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About rustystrings

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  • 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. I never encountered the "workhorse" designation for J-45s until c.2007, when I saw it in Gibson promotional material online. Certainly never heard it around music circles in Macon. Maybe a Nashville thing, though I really suspect Gibson's marketing people made it up out of whole cloth. Perhaps I am just cynical.
  2. My best friend's early 50s LG-1 imprinted the Gibson chordal blend in my ears; helped me to hear chords as a whole rather than separate notes; laid the foundations for what I would later desire in guitars. It was (and is) a great guitar. The 1960 LG-2 I bought in the mid 80s for $125 led to learning about inside chord voices. It was a chameleon of a guitar, able to delicately pick out atmospheric sounds, whirl through Celtic-inspired fingerpicking, thump through Piedmont blues and chunk out roots music, even pour out a shockingly loud sheet-metal roar when pushed hard. It remains the only guitar I really regret parting with. It taught me a lot. The early 30s roundhole L-4 that required multiple patches to repair holes created by a previous owner's electrification was a great guitar that was an unforgiving taskmistress. You heard every single note on that guitar, and when you played a clam it was obvious, but it rewarded with a surprisingly round and full tone, mids and lows that rivaled nice jumbos, and a focused power that carried to the back of the hall when used to accompany singers. It led me down a lot of musical roads and was a good teacher, and I hope whoever has it today appreciates it. My blues mentor's '62 J-50 taught me about the gut-punching whomp of the low E string and was used to teach me Piedmont blues and spilled out a swath of stories from the folk revival through Macon's music scene of the 60s and 70s. Specifically, it changed how I heard guitars, giving me a greater appreciation of richness, of depth, reducing the importance of top end to me. It helped me to really value the mids. The c.1950 J-45 I traded for had 24-count-'em-24 cracks in top and bottom because the neck block had popped loose from the treble side. It spent many months languishing in a shop in Atlanta before I finally paid off the repairs and took it home. It completed what my mentor's J-50 had started, and every time I hear the first recordings I did with that guitar I am struck by how wide open and rolling and strong it is, not like someone shouting to make himself heard, not the over-used "it's a cannon!" foolishness, just the normal conversational voice of a truly great singer. It's lived with my brother for more than 20 years and he still thanks me for it, so it's a great guitar in the form of giving me the opportunity to give something, too. I once briefly played a D'Angelico Excel, one of a pair commissioned in 1948. It was a big archtop, and I was playing it with bare fingers and it still pushed back against me, I could still feel the whole guitar vibrate in my arms and against my chest, and it had a singing quality I wish I had words for. The greatest of them, for me, is the one I have now, an '05 J-45 Historic Collection built for Guitar Center, discovered on a day when I wasn't looking for an acoustic guitar, discovered when I casually lifted it off the hook with my right hand and was struck immediately by the thought, "what is MY guitar doing hanging on the wall of this Guitar Center?" It touches on the legacy of every guitar I have ever played and loved, tone reminiscent of the vintage jumbos but with a breathy, voice-like quality I cannot truly describe or explain, the neck feel of the LG-2 but subtly better for my hand, just a sense of being utterly, absolutely right under my hands while playing it. It is the only guitar I have never had an instant of buyers' remorse about. It is the guitar that I have played for a dozen years while finally finding my own voice, finally consolidating what it is that I do with music, rolling every technique I have into what works for me, relearning from the basics of how to hold a guitar, how to listen to what the guitar says while playing it, how to go for that point where my voice and the guitar's voice complement each other and work together and stay out of each other's way, how to put everything musical into the service of the song and not me or the guitar. This guitar inspires me, I am always eager to play it, always saddened and reduced when it is time to gently lower it back into its case and close the lid. A good guitar is a fine musical instrument that plays well and sounds good and is a delight to the eyes. A great guitar is your partner.
  3. I am smitten, absolutely smitten by - and this particular performance, in particular. Sounds like they could be on the stage of Les Cousins in 1965, which will get me every time ... Oh, and Darrell Scott together with Tim O'Brien is not to be missed!
