Special delivery! Lo and behold my brand new Recording King RK-R36 five-string resonator banjo! #happy

'Taylor day' - with my girlfriend | Part Two

This post is about my first Taylor Road Show, on October 19th at Max Guitar in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Introduction

It wasn’t very crowded yet when we set foot into the shop. I hesitated a bit, but took a front row seat with my girlfriend. What’s great is, that some girl from behind the counter came up to us and asked if we wanted a drink. You don’t find that everywhere. Looking at the guitars before us, there were some really stunning guitars there. On our seats we found a copy of Wood & Steel, a card to fill out to have a chance to win something. And a card listing discounts for various lines of Taylor guitars if you purchased one that night. I wish I could!

We didn’t know what to expect, but eager to find out. According to Taylor in Amsterdam, there have been more Road Shows in The Netherlands in the past, but never really heard or read about them. I had always hoped to visit a Taylor Road Show somehow so this was my chance to find out how they are.

They were supposed to start at 19:00 but that didn’t happen. By the time they started, it was a bit more filled with people, about 15-20 people. But there still were some empty seats. Anyhow, they started with a quick introduction. There were two hosts, one from the UK and one local. They were joking around already, so that would be entertaining to watch.

The Road Show

They started out with some basic information, and then set off to play some guitars. This was to showcase the difference between the body styles. They took Sitka spruce-topped and Indian rosewood-bodied models with different body shapes and let us hear them and their differences. While they were doing that, I learned that the Grand Concert was the first new body style that Bob Taylor designed, and how the Grand Symphony was designed opposed to the Grand Auditorium.

Firstly, I was amazed at how rich the GS was in the bottom end. Compared to a dreadnought, it had more bass, while the dread had a little more mid-range. Whilst the lower bout of the GS was wider, it looked more comfortable than the dread. I was also quite amazed at how the GC model handled strumming. One of the hosts (the one that was playing the guitars) said that because of the smaller body it would be great for studio work. The issue one could run into though, was that it would ‘overdrive’ quicker than a bigger bodied guitar. That means that it wouldn’t get louder and that it would start to sound ugly. I could see that guitar working out well in a studio and even more so once I got to try it out later.

Next up were the different wood types. The other host (who wasn’t playing) explained how the response was with different wood types. Starting with rosewood, it reached out to deep lows and up into the highs, but had a slight dip in it’s mid-range. This was the reason why apparently a lot of singer-songwriters favor a rosewood-bodied guitar as the mid-range is where the voice is. So with a slight dip there, it’s easier to sing over it. Mahogany didn’t reach up or down as far as rosewood did, but it had a slight rise in it’s mid-range. Maple reached up just as much or even further in the highs than rosewood did, but didn’t have the mid-range dip, and didn’t reach quite as far into the lows. Lastly there was koa. Koa was said to have most everything that the tonewoods mentioned before had. But without the dip or rise. And it may take some time for koa to play in and reach down into that low end it was capable of. The koa was, of course, striking to look at. Apparently it was a very expensive (over €10k) BTO, with an armrest which apparently cost about €1500 by itself to make.

They also showed a jumbo, and that it needs a lot more energy to sound good as it’s such a large surface area that needs to move. And that they also need to be played in, in order to have the volume you would expect from a jumbo style guitar.

Top woods were also briefly discussed. That most of them had spruce tops, but also that (Western Red) cedar had a warmer tone. Redwood was also shown on another amazing BTO model, combined with Macassar ebony. This particular top was made of so-called ‘sinker’ redwood, and we learned that this was due to logs being transported over water a couple of centuries ago. But some logs wouldn’t float because they were heavier then water and then sunk. Once rivers were cleaned, these logs were found and Bob Taylor purchased some logs. Due to the amount of time they’ve been down there, minerals have seeped into the wood and show as beautiful coloration on a guitar’s top. Tone-wise it was a bit warmer than Sitka.

