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About rustystrings

  • Birthday August 28

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    Greenwood SC
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    Acoustic guitars, songwriting, fixed-gear road cycling over dirt roads

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  1. This is a clip from the unreleased pilot of "The Square On Air," a local cable show that focused on regional music and musicians in the upstate and lakelands of South Carolina. And if you have the time, there's also the episode that actually ran - there are four performances in it.
  2. And there is a lot of truth in the above statement. If you want more of a jazz or blues or old-time string band sound, the LG-1 might be the ticket - but it will NOT sound anything like the J-45. I know that when I started playing all the books steered everyone towards not just x-brace, but MARTIN DREADNOUGHT X-braced guitars. Same with the music stores. There was a certain bluegrass bias that I saw a lot of when I started playing, and I would have been a lot happier had I discovered LG-2s earlier in life, or listened to more styles of music that would have prepared me to enjoy LG-1s and other ladder-braced guitars as bringing something different, but not inferior, to the party.
  3. If this is about buying a vintage guitar, with the focus on vintage, the J-45 will cost more; the LG-2 will cost a little less, but accent on the little, because over the last 10-15 years their value has gone up. It is fair to consider those two guitars as essentially siblings - the J-45 has the jumbo body while the LG-2 is a grand concert guitar in width and depth. They use essentially the same neck and similar bracing patterns, depending on the year. They do not SOUND the same however, especially when you are playing them. The J-45 has a lot more presence and a lot more focus on the low mid-range, while the LG-2 projects really well in a focused kinda way with more focus on the upper mid-range, at least when you are in front of them and listening. When you're behind them and playing them, the sound difference is noticeable. The LG-1 from 1947-on (and its all mahogany variant the LG-0) share the neck, but are radically different, and sound that way. The tops are thicker and ladder braced with spruce bridge plates. The usual phrase bandied about is "they're good for blues," which is kinda true - and to my ears they have a certain Gibson arch top DNA in their sound, but maybe that's just me. The LG-1 would NOT be my go to if I couldn't afford a vintage J-45. If I wanted a J-45 and I couldn't afford one from before 1965 - my arbitrary cutoff date because changes to neck width and headstock angle - I would go looking for a good deal on a Bozeman-built J-45. In fact, that is exactly what I did, and I couldn't be happier - and in that case I would say go play a bunch of J-45s built between 1989 and the present until you find one that grabs you.
  4. If you widen the net to go back to c.2000, you get a couple more LG-2 variants, and I'll get to them as I go along ... Between my schedule and my location I haven't been able to go out and try any of them, but I have read everything I can find online about them and have pored over many, many YouTube videos, Soundcloud recordings, etc. The Americana and the new 1942 Banner both feature Adirondack red spruce - and I am a heretic and still wonder if Gibson really used Adirondack red back then, or if they used the readily available Michigan white spruce that was right at their doorstep. I'm still waiting for someone who really, really knows for sure what they used to answer that one. The 1942 Banner goes the further step of thermal aging of the top. Second heretical observation - the OVERWHELMING majority of the Gibsons we have grown up listening to that have shaped our ears were built with Sitka. To my ears, Sitka is a less cutting topwood, a little warmer, and in the very projecting grand concert LG body that can be an advantage. And Sitka came in when, exactly - was it already in use during the war years? The LG-2 American Eagle always bothered me in terms of historical accuracy - it has a straight-sided headstock shape, there's just a wee bit too much space between the end of the fingerboard and the soundhole, it has the top-belly bridge that NEVER appeared on any vintage LG-2, etc., etc. And it's natural finish, so it oughta be an LG-3, right? No matter. They sound really nice to my ear, the expected Gibson sound but with the emphasis a little higher in the midrange than the J-45 and its brethren. I really want a 2013-15, as every one of those I have seen has had STUNNING spruce for the tops and I just prefer the simpler look with Klusons, but honestly, I think the later ones with the mini-Grovers, the pickguard and the extra soundhole rosette ring sound just as good as the 2013-2015 variety. From the little I have been able to find online, the current 50s version is essentially an LG-2 American Eagle with all the cosmetic issues brought into line - the correct headstock shape and logo, Klusons, choice of burst or natural (though they really ought to call the natural an LG-3, but Gibson never listens to me!), and I would suspect it is an awesome guitar. There were also some limited runs done for sale in Japan, some of which were marked LG-1, and it seems to me there were some made as specials for Guitar Center. For that matter, I firmly remember they offered a 60s B-25 variant as a Guitar Center exclusive, and who knows which other retailers got something similar? Fuller's, maybe? I do know this - if I ever buy a second Gibson acoustic to go with my J-45, it will be an LG-2. The only guitar I still miss from the hundreds that passed through my hands was a 1960 LG-2 with a batwing 'guard and the later tapered, non-scalloped, wider and lower braces. There is just something about that size that makes it an ideal songwriting instrument.
