REVIEW: Baden A-Style Ovangkol

I first reviewed a Baden A-Style a little while ago (click here for that review). In case you missed it, here’s the short version of the company’s history: Baden Guitars was founded by T.J. Baden in 2006. A former vice president of sales and marketing at Taylor, Baden and partner Errol Antzis, a former investment banker and a guitar lover, enlisted European luthiers Andreas Pichler and Ulrich Tueffel. The guitars are completely hand crafted in Vietnam in a workshop overseen by six French luthiers. These aren’t production-line guitars cranked out by robots, so get that idea outta yer head right now, buster!

Unlike the first A-Style I reviewed, which had a rosewood back and sides on a cedar top, this one has an Ovangkol back and sides with a cedar top. Related to Bubinga, this tonewood has much of the same depth as rosewood but with sharper high end and more immediate projection. The hand-carved mahogany neck has a soft D profile which makes it a little beefy but still comfortable enough to reach difficult chord voicings without cramping up your hand. The review model had a slight buzz on the open high E string due to some overenthusiastic cutting – not ideal on a guitar sent out for review, but any store worth their salt should fix this for you before letting you walk out the door with it. Electronics are a simple Fishman Matrix Infinity system with volume and tone controls and switchable voicing – it can be kinda fiddly to reach the voicing switch but otherwise it’s an elegantly understated system.

Interestingly, Baden appears to have refined the distinctive minimalist triangular chip between the soundhole and fretboard. Whereas before it was wedged in the and mostly free-floating, on this guitar it’s carefully inset with wood all around it. The bridge is also subtly redesigned so the string pegs follow the arc of the back of the bridge, rather than be placed in a straight line. The end of the fretboard has also been redesigned, and there is now subtle binding around the body and sound hole. The end result is a more ‘finished’ look than the previous models, which seemed to emphasise their hand-madedness.

Compared to the rosewood A-style, which wanted to be played as a delicate background fingerpicker, the Ovangkol model begs to be picked and strummed hard. Notes practically bounce off the body and scream through the soundhole before they get a chance to pick up any unusual resonances or frequency anomalies. The result is a surprisingly sharp, direct sound which is bright and cutting but not harsh. The dynamic range is quite high, and the top responds sensitively whether you’re picking softly, or laying in so hard that every chord hits a threshold and naturally compresses. This would be a great guitar for stage use in a rock band, an out-front instrument driving a modern country act, or a powerful accompaniment for a soloist who needs a guitar that displays as much character as their vocals.

The A-Style Ovangkol may not be everyone’s cup of tea visually, although the subtle redesigned elements go a long way towards making the unusual design more palatable for skeptics. It’s got power and playability, with lots of character. It may not be your grandad’s acoustic, but where was it ever written that acoustic guitars had to be as conservative as they have to be traditional?

LINK: Baden Guitars

Here’s a video I found from MacNichol Guitars explaining the A-Style Ovangkol. What I like most about this video is that the voiceover sounds like the very sonorous Harry Shearer.

NEWS: Music, TV and movie stars at 2010 NAMM Show

If you’ve been following me on Twitter lately you’d no doubt know I’m positively giddy with excitement about going to NAMM in a few weeks. I’ve never even left Australia before so this whole NAMM business is terrifically exciting. I’ve started setting up meetings with various companies who would like to show off their new gear (and if you’re from a guitar company and you’re reading this, feel free to get in touch – especially you, Ibanez!), and on the 17th of January I’m getting a guitar lesson from Paul Gilbert. Cool! Anyway, news is starting to flood in now about who will be at NAMM and what they’re doing. I got this press release this morning and it’s only made me even more excited.

By the way, if you’re going to NAMM and you have an iPhone, why not go to the app store and download the official NAMM iPhone app?

Music, TV and Movie Stars Set to Come Out for the 2010 NAMM Show

Lots of Live Music Planned and Celebrities Coming to See the Hottest, Most Innovative New Products Introduced at NAMM

CARLSBAD, Calif., Dec. 21, 2009—The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) today announced just some of the many stars and events that will make up the world-famous NAMM Show, which will take place in Anaheim, Calif., Jan 14-17, 2010, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The trade-only and highly exclusive NAMM Show is one of the longest-running and largest events in the music world, featuring thousands of the latest musical instruments and products, amazing live music at every turn and the biggest names and brightest minds from the international music products industry.

