Some of us start out on acoustic guitar before ‘graduating’ to electric. Some of us stay on acoustic our whole lives. Some of us are electric shredders who don’t require an acoustic guitar often enough to actually plonk down enough cash to own one, but we might need the sound of an acoustic on our tracks from time to time. This post is for them. So, what do you do if you want to lay down some acoustic guitar on a track you’re recording, but you don’t have one at hand? Technology to the rescue! There are few tricks you can use to conjure up the spirit, if not the sound, of an acoustic guitar.
Ibanez first offered a 7-string acoustic more than a decade ago and it was a very cool guitar, but then the 7-string sort of drifted off for a bit. Now, of course, 7-strings and 8-strings are huge, and pretty much every company makes one or is planning to as we speak. Now Ibanez is bringing back the 7-string acoustic in the form of the AEL207E. It has a Flamed Maple top, Maple back and sides, Mahogany neck, a Fishman Sonicore pickup and Ibanez’s SST Shape Shifter preamp with onboard tuner. In addition to the 1/4″ output jack there’s a balanced XLR jack is included for direct connection to a PA system. The Ibanez SST Shape Shifter preamp has a 3-band EQ and tone shaper, as well as phase reverse for feedback reduction. Continue reading
I’ve long been a fan of Roland’s Cube amp series. I’ve used them for teaching, I’ve recommended them for students, and the Micro Cube is so teensy that it’s a perfect workbench amp for tech work. Now Roland has revamped the line with new features. There’s the new Micro Cube GX battery-powered mini-amp with i-CUBE LINK, three triple-channel Cube models (Cube-20GX, Cube 40-GX and Cube-80GX) each with iOS connectivity, and the AC-40 Acoustic Chorus Guitar Amplifier, a compact stereo amp for acoustic players. Here’s the info (and make sure you scroll down to the Micro Cube GX video featuring Nita Strauss): Continue reading
Taylor’s big news at NAMM this year was the Grand Orchestra shape, a completely new model designed by master luthier Andy Powers. It’s a curvaceous, downright sensual instrument designed to blend power, detail and balance across the tonal spectrum. It’s also Taylor’s biggest body shape, and when you see one in person it has that kind of presence and gravity… if you’ve ever pressed your nose against in the window of a guitar shop as a kid you know the kind of presence and gravity I mean.
“We’d been reconsidering our Jumbo guitars,” Powers tells I Heart Guitar, “and we finally got to the point where we said “Okay, well, let’s stop. If we completely re-conceive what we want to do with an acoustic guitar, with no constrictions, no preconceived notions of what it should be, what it could be used for, how it could be made, what would it be like? I literally started with a sheet of fresh paper on my drawing board. I thought about what I wanted and started connecting the dots. So I started drawing curves I knew would sound good, and combined them with bracing ideas and construction elements. This is a new, fresh voice that’s unusually responsive for a bigger guitar. It sounds good if you play heavy-handed and you end up with this huge, powerful voice that’s really linear up to the higher registers. It’s an entirely fresh, original new design that’s got its own unique, expressive voice. It’s not a revamping of something that’s already been done.”
One of the highlights of NAMM is visiting the Taylor Guitars room and seeing what kind of amazing things they’ve been up to. One I’m really looking forward to checking out is this: their new Grand Orchestra. Pretty, isn’t it?
Here’s the press release.
ANAHEIM, Calif. – January 23, 2013 – Taylor Guitars is unveiling the next body shape in the evolution of the company’s guitars: the Grand Orchestra. The new model, which makes its official debut at the NAMM Show, boasts Taylor’s boldest, richest voice, one that manages to blend low-end power with surprising balance and responsiveness for a big guitar. Players are sure to be impressed by the Grand Orchestra’s versatility: Aggressive strummers will love the robust output, while fingerstyle players will enjoy the dynamic range and sensitive response. Continue reading
The GS Mini is like the big brother of the legendary Baby Taylor. While the Baby Taylor won a lot of hearts due to its portability, easy playability and jack-of-all-trades tone, the GS Mini is not quite a small travel guitar in the same way as the Baby Taylor – but it’s not a full-bodied strummer either. It’s a portable-but-not-too-small instrument that gives the feel of a much bigger guitar. Taylor sums it up perfectly on the box: “Real. Small. Taylor.” Taylor describe it as a modern-day parlour guitar for playing around the house, but it’s also the kind of axe you could easily take to a jam, camping or to the beach. And it’s also stage or studio-friendly thanks to a few special extras. This year a mahogany version joins the original version.
