should never tune a Lead Belly’s songs, ‘Rock Island . it’s During day,and I’m not totally convinced of its benefi ts. flexible when it comes to trying alternative always I’m still doing my own thing. At the hereally camehard downtowere not days who happens engaged to approach torecommended both her songwriting that pay financially, ’ Ben to be warmed up themake Sunday crowd with rousing 12-string to concert E. They the next decade, as folk music became more woods. moment I don’t have aany plans is Amy’s endinstant of the day “realand music” is aboutThe people that I At wasthe actually at the studio. herand performance. lighting explained. ‘Sosome I started inmusician!’ Memphis, shanties and community singing on farWhich tuning atsomething least an octave a not half because lower than and popular, Leadbusking Belly’s fame spread artist, alive oristhey dead, would you like to Paul incorporate space-age technology into playing love, putmore someany bass, guitar and response, followed by her almost bland; the band plays was there for about aityear, and found I was standard pitch. Many bluesmen would tune and wide. And with there came a renewed ‘South Australia’ . A little later, Australians heard your guitars? mypiano guitars, although an all-plastic they’re tryingplay to make money. ’ down on a couple of my instrument throaty giggle.to have with minimal fuss anddrop an absence making as much money as a street performer lower, tones, and then the interest his the 12-string guitar. Angus Julia Stone off ered some soft, artist whose recordings inspired mefuncwould probably notinstrument, run the ofup being Julian Piper songs, butand Iinwasn’t there, sorisk It’s time for Th hereeven to join the by two of grandstanding. It’s not as by playing in the bars. I saw some other lower E strings a further tone again. Open It is interesting to note that neither Gibson summery ahead of their European make my first classical guitar was Julian impounded byalt-folk US customs authorities! I can’t actually claim to have band for their to pre-show dinner, tionalwork – therereally is too much passion one-man bands which gave me the idea for Bream, G and G minor tunings well too. nor in CF Martin offered 12-string guitars during tour the autumn, headliner Seth and I am immensely grateful that I worked with him. The while studio and leaving the venue through in her vocals for that – but there using a kick drum and a cymbal, but now I I use these tunings frequently but tune to ain the early part the when other to show him a guitar Which guitar do you attend? fishows ringof on allcentury cylinders, sang anddoor,had is Lakeman, wonderful: it’s got all his the stage I seethe theopportunity massive is a welcome absence of the have a double snare and hi-hat and play a full lower pitch of one or one and a half tones makers were selling them. Yet it was Gibson ordered When I firsthis started making full-time memorabilia there, his Britaguitars fiddled way through trustedtour festival bus that is2008, homeand forthe so result was artifithat ce many andhe fluffplayers that mar prefer soamany drum kit with feet. the United States I Hauser For from blues picking, that led way for theIn re-emergence ofofthis me‘stadium’ which he purchased it was imperative tomy attend guitar Awards andthe his gold discs, and summer much her timedown. thesecopy days. repertoire that included ‘Solomon Browne’ . shows these days. travel with awhen lot of the stuffamount – acoustic and steel lastayear. scale of 12offrets he to the body as opposed instrument issued B45-12 Although rarely schools, and although of leg allTh his guitars. We didthey use a histheir On the back is a huge image e only distraction during set was With ‘Run’performs the band caninsee the guitars, harmonica, banjo and fiway ddle –get but in public to the modern 14 frets. I have put aguitar, clip on model in 1961. And in 1963, two Gibson now, his enthusiasm for the work wasn’t all fun it was the only to couple of by them on the album, her album cover, and the words line, and they are running for and it, caused Th e Feeling who, overrunning on Europe I’llguitars leave the banjo and I’ve fiddle behind YouTube illustrating the tuning that British 12-string were prominently featured guitar making inatparticular, is infectious. I It’s mywhich guitars seen and played. Since had a maybe he doesn’t know ‘ A my Macdonald On Tour’ . Th taking the faithful with them. the main stage, managed to spoil the subtle and focus more Singers’ on blues. ’ to any blues 12-string pioneer John Joyce used, as onlist the release, ‘Walk Rightsaysdo know that he plays guitar days, waiting IRooftop haven’t really been about! It was so much nicer justshows about it all. a my perfectly paced,most performed and delicacy of Seth’s opening numbers, with a Ben’s also a aleading exponent of that quirky wellgives as a short insense openof G achievement. minor: www. . Thepartly song, an old Gus Cannon me apiece great in than theIn’ UK, don’t keep a stock working inbecause a remake genericI of Andy Hugheswhich enjoyed evening of music fronted cover of ‘Up Thpossible eguitar. Junction’ -And with instrument, cigar box And before Russell youtube.com/watch?v=xZzjp-jiLs0. You Jug Stompers tune, became a big hit. Welton of guitars, soSqueeze’s it’s the not usually to have by a young woman who has special guest Glenn Tilbrook -soon booming you it’s time realise that days of should also have a look at John playing his the grin, guitar licks onto that record became an instrument available on a specifi cthe date. blossomed into a seasoned live stretching a few rubber over a Slim across the arena. own instrumental style, as this will give you an almost synonymous withbands the 12-string. Visit: www.ambridgeguitars.co.uk What I have enjoyed is combining European performer, with musicians and a Panatella box are a thing of the past. ‘People Probably the highlight of the ideawe of what the 12-string can do when used Almost overnight, folkand singers throughout forbeshenderson.net holidays with guitar events, theweekend ones Iforthe spend every day with my band and are show to match her growing and are catching on to the whole cigar box thing as a solo instrument: nation were eager to add the sound of a festival-goers ofmemorable a certain ageare was the which have been most the talent as a writer and a now – there’re even cigar box fests. travelling the world, so obviously my expanding www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX9Qhqu13f 12-string guitar to their instrumental arsenal. tripsBlockheads. to Italy where met aquirk lot ofguitar Byaround aI’ve strange ofgreat timing musician. Catch her before Europe I’ve got the fourth one ever made with a bass w&feature=related. Onand theluthiers, heels of players many whom I am still they were put of onGibson’s at 1.30of-announcement in the afternoon. takes her away again. entire experience is very diff erent string, which lets me run the bass string into indeed. DavidBrett Gray Paul the brand-new B45-12 guitar, Martin decided in contact with. Cornbury, a family-friendly and rather