At the 2010 show, attendees will be able to see such greats as Quincy Jones, Yoko Ono, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen, Jason Mraz, Chad Smith, Nikki Sixx, Vince Gill, Orianthi, Weird Al Yankovic, Stevie Wonder, Sara Bareilles, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Peter Frampton.
Additionally, TV stars, including actress and country singer Julianne Hough from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and actor Jesse Spencer from FOX’s House, will be on hand to perform and talk about their passion for making music.

The NAMM Show starts each morning with live music from many exciting and diverse acts. On Thursday, the show kicks off with the 40th anniversary of the Petiot All-Industry Marching Band who will join forces with the Get a Life Marching Band from Portland, Ore., a group of passionate seniors who love playing music just for fun, to lead the parade. On Thursday, the day’s events conclude with a stirring Tribute to Industry Leaders Lost, featuring legendary guitarist Doyle Dykes and the L.A. Scots, followed by a powerful concert from The Mark Wood Orchestra featuring Jesse Spencer from FOX’s House.

On Friday, the raucous Wicked Tinkers will open the show with plenty of energetic Celtic music. That evening, the NAMM Icon Jam takes center stage and feature a variety of music legends, including Alan White, Lee Oskar, Liberty DeVito, Peter Tork and more.

Saturday opens with the 350-piece Los Angeles Unified School District’s All-City Marching Band thundering up Convention Way in front of the Anaheim Convention Center. Then, the U.S. Airforce’s Mobility band will take the main lobby stage. In the afternoon, NAMM will present the finals of the SchoolJam USA teen battle of the bands competition, featuring a performance by Jive Recording artists, The Dares. That evening, Michael Jackson guitarist Orianthi will play a special concert on the main lobby stage, presented by PRS Guitars.

Steel Pan Palooza will kick off the last day of the show and later, the final act on the main lobby stage will be GRAMMY-Award winners, The Mariachi Divas. Also on Sunday, Roland Corporation will present a performance by renowned contemporary Christian artist Andrae Crouch.

For the latest information concerning all of the entertainment and live music events at the 2010 NAMM Show, please download NAMM’s PLAYback Supplement at www.namm.org/thenammshow.

And for live up-to-the-minute Webcast coverage of the show’s events, interested parties can visit namm.org or follow The NAMM Show on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nammshow.

NEWS: Epiphone debuts Inspired By John Lennon Casino, Revolution

This press release just, to quote Spinal Tap‘s David St Hubbins, drifted through my transom. Thought the USA-made John Lennon signature Epiphone Casinos were freaken’ sweet but couldn’t stretch the wallet that far? Well check out these babies which are made in Asia but feature Gibson USA electronics. Neat!

EPIPHONE ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THE “INSPIRED BY’ JOHN LENNON CASINO AND REVOLUTION GUITARS

REPLICA OF THE BEATLES LEGEND’S SIGNATURE GUITAR
The “Inspired By” John Lennon Epiphone Casino and Revolution guitar is now an affordable luxury no guitar collector should be without

Nashville, Tennessee….December 18th, 2009…Epiphone Guitar announces the anticipated release of the Limited Edition and New “Inspired by” John Lennon Casino offering the professional musician the same key features of Epiphone’s acclaimed John Lennon signature U.S.A. Casinos but at a more affordable price. Also based upon the “1965” Casino and the “Revolution” Casino, these two “Inspired by” versions combine the cost-effective workmanship of Epiphone’s own factory in Asia with original Gibson U.S.A. electronics including classic P-90 pickups with dog-ear, nickel plated covers and a Switchcraft(tm) made toggle and output jack.

The Inspired by “1965” Lennon Casino: In 1966, during the recording of “Revolver,” John Lennon and George Harrison each acquired vintage sunburst Epiphone Casino guitars. The 1965 Casino is a reproduction of the original guitar John purchased with its sunburst finish and stock hardware. Attention to detail includes the correct “burst” pattern and front and back, neck joint at the 16th fret (instead of the 17th), vintage style tuners with small metal buttons, black washer around the toggle switch and the historically accurate rectangle “blue label” inside the sound hole.