  5. Not live, but intimate studio recordings that are the top of the heap for me - Baden Powell, Baden Plays Vinicius - https://music.apple.com/ca/album/baden-plays-vinícius/977399394 - this is either the last or next to last recording he did, an instrumental last run through music he composed for Vinicius de Moraes lyrics c.1966. Baden's voice, which had been getting frailer, is absent here. It's just him and a very close-miked Anibal Crespo classical guitar, and he'll rip your heart right out with the emotional twists he gets out of it. Listen to this through headphones. "Valsa Sem Nome" still nails me to my seat when I listen to it. Hiss Golden Messenger, Bad Debt - https://music.apple.com/us/album/bad-debt-remastered/1441041932 - Recorded on a cassette deck late at night while his infant child slept in the next room during a time when M.C. Taylor was a folklorist doing field recordings, taking a break from being a professional musician, and pondering what is music, really? Many of these songs he has since gone back and re-recorded with a full band, but this collection is simply too good to be surpassed. There are interesting little sonic artifacts throughout, and yes, it's not so different from what any of us do, as Jinder noted. So, what the hell. I'll plug my contribution to the genre, because even if no one else likes it, I have an abiding fondness for Russ Fitzgerald, Midnight Sunroom - https://music.apple.com/us/album/midnight-sunroom/id1518429993 - also available on all the other streaming platforms. I've really turned away from "studio" albums, vastly preferring "un-studio" stuff and live recordings. The field recording aesthetic better captures music in the real world, at least for me. And I am so bored of the radio-friendly aesthetic, maybe because so much of it becomes dishonest. Or maybe I'm just wearing my hair shirt today. In his book White Bicycles, Joe Boyd has a passage about his preference for "performance" music rather than layered studio stuff, and I am in complete agreement with that. I vastly prefer the bare essential takes on songs, the classical "kitchen table test" versions.
  6. Really lovely, heartfelt rendition! Thank you, and thank you for playing the LG-1 - my introduction to Gibson acoustics was my best friend's early '50s LG-1 that his mother had bought while a student at Mercer University. Whenever I hear one, I flash back to Macon in the late 70s - thank you for that, too!
  7. I had one of the round hole variants that was full of additional holes when it arrived - someone had chopped out a hole for a pickup and fitted volume and tone pots, and then had a big chunk broken out of the side where an output jack was fitted. I had it patched and repaired and refretted. It's one of exactly TWO guitars out of the hundreds I have owned that I still regret letting go of. It had the most incredible percussive WHOMP, straddling a line between a conventional archtop and a J-45. I remember using it to accompany a singer, without amplification, in an old cinema converted to a theatre, and later learning it did indeed carry all the way to the back. Awesome guitars!
  8. It DID go well and was fun! The actual musical performances start about 14 minutes or so in - be advised that for some reason the volume seems very low to my ears! Anyway, here's the link to the actual show!
  9. I switched over to John Pearse Pure Nickels in 2014 and never looked back. The best recording of these strings I have would either be this livestream I did back in April using a Tascam iM2X mic through my iPhone, or the actual guitar playing parts on the Square on Air episode I did in July - for that, skip ahead about 17 minutes or so, or just scroll past the interview bits for the other songs. The guitar is an '05 J-45 Historic Collection, played in my usual brutalist bareknuckle fashion ...