  4. My understanding is 670 J-45 Historic Collection guitars were made for Guitar Center c.2005-2006. They were essentially the standard J-45 with Sitka spruce top, EIRW bridge and fingerboard, Tusq nut and saddle, Gotoh Kluson-clone tuners, Fishman Matrix Natural pickup, 20-fret fingerboard that (alas!) covers part of the rosette, which in turn is (along with the soundhole) closer to the neck because of Ren Ferguson's change of the bracing angle to 98 from 103 degrees or so, and a badly-placed pickguard that covers another quarter of the rosette. Mine has a nut width that is 1.704-in according to my Harbor Freight digital calipers. They weren't a vintage recreation so much as being a sort of vintage-esque, old-ish, tradition-ortiented Gibson that referenced the past with subtle features and touches that reflect decades of refinement. I think it was 2008 when Gibson split the J-45 into the Modern Classic and the True Vintage variants. The Modern Classic later evolved into the Standard, with more of an emphasis on being a good playing, working guitar with a nod towards the past, while the True Vintage (which was neither) raided the past for some aesthetic choices and tonewood selection and married them to a bracing pattern that had no historical connection to the model to create a fancier, more expensive guitar that had the appropriate buzzwords attached. I think the TV is also the start of this century's use of Adirondack red spruce by Gibson, something later expanded to things like the Legends guitars. It gets dizzying and confusing. Heresy, but I'll say it. The overwhelming majority of the Gibson J-45s we grew up listening to either live or recorded were Sitka-topped postwar guitars with block logos. The Standard/Modern Classic/Historic Collection/Early J-45 and their ilk are much closer to producing the sound most of us heard growing up. If you run up on a good price on a Historic Collection and you like it, grab it. I've been keeping tabs on them for years, and currently they sell used for a bit more than I paid for mine new in 2007.
  5. My understanding is that the LG-2 c.1955-1961 and the B-25 c. 1962-64 were essentially the same guitar except for changes to the bridge and a cherry sunburst rather than the 3-tone 'burst. They have the same slightly wider, lower and unscalloped bracing that came in c.'55. The cognoscenti contend that the scalloped bracing that came earlier is superior, but I think it's more a matter of difference in tonal emphasis rather than difference in tonal quality. Years ago I read Mark at Folkway's description of the unscalloped post '53 guitars as more focused with more note separation, and I would go along with that. Not note separation to the extent that a Martin has - more like a noticeable but not extreme shift on the scale from blended to separate notes when playing chords. I know the '60 LG-2 I had was a shockingly flexible instrument, and it remains the only guitar I have parted with that I still miss. Depending on when the guitar was built in '65, you may have a headstock angle change from 17 to 14 degrees. Apart from that, the replacement rosewood bridge and bone saddle should handle all the serious issues you would have with this guitar. I strongly suspect you're really gonna like it.
  6. Have you played this guitar with a capo yet? Try it on the first fret to start with. Your J-45 would not be the first one sold with nut issues - mine had nut slots so shallow the guitar went out of tune when you played it. You might have the opposite issue, a nut with slots cut just a whisker too low and allowing the strings to rasp on the first fret.
  7. Before I went with Pearse's nickel wound strings, these Jp phosphor bronze 12s were my string of choice for more than a decade on a variety of acoustics. They were about the ONLY string I could get to work when I had a Taylor 815C, they worked well on my old Guild GF-25C, and they were near magical on the 1960 LG-2 that I still miss.
  8. If you are looking for a warmer, mellower sound that doesn't have so much string "zing!" I would point you towards John Pearse Pure Nickel acoustic gauge strings, the 960L light gauge .012-.054 set. I went to them several years ago because I wanted a more consistent sound that had a more apparent wood and air tonality and didn't have the over-hyped top end of new phosphor bronze strings. I have really enjoyed the way they sound AND their surprising longevity. , which is the 2005 ancestor of the Modern Classic that evolved into today's Standard, and if you turn it up loud enough the iPad mic used captured most of how the guitar sounds. I would NOT go to mediums on a J-45, because to my ear they constrict the sound. I would not recommend extra light gauge strings on any guitar. I have always found them to be kinda thin sounding.
  9. I think Ryan Adams sure can write, and the recordings of his solo acoustic shows in 2011 are really fine. I have re-read his bio and it sounds like he grew up in seriously dysfunctional situations, and from following his career for several years it's clear he has many unresolved issues. None of this excuses this reported behavior. Comprehend but do not condone, etc. Traditional masculinity would actually condemn this behavior, because we are supposed to be our sisters' protectors, right? Because they have numerous participants and witnesses who are willing to go on the record, and because many of the stories seem to line up, and because there is not an overt political angle to this story, I am inclined to believe the Times has done its due diligence here. I note that #MeToo is itself pretty political, but that one seems to be burning as many people on the left, if not more, than on the right. It is, as they say, a developing story. I will probably regret this next part, but so be it. dhanners may argue that we expect the NYT (and by extension the national media) to do its job and hold people in power and celebrities to account. And overall, I think we do - but we expect that holding to account to be fair, even-handed, and bipartisan. You would have to be Ray Charles not to see the difference in tone, scope, and aggressiveness between how the previous administration was covered by the national media vs. the coverage of the current administration. As far as livemusic's post goes, my observation from this very red state is a lot of people voted against one candidate more than they voted for the other one. There were a lot of conversations I overheard or participated in that boiled down to, "Both candidates are raving narcissistic pieces of work, but one of them will have the press cheerleading for them no matter what horrible thing they do, while the other one will remind the American media they're supposed to be the watchdogs of democracy, not the lapdogs they've been since January 2009. That man may be a &^%$#@, but he'll be the most heavily scrutinized &^%$#@ to ever hold that office, and after the last eight years, we'll take that."