In 1968, John had his Casino sanded down to the bare wood and covered with a thin, dull finish. During that time, he also replaced the tuners with Gold Grovers and removed the pickguard. He first used this “natural” Casino during “The White Album” sessions in 1968. The “Inspired by” Revolution Casino is a reproduction of this stripped guitar and as it also remains today. Both “Inspired by” Casinos include a hard case while the Revolution version also includes the unattached pickguard and mounting bracket.

As with all Epiphone Lennon guitars, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each goes to the BMI Foundation for the John Lennon Scholarship Fund which supports music education. Backed by Epiphone’s Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 day Customer Service, these new “Inspired by” Casinos capture the essence of the 1960’s and the Beatles with their authentic looks, specifications and one-of-kind sound and feel that only a Casino has. Pickup one today and start a Revolution!

LINK: Epiphone

FEATURE: RATM scores Xmas #1 – where to from here?

No doubt you’ve heard that Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ has been declared the UK’s Christmas Number 1, screaming past X Factor winner Joe McElderry‘s The Climb and bumping X-Factor winners off the top spot for the first time in four years.

Now, not being from the UK, my main exposure to the phenomenon of the Christmas #1 is through the Christmas iTunes playlist compiled by Mrs I Heart Guitar a few years ago. And while I take great glee in pointing out the irony of thousands of people buying a song that includes the words ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me’ because someone told them too, I take even greater glee in the hope that this win will clear the decks and reset the Christmas #1 tradition to once again be awarded to cheesy Christmas songs by established artists who really should know better, like it was in the mid to late 80s. Observe these particular 80s chart toppers:

1984: Band Aid Do They Know It’s Christmas?
1985: Shakin’ Stevens Merry Christmas Everyone
1988: Cliff Richard Mistletoe and Wine
1989: Band Aid II Do They Know It’s Christmas?
1990: Cliff Richard Saviour’s Day

By the way, it’s not just number one songs that make Christmas in the UK rule. Check out these gems.

But what if this doesn’t reset the great Christmas #1 equilibrium? What if every year becomes a race to the top between the most recent X Factor winner and some other 90s hit? Could we see next year’s winner going up against Mr.Big’s To Be With You? Ministry’s Just One Fix? Primus’s Mr Krinkle? Or could you imagine waking up bleary-eyed on Christmas morning and flipping on the telly to see this?

No, wait, y’know what? I think 2010 should be the year The Christmas Song by Steve Lukather reaches number 1.

INTERVIEW: Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson

Porcupine Tree’s ‘The Incident’ is a 55-minute song in 14 parts which occupies an entire disc of the 2-CD album of the same name. Rather than cram as many notes into the recording as possible like many other progressive epics it’s a ponderous, spacious recording full of atmosphere and pensive interludes – though it still contains more than enough crushing riffage to satisfy fans of the edgier side of prog. Thematically, the album examines one topic from several angles and perspectives. I caught up with band founder Steven Wilson to discuss the intricacies of writing such a dense piece, and the inspiration that drove it.

So how does one write what is, in essence, a 55-minute song? “Writing a 55-minute song is very much like writing a novel, which you would approach differently to writing a short story or a collection of single songs,” Wilson says. “It’s a very distinct way of working. When you’re writing a novel you’re really working in a linear way, and the secret is allowing the idea to develop in that linear way, rather than coming up with each detail in a way that’s very fragmented and working then it in to create the finished product. The Incident was very much written from start to finish.” Wilson notes that the band’s current live performances include a full rendition of The Incident, complete with visuals by three filmmakers, each working in a different medium.

In a specific sense, Wilson has previously said the impetus for ‘The Incident’ was passing a fatal car accident and hearing it referred to by attending police simply as ‘an incident.’ But the inspiration grew from there and the theme became much deeper. “I think I was riffing, in a sense on that whole concept of how the media distorts a story,” Wilson says. “And that got me thinking about events from my own life and things I’ve seen. For instance, the very strange thing about 9-11 is that it was very public, in that you could actually watch it happen on TV. That same day there was an earthquake which killed thousands of people, but you didn’t hear too much about it. Meanwhile September 11 was literally unfolding before your eyes on TV. It was very cinematic, in a way, and I think that’s something that speaks to the way that people relate to television. There’s something very sick and twisted about that. You saw a similar thing earlier this year when Michael Jackson died. It became a real-time event, and the whole world was mourning this pop star – who hadn’t made a good album in 15 years!”

