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E-minor7

The Year of The Bird

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As mentioned between a month and 2 ago, I decided to share some kind of review of my '08 Hummingbird True Vintage after circa 365 days.

 

So here we go -

 

2011– By coincidence the seller was in town for a concert and therefor had the possibility to let me try the guitar those 6 hours before he went out again. It was a Saturday evening and obviosly close to the ideal chance to get next to this ever intriguing instrument. I played it more or less the whole time it was here and felt privileged. Took some breaks, but basically went back and forth between the 2010 J-45, the square shouldered 1968 SJ and this in-flown Bird. Not as easy as it sounds – yes, the 45 wasn't hard to distinguish as it is louder and clearly more projective, thus rumbly. But the SJ (longer scale) sounded pretty similar to the 'guest', though heavier braced and of course vintage voiced.

 

The Bird had very low action and was a dream to play. With almost fresh medium DR-strings, my left hand laughed all the way up and down the fretboard. I liked what I heard and got caught from the beginning. Still the thing was very tight and withheld. Not too much dripping honey and nothing of the soft rich bass I treasure so much in these guitars. Didn't care about the lack of volume – it's not what Birds are about - it's tone, feel and character. And yes, all of it was there, but quite undeveloped, as if still hidden in the woods below that gorgeous look and legendary pick-guard. Back and forth – forth and back. The hours disappeared like a clap in the hands. But, , , , I decided to let it slip. Only to wake up the next day with a feeling that something was wrong – something important had passed me by. I couldn't defend not to take the full step and give this legend a top-to-bottom test-treat - an old gypsy-woman on my left shoulder told me to act. No option but to phone the seller the following week and call the guitar back. Came Wednesday the 18th of May straight to my address (how generous). Now that's today isn't it. . . .

Which means I been the fortunate owner of this burst beauty for exactly a year. How did it go. . .

First let me say, that it has been played a lot. I decided to, but in the long run had no choice. The guitar is too tempting. It soon became the most played Gibson here and showed to be the ideal 'sword' for regaining my faded flatpicking skills. An important issue in my master-plan anyway. Yeeaahh, the Bird is one hell of a flatpicker/strummer. It's just so incredible funny to fly it that way. And slowly I got a little better, , , it helped me re-learn. I fingerpicked too – and heard the clarity and note-seperation as huge plusses. It sounds so good once you accept it isn't a power-tool. So that's how it went for months and months – I simply enjoyed and played on. Experimented - Worked - Dug in - Dream-picked - Blissfully flew – Doubtfully landed, took off again and so forth. I freaked out about the looks (and confessed it all here) – I got hooked on Hartford Snyder and even eventually added a very fine cream-touch here and there on the flora/fauna guard.

Then what happened sonically. The guitar slowly began a gear-less meltdown as I carefully kept and ear on, and watched out for the 8-month mark, which in my experience is the first point where something ought to have happened. Surely it had changed over winter, things were in process. But the first real opener came the first weekend in March. My note says :

The Hummingbird sees a break through

The glaze rings through – it now sounds intriguing with old strings.

 

Since then I've been doin' a full-shim move. Took the rattling away (don't forget we're half a tone down). Now believe it's where it's supposed to be now – and how wonderful it is to play. The softening up has given the looser mellow bass I rate so high. Besides it has revealed the early traces of what I consider the real sugar-drip. In this process the volume has increased a tooth also. I both strum, flat and fingerpick. Don't use capo that much (might be a mistake, but somehow it doesn't really do it for me). I go down in low D, which works fine, but don't do any other tunings. I prefer the Bird rather straight and want to get to know it there. So this is what I've found so far - this is where we are. Some code-words would be :

 

Stunningly beautiful

 

Seducing

 

Low voiced

 

Warm

 

Woody/Crisp

Primal (or should I say primitive) and Sophisticated side by side

 

More than sensual

 

Rocking

 

Feminine

 

Secretive

 

Willing

 

Able

 

Limited

 

Poetical

 

Charismatic

 

Vulnerable

 

Sweet

 

Sweetly tough -

 

Okay folks – so much for my 2 sides of the coin. Might have forgotten something. If so it will be added in later posts. Hope it didn't get too long. You Bird flyers (you ex. and you in spe), you Hummer watchers/listeners might recognize a couple of details. Chime in when you feel like it. If there's Q.'s bring'em on.

