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WIN!

A CUSTOM SHOP AVALON L2-20C JUMBO ACOUSTIC WORTH OVER 3,000


ISSUE 109 SEPTEMBER 2015

www.acousticmagazine.com The UKs only dedicated acoustic monthly. Only 4.95

A day at Yellow Arch Studios with...

RICHARD
HAWLEY ON THE MAKING
OF NEW ALBUM
HOLLOW MEADOWS

MILK
CARTON KIDS
BEAUTY AND HARMONY
IN A TIMELESS SOUND

CHRISTOPHER
PAUL STELLING
THE JOYS AND HARDSHIPS
OF A TRAVELLING MUSICIAN

C.F. MARTIN & CO.


THE HOLY GRAIL DREADNOUGHT:
A 1942 HERRINGBONE D-28
ISSUE 109 SEPTEMBER 2015 UK 4.95
09

9 771745 446040 >

109 !20 PAGES OF GEAR REVIEWS: CRAFTER, CAPEK MANDOLINS, ALVAREZ, TANGLEWOOD, AVALON, LAG, TC POLYTUNE CLIP
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TEL: 01926 339808


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EMAIL: subs@blazepublishing.co.uk
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SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS ON PAGE 40

www.acousticmagazine.com
Issue 109 September 2015
Editor: Guy Little
Email: guy@blazepublishing.co.uk

Sub-editor: Nick Robbins


AT WORD LITTLE
here was a mild sense of panic as
I drove up the M6 to Sheffield to
write this months cover feature. Id
never met Richard Hawley before,
Advertising sales manager: Florence Thornton-Weeks though hes been someone Ive listened to for
Email: florencetw@blazepublishing.co.uk some time now. Roger Bucknalls wonderful
Tel: 01926 339808
emails keep me entertained and Richard is a
Design: Chris Sweeney, Jessica Riley regular fixture on those.
Studio gear photography: Richard Ecclestone
Cover photography: Richard Ecclestone Anyway, Hawleys stoic rock star cool
was something that worried me a little
Columnists: Raymond Burley, Clive Carroll, Mike Dawes,
Richard Gilewitz, Chris Gibbons, Gordon Giltrap, Daniel Ho, interviews Id watched with him (thanks,
Leon Hunt, Thomas Leeb, Tony McManus, Matt Stevens, BBC 6 Music) had him as a sort of daunting
Chris Woods.
poker-faced figure that only really came to life
Writers: Paul Brett, Stephen Bennett, Graham when either behind closed doors, not faced
Hazelwood, Andy Hughes, Leon Hunt, Guy Little, Alun
Lower, Joel McIver, Julian Piper, Teri Saccone, Nick with a journalist asking, Oh, why do you love
Robbins, Paul Strange, Richard Thomas, Sam Wise. Sheffield? or, crucially, when he had a guitar
Published by: Blaze Publishing Ltd. Lawrence House, in his hands and, mind you, does he come to
Morrell Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 5SZ life with a guitar in his hands!
Distribution: Distributed to the news trade by Comag Theres nothing wrong with that stoic rock
Magazine Marketing, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 7QE star cool I mean, its part of him but what
Operations director: James Folkard would he be like in whats become his second is so profound its hard to put into words),
Assistant publisher: Ruth Burgess home, Yellow Arch Studios? Worry need Martin Simpson, the Waterson family, and
Publisher: Wes Stanton
Accounts: Dave Deo not have ensued because within minutes of course, Sheffield.
Marketing manager: Sara Farmanfarmai of meeting him hes offering me chips (the His new album Hollow Meadows
Subscription rates: UK 71.40
For all subscription offers and overseas prices visit proper kind, from a paper wrapper, bought embodies his love for all of the
www.virtualnewsagent.com or telephone the from the chippy on the corner of the street) aforementioned in a set of songs that
subscriptions hotline on 01926 339808.
and calling everyone our kid. Hes also one demonstrate his sophisticated songwriting
Copyright Blaze Publishing Ltd 2015. of the biggest guitar nerds Ive met and with a knack for melodies only he can
Printed in the UK.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be Ive met my fair share. Kindly declining the produce. The album follows 2012s
reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system chips, we start to survey the huge array of acclaimed Standing At The Skys Edge and
or integrated into any other publication, database or
commercial program without the express permission of guitars hes brought with him for the day yet despite critical recognition, Hawley has
the publishers in writing. Under no circumstances should theres a PRS Martin Simpson gifted him, never jumped aboard a bandwagon, nor
this publication and its contents be sold, loaned out
or used by way of trade, or stored or transmitted as an Atkins, Fyldes, Martins, Gibsons, Collings, an given any thought to whats riding high
electronic file without the publishers prior approval. Ibanez, and a Melodija Menges among them. in the charts. Thats not Hawley. He is a
Disclaimer: His Martin and Gibson came from Replay guitarists guitar player who has gone about
While Blaze Publishing Ltd prides itself on the quality of the Acoustics (more about them and a 1942 building up a consistently excellent body of
information its publications provide, the company reserves
the right not to be held legally responsible for any mistakes herringbone Martin D-28 on pg. 80) and the work and Hollow Meadows is testament
or inaccuracies found within the text of this publication. Martin (a 1936 00-17) hardly left Hawleys to that. Read his interview over on pg. 34
Acoustic magazine is an independent publication and as
such does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of side. Thats the guitar hes photographed and revel in not just his guitar collection but
manufacturers or distributors of the products contained with on the cover and it was, without doubt, also his masterful songwriting craft.
within. All trademarks are acknowledged.
one of the best acoustics Ive ever played
Acoustic magazine is proud to support the Music until I met that 42 bone D-28, of course, but
Industries Association.
theyre different beasts.
Hawleys love for everything music
extends beyond the instruments he plays Guy Little
to his late father (whose influence on him Editor
John coinMan
01
Presents... oKlAhoMA CIty
son of the tucson
14 TRACKS OF THE MONTHS BEST NEW ACOUSTIC MUSIC desert, John Coinman
is a singer-songwriter,
JOHN COINMAN film-music-composer
THE HONEYFIRE (The Postman) and music aid of actor/director
MO KENNEY Kevin Costner. he has an actors skill for inhabiting
BOBBY LONG a character into a song. Americanrootsuk.com
BENJI KIRKPATRICK wrote about his new album Already Are: great
WILL JOSEPH COOK albums should consist of both entertaining and
GILMORE & ROBERTS
DAVID BECKER thought provoking songs to suit all moods and

R U R A needs, something that only a few achieve. this


one certainly does! the haunting oklahoma City,
FRANC CINELLI included on this months Acoustic Presents Cd, is
STEWART MAC & THE RISING
SKERRYVORE one of the 11 John Coinman originals from that,
already critically acclaimed, new album Already Are.
ANDREW CRESSWELL DAVIS
CHRIS BANNISTER n www.cavalier-musicmanagement.com
n www.facebook.com/john.coinman

BenJi wiLL JosePh


05 KirKPartricK 06 cooK
Voodoo heArse
ChIld (slIght will Joseph Cook
retUrn) possesses a vocal
Presents...

Benji is a member of big maturity and song


band folk trailblazers crafting ability far
Bellowhead, power folk trio Faustus and has spent beyond his years. In early 2015, his track Message
three years in seth lakemans band, but has always took the internet by storm, gaining will the coveted
performed as a solo artist. he has made three solo number one spot on hype Machine as well as a
albums, with the 2008 navigator label release, number two spot on spotifys global Viral Chart. wills
Boomerang, showcasing his unique songwriting influences span much further geographically and
talents. Benji deftly picks his way up and down the historically. his eclectic influences include everyone
frets of the bouzouki, guitar, mandolin and banjo and from darwin deez to nick Cave. will Joseph Cook is
with his latest release Hendrix Songs he tackles the quickly emerging as a talent to be aware of in the
songs of his hero Jimi hendrix in a unique style. ever burgeoning alternative British scene.
n www.benjikirkpatrick.com n www.willjosephcook.co.uk
n www.facebook.com/benjikirkpatrick n www.facebook.com/willjosephcookmusic
n @benji_kp n @willjosephcook

franc cineLLi stewart Mac


10 AlCheMy
11 anD the rising
Franc Cinelli is an Italian rAdIo
songwriter based in stewart Mac is a
london, england. his singer, songwriter and
new album The Marvel guitarist from north
Age shows an artist london. specialising
continuing a determined path, not afraid to take in radio friendly, heartfelt rock songs, he has
chances and experiment. At its core, this is a folk released two previous full length albums,

14 tracKs
record, but its use of rhythms, the twists and turns achieved success in Asia and has a string of
in the arrangements with their vibrant colours and live performances under his belt alongside
haunting undertones, creates something much more. such greats as Bon Jovi, who he opened for at

oF the Months the extensive 12-month tour, which gave birth to this
new album, saw him playing shows across UK, europe
twickenham stadium. he has just released a
brand new ep Radio which was written and

Best new
and north America. The Marvel Age is out on songCircle recorded with long time collaborator and live
records on september 18. guitarist dean roberts.
n www.franccinelli.com n www.stewart-mac.com

ACoUstIC MUsIC n www.facebook.com/franccinelli


n @franccinelli
n www.facebook.com/stewartmacmusic
n @stewartmacmusic
acoustic presents...

The Honeyfire Mo Kenney Bobby Long


02 Road Signs
03 Telephones
04 Treat Me Like A
The Honeyfire are a In My Dreams Stranger
sister two-piece hailing is a stunningly If Bobby Long has
from Bristol UK playing accomplished follow- learned one thing for
harmony-based, up to Mo Kenneys sure in the course of his
guitar-driven indie-folk. much-celebrated music career, its that
Originally formed in 2010 by Sally and Natalie Joiner self-titled debut, showcasing an artist who all things take time. Hes reflecting philosophically
they were briefly joined by Anja Quinn on drums and has grown in every facet of her craft as a on the making his forthcoming third album Ode
together recorded their self-titled debut album with singer-songwriter, guitarist and performer.Mo To Thinking. I have been cultivating these songs
Jim Barr (Portishead and Get The Blessing) at his has performed at major festivals in Iceland, live for the last year, seeing how they stand up,
Bristol studio. The album was released December England, Australia, and across Canada with changing them, dropping them, bringing them back
2014 to critical acclaim. Having recently returned to Ron Sexsmith and key collaborator and album so when I came into the studio with them, I was
two piece set-up, they are now writing new material producer, Joel Plaskett. ready. Now that I can see the finish line ahead, Im
which they plan to record and tour in 2016. See The getting excited that people will be able to hear what
Honeyfire play at the London Acoustic Show 2015. Ive worked hard on and what I envisioned.
n www.thehoneyfire.com n www.mokenney.com n www.bobbylong.info
n www.facebook.com/thehoneyfire n www.facebook.com/mokenneymusic n www.facebook.com/musicbobbylong
n @thehoneyfire n @mo_kenney n @bobbylongnews

Gilmore & David Becker RURA


07 Roberts 08 The Lonely 09 Between The
Cecilia Road Pines
Twice-nominated at For more than 25 years, Renowned for their
the BBC Folk Awards, Grammy nominated powerhouse mix of
contemporary folk/ guitarist, composer and highland pipes, fiddle,
acoustic duo Gilmore producer David Becker guitar, bodhran, whistle,
& Roberts combine award-winning songwriting has continued to define himself as one of the most flute, and voice, RURA has fast become one of the
with astounding lap-tapping guitar, fiery fiddle and unique voices in jazz and contemporary music. He has most talked-about bands of their generation. They
their trademark harmonies, creating a powerful led the David Becker Tribune to a worldwide audience, create hard-hitting, muscular, yet intricately arranged
wall of sound. Their fourth album, Conflict Tourism, performing in more than 20 countries. On The Lonely instrumentals to match singer-songwriter Adam
is released on September 18 and follows a year Road, Becker leaves behind his usual trio for a solo Holmes haunting songcraft a mix that has seen
of touring in mainland Europe, Canada and their outing, and arranged and produced a gorgeous them rise to headline status at festivals in the UK and
native Britain, and packs a considered punch album full of poetry by building an orchestra of Europe. Their first album Break It Up was accompanied
from start to finish. Gilmore & Roberts tour the guitars. Inspired by his world travels, this record by award wins and nominations, and now the follow-up
Netherlands, Germany & the UK this autumn. takes the listener on a global musical journey. Despite the Dark is meeting unrelentingly high praise.
n www.gilmoreroberts.co.uk n www.davidbeckertribune.com n www.rura.co.uk
n www.facebook.com/gilmoreandroberts n www.facebook.com/pages/David-Becker- n www.facebook.com/ruramusic
n @gilmoreroberts Tribune/153354107577 n @ruraband

Skerryvore Andrew Chris


12 Happy To Be
13 Creswell
14 Bannister
Home Davis Prentice Boy
Originally a Tiree Marching Singer-songwriter Chris
four-piece, Skerryvore Down The Road Bannister has released
has evolved into a Andrew Cresswell four albums of original
seven-strong band of Davis is a multi- material and performed
musicians. Skerryvore has successfully married the instrumentalist who live in both Europe and North America. His new album
traditional instrumentation of accordion, fiddle, pipes has worked alongside Sir George Martin, John Lennon, The Unicorn And Other Stories is his first collection
Tears For Fears, Bill Nelson, Julian Cope, Goldfrapp,
and whistles with solid bass, drums and keyboards, of traditional songs. Chris has taken the lyrics from
Spiritualised, Steve Tilston, and Flook and Moondog
overlain with exacting guitar and meaningful lyrics to Helen Creightons 1930s bookSongs And Ballads From
among others. His new acoustic album Desire lines,
give their unique sound. Their 2014 album Chasing co-produced by Pete Brandt, is his first solo venture Nova Scotia and written new music and arrangements
The Sun was described as their most complete and since 1990s Clevedon Pier. Andys songs have been for the 10 songs featured on the album. The track
mature album to date that albums a cracker! (Phil covered by artists as Rod Stewart, Tracy Allman, featured here isPrentice Boy, a timelesstale of
Brown, BBC Radio Lancashire) and their latest Decade Manhattan Transfer and Yazz. Andy is currently youthful, romanticidealism and also features Chris
release coincided with a huge celebration in May 2015. performing in the UK with Clare Lindley (violin) and Nole on piano and Debbie Jones on backing vocals.
n www.skerryvore.com Brian Mullan (cello) as Davis Lindley Mullan DLM. n www.chrisbannistermusic.com
n www.facebook.com/skerryfans n www.andrewcresswelldavis.com n www.facebook.com/ChrisBannisterSingerSongwriter
n @skerryvore n www.facebook.com/dlm n @chrisbannistera

september 2015 acoustic magazine 7


Contents
issue 109 September 2015
18

Richard 22

Hawley

26

30

Interviews
Christopher Paul Stelling......................................................18

Craig Ogden...................................................................................22

Milk Carton Kids..........................................................................26

Chico and the Gypsies................................................................30

8 acoustic magazine september 2015


80 48 84

Features
The Workshop....................84

New Music.............................90

Play It Again.......................80

Techniques
Gear Clive Carroll....................96

Crafter DGXE-ROSE.....................................................................42 Leon Hunt.............................98

Capek Mandolin............................................................................48 Daniel Ho.......................... 100

TC Electronic PolyTune Clip...................................................53 Thomas Leeb..................... 102

Alvarez AG75CE.............................................................................54 Tony McManus.................. 104

Tanglewood Sundance Delta Historic................................60 Chris Woods..................... 106

Avalon L1-390CB.............................................................................66 Matt Stevens.................... 108

LAG tramontane T100ASCE.........................................................74 Paul Brett........................ 110

september 2015 acoustic magazine 9


for the latest news visit www.acousticmagazine.com
news DesK
yamaHa music
london pResents...
satuRday nigHt
unplugged
Yamahas agship london store to host free evening performance and Q&a
with ralph Mctell featuring special guests albert lee and Daniel ho
6.30pm for a 7.30pm show start. The event is Jimmy Page, Bob Xavier and Chris Farlowe &
free with a limited capacity, but you can book The Thunderbirds before forming Heads, Hands
you place via their website. & Feet with Chas Hodges. The US beckoned as
one of the great storytellers, Ralph McTell, he became more involved in country music,
is now celebrating almost 50 years on the road. touring with The Crickets, The Everly Brothers,
Known for his virtuoso guitar style, he is a Buddy Emmons and Joe Cocker. albert Lees
prolific and gifted songwriter. With a style that brand new solo album Highwayman is an
invites you into a unique world, he weaves a intimate collection of classic acoustic covers.
narrative with lyrics and guitar lines that are Joining Ralph and albert will be joined
both significant and poignant. Ralph made his by Daniel Ho. Daniels simple philosophy of
debut in 1968 with the album Eight Frames A presenting music with sincerity and artistry
Second and in 1974 the release of Streets Of encompasses six consecutive Grammy awards,
London earned him an Ivor novello award. In number-one albums on national airplay charts,
1993, nanci Griffith recorded From Clare to and top-ten albums on the Billboard charts. over
ralph Mctell will be joined by albert lee and Daniel Here on her Grammy winning album and in the course of his career, Ho has contributed
ho on september 12 2015 at Yamaha Music london 2002 he was presented with the prestigious to more than 30 records, ranging from pop to
for a free in-store Q&a and performance
lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio smooth jazz and contemporary Hawaiian music.
2 Folk awards. This close-up and intimate Ralph and albert appear at Yamaha Music
Yamaha Music London is set to host an performance by one of folk music most notable London Presents... Saturday night Unplugged
intimate evening performance and Q&a patrons will provide an opportunity to ask in advance of autumn tour dates with newly
session with Ralph McTell featuring special questions and hear his stories firsthand, plus released live DVDs of their 70th anniversary
guests albert Lee and Daniel Ho following albert will join Ralph as special guest for an concerts, available for purchase at the event.
the conclusion of the first day of the London exclusive acoustic performance. Yamaha Music London will provide guests with
acoustic Show on Saturday September 12 2015. Described as the ultimate virtuoso by free food and drink at the George pub, opposite
Yamaha Music London Presents... Saturday Eric Clapton, legendary British countryrock their showroom in the heart of Soho, from 5pm
night Unplugged will take place at their guitarist albert Lee was heavily involved in onwards. For more information, and to book
three-storey showroom on Londons Wardour the emerging rock n roll scene of Londons your place, visit YMLs website.
Street with doors for the event opening at 1960s and cut his teeth gigging with the likes of www.yamahamusiclondon.com

10 aCoUSTIC MaGazInE sEPtEMBER 2013


Acoustic news

Win a Faith guitar as Dave Rawlings Gary Lutton set for


part of Rotosounds Machine announce the London Acoustic
Summer Blockbuster Nashville Obsolete Show 2015
British string manufacturer Rotosound Dave Rawlings Machine has announced Winner of Sky Arts Guitar Star TV show
has announced it will give away the news of Nashville Obsolete, the Gary Lutton is set to make an appearance
thousands of prizes worth over 10,000 highly anticipated second album. at the London Acoustic Show 2015, held at
with promotional string packs as part of Recorded on analog tape at Woodland London Olympia on September 12 & 13 2015.
its Summer Blockbuster competition. Sound Studios in Nashville, TN,Nashville Gary, an instrumental acoustic guitarist
Top prizes include a Faith FV Natural Obsolete features seven original from Belfast, Northern Ireland, will
Series Venus electro-acoustic. Winners compositions written by Gillian Welch perform on Saturday 12 as part of the
could also nab Rotosounds critically and Dave Rawlings. Acoustic Caf line-up. His style blends
acclaimed Retro Vintage Fuzz pedals, Produced by Rawlings, the album percussive techniques with intricate
T-shirts, guitar straps, string cleaners and highlights the brilliant musicianship of harmonics and a love for the simplicity of
guitar chord finder/tuners and whats Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch on lead pop music, drawing influences from Van
more, every pack contains a free plectrum! vocals and guitar, Paul Kowert (Punch Morrison and Paul Simon.
Look for the summer blockbuster Brothers) on bass, Willie Watson on During the filming of Guitar Star, Gary
sticker on the front of all promotional vocals and guitar and guest appearances worked with Rodrigo y Gabriela and
packs of all Rotosound strings. Scratch from Brittany Haas (fiddle) and Jordan Acoustic columnist Mike Dawes in addition
the sticker to reveal a unique code. Enter Tice (mandolin). Nashville Obsoletemarks to recording his version of Fleetwood Macs
the code along with your name, email the seventh studio album on which Everywhere with David Bowies Producer
address and details of the store where Welch and Rawlings have collaborated Tony Visconti and playing the main stage at
the strings were purchased into the together in their acclaimed two-decade- Latitude festival in Front of 30,000 people. I
Rotosound website to instantly find out long creative partnership. know its good to look at, but if you just listen,
your prize. Dave Rawlings Machine, whose rousing its just beautiful music, says Tony Visconti.
The Rotosound Summer Blockbuster live show has prompted critics and fans The London Acoustic Show is held
giveaway runs from August 1 to October alike to call them one of the hottest string at London Olympia and features
31 2015. To be in with a chance of bands on the planet (SF Weekly) will performances from Albert Lee, Doyle
winning, go to your local music store supportNashville Obsoletewith a world Dykes, Steve N Seagulls, Luca Stricagnoli,
and pick up a pack of Rotosound strings tour. The album is released on September Martin Carthy and many more over
before stock runs out. 18 via Acony Records. September 12 & 13 2015.
www.rotosound.com www.daverawlingsmachine.com www.londonacousticshow.com

Recording King instruments set for UK distribution via RHJ guitars


RHJ Guitarshas announced they are to distribute Recording King and The Loar in the UK. Many guitarists in the UK will be familiar
with this range of instruments, from the Dirty 30s series, to the Century Jubilee Series of classic style guitars.
Beginning as a house brand in the 1930s for Montgomery Ward, Recording King acoustic guitars and banjos were developed during
the golden age of musical instrument craftsmanship a period that resulted in some of the most well-respected and sought-after
fretted acoustic instruments available. The Loar, a range made in homage to Lloyd Loar, Gibsons chief designer in the 1930s, are made
to the same designs, but with contemporary improvements.
The range is highly regarded and this is the first time these guitars have been made widely available in the UK. Based in Hull, England,
the founders of RHJ Guitars include Jamie Hartnoll and Richard Harfield who are both successful retailers in the MI community.
www.recording-king.co.uk

August 2013 acoustic magazine


Win!
AN AVALON L2-20C
WORTH 3,000
If you want to win this custom shop Avalon L2-20C, all you have to do is
answer the following question correctly! Couldnt be easier.
If you need a hint, head over to www.avalonguitars.com

In what year was Avalon Guitars founded?


