Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guitar Workshop: Excalibur

Every guitarist worthy of his chops has his personal Holy Grail, the instrument he ultimately dreams of owning. This writer has two.

My acoustic dream guitar is a high-end Martin Dreadnaught Cutaway Herringbone with electronics, or its equivalent by J W Gallagher and Company, a luthier in Tennessee (best known for Doc Watson's guitars). Better still, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to travel to the Philippines one day, and custom-order one from the finest maker in that country, whoever that is. Filipinos are renowned for their craftsmanship, and they're much less expensive.

I want the back and sides to be made of Brazilian rosewood, not Indian. Most high-end axes use Indian these days, but Brazilian gets a much fatter sound, even as it is much harder to get due to import restrictions (which may not be a problem over there).

My electric dream guitar is a late '50s Fender Telecaster, the perennial favorite of rockabilly artists everywhere. I'd prefer a sunburst color, and moderate to mint condition. (And if it needs re-fretting, I'm not just handing it to anybody.)

For now, I have in my repository a modest collection of antiques, including a 1947 (or is it 1948?) Orpheum archtop acoustic, black with white pearl ornament, which I got for a song at a yard sale. I intend to have it immaculately restored, and hand it down the next generation of Alexander guitar players (and he knows who he is, if he ever gets busy with it).

“I’d raise the bridge, file down the nut, and take the buzz out from low E.” Now there's a girl who knows just how to sweet-talk a man. What is it about Tia Carrere, or a 1964 Fender Stratocaster, that drives men to distraction? The short answer for the former may be found in the second clip, but the long answer for the latter, a more detailed analysis, is featured in the third clip.

Party on, Wayne.

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