I suggest to Wilson that a similar thing happens today with real-time news on TV and online. For instance, it used to be that you’d read the news of Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax appearing together at the Sonicsphere festival in a magazine three months after it was announced. These days, you see it on a music news site the day after you saw it on Twitter and think, ‘Jeez, that’s old news!’ Wilson agrees. “A similar thing has happened with the release date of albums. It used to be that the first day you could hear an album was the release date. You’d line up at the store and it was a big event to get the album at midnight on the day it went on sale, or whatever. Now everyone’s already got it online well in advance of the release date, and the actual release date has just become a formality. I guess I feel a bit nostalgic for actually waiting for a release date, lining up and buying the new Kate Bush album or something like that.”

I suggest to Wilson that we wind down from such heady matters with a quick rundown of his live gear: “I use Paul Reed Smith guitars, Bad Cat amplifiers, a TC Electronics G-System and just a lot of different pedals. I don’t like things to be too complicated with my gear on stage, because the music is complicated enough. I can’t be worrying about this piece of gear or that piece of gear.”

The Incident is out now on Roadrunner.
Photo:  Diana Nitschke

Can’t get enough prog? Click here for my December 2009 interview with John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

Porcupine Tree Australian tour dates:

FRIDAY 5 FEBRUARY
BRISBANE, THE TIVOLI – 18+
www.ticketek.com.au 132 849, Rockinghorse and Kill The Music

SATURDAY 6 FEBRUARY
SYDNEY, ENMORE THEATRE – Lic A/A
www.ticketek.com.au 132 849, Enmore Theatre Box Office 02 9550 3666 & Utopia

SUNDAY 7 FEBRUARY
MELBOURNE, PALACE THEATRE – 18+
www.ticketek.com.au 132 849

HOW TO SOUND LIKE: Josh Homme

Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme has always been a master of the dry, clean-yet-distorted tone, and nowhere is this sound more in-your-face than on the self-titled debut by his ‘other other band,’ Them Crooked Vultures, a trio with Dave Grohl on drums and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards. Homme’s guitar is recorded very cleanly and mixed very loud and clear, so this recording is the perfect way to get your ears right up close to his tone without risking the wrath of security by scrambling up on stage to jam your ear against his speaker cabinet.

There are a few tricks to getting Homme’s tone down. Part of the secret is in using low or medium output passive humbuckers. Use too beefy a ‘bucker and you risk overloading the input of your amp, smearing articulation and making everything too hot. Homme is fond of interjecting power chord riffs with barre chord stabs, and this kind of contrast and emphasis would be totally lost of your dynamic and tonal spectrum were squished by too hot a pickup. His pickup choice also helps to maintain clarity and punch when playing single note lines on the lower strings (and don’t be shy about using the neck pickup for overdriven rhythm – it’s all too easy to get into the ‘I play rock, so rhythm guitar must be on the bridge pickup’ trap). Homme has been known to use a variety of Aussie-made Maton electric guitars over the years (check out the BB1200 JH with Maton ‘Hommebuckers’) in addition to Ovation Ultra GPs.

Homme has used all sorts of amps over the years, including bass amps and an array of vintage Ampeg valve amps. Aim for a clean tone to start with (rather than beginning on your amp’s high gain channel), but crank it to get some crunch and grind from the power amp and the speakers rather than the preamp. Keep the bass at treble at around halfway or lower and boost the mids for some of that characteristic power. It also helps if you’re able to get your hands on several amps and a splitting device so you can drive multiple sound paths at once, all set for different sounds, and preferably with different speaker sizes, wattages and constructions to really enhance the three-dimensionality of the sound.