A 1979 B 1989 C 1999
ENTER VIA:
WEB: www.acousticmagazine.com or www.facebook.com/acousticmagazine
EMAIL: Include Avalon comp in the subject field, making sure that you enter your answer, name, age, contact telephone number and address in the body of the email and send it over to
acousticcomp@blazepublishing.co.uk
POST: Complete the form, below, tear off and send FAO Acoustic magazine / Avalon comp to Blaze Publishing, Lawrence House, Morrell Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 5SZ.
Closing date for the Avalon competition is 23 September 2015. The winner will be announced 24 September 2015.

*Required details to enter the competition


Answer* ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Name*.....................................................................................................................................................................................DOB* ................................................................................................................................................................................................
Address* ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Email* ...............................................................................................................................................................................Tel. No.* ................................................................................................................................................................................................
Do you subscribe to Acoustic Magazine?* Yes No Do you buy/subscribe to another publication? Yes No If Yes which publication? ...................................................................
Please tick if you do not want to hear from Acoustic Magazine or the London Acoustic Show

*Competition entries must arrive no later than the closing date specified. The winner will be announced on 24 September 2015. Only the winner will be contacted. One entry per household. Image(s) of
winner may be used for future editorial or advertising purposes. The winner will be selected at random from all the correct entries. No cash alternative is offered. Acoustic magazine reserves the right to
substitute the prize for an alternative of equal or greater value.

12 ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015


013.indd 13 17/08/2015 15:50
014.indd 14 17/08/2015 16:36
ASK THE
EXPERTS
THIS MONTH, WE FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET
YOUR SONGS TO SUCCESSFUL ARTISTS

T
he industry has changed a lot in compete for big artists with big advances,
the last 15 years; the advent of so they need to get involved with talented
iTunes and Spotify means a hit songwriters in the early stages. Make sure
single is more important than that they already publish contemporary
ever. And for increasingly risk averse labels, writers, and do your research before you
using a songwriter with a proven track approach them. Be certain you are the right
record may be a safer bet than going out on fit for each other. And if youre thinking of
a limb for someone new. So how can budding going down this route, it is worth getting
songwriters get some of their songs to advice before you dive in. Get in touch with
successful artists? us here at the MU.

NETWORK AND SKILLS TALENT, TENACITY AND A LITTLE LUCK


Talent is important, but building strong Digital technology may have made it harder
personal relationships is the cornerstone to make a living as a songwriter, but it has
of a successful music career. One way to also opened up doors for songwriters to take
get your foot in the door is to offer to work charge of their careers and develop their
as an assistant to a successful songwriter own projects.
and producer. Dont be too proud to do Being a professional songwriter today
minor production jobs. Being in the room requires much more than just making music
is half the battle and if an artist is going to it also takes an innovative business mind
spend months in the studio, theyd prefer a and a friendly disposition. MU members
talented person who is easy to work with. can take free courses in business skills,
Find others who compliment your skills. If marketing and more all geared towards
youre a topline writer specialising in lyrics freelancers and get specialist advice from
and melody, form a team with a track writer. expert officials at the Union.
It used to be that a guitar with a vocal was Luck also plays a big part, so its important
enough to identify a hit. Now, you have to be to make the most of any opportunity you get
able to produce the track too. If you cant do that feels right for you.
it yourself, bring someone on board the team
who has the production skills you need. For more information, visit: theMU.org
For an unknown songwriter, collecting
societies like PRS For Music (prsformusic.
com) can play a vital part in enabling
collaborations with other writers. With links
to songwriting camps, funding opportunities
and networking events, they can be an
important resource to meet people you may
go on to work with.

HOW TO GET HEARD


Having a manager or independent publisher
can help you get your songs heard by the
right people and smaller indies may be
more likely to listen to tracks that are sent
to them. Theyre less likely to be able to

SEPTEMBER 2015 ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE 15


016.indd 16 17/08/2015 15:52
017.indd 17 17/08/2015 15:53
interview Christopher Paul Stelling

18 acoustic magazine september 2015


interview

christopher paul

stelling
Christopher Paul Stelling is one of those performers you could easily envy
with a superbly salient voice and ultra-skilled fingerstyle-cum-claw-hammer
playing technique, all on one instrument. He is a real talent and an engaging
character. Acoustic spent an hour discussing the joys and hardships of the
road and his new album, Labor Against Waste.

Words: glenn kimpton

W
e meet in a temporary stay As well as being an effective, exciting the darker and more troubling side of things.
car park in Cardiff for our 10-tracker, Labor Against Waste was in itself a And on the flipside, theres a real negativity in
chat, with Christopher labour of love for Christopher. The record is out supressing it; I see a lot of that in people who
having just arrived from on a label, but my friends and I did the whole are just being blatant optimists when its clearly
Nottingham and booked to play the Full thing; I went into the studio initially with The fake. Sometimes the only way is to say, Hey,
Moon that evening. Travelling from his home Low Anthem to record a bunch of songs I had, this sucks and heres what were going to do
in the States, he is touring the UK with his and then I went off to Europe, came back with about it. Life can be tricky and I believe that its
newly released Labor Against Waste record, some more songs and went into the studio with positive to admit that sometimes.
an immediately accessible set of consistently a band and some good gear. It was recorded Its as refreshing talking with Christopher
fine songs. First and foremost, I feel really in segments because studio time is fucking and hearing a firm standpoint on some relevant
good about the album, he begins, and I worked expensive and it was mastered and mixed by us, issues as it is listening to his songs, but he is
really hard on it. But of course, when I look at so in that way its a very important one. also firm on what he is and isnt attempting.
it and listen to it, there are always things that Not having a record company breathing Im not trying to really directly communicate
could have been done differently or could have down his neck clearly seems to be the way with other people in my songs, he says. I
been done better. Often these realisations come Christopher would prefer to work. Yeah, think what mainly shows through the lyrics
from reinterpreting and actually improving a absolutely. I didnt have to ask for permission is a dialogue and communication with myself.
song during a performance. But thats good in on this record or for forgiveness from anybody. He stops to mull this one for a moment before
its own way, you know? It was just me and the people I was making the explaining. Well, maybe its more about having
As any musician knows, the time that record with. There were no strings being pulled. a conversation with myself and other people,
passes between conceiving the idea of an There is a refreshing sense of optimism but its not me speaking at them; thats not what
album and hearing it in its entirety can be running through the new album, notable in its about. Thats where it can overstep the mark
long; the songs on there need to have some titles like Warm Enemy and No Sweetness and become religious or quite troublesome. Im
staying power for the player as well as the In Revenge, but most apparent in lyrics like, not an authority; Id like to consider myself a
audience. Well, yeah, I finished the record I know my work will never be done until I friend or ally; thats what Im going for.
back in September last year, and I started can see the good in everyone, the wonderful Playing live, Christopher strips it back to
writing it in February, so Im over this one, mantra-esque line in Hard Work. Was this himself and a well-worn nylon-strung Gibson
he laughs. Im ready to start looking at writing stance a conscious thing? I never really (more later). On record, however, the band
another project. Im totally glad people can thought of myself as an optimist, but lyrically sound is in effect, albeit on a very subtle and
hear it now and Im happy with how its this record is a lot more optimistic than the classy level, with enough space to hear the
being received, but I havent really listened ones before it. I think that what I was realising songs properly. The first two records were very
to it for a while now. was that there is a real positivity in confronting sparse, with just a little bit of fiddle and a little

september 2015 acoustic magazine 19


interview Christopher paul stelling

bit of bass, so i suppose part of it was to keep highs, he explains. the guitar has a wireless as an instrumental guitar player. i was a
me from getting bored, but a real factor was on it that goes through a condenser mic, so i better player then than i am now and i really
being able to work with my friends. ive never can bring it towards the mic when i need to. its wanted that to be my sound; i really wanted
had a band, but ive met enough people over an LR Baggs iBeam active that sits under the to be an instrumental musician back then,
the years who are great players. so it was a soundboard. its great, and i run it to a shure but the singing somehow became a part of
case of, well, lets bring them in, you know? wireless setup where the receiver is the tuning it. these days, he finds that the vocal in the
the listener doesnt have the benefit of a live pedal. Fantastic! song really helps grab attention; i would
performance, so lets give them something unfortunately, on this particular trip, the tail suggest that having a voice that would make a
to listen to on the record. i used to be much end of it had to a far more minimal affair. We football pitch of people listen helps. Back then
more of a purist, like the record and live got broken into the other day through the car i would get up and play guitar and play well
performance had to be the same, but im not window and they took the wireless system, the for a minute, he says, but as soon as you open
thinking like that these days. You can make stomp-board and all that; but they didnt get my your mouth and sing, people shut up. it seems
both interesting. guitar! so you see the optimism and positivity they really like words in their music and they
Back to live shows and touring, christopher mentioned earlier. its okay, he reasons, you can like to hear singing.
takes only the one guitar, the aforementioned swim in shark-infested water for years without People are certainly listening to christopher
1964 gibson, which has been given the getting bitten and then one day you do. Paul stelling now, and you get the feeling it is
nickname Brownie, much to christophers this swimming or travelling has been a steady trajectory and he is the real deal. its
amusement. i never had a name for my guitar! a significant part of christophers life for a great at the moment, although just a couple
he laughs. i did this video interview where i long time before he began performing, and so more people at the gigs would be even better.
joked about calling it Brownie, and it stuck! informs not just his music and style, but his thatd be really great! thatd make the getting
ah well, its still a very special instrument to lifestyle. i was restless for years and would up and driving five hours to the next show so
me; its the one ive used on all my records and just travel, almost as a method to really get much more worthwhile. im actually a driver
played all of my shows with so its dear to me. my shit together before i began playing in by trade, he grins, and the end of the night
its nylon-strung and, to be honest, theyre not front of people. For me, playing music was i get the pay-off by playing music. it doesnt
that great guitars, but i love the nylon strings, a necessity, it was either make this work or sound too bad a trade. i have no real agenda or
they seem to have a lot more attack in them. get a job washing dishes or whatever. i didnt means to an end, he says seriously. this is my
theyre really dynamic and less plinky than a go to college or have any career plans, so i means of survival and i like that people receive
steel-strung guitar; you can strike them harder started playing music to get out of that really. it and get excited about the live shows and
and all that. cant play slide though and thats a Before any of it though, i was wandering take something with them in their memories. i
bummer; i like a bit of slide. around a lot; i really like being in different think its also really important to show people
so its all about practical travelling for this places and being independent, so in the end it different ways of doing the life game. im a
musician. Yeah, its just that guitar i take was a case of getting this music thing off the self-educated travelling musician, and thats
around and a stomp-board thing i made, which ground as a way to enable that way of life. my life and its cool for me, you know?
is a piece of ply with a contact mic underneath as a non-performing musician in those Labor Against Waste is out now on Anti-.
it running through an eQ pedal to cut out the wandering days, christopher fancied himself www.christopherpaulstelling.com

20 acoustic magazine september 2015


021.indd 21 17/08/2015 15:54
interview craig ogden

22 acoustic magazine september 2015


interview

c r a i g

ogden
Acoustic talks to the classical guitar virtuoso about his new award-winning
album Craig Ogden and Friends, about what he would like to record next, and
about the guitar playing tradition in Australia as well as his first inspiration
to take up theinstrument: folk singer-songwriter John Denver.
Words: andy hughes

A
ustralian born guitaristCraig music was there for the taking he just guitars for John Williams, sounds beautiful
Ogdenstudied guitar from the age wanted to take his talent as far as it would go. and I do my best to make a beautiful sound on
of seven. He is one of the worlds But his signature on a contract with the Classic it and my repertoire thrives on lovely clean
finest classical guitarists and has FM label has seen his albums with them shoot lyrical sounds.
recently released his new album Craig Ogden to the top of the classical music charts. Craig This is a good point to discuss guitar tone
and Friends which, as the title suggests, features has figured out at least part of the reason for in more depth, starting with any way of
a host of special guest performers consisting his success in terms of album sales. developing it on classical guitar.
of a variety of pieces from some of the worlds I think its down to commercial orientation, I just go for the best tone I can get, Craig
greatestcomposersincludingBach,Raveland which is what is provided by Classic FM. says. Peoples opinions vary about what
Albeniz, alongside modern pieces from the likes Before recording for Classic FM, I had recorded sort of sound they want, a little bit warmer,
ofEinaudi, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. about 15 previous albums as a solo musician, or a bit brighter, but there is a pretty broad
Craigs passion for guitar music started, concertos chamber music and so on, for a consensus about what constitutes a nice
not with the giants of classical guitar John number of other levels. That meant I had a listenable tone when produced on the guitar.
Williams and Julian Bream, but with the tones large amount of experience of recording, which What is not necessarily a consensus is what
of American singer-songwriter John Denver. was great. When I came to work with Classic sort of sound people want their guitars to
I was about six or seven, and my mum and FM, their approach was more commercially make. There are a couple of camps there
dad played John Denver albums at home, and I based. Classic FM and I chose the repertoires is the Smallman lattice-braced construction
really liked the idea of playing guitar, so I nagged collaboratively because they know what their versus the traditional Spanish sound, which
them into buying me a guitar and paying for audience likes to listen to. Plus, they have great is the real dividing line. But in terms of the
some lessons for me. I went to a teacher who ideas about marketing and how to reach their tone produced by the performer, I think there
taught simple strumming and chords, but he target audience. So it was about presenting, is pretty much an agreement on what is a nice
also taught classical guitar as well, so that was marketing, and the Classic FM brand that sound and whats not.
my first introduction into that sound. I enjoyed reaches out to a lot of people; that combination So what is Craigs advice on getting a good
it enough that, by the time I was 14, I had decided has brought me the success I have had, and I tone with a classical guitar?
that I would like to study music at university. know I am extremely lucky. I love the feel of the Start by paying attention to your fingernails;
I grew up in Perth, and I figured that if I was guitar, I love playing it, and I love getting better. the right shape and length, and the edge has to
going to leave Perth to study music, I might as I love spending five minutes just improving be perfectly smooth. You cant just file it, you
well head for the northern hemisphere because on a tiny little skill. The teacher I had in Perth then have to buff it. I use 2000 grade wet or dry,
there is far more musical action there. So I came was really focused on tone quality, which I am and you polish until edge is smooth. My teacher
to England because my mum is a British citizen, very glad about. If you are listening to recorded back when I lived in Perth, a guy called John
and started my postgraduate studies here. music, there is no visual element, so sound and Carey, was keen on proper tone, and taught me
Craig is keen to point out that he didnt tone are incredibly important. The guitar I play, how to pay proper attention to my nails. I have
assume that a successful career in classical which is made by Greg Smallman who makes taken the principles and adapted them to my

september 2015 acoustic magazine 23


interview craig ogden

particular nail shape. it is a geeky focus point, australia to come to england and study the after. eventually, you reach the beginning, and
but classical guitarists are always discussing guitar because i love to play, and i am very also the end of the piece, and you can slowly
the shape and length of our nails, and what lucky to have a job that lets me concentrate play it through at the same speed. then you
we buff with. its the equivalent of pickups and on that. if i am away performing for a week, polish the hard bits until you have got them
amps for electric players, in terms of making my students understand and are fine with nailed and then you can start to build the
a great sound. What we have is a hollow box that. i do go to great lengths to make sure that speed up for the whole piece. if you do it that
with strings, and our nails, so what should be i get all my teaching commitments in, so its way, you avoid playing along at normal speed,
simple in principle takes time and effort and performance and recording schedules first and then having to slow down or stop at parts
experience to get the sound you actually want. and i manage to fit my teaching around them where you are unsure what you are doing.
While we are getting some great advice, and it all works out very well. that drives me mad, so my technique means
what about choosing the right guitar? no matter how good a guitarist is, there are i dont have to endure that frustration. it takes
i think that three-quarter options are pieces that will always prove a little difficult to patience, but then, learning an instrument,
good for younger players and smaller adults play. in craigs case, it is the first movement of and learning pieces of music is all about
or adults with small hands, craig says. Rodrigos concerto de aranjuez, one of the patience and practice. the satisfaction of the
sometimes, full-size models are hard to get most well known classical guitar pieces written. first couple of times you get to play a piece
your hands around, or the fretboard can be too as it is so well known, it does put extra through from start to finish is well worth all
big. Learning classical guitar on a steel strung pressure on the guitarist playing it. For me, that effort, every time.
instrument, as opposed to nylon strung, is not some of the arrangements of Django Reinhardts a lot of my students come from electric
impossible; its just not as easy. most adults pieces by Roland Dyens are particularly tricky. playing, or basic acoustic playing, and they
who are learning know how good classical His arrangement of nuages is challenging. move to classical guitar because they love the
guitar playing sounds, its just a matter of so whats the best advice for mastering repertoire. that is the first place to start have
investing that patience in learning and getting technically challenging guitar pieces? a listen to the major classical guitar pieces and
better as you go. Well, besides learning guitar, when i was at decide if you like the music, and the sound,
as well as his successful recording and school, i also played orchestral percussion, so and if you feel you would like to have a try
touring career, craig enjoys a parallel career my sight-reading is pretty good. What i do with at making that music for yourself. get a few
as the principle lecturer of guitar music at the a new piece is read it through first so i quickly Youtube clips together and see how it looks
northern college of music in manchester. so is get an idea for the difficult bits. i put a pencil playing a classical guitar oh, and remember
that a bit of a juggling act? ring on the hard bits, and i start with those bits that good posture is essential.
it can be, but for me, performing always in isolation. as they get better, i put them into Craig Ogden and Friends is out now.
comes first. i sacrificed my family life in context, bringing in the bar before and the bar www.craigogden.com

24 acoustic magazine september 2015


025.indd 25 17/08/2015 15:55
interview richard hawley

26 acoustic magazine september 2015


interview

the milk carton

kids
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pettengale are a perfect example of beauty and
harmony in simplicity and quality. They are the band who reduced Marcus
Mumford to tears in Another Day, Another Time, the documentary
celebrating the music of the Coens Inside Llewyn Davis, and they have hit
highs again with their new studio-dodging long-player Monterey.
Words: glenn kimpton

T
he Milk Carton Kids keep it very as solo artists, because youre in danger of going reach deep and conjure that performance in the
simple with a strict two guitars and down the rabbit-hole of instrumentation and studio, when you know theres only a couple of
two voices approach to the music over-production to the point that you never know days to get it right and when youre hearing it
they make. When deciding to record when youre done. But being committed as we back straight away after you have performed it.
a fourth album of new material, they decided are to the format of two guitars and two voices, Thats not been the best method for us, and we
on a different process to the norm, with it being what it gave us was a completely pressure-free wanted to avoid that this time.
recorded on the road. We didnt want to go into environment to try to get great performances. The album, with its conception and apparently
the studio this time, Joey says, so we made it To Kenneth and Joey, it was almost making an quite primitive recording methods, smells
in various venues on our last tour; we just got album without intending to make an album; like strongly of old time traditional recordings,
there a few hours early and stood on the stage peeping through the fingers and catching sight albeit with some modern help in places. Yes,
and recorded there, without any real agenda. of something special. We didnt even listen its exactly like that, Joey says. We did do
This technique seems very apt for a duo that back to any of the takes until months after the some editing afterwards. I mean, if we were in
opts out of many contemporary musical and tour, says Joey. Then Kenneth sat down with Edmonton one night and we did a great take
recording techniques; did it feel like the right however much coffee was needed and trawled but ran off the rails in the outro, we would find
direction to take? Its funny really, Joey says, through hours and hours of performances, an outro from a different take and if it worked
because all of the things we thought would be hunting for the ones with the inspiration or we would cut them together. I mean, he laughs,
the salient features of an album being recorded magic in them. So it turned out that we achieved weve never been purists or traditionalists
in concert halls instead of the studio, like it this thing that I think is almost impossible for the sake of it, we just want to get the best
being sonically more like our live shows, were to achieve on purpose, which is putting out performance that we can on tape. Jesus, were
not really the case in the end. What became recordings that we didnt really think anybody stood close together by a microphone and it
apparent as we went on was that this method would ever hear. I think that unexpectedness bleeds and all and it can make it difficult as
gave us the sense that a particular day of was the most important thing about the whole hell to edit. Well allow ourselves some digital
recording wasnt of any heightened significance. process, more than the acoustics of the churches technology sometimes!
This may at first sound almost blas, but it and concert halls. Its quite refreshing to hear the guys talking
seems instead quite a cathartic exercise for the It sounds like Monterey wouldnt really have about their minimalist approach to making
band. We were booked into 55 venues on the existed if a studio process was the only option. music without sounding like martyrs and
tour, so there was always tomorrow. We never When youre in the studio, says Kenneth, it allowing some polish when necessary, not
had to get it right then; there was no pressing can often seem like youre under a microscope. just as padding. Right, exactly, and I think the
time limit on getting it perfect. Ironically though, Our music has always been very performance difference is again being a performance-based
that potentially endless retaking and redoing based, and performances, from one night to the unit instead of being perfectionists. Were after
of the song had always been detrimental to us next, can be very different. Its quite difficult to a great performance, but if we can improve it

september 2015 acoustic magazine 27


interview the milk carton kidS

slightly in post-production, then we will. But, he world of acoustic guitars is almost as old as
grins, we limit ourselves so much in our setup ACOUSTIC nature versus nurture, but it is generally agreed
that much tampering is very difficult. ROMANCE that the older a guitar is, the richer and warmer
the intimacy and delicacy present in the it will sound, hence the amount of techniques
guitars and vocals of the band almost hides Joeys cherished J-45 and Kenneths 0-15 are being unearthed by premium builders like
some heavy topics tackled on record, like the very different boxes; I wonder how they roll Bourgeois to speed up the ageing process. the
outwardly pessimistic and disgruntled anti-war alongside one other. Oh, those guitars were Kids both play 60-plus-year-old guitars, and its
message on Freedom probably the heaviest made for each other! laughs Joey. Kenneths a sound theyve always been partial to. its not
hitting song on Monterey. it seems that the Kids is in standard tuning and mine is standard but like were after a vintage sound specifically, says
are not trying to shy away from pressing current tuned down a whole step, so it kind of feels like Kenneth, but we are both partial to the sound
affairs or anything else. its intentional that we where mine ends in the higher register, his picks older guitars with older strings make. the worst
do look at significant issues, they say seriously, up. Theres very little sonic overlap between thing to happen to us is if one of us breaks a
and that when we write, we cover the whole them and it feels like we can explore a broad string and we have to fit new ones; it feels like
range of things that occupy our minds. that range, especially when he capos quite far up we dont sound right for a couple of weeks after
can range from the personal and introspective the neck. Theres just something about the two that! there is definitely something about the
all the way to the overtly political and socially together that just works; weve played different wood and the joints on an old guitar that has
conscious. the track Freedom is overt, but we guitars together, but nothing works anywhere been living with itself for so long; it just seems to
believe it is all fair game, you know? as listeners near as well as the Gibson and the Martin. settle into itself and breathe as one, you know?
and as writers, we would get bored of an album We finally touched on the subject of
that was entirely political, much as we would of lookout for a late forties or early fifties J-45; pickups in the acoustic guitars, or in the Kids
an album that entirely personal. to me, whenever i heard one from that era, it case, the lack of them. We already knew from
a crucial element of the pairs sound lies was just how a guitar should sound, you know? before we began playing that we would not
in their instruments which rarely veer from With a capital g! so, she wrote back again a be playing our guitars through pickups, Joey
Kenneths 1954 all-mahogany martin 0-15 while later with this message saying, Like this says, and its because we both believe that we
and Joeys big 1951 gibson J-45, which has one? and this link to an eBay auction she had have never heard a guitar sound particularly
its own interesting history. its crazy really, won, which was this 1951 J-45. good through a pickup. or at least a guitar
laughs Joey. it was given to me by a fan in even after probably retelling this story thats as exposed as our guitars, when its
the very early days, before Kenneth and i umpteen times, Joey still sounds ummoxed. just the two of us singing and playing and
played together. i had nine fans; i knew there so i write back saying congratulations, what the subtleties and dynamics of that setup. its
were nine, because they were all on myspace! a beauty, and she says, its not for me, i need such an elemental piece of the performance
and one day my fan wrote me a message that your address! two days later, this guitar and ive never heard a pickup that can make a
asked what my dream guitar was, which i arrives in the mail and it was so perfectly set up guitar sound how we need it to sound for our
found novel at the time and flattering; maybe that i played it at a gig that night without doing performances. Well just stick to the one mic.
she wanted to have the same guitar as me or a thing to it. Monterey is out now on ANTI-
something! so i replied saying i was on the the vintage versus new argument in the www.themilkcartonkids.com