  10. Oh, why not? I just stumbled onto this guy after frequently hearing his songs done by others. This one makes me think, what would have happened if Tim Hardin had been drinking at the same bar near Ipanema with Tom Jobim and that crowd ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jwQfzTrO2A
  11. Also, here's a completely different bag - Baden Powell. This track is from my absolute favorite album of his, Baden Plays Vinicius. If memory serves, it was the last album he recorded, taking one last sweep through the best of the songs he had co-written with Vinicius de Moraes. These are all solo instrumental pieces, moody and introspective. Listen to them with earbuds or headphones and soak it in ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPLBFcOQUvA
  12. This song was my introduction to Tyler Childers, and if he had recorded it as a shellac 78 rpm it would fit perfectly into the Harry Smith Anthology - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QzcrflqDCg M.C. Taylor aka Hiss Golden Messenger is, to my ears, at his best playing solo. The Bad Debt album that he recorded late at night in his kitchen is my personal favorite of his works. Here's a live solo set - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6iVzD06cKg
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  14. Not necessarily a barn door. Gibson sold J-200s in the 90s with volume and tone pots mounted up on the upper bass side shoulder - here's . At http://uspest.org/coopl/tvzfaq.html#19 you'll find this in the listing of TVZ's guitars, which sounds like what you're looking at - This is NOT some mono-buttocked homebrew installation, nor is it a stereotypical barn door electronic setup - and it arguably has some historical significance and cool guy factor, to boot. Don't be in such a rush to pull it and plug up the holes, especially if it's factory stock. Gibson J200 ('91/'92 onwards...I believe this was made by Gibson luthier Chip Phillips, who said "Every time I saw him since he got that guitar, he was very appreciative. Townes wasn't a materialistic person, but you'd have had a hard time prying that guitar away from him. It was his pride and joy.") [Townes got the J-200 through a Gibson endorsement. According Phillips a friend of Van Zandt's, the instrument has a spruce top, maple back and sides, a maple neck, a rosewood mustache bridge, and factory-installed SORS (Symbiotic-Oriented Receptor System) electronics with a piezo-type saddle pickup and built-in preamp. - about-townes 12-9-2000] [it's a Gibson J-200--it's big enough to hide behind--and sometimes, I swear, my guitar plays itself. Guitars are alive--I say that and people go, 'Yeah, far out!'--but I mean it. My guitar is alive! That wood ain't dead yet, you know?! - TVZ, New York Times, 11/24/1994] [When Townes died he had 3 guitars. I gave Tin Man to Katie Belle which she makes up Blues songs on in open tuning. I gave the J-200 to JT (you may have seen him play it on the ACL tribute). Will, who started playing just before Townes died; Townes called him a natural, got the custom TVZ & Newman(sp?)Jones (who makes guitars for Keith Richards) electric guitar. It's a beauty. Will has never played again since Townes died. Jeanene Van Zandt 9-19-1999] Anyway, it could be a very, very cool guitar with factory stock pickups - and if it's the TVZ variant, maybe a little extra cachet with it, you know? Go check it out.
  15. I don't assume blindboygrunt's comments about me, but I AM a narcissist with an emotional void, so I'll have a go at the OP's question ... As far as trimming the herd or keeping the lot - that is entirely up to you, and cases can be made for either choice. Life and other circumstances have helped me to trim my herd down to one nice steel string, one beater steel string, one classical guitar and one soprano ukulele, and I am generally at peace with it - though I still think I will pick up an LG-2 AE to see if it fills the hole left by letting go of my 1960 LG-2 all those years ago ... As far as maturing into a specific guitar, that's another matter. My experience was that I once collected solid-body electrics at a dizzying pace, then went through a phase where I had bunches of vintage acoustics including a variety of archtops and a steel-bodied National. Having the National Duolian was nice, but I only mastered three slide songs, and I am just not, ultimately, a blues guitarist. The archtops (and especially the battered and much-repaired but exquisite roundhole L-4) taught me discipline, because nothing makes a clam stand out like an archtop, and they helped me work in new voicings and hear things differently - but I am not a jazz guitarist. . The experience of having and playing those guitars for a while was nice, but what they ultimately taught me is how to find what I really like in a guitar - which is a state you have already reached. You like "a punchy, woody tone, with good note separation," and you find that in maple-bodied guitars.
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