Homme uses pedals to augment his basic tone from time to time, and the Crooked Vultures album is home to a few particularly tasty octave fuzz sounds. This type of octave effect (also heard on Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ solo and used more and more live by Joe Satriani) is different to the harmonizer or pitch shift version of octave doubling. The effect, which is combined with fuzz, is more like a bizarre squirrelly harmonic overtone doubling your original note. True octave fuzz pedals track better when you use the neck pickup, and they’re very interactive units so you might need to listen closely and adjust your picking technique by minute degrees to get the most out of the pedal. You can also get some rather strange background noise if you don’t mute your strings properly between notes or chords, so be careful!

REVIEW: Cole Clark Hollow Baby

The Cole Clark Guardian is something of an Aussie guitar classic. Obvious nods to 50-something years of guitar history notwithstanding, it’s the little details that have made this guitar stand out from others in the field. Now Cole Clark is releasing the Hollow Baby, a variant of the Guardian which features, yes, an internally carved hollow body with a classy bass-side f-hole. I was lucky enough to get my hands on two Hollow Baby models.

Components include CTS pots, Switchcraft jacks, OAK switches, Dunlop frets, Graphtech nut, Grover vintage tuners and Elixir strings. The tremolo is a two point system (more stable than a vintage six-screw version) with push-fit arm, featuring a machined solid steel sustain block rather than a sintered steel sustain block. Wood options are Bunya or Queensland Maple for the body, maple or blackwood for the neck, and maple or rosewood for the fretboard. The finish is nitrocellulose lacquer, allowing the wood to breathe and opening up the tone that little bit more. There are three pickup types on offer: Seymour Duncan USA Vintage Flat SSL-2; Kinman Zero Hum ‘Blues’ Set; and Cole Clark ‘Ultrasound’ (w reverse bridge pickup). The latter, which I was unable to test at the time of review, has a reverse-oriented bridge pickup to pick up more treble from the bass strings while reigning in the high end of the treble strings. But whichever model you choose, each has its own character and is suited to a slightly different vibe. It’s also interesting to note that Cole Clark has chosen pickups with a flat pole piece stagger to suit the flatter 12” neck radii.

And what a neck. This flatter shape is ideal for extended playing sessions and chording, and is also great for faster styles. A more rounded radius may allow you to grip the notes a little more firmly but many players prefer the extra finesse that can be added with flatter designs. You also have far less chance of fretting out a note when you bend it. In all honesty, as someone who’s collected 80s-style shred guitars for half my life, I was very comfortable with this neck, and personally I’d love to see it on a two-pickup Guardian with a bridge humbucker, neck single coil, no scratchplate and a Floyd Rose – y’know, a stripped back screamer. The neck is topped off with Cole Clark’s iconic ‘Curlicue’ scroll-topped headstock shape, which recalls – without actually copying – the 1940s and 50s work of guitar pioneer Paul Bigsby. Fretwork is perfect, with no rough edges or file marks to offend the eye or hand.

The first thing you may think when you pick up one of these Hollow Babies is ‘Well, I’m pretty sure I can guess how this is gonna sound.’ After all, while there are many key differences, it shares some common traits with a pretty well-known axe. But, as they say in David Lee Roth videos, ‘Fugeddaboutit.’ Any preconceived notions you may have about the tone of these instruments will be immediately dispelled upon picking the first note. Even unplugged you’ll notice that you simply can’t judge the Hollow Baby on what you know about other guitars that look somewhat like it. The acoustic tone is lively and midrange-heavy, with restrained treble and round bass – pretty much the opposite of the tone you’d expect from a solidbody version of this design.

Plugged in, the difference is even more pronounced. We were loaned two Hollow Babies to review: one in two-tone sunburst with Seymour Duncan Vintage Flat SSL-2 pickups and one in black with the Kinman Zero Hum ‘Blues’ Set.

BLACK – KINMAN ZERO HUM ‘BLUES’ SET


The black Hollow Baby, equipped with Aussie-made Kinman pickups, actually sounds a lot brighter than the unplugged tone may indicate, and there’s not much bass – at least, not of the booming, overbearing variety. This clears the lower frequency range to make complex close-voiced chords ring clearly and without extraneous dissonance. My favourite pickup setting was the neck/middle combination, which had a steely treble and reduced midrange, but with all the sonic benefits of the hollow construction: extended dynamic range and a certain liveliness to the note.
Regardless of the pickup setting you select, the attack is very immediate and the sustain is quite pronounced, with a nice natural tail.