28 acoustic magazine september 2015


029.indd 29 17/08/2015 15:55
interview richard hawley

30 acoustic magazine september 2015


interview

chico and the

gypsies
Gipsy Kings founding member Chico Bouchikhi formed Chico and the Gypsies
in the early 90s and the group quickly attracted attention with their album
Vagabundo. They have since built up an assured international following with
numerous tours and album releases. Acoustic talks to Chico about writing some
of the most widely known flamenco music of the last 40 years.
Words: andy hughes

I
f you utter the words flamenco guitar Having grown up with music around him, it bring a lot of pleasure to people around the world
to anyone who has taken an interest in was almost inevitable that Chico would become with our music and that is what is important.
popular world music over the last forty years, a professional musician his destiny was sealed Besides, some people may carry on after listening
chances are theyll come up with The Gipsy when he married into the Reyes family. to our music, and explore traditional flamenco
Kings. French in origin, the band started out as I started playing guitar thanks to my elder music, and that has to be a good thing too. People
Los Reyes (The Kings), created by Nicolas and brother who bought me my first guitar when I recognised their own music in our style of
Andre Reyes, sons of flamenco master Jose Reyes. was 17. When I got to know the Reyes family, flamenco, and that is the reason we have reached
Travelling around France, the band played any they took me in as one of their own, and they so many people around the world who love the
and every social occasion especially weddings encouraged me to play more guitar because they music we made, and the music I make with Chico
and parties. Due to the constant travelling and all played, and from our own enjoyment of the and the Gypsies now.
living the gypsy lifestyle, the band adopted guitar music we made, we formed the Gipsy Its no secret that flamenco is a complex form
the name the Gipsy Kings. With the release of Kings. My very first acoustic was a Spanish of music to play, but having grown up around it,
Bamboleo, an instantly recognisable piece of guitar, but I cant remember if it even had a for Chico it was a way of life. I have been lucky;
flamenco music that was a massive hit all over brand name. I now play a Takamine which I have I have grown up in the gypsy community where
Europe, fame and success was assured. had for a few years. As a band, we own so many playing the guitar for a young boy is as natural
The architect of the Gipsy Kings success guitars that we probably have a bigger stock of as riding a bike. Its second nature to me, I have
(and co-writer of their biggest hits Djobi Djoba, acoustics than most shops would have. never experienced any difficulties in playing the
Bambolo and Soy), Chico saw them become To the casual listener, it would seem that Chico guitar. I just play and it is easy for me and for all
the first French group to be awarded a platinum and the Gypsies play flamenco music but, in fact, of us who have grown up with it. That is not to
disc in the US and go on to sell an estimated 20 their music is a blend of different cultures, as say that I can play any and all styles. There are
million albums, making them one of the biggest Chico explains. Flamenco music is the essence, many styles and techniques that I do not have. I
world music crossover acts. the spirit of Spain, and it is popular all over the admire the playing of Eric Clapton and I would
Guitarist Chico Bouchikhi left the band in world. The music is a mixture of influences from love to have some time to explore that.
the early 90s to create his own band, Chico a number of cultures that mixed in Andalusia. Do you take a lot of guitars on stage? No, there
and the Gypsies. Led by Chico, the line-up I think that the pure flamenco is reserved for a are eight members of the band, and everyone
comprises Mounin, Joseph, Kema (Manitas few musicians but, when I was with the Gipsy takes one guitar only on stage. I think if everyone
de Platas grandso) Babato, Tan, Kassaka and Kings, we popularised flamenco and spread its took more, there would be no room for us! One
Rey (a nephew of Manitas de Plata). The bands appeal by mixing it with other musical forms. of the things I like about the Gypsies is that each
infectious brand of rumba, flamenco and Latin Some people think that we are not true to the real player has his own guitar which he has chosen,
pop and rock tunes is joyful, flamboyant and spirit of flamenco, but I do not mind that. People and which fits his own particular sound and
hugely entertaining. will think what they like, and I know that we style. When we blend those individual sounds

september 2015 acoustic magazine 31


interview chicO and The gyPsies

and styles together, that is what gives us our and it certainly depends on the mood of the For me, the musical energy of my performance
unique sound. i think we operate the way most band as a whole. the great thing about having and the performance of the bands i have
bands do. When we have a new piece, we get so many people to work with is that someone is played with, and play with now, is all about
together and we try it out, and everyone is free always having a new idea about a new piece of the interaction of musicians playing together.
to suggest ideas for how we can improve our music, or maybe a twist on a piece of music that as our concerts progress, the energy levels
overall sound. there does come a point at which we are playing in our current tour set. there is from each of the musicians gets higher and
an arrangement has to be finalised and that is never a time when we feel stale or as though we propels the whole band forward and we take
my decision. in the event of a dispute about the are bored with the music we play it is far too our audiences with us. i love that feeling and i
way forward, i will always have the final say. it exciting a style for that. cannot imagine being able to create that level
has to be that way otherwise people will discuss What about working with other musicians of energy and excitement on my own, either on
things for days, or weeks, and never actually get outside the gypsies? Personally, i am always stage or in a studio. For me, the creative force
anywhere. i am not a hard task master, but when interested in any opportunities to work with is in the musicians playing together, and that is
my decision is made, that is what we go with, and other musicians we have worked with Joan why i have always been a band musician and i
everyone understands that. Baez, for example. i firmly believe that exploring would never be happy just playing on my own.
the vibrant music made by chico and the any kinds of music we can helps our creative the way i grew up, playing the guitar is a social
gypsies is a veritable musical melting pot of process as a band. i think all good music comes experience; people do it with friends, with their
sounds that are created in andalusia, but they from a fusion of styles and that includes the families, with neighbours and it is that feeling
have never lost sight of their musical roots. music that we make. i think all musicians should of belonging that i get when i play with my
When we are warming up backstage before keep an open mind and listen to, and play, as band, or with friends and family at home, that i
we go on for our concerts, we always play more many musical styles as they can it can only be love the most. that is why i make guitar music,
traditional spanish music because we still love to good for your technique as a player, and for your to enjoy that bonding experience; it is the best
play it, and it helps us to really get into the feel music. sometimes, musicians who play one style feeling in the world. i think that enjoying playing
of our music that we are going to play because it of music listen only to pieces of music that are in music is a very individual thing. For some it is
has grown out of the traditional sounds that we the style they play, and that is not good for your about playing alone, and lots of people enjoy that.
all grew up with. We find that playing our own development. Keeping your ears open and being For me, it is about playing with other people
traditional music, as well as listening to as much alert to any and every style is the way to learn. and the more the merrier!
music from other artists in other musical styles, since his earliest days as a musician, chico Chico and the Gypsies tour the UK in October.
helps us to compose and develop new material has played in numerous bands, but has he ever Tickets are on sale now. Check the website for full
for our own concerts and albums. What we considered a solo career? it has never crossed my dates and ticket links.
play can depend on where we are in the world mind to even think about starting a solo career. www.chicoandthegypsies.com

32 acoustic magazine september 2015


033.indd 33 17/08/2015 15:59
34 acoustic magazine september 2015
interview

At home, kinda, with...

r i c h a r d

h aw l e y
A Sheffield icon, a restlessly prolific songwriter, and a man obsessed with folk
musics heritage Richard Hawley opens up about his new album Hollow
Meadows, his love for Martin Simpson and the Waterson dynasty, as well as
guitars from some of the greatest luthiers in the world.

Words: Guy Little Images: Richard Ecclestone

S
tepping into Sheffield, you soon realise was a bit hungry, he says amid the clatter of
its so much more than the Steel City. people rushing up the stairs carrying guitar
It has nurtured the likes of the Arctic case after guitar case (there are around 12
Monkeys, Martin Simpson, Paul guitars in total, and even the best of us would
Carrack, Def Leppard, Human League, Longpigs, applaud that).
and Pulp among others (Hawley has been a Every Hawley solo album has been
member of the latter two) the northern city recorded in Yellow Arch Studios; the walls
has long been a crucible of creativity, producing are decorated with his discs Coles Corner
more than its fair share of acclaimed musicians. and Standing At The Skys Edge Oh, take that
Out in the city, just a smidge north of the down, he says, pointing toward Coles Corner
River Don, Yellow Arch Studios sits within a hanging just in shot of where were sitting
complex of grey buildings cushioned by cafs, and due to record.
chip shops, graffitied walls, tall steel shutters, Here, put this up there; hes much better!
and windows secured with steel bars. Its not he says handing me frame with a print of
an unusual sight for a city, but among the grey Buddy Holly in it.
is that yellow arch, and once you step through The self-effacing 48-year-old is Sheffields
it you can almost feel Sheffields assured biggest fan but we all knew that. Why
musical heritage seeping from the walls for wouldnt I be? Its the place where I was born
Hawley, however, its business as usual. For and raised. I chose to stay in Sheffield to plant
the last 15 or more years, Yellow Arch has my flag here.
become Richard Hawleys second home. His father was a musician, and his mother
Welcome to Yellow Arch, this is where a singer. Poignant memories about his
we make records, Richard opens with his fathers influence on his music abound.
stoic rock star cool and, er, eating chips In my ignorance, I thought the acoustic
from a paper wrapper. Do you want one? I guitar was a little janitors closet but, when I

september 2015 acoustic magazine 35


IntervIeW RichaRd hawLey

opened the door, i found the grand canyon on a series of rehabilitating short walks, this award i couldve saved us all a lot of
on the other side. it was partly to do with Richard started to see things in a different time and just posted it through the letterbox.
the knowledge, love and patience of martin way and would explore nature and the there are certain people you meet and you
simpson, martin carthy, Roger Bucknall, world around him. His shift in perception feel like youve known them a lot longer than
alister atkin and John smith but mostly can be heard on Hollow Meadows the you have. His love and passion for guitars
it was because of my dad. Falling in love World Looks Down. is insane hes a frightening player. When
with the acoustic guitar was like hearing his that track is a bit of an obvious statement, i met martin, i had been diagnosed with
voice again. and i wrote it for my kids mainly, but we can arthritis in my hands which has thankfully
at the age of 14, Richard was playing all relate to it. We spend an inordinate amount been subdued but there was a point when i
guitar in his uncles band and in the early of time looking at screens instead of looking could barely move my hands. i couldnt play
90s he joined theLongpigs. He then spent at things around us and i think it can lead to properly and i was embarrassed by it i would
several years playing guitar with Pulp and us not being very observant. one of my sons say to martin, i used to be good, yknow!
building a solo career. in 2006, his fourth has an app that you point toward the sky and martin was patient with me and would hear
album Coles Corner was nominated for the itll tell you what the stars are, which is pretty me getting over the arthritis and playing these
mercury music prize. 2012s acclaimed useful i guess. im not saying these things are licks around our kitchen table to which hed
Standing At The Skys Edge was also nominated bad because i use them all the time, but its go, i heard that! Hes so articulate and such a
for the same honour. Despite critical when it becomes obsessive thats worrying. brilliant lyricist; i mean, Jackie and murphy
recognition, Hawley has never jumped aboard my grandfather used to say, Why bother is just stunning. martin gave me a PRs guitar
a bandwagon, nor given much thought to the watching the weatherman on tV, why not that i use all the time, which was incredibly
upper echelons of the charts (again, despite generous of him. i mentioned to him that
Standing At The Skys Edge puncturing the a guitar id really like is a gibson J-200 to
mainstream). those things dont turn Hawley
on. instead, he has gone about building up a
Falling in

replace the guitar that my dad had in the 60s
and early 70s that was stolen from him when
consistently excellent body of work.
Hollow Meadows is Hawleys eighth
love with i was a little boy. i wanted to get a J-200 and
martin introduced me to a guy called tony
studio album and it marks a return to the
sophisticated songwriting and engaging
the acoustic Werneke at Replay acoustics in Kent. martin
went down and called me straight away to
guitar arrangements that hes become so
widely known for. the record meddles with
guitar was say hed got a 1931 martin 000-18. [Hawley
has since acquired a gibson J-200 and a 1936
the themes of ageing, relationships, and
fallibility the latter down to a pre-Hollow
like hearing martin 00-17 from Replay acoustics, the
latter of which hes photographed with on
Meadows injury that resulted in a bed-bound
Hawley contemplating things in life he never
my dads voice the cover of this issue.] He sent me pictures
and we were both oored by it. thats one of
had before. its brooding, wistful and, at
times, romantic.
again. the finest acoustic guitars ive ever played,
without doubt. mostly, we just sit around the
i had this strange idea that when i became a kitchen table, drinking wine, playing guitar,
certain age, maybe i should start to get fit. i was stick your head out of the window? i dont like and encouraging each other. its a fruitful
perfectly fine before i had this idea, but i went relying blindly on electronic devices. You need relationship where we both gets lots out of
to a friends house who had a home gym and to create a harmony between the things that each other. theres a maker from York called
completely ruined my back doing that. [Hawley are in front of you and technology. i wouldnt Ralph Bown who is a master craftsman. He
had previously broken his leg while on tour, have wished being laid up in bed on anyone, appears on the record martin uses a Bown
and the health regime was an attempt to regain but its a good test of your humanity. You on Long time Down. Weve been talking
fitness.] i was doing things a guy half my age could lay there and get all vitriolic or you could about Ralph possibly making me a guitar.
would be able to do easily, but i ended up pulling allow yourself to notice things that you were thats the thing about this record, though: one
discs here and there, and being laid up in bed previously too busy to notice. of the most profound effects it has had on me
unable to move. there were two ways to get another instrumental factor in Hawleys is that ive gotten really into english guitar
well: surgery, which i refused, or to wait and let revaluation of things around him was makers. alister atkin, Ralph Bown, and Roger
my body heal itself. the thought processes that neighbour and collaborator martin simpson. Bucknall they have all had an impact on the
go through your mind when you dont spend a Richard co-produced martins Vagrant record in their own way.
lot of time with other people are amazing. Stanzas, and martin plays on Hollow more than 40 years ago, sister and brother
any plans for what would become Hollow Meadows Long time Down. although Lal and mike Waterson of folk group the
Meadows would surely have to be put on the simpson only appears on one song, his Watersons made a record. startling original
back burner at his worst, Hawley couldnt inuence dovetailed the direction this album songs touched on the topics of dying children
even sit up long enough to hold a guitar. not takes. Hawleys admiration for martin and drunkenness. the record wasBright
to mention the prescription painkillers that simpson knows no bounds. Phoebus, one of British musics celebrated
only made things worse. coming off them was our wives are sick of us, let me tell you, he lost records and one that would be known
one of the hardest things ive had to endure laughs. i mean, martin simpson has got me as folk musics Sergeant Pepper. two years
mentally far worse than any street drug ive playing banjo! martin and i live close together ago, songs written by Lal and mike for
ever taken. i felt like id been thrown down a lift and i met him because i was asked to present Bright Phoebus were toured by an all-star
shaft and had to claw my way back to daylight. a BBc Folk award to him and, at that point, cast, including Richard Hawley and Jarvis
though at the time he didnt realise it, he wed never met despite living practically next cocker. its clear that the Waterson shadow
was already embarking on Hollow Meadows. door. i went all the way to London to give him is cast not only over Heart of oak a

36 acoustic magazine september 2015


Long-time Hawley
collaborator
Shez Sheridan
Shez Sheridan on Richard Hawley: Richard
and I have known each other since we were at
school. Ive played on every Hawley album and
have played with him live on every tour, too.
Some of our best gigs have been our acoustic
tours. We dont rehearse acoustic stuff very much
but we always try to do acoustic arrangements
differently well get a big sound with a
12-string in drop D. Richard had this idea that
instead of trying to craft the tracks in the studio
at the last minute, he wanted a long run getting
to know the songs. We spent at least a year going
through songs hed recorded on his phone. Ive
never been able to get the same sound playing
with anyone else. Theres just something about
us playing together the two guitars sound like
one. Hes got this attack and way of playing
thats just incredible.

Richard Hawley on Shez Sheridan: Weve


played together for years and we just know where
one or the other is going with a note or chord.
We use our ears more than our hands. When you
play with other musicians, especially guitarists,
we weave in and out and leave space for one
another. On songs like Long Time Down
we do a lot of fast picking and we
leave room where necessary.
It comes with time
and experience as
musicians, being
able to hear each
other is at least
50 per cent
of it!

september 2015 acoustic magazine 37


interview richard hawley

Hawley on 1938
Gibson L-00
Fylde Mike
Waterson
Falstaff Custom
the guitars I used this a lot on the record. Its got a very
direct sound and its quite bright. When we
On one of my tours, John Smith and Lisa
Hannigan played together as the opening act and

that shaped record with it, I describe it as a square shape


it just hits the spot directly and is really
forward sounding. It is a sensitive thing as
John was playing a Fylde and it sounded amazing.
I got chatting to John and he said it was a Falstaff,
which is kind of what this guitar is. Before Mike

the sound
well but when youve got a bass and drums passed, Roger Bucknall told me that Mike had
thing going off, this guitar will slot into the left some Brazilian rosewood that hed salvaged
mix perfectly and snugly. This was from Tony from a sunken ship. We talked about the idea of

ofHollow
at Replay Acoustics. It was lacquered quite commemorating Mikes life with a guitar and the
badly sometime in the early 50s, so even that family gave us their blessing so we went and
is pretty old, but I love it. Its light as a feather built this guitar. Its a great honour for me to own

Meadows
and has a bigger voice than some jumbo something like this and it is a sublime instrument.
guitars. Its loud and a real shouter and it Wed all much rather have Mike with us, but its a
reacts to whatever you do. fitting tribute to a great artist and a great man.

song inspired by his friendship with Norma father, Martin Simpson, Jack Wilcox. my wife that I adore her. I do like to keep
Waterson but entirely over Richard. A romantic at heart, Hawley opens Hollow this kind of stripped-back feel. I got really
There was a big hole, emotionally, for me Meadows with I Still Want You, a tender good at layering stuff up and building riffs
to fill at the time because I hadnt long lost and brooding track with a striking simplicity. [2007s Ladys Bridge] but on this I didnt. I
my father. I wasnt really sure if people of Hollow Meadows lush arrangements, built a cabin in my garden [Disgraceland] and
that generation were around anymore that sophisticated and delicate approach define I spent a lot of time in there and realised
I could make music with or even just listen Hawleys sentiment toward this album. that it was a nice place to record. Instead of
to. I went to Robin Hoods Bay in the North Standing At The Skys Edge had a big sound, going to a big studio and because the last
York Moors National Park as part of a radio but Hollow Meadows was born in his cabin record was such a big sound I did most of
show I was doing and Mike and Norma dubbed Disgraceland with only a couple of it in the cabin. It wasnt a deliberate move
Waterson were there. Little did we know mics and a great sound and shows off his against it; it was more to do with mobility.
that wed have so little time left with Mike. rich voice and love for experimenting with The whole vibe of the record stems from that
We all hit it off straight away. Norma sang different guitars. cabin. We ended up coming down to Yellow
this old folk song a cappella and she floored In a way, theres more than one meaning Arch and taking the demo tapes from the
me. This beautiful, graceful lady with such behind I Still Want You. Its not just about cabin and using them we added bits and
an incredible voice was mind blowing. Even a relationship, but it reflects being let out of bobs here but Shez [Sheridan, co-producer
without all of the stuff about my father it an asylum. The asylum Im referring to is my and guitarist] and I spent a long time getting
would have affected me, but it was great to mobility when I got that back it was like the lyrics and the arrangements perfect. It
meet someone who was so passionate about being set free. I asked myself if I still wanted was the first time Id made an album with
the same things as my father. Heart Of Oak to do all of this, and the answer, I guess, was the lyrics finished before I walked into the
is about Norma, its about Mike, its about my yes. Thats one side to it the other is telling studio. That was a discipline I set myself