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n the 60s and early 70s, festival punters were not overly keen on having too much choice. Perhaps it was the pervading ideals of egalitarianism and free love, or maybe it was something in the air (or the roll-ups). But whatever it was, you needed neither a degree in logistics nor a clear head to be at the right stage at the right time for the right act. Why? Because there was only one stage, and nobody thought for a minute it should be any different. Fast-forward 40 years and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is still packing the crowds in with much the same formula – probably unique for a festival of its size. And it doesn’t end there. There’s only one bar, serving punters and performers alike. That body-double queuing behind you is probably the real McCoy. It’s all delightfully levelling and might go some way to explaining why, despite frequent sheeting rain, even the lesser-known acts still found themselves performing to a sizable and irrepressibly enthusiastic crowd. At Cropredy,

you’re all in it together. Local band Leatherat played a thrashing, metal-hued blend of folk-rock that amply justified the preponderance of fans proudly wearing their T-shirts. Cornwall trio 3 Daft Monkeys delivered an eclectic melee of folk, Gypsy and goodness knows what else with an energy that was anarchic and exuberant enough to permeate even the muddiest field. Breabach doffed their hats politely (but creatively) to Scottish tradition. Ahab, the up-and-coming altcountry band from London’s Dalston, offered multilayered harmonies, tight, often intense playing, and some very shapely biceps to boot – more than enough to attract a sizable crush of bright young things in skinny tops to the front, while still holding the attentions of an older and less agile audience a long way further back. Be afraid, Seth. Be very afraid. Flying the flag from across the pond, the Dixie Bee-Liners pushed against the boundaries of bluegrass to deliver a truly original – and utterly compelling – sound that amply justified their own

Despite its size, the single stage, eclectic lineup and one-bar-serves-all formula makes Cropredy the great leveller. Words and pictures by Noel Harvey.

labelling of the music as ‘Bible belt noir’, while Martyn Joseph’s interjected analysis of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘One Step Up, Two Steps Back’ may yet find itself transcribed and handed in as part of an essay by some hopeful media studies student. Those in search of bona fide legends could happily return home and announce they’d seen Rick Wakeman, Little Feat and Status Quo all in the same weekend. And when a much changed but still recognisable Fairport Convention closed the show with an epic three-hour slot, more than a few

of the great and good (announced or otherwise) stepped up for a turn. Johnny Logan, Martin Barre, Jacqui McShee, and yes, even the (once) late, great Dave Swarbrick made an appearance. There were classics aplenty, of course. ‘Walk Awhile’, ‘Crazy Man Michael’, ‘Matty Groves’ and a final, rousing ‘Meet On The Ledge’ must have fired up many a fading memory. Easy enough to imagine The Lady looking down on it all, and loving every magnificent, plangent note of it. Noel Harvey


Cropredy Report.indd 43

25/11/2010 12:03

NEW MUSIC Acoustic keeps you up to date with new CD releases and new talent DAVID MEAD





Arboretum is an album of 13 lush and atmospheric solo acoustic guitar instrumentals, which act as the soundtrack to a day in the life of an imaginary woodland. Starting with church bells and birdsong, the music takes us through from dawn to moonrise. In the past, David Mead has played with the likes of Marty Wilde, Gary Moore and Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. He has also edited the magazines Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, and here he brings all that experience to bear, creating a collection of compelling solo tracks that are relaxing but never dull. From the opening bars to the final chord, this is music to be listened to, and to be admired. www.davidmead.net Gareth L Powell

If you’ve been to a festival lately you will certainly have come across the Monkeys. Peddling their jiggy-wiggy folkpop they’re everywhere – and with good reason. It’s just the kind of stuff a lot of people enjoy in a hot dusty field, even when the ale in their plastic beaker’s becoming so warm it’s undrinkable. What’s fascinating is that there’s an audience for music that reeks so obviously of dinosaur prog rock. Look no further than ‘Days Of The Dance’ – Athene Roberts fiddling frenetically, dazzling time changes, Tim Ashton’s edge-of-heartbreak warbling … But even if the continual shouts of ‘Hey’ become a mite tedious, there’re some great songs on offer, and ‘Perfect Stranger’’s reference to ‘I just got stoned by the crowd’, will resonate with many. www.3daftmonkeys.co.uk Julian Piper

Anyone who’s ever played their local club will recognise the irony in the title of Coles’ fourth album. He doesn’t do it, of course – all 11 tracks are self-penned originals – but these songs certainly deserve wider recognition. The Welsh singer-guitarist has assembled a tight and talented backing outfit to help him explore the kind of folk-pop territory mapped in the 70s by the likes of Lindisfarne, Rab Noakes and the Sutherland Brothers. There’s even a fluteled excursion into Jethro Tull country on ‘49er’s Revenge’. Coles sings with a big-voiced urgency that fairly drags these songs along by the scruff of the neck, though he does kick back confidently on the lovely Labi Siffre-influenced ‘Waiting’. Definitely one to watch out for. www.colesmusic.com Steve Bennett

An extremely confident and self-assured debut Ange Boxall, this is a pleasant and often rewarding mix of lightweight country and folk. Crisply recorded and with some solid musicianship, there’s much to enjoy here, from gentle ballads (‘Brigitte And Tuesday’) to bright and breezy country rock (‘Fool For Now’), catchy countryflavoured pop (‘Loving Between The Lines’) and conventional country (‘Gonna Give It Up’). There’s even a duet with Eagles’ collaborator JD Souther, plus backup from The Wrights and Steve Arlene. And floating across it all is Boxall’s soaring and melodic voice, best showcased on the album’s simplest cut, the pretty and wistful ‘Electric Blue’. Lyrically it’s occasionally dubious and twee, but overall a fine first effort. http://angeboxall.com/ Paul Strange

Released on their own record label, This Broken Key is Paul Tasker and Iona Macdonald’s second full album and continues their foray into folk, and bluestinged Americana. Although generally critically acclaimed for their sound and live performances, and although there are no actual faults to be found here at all, This Broken Key feels somewhat average in that it could be any one of a number of similar popular acts. Tasker’s Jansch-influenced guitar playing is great but loses its place within a full band, and Macdonald’s very capable voice seems to stay firmly in its comfort zone. This Broken Key was a pleasant listen but leaves the listener craving something a little more exciting and passionate at the end. www.doghouseroses.org Kate Lewis