Apparently, there were also some baritones among these guitars. They demonstrated them first acoustically, and then plugged the 8-string model into the Bose PA they had set-up. As if it didn’t sound amazing acoustically already, it was earth-shatteringly awesome. Like really, it was nothing short of being able to cause an earthquake. The lows were AMAZING. So deep, so rich, so nice! I had to have a go at one later!

They gave a little history lesson on Taylor Guitars and how it was formed. I knew Bob bought a comapny called ‘American Dream’, together with Kurt. But I didn’t know (or remember) that they went home to ask if they could borrow money to buy the company because the owner wanted to sell it. And that they said Kurt was a good businessman but not a good guitar builder, while they told Bob the exact opposite. And that they got it together and bought the company. Great story!

The Petting Zoo

Yes, the petting zoo, something I looked forward to experience. It wasn’t long before I reached for the really expensive BTO. And my goodness was it worth it! It sounded really warm, with a lot of bottom-end and sweet highs. It wasn’t very loud but it seemed louder than I remember koa to be. Although it did have a lot of bottom-end, it still sounded somewhat tight. It had an armrest and I was amazed at just how comfortable it was. There was no right angles cutting into my arm anymore. I don’t have problems with it usually, but this did add some extra bit of comfort.

I played a 512ce which was really sweet. Amazingly comfortable for me to play. I tried strumming it, and it worked fine. Took a lot less effort to get decent volume than with my own 110ce. It sounded somewhat ‘smaller’ but still bigger than it actually was. Playability was sweet, probably due to the shorter scale - lower string tension.

I played a 655ce (I think it was) which I remember trying before. I’d love to own one of these some day. Loved that tone so much. It was a large guitar but I didn’t have any problems with it at all. It was quite loud, loved the jangly tone and how big it sounded.

Then I hunted down one of the baritones. I took the GT-8 as it was the easiest to spot with it’s 8 strings among all the six-stringers. I sat down with it and played things I normally play on a normal guitar. The scale length didn’t feel much longer than a normal 25.5” scale. Apparently it’s 27”. That’s not very long for a baritone that’s tuned B to B, is it? Anyhow, some things I played worked, and sounded amazing. Other things? Well, less so. I talked to somebody about this phenomenon and we agreed it was a great instrument to experiment on, find a new sound in something we already knew how to play. Just for fun I tried some simple power chords on it, and it sounded great. I think I’d prefer that to power chords on a normal guitar. The octave strings on the 3rd and 4th string added a really interesting flavor to the sound.

The last one I tried must have been that other BTO - the sinker redwood/macassar ebony one. It was really nice. Liked the sound, the responsiveness and the feel of it. The looks were stunning also. The redwood indeed sounded warmer than spruce but it wasn’t as touch-responsive as cedar. It seemed more like a combination of the dynamics of spruce and the warmth of cedar. I’d love to have one, that’s for sure!

More about Taylor

Once playtime was over, there was some more information about Taylor. This time it was on the innovations that Taylor has done over the years. These included the NT neck (standing for New Technology), that I had studied in-depth when I was researching it when I discovered my neck angle on my 110ce was incorrect. It’s a laser precision-cut neck and body joint that is bolted on the guitar. In between the neck and the body there’s a specially made wood shim that can alter the engle of the neck to the body. And this goes in increments of 1/400s of a degree. Now that’s some precision! They had a guitar neck with this system go around the crowd, but we already saw it earlier that day.

Next up was the Taylor Expression System or ES. Because of this new neck-body joint, they had space to put a magnetic pick-up in there. The other part of the pick-up is a body sensor. At some point, the ES had two body sensors, but currently they have only one. The body sensors are very intriguing. Apparently it consists of a can of ferro-fluid, with a magnet suspended in it and a coil around it. I never knew it was inspired on sensors that were used for sensing seismic activity, at a location where they’re expecting a big earthquake. The precise location has slipped my mind, though. The ES system is also grounded and has a fuse in it which makes it safer for the user when there are electrical issues with amps and microphones. When something like that occurs, the fuse pops first and it might save your life, or at least a painful shock (they call it the ‘blue spark of death’). There are laws for this in The Netherlands, but mistakes can be made. Anyhow, they had a guitar body without back, so you could see inside and how the ES system was laid out inside.