38 acoustic magazine september 2015


Fylde High
Strung Melodija Collings
Alexander Menges 0001 ASB
This is in Nashville tuning which is something my My wife bought me this guitar. She saw it in a Martin [Simpson] and I got one of these
father taught me. He was shown this by Ike Everly. junk shop! Its happiest a semitone down and Collings guitars each and theyre very special
I wrote most of the album with this once you doesnt like concert tunings. Ive recorded with to us both. They were made from the same
have a guitar this good in this wonderful tuning, it, but keeping it in tune is a nightmare. It cost piece of wood and when theyre side by side,
you just keep going back to it. I said to Roger that her 28 and these were made in the 1930s in they illustrate how you cant make the same
I needed a great guitar I could record with, but Slovenia. I guess most people would use them guitar twice. Everything was from the same
with the octave strings from a 12-er. He said hed as kindling, but I think its got something really tree, I think same neck wood, same top,
never done anything like that before and itd be an beautiful about it. This guitar lives at my bedside back and sides. Theyre both great guitars,
interesting project, so he constructed this guitar and Ive written more songs on this guitar than of course, but they sound so different.
as an Alexander. It has a piezo pickup and its not I have on any other instrument. I love the fact Its fascinating. For example, mine is a lot
very blingly; I play it as much as I can. I cant big that my wife got it for me. Its not like one of the brighter than Martins. Collings are fabulous
up Bucknall as an artist, luthier, and man enough. Gibsons or the Waterson guitars theres a lot of guitars and I dont think I could ever bear
What hes done for me is incredible and its always weight attached to those theres a lightness of to put a pickup on this. It has a great sound
a pleasure to spend time in his company. heart to this little guitar. and is really punchy.

because I often do things on the fly. The album title for you! That was a couple of believe what I found. In the 17th century,
cabin really influenced me; the simplicity of years ago, and it stuck in my head. When I Hollow Meadows was known as Auley
it was great and we used Yellow Arch as little was laid up, I started looking at what it was Meadows. Us from the north of England,
as possible, actually. about because theres no point in calling we drop the letter H so, Im Richard Auley,
How Hawley landed on the title of the your album something with no meaning phonetically. Auley Meadows changed
album is another nod to Sheffield as are behind it. The things that blew my mind over time and by 1724 it became Hollow
all of his album titles. Richard spent time were the things that I wasnt looking for. My Meadows. It got its original name from the
looking into the name Hollow Meadows, grandfather, Steve Hawley, split up with my Hawley family who lived there between the
which was thought to be the location of a grandmother when my father was really 1300s and the 1600s. Can you imagine what
hospital built in the city and one that existed young in the late 40s/early 50s. At that time, that did to my brain? When I found that out,
as recently as the 1950s. His research led him it was a real faux pas and it caused a bit of it blew my mind. Martin Simpson has this
to find out that the area was actually known embarrassment. My father spent a lot of great book about surnames, and it says that
as Auley Meadows something believed to time living with his cousins and it caused the Hawley name was common in South
derive from the Hawley family name upset for him in later life. We could never Yorkshire and may principally derive from a
I did a lot of research with a friend of find out much about that side of the Hawley lost place near Sheffield named Hawley the
mine, J.P. Bean who wrote The Sheffield family because wed lost contact with my lost place is Hollow Meadows. I dont know
Gang Wars. I found someone on a forum grandparents. So there arent many records about you, but I think its a damn fine place
asking about Hollow Meadows and it was of my fathers side of the family, and while to start writing a fucking record.
weird at the time because a friend of mine I was simultaneously trying to find out Richard Hawleys Hollow Meadows is out on
also said, Oh, Ive just been past this place information about his side of the family, September 11 via Parlophone.
called Hollow Meadows; thatd be a great and this Hollow Meadows name, I couldnt www.richardhawley.co.uk

september 2015 acoustic magazine 39


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gear Taylor 214ce DLX

42 acoustic magazine september 2015


1,099 Crafter DGXE Rose review

Crafter
DGXE Rose
Crafter has certainly hit this guitar with the abalone stick, but is all that glitters
gold? Acoustic finds out

WORDS: sam wise IMAGES: richard ecclestone

O
f all the brands who have the dragon motif, could just as easily adorn
revolutionised the quality of an old school hot-rod. The mahogany neck
affordable guitars, Crafter has a rosewood fingerboard which, rather
are among the most notable; than being bound, has a pinstripe of pale
where once anything less than about 400 wood set in from the edge, and perhaps
would buy you an unplayable warped more notably, an enormous dragon snaking
necked monster with an action you could his way up, presumably having eaten the
drive a bus under, you can now get good, tree of life which was their previously.
playable instrument for prices ordinary The peghead, which proudly wears a set
people can afford and along with the of Gotoh tuners, is emblazoned with yet
likes of Tanglewood, Vintage and Simon more abalone above the standard Crafter
& Patrick, Crafter has been a big part of logo. In short, its hard to think of a place
that. The name hasnt been famous here Crafter could have decorated with abalone
for long, but the company has been trading which they havent; this is a guitar which
with a good reputation in the South Korean demands your attention. Its also very
market since 1972, initially under the name nicely put together; perfectly dressed frets
Sunguem, and now over 60,000 guitars and immaculately executed inlays are the
emerge blinking into the South East Asian order of the day here.
sunlight. Most of them can be considered A sniff of the soundhole, rather
excellent budget instruments, but at over than the more usual woody waft or
1,000, this one demands to be considered overpowering glue stench, smells rather
among a higher class. like the electronics workshops my dad
Lets not mince words here; this guitar is At least here, used to haunt as a younger man; perhaps
covered in bling. Its shiny, sparkly, in your this is explained by the L.R. Baggs LR-T
face and ostentatious, and if understated the presence Premium rig, which features their Element
is your thing, well honey, this aint it. The undersaddle pickup, a soundboard sensor
German spruce top has perhaps the most of Solomons pickup, and a head unit with all the bells
cross silking weve ever seen, and with the and whistles (providing bells and whistles
high gloss finish, it veritably sparkles. The entire beyond a tuner, three-band EQ, presence
top is bound with rosewood, and features control, phase shift and notch filter have
a broad band of abalone purfling. The back storehouse of not been quietly invented; it doesnt make
and sides, which are of rosewood, feature tea for you or anything).
coachlining and a centre stripe. Even the abalone gets Overall, the looks are love it or hate
rosewood bridge has been dipped in the it; for all our appreciation of glittering
abalone pot, with little motifs and abalone your attention. Nashville beauties, this was almost too in-
heads to the bridge pins. The key features your-face for our liking. It certainly needs
are the soundhole and the neck; the former, Try it youll to be good to live up to the price tag, the
which Crafter describes as a ring of fire, decor and the electronics.
features abalone flames inlaid into the be surprised. Thankfully it is really good. Crafter has
rosewood, and while intended to continue made their reputation through guitars

september 2015 acoustic magazine 43


review Crafter DGXE Rose 1,099

Its shiny, sparkly, in


your face and ostentatious
if understated is your thing,
well, this aint it.

Crafter DGXE Rose


need to know
Manufacturer: Crafter
Model: DGXE-ROSE
Retail Price: 1,099
Body Size: Grand auditorium
Made In: Korea
Top: German spruce
Back and Sides: Solid rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Tuners: Gotoh
Nut Width: 45mm
Scale Length: 650mm
Onboard Electronics: L.R. Baggs Element
undersaddle
Strings Fitted: DAddario EXP-26
Gig Bag/Case Included: Padded / hard bag The grand auditorium shape is small enough to be You have to truly love abalone. And flames. And dragons.
accessible and the slightly wider neck and string spacing And did we mention abalone? But that aside, this is a
Acoustic test results great guitar with some tones to scare the big boys.
at the nut make it a pickers delight.
Pros: Fabulous tone, really high build quality.
Cons: You have to truly love abalone. And flames.
And dragons. And did we mention abalone?
Overall: Incredible value for money but, as you can
see, its dressed up like a rhinestone cowboy.
Acoustic Rating
Sound Quality:
Build Quality:
Value for Money:
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.
Contact Details:
Crafter Guitars UK
www.crafterguitars.uk.com You cant ignore the looks of this guitar; if you love it,
you really love it, and if you dont, you probably wont go
near it.

44 acoustic magazine september 2015


045.indd 45 17/08/2015 16:01
review Crafter DGXE Rose 1,099

Theres an indescribable
quality to the tone; it feels
three dimensional in a way
most guitars can only aspire to.

Crafter describes the soundhole as a ring of fire with Plugging in reveals that the L.R. Baggs, while not quite in the The midrange and bass are as you would expect; focussed
abalone flames inlaid, and while intended to continue the league of some of the really fancy systems, does a solid job, and tight, with plenty of projection and power. The string-to-
dragon motif, it could easily adorn an old school hot-rod. reproducing the tone capably and recognisably. string balance is perfect, too.

which scare the living daylights out of and tight, with plenty of projection and recognisably, with the notch filter ensuring
things three times their price, and tonally, power. String-to-string balance is perfect; feeback stays under control even at some
this will do the same thing to much more you can do what you like and nothing pretty high volumes.
expensive guitars. The grand auditorium shouts unpleasantly unless you make a You cant ignore the looks of this guitar;
shape is small enough to be accessible horrible mistake. Dig in a bit more, and if you love it, you really love it, and if
(though your reviewers status as a the bottom end almost seems to tighten up you dont, you probably wont go near it.
registered gorilla hybrid may render this even more; theres not much you can do to Thats a shame for those who dont love it,
advice moot for smaller players), and the overdrive the top of this guitar, and it stayed because its a really fine instrument tonally
slightly wider neck and string spacing at clear avoiding muddiness even when played good enough to win out over some guitars
the nut make it a pickers delight. Spruce really hard. Theres an indescribable quality costing three times as much. If there was
and rosewood guitars are supposed to to the tone; it just feels three dimensional a version with a good deal less bling, and
sound a certain way, and this one really in a way most guitars can only aspire to. presumably a lower price tag to match, it
does; its wonderful. Played gently, the top Even palm muted, the tone is characterful would be a category killer, but would you
end shimmers and glistens wonderfully and alive. Plugging in reveals that the L.R. even pick it up? At least here, the presence
with a crystalline brightness that never Baggs, while not quite in the league of of Solomons entire storehouse of abalone
strays into shrill or glassy. The midrange some of the really fancy systems, does a gets your attention. Try it if you dont,
and bass are as you would expect: focussed solid job, reproducing the tone capably and youre missing out. n

46 acoustic magazine september 2015


047.indd 47 17/08/2015 16:01
gear Taylor 214ce DLX

48 acoustic magazine september 2015


2,299 Capek F5 Mandolin review

Capek
F5 Mandolin Should you get out your chequebook for a mandolin
that aims to put class before crass? Acoustic finds out...

WORDS: alun lower IMAGES: richard ecclestone

T
hose of you out there who keep up and following the strings down to the bridge
with relatively obscure names in reveals an ebony bridge and engraved brass
the guitar-making world may well tailpiece. It all makes for a very traditional,
already be aware of Rosta Capek, a violin-like vibe, which feels eminently classy
luthier based in the Czech Republic that has if thats the kind of thing youre looking
been enjoying an ever-increasing reputation for. However, at this stage Im not getting
for banjos and mandolins. Looking at the price a luthier-built level of excitement from
tag, youd be forgiven for thinking that were the build alone, and thats a little worrying.
dealing with a top-of-the-line example in the Theres nothing wrong, exactly intonation
F5, but in truth this is considered the most basic is spot on, fret finishing is good and its not
model in the range! Now, while were clearly an unattractive instrument by any means (in
dealing with a luthier-built instrument here fact, I generally prefer my guitars simple in
and not a factory-processed clone, the modern appearance), but theres just not any x-factor
guitar market is a damn competitive place, to be had and when youre investing this
even among more niche instruments like much money, that becomes an issue.
mandolins. As such, there are plenty of options Despite reservations about elements of the
available to cash-rich musos looking for their F5s looks, one thing that you simply cant
tiny eight-string fix, and there lies the challenge argue with is the quality of the tones on offer.
for independent luthiers looking to (quite From the first strum, this mandolin simply
literally) carve themselves a piece of the market. shimmers and shines, the notes ringing
If Im being brutally honest, the F5 didnt out with crystal clarity and almost harp-
make the best first impression on me. After a closer inspection makes this even more like harmonics, to my ear. Where I would
reviewing the Lewis mandolin last issue which apparent. The work on the scroll carving is normally like to run out some faster, folky
offers a veritable feast of different tonewoods nothing short of magnificent and its this kind of licks when trying out a mandolin for the first
at less than half the price of the Capek the detail that makes you realise youre dealing with time, with the F5 I was much happier to just
F5 seems a little, well, dull. Theres nothing something thats been lovingly crafted rather sit back and slowly ring out a few chords,
especially good about the finishing for a start than simply manufactured. This is undoubtedly listening intently to the way the sustain and
(in fact I could argue that the area around the a well-made instrument. But on aesthetics and note decay interacted with each other. I was
neck was a little scruffy) yes, its nitrocellulose, finishing quality alone, Im not sure it justifies a a little concerned that the spruce and flamed
but once again this is a feature seen on many 2,000-plus price tag. maple combo would sound a little too bright
mandolins much more reasonable in price. The Partnering the spruce and flamed maple or possibly even brittle for my tastes, but the
sunburst finish has been applied as well as you body is a flamed maple neck topped with Capek sounds much more mature and ready-
would expect but the flamed maple doesnt ebony well finished for the most part but a to-go than I expected. Having said that, I think
possess a strong enough grain to set your world little bit messy where it meets the body. Not that once the tonewods have had time to settle
alight, and most of the other adornments are from a wood carving point of view, but simply and open up with some earnest playtime, the
fairly plain save for the lovely scroll and a case of the finish leaving some imperfections. tone should improve even further and offer up
florentine cutaway(s). The headstock, as with the body, is beautifully even more depth and detail.
However, what is absolutely wonderful is carved and features a fetching ebony veneer Rosta Capek is clearly a very talented
the quality of the woodwork. A cursory glance on either side an attractive touch. The luthier the quality of the woodwork seen
reveals a detailed, sculpted construction and ivoroid binding is clean and well-applied, here and the intricate shaping of the body in

september 2015 acoustic magazine 49


review Capek F5 Mandolin 2,299

The design and woodwork


of the body is exceptional and
so are the tones.
Capek F5 Mandolin
need to know
Manufacturer: Capek
Model: Capek F5
Retail Price: 1,242
Body Style: F5
Made In: Czech Republic
Top: Solid spruce
Back and Sides: Solid curly/flamed maple
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 22
Tuners: Open back Schaller with white buttons
Onboard Electronics: No
Strings Fitted: High quality USA-made
Gig Bag/Case Included: Deluxe hardshell
Acoustic test results
Pros: The tones on offer with this Capek mandolin
The work on the scroll carving is magnificent and its The F5 feels like an instrument that wont ever let you
are marvellous and for the serious mandolin tone this kind of detail that makes you realise youre dealing down if you play or record professionally it practically
fiend, this is a great instrument. with something thats been lovingly crafted. sings of its own accord.
Cons: I felt conflicted by the untidy gloss in some
places and the package lacking that extra bit of particular are proof of that, without a doubt. practically sings of its own accord and this
oomph needed to justify the price tag. What I personally have a bit of an issue with kind of quality starts to make the price tag look
Overall: If youre looking for great tone from a just how basic the package is. Im not asking for that much more reasonable. Elsewhere, the
great luthier, this is for you just make sure youre anything ostentatious, but if youre going to intonation, tuning stability and quality of fret
credit card is handy. have an instrument made from flamed maple finishing is very good indeed and, as such, the
Acoustic Rating priced at over 2,000 then I would expect F5 feels like an instrument that wont ever let
Sound Quality: a bit more. Simple and stripped back can be you down if you play or record professionally.
Build Quality: extremely classy and desirable when you get it All in all, the Capek F5 genuinely feels and
Value for Money: right, but I feel the F5 hasnt quite nailed it here. sounds like a special, handmade instrument
5 Stars: Superb, almost faultless. In addition, I found the gloss finish to be just when you play and hear it its just a shame
4 Stars: Excellent, hard to beat. ever so slightly untidy in a few places. Its not a it doesnt quite look the part while its doing
3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. big issue but even small issues should not be it. Im sure there will be plenty of readers
2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor. present on an instrument in this price range. out there who think Im totally off my rocker
Contact Details: Its not all doom and gloom through as here and absolutely adore every inch of this
The Music Room I said, the actual design and woodwork of mandolin and if thats you, then great!
www.themusicroom-online.co.uk the body is exceptional, and so are the tones. Theres a very good chance youll love the F5
Theres an awful lot of detail and character to even more when you actually sit down with
the F5s voice and this will only get better over one. For anyone else scratching their head and
time. If you have the opportunity to try before wondering what all the fuss is about, Id advise
you buy then just sit back with a few simple taking some extra precaution and testing
chords and let the mandolin do the talking it carefully before making a decision. n

50 acoustic magazine september 2015


051.indd 51 17/08/2015 16:02
052.indd 52 17/08/2015 16:04
35 TC Electronic PolyTune Clip review

TC Electronic
PolyTune Clip
Sleek, super stylish, and easy to use a forward-
thinking polyphonic clip-on tuner from TC becomes
this years gig bag essential.
WORDS: guy little IMAGES: richard ecclestone

I
love gadgets that make my life much sharp or flat this will come in handy when
easier and I always check Ive got a clip- youre on stage and in a panic trying to find the
on tuner around somewhere but the offending string. The PolyTune clip is fast and
problem is that theyve never been too accurate for both polyphonic and single-string
reliable and Ive almost always fallen back on tuning and the clear display is a delight to
my pedalboard TC Tuner or even my iPhone! behold. It really is a lovely, trendy looking piece
There was just something about clip-on tuners of kit as is most stuff from TC. Id happily go
that I didnt get and they didnt get me. on record and say that this is the most elegant
Theres a great DAddario one, I must say, but headstock tuner on the market. Looks arent
with TCs claim of their brand new PolyTune everything though the PolyTune Clip delivers
Clip being the worlds first polyphonic clip-on whether youre tuning a baritone, an acoustic,
tuner, I was a more than a little intrigued. and whether youre dropping to C or up to
I have the TC Electronic PolyTune poly- standard. I tried to catch it out, but I failed. A
chromatic pedal tuner on my board which simple and stunning piece of kit it is, with all
features a stunning display that lets you see all of the power youd get from the TC pedalboard
six strings simultaneously and quickly tune the range. Another nice touch with this forward-
ones that are sharp or flat. Given that TC already thinking clip-on is that it features an adaptive
had this technology to hand, I knew it was only readout display meaning that itll automatically
a matter of time before they would incorporate flip to the proper orientation no matter where
that technology into a pocket-sized clip-on tuner. you decide to attach the padded clip. Plus, it
TCs easy to read displays and polyphonic allows you to commit your favourite tuning
functionality always provide tuning stability mode or pitch to its memory.
literally and metaphorically. Like I say, Ive If thats not enough the strobe tuner in
always got one somewhere. Its reassuring to PolyTune Clip has a +/- 0.02 cent accuracy
see that same power right at the end of your while the MonoPoly instantly recognises
headstock the only thing Id add at this point is whether you paly one or more strings with the
swivel functionality. Its swinging appropriate poly- or monophonic tuning
joint is fine, but a swivel would mode. It really is the holy trinity of
better align it to you line of sight. tuning: polyphonic letting you tune all
Having said this, TCs renowned strings at once chromatic, and strobe
for evolving their product lines tuning modes. It supports flat tunings
quickly and so I would say we can and has a capo mode, too. Plus youll
expect to see more refined versions get 18 hours usage via a standard
before the start of next year. coin battery.
The packaging it arrived in is as slick Theres no other tuner on the
as the tuner itself. Sliding it out of the market that does this much
white, small, simple packing fools you for so little cash. The TC
into thinking you got this at an PolyTune Clip is so much
Apple store. more than a tuner its
Like the other TC PolyTune a gig bag essential that
models, the Clip will let you strum every guitarist must own.
all six strings and see which are www.tcelectronic.com

september 2015 acoustic magazine 53


gear Taylor 214ce DLX

App Extra

54 acoustic magazine september 2015


499 Alvarez AG75CE review

Alvarez
AG75CE
The workhorse guitar of the Alvarez Artist series meets the eyes of Acoustics
reviewers but what is it, exactly, that attracts big-name players to the world of
Alvarez? Is it the R&D, the playability, the price? Or is it all of the aforementioned
WORDS: guy little IMAGES: richard ecclestone

A
lvarez guitars have been selection of Chinese-made guitars available
prominent fixtures in the acoustic that start at just under 200 and move up to
world since St. Louis Music the grander heights of the Masterworks series
established the brand in 1965. and the aforementioned Yairi line. Even the
Working with Japanese luthier Kazuo Yairi Masterworks series retail for under a grand,
(who latterly lent his name to the higher-end though, so theyre a brand clearly fascinated
Alvarez-Yairi instruments), Alvarez has long by great value for money.
balanced value-for-money and great playability Aesthetically, the Alvarez AG75CE is
both on stage and at home. Alvarez counts a real treat. It might be tipping the hat to
players such as Ani Di Franco, Monte Taylors most famous body shape (even the
Montgomery, Bob Weir, Joe Bonamassa, Zakk flat venetian cutaway is a little nod to Bob
Wylde, Steve Hackett, and Devin Townsend & Co. ), but the grand auditorium has some
among some of their players. They all have idiosyncratic flourishes that clearly mark this
reason to acknowledge the forethought that out as an Alvarez take the pickguard and
goes into the Alvarez brand. So, what musical bridge design for starters. The bridge itself
assignments will this set you up for? has a split-level construction to facilitate the
This is where we meet the Alvarez AG75CE optimal angle of the string rake over the saddle
from their Artist Series range and what a thus imparting a large amount of energy
workhouse all-rounder it is. The Alvarez Artist transfer into the guitars top. Likewise, the
Series is a comprehensive line of guitars that tapered wings of the bridge perform a similar
includes dreadnoughts, jumbos, 000s, classical, function but have a thicker mass than where
12-string, acoustic bass, and parlour models. the saddles are seated to impart energy to the
Many are available with built-in electronics,
some with cutaways, and all priced for the
What strikes respective bass and treble sides.
We have a wonderfully tight-grained piece
budget-conscious player.
Its with great pleasure we welcome these
you is the of solid Western red cedar for the top matched
with rosewood back and sides. Interestingly,
instruments here in the UK. Why so? Perhaps
its because the company carries such an elite
clarity of the the piece of rosewood used for the back of the
guitar is much darker than that used for the
list of affiliated players or maybe its because of
their research and development. Alternatively
guitars attack sides. Its so cleanly bookmatched that it could
almost be a single-piece back! Anyway, the
you could be equally switched on to their
surprising affordability but not least of all,
both when darker shade of rosewood used for the back is
a lovely contrast to not just the cedar for the
their catapulting array of sonic qualities.
Its safe to say that Alvarez is having a
fingerpicking soundboard but, too, for the sides. Cream ABS
neatly binds it together.
well-deserved renaissance after the American-
owned brand was reimagined in 2012. The
and using a Elsewhere, weve got a satin-finished,
mahogany neck (its profile has a gentle D cross
guitars are designed in the USA and built in
China yup, another! Theres a wide-ranging
plectrum. section which is substantial and at the same
time wholly comfortable); a rosewood-faced

september 2015 acoustic magazine 55


review Alvarez AG75CE 499

For the price, this guitar


is a clear no-brainer.
Its ease of control in live
situations is a real asset...