Noted for helping to bring the work of the late Eva Cassidy to prominence, US vocalist Grace Griffith has gradually built her own career since she emerged in the early 1990s with Celtic folk trio Connemara. Griffith is now battling Parkinson’s disease, so this retrospective compilation is timely. A good showcase for her pure, soaring voice, sadly it’s not an easy listen. That’s because the album is uneven, compiled from different sources and periods of Griffith’s life. Consequently every track has a wildly different feel and the album lacks cohesion, jumping from the light-hearted (‘Wondering Where The Lions Are’) to the syrupy ballad (‘My Life’) and the Rod Stewart hit ‘Sailing’ in little over 40 minutes. One for Griffith fans only. www.seamaid.org Paul Strange

Originally released in 2008, this set from blues singer and guitarist Ian Siegal won plaudits from the music press. Now re-released to coincide with a UK tour, The Dust certainly justifies the critical hoo-ha. Opening with the abrasive ‘Stranger Clothed In Linen’, Siegal’s uncompromising vocal is on overdrive, with shades of Dr. John, Tom Waits and Kevin Coyne. Elsewhere – especially the live versions of ‘Dirt Road/Call Me The Wolf’ and ‘Mary Don’t You Weep’ – Siegal pays his dues to Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. He builds to a frenzy on Steve Earle’s ‘CCKMP’, but there’s the occasional gentle respite, such as the laid-back ‘Between The Stirrup And The Ground’ (with BJ Cole on pedal steel). All in all, a tour de force. www.iansiegal.com Paul Strange

The three members of Les Triaboliques have an extensive list of credits on other artists’ material. Now they step into the light in their own right with a new genre they call ‘dusk-core’. The songs on this album brood like the unquiet spectres of dead outlaws, lost somewhere between the jubilant blues of the southern Delta and remorseful laments of Turkey and Siberia. Listening to the whispered dusty vocals you can almost smell the night-time desert air, hear the rustle of dry leaves from the roadside trees. This is a landscape of stone bridges, shallow graves and creaking causeways. Perfect late-night music, ideal for evenings in front of the fire while rain patters on the window. www.myspace.com/ lestriaboliques Gareth L Powell

Accordion is one of those instruments you either love or hate, but judging by the rapturous reception afforded the band in Porthcawl, where this slice of stompfest was recorded, the punters obviously had no such reservations. Led by Jamie Smith – a man who certainly knows his way around the buttons – the band rip up a firestorm on a selection of clever tunes that encompass everything from obvious Breton influences to lively jigs originating in Galicia and Hungary. Inevitably, the accordion reigns supreme throughout, but tunes like ‘Schindig’ and ‘Mazurkas’ show that Mabon’s strength lies equally in the haunting fiddle supplied by Ruth Angell, and Calum Stewart’s masterful flute and pipe playing. Roots music of the highest order. www.mabon.org Julian Piper

This album is deliciously deceptive. Initially it lopes along pleasantly enough, but let it roll and gradually fine musicianship, understated arrangements, catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics emerge. The turning point is the mournful, dark and brooding ‘There’s Always Maybe’. Acting as a pivot, it sets up the tone for the remaining tracks, such as the acerbic ‘Lonely Like America’ and sparse ‘No Peace’. There’s also a killer punch to savour. Building majestically, with overdubbed bluesy vocals piling in towards the fade, ‘On My Way’ is a standout track. Sadly, Joseph lets it down with the overwrought and twee ‘Brothers In Exile’, but on balance it’s a solid, often moving album. www.martynjoseph.com Paul Strange



The Antiquated & The Arcane

The Dust

Play Something We Know


Writing Letters


This Broken Key

Under Lemonade Skies


100-101 CDs.indd 100

25/11/2010 13:56

NEW MUSIC Acoustic keeps you up to date with new CD releases and new talent PAUL WATERMAN





Paul Waterman has been working the folk circuit for some years now, and has obviously put a great deal into this, his debut album. Clearly Waterman’s live work has paid dividends because the musicianship here is strong – the acoustic guitar work particularly so – but sadly that’s about it. None of the eight tracks hit home in a memorable way, and at times things sound contrived. Waterman tries far too hard with his vocal, enunciating the lyrics too cleanly and without passion. In addition, the laboured lyrics – especially ‘Sand And Shells’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ – make things considerably worse. So a faulted first effort, but there’s definitely potential here. A good lyric writer could also work wonders. www.myspace.com/ paulwaterman Paul Strange

Po’ Girl’s peddle a soulful blend of roots, pop and Americana. The tunes range from infectious toe-tappers to sophisticated ballads, making it hard to pigeonhole this band. The backing music features an eclectic sprinkling of instruments, including gutbucket bass, accordion, banjo, dobro, glockenspiel and bicycle bells. Above it all, the jazzy vocals soar as bright and breezy as clouds, and the whole thing sways to its own beat – ancient and modern all at the same time, somehow managing to glory in the past while avoiding sentiment and creating something fresh and modern-sounding. Standout tracks include the breathless scamper of ‘Kiss Me In The Dark’, the blessed-out title track, and the accordion and French vocals of ‘Maudite Guerre’. www.pogirl.net Gareth L Powell

Formed by Ashley Hutchings in 2004, Rainbow Chasers feature the folk god himself, along with Joe Topping, Ruth Angell and Jo Hamilton. The combination of folk influences and the classical training of Angell and Hamilton creates a delicate and gentle body of work, while the two female voices, being really quite different, complement each other extremely well. This particular sound is used along with the male voices to great effect on ‘The River’s Tale’, an inspiring a cappella track which is sadly the shortest on the album. It’s a mixture of traditionally influenced and very contemporary lyrics, with three live tracks towards the end which benefit from that extra depth of atmospheric festival sound. A must for all Hutchings fans. www.rainbowchasers. co.uk Kate Lewis

This is the second LP release from Kate Stables and friends, following on from 2008’s debut release, Krulle Bol, and each track is a delight. This Is The Kit are a class act. Kate’s voice ranges from powerful folk to delicate, breathy pop. She also plays guitar, banjo and trumpet, while her long-term collaborator Jesse Vernon (Morningstar) plays guitar, violin and percussion, and produces the album. The result is a collection of gentle upbeat songs that bring to mind summer days recalled from the comfort and warmth of a winter hearth. This is definitely music to listen to wrapped in a blanket with a glass of wine. Highlights include the lilting single ‘Moon’, the muscular groove of ‘Earthquake’, and the gentle guitar picking and floaty vocals of ‘Sleeping Bag’. www.thisisthekit.co.uk Gareth L Powell