One of the hosts then busted out a T5, that had both the ES system built into it, as well as a stacked humbucker at the bridge position. I have to say that I never really got along well with the T5, but I have to admit that it sounded nice and was a very versatile and seemingly convenient for live use. It sounded great through both the electric and acoustic amp, but it doesn’t stop there - you can also switch on both and apply different effects to them. That was quite interesting and awesome. But I wouldn’t be able to do it because I don’t have that many pedals!

Some random guy in the crowd wanted to hear a black SolidBody Classic, and the host kinda kept on pulling his leg because he wanted to hear it and had very specific requests as per to what he should play. He explained a little bit how the pick-ups were wired to a 5-way switch and how some switchings involved coil-splitting. It looked a lot like my own SolidBody Classic, except for the fact that it was black (mine is white).

The host moved on and picked up another SolidBody. I think it was a Custom, but it may have been a Standard. He was talking about how he changed from the Alnico Vs - that had too much chrome on it to his liking, to the HD humbuckers. Contrary to the SolidBody Classic, this instrument had push-pull knobs so you can decide for yourself how you want to split the coils and/or phase invert them. The Classic has pre-set switchings on it’s 5-way switch. I wish I could do that on my Classic, because the possibilities seem endless. I love my SolidBody Classic though.

Prizes

A while ago, I found a topic at the Acoustic Guitar Forum (www.acousticguitarforum.com) talking about Taylor Road Shows. They said you never left with empty hands. They collected the cards that were filled in and put them in a box. That was actually the box they took the prizes out of. The hosts called out a random person from the crowd to take out random cards out of the box. Prizes were a set of Elixir strings (which cost like €15 a set) and a Taylor Road Show t-shirt. I wish I could get one of the t-shirts but at some point they ran out of the right size. So I went with a set of Elixir strings. Always nice to have a set of them handy.

Once every card was out and the prizes were taken, one of the hosts took some other goodies and went around with them. My girlfriend got two really nice-looking coasters. I got a set of heavy picks - which I haven’t tried yet, but I picked (ha-ha) up a heavy Taylor pick somewhere at some point and it sounded great. I think they’re made of celluloid. Girlfriend asked if she could also have some picks and she got those. And both of us got a stack of Taylor stickers. I wouldn’t even know what to do with them! Probably gonna stick another one on my SolidBody’s case, but that’s it!

The Road Show didn’t only start later than expected, but also ended late. Like, an hour later! But we greatly enjoyed it and I would love to visit another one. It’s said that if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to ‘em all, but maybe they have different guitars and maybe I’ll gain a new bit of information. Who knows.

It was a great first Road Show for me, and my girlfriend as well.

Large diaphragm condenser mic shoot-out!

Thought I’d do some comparisons between my three large diaphragm condenser microphones.

They are:
Audio-Technica AT3035
CAD M179
Oktava MK-319

Below are the links to the shoot-out’s clips. I didn’t call them the usual ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ or ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. If you want to know which is which, please contact me and I’ll let you know.

Speech:
https://www.box.com/s/eilbg7pgoigtvob7drbt
https://www.box.com/s/x4x4j3b4knuxy3fgbt37
https://www.box.com/s/gnltx80u4hzzil2m12yp

Acoustic guitar:
https://www.box.com/s/6g6pu5i2vlvww1e18ayo
https://www.box.com/s/2nyju14aumpbbtg7kw3z
https://www.box.com/s/qosyazkb070iwyeh6q2e

Electric guitar:
https://www.box.com/s/foet7eb5popvndy886dh
https://www.box.com/s/0x2odlm5mv4jnjvielue
https://www.box.com/s/x1at6m8qds7q7b3to4nn

Mandolin:
https://www.box.com/s/68j8zjgswxq2v34c9u7r
https://www.box.com/s/x0znr3o8mho1k31m4ha1
https://www.box.com/s/2er2kt6nat9unf83rv9o

Enjoy.