 

A good weekend to you all -

 

VinterHummingbird.jpg

 

 

During the period 5 sets of stings were used.

 

Martin 12's

NewTone 12's

Elixir 12's (very shortly)

Martin 12's*

Gibson 11's

*Same Martins, now boiled

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Nice review. Gorgeous guitar. It is so fun to hear about something gone right. You boil your strings? I thought only bass players did that. :rolleyes:

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Wonderful review and extremely enjoyable reading. Always nice to read about a happy ending...or a happy journey.

 

All the best.

 

MJ

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thats a nice love letter Em7 , i'm glad you two are happy ( nearly said lovebirds , but thats a terrible pun)

i remember hearing a clip from you and thinking it was rather fab, how about a fresh one to celebrate the anniversary ? get the camera out n treat us all?

 

leep on enjoying the pretty box

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Thanks for this nice review. +1

If you like try those Martin E. Clapton PB 12's.

They sound very good right out of the box. No harsh or metallic sound. My new favs for my HB...

Cheers

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Yes, a great love story indeed !

 

Very, very interesting read, and obviously highly relevant to my needs given my most recent acquisition.

 

Also, interesting how your direct comparisement is very similar to mine J-45/ SJ 68'SJ/ 69' CW/ Bird trannie

 

I feel encouraged to explore the Bird and see how she develops, I have a feeling it will be a wonderful experience and she is still holding back my secrets and charms. So different to the SJ, which is such a pitbull while the Bird is such refined godess (with an attitude)

 

I do have a couple question:

 

1) What is Hardford Snyder

 

2) Why do you boil your strings, and do you add a pinch of salt n' pepper ?

 

Enjoy, looking forward to exchanging the experiences !

 

EA

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you can remove the crud from stringa by boiling them , its an old way of cleaning them , i think em7's sixties fascination fuelled that experiment , am reading keith richards book and found it interesting that he would tie broken strings together again if they broke long enough to clear the fretboard area , different times totally .

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you can remove the crud from stringa by boiling them , its an old way of cleaning them , i think em7's sixties fascination fuelled that experiment , am reading keith richards book and found it interesting that he would tie broken strings together again if they broke long enough to clear the fretboard area , different times totally .

so he would have a knot in the picking area? [confused]

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no , above the nut i assumed , or maybe way down near the saddle . electrics we're talking here ..... well he was talking . i just read it

 

Well I've done it once when I was short of cash and time as a student. It actually can work, although there will obviously be some impact on tone. In my case, the string at least stayed in tune, but it made my old Hondo Les Paul sound a bit tinny on the high E.

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Thanks for the response lads – Yes, it is an intriguing ticket.

 

Regarding strings, I used to boil them quite often as a youngster, simply to fresh them up and spare the wallet. Don't do it much these days, but sometimes it happens. Especially for certain recordings. As said, it gives a at the same time fresh and worn sound, which I find attractive.

 

No EA - there's no salt'n'pepper, but maybe 3 drops of dishwashing-soap.

 

At the other hand I did add a drop of salt in the tea while dyeing the bone-pins. And a touch of honey, no kiddin', , , , after all it's a Hummingbird, isn't it.

 

Btw. had another experience than EA with the bone-exchange. I thought the guitar became a little clearer/louder. But the plast-theory isn't foreign. In fact I put on a piece of very thin black plastic duct-tape under the E and B string zone of the saddle when I full-hog-shimmed recently. To dampen the upper edge 'spitzz-trebs' an ants leg.