One of my favourite tones was achieved by turning the bridge/middle tone control all the way down. While this would muddy up the sound on most guitars, on this one it simply reigns in some of the strident treble, fattening up the pickup for big lead sounds. A lot of players tend to ignore the tone control altogether but here it’s so carefully and complementarily voiced that it would be a crime against music to not explore its usability.

My favourite settings all seemed to be achieved with sparkly clean and slightly dirty – but not overdriven or distorted – tones. There comes a point where the very things that make the Hollow Baby work so well – evolving midrange, lively dynamic response and delicate interactivity – start to work against it when you pile on the distortion. That’s in no way a criticism of the guitar. It’s just that it’s presented in its best light when you can actually hear what’s going on.

2-TONE SUNBURST (SEYMOUR DUNCAN VINTAGE FLAT SSL-2 PICKUPS)


The first thing that struck me about these pickups was that they are very quiet. At high gain levels you’ll hear a kind of ‘ksssh’ off in the background in positions 1, 3 and 5, but only in extreme cases. In normal playing conditions you’re not likely to hear any noise at all. Amazing. Like the Kinman-equipped Hollow Baby, the Seymour Duncan version has a very bright and stabby tone, but this time the tone control doesn’t cool down the bridge pickup in quite the same way. The tone overall is a bit more gutsy, with powerful but not harsh treble. My favourite setting was the neck pickup by itself. This pickup is very midrange-heavy, making it great for bluesy solos and ringing indie melodies. It’s especially happy when you combine fretted notes with open string drones. I was also continually drawn to the middle pickup, which was home to a lot of fat lead tones. In fact, the middle pickup on this guitar reminds me of a fat bridge pickup on some others. I also found a great overdriven tone with the middle/bridge tone control down about 3/4 of the way while using those two pickups in combination.

This Hollow Baby responds especially well to soft playing, either with a pick or the fingers. Notes have an immediate impact but then fade out gradually and musically. You can also get some great textures by picking with the edge of your thumbnail around the 12th fret while holding down chords around the 7th-9th frets. On some guitars this technique sounds a little ‘meh,’ while others really take the sound and run with it. This one bolts.

Surprisingly, I found myself drawn to this particular Hollow Baby for John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth style fusion. There’s something about the way the notes sustain which lends itself to that kind of ‘fast/slow, soft/loud, up/down’ phrasing you often find in fusion, and the tone itself sits very nicely as a solo instrument.

Both of these guitars are very well made, with lots of clever little design details – the fretboard radius, the wiring of the tone controls, the pickup selection, the neatness of the f-hole. The different pickup choices are a great way of demonstrating how adaptable this basis design is to different types of music. The Kinman-loaded model would be my choice for country and cleaner styles that require lots of spank and twang, while the Seymour Duncan model would be my pick for edgy blues and dirty classic rock. I wish I had the chance to try the Cole Clark-loaded version too, but whichever way you shake it, Cole Clark’s come up with a very unique take on what at first seems to be a traditional design. Strip away the preconceptions though and you end up with something altogether unprecedented.


NEWS: Martin introduces Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition

I got this press release from Martin Guitars the other day about Jorma Kaukonen returning to the C. F. Martin fold. I’ll be checking out all the new Martin instruments at NAMM in January.

Oh by the way, check out Joe Matera’s ‘A Brief History Of Martin Guitars’ guest post on I Heart Guitar.

MARTIN GUITAR INTRODUCES THE M-30 JORMA KAUKONEN CUSTOM ARTIST EDITION

LEGENDARY JEFFERSON AIRPLANE AND HOT TUNA GUITARIST’S UNIQUE DESIGN INSPIRES A PERFECT GUITAR FOR ACOUSTIC FINGERSTYLE BLUES

SEE IT AT THE NAMM SHOW IN JANUARY!Nazareth, PA – December 8, 2010 – Friends let friends play their Martin guitars. Credit David Bromberg for bringing fellow guitar wizard Jorma Kaukonen back into the C. F. Martin fold and inspiring the impressive new Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.