Alvarez AG75CE
need to know
Manufacturer: Alvarez
Model: AG75CE
Retail Price: 499
Body Size: Grand auditorium
Made In: China
Top: Solid western red cedar
Back and Sides: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 21
Tuners: Premium die cast
Nut Width: 44.45mm
Scale Length: 648mm
Onboard Electronics: B-Band SYS550
Strings Fitted: DAddario EXP
Gig Bag/Case Included: No
Acoustic test results The battery is locataed at the lower bout with a jack input The sound on offer is powerful and both the treble and bass
Pros: Well-made, solid top, great tonewoods, and and XLR input. The B-Band uses an under saddle pickup registers are clearly present and balanced in relation to
and the sound it reproduces is far from synthetic. each other with no tonal dynamics lost when you detune.
a slice of higher end beauty and tone without the
asking price.
Cons: Give us a case or bag with it! Tuners a little headstock and fingerboard; sparkling high- recording and playing live, but more on that
chunky and look a bit out of place here. gloss finish; tastefully understated abalone and later. Examined from inside and out, youd
Overall: A great sounding, well-made guitar mother-of-pearl inlays; bone nut and saddle struggle to find a flaw as the workmanship is
with performance in mind. The true definition and Alvarezs forward shifted scalloped X as clean as youd find on a guitar in a much
of workhorse. braces. Alvarez call the forward shifted X higher price bracket. Alavarez has decades
Acoustic Rating brace design the FSTM. Both the X braces of experience making guitars in Japan. This
Sound Quality: and asymmetric tone bars are scalloped, and knowledge has been effectively transferred
Build Quality: moving the system forward allows for a larger into this Chinese-made guitar. The neck
Value for Money: soundboard, which they have optimised with a stability and subsequent set-up is beautifully
5 Stars: Superb, almost faultless. solid maple bridge plate for both strength and well executed making the playing experience
4 Stars: Excellent, hard to beat. energy transference. a joy. But how does it sound?
3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. Other than the slightly futuristic shape of Firstly, this guitar is made with performance
2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor. the split-level bridge, and the inlaid twelfth and recording in mind. Weve got the SYS550
Contact Details: fret, the Alvarez is far from blingy its system onboard, designed by B-Band, which
Alvarez Guitars not made to be a showy guitar, remember, is a pro level EQ and pickup that really does
www.alvarezguitars.com this is a workhorse instrument designed for reproduce the sound of the guitar closely

56 acoustic magazine september 2015


057.indd 57 17/08/2015 16:05
review Alvarez AG75CE 499

Its a thoroughly well-


made guitar and its about
as close to definition workhorse
as you could get.

Firstly, this guitar is made with performance and Alvarez call the forward shifted X brace design the Youd struggle to find a flaw on this guitar as the
recording in mind. Weve got the SYS550 system FSTM. Both the X braces and asymmetric tone bars workmanship is as clean as youd find on an instrument
onboard, designed by B-Band, are scalloped in a much higher price bracket.

with great clarity its effortless to use, too, granted by the cutaway. Its not as powerful as is the clarity and evenness of the guitars
meaning that if youre in a tricky situation its dreadnought cousins would be, of course, attack both when fingerpicking and using
on stage, youll be able to easily remedy any butwhere its strength lies is in the clarity and a plectrum. The evenness of tone is a great
outcome with this unit. The battery pack is precision of the top-end frequencies. Its an asset for recording duties.
locataed at the lower bout with a standard exciting and responsive guitar to play. Dig in For the price, this guitar is a clear no-
jack input and XLR input. The B-Band uses and it shouts right back at you, treat it gently brainer. The performance mindset is matched
an undersaddle pickup and the sound it and itll whisper with the gentlest touch. by its evenness of tone and ease of control in
reproduces is far from synthetic. The SYS550 Alvarezs tops are hand selected from live situations and the XLR input is a huge
also has a backlit chromatic digital tuner along quarter-sawn wood, thus ensuring consistent plus for people hooking up to DI boxes. Its a
with volume, notch, treble, bass, middle and quality and here the quality of the solid cedar thoroughly well-made guitar with a good bit
presence controls. top comes to life with a piano-like ring and of history behind the brand, and its about
The sound on offer is powerful and both the sustain. To be honest, the tuners are a bit of as close to definition workhorse as you could
treble and bass registers are clearly present an eyesore (but theyre perfectly functional). get. Theres a reason Joe Bonamassa takes an
and balanced in relation to each other with no The Alvarez AG75CE has a strong voice Alvarez on tour with him and do you really
tonal dynamics lost when you detune or start to and is evenly responsive and resonant. It need more motive that that to check one out?
move up to the higher echelons of the fretboard rings out brightly and what strikes you Thought not. n

58 acoustic magazine september 2015


059.indd 59 17/08/2015 16:06
gear Taylor 214ce DLX

App Extra

60 acoustic magazine september 2015


400 Tanglewood Sundance Delta Historic review

Tanglewood
Sundance
Delta Historic
All-mahogany guitars are ten a penny these days, but where does the new
Tanglewood Sundance Delta fit into whats become a fiercely competitive
market? Acoustic has the answers
WORDS: guy little IMAGES: richard ecclestone

T
here have been lots of glowing unquestionably laminated mahogany (and that
Tanglewood reviews in recent issues shouldnt really matter these days anyway), but
of Acoustic offering great value for the top is all-solid mahogany and it seems to be
money in a crowded marketplace, a nice piece, indeed. It shows a lot of the woods
but the Sundance Delta is one with a fight on its figuring and is finished with a simple soundhole
hands. Its not only competing in a competitive rosette design matching that of the tops binding:
sub-500 marketplace, but its doing so in what fine black and white ABS. It looks elegant set
has almost become a sub niche of the acoustic off against the grain of the mahogany. The gloss
guitar world: all-mahogany guitars. In doing so, finish is applied perfectly, too, without so much
the Tanglewood puts itself up against rivals from as any unevenness on the top, back or the sides.
some of the biggest manufacturers on the planet No build up at the heel either good signs from
such as Martin and Taylor and not to mention stuff coming from China, then. That attention
the likes of Sigma and Faith, both latterly to detail is also evident in the playability of the
offering all-mahogany guitars for around the TW40, which is about as good as youll find on
500 mark. Better get the boxing gloves out any acoustic guitar in a similar price range. The
then, eh? neck is the usual comfortable but widish D shape
The Sundance Delta range has three models were used to on a lot of Tanglewood guitars
within it: the orchestra we have for review here and each fret on the rosewood fingerboard is
(TW40 O D), a slope-shouldered dreadnought, perfectly seated and dressed. The DAddario
and a parlour so right away, if an orchestra-
sized or folk-sized guitar isnt your thing,
This is a 12-54 gauge strings are set at a medium action
making the guitar comfortable to play, yet
theyll have you covered with one of the others.
This is another guitar designed in the UK and
well made, absolutely buzz- and rattle-free. A rosewood
bridge marks the end of the string length with
manufactured in China something we see a
lot now and manufacturers are keen to keep
dependable an ABS ivory compensated saddle in its midst
and six white string pins just behind.
away from guitar shaped object tags because
of its factory origin. The Tanglewood TW40 O
guitar for As this guitar has a solid mahogany top and
not a laminated one, the actual sound and
Ds body size is based on the classic Martin OM
guitars of the 30s and 40s and immediately feels
an amateur response of this guitar will improve over time.
Laminate tops tend not to change or mature in
welcome on your knee its a familiar size, with
familiar tonewoods, and hopefully that familiar
player on a tone, whereas solid tops will get better as the
years or even months pass. It does have
Tanglewood value for money. Lets find out
At this price, the back and sides are
budget. laminated back and sides to keep the price
down, but dont let that worry you some of the

september 2015 acoustic magazine 61


review Tanglewood Sundance Delta Historic 400

As this guitar has a


solid mahogany top and
not a laminated one, the
sound will improve over time.

Tanglewood
Sundance Delta Historic
need to know
Manufacturer: Tanglewood
Model: Sundance Delta Historic TW40 O D
Retail Price: 400
Body Size: Orchestra
Made In: China
Top: Solid mahogany
Back and Sides: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 20
Tuners: Enclosed chrome
Nut Width: 44.5mm
Scale Length: 650mm
Onboard Electronics: No
Strings Fitted: DAddario 12-53
Gig Bag/Case Included: No Aside from anything else, this guitar will look cooler the A rosewood bridge marks the end of the string length with
more road-worn it becomes so if this guitar is for you, an ABS ivory compensated saddle in its midst and six
Acoustic test results gig it and give it that character it deserves. white string pins just behind.
Pros: Good looks, solid top for under 500, and a
great reputation behind the brand.
Cons: No case, pickup or character to shout about. worlds finest jazz guitars often use laminate the midrange or muddying of bass notes. Its not
Overall: A well-made guitar from a reputable brand woods and the extra strength they offer can be loud by dreadnought standards, but by orchestra
with a history of delivering great value-for-money useful. In fact, sometimes the use of laminate guitar standards, it packs a punch. It can be
acoustics but do check out what else you can get for the back and sidescan tighten up the tone. If tamed with some delicate fingerstyle noodling,
at this particular price point first. all-mahogany guitars have a weakness, it tends but it will certainly cut through when you need
Acoustic Rating to be that they can sound somewhat soft, but it to overtake the mandolins or banjos. The
Sound Quality: this Tanglewood doesnt fall prey to that. This sound is clear, defined, and expressive dont
Build Quality: guitar is loud and punchy Ive got a hunch that be fooled into thinking all-hog guitars are only
Value for Money: the laminate is doing that. The guitar can sound warm or mellow (sure, some are, but get out and
5 Stars: Superb, almost faultless. a little brash when played with a pick, but wed try before you buy!).
4 Stars: Excellent, hard to beat. expect that side of its character to mellow out a One things clear with Tanglewood: they
3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. bit as that solid top matures. are good guitars because they deliver all the
2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor. The projection when picking or strumming is essentials of what constitutes a dependable,
Contact Details: great and drop down into alternate tunings like easy-playing and good-sounding workhorse
Tanglewood Guitars drop D and open G, and the tonal properties stick instrument. Theyre well-made and reward your
www.tanglewoodguitars.co.uk theres even definition without losing any of playing, yet at the same time are ones that you

62 acoustic magazine september 2015


063.indd 63 17/08/2015 17:23
review TanglewooD SunDance DelTa HiSToric 400

The body size is based


on the classic Martin OMs
of the 30s and 40s and so it
feels welcome on your knee.

one things clear with Tanglewood: they are good guitars while theres a second strap button at the heel (alluding if all-mahogany guitars have a weakness, it tends to be
because they deliver all the essentials of what constitutes a to live performance), theres no pickup here. Should you that they can sound somewhat soft, but this Tanglewood
dependable, easy-playing and good-sounding instrument. need to put one in yourself, it wouldnt be much of a fuss. doesnt fall prey to that.

dont need to feel too precious about knocking or package? not so much. tanglewood would need the guitar needs its own character to stand out.
taking down to the pub for the open mic. its not a case and pickup included for that. thats not a martin 000-15m has that all-hog character
going to win in a tonal shoot out with a martin to say it isnt a good guitar, because it is, but if and when you play it you just know its a martin
but not much would. youve got around 400 500 to spend, you but, having said that, it costs a grand (unless
Details such as the second strap button and could see yourself with all-solid, all-hog, case, you search eBay and find one for around 600).
the gloss finish top add to the guitars workhorse pickup and all so be sure that youve looked at there is so much competition in this price
appeal. While theres a second strap button at everything on offer. some cheaper tanglewood range and that makes it difficult to assertain
the heel (alluding to live performance), theres no models come with a case, so im unsure why where to place value for money when you
pickup here. Perhaps thats something we could they wouldnt offer one here when all of their can get other guitars with a case and pickup
see from tanglewood at a later date, but should rivals do. if that were the case and you can for around the same amount of cash. What
you need to put one in yourself, it wouldnt be excuse the pun then this guitar would be up this tanglewood is, though, is a well-made,
too much of a fuss. there as a great value for money package. its dependable guitar for an amateur player on a
so, the rivals can it stand up to them? on also just a very good guitar it doesnt have budget. aside from anything else, this guitar
tonal virtues alone, then yes. it does sound as any big character to shout about. it struggles to will look cooler the more road-worn it becomes
good as some others in a similar price range. get away from the guitar shaped box aspect so if this guitar is for you, gig it and give it that
But can it stand up to them as a complete mentioned earlier its a good one, sure but character it deserves.

64 acoustic magazine september 2015


065.indd 65 17/08/2015 16:07
gear Taylor 214ce DLX

App Extra

66 acoustic magazine september 2015


5,100 Avalon L1-390CB review

Avalon
L1-390CB
An Avalon from the upper echelons of the custom Celtic world in
Newtownards, Northern Ireland, sends us into a fingerstyle frenzy

WORDS: Guy Little IMAGES: richard ecclestone

T
here have many Avalon sheer class when you open the Hiscox case.
Guitars featured within It really is something to behold and the
these pages, and each one figuring on both the Ziricote and cedar is
of them has demonstrated a treat. I like the plain ebony fingerboard
impeccable attention to detail and flawless just a Celtic triquetra inlayed in abalone at
construction. The guitar we have here is the twelfth fret. Nice. Elsewhere, spec-wise,
a custom shop model of the highest order theres an Ox bone nut and split saddle,
from their workshop in Newtownards, an ebony bridge with ebony pins, and a
Northern Ireland, and like every other largeish but quite flat mahogany neck
Avalon featured, it is immaculate in terms with some GoToh tuners topping it off.
of construction, finishing, and playability. The neck is a five-piece comprising
The Avalon L1-390CB is a bit of a mahogany, sycamore and rosewood;
mouthful, but lets clear that up, shall we? the fingerboard is ebony and bound
Their referencing system is based around with bloodwood and sycamore and the
letters to denote the body size; the first headstock is overlaid with rosewood over
number is the soundboard, and the second a layer of sycamore. The neck has a unique
number is the back and sides tonewood. custom build option, too: it has Avalons
Finally, the last letter(s) tells us what extra fingerstyle neck profile. This means it is
features we have. So the letter L denotes a a little wider at the nut and splays wider
jumbo body size, the 1 tells us that it has a toward the body giving more separation
cedar top (Alaskan, since you ask), and the between the strings for the right hand.
390 means we have Ziricote back and sides. The 47mm nut width is a custom option
The C is for the cutaway, and the B refers The thats been requested on this review guitar,
to the bevel. Phew. The L1-390CB is from but by way of contrast, Avalon offers
Avalons Arc series which all feature a excellence two variations of the fingerstyle neck
bevel or two! It has to be noted, however, a standard taper and a wide taper.The
that when ordering from Avalon, you will of Avalon standard taper goes from 44mm at the nut
have a degree of control over what features to 56mm at the fourteenth fret and the wide
to include if you dont like bevels, dont instruments taper from 45mm to 60mm from nut to
order them. It really is as simple as that. fourteenth fret.
Firstly, with this being a custom model, truly renders Then theres the bevel this is a bit of
its not overly ostentatious. Yes, we have a Marmite thing as some players seem to
some incredible abalone shell on the you speechless. adore them, others not so much. Im in the
soundhole rosette and binding, but other former camp its a lovely addition to this
than that, its a toned-down Avalon in The build Avalon and is beautifully inlaid with that
terms of looks when comparing it to some abalone with a kind of flick to the start of
weve previously featured (honestly, it is..). quality is the bevel and where it ends; almost like the
It is still a pretty niche guitar, though, and flick of a paintbrush if it had been dipped in
theres a certain player in mind after all, flawless. abalone shell. Take a look at the pictures
it is a custom build! The guitar just screams youll see what I mean straight away.

september 2015 acoustic magazine 67


review Avalon L1-390CB 5,100

It really is something to
behold and the figuring
on both the Ziricote and
cedar is a treat.

Avalon L1-390CB
need to know
Manufacturer: Avalon
Model: L1-390CB
Retail Price: 5,100 (4,950 without a pickup)
Body Size: Jumbo
Made In: Northern Ireland
Top: Alaskan Cedar
Back and Sides: Ziricote
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 20
Tuners: GoToh SG381
Nut Width: 47mm
Scale Length: 648mm
Onboard Electronics: Schatten HFN under bridge
Strings Fitted: High quality USA-made
Gig Bag/Case Included: Hiscox
Acoustic test results The neck has Avalons fingerstyle neck profile. This Theres a separation to the notes that makes it possible
means it is a little wider at the nut and splays wider to hear everything you play with equal clarity and the
Pros: Stunning build quality with tonal attributes sustain is great, too.
toward the body giving more string separation.
to die for and Avalons reputation is practically
second to none. The Ziricote party constitutes the high Avalon says that Ziricote has a unique
Cons: Some wont like that bevel, but its a custom price of this guitar, but look at that colour appearance, rarely mistaken for any other
build so if you dont want it, you can order without; spilling from rich, dark chocolate into an wood with its beautiful spiderwebbing
aside from that, the price will deter many. amber flash where bookmatched. If you patterns and thats apparent here. This
Overall: A wonderful guitar with plenty of Irish could eat it, Im sure itd be delicious. Theres Central American wood has a tone similar
charm for DADGAD musings and strumming alike. a second strap peg on this Avalon and it to Indian rosewood. The guitar hasnt long
Acoustic Rating has a pickup in there (youd never notice been off the bench, but the sound is warm
Sound Quality: it tucked away so neatly), so its clearly got and almost broken in the use of cedar for
Build Quality: performance in mind. The pickup fitted is the top will have something to do with this
Value for Money: the Schatten HFN under bridge system and as it has a shorter break-in time. The cedar
5 Stars: Superb, almost faultless. from our (separate) tests of this unit, its produces quite a warm tone when combined
4 Stars: Excellent, hard to beat. as close to the sound of a great quality mic with the Ziricote and it has a clean, fast
3 Stars: Good, covers all bases well. that youre likely to get in such a compact attack when picked.
2 or 1 Stars: Below average, poor. system. Anyway, this adds 150 to the The Avalon was happy in standard
Contact Details: price of this model brining it to a whopping tuning, but it really came to life when
Avalon Guitars 5,100 (the base model without a pickup will picked in DADGAD we even got it down
www.avalonguitars.com cost you 4,950). to open C tuning without a fuss. The tonal

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review Avalon L1-390CB 5,100

The dynamic range is


stunning chord work to
fingerstyle chops are ably
catered for.

The cedar top produces quite a warm tone when combined Theres a second strap peg on this Avalon, and it has Avalon says that Ziricote has a unique appearance, rarely
with the Ziricote back and sides and it has a clean, fast a pickup in there (youd never notice it tucked away so mistaken for any other wood with its beautiful spider
attack when picked. neatly), so its clearly got performance in mind. webbing patterns and thats apparent here.

character is akin to that of a piano; its clear, The bass response is great, too. After for anyone who is still seeking perfection
balanced, and articulate over all strings in some exploratory tunes played in DADGAD from an instrument.
all places on the neck. The dynamic range and open C, the Avalon was drop tuned to I havent yet commented on value for
really is stunning everything from chord D and the guitar retained all its precision money. Clearly, at over 5,000, this guitar
work to fingerstyle chops are ably catered of tone with the bass cutting through isnt going to be an impulse purchase
for though its happy place is DADGAD, of enough without cluttering the midrange. (well, not for most of us, at least!), but with
course, with no drop in sound quality along Admittedly, playing a guitar with your handmade guitars from several other key
the way. fingers yields a sumptuous tone, but makers priced at over 6,000 (and still not
Even after just a few open string chords, played with a pick, chords just sing out exorbitant compared to some US makers) the
you just know that this guitar has first with a considerable amount of volume and Avalon looks like pretty reasonable value for
class tonal attributes. Theres a separation projection. Amazing crispness comes to life what youre getting. If youre in the market
to the notes that makes it possible to hear with fingerstyle. for a top quality guitar in this price range,
everything you play with equal clarity and The excellence of Avalon instruments Avalon guitars should be at the top of your
the sustain is great. The harmonics seem to truly renders you speechless. The build list. With consistent, stunning build quality,
be playing on another level. Singing out at quality of this guitar is of an incredibly high idiosyncratic styling, superb playability and
the twelfth fret in an otherworldly bloom of standard and the fact that you can build in tone by the barrow-load, I suspect youll fall
sonic delight, they just ring and ring. your custom variations is an amazing asset for that Irish charm, too. n

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gear Taylor 214ce DLX

74 acoustic magazine september 2015


339 LAG Tramontane T100ASCE review

LAG
Tramontane
T100ASCE
LAGs Tramontane auditorium acoustic has been on a diet, but is the tone
slimline too? Acoustic finds out

Words: Sam Wise Image: Richard Ecclestone

L
AG has been designing and making headstock, which has a nice carve to it, and
guitars in France since 1978. Like most wears a set of proprietary closed back tuners,
manufacturers, while they design black to match the deep darkness of the rest of
their instruments in France, the less the neck. The bridge, once again a LAG signature
expensive models are manufactured in the Far design, has a compensate graphite saddle, which
East, in this case China. we rarely see on other acoustics.
The T100ASCE is a slimline auditorium body Electronics-wise, the undersaddle pickup is
shape, clearly designed to be played plugged in paired with a Shadow-produced head unit that
most of the time, since when using the piezo, LAG call the StudioLAG Plus. This has a tuner,
the tone, always heavily dependent on the top, tone and volume controls, and an unusual EQ
has even less influence from the chamber of the preset control. It has five settings, all of them
body or the back and sides. Slimming down the analogue EQ rather than any kind of digital
guitar this way theoretically cuts down on the modelling. A 32-band studio EQ has been used
likelihood of feedback, but at the cost of acoustic to create an output boost, a mid cut, a jazz tone
tone and volume. with the treble rolled off, and more. Setting 0
The top here is red cedar, a relatively is the guitars natural tone with no effect from
unusual choice compared to the various types this control, and then there is a separate bypass
of spruce, known for its warm, rich tone. button which removes all the controls on the
All the Tramontane models have an elegant head unit from the signal path.
soundhole rosette, a sweeping asymmetric
mahogany shape which flatters the guitar a lot,
Its an Overall, the T100ASCE has quite a unique
look; you could consider some aspects of the
especially set against the richness of the cedar.
Top, back and sides are bound in mahogany
even more appearance quite electric guitar like, and
certainly the Tramontane series all stand
and maple, and classy it looks too, setting off
the sapele veneered laminate back and sides
impressive out from other identikit acoustics. For us, its
a successful look; it feels professional, and
in a luxurious fashion. The neck is of Khaya, a
tropical mahogany derivative, and is topped with
package luxurious without going overboard with bling.
The guitar is also impeccably put together, with
a rosewood fingerboard which seems to have a
very flat radius indeed. In fact, the neck has a
plugged in the binding, in particular, beautifully executed;
the T100ASCE will make you feel like the owner
real electric guitar feel, with its slim C section,
and broad heel. There are 20 chunky frets
than when it is of something a bit special.
Picking this up, we were expecting the
with no position markers. At the top, a graphite
nut signals the start of the LAG trademark
unplugged. unplugged sound to be thin and underpowered,
but the tone was, in fact, a pleasant surprise.

september 2015 acoustic magazine 75


review LAG Tramontane T100ASCE 339

This is a lot of guitar


for the money in many
different ways. Its a
handsome and unique looker.