Cue Twilight Zone music.
You enter a room. On a guitar stand in the corner is this new offering from Taylor. It’s an extremely attractive, maybe even a little alluring, but otherwise regular acoustic guitar. As you get closer to it you notice that it’s a little bigger than you’re expecting. You realise that’s because it has a 27″ scale length. Interesting. Must be a baritone. Or maybe you’re shinking. You look a little closer and see that appointments include a Grand Symphony body, Indian Rosewood back and sides and Sitka Spruce top. Inlays are an elegant set of abalone diamonds, nicely complemented by abalone inserts in the bridge pins. Something looks a little odd about those pins, but it’s not until you reach out with a trembling hand, pick it up and bring it close to inspect the headstock that you realise, good lord, this thing has eight tuning pegs, yet the neck is only wide enough for six. Maybe you’ve crossed into a parallel universe. Maybe it’s a trick of the light. Or maybe you’ve just entered… the 8-string Baritone Zone.
Yngwie gets a pair of acoustics via Ovation at NAMM this year. YM68 (steel string) and YM63 (nylon string) feature a solid chambered Mahogany body, five-piece mahogany and maple necks, and preamp circuitry specially designed to deliver natural acoustic tone with absolutely no feedback – even at Yngwie volumes. And because this is Yngwie, the steel string Viper has a hand scalloped fingerboard.
They’re available in White or Rosso Corsa Red (which is the colour of one of – ONE of – Yngwie’s favourite Ferraris).
They’re not cheap: US RRG is $3149. Pics from NAMM below!
I’ve been a fan of Ovation guitars ever since my guitar teacher brought one to one of my very first lessons way back in 1989. I was ten at the time, and even then I’d already been aware of the brand through Denny Laine’s Guitar Book. Laine was the guitarist in Paul McCartney & Wings, and his book featured a photo of Laine and Macca hanging out while Laine strummed a gorgeous Ovation Adamas (it’s on page 85 if you manage to track this rare 1979 book down). The company makes visually striking and sonically gorgeous instruments that are like nothing else out there.
The Standard Elite series is Ovation’s mid-priced line. The 2778AX features a hand-selected, deluxe AA solid spruce top with scalloped bracing and Ovation’s famous Contour Bowl composite body, which unites the back and sides as one single unit designed to maximise acoustic output while placing the guitar in the optimum position for ergonomic comfort. This is Ovation’s Deep Contour bowl, although other depths are available on various models. The bowl is made of Lyrachord composite, impregnated with glass microspheres. Cool, huh? Like the Adamas in Laine’s book, this model features a series of different sized sound holes surrounded by a rosette of various inlaid hardwoods. It’s an incredible look that feels like it has an authentic design pedigree, rather than the often more practical visuals of most guitars.
Like Henry Ford or George Lucas before him, Bob Taylor is one of those rare innovators whose ingenuity is matched by their creativity. It takes a special kind of mind to be equally enamoured by the process and the outcome, and Taylor’s guitars are a testament to that vision. Every little piece has its place, and every process, tool, template, jig, material and measurement has been scrutinized to within an inch of its life before being permitted the reward of playing a part in making a Taylor guitar. Guitar Lessons is Taylor’s first book, and it explains how and why Taylor Guitars came to be what the company is today.
Guitar Lessons can be read in three ways: as a memoir of a legendary guitar builder for those interested in the instrument from a player’s point of view; as an insight into the design and construction processes from a luthier’s perspective; or as a ‘how to succeed in business’ manual for those who may not have a particular affinity for the guitar building industry but who might like to gather inspiration and advice in whatever form it appears.