'Taylor day' - with my girlfriend | Part One

This post is about my day at the Taylor Guitars headquarters in Amsterdam and my first Taylor Road Show in Nijmegen and the amazing experience of it.

Introduction

I’m a Taylor player since July 2009 - that’s when I got my first Taylor guitar. I still own that 110ce and has been played an awful lot since getting it. I now own a SolidBody Classic (electric) also, which I purchased in December of last year.

Of course, if you play guitar a lot, the instrument is bound to get some wear and will need some TLC from a skilled luthier or repairman. My guitar showed wear on frets and high action, a too low saddle, from my own diagnosis.

I visited one, talked with him about my guitar and went home to ask about it on a forum (the Acoustic Guitar Forum - www.acousticguitarforum.com). Judging by the replies I got on the forum, the repairman didn’t know the specifics on Taylor instruments. So I never went back there to have the repairs done.

Taylor’s excellent service and hospitality

I contacted Taylor headquarters in Amsterdam by e-mail, asking if I could come by to have the neck reset, because apparently my neck angle wasn’t right (which folks at the AGF spotted). When I actually got there, a lot more had to be done than just resetting the neck. But there wasn’t time that day and I needed the guitar the same night for a performance (which actually got canceled). The guy I e-mailed with told me I could come back later, somewhere halfway October to have the repairs done.

Yesterday (October 19th) I went back to have the guitar repaired. The guy I contacted before was there again and called out a repairman. He looked at my guitar and said some things about it. I said a few things about it also and asked some questions. He then asked me if I was interested. I happily said I was and we sat down and he explained all the issues he found in the short time he checked my guitar out. He confirmed that the neck angle was off, and that the saddle was too low. What I didn’t expect him to tell me is that my nut was too low also. I always thought it was too high! I explained about the graphite that was all over the nut (as a dry lubricant) and how I did it to prevent string binding at the nut when tuning. Repairman told me he’d change out the nut and cut the slots in such way that they’d lead more to the tuning posts so binding issues would be history.

That was just the start. The repairman asked if I would like to come into the repair shop and see how he was going to work on my guitar. So my girlfriend (who was with me) and I followed him. He laid my guitar on an empty work bench and asked what kind of strings were on there. They were Martin SPs and told him they were nice even though the ‘normal’ Martin strings sucked.

We were shown a large wall with the precision-cut shims that Taylor uses for all the neck types on the currently produced guitars. It was amazing. The repairman showed us another guitar that was there for repairs, where the neck angle was also incorrect. He showed us how if you looked over the frets, they’d point down onto the side of the bridge, while it should actually be pointing over the top of the bridge. He took the neck off, grabbed a different shim, sanded it to fit, put the neck back on and showed it again. This time it was exactly how it was supposed to be. It was quite odd to see a neck taken off of a guitar like that! He told me that when he was in San Diego - where the main Taylor factory is, that the builders there can get this neck angle correct within a few minutes. It’s amazing how quickly this can be done.

After he proceeded to take the strings off of my guitar, he showed me the neck angle on my guitar and turned out that it was even a little bit worse than the other guitar we looked at. It was like pointing halfway up the side of the bridge - which is really low and gives a higher action. So that had to be fixed.

Next step was knocking out the nut - which was too low. I learned that they were superglued in place. Superglue due to the fact that if you exerted some force on it, it would give way. This wouldn’t be possible with wood glue. Repairman asked if I wanted a bone nut. I asked what would be the difference and apparently it would give me a rounder tone. Sold!

The frets were next to go. Apparently, tightening the truss rod to cause a backbow made it easier to take the frets out. But there was some bad news hidden in the truss rod compartiment