LAG Tramontane T100ASCE


need to know
Manufacturer: LAG
Model: Tramontane T100ASCE
Retail Price: 339
Body Size: Slimline auditorium
Made In: China
Top: Solid western red cedar
Back and Sides: African sapele
Neck: Tropical khaya
Fingerboard: Indian rosewood
Frets: 20
Tuners: Gotoh
Nut Width: 43mm
Scale Length: 650mm
Onboard Electronics: StudioLag Plus
Strings Fitted: DAddario EXP
Gig Bag/Case Included: No
Acoustic test results The tone works well for fingerstyle, the warmth of the mids The undersaddle pickup is paired with a Shadow-produced
making pretty stuff very pleasant, and with a little more head unit that LAG call the StudioLAG Plus. This has a tuner,
Pros: Unique luxurious looks, great plugged-in tone sparkle on the top end than you might be expecting. tone and volume controls, and an unusual EQ preset control.
Cons: Theres a tiny compromise to the unplugged
tone, but were splitting hairs here.
Overall: A great stage and studio guitar which
doesnt disgrace itself at the kitchen table either.
Acoustic Rating
Sound Quality:
Build Quality:
Value for Money:
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.
Contact Details:
LAG Guitars UK
(Distributed by Marshall Amplification)
uk.lagguitars.com Its probably a box that suits those who like the mellower
sound of cedar, but its a far better all-round package
than you will be expecting when you see the slim body.

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review laG TramonTane T100aSce 339

Plugged in, its clear the


guitar is in its element;
the slim body is impressively
resistant to feedback.

if you want a great guitar that has all the plugged in The guitar is impeccably put together, with the binding in The T100aSce probably has a fuller bass than some full
benefits of this body type, while avoiding almost all the particular beautifully executed; the T100aSce will make depth guitars you can find in this price range; just dont
compromises, give the T100aSce a try. you feel like the owner of something a bit special. expect it to sound like a deep-bodied mcPherson.

the cedar top may be a contributor here; when driven hard, but theres no evidence of styling. all in all, its an even more impressive
the trademark warm, soft-edged trebles are that here. in fact, the acoustic tone absolutely package plugged in than when it is unplugged.
evident with a rich midrange and while the defeated our expectations; we were assuming this is a lot of guitar for the money in many
bass doesnt have the depth you might expect that something clearly designed as a stage and ways. its a handsome and unique looker (not
from a deeper bodied guitar, the impact is studio weapon would be severely compromised unique among the tramontane range, but
minimal. in fact, the t100asce probably has when unplugged, but we wouldnt hesitate to certainly well differentiated from the crowd),
a fuller bass than some full depth guitars you pick this guitar up at the kitchen table, a jam its predictably impressive plugged in, and
can find in this price range; just dont expect session or anywhere else it wont embarrass surprisingly good unplugged. its probably a
it to sound like a deep-bodied mcPherson. you, looks- and performance-wise. guitar that suits those who like the mellower
the tone works really well for fingerstyle, Plugged in, its clear the guitar is in its element; sound of cedar, but its a far better all-round
the warmth of the mids making pretty stuff the slim body is impressively resistant to package than you will be expecting when
very pleasant, and with a little more sparkle feedback, and the eQ presets allow you to quickly you see the slim body. so, if you want a great
on the top end than you might be expecting and easily dial in a tone you like. theyre not guitar that has all the plugged in benefits of
from this topwood. Dig in, and theres plenty needed though; the guitars tone is echoed pretty this body type, while avoiding almost all the
of headroom despite the shallow body; cedar effectively, with just a little extra piezo punch, compromises, give the t100asce a try its
has a reputation for sometimes muddying up but even that feels in keeping with the guitars likely to surprise you.

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079.indd 79 17/08/2015 16:12
gear play it again

1942 C.F. Martin & Co.


herringbone D-28
For the inaugural feature from Kents Replay Acoustics, Tony Werneke starts
with an industry icon and a guitar by which all others are judged the pre-war
herringbone D-28 or the Holy Grail guitar

H
aving had the privilege of since. The first dreadnought guitars were at Martin to produce the best guitars that
handling a great number of manufactured by Martin for the Oliver Ditson they possibly could and of the finest materials
Martin and Gibson acoustics, its Company, a publishing firm based in Boston. the earth could provide. This meant superb
clear that the herringbone D-28 The guitars werent sold with the Martin tonewoods aged in a natural environment
is the king of the dreadnought and the guitar name on them, but rather were marketed in for many years along with construction
that is, and always will be, emulated by past, Boston and New York under the Oliver Ditson features and dimensions that walked the
current and future guitar builders. brand name, beginning in 1916 so one can edge of viability. Martin created guitars in
The dreadnought was born of a need for a trace the dreadnoughts history back 100 this era that were thin, light and beautifully
more powerful 14-fret instrument not only to years in 2016! shaped and braced. They aimed to produce the
accompany large bands, but also as a stand- That background lays the framework thinnest bracing one could create yet still hold
alone instrument with power at the bass end for the pre-war D-28. It was built at a time the top together and use the finest tonewoods
and with crystalline clarity something that when commercial pressures were evident available honed to the thinnest dimensions.
was an orchestra in itself. 1931 saw the birth as in any business, but were not the driving This brings us to the 1942 C.F. Martin & Co.
of the dreadnought under the C.F. Martin logo force behind the decisions Martin made in herringbone D-28.
and it has grown in popularity since to become designing their guitars. During the pre-war We start with solid, straight-grained
the most popular style of acoustic guitar ever era, there was a purity to the art and a vision luthiers choice Brazilian rosewood for the

80 acoustic magazine september 2015


The herringbone D-28 is the
king of the dreadnought and the
guitar that is, and always will
be, emulated by past, current
and future builders.
rims and the two-piece back. A luscious nut- it all vibrates and reverberates in ways this. The depth of dimension, the complexity
brown pervades this guitar visually, giving it nothing else does. We all love that feel in of the harmonics and the willingness of the
the appearance of a ruddy, Georgian bureau the chest when your playing lights up a rosewood all combine to create a voice that
in colour eye candy, huh? guitar in your lap and this has that feeling in will enrich your experience to the end of your
The top is of solid Adirondack red spruce spades because of its light construction and playing days. You will find a complexity that
which would have been tap tested for sound venerable age. you will never truly master and a haunting
capability before being chosen for use and The Adirondack top is bound with a sound that is often compared to only that of
theres a lovely, wide grain running to a very fine and delicate herringbone inlay a cathedral. The herringbone D-28 is a guitar
tighter pattern at the outside edges with that was imported from Germany and few will be able to afford, but one that all
wafer thinness and scalloped bracing. The ultimately disappeared from use after the should have the opportunity to play.
bridgeplate is a thin and small maple example. war until it was reintroduced with the A client of mine was in the gallery one
The back strip is the renowned zigzag new Herringbone HD-28 in 1976, which day when a 1943 herringbone D-28 was here
design and the inlay at the strap button is a was the first time Martin looked back to and he spent around two hours noodling
beautifully shaped tapered piece of cellulose. capture the essence of their earlier success. around in the harmonics. Eventually he
The 25.4-inch scale, 14-fret neck is solid The soundhole has the now-standard D-28 stopped, obviously rather perplexed yet a
mahogany with a carved volute at the purfling and is accompanied by a lovely, ruby little sanguine. Looking at me, he uttered an
nut. It is mounted with a snowflake inlaid red faux-tortoise teardrop pickguard and expletive that I wouldnt dare print, and at
ebony board, most likely covering an ebony slotted ebony bridge. which point he proceeded to the door and
neck rod. (A 1940s example that I also Now to the hard part: the sound. How left. Latterly, I received an email to tell me
have is much heavier than this example do you describe a guitar that is so complex that he was really upset because none of his
which bodes well for a steel T-bar rod in that it belies your experiences with acoustic guitars at home would ever sound anything
that earlier example). The headstock has a guitars? The herringbone does that and, once like they once did after hearing the 42 D-28
lovely thinness to it and sharp shoulders. It played, changes your musical perspectives. and, trust me, he has some great guitars! It
is mounted with original Yoda-head open Having had the privilege of having four took him around a month to push the bone
back unmarked tuners with a 6:1 ratio. The of these guitars here at the gallery at one out of his head and to return to his stable
heel of the neck is a sculpted French heel time, I had the opportunity to play them of stringed instruments with a forgiving
capped with a bit of white celluloid. From back to back and to have others play them attitude. So, that is the power of the great
a playing perspective, the radius is a true back to back. What I found out during that and deservedly celebrated C.F. Martin & Co.
C shape with a shallow profile which pulls exercise was an enlightening experience. herringbone D-28 the daddy of them all!
your hand into the neck, giving you an easy All of the guitars sounded different and For more information on the 1942 C.F. Martin &
and welcoming feel. felt different but they were all better than Co. D-28, visit the Replay Acoustics website.
Everything about this guitar is thin and any other guitar Id played in my time doing www.replayacoustics.co.uk

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feature workshop

THE

WORKSHOP
LINDA
MANZER

Linda Manzer, Larrive apprentice turned luthier extraordinaire, has cultivated a


reputation as one of the finest guitar builders on the planet, creating guitars for Pat
Metheny, Paul Simon, and Carlos Santana among others. Acoustic caught up with
the Canadian maker at the annual Sarzana Acoustic Guitar Meeting
WOrDS: sTEphEN BENNETT

W
hile acknowledging the base in the sun-drenched, ultra-laid back setting the Pikasso (with its aforementioned, just-the-42
existence of the opposite sex of the sarzana acoustic guitar meeting, just a strings) which the jazz giant subsequently,
in his own inimitable way, few (though in some ways a million) miles inland successfully, tamed into performing jaw-dropping
James Brown always insisted from the fashion-mistake walnut tans and micro- musical feats on both stage and record. theres a
that, this is a mans world. He probably wasnt swimwear of the oh-so-chic tuscan Riviera. lot more to it than that, mind, and here, nursing a
thinking about the Kalamazoo gals of the the annual festival, organised by genial cappuccino as a milanese bluegrass combo kicks
early-1940s, who took on their conscripted mens padrone alessio ambrosi, takes place within the off down in the dried-up moat and the early axe-
work during the us war years to produce what is towering stone walls of a wonderfully-preserved invaders start to stream across the drawbridge (we
now recognised as gibsons greatest ever line of medieval castle thats seen occupation by all did say it was different), manzer begins the story
banner headstock acoustics. no. James wasnt manner of princes, pirates and potentates down a few years earlier when she introduced canada
thinking lutherie. and he clearly never met the years. now, thankfully, the luthiers have it to the Beatles, in fact. Well her fifth grade
Linda manzer who, alongside established female held in peaceful alliance with some of the worlds classmates, at least.
star names like Kathy Wingert and prodigiously most renowned acoustic performers on the on her return from visiting family in england
talented up-and-comers, sharleen simmons and courtyards fabulously dramatic outdoor stage. as a child, Linda found herself one step ahead
fellow-canadian, Peggy White, makes some of the Linda manzers hushed-tones reputation in of the mop-top wave, armed as she was with
worlds finest and most sought after six (and lets the guitar world is partly due to her 30-odd year a publicity photograph featuring, in amongst
not forget, forty-two) stringed instruments. association with Pat metheny she built, among all the teeth and hair, george Harrisons guitar,
Acoustic met Linda far from her toronto home- many for him, that formidable mutant-beast, complete with strangely alluring pointy bits. she

84 acoustic magazine september 2015


With a touching regard for the delicate
sensibilities of our UK readership, Linda
suggests part of her inspiration might
be down those childhood visits to her
mothers birthplace in Oxford, and in a few
essentials Canada couldnt provide, like
punting, reading the Beano and searching
crisp bags for the little blue salt-packet.

was smitten, both by the band and by that weird- competition from the genuine Joni and with shop- on all those expensive tools and bits of wood.
looking electric (were thinking 1963 Rickenbacker bought dulcimers running at around the $150 Linda freely admits that (aided by the female,
360-12). As luck would have it, there was an old mark to swap singing for making. inside-job coercion of Mrs. Larrive) she pestered
acoustic lying around the house so the precocious Linda settled for a DIY kit instead and was soon, Jean until he gave in and, in 1974, set her on the
Ms. Manzer decided it needed some flash, Beatle- aged about 14 by now, so blown away by having path to guitar-building greatness.
esque modification. She cut off the back and most created something with strings that, crude as it Three and a half years later, though, Manzer
of the sides (for that requisite, slim-line Fab-ness) was, actually worked, convinced that this was had already decided to go it alone, trading in
then added papier-mch horns and strung it where her musical future lay. Having outgrown a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art workshop
back up. Sadly, this radically ambitious redesign the limited scope of dulcimer design at art college, for a bench and a few hand-tools. She insists,
concept did not prove a huge sonic success... Manzer needed to find an established guitar- even though it was difficult, it was a fantastic
The first real notes of progress wouldnt sound maker willing to take her on as an apprentice experience, to go from being spoiled with all that
until a few years later when she found herself, and, almost inevitably (this was Toronto, after equipment to having to make do and problem-
coming home from a Joni Mitchell concert, fired all) she latched on to Jean-Claude Larrive. solve with non-electrical tools. Shes convinced
with a new and dulcimer-shaped zeal. Like just Unfortunately, the renowned local guru soon that said problem-solving (as you go) is absolutely
about every other young woman in Canada at the made it clear that he wasnt taking on any more fundamental throughout the process and to this
time, Linda simply wanted to be Joni but, in what pesky kids (hed already put up with Grit Laskin day, Linda listens as she works, eschewing the use
she insists was a gift to music fans everywhere, and that de Jonge guy) and he certainly wasnt of power tools in favour of a painstaking, far more
she was now determined what with such stiff planning on letting a woman, God help us, loose intimate, hands-on connection. You feel and hear

september 2015 acoustic magazine 85


086.indd 86 17/08/2015 16:16
workshop feature

Its clear that Manzer is still very much in thrall to the potential
magic in whatever her next building project might be.

the wood as you work a chisel into it and get to And so the thought occurs that Linda
know how it sounds. With machines you lose all Manzers work presents an odd paradox; having
that. And by preserving all that, she continues first introduced the wedge body-shape (to be
to learn. discussed in an upcoming review of The Manzer
Starting out, Manzer had little notion of subtle, six-string acoustic) for example, shes constantly
build-influenced or tonewood-based nuance so juggling radical new ideas and innovations while
she focussed on developing, by hand and ear, retaining an almost monastically traditional
a sound that seemed to fit the players she was method of working. Alongside experimental
inspired by, especially Bruce Cockburn and later, collaborations with design-mavericks like Ned
most significantly, Pat Metheny. The first time she Steinberger (as we speak, and yes, it will probably
saw Metheny play, she describes herself as being be headless) she continues to produce exquisite,
transported to a new musical dimension and that classically-proportioned arch-tops for the likes
looking back, knowing whats happened since, it of Julian Lage who, already quite the prodigy,
was like a moment of destiny. And thats about was playing his first Manzer at the age of 11. She
as cosmic as the refreshingly down-to-earth and doesnt hold with boundaries or the confines of
practical Manzer is ever likely to get. Its clear that, accepted wisdom; best capturing her own quest
after 35 years as friends and colleagues, something for perfection in the famous Will Rogers assertion
did, indeed, happen. Metheny describes the that, you have to go out on a limb because thats
high intensity of on-stage improvisation and where all the fruit is.
performance as the heat of battle and its Linda Its clear that Manzer is still very much in
Manzer who arms him for the fray. He told her thrall to the potential magic in whatever her next
he needed instruments that would never let him building project might be. Its the same magic that
down and has since paid her work the perfect first sparked with the horned Beatle-hybrid
no-frills compliment: The best thing about Lindas then fully caught fire on seeing Metheny walk
guitars is that I dont even think about them. They on stage to play First Circle holding the guitar
always deliver and they dont get in-between me hes ever since called the Linda 6. She sees that
and my musical ideas. magic, too, in the work of others; Torontos David
This career-break came about after a concert in Wren, in particular, and in her own current
1982 when Linda sent Pat (via his roadie) a most workshop colleague, Peggy White, whose lovely
genteel invitation to her workshop for tea. It little Reesling acoustic caused something of a
was all on the off-chance but youthful optimism sensation among even the most discerning of the
swelled the faint hope that Pat might, one day, Sarzana acoustic cognoscenti.
call. Instead, Metheny sent his manager to bring With a touching regard for the delicate
Linda backstage right there and then. This being sensibilities of our UK readership, Linda suggests
jazz, Canada, and civilised, they talked guitars. part of her inspiration might be down those
And as she didnt have any of hers handy, Linda childhood visits to her mothers birthplace in
went home, grabbed a couple for Pat to try out Oxford, and in a few essentials Canada couldnt
and rest would be history if they werent still at provide, like punting, reading the Beano and
it, that is, all these years later. Their latest mind- searching crisp bags for the little blue salt-packet.
boggling concept in wood and wire wizardry is With that Milanese bluegrass drifting across
set for its on-stage revelation later this year. Itll be the moat of a fairy-tale castle, were happy to
interesting, to say the least. A case of, we could believe anything.
tell you what it is but and you know the rest. www.manzer.com

september 2015 acoustic magazine 87


new music retune your ears

retune
yo u r
Presenting new, interesting or alternative musicians.
e a rs
Listen to something different, with Paul Strange.