  10. There's always Ray Wylie Hubbard as an example of the great second act in life - though I keep reminding myself that one of my very favorite albums ever is Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell's 1966 Os Afro Sambas. Vinicius was in his 50s when they cut that one. Breaking away from the pop music world's adoration of adolescence and the youth culture is incredibly liberating, at least for me. I played a 6 songwriter guitar pull last night that was done as a livestream, and my stuff was ... different. There was a rocker, a pop songwriter girl, an indie rocker and two country singer/songwriters who produce very commercially viable material - and me, at 59 a Man Without A Genre. The truth is, the only way to keep ANY song fresh is to view it as in process. I've been much happier, musically, since I started acting as if each time I play or sing a song I'm feeling it out all over again. The results can be surprising - sometimes that leads to little lyrical tweaks, sometimes to radically different tempos or approaches. Last year I released my first album, Midnight Sunroom, and sent it out via all the usual streaming services. It is not setting the world on fire, but then again it's in that little realm of late-night-solo-singer-songwriter-guitarist records, somewhere in the world bounded by Nick Drake's Pink Moon and early Bert Jansch and Hiss Golden Messenger's Bad Debt and early Tallest Man On Earth stuff. I mention it because it took me a while to realize that recordings I had made while rehearsing for another project were better than the project. Initially I rejected them because they didn't match the "perfect" template I had in my head for how the songs should sound. Then I had the radical thought - "if this was someone else's music, and I had no pre-conceived notions of how it should sound, what would I think of it then?" And then I realized I loved it and had achieved something perhaps better than what I was looking for.
  11. I am honored to get to share the stage of the historic Abbeville Opera House with five of South Carolina's best rising songwriters this Wednesday (1/27/21) at 7:30 p.m. EST in a livestream hosted by Hometown Hodges. Here's the link, and I hope you can make it and enjoy the show!
  12. I had a rattle for a while with my '05 J-45. It turned out to be a loose white plastic button on the stock Kluson style tuners, which drove me nuts until I tugged on it and it popped loose. A little Krazy Glue and 10 seconds of pressure and it's been perfect ever since.
  13. I'm a sucker for John Pearse Pure Nickel .012-.054s and would recommend those highly. Slightly less tension than the comparable Phosphor Bronze, and they don't hype or color the sound the way some other strings do. They work wonders on my J-45 and I wouldn't hesitate to run them on a smaller guitar in good condition.
  14. All of the LGs, B-25 and the F-25 have the same scale length with the exception of the LG-2 3/4, which is a completely different beast. The F-25 is an oddball in part because it was built according to folk revival recommendations that one start out with nylon strings and then go to steel. It also is closer to the original conception of these guitars, which are all descendants of the GS (gut string) classical guitars of the immediate pre-WWII period. They're true grand concert guitars, the equivalent of a classical guitar or a Martin 00. I have a great weakness for the LG-2; of the literally hundreds of guitars I have owned, much less many others I have played, the ONLY one that I still regret parting with was a 1960 LG-2 that was once my primary guitar. Had I known then what I know now, and had I found MY sound in those years, I would still be playing it. I would steer you towards LGs, with some notes and observations - An x-braced LG covers a lot of the same territory as a J-45 or J-50, but with the emphasis shifted in a couple of ways. The LGs are more upper mid-range and clarity, especially the post '55 with the wider, flatter bracing on the tops, vs. the lower mid-range and more blended sound of the Js. LGs are more focused and projecting to my ears, Js are more enveloping, encompassing, with more presence. I've never had the opportunity to actually play an F-25, but I would like to. The ones I have heard sound to me like they split the difference between a J-45 and an LG-2, with a little more low end and the strange juju that 12-fret grand concert steel strings bring to the party. People who have actually played them can chime in, but I got the impression that while the F-25 fretboard isn't as curved as a conventional Gibson, it's still not entirely flat and the nut width is a somewhere between 1.75 and 2 inches. I would love to explore that someday. Heretical observation - as you price old LG-1s (which have their own arch top-like vibe, and which usually get labeled blues and slide instruments), LG-2s and LG-3s (which have gotten much more pricey the last couple of decades) and B-25s (also getting pricier than they once were), maybe you'll find yourself in my camp. I lean towards newer instruments based on the old ones, because I just can't afford to pay the additional tariff involved in collectible artifacts. Should the stars align and I have the necessary pile o' shekels to make it happen, I keep hoping to score a 2013-15 era LG-2 American Eagle. I'll gladly surrender the cool sunburst and live with the strange mix of a straight-sided pre-war headstock with postwar logo for the light build and the lovely tone I keep hearing out of them - especially considering the price they go for, used. For that matter, I bet one could buy a brand new LG-2 for less than a compromised vintage one, and the new ones appear to be really lovely as well.
  15. The ONLY guitar out of the hundreds I have owned and let go of that I still miss to this day was a 1960 LG-2. The LG-2AE is a special guitar, even if it does look like an LG-2 with a prewar headstock, and every one I have heard I have liked. They remain at the top of my list of guitars I would like to buy to accompany my beloved J-45, possibly even ahead of the newer, more expensive ones brought out this year.
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