“I played a gig with David Bromberg somewhere in New Jersey and he brought along the prototype of his Martin M-42 Signature Edition,” recalls Kaukonen. “I played that guitar and immediately fell in love with it. ‘When this guitar goes into production, I’ve got to have one,’ I told him. ‘Done,’ he said. When I got it, I loved it and I still do.” So much so, in fact, Kaukonen now plays Martin acoustic guitars exclusively.

While playing a loaned Martin Custom Shop M, Jorma began to really love certain aspects of that guitar (which he calls the “M-5”) and decided to combine specifications from it and the M-42 David Bromberg to create the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.

One can appreciate Jorma’s selection of Martin’s M body style (jumbo width, 000 depth and 25.4” scale) for his Custom Artist Edition; it handles everything from fingerpicking to flatpicking with ease. The M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition features a top of rare Italian Alpine Spruce and forward-shifted scalloped braces for full, saturated tone and impressive dynamic range. The top is paired with East Indian rosewood back and sides for rich, warm bass and strong projection, with an enlarged soundhole for enhanced midrange and treble response.

The Modified V neck with diamond volute is carved from genuine mahogany. “As much as I love my Bromberg, my aging hands need a somewhat wider neck. This works beautifully for my style of playing.”

In a career that has spanned five decades, Jorma first went electric as the lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane in 1965. The Airplane became one of America’s most popular bands of the era, helping define the San Francisco Sound with hits like “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit,” and had eight Top 20 albums during his seven-year tenure. He also first recorded his fingerstyle classic, “Embryonic Journey,” while with the group. Jorma was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane in 1996.

Before he left the Airplane, Jorma and longtime friend (and Airplane bassist) Jack Casady joined forces in a side project: Hot Tuna. It began as a duo playing acoustic blues and expanded to include additional musicians, different genres, electric sets and original material. More than 35 years and 25+ albums later, Hot Tuna is still going strong, with Jorma, Jack and multi-instrumentalist Barry Mitterhoff mixing acoustic and occasional electric performances.

Jorma has also recorded 13 solo albums and in 2002 released “Blue Country Heart,” an album of traditional country blues that received a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Traditional Folk Album.”

In 1998, Jorma and his wife Vanessa established Fur Peace Ranch in the rolling foothills of southeastern Ohio. Here guitarists of all styles and skill levels stay, play and learn at workshops led by Jorma and an impressive roster of top musicians. Fur Peace Ranch also hosts a concert series throughout the year called “Live From the Fur Peace Ranch.” This series is broadcast on the Ohio University NPR affiliate, WOUB.

In complement to its unique design, the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Editionshowcases handsome vintage Style 30 appointments, the first time they have been used with the M body style and only the second time they have appeared on a modern Martin. A Style 45 rosette in select abalone pearl (with the inner ring eliminated) encircles the large soundhole and a vintage-inspired polished and beveled Delmar tortoise-color pickguard protects the top.

The polished East Indian rosewood headplate frames an abalone pearl version of the familiar “C. F. Martin” logo, which arches over a slightly modified Martin “torch” inlay, also in abalone pearl. Nickel Waverly tuners with oval ivoroid buttons complete the headstock. The African black ebony fingerboard features rare Maltese “diamond and squares” position markers in abalone pearl, with a Maltese cross at the 3rd fret, two diamonds at the 5th fret, a square at the 7th fret, two diamonds at the 9th fret, a square flanked by cats eyes at the 12th fret and a cats eye at the 15th fret, and culminating in his “Jorma” signature – no last name needed here – inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Both the headstock and fingerboard are bound in grained ivoroid, and inset with mitered black/white fine line inlays. Black/white fine line inlays also accent the grained ivoroid heel cap and end piece.

The nut, compensated saddle, pearl dot-topped bridge pins and endpin are all crafted from bone. Aging toner on the top adds to the guitar’s vintage vibe, and Martin’s polished gloss lacquer finish highlights the beauty of both its tonewoods and appointments.

Each Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Editionguitar is delivered in a vintage style Geib™ hardshell case, and bears an interior label personally signed by Jorma Kaukonen numbered in sequence without the total, and a second interior label depicting his Fur Peace Ranch. Left-handed guitars may be ordered without additional charge and factory-installed electronics are an extra cost option. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers will begin taking orders for the Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition immediately and participating dealers will be listed on the C. F. Martin website: www.martinguitar.com