JUST MILLIE
STYLE (INDIE FOLK)
Im a 20-year-old singer-songwriter, based
in Southampton. In 2012, I appeared in the
southern England area finals of Live and
Unsigned. It was a great experience for a young
artist and opened doors in the music industry.
My musics been described as indie folk, but
I dont fit into any particular genre. I use an
acoustic guitar, pedals to create harmonies and
an electronic kick drum to create the biggest
sound possible for a 5ft-tall person. My songs
are inspired by everyday life however, I do like
to make my writing abstract, as listeners can
put their own twist on it. On my new AA single,
Lanterns is a song about going against the
grain and standing up for what you believe in,
whereas Not OK [featured on a recent Acoustic
cover-mount CD] focuses on a sour subject but
manages to be upbeat and shine through with
positives. Im self-taught, but Ive had help along
ADAM JOHANSSON the way, and as I work with other artists Im
STYLE (NORDIC FOLK) constantly picking up new tips. I prefer to play
I live near Stde in Sweden and Im the guitarist with the modern Scandinavian folk band Sver. The fingerstyle, but if Im gigging on a daily basis
other members are Olav Luksengrd Mjelva (fiddle and Hardanger fiddle), Anders Hall (fiddle and it starts to wear down my fingernails, so pick
viola), Leif Ingvar Ranien (two-row diatonic accordion) and Jens Linell (percussion). Olav and Leif it is. My regular guitar is a Gibson Songwriter
Ingvar, who started the band, are from Rros in Norway, and sver means big and grandiose in their DLX Custom EC 2012 vintage sunburst. It has
local dialect. Were very happy with how our latest album Fryd turned out. Its been a while since the an amazing deep tone that I love. I always DI
last one and we were all excited to get back to arranging new tunes. Fryd means joy, and that pretty via the PA, then further enhance the bass using
much sums it up the joy of playing together is why we keep going. At the moment Im playing a a Boss octave pedal and Boss Digital Reverb
Furch Vintage Line 34-SR spruce top dreadnought with an L.R. Baggs M1 pickup and a Radial J48 pedals to keep the tone as realistic as possible.
DI. It responds so well, I can mash the strings as hard as I want and the guitar just keeps singing, Confidence with using effects on stage has
great thick bass and shimmering treble its amazing. I do use effects pedals: a Sonic Research Turbo really enhanced my performance. I always have
Tuner, a BBE Opto Stomp and an Electro-Harmonix POG2 or Electro-Harmonix Memory Toy. I my acoustic in writing sessions I normally
use the POG on big stages where the sub-bass can come through, and the Memory Toy for smaller start with the melody on the guitar and then go
venues, just to thicken the sound with a really short delay. I play almost exclusively in DADGAD, for the lyrics. A song can come together all at
mostly pick, but a little fingerstyle now and then. I had guitar lessons when I was growing up, and once or be built over months theres no secret
played along with CDs Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, Pat Metheny and many formula for me. Future plans? Im about to jump
others and radio a lot as well. Right now Bryan Sutton is a great hero of mine. He plays so clearly, back into the studio to record a new single, and
all the notes really come through. Sver played the Orkney Festival in May, and love the UK, so we Im appearing at ButserFest on September 12,
hope to come back some time soon. Meanwhile, well be touring Norway and Sweden in September and Fratton Community Park in Portsmouth on
and rehearsing more, so it wont take as long between albums this time. September 20.
www.sverfolk.com/en www.justmillie.co.uk

88 acoustic magazine september 2015


BETHAN EDWARDS NIGEL HOYLE
STYLE (COUNTRY POP) STYLE (SINGER-SONGWRITER)
Im the lead singer of West Midlands-based GentleFolk is a British acoustic folk band,
band Bethan and the Morgans. I play guitar based in south-east London. We are Elizabeth
and ukulele, with David Ross on lead guitar and Forrester (shruti box and vocal), Sarah Lloyd
backing vocals, Lauren Bennett on double bass (fiddle and vocal), Ian Kennedy (cello, recorder,
and backing vocals, James Rhodes on electric flute, giant tin whistle, bodhran and voice) and
guitar, and Dan Foster on drums. We like to myself (acoustic guitar and vocal). Id describe
describe our music as country pop, but our what we play as pastoral music, songs about
musical backgrounds are very different. Lauren folk tales and practices of these islands. Our
is all-out classical and David was all about funk, new album Into The Greenwood focuses on the
so our influences are very broad. David taught folklore of the native trees of Britain. The title
me guitar thats how we met and decided track is about Cernunnos, the stag-headed god
to start the band. My regular instrument is a of the hunt. Its a paean to running through
Taylor 114 Grand Auditorium with a Takamine the woods without a care in the world, chasing
Tri-Ax pickup. Its a light wood on the front goodness knows what. We recorded the whole
with dark wood for the body and neck. It has album in a day, and the most memorable
a light, open sound that mixes well with my moment was when we wrapped and I realised
voice, and it sounds nice both acoustically and wed managed to do it. A great sounding
amplified we normally run it through a DI acoustic makes writing easier. Im a Gibson man,
box. For strumming I use a pick, but for more and the primary guitar on this record is a 1973
melodic picking I use my fingers. David and I J-55 square shoulder dreadnought with an L.R.
write the basis of our songs he shows me his Baggs pickup. I play it through an AER Compact
opening ideas on the acoustic and they develop 60, which is amazing. Its not the easiest guitar
from there. I write most of the lyrics and he to play, but very rewarding when it sings out
writes the music, then everyone adds their it looks great and keeps in tune. I string it
own parts. I think thats part of what makes with light Elixirs and tune it up to open A. This
our sound so individual. Our songs are inspired tuning isnt recommended for most guitars, as
by events in our lives, which I think helps keep it needs extra tension on the neck to sing, but
them authentic as long as our lives dont get the J-55 is over-engineered. I also have a 2007
too dull well always have something to write J-200 studio with a sitka top and curly maple
about. Weve recently released our debut album, back and sides for normal tuning and a 1963
Oddity. Were extremely happy with it, and the Country Western for DADGAD and normal.
feedback has been very positive. The title track I practice every day, mostly fingerstyle. I use a
encapsulates the theme of the album, which is thumbpick and fingerpicks a lot while practising
about considering yourself an oddity because to conserve my nails. I have weak nails and like
you dont follow the crowd. We consider to save them for gigs. I tried going to nail bars
ourselves an oddity in terms of personalities for a while but it is very embarrassing getting
and the sort of music we play, and we want fake nails. Im currently writing for a new
to celebrate that. Were currently working GentleFolk album about the folk identity of the
on putting our album out there, writing new British Isles and we have a couple of gigs coming
material, and gigging. up in September.
www.bethanandthemorgans.com www.gentlefolkband.com

september 2015 acoustic magazine 89


new music cd reviews

WE BANJO 3 SHOOGLENIFTY JOSHTAERK


Live In Galway The Untied Knot Heres To Change
www.webanjo3.com www.shooglenifty.com www.joshtaerk.com
Fusing the music of North Carolina with North Sligo, on this Shooglenifty has been out there for more than two decades As youd expect from a singer whos been given a helping
showing recorded at The Roisin Dubh, Galway take no prisoners. now peddling a transmuted blend of Scottish Celtic magic with hand up bythe E Street Bands drummer, theres a grandiose
From Eric Bibbs Get Onboard featuring the dueling banjos of electronica and rock. It says much for their creativity that theyre eloquence to much of what follows. Hook packed, big
Enda Scahill and Martin Howley, this live opus kicks like fury. still capable with coming up with an album like this one that arrangements, chiming guitars and distant Hammond organ
Theres nothing new in this of course but where We Banjo 3 transforms jaded preconceptions and dares the listener to yawn lines decorate Joshs songs, but its his vocals and acoustic
score is their eclectic choice of material. And so Bill Monroes at this being just another Celtic band. Look no further than guitar playing that hold it together. And hes got one of those
bluegrass epic Salt Creek is wedded seamlessly to The Bunch The Untied Knot, a fantastic journey that begins with deep great voices, almost cracking with emotion as he exhorts his girl
Of Green Rushes, New York bluesman Guy Davis gets a look in resonant bass slurs, before a dizzy rush of pipes and clattering to take a chance with me you almost expect Clarence to burst
when the guys carry off his We All Need More Kindness In This banjo. Other highlights include The Highway Carpark, a kind of into the mix. That said, the gentle folky ambience of Stay with
World, and even the perennial doomy Long Black Veil is given funked up jig complete with a Hank Marvin-esque guitar intro, its weeping fiddle, suggests theres a lot more to Josh Taerk than
a new lease of life. JP and the beguiling Arms Of Sleep. Beautiful inspired music. JP some kind of Canadian Bruce clone a guy to watch. JP

MAWKIN ROBIN HUW BOWEN Darrell Scott


The Ties That Bind The Language Of The Soul Songs of Ben Bullington
www.mawkin.com www.teires.com www.darrellscott.com
Nothing complicated about Mawkin, instead an admission As the only full-time professional exponent of the Welsh Nashville recording artists are known for a lot of things, but
theres nothing deep about their music, and a warning against triple harp (as his website makes the claim), it figures generosity doesnt come up every time. Here, Darrell Scott
self-inflicted harm while dancing in the kitchen. With the focus that Robin Huw Bowen will be about as good as it gets covers 10 songs by deceased friend Ben Bullington, better
on rebellion and rejection of being tied to someone or something, on this bewildering instrument. And so it proves to be. known as a doctor, but also a formidable songwriter. Almost
from the opening sonorous drone of Nick Cookes melodeon on the Traditionally associated with mournful lasses with golden all simple guitar, banjo or piano and vocal arrangements
wonderful boozing anthem I Can Hew, this is an unapologetic tresses, Robin knocks such notions firmly into touch, are played live and not-overdubbed; these are touching,
blast of fun. But therere more serious topics too Wreckers plucking the harp through its paces, on tunes as varied moving and beautiful songs which deserved the audience
and even an anti-shanty song, the bouncing Shanghai as the bouncing jig of New Gypsy Hornpipes and the Scott can hopefully give them Springsteens Nebraska is
Brown, which extols the virtues of a Jack Tar staying at home rippling cascades of notes that conjure the haunting air a reasonable comparison. A particular standout is Country
with his wife rather than as they put it, gallivanting around the of The Blackbird. Music that is totally mesmerising Music Im Talking To You, with Bullington railing against the
world shagging pretty young maidens. Seriously entertaining. JP and a thing of rare beauty. JP darkness and ignorance he sees in his native art form. SW

90 acoustic magazine september 2015


THE RAILSPLITTERS GIGSPANNER JENNIFER CROOK
The Faster It Goes Layers Of Ages Carnforth Station
www.therailsplitters.com www.gigspanner.com www.jennifercrook.com
Railsplitting cant be easy and theres probably no way youre Peter Knight and his lads have been touring like fury and, Inspiration comes in many guises and if youve ever been
going to dislike a band with a banjo player named Dusty Rider. currently, the UKs folk music scene is in an interesting there, youll realise that Carnforth station would be pretty
And this Colorado five-piece dish up folky bluegrass music, the period of transition; like the 60s blues boom which ultimately far out of most creative loops. But built around Ms. Crooks
beguiling gentle vocals of Christine King to the forefront that is so imploded into a maelstrom of progressive bands and delicate harp work and wistful vocals, the station that became
easy on the ear, youll probably be hearing it in a dentists office redundant Marshall amps, the folkies are looking to immortalised in Brief Encounter once again becomes a setting
near you soon. Most of the songs like You drift happily along rejuvenate their oeuvre, with bands like Gigspanner at the for a failed romantic liaison. An album of surprises, the mood
never breaking sweat, and even when the band get down with forefront. And this bunch does well. The dark tale of Bows Of shifts seamlessly into the country honk of Ive Forgotten
an instrumental The Estuary the comatose ambience and London, a macabre yarn about fashioning instruments from a Everything and Black Fly on which Jennifer frails banjo, with
limpid pace rarely shift. Things get marginally more uptempo womans bones, and the eight minutes and 20 seconds of She Kevin Brown adding some suitably saturnine Weissenborn
on the jiggy Goosetown, but by the time we get to Tell Me, Moved Through The Fair, are tracks that bristle with intrigue slide guitar on the mournful Torch. Heartfelt and personal,
yet another slow ballad, its all just too much. Sorry Dusty. JP and imagination, almost defying the listener to turn away.JP not an uplifting ride but the girls done herself proud. JP

Madisen Ward & the Elliott Morris Telling The Bees


Mama Bear It Seemed to Make Sense at the Time
www.elliottmorris.co.uk
Steer By The Stars
www.tellingthebees.co.uk
Skeleton Crew Elliott Morris has garnered praise from many quarters in his Former Celtarabia alumnus Andy Letchers latest project
www.madisenwardandthemamabear.com short life thus far for his many live performances around is Telling The Bees, a dark, folky, eclectic ensemble,
Mother and son duo Madisen and Ruth Ward play a hard to the UK and Europe (and at notable guitar festivals) and for thats hard to categorise. There is some fine playing on
categorise blend of folk music, with hints of New Orleans his debut EP and it looks as though his new EP It Seemed this album, and there are times when it really works
stomp, country, and indefinable somethings (they call it To Make Sense at the Time is set to continue the pattern. and starts to take you somewhere new. Often, though,
soulful, and thats not far off). Acoustic guitars, stomping Complex tapping and percussive style guitar technique Letchers songs dont provide enough of a platform for
crashing drum kit and vocal harmonies predominate, but just blends here with Morriss surprisingly mature voice for a the virtuosity to really catch fire, and Steer By The
when you think youve found your feet, they change it up, and tone which has hints of many other songwriters, and maybe Stars sometimes becomes a little muddy and hard
suddenly were in territory somewhere between Anthony and the risk here is that a really memorable voice of his own has to engage with. Worth a listen though, if only for the
the Johnsons and Jeff Buckley. They are making what we think yet to emerge. This album is pleasant and listenable, and unusual use of anglo concertina and complicated
of as outsider music, and very good it is too. SW promises much for the future. SW arrangements. SW

september 2015 acoustic magazine 91


new music cd reviews

Whitehorse Calan Good Lovelies


Leave No Bridge Unburned Dinas Burn the Plan
www.whitehorsemusic.ca www.calan-band.com www.goodlovelies.com
Whitehorse are former successful solo artists and Young Welsh folk act Calan has put together a collection The Good Lovelies are an all-female folk trio from Toronto,
Canadian husband and wife duo Melissa McLelland and which is, by turns, rollicking and lilting, featuring some but that appellation doesnt really capture their sound;
Luke Doucet and their third album is a sparse, taut, wonderfully spacious, lush arrangements. Featuring its too narrow and hinting at tradition for this beautifully
suspenseful masterpiece. Atmospheric shimmering guitars accordion, guitar, clarsach and fiddle, its rare to meet a wrought folk-pop album. Shimmering harmonies decorate the
overlay dark, thumping bass lines as McLelland and group of relative youngsters who arent afraid to mix songs memorable melodies as the Good Lovelies roll from cheerful,
Doucet spread their harmonies over songs which wouldnt about dragons in with the folks songs, jigs and reels. Whats Ditty Bopsesque cuteness through guitar riffs which could
sound out of place on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Be particularly striking here is the delicacy and respect the almost be from the Bangles output. Occasionally it feels a bit
prepared to have your bones shaken as Whitehorse storm arrangements give to the mix of instruments; subtle accordion lightweight, but the quality of the songwriting and the lovely
through the most darkly atmospheric set of songs to cross is not a reference you hear every day, but here its absolutely production shine through. Another obvious touchstone is the
our path for some time, with a deft lyrical touch for every merited. A pleasure throughout, Dinas strikes a great balance Sundays, but true to the name, the Good Lovelies have burned
threatening guitar riff. SW between ancient and modern, tune and song. SW the plan, and made their own way forward. SW

Stewart Mac and the Andy Kirkham Peter Appleyard


Rising Not One But Another
www.andykirkham.com
No Looking Back
www.peterappleyard.bigcartel.com
Radio Andy Kirkham is one of that marvelous breed of post- Peter Appleyard bears a striking resemblance to Andy
www.stewart-mac.com modern musicians who make their living through an Murray but fear not as theres nothing of the racket about
Stadium rock writ large is what you get with Steward Mac array of avenues; music teaching, playing 1930s jazz his album No Looking Back. Classic singer-songwriter
and the Rising, and none the worse for that. Radio is replete at weddings, playing in bands doing even more jazz fare is what youll find here, simple in execution, and
with resonant guitar licks, singalong choruses and big and eastern European music, and songwriting. Here he devoid of false airs and graces. Appleyards output is
arrangements; its something you dont hear much of these showcases his deft fingerstyle, deftly sliding from a 60s heartfelt, but doesnt stick out far enough from the
days. There are hints of the Rembrandts in the harmonies, and folk club feel on Call Me to the complex eastern rhythms crowd for us; you could listen the whole album without
overall, this could easily be an undiscovered album from the of Lammah Baddah. This means Not One But Another anything really lodging itself in your mind. Theres no
early 90s. Put this on loud, get your hands in the air and get isnt the most accessible album, but it rewards repeated doubt he has talent, but to win the enduring loyalty that
happy; this is just the thing to put on to feel good; maybe its out listens with a breadth and depth that will keep you an artist needs to make his career last, more earworms
of its natural time, but its pleasing stuff. SW coming back for more. SW are needed. SW

92 acoustic magazine september 2015


093.indd 93 17/08/2015 16:31
LEARN ACOUSTIC TECHNIQUES

BECOME
OUR COLUMNISTS

096

A BETTER
CLIVE CARROLL ACOUSTIC VIRTUOSO
www.clivecarroll.co.uk

PLAYER
098
LEON HUNT UKS LEADING BANJO EXPERT
www.leonhunt.com

Whether you play guitar, banjo, ukulele or mandolin, 100


DANIEL HO GRAMMY WINNING UKE PLAYER
this is the place to take your playing to the next level.
www.danielho.com

102
THOMAS LEEB: PERCUSSIVE VIRTUOSO
www.thomasleeb.com

104
TONY MCMANUS: CELTIC GUITAR EXPERT
www.tonymcmanus.com

106
CHRIS WOODS: INSTRUMENTAL GROOVES
www.chriswoodsgroove.co.uk

108
MATT STEVENS: PERFORMER & COMPOSER
www.mattstevensguitar.com

110
PAUL BRETT: 12-STRING AFICIONADO
www.paulbrettguitarist.co.uk

94 ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2015


095.indd 95 17/08/2015 16:31
learn acoustic techniques

CLIVE CARROLL Acoustic Virtuoso

Polska frn Smland


This month, Clive looks at a dance tune with southern Swedish origins
Techniques Skill Level: advanced

A
polska is a type of dance tune For this arrangement, the rhythmic emphasis note, an open B semiquaver, is played with the
popular in the Nordic countries, has been placed in the bass line. Before playing middle finger and the following A is plucked with
particularly in Sweden and Finland. upper and lower voices simultaneously, have a go the index. The method of alternating fingers
Most polskas are in triple time at the bass line to get a feel for the dance. This is during faster rhythmic passages should help to
where the rhythmic stress falls on beats one and played with the thumb only. create a smooth and accurate sound. Further on,
three, however they can also be in 2/4. Polska Next, try the melody ensuring that only the such passages can also be heard at the start of
frn Smland comes from Sweden and translates fingers are used. In bar one, alternate between bars four and eight through 11.
literally to polska from Smland, which is a the index and ring fingers and, at the beginning Now, try both the bass line and melody
province in the south of Sweden. of bar two, both digits pluck together. The second together. It is worth noting that in bar three,

Polska frn Smland Arr. Clive Carroll (Standard Tuning)

96 acoustic magazine september 2015


the open D on beat two is played with the index At the start of bar nine you might like second fret) at bar three, rising to a G at the
finger and not the thumb. Remember that the to strum the chord and, where a bass and beginning of bar four. Ill leave that idea with you
thumb only sounds beats one and three. melody note are sounded on adjacent strings, and I hope you might enjoy creating a complete
The music at bar six contains a hammer-on the thumb can pluck both. upper melody of your own.
and two pull-offs. To start with, ensure that On repeating this tune why not try developing As you can imagine, there are thousands
all notes are the same volume. It may feel like the arrangement by playing a one-note-per-bar of these polskas that you can explore and a
you have to hammer harder and/or really melody above the printed tune. Try adding an medley of two or three in contrasting keys
snap those pull-offs but the resulting clarity open first-string E at the start of bar one, another would be a lovely, and perhaps unusual,
of articulation will make it all worthwhile. E at the start of bar two, and F sharp (first string, addition to any players repertoire. n

september 2015 acoustic magazine 97


learn acoustic techniques

leon hunt UK Banjo Expert

Little Rock Getaway


Working on banjo chord familiarity and fluency
Techniques Skill Level: suitable for all

W
ere going to attempt to kill probably more derivative of that version. by sliding from the F to the F# on the first string.
two birds with one stone by The backbone of this banjo arrangement comes Youll need to be positive with this slide as we are
learning one of my favourite courtesy of a very cool right hand roll pattern. trying to give the impression that it is a played
tunes Little Rock Getaway I first heard it used by Country Gazette banjo note rather than a musical ornament. Its also
while also working on some chord familiarity. player Alan Munde, but its now become one of worth noting that Im using what looks like an F
One would generally assume that music with the bedrocks of modern bluegrass banjo playing. chord instead of the notated Dm. By doing this it
slightly more complex or idiosyncratic chord Ive been able to find dozens of uses for it over could be argued that were actually playing a Dm7,
sequences might pose more of a challenge when the years. The reason this particular roll is so as was the case in bar two with C instead of Am.
attempting to devise alternative routes through useful is that it makes full use of the fact that the The chord you just slid into is written up as an
them or for improvising over. However, a solid first and fifth strings in standard G banjo tuning F#dim but the way Im playing it here; it probably
working understanding of the three main chord are identical at any given fret (above the fifth), looks more like a B7. The relationship and
positions up and down the fingerboard presents meaning that you can neatly, easily and clearly interchangeability between seventh chords and
one of the most effective ways to generate integrate melodic movement within the roll itself. diminished chords presents huge possibilities. Its
variations and improvisations. Be warned Its application in Little Rock Getaway is a perfect a subject thats far too long-winded to cover here
though, when this approach is applied to a simple example. A flowing, versatile roll pattern with in any depth but hopefully just being aware of the
or more generic chord sequence, the tunes clear musicality is like gold dust to banjo players potential, some experimentation and YouTube
character and uniqueness will almost certainly take a look at example 1. viewing will be enough to get the ball rolling and
be lost entirely. When this approach is applied The first bar of the tune sees the chord change ultimately add some flavour to your playing. The B
to a tune with a more distinctive sequence of from C to E7 midway and the second goes from section has some nice but tricky sounding triplets
chords however, the liberties were able to take, Am to C7. With the second bar, Ive chosen to in it. If youre using the logical fingers on both
substituting chords for alternative inversions voice a C instead of the Am (the relative major) hands, and you manage to stay nice and relaxed,
without losing the tune, or the essence and and let the combination of my thumb wrapped these are much easier than they first appear.
distinctiveness of the tune, become far greater. around the fifth string at the eighth fret and the Once youre playing this tune fluently and have
Little Rock Getaway started its life as a ragtime roll itself do all the work of the chord change. On internalised the chord sequence, its time to have
piano tune written by Joe Sullivan in the mid- an ergonomic note, using your thumb to fret the some fun. If youre already familiar with, and used
1930s. It first came to prominence as a recording fifth string is by far the easiest way to get to these to jumping around the various chord inversions,
by Bob Crosby in 1939. As far as I can tell, it was notes. This pattern is used for the first three bars youll be able to come up with limitless variations.
banjoist Don Reno who was the first to port it over but because what happens at the fourth bar is at If, however, youre at the beginning of this area of
to the bluegrass repertoire. Another important the bottom end of the fingerboard, and crucially study, Little Rock Getaway will provide you with
version worth familiarising yourself with is below the fifth fret, we need to find another way an excellent playground with which to experiment
Les Pauls 1950 recording. The banjo tab here is to retain the flow of the tune. This is achieved with and explore. n

example 1

98 acoustic magazine september 2015


little rock GetaWaY arr. leon hunt

september 2015 acoustic magazine 99


lEaRn aCoUSTiC TeChniQUeS

DanIEl ho GRaMMY WinninG UKUlele and SlaCK KeY GUiTaR PlaYeR

TRADITION AND EVOLUTION


Using the low G string on the ukulele
FUll TaB
onlInE

TEChnIQUES SKIll lEVEl: SUiTaBle FoR all

t
hree years and 18 articles in as an a few years ago, i was hired to do a recording nylon or uorocarbon. they are similar in
Acoustic magazine contributor, session for a tV pilot about lawyers who sound to the unwound c, e, and a strings of
i realise its about time for me all played ukulele. i arrived with different the ukulele, and dont squeak when you slide
to express my take on a much- instruments: a banjo ukulele, my moms old your ngers across them. their tone is warmer
contemplated topic amongst ukulele enthusiasts: mahogany martin soprano, a sanshin ukulele, a than wound strings, but can sound thuddy if
high or low g string? myamoe resonator, an ohana bass ukulele, and their diameter is too thick for the scale length
a possible theory for this pitchy identity crisis my custom Koaloha tenor strung with a low g and design of an ukulele. Personally, i prefer
is the question of tradition versus evolution. in (the instrument i use for most of my recordings). to string my shorter scale instruments (baby
my travels, ive observed trends and discussed thinking id show off my shiniest, richest ukes and sopranos) with wound low g strings
this subject with many peersplayers, recording tone, i played my custom Koaloha because i like the additional power and tension
retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. at while the audio engineer placed microphones they provide. For my recording and performing
a masterclass in tokyo, Japan, a participant and set the levels on his preamps. the producer tenor ukuleles, i use unwound PhD Premium
mentioned that her teacher would not allow pushed the talk-back mic in the control room High Density low g strings. i have found them
her to use either a strap or a low g string and asked me through my headset, Do you to be the perfect tension and tone.
because ukuleles were traditionally strung in have anything that sounds more traditional? Holona (sailing), is an example of using
re-entrant tuning and did not have straps. to i tuned my moms martin soprano, which is the low g string as a bass line. it plays a
the contrary, at the cairns ukulele festival in strung with a high g, and gave it a few strums. syncopated pedal tone that underscores the
australia, i met a ukulele distributor who was He immediately exclaimed, thats it! movement of the ocean over which the melody
excited to supply the surging popularity of i often use the low g string to function as a oats. the key of g takes full advantage of
the low g string. and during a recent visit to bass line. it is not quite low enough to be in the the low g string as it is the tonal center of the
Vicenza, italy, a conversation with a reputable bass register, but it does a good job at suggesting composition. try to voice these independent
industry professional served as the impetus for what the bass line could be. imagine a tiny elements by accentuating the melody and
this article. He said, 50% of ukulele players out music box. the scroll plucks tiny tone bars keeping a steady and undulating bass line.
there swear by the high g string. 50% love the that play melodies, chords and bass parts. the the verdict? tradition evolves. are
low g string. pitches are very high, but they still give the mozart or Bach compositions played as the
Herb ohta, aKa ohta-san, may be the listener an idea of how the parts interact. composers intended? tempo, phrasing, and
rst internationally acclaimed ukulele artist there are two types of low g strings: wound dynamics have developed over centuries
who popularised the low g string in the 1970s. and unwound. Back in Hawaii during the and result in beautiful interpretations. is a
as a kid growing up in Hawaii at that time, i 70s, we only used wound strings, which are Fender stratocaster not a real guitar? Design,
naturally thought this was how all ukuleles similar in construction and materials to the craftsmanship and the production of sound
were tuned. though i will occasionally use a wound strings on classical guitars. a wound have come such a long way.
soprano ukulele with a high g string to strum low g string will generally have a brighter High g, or re-entrant tuning, is wonderful
rhythm parts, i have followed in my ukulele tone and more power than an unwound low for campanella techniques and strumming. a
heros footsteps and use the low g tuning g string. the tradeoff is that wound strings low g string extends the range of a ukulele a
exclusively for my compositions and repertoire. squeak when you slide your ngers across perfect fourth below middle c and provides a
Legend has it, ohta-san was once told by a them. also, dirt, grease and corrosion collect deeper sound. one is not better than the other
fellow musician en route to a music festival, in the windings, which require them to be and both have their strengths and signicance.
You dont play real ukulele because you use a changed more frequently than unwound High or low g, its your call, and any choice you
low g string. strings. unwound low g strings are made of make is unique and connected to you.