 

And EA – As a newborn member of the HB-lounge, you are now entitled to know that Hartford Snyder was the artist who created the wildlife pick-guard – the Hummingbird/hibiscus love scene with the free drifting butterfly. Unfortunately there's not many facts about the man - f.x. no one can tell if he was behind the 2 year younger Dove too. I read a person on the web, who claimed his uncle was Mr. Snyder – and that he remembered him talking about the job as a kid. Mmmmmm, , , , what do we know – who shall we ask - and where is Hartford's ghost. . . . .

 

I just hope he lived to see what a monstrous hit he brought into this world.

 

Oouuhh and now we're talking decoration, I forgot another thing in my original story. The fact that a brass t.r. cover was screwed on as soon I found out I was in love with the Bird. A little to the shiny side yeps (was surprised by the move), but guess I felt an urge to go the whole way.

 

......................

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57classic/blindboyg/Mojor - When I was in the tie strings together period, it was done in the headstock area and normally worked ok for while.

 

A slightly devilish task though, , , especially if it had to be improvised.

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.

Wonderful prose and interesting reading. Love reading about the process of working with a guitar.

 

You have great patience and it paid off for you.

 

Congrats. . B)

 

 

.

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Great read E-minor 7

 

I have owned my HB TV ( which looks very similar to yours with the top patterning ) for 5 months now. I am noticing a subtle 'opening up', she is becoming much more nuanced/ mellow... hony-fied and is speaking to me more and more. I play her alot also and I'll keep the 8 month mark in mind.

The only other hands on experience i had on how these beauties can/should sound, is the first HB TV that i returned. Because she was a few years old she had opened up..from getting played in the store..and her sounds was so rich and textured.. she would make my 10 year old Seagul CW cedar, which is a nice guitar for what it is, sound and feel like a toy when i would a/b them.

 

My Bird' is on her way for sure...and every day i get much joy out of playing her.

 

BBG

 

I'm also reading Keiths book... good read... only a few chapters in and looking forward to Let it Bleed/ Exile et al. era. The old blues/country players would have to tie their broken strings together also.. sometimes in the middle of the board..cos u aint getting any replacements out in the delta/ deep south...even if they could afford em.

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lol , looks like we're living in parrallel existences this week del !

and i'm looking forward to the same parts as you , exile and let it bleed have just the most incredible sound , if you ever get to hear (or maybe you have) a bootleg live cd of them 71/72 its just fantastic . midnight rambler on that exile tour is orgasmic . there is a unofficial one but i cant remember what its called :-s was almost released but they didnt for some reason.

and how can any man not be jealous of keith sprawled out in the huge rooms of that mansion in france ! with his gibsons and anita ! dont think anyone has ever been more rock and roll than that . what a bast@rd . lol

 

edit . the unreleased decca live album 1972

you'll get in on limewire or whatever u use

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lol , looks like we're living in parrallel existences this week del !

and i'm looking forward to the same parts as you , exile and let it bleed have just the most incredible sound , if you ever get to hear (or maybe you have) a bootleg live cd of them 71/72 its just fantastic . midnight rambler on that exile tour is orgasmic . there is a unofficial one but i cant remember what its called :-s was almost released but they didnt for some reason.

and how can any man not be jealous of keith sprawled out in the huge rooms of that mansion in france ! with his gibsons and anita ! dont think anyone has ever been more rock and roll than that . what a bast@rd . lol

 

edit . the unreleased decca live album 1972

you'll get in on limewire or whatever u use

 

Haha.. defo into same kinda shiza this week. Feck!!!! cheers for heads up on that albumn..I don't think I have heard it.. about to do some downloading ...

 

And if you or anyone else hasn't seen Cocksucker Blues... the infamous en-released film of the Stones around that peroid..its a MUST see.. real rock and roll of that peroid.. jammy swines [thumbup]

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57classic/blindboyg/Mojor - When I was in the tie strings together period, it was done in the headstock area and normally worked ok for while.

 

A slightly devilish task though, , , especially if it had to be improvised.

 

I believe I used a reef knot.

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