There are fleeting moments during this second solo album from singer-songwriter Rosie Nimmo when you feel something strong and enduring might emerge, but the knockout punch never arrives. Instead, Home potters along aimlessly, held back by variable material, pedestrian lyrics, a mishmash of styles and poor pacing. Jumping erratically from featherweight folk to lightweight pop, indie rock and bedsitter ballads, it’s unclear who the album is aimed at. On the plus side, the musicianship is reasonable, while Rosie has a confident if somewhat twee vocal. I’d like to hear her on stronger material, ideally more uptempo and jazzy, then we might have something to savour. As it is, this Home is poorly presented and in need of some refurbishment. www.rosienimmo.com Paul Strange







Shoulder To The Wheel

Artist blurb is a fair indication of what you’re about to receive, and when Ruarri Joseph tells us perhaps more than we need to know about his personal circumstances, it’s a fair bet that he’s striving for the common touch. And so it is. Ruarri’s cropped up on a few Show of Hands shows recently, and on songs like his polemic ‘Rich Folks Hoax’ the influence is undeniable. Much of his material deals with universals – love, children, sunlit dawns and a girl with ‘Blue December Eyes’. It’s all very nice, very safe and very familiar. But there’re some good songs, and the undemanding chorus lines will undoubtedly appeal to the folk faithful in clubs from Torrington to Topsham. If he keeps on going this way he’ll soon be bussing ’em to the Albert Hall. www.ruarrijoseph.co.uk Julian Piper

Follow Your Bliss

Outside Of Tupelo

Drawing its inspiration from country artists of the past, Outside Of Tupelo drives its pickup along that toe-tapping prairie road comfortingly familiar to fans of countrytinged Americana. As you’d expect from a man who builds his own custom-made acoustic guitars, the music sounds clear and sharp. The guitar and piano chug along agreeably, occasionally accompanied by steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin. The songs themselves take lonesome situations and use them to examine universal truths about the human condition. Using plain, straightforward language, the lyrics reference whisky, pole dancing, the freedom of the open road, gospel songs, worn-out boots, Memphis hotel rooms, and girls from Oregon. www.slssmith.info Gareth L Powell

The Best Of 2004–2010


Tess writes intriguing, complex songs that creep deeper under the skin with each listen. While occasionally echoing the shifting melodic and rhythmic dynamics of The Moody Blues, the overall mood is of romantic 80s pop with all the synths taken out. Here, understated guitar and piano work are buoyed instead by the lush, swelling string arrangements of co-producer Howard Gott, and with a voice pitched somewhere between the yearning of Colin Blunstone and the edgy intimacy of Nick Drake, Tess draws the listener into a subtly shaded, pastoral English landscape. A sombre mood takes hold through the second half and the album is almost becalmed on a sea of dark introspection, but these are deep waters well worth exploring. www.tessnotes.com Steve Bennett

Wriggle Out The Restless

Red And Yellow, Blue And Green

With shades of late 80s US duo Timbuk3, a healthy dose of contemporary alt country and some heartfelt blues, this second album from The Wrights is a cracker. Husband and wife songwriting duo Adam and Shannon have delivered an outstanding work. All of the songs are engaging, the tight vocal harmonies are gorgeous, the musicianship is exemplary and the sparse arrangements are near perfect. Standout tracks are the powerful opener ‘Since You Left Me’, the mesmeric ‘Miles For You’ and the lachrymose but jaunty ‘Teardrop Express’. If I have a complaint, it’s that with nine tracks clocking in at barely 31 minutes, it’s simply too short. Otherwise it’s definitely the Wright stuff. Buy it. www.thewrightsmusic. com Paul Strange


Romantic Serenade: Duos by Sor & Mertz

Fernando Sor and Johann Kaspar Mertz led the way in developing the classical guitar repertoire by exploring the duet. Here, two Englishmen take their music into a Hampshire church and whip up a sparkling confection, bursting with the kind of elegant, courtly melodies you might find floating above a Viennese masked ball. Many of these compositions originally featured the highstrung terz guitar; here, the simple use of a capo captures that same rippling clarity over the supporting standard-tuned instrument and allows for a wonderful contrast in tone between the two players. Burley plays immaculately throughout, while Feeley matches him stride for stride. www.raymondburley.com Steve Bennett


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Acoustic Techniques

Acoustic Techniques Techniques - transcriptions - tips - reviews

Want to improve as an acoustic player? Acoustic Magazine’s level-specific technique and advice columns can do just that... Acoustic Magazine and staff would like to encourage you to dig into our columnists pages more frequently and really get to grips with the wide range of skills and talents available at your fingertips! This month Gordon Giltrap continues to delve into his impressive catalogue and offers up another classic tune. PIerre Bensusan helps you learn part of a song from his latest album. Chris Gibbons continues to look at rhythms, this time exploring exotic timings. For mandolin players Simon Mayor has arranged an Irish tune, and Ray Burley starts a new series investigating sight reading for guitar. Enjoy!


Biography One of the most highly regarded guitarists in the world, Gordon has composed numerous songs that have become much loved standards. He helps take your playing to the next level.

PIERRE BENSUSAN Instrumental Composer

Biography Pierre’s compositions often feature syncopated rhythms, unusual time signatures and complex harmonic structures. Pierre’s column will help you develop some of his distinctive style and control in your own compositions.


Biography Chris a full-time professional composer, with 40 years experience in the music industry as a session guitarist. He lectures in composition and conducts master-classes in guitar skills. His column imparts “real-world” experience and advice to players of all levels.

SIMON MAYOR Mandolin Expert

Biography As well as being the UK’s leading mandolinist, Simon is also a very accomplished musician. If he’s not teaching, writing, composing or arranging, he - along with his band The Mandolinquents - will be playing at a venue near you.

RAYMOND BURLEY Classical Guitarist

Biography Raymond Burley is an accomplished classical guitarist, composer and arranger. One of his most recent projects was the album Double Vision - a collection of Giltrap pieces arranged for two guitars.


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GORDON GILTRAP Instrumental Artist Skill level: Advanced

Gordon Giltrap is pioneer of acoustic music in the UK. His extensive discography gives evidence of a skilled musician whose expertise lies in composition and arrangement. His pieces have become acoustic standards, played and enjoyed by young and old alike.

Please donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ask me where these titles come from because I really have no idea! At the time of writing material for my Perilous Journey album, all I was interested in was getting out

Prelude to Morbio Gorge Another classic track from Gordonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s back catalogue, this time from his album Perilous Journey

of my system these tunes that were buzzing around my head, but record companies being record companies wanted it to be a concept album in a similar vein to my previous release

Visionary. The idea was a musical journey based on a book by Herman Hess entitled The Wasteland. Attention should be made to the hammer and pull offs in bars 12-20

Techniques Skill Level Suitable for intermediate players

and 31 where they may prove a little tricky at first but given time will of course be a piece of cake!

Prelude to Morbio Gorge


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PIERRE BENSUSAN Instrumental Composer Skill level: Advanced

Pierre’s compositions often feature syncopated rhythms, unusual time signatures and complex harmonic structures. Characteristically melodic and musical, Pierre’s column will help you develop some of his distinctive style and control in your own compositions.

The title of this composition is inspired by the name of the street where I used to live in Nice, Rue Fodéré. Gustave Fodéré was an astronomer, probably working at the Grass Observatory, a little bit higher in the foothills of the Alps, not too far from Nice. Before talking in detail about the first movement or 20 measures of this piece, here once again are some general comments:

Digits stand for left-hand fingering: ‘1’ stands for index finger, ‘2’ = middle, ‘3’ = ring, ‘4’ = little finger and ‘5’ = thumb

Small letters stand for right-hand fingering: ‘p’ for thumb, ‘i’ = index finger, ‘m’ = middle, ‘a’ = ring, ‘pt’ = little finger When considering the right hand, the thumb would generally pick the first three bass strings, with the index on the G, middle finger on the A (2nd treble string) and ring finger on the D (1st treble string). But we will see that sometimes we need to ignore this rule and adapt to the context. For instance, when playing the 3rd bass string you could try to use the thumb or your index finger, and see … feel … what is the best in terms of sound, execution and comfort. Also, when playing three consecutive bass strings, you could roll your thumb down, but you could equally use your thumb only for the 1st bass string and then use your i and m for the 2nd and 3rd bass strings. This will certainly create a different sound rendition and augment your palette of tones. Make sure you read the notated rhythmic values carefully as indicated in the score, firstly because this is how the music should be heard, but it will also tell you which technique to use in order to get there. The playing must be legato, meaning that all the content is linked in sustain, and notes fall into each other, according to the notated values written in the score. We do not want to hear holes in

Astres & Gnomes

Techniques Skill Level

(Stars & Gnomes) Music by Pierre Bensusan Copyright and Publishing: Dadgad Music (Sacem, France) Album: Vividly, Dadgad Music DM1012 www.pierrebensusan.com

the voices, unless these are notated, in which case it’s no longer a hole but simply how phrasing should be. Legato should not be misunderstood. When playing in any open tuning, we are at first attracted like a magnet to the kind of ‘whole resonant’ world into which this tuning makes us dive – almost like gravity on Earth. You need to control this in order to make your notes distinctive, your playing clear and precise; and consequently, in order to use the best of both worlds, take advantage of the open tuning and let the open strings ring, thus creating a kind of empathetic ambiance, and become more intimate … closer … by reducing and sharpening the sound to its very core and nothing more. We could call this something like ‘a lot of information’ as opposed to ‘little information’. When you see a little triangle in the tab, that means that the resonance of the string on which the triangle lays must be stopped by using the indicated finger to rest on that string. When considering the job of the right hand, it is crucial to understand that we must dedicate the same kind of attention to initiating sounds and picking strings as to stopping sounds from overringing, so we must consider our fingerings carefully and accept that fingers, within the same context, can do different things, such as picking and resting to stop resonances. This technique also guides the hand over the strings. This is how we organise the hierarchy – or architecture – of the sounds, thus leading to clear and identified musical intention, as opposed to sound pollution, distraction and unclear intention resulting in the wrong musical rendition. The thumb of the right hand generally plays the first three bass strings. This piece is played with a capo at the 1st fret, not to make it more comfortable or diminish the stretches, but because the intonation and key of E flat seems to suit this music better. This is quintessential DADGAD, somewhat reminiscent of another piece of mine

called ‘4 AM’. Measure #1: Play the grace note (E) at the same time as the two other notes but make sure you stop pressing on it immediately after it’s been played, so that we hear the open D played on the 1st treble string. Same for all the grace notes of this score. See grace notes as little ornaments or in-between levels. The note that is important comes right after them, and they are there to make that note shine. Measure #4: Make sure you rest your right-hand thumb on the 1st bass string (as indicated by the triangle) to kill the resonance of that open D, and use your index to play the open A bass. The resonance of the last open D (1st treble string) must be heard when you enter into measure #5 and play that same D on the 5th fret of the 2nd treble string. Breathe (rubato) in measure #5 when playing the A bass + 5th interval before the harmonic, and make sure you keep pressing on that A (7th fret, 1st treble string) so that we can keep hearing it when entering into measure #6. In that measure we have an interesting counterpoint section – take special care and attention with your right hand here, go slowly, and make sure that you synchronise your movement well, clearly, precisely and distinctively. Measure #7: You can either play or hammer this grace note (2nd bass string, 2nd fret). Measure #8: Same thing – rest your thumb on the 2nd bass string while playing the 3rd bass string with your index finger (triangle) so that we only hear the D bass string, as opposed to the D and the A, creating an interval of a 5th that we do not need here. Measure #9: Keep that barre on the 4th fret pressed down until the end of the measure, as we do need to hear that F sharp bass (G, in fact, with capo at 1st fret). At the end of the measure, same thing as before – the resonance of the last open D (1st treble string) must be heard when you enter into measure #10 and play the D on the 5th fret (2nd treble string). Measure #11: Arpeggiate this

Suitable for intermediate to advanced players

chord and give it some width and emphasis – it’s a statement when reaching this point. Measure #12: Make sure you keep pressing on that F (1st bass string, 3rd fret). In the 2nd part of the measure, your ‘m’ finger partially barres the first two bass strings. Measures #13 & 14: Extreme care on left-hand fingerings (same as throughout the piece). Make sure you go slow and understand the running order of your fingers, and memorise this by repeating it many times. Slow down slightly at the end of measure #15 before starting measure #16. Everything else until the end of measure 20 is a matter of careful attention, playing very slowly and checking each segment for both your hands. Remember that before your memory remembers every move and step, it needs to understand physically what’s at stake. This can only be achieved by performing each move at a slow tempo, so that it becomes automatic. You will see some interesting chords from measures 16 to 20. Just to give you an overview for DADGAD, as with standard tuning, knowing your fretboard should always come first, and one of the best things to achieve this goal is to learn chords, their inversions, scales, modes etc … This tune is a little step in that direction and one that I hope will give you the incentive to search for many more of these treasures. I hope you will enjoy these first 20 measures and that it will inspire you to unveil and play the rest of the piece, which you will find on my website in the individual sheet music section. Just remember: we, solo guitar players, are never alone; our best friend is the music (the guitar comes second), and we play for the ears … and souls … of people who might not be musicians, or guitarists, but who resonate with the many strings of life, and it has to touch them just the same. Pierre Bensusan


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New album VIVIDLY available now at PierreBensusan.com

Digital downloads also on iTunes + Amazon V I V I D LY Distributed in the UK by Discovery, the album VIVIDLY is available in stores on September 27th.

K and Ireland Tour Dates

Distributed in the UK by Discovery, the album VIVIDLY is available in stores on September 27th.

Pierre onbuilt hisby signature series hand “The easy inevitability ofguitar model plays designed and GEORGE LOWDEN, and uses his true genius.” built Lowden guitar, using his signature signature DADGAD handmade Melody Maker Pierre Bensusan plays on his signature

Pierre Bensusan plays on his signature guitar model designed and built by GEORGE LOWDEN, and uses his signature DADGAD handmade string set by WYRES. www.pierrebensusan.com


stringcustom set by WYRES.DADGAD Wyres Strings. series





Visit GeorgeLowden.com and WyresStrings.com and of course PierreBensusan.com

LONDON, Kalamazoo Club DEVON, (Acoustic Mag. competition winners workshop) BRIDGEND (Wales) WOLVERHAMPTON, The Robin 2 HUDDERSFIELD, Bar 122 MANCHESTER, Band on the Wall LEICESTER, HinckleyACT KENDAL, The Brewery Arts Centre

ww.PierreBensusan.com for full ails and ticket information.

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2010 Guitars UK and Ireland Tour Dates BELFAST, with Lowden

DONEGAL, Regional 10th Culture Sept Centre LONDON, Kalamazoo Club LIMERICK, Dolan’s 11th Sept DEVON, (Acoustic Mag. competition CORK, The Pavilion winners workshop) WEXFORD, Wexford 13th Arts SeptCentreBRIDGEND (Wales) DUBLIN, Button Factory 14th Sept WOLVERHAMPTON, The Robin 2 GALWAY, Roisin 15th DubhSept HUDDERSFIELD, Bar 122 MAYO, Matt Molloy’s 16th Sept MANCHESTER, Band on the Wall WICKLOW, Mermaid 17th Arts SeptCentreLEICESTER, HinckleyACT NEWBRIDGE, Riverbank 18th SeptTheatreKENDAL, The Brewery Arts Centre LEITRIM, The Dock SLIGO, The Model Visit www.PierreBensusan.com for full DUBLIN, Button Factory tour details and ticket information.

“The easy inevitability of true genius.” Melody Maker

30th Oct 31st Oct 3rd Nov 4th Nov 6th Nov 7th Nov 8th Nov 9th Nov 10th Nov 11th Nov 12th Nov 13th Nov 14th Nov

BELFAST, with Lowden Guitars DONEGAL, Regional Culture Centre LIMERICK, Dolan’s CORK, The Pavilion WEXFORD, Wexford Arts Centre DUBLIN, Button Factory GALWAY, Roisin Dubh MAYO, Matt Molloy’s WICKLOW, Mermaid Arts Centre NEWBRIDGE, Riverbank Theatre LEITRIM, The Dock SLIGO, The Model DUBLIN, Button Factory

Frantisek Furch has been handcrafting fine acoustic guitars and mandolins under his family name since 1981 and has established himself as one of the leading builders in Europe. In 2005, his instruments were introduced to the Western world as Stonebridge, a name inspired by the world famous Charles Bridge in Prague and which embodies the rich cultural history from where his beautiful workmanship arises.

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Chris is not only a guitar teacher but also a composer and producer having worked on many orchestrations for television and recordings alike. He has many years of experience both in performance and helping others develop their playing potential to their best.

Over the past several issues we have looked at established methods for counting rhythms in the most commonly used time signatures. These are all based on using numbers for the main beats of the bar: 1- 2- 3 - 4 - etc for 4 crotchets in common time: (4/4)

Writing by Numbers

Techniques Skill Level Suitable for intermediate players

This month Chris helps you get a handle on some exotic timings.

1- 2- 3 - etc for 3 crotchets in waltz time: (3/4)

And a bar of waltz time (3/4) in quavers is counted similarly:

We then use the word ‘and’ (&) for the quavers, so a bar of common time (4/4) counted in quavers (8th notes) is counted thus:

1 & 2 & 3 & etc For smaller note subdivisions – semiquavers or 16th notes – we use the phonetic ‘a’ as in ‘hat’, thus:

1 a & a 2 a & a 3 a & a 4 a & a etc for semiquavers in common (4/4) time. When counting these out loud you should stress the numbers by counting them louder to emphasise the principal beats.

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & etc

Exotic Timings Exotic Timings In Western music, the commonly used rhythms are based on simple units of 4 and 3 as above, but in Eastern music, for example, rhythmic groupings can take a more adventurous form. An example to give you an idea is ‘Dhamar Taal’ from northern Indian classical music, a beat cycle of 14 arranged thus: (source http:// www.chandrakantha.com).

Although this may at first seem difficult, when broken down into simple components of our 4-, 3- and 2-based rhythms we have this:

Now we can take a giant step to the next idea: Let’s look at the right-hand technique of the guitar played fingerstyle. You are probably familiar with the tradition of using ‘p i m a’ from the Italian abbreviations for ‘thumb’, ‘index’, ‘middle’ and ‘ring’ finger respectively.


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Used sequentially, as in Ex 2, you will see a logical pattern of 4 notes forming a 4-beat rhythm, counting 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 etc. In Ex 3, using just ‘p i m’, we have a 3-beat rhythm.

So this issue I’ve started a performance piece that I’d like you to develop; that’s right – you gotta kick butt and do some writing! The principle used here as a template is straightforward: find a chord that you can pluck with a 3-note ‘p i m’ or 4-note ‘p i m a’ pattern, then repeat for an even number of cycles to establish a regularity and then move to the next chord. As the composition progresses you can increase the

harmonic pace by moving through a succession of chords, without repeating, to create a sense of urgency and movement. Example 4 is ‘Lucky for Some’ which commences in 13/8 time. Now you may think: ‘What the ?*!* … ’ but calm down – it’s just groups of 3 and 4 in simple ‘p i m’ and ‘p i m a’ format.

So here are some performance notes: All the bass notes played with the RH thumb should sustain till the next bass note is played (could notate it all with flipped stems and dotted crotchets/minims, but it looks really cluttered …). The last note of bar 1, F, should be allowed to ring over the next bar until it is picked again to give an attractive suspension over the top of the chord.

Note 4 of bar 10 and 12, the E, is fingered with the left-hand index finger, bent up to F by pulling the string away from you towards the edge of the fretboard, rather than pushing the string up as is the norm. The hand is nicely anchored on the Bbma7 chord to facilitate this. At the end of the piece, you can return to the beginning and create an ending, or develop one in your own style. Remember, simple is best; the performance brings it all together.

Lucky For Some


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SIMON MAYOR Mandolin Afficionado

As well as being the UK’s leading mandolinist, Simon is also a very accomplished musician. If he’s not teaching, writing, composing or arranging, he – along with his band The Mandolinquents – will be playing at a venue near you.

‘The Jolly Beggarman’ is a well-known and easy Irish tune. I’ve written the rhythm straight for simplicity, but you can swing it a little: for each pair of quavers, lengthen the first and shorten the second – it’s best to listen to the MP3 and you’ll hear what I mean. Let’s look at the first version in A major to begin with. Although it’s easy, I’ve used it as a gentle introduction to the wonderful world of decoration in traditional tunes, in particular the use of the triplet in Irish and Scottish music. A triplet just means that three notes are squashed into the space where you would normally expect one. These three notes can be all the same – for example, a’ - a’ - a’ on the second beat of the first bar – or they can also incorporate a ‘turn’, such as the c#’ - d’ - c#’ at the start of bar 8. Executing triplets throws up a problem for the right hand. It feels natural to most people to play a downstroke of the plectrum on the first beat of a bar, and also, where beats are subdivided, the first note of every beat. The moment you insert a triplet, this comfortable sequence of down - up - down up etc is interrupted and you find yourself playing upstrokes on beats that naturally need an emphasis. Some people manage this with no trouble, but probably because I’ve played a lot for dancing in my time and am very aware of the pulse in the music, I prefer to get back in sequence as quickly as possible. I could simply start with a downstroke again immediately after the triplet, but because I’m swinging the rhythm here, that doesn’t give me much time. My solution is to play the note after the triplet with an upstroke and then use another upstroke on the note after that. Now I’m back in my comfort zone. Another way

The Jolly Beggarman A classic Irish tune that’s easy enough for most players to get to grips with.

Techniques Skill Level Suitable for beginner to intermediate players

to think of it is that the triplet and the succeeding note are actually a four-note phrase, and the note after that starts a new phrase. Look at the markings in the first two bars and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve used standard symbols from violin music to indicate plectrum direction (the symbol over the first note indicates a downstroke, the ‘v’ is an upstroke). I’ve also marked in two slurs and broken the beams to give you an idea of how I think of the phrasing. That’s just about it for the technical talk on this first version, except to mention the chord at the beginning of bar 9 which is optional but sounds great if you can play it. The version of the same tune in G is just a little more adventurous. I’ve put in a few more triplets in bars 2, 4, 6 and elsewhere. In bars 2, 6 and 14 try to play the high e’ with your fourth finger on the second string; it’s not essential but will sound a little more fluid if you can do it. Bars 3 and 11 contain dreaded consecutive 5ths – always easy when they’re on open strings but not when they’re fingered notes. My standard way to play these, as shown here, is to tuck the second finger over the third to play the g’. It seems awkward at first but it’s the best way to keep the fluidity of the tune. Once the consecutive 5th is out of the way, we’re back to standard first-position fingering by the fourth beat of the bar. And one last thing: I’ve suggested a few extra chords – simple to play because they just involve hitting the open g’ string in bars 1, 5, 8, 13 and 16. You can add similar chords to the first version if you want. You’ll find MP3s to help at www. mandolin.co.uk/acousticmag.html. Happy mandolining! Simon Mayor www.mandolin.co.uk


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RAYMOND BURLEY Classical Guitarist

Raymond Burley is an accomplished classical guitarist, composer and arranger. One of his most recent projects was the album Double Vision - a collection of Giltrap pieces arranged for two guitars.

Welcome back. In the next few articles I’d like to concentrate on the extremely important subject of sightreading – and how to improve it. Almost from the outset it’s essential for the classical guitarist to be able to read music. There are other styles of guitar playing where it could be considered less important – even unnecessary – although almost certainly there will be occasions where it would be a distinct advantage. Several playing styles utilise forms of tablature (TAB) but, curiously, still have to rely on the standard notation that runs parallel to it to provide a guide to the rhythm. Although these articles are aimed principally at classical guitarists, it’s hoped they will help players of all styles wishing to improve their existing standard of music reading. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand when it comes to improving sight-reading on the guitar. What I’ll attempt to do is simply point you in the right direction by offering tips and advice.

What is sight-reading? Sight-reading is the process of interpreting a piece of music ‘at sight’ – that is, without prior preparation.

Is the ability to sight-read really necessary? There are several factors that contribute to a guitarist becoming a ‘complete’ musician, the more obvious being a reliable technique, good aural perception and quality of tone; the ability to sight-read should also be placed in this category. The term ‘sightreading’ can strike terror in the hearts of some guitarists, but the ability to sight-read has a number of benefits. It can substantially reduce the time it takes to learn a new piece. It will enable a guitarist to be on more equal terms with other instrumentalists in an ensemble situation. On the other hand, poor sight-reading can result in a player becoming frustrated or bored with a piece of music before

Sight Reading

Techniques Skill Level This is suitable for all

It sends a shiver of fear through many of us. Ray lays your fears to rest in a series on sight reading.

it has been fully learnt. It can also be the cause of misreading notes or misinterpreting rhythms. It is often said that guitarists are generally much poorer sight-readers than orchestral players. It’s easy to make excuses for this, such as: unlike most orchestral instrumentalists, guitarists are frequently required to play a melody, a bassline and accompaniment simultaneously, and often have to play chords; the two hands function differently when playing; guitarists have what might be considered to be a rather unsympathetic playing posture; sight-reading on the guitar can be confusing as many notes can be duplicated in several different areas of the fingerboard. The list goes on … With regard to the second reason mentioned above, although the fact that most notes can be found on several different strings might initially seem like a stumbling block, this will eventually make sight-reading on the instrument much more fluent. Always remember: if the guitar is your chosen instrument you must find a way of coping with its apparent problems – every musical instrument has them. I am of the opinion that many teachers and tutor books introduce polyphonic music too soon. Even though an additional voice might consist of little more than open-string bass notes, this can create problems for technique, music reading, coordination, and balance between the important and less important parts of a piece. At the beginner level I believe it is absolutely essential to be able to produce a rhythmic, shaped and phrased musical line before moving on to providing accompaniment. Professional orchestral musicians are good sight-readers; they are reading new music regularly (often in many different styles), so this aspect of their musicianship is continually being challenged and improved.

Unless a guitarist includes sightreading as a regular part of a practice regime, the relative standards of playing and music reading will quickly drift further and further apart. A practical grade of a guitar exam will usually include a sight-reading test. There are valuable marks to be gained or lost in this section, and this will have a bearing on the total mark, or possibly even whether the exam is passed or failed. Examiners are often orchestral players and they could be less lenient when it comes to awarding marks in this area. Some students attempt to memorise the music they are playing as quickly as possible, even when having the score in front of them. Memorising music is certainly not a bad thing, but often it is in an attempt to monitor the movements of the left-hand fingers more closely, and consequently incorrect notes or rhythms can go unnoticed. Also, there may be occasions where mistakes are made in performance and it proves difficult to locate the relevant passage in the music. Some might argue that a guitarist who is a poor sight-reader can take as long as he or she likes to learn a new piece – or in the extreme, an entire concert repertoire. This is certainly true, but it also means there will always be a large portion of the repertory left unexplored. One of the joys of playing a musical instrument is trying out new music and periodically refreshing your repertoire.

Can anyone become a good sight-reader? I am of the opinion that any guitarist can become a competent sightreader, although in my experience, players who have quicker reactions to everyday circumstances are often better sight-readers, simply because they are able to assimilate the requirements faster. Quick and accurate anticipation of the impending rhythms, chords,

appropriate left- and right-hand fingerings, and dynamics, is desirable. However, those who have slower reactions can still make a significant improvement in this area – with the right training.

How can sight-reading be improved? It’s all too easy for a guitar teacher to say to a pupil, ‘Your sight-reading is poor, go away and work on it.’ All well and good, but how? Handing a pile of music to a pupil and telling them to play through it may seem like a good idea, but the teacher should not be surprised if the pupil appears for the next lesson and there is little or no improvement. After stumbling through numerous pages of music it can feel as though you are making progress, but often this can prove to be a waste of time and effort. One should bear in mind that simply finding the right notes is not sight-reading – the rhythms must be interpreted correctly also. The first step to improving poor sight-reading is admitting it’s inadequate – this is not always an easy thing to do. If it is below par it’s important to establish why. Is it slow or inaccurate note finding? Is it a poor understanding of the rhythms? It could, of course, be both. If this is the case it’s essential to isolate and work on one aspect at a time. If, each time you practise, you devote just a few minutes to sight-reading exercises the standard will improve rapidly. Initially you may begrudge the extra time spent, particularly if your time with the instrument is limited, but a huge amount of time will be saved in the long run. Remember, also, that once your sight-reading reaches a good standard it is important to continue working to maintain the level and perhaps improve it further. In the next article I’ll deal with the subject of note finding and fingerboard knowledge. Raymond Burley


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AdvertisersIndex Access All Areas .................................................................................................. 17 Acoustic Music Co.............................................................................................. 39, 41 Barnes and Mullins ............................................................................................ 23, 35 Blue Rock Distribution ..................................................................................... 31 Broadway Music ................................................................................................. 24 Cuntz Guitars ....................................................................................................... 97 Dave Mann Music .............................................................................................. 42 EMD ......................................................................................................................... 45 Fender .................................................................................................................... 2 Forsyths.................................................................................................................. 59 Frailers .................................................................................................................... 83 Fret Dancer ........................................................................................................... 46 Gear4Music........................................................................................................... 117 Go To Guitars........................................................................................................ 83 Gremlin .................................................................................................................. 77 Guitars JC .............................................................................................................. 3 Guitar XS ................................................................................................................ 75 Hanks Guitar Shop ............................................................................................. 42 Hartnoll Guitars .................................................................................................. 24 Hobgoblin............................................................................................................. 77 Int. Business Centre ........................................................................................... 24 Jakob Graf ............................................................................................................. 77 JHS ........................................................................................................................... 49 London Bass Guitar Show ............................................................................... 119 Lowden .................................................................................................................. 13 McElroy Guitars ................................................................................................... 102 McPherson Guitars ............................................................................................ 123 Midnight Mango ................................................................................................ 42 Mike Bollard ......................................................................................................... 117 Oasis ........................................................................................................................ 46 Peavey .................................................................................................................... 59 Peterborough Music ......................................................................................... 117 Pierre Bensusan .................................................................................................. 109 Promenade ........................................................................................................... 55 Rotosound ............................................................................................................ 10-11 Sheehans ............................................................................................................... 98 Sound Network................................................................................................... 91 Sounds Great Music .......................................................................................... 102

To advertise here simply call 01884 266100

To advertise here simply call 01884 266100

or email: neil@acousticmagazine.com

or email: neil@acousticmagazine.com

SP Music................................................................................................................. 83 Strings and Things ............................................................................................. 93, 124 Sutherland Trading............................................................................................ 35, 109 Tanglewood ......................................................................................................... 89 Tascam ................................................................................................................... 63 TCS Media ............................................................................................................. 117 Westside Distribution ....................................................................................... 4 WL Gore ................................................................................................................. 27 Yamaha .................................................................................................................. 15


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Profile for Oyster House Media

Acoustic Magazine 49  

Acoustic Magazine is a montly magazine covering all aspects of the acoustic guitar. It includes guitar and product reviews, artist interview...

Acoustic Magazine 49  

Acoustic Magazine is a montly magazine covering all aspects of the acoustic guitar. It includes guitar and product reviews, artist interview...