100 acoustic magazine september 2015


holona daniel ho

september 2015 acoustic magazine 101


Learn ACOuSTiC TeCHniQueS

tHoMaS LeeB FinGerSTYle VirTuOSO

RETURN TO DAWN
Thomas takes you through an Adrian Bellue
aPP
eXtra

composition with a twist on artificial harmonics


teCHnIQueS SKILL LeVeL: AdVAnCed

i
ve had the pleasure of meeting adrian
Bellue, an up-and-coming fingerstyle
player, at various festivals and shows
weve both played over the last
few years. His shows incorporate heavy
grooves, tuvan throat singing and wicked
beatboxing definitely go and see him if
you get the chance.
adrian says that the tune was inspired
by the disappearance of a close friend. the
challenging part is adding the melody lines
using harmonics on top of the main groove.
adrian has a lot of artificial harmonics
going on here on top of a bass line with a
couple of clicks thrown in for good measure.
While this is not actually as difficult as it
looks and sounds, it does take a while to get
all the various bits balanced and aligned. He
uses his pinky to pluck harmonic melodies
with the middle finger, while the thumb and
the index fingers provide the groove and
main theme.
Walkthrough of an artificial harmonic:
People generally use the index finger
to touch the node point for artificial
harmonics but adrian takes this a step
further and uses his middle finger for that,
freeing up the index finger for other things.
Place your middle nger on the harmonic
node points indicated at the same time as
fretting the indicated notes with your left
hand. When both these things are in place,
use your ring nger to pick that string.
try not to move your right hand too much
when switching between bass, melody and
harmonic notes and take the time to nd a
comfortable compromise between the three.

102 acoustic magazine september 2015


return to dawn Adrian Bellue

september 2015 acoustic magazine 103


leArn AcousTIc TEcHnIQuEs

TonY McMAnuS: cELTIc GuITAr EXPErT

BACH PRELUDE IN Full TAB


online

G FOR SOLO CELLO


Tony arranges the iconic G major piece to be played
on guitar in the original key and at the original pitch
TecHniQueS SKill leVel: InTErMEDIATE To ADVAncED

the music: Bachs output as a composer is this is one of Bachs most recognisable simply because cellists all seem to have
simply staggering in its depth and scope. compositions and arguably the best-known their own way of articulating Bachs ideas!
Probably the most prolific church composer cello piece in history. With that pedigree, However, i always feel inclined to lean on
of all time, he also wrote some of the most its no surprise that it has been arranged the g at the top of the run down to the low
profound secular music in history the for guitar several times though usually F# in measure 14 and hence it appears as a
Brandenburg concertos, the goldberg transposed to D major and played in fretted note and not the open third string.
Variations, the Well-tempered clavier dropped D tuning. i wanted to capture the Fretting the note allows a momentary use
among others. gravitas of the cellos low c on guitar and of vibrato which, to my ear, sets up the run
though much of this music is highly hence the desire to stick to the original key. with the right amount of drama.
technical (the 48 preludes and fugues in the performance: the Prelude is almost the next really dramatic moment is
every key, for example) once you engage entirely a relentless cascade of sixteenth another cascade down to the low c# on
in the real substance of Bachs ideas the notes, mostly in arpeggios (and no-one the bottom string that begins measure 20.
emotional impact of the compositions could turn an arpeggio like J.s., right?) and this involves some tricky fingering and
becomes clear. the six suites for solo linear lines. lots of alternatives. ive settled on using
cello have become iconic in the baroque i think the first six measures here the first finger to fret the c#, the third
repertoire and the g major prelude is are exactly as might be fingered on the finger to fret the a on the fifth string
instantly recognisable. Here, ive found a cello but, in measure seven, we can take and the second finger to e on the fourth
tuning that allows it to be played on guitar advantage of the extra strings available string. try, if possible, to stress those low
in the original key and at the original pitch. to us and use the open strings to create a notes on the bottom string- performances
the tuning: ive arranged this piece harp like sound. Be careful to finger the by the greats (e.g. maisky, tortelier, Yo-Yo
with the guitar tuned cgDgaD. two arpeggios precisely so as not to stiff the ma, Rostropovich) are easy to find online
things to notice about this tuning the top open strings when we want them to ring. and should inform how we approach this
four strings are the same as DaDgaD so, measures 11 to 14 are so typical of Bachs on guitar. Listen to how those notes are
obviously, some things you know already use of tension and release. in measure 11, articulated on cello and see how closely
from that tuning carry over here. the we have basically a Ddim7 chord which we can achieve the same on guitar. these
second thing is that the tuning includes resolves to am in bar 12 followed by a arpeggios starting at the very bottom of
all the open strings of the cello- cgDa so, Bdom7 in measure 13 resolving to em in our range bring us to the first pause in the
theoretically, anything playable on cello can the next measure. piece at measure 22 and well pick it up
be reached on the guitar in this tuning. ive not included dynamic markings from there next time.

104 acoustic magazine september 2015


cello prelude in G Arr. Tony McManus

september 2015 acoustic magazine 105


learn acoustic techniques

chris woods Contemporary Acoustic Groove Player

Let the music do the talking!


Opening up your melodic playing with Bmin7 tuning
App
Extra

Techniques Skill Level: suitable for all

T
his month, I want to look at a strange new and murky depths before looking at Example 1 is a bluesy riff that we are going
but beautiful tuning: B, F#, B, F#, A, the exercises, why not experiment? This is to use as the foundations for the next two
D. The notes add up to a Bmin7 open the ultimate pleasure of guitar playing and, examples. It is our main riff, so be sure to nail it!
chord. However, my philosophy on you never know, this could be the moment If you look at the first bar, youll notice we have
using open or alternative tunings is to not think you create that song you always wanted two chords within the bar; very simple two
about notes, theory, or names of chords, but to to; however if things arent feeling quite so fingered chords. The chords are very short in
just let the music do the talking. So my advice positive, then read on because I have created length, so you need to kill them with your left
for you is to tune your guitar to this marvelous three exercises for you and, of course, a or right hand to create a syncopated and funky
tuning and get stuck in without even a thought tuition video to accompany it in the digital sound. After this, we have a simple string slap
for a minor seventh or flattened third edition. The examples are there as inspiration followed by two B notes. Its worth spending
Once you have tuned your strings to these to get you playing. some time with the video here to make sure

example 1

106 acoustic magazine september 2015


example 2

you are getting the rhythm right. In the second twice, another note thrice... In other words, create melodic phrases from this. However,
bar, we are using the same rhythmic and experiment because in the next exercise we are to get you started I have create an example
fingerpicking idea, except we have changed the going to be using the notes to jam around with phrase. Notice how I have pretty much used
chords. Play this over and over until its natural. our main riff. the same rhythm and movement from the
main riff for the noodling section. This is a
Example 2 is a scale. Well, its a bunch of notes Example 3 is our main riff, however we have great way to keep things fluid, since your
that I found in a convenient fingering that replaced bar two with a bar for noodling or a fingers and wrist can maintain the same
sound pretty cool when put together! Play them bar for melodic playing. The aim is really for rhythmic motion thus helping you to keep
up, play them down, miss notes, play one note you to use the notes from exercise two and your flow. n

example 3

september 2015 acoustic magazine 107


learn acoustic techniques

matt stevens instrumental composer

in the loop
Using a capo to add new textures to your loops
Techniques Skill Level: suitable for all

I
ts easy to write off the humble capo as a right without the capo at the second fret! guitar and a capo, allowing him to play lots
tool for singer-songwriters who dont want Capos, like altered tunings, are useful to force of suspended, jangly chords. The Whos Pete
to learn additional chord shapes in different you to look at the instrument in a different way, Townshend and Robert Smith of the Cure also
keys. However, we know that the capo to make you play beyond safe chord shapes. With use a capo on the acoustic guitar to great effect.
can be used for so much more than that. When a capo from the fifth fret upwards, you can get When purchasing a capo, try experimenting
youre using just a loop pedal and an acoustic a sound closer to a mandolin. This is especially with a few at your local guitar shop. Remember,
guitar, you are constantly looking for ways to useful you fancy faking a version of Led Zeppelins if you are going to be laying down loops mid-
vary your sound and sometimes, it might be The Battle Of Evermore with a guitar rather than song, one of the spring-loaded capos may be
something as simple as using a capo. a mandolin. One of the good things about using a best as they can be removed at top speed and
Capos are often used to make it easier to play capo with a loop pedal is you can record in a guitar cheaper capos my not grip the neck as well and
open string chords in a specific key but they can part played up high with a capo at a high fret then can lead to intonation problems. Check out the
also allow access to unique chord patterns and remove the capo and play a lower part with open stuff from G7th they do many different types
unusual voicings. Johnny Marr often used a capo strings. This is perfect for creating jangly guitar of capos, including spring-loaded ones called the
at the second fret to accommodate Morrisseys parts or faked 12-string sounds. Nashville capo.
vocal range, but also found lots of unusual jangly With a loop pedal, a guitar, and a capo, you You can also use a capo to bring a guitar
chord voicings in this position. can create a guitar orchestra just like the ones tuned below standard up to standard tuning.
Capos change the tension of the strings; each Radiohead, Jimmy Page, and Johnny Marr did So if you have your guitar tuned down to a low
position you put the capo on up and down the in the studio and on stage. Former Husker Du C for bass parts, you can use a capo to raise the
neck seems to have its own unique feel and singer-songwriter Bob Mould often plays a key to overdub a loop high up, then remove
sound. Wonderwall by Oasis just doesnt sound wonderful acoustic solo set with a single acoustic the capo to play something on the bass strings.

example 1

108 acoustic magazine september 2015


example 2

example 3

When removing and placing the capo onto the loop pedal. A lot of bands do this, for example check your tuning using a muted electric guitar
guitar, always check the tuning, ideally using in the Eagles song Hotel California, one guitar tuner pedal; remember moving capos around can
an electronic tuner pedal that will prevent the part is capod at the fifth fret and one is capod sometimes mess up your tuning. Hit loop record
audience hearing you doing so.The capo can at the seventh fret. These combinations allow and overdub this part over our initial loop.
affect the tuningof your strings, stretching them for some lovely complimentary guitar parts Example 3 features some open chords played
slightly when the capo goes on or off. In addition with big ringing chords. without a capo to give some low end to our loop.
to a regular capo that goes across all six strings In example 1, we have an initial guitar part Hit loop record and overdub these onto our loop
of the guitar, some guitarists use a partial capo with a capo at the fifth fret playing arpeggios we have recorded featuring our previous two
that goes across just a few of the strings, which over our basic chord progression which is C, C examples. Now you have a loop with a wide range
creates an effect similar to open tunings. You major 7,G and Dsus2. Place the capo on your of guitar parts from across the neck.
could have a partial capo that goes over five guitar and check the tuning then record in the It can take a while to get used to using a capo
strings, allowing you to leave a low B bass note loop as shown in example 1. Itll take a while to and the effect they have on the geography of
open to act as a low drone. get comfortable playing open chords at the fifth your fretboard, the open strings are suddenly
With one guitar part played with open fret but you will soon get used to it. unfamiliar and your basic chord shapes wont
chords down low and one capod at a higher In example 2, we move our capo to the eighth work in the same way. Youll soon realise capos
fret, we can get some really interesting sounds, fret to play another jangly guitar part over can help you to explore lots of new sounds.
normally something you can only do with a the top of example 1, which we have already Anything that forces you to look at the guitar in a
full band, but in this months example were recorded into our loop pedal. Before recording new way has to be a good thing and should help
going to do the whole thing on our own with a this onto your loop, you may want to just double to inspire your creativity. n

september 2015 acoustic magazine 109


learn acoustic techniques

paul brett vintage guitar expert and 12-string aficionado

12-string corner
This month, Paul arranges the classic Meatloaf track
full tab
online
App
Extra

Bat Out Of Hell for fingerstyle 12-string guitar


Techniques Skill Level: suitable for all

D
uring my years of playing and
experimenting with different
styles and genres using a 12-string
guitar, it has always been a
challenge getting clean strikes on the string
pairs especially when playing at speed. Thats
really the key to solo 12-string fingerstyle
playing with the emphasis being on the right
hand to strike the pairs true and so they sound
as one. Its worth practising getting the pitch
and tension right when fretting at speed and
therefore its also important when choosing
a 12-string thatyou test the intonation and
action all the way up the neck to the last
fretable position.
In my opinion, to get the best out of
12-strings, you have to tune the string pairs
marginally out of pitch with their respective
partners and this is far better achieved
tuning by ear than by electronic tuner and
comes with practice and familiarity with the
sound and process involved. 12-strings can
add a huge layer of sound textures in the
strumming genre, especially in open tunings.
The sounds that can be achievedare unique
to the instrument if used correctly in most
styles including rock, which brings us to this
months tablature. Another genre I am fond
of experimenting with using my 12-string
is classic rock. In the formative years of
my life as a professional musician, I played
lead guitarin (and did sessions with) many
successful bands and artists and I have always songs for solo 12-string and voice and in in a fingerstyle realm. I came up with a
retained a love of that genre. I still record this months issue, I present the Meatloaf combination of fingerstyle and strumming
electric solos on various tracks but havent classic Bat Out Of Hell for your enjoyment. I and some interlinking bass runs which I think
played in live bands for years. originally did this as a bet with a friend who work rather well. Be sure to check out the
I love to arrange some of the big rock said it couldnt be done on 12-string, especially video in the digital edition. n

110 acoustic magazine september 2015


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112 acoustic magazine September 2015

112-113.indd 112 17/08/2015 17:08


Advertisers Index
Acoustic Music Co................................................................................ 13
Allianz....................................................................................................... 95
Auden....................................................................................................... 25
Avalon Guitars....................................................................................... 82
Barnes and Mullins..................................................................... 33 + 71
Coda Music............................................................................................. 69
DIST-X Distribution.............................................................................. 65
Elixir Strings............................................................................................ 21
EMD........................................................................................................... 52
Forsyths.................................................................................................... 77
Frailers...................................................................................................... 33
Freshman................................................................................................. 29
Gremlin Music........................................................................................ 86
Guitar XS.................................................................................................. 83
Headstock............................................................................................... 73
Ivor Mairants.......................................................................................... 17
John Hornby Skewes........................................................................... 17
Korg........................................................................................................... 47
Lg/Marshall Amplification.............................................................. 45
Lakewood................................................................................................ 87
Lowden.......................................................................................................2
Maton....................................................................................................... 72
Mike Dawes............................................................................................ 93
National Resophonic..............................................................................3
Paul Brett................................................................................................. 95
Peterborough Music............................................................................ 93
Promenade............................................................................................. 16
Replay....................................................................................................... 33
Rotosound.............................................................................................. 53
Sandarac.................................................................................................. 89
Schertler.................................................................................................. 57
Strings and Things.............................................................................116
Sutherland.............................................................................................. 14
TC Electronic.......................................................................................... 59
The Acoustic Centre............................................................................ 15
The Music Room................................................................................... 51
The Musicians Union........................................................................... 77
The North American Guitar..................................................79 + 115
Westside Distribution............................................................................4
Yamaha..................................................................................................... 63

September 2015 acoustic magazine 113

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legends john hiatt

L E G E N D S
J oh n H iatt Words: teri saccone

A
lthough John Hiatt has enthusiastic critical praise and made a
garnered a sterling reputation commercial impact via radio. Hiatt toured
among the musical community extensively on the back of the album. In
as a singer-songwriter for 1988, he made Slow Turning which also
more than four decades, commercial received excellent reviews and remained
stardom has not transpired. Hiatt is befitting in the US charts for months.
of legendary status due to his monumentally In 1989, Bonnie Raitt scored her biggest hit
prolific and vastly underrated songwriting over a with Hiatts infectious A Thing Called Love.
long and varied career. Hiatts next album Stolen Moments appeared in
Hiatts songs have been covered by artists 1990 and it, too, was successful both critically
as diverse as Ronnie Milsap, Bob Dylan, Linda and commercially. The single Bring Back Your
Ronstadt, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, Love To Me won country music awards and,
Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, This is the point at which many musicians might by this time, artists were covering Hiatts songs
Three Dog Night and the Neville Brothers among have quit the business, but Hiatt didnt give up. with even greater regularity. In 1992, Hiatt
them. His rootsy Americana-folk hybrid came Instead, he moved to Los Angeles, picked himself resumed playing with former Bring The Family
after much stylistic dabbling with pop, new wave up, dusted off and started gigging again. (1987) colleagues (and well-known session
and rock in his formative artistic years that he By 1979, he had hired a new manager, got musicians) Jim Keltner, Nick Lowe and Cooder
kicked off in 1974 as a solo artist. signed to a new record label, and was opening for in a band named Little Village. Despite the
A Midwesterner from the state of Indiana, Hiatt Leo Kottke. His first album on the label was Slug inherent talent, the band unfortunately went
was born in 1952 in Indianapolis and was inspired Life and it was stylistically new wave which was nowhere and dissolved due to egos. Next up,
by Dylan and the Stones artists whose influence bubbling up that year. This was followed one year Hiatt released a solo album Perfectly Good Guitar
dynamically resonate in his music. His early years later by Two Bit Monsters. Neither album sold well, in 1993 to lukewarm commercial reception. He
were marked by tragedy when, at age nine, his but by this time John was a fixture in Ry Cooders followed this up with a live album. Hiatt then
older brother committed suicide, and then two backing band. In 1982, he co-wrote Across The changed labels again, recording an album with
years later his father died. Borderline with Cooder which became a hit for appearances by the Jayhawks and Bonnie Raitt.
As a teen, Hiatt cut his teeth playing in a slew Freddie Fender (and was subsequently covered These releases in the 1990s came and went
of garage bands. He played bars all over the local by other artists). Over the next few years, Hiatt with little fanfare, but Hiatts output remained
region and one of the bands he was involved with, recorded albums with both soul and country constant. He paired up with guitarist Doug
White Ducks, cultivated a name for themselves. flavours that would further build his reputation Lancio (Patty Griffin) on Dirty Jeans And Mudslide
After high school, Hiatt relocated to Nashville among critics but, while he cultivated a Hymns (2011) a project produced by Kevin
to become a professional songwriter for a European following, his personal life was tragic Shirley (the Black Crowes) and then again on
music publisher. While writing songs there, he and chaotic. He was drinking heavily by the Mystic Pinball (2012) which was also helmed by
moonlighted performing at local nightspots in the mid-1980s and his second wife committed Shirley. Both albums charted respectably in the
city. In 1974, he scored an audition at Epic Records, suicide. By the end of the decade, he sought US. In 2014, Hiatt released an acoustic-centric
and the label signed him to a deal quickly releasing help for alcoholism, remarried and continued and bluesy album Terms of My Surrender which
his debut album Hangin Around The Observatory to make music. In 1987, Hiatt was clean and further galvanised his stellar writing reputation.
to critical praise. However, the press adulation sober and he released Bring The Family which Hiatt may not be a superstar act, yet he is a
didnt translate into big sales. Subsequently, Hiatt had a more rootsy vibe than its predecessors stubbornly idiosyncratic artist and a seemingly
was dropped from the label and then dismissed and which many claim is his best album. It was inexhaustible songwriter. Hes out on the road to
from his job at the music publishing company. made with top session players and garnered this day, still playing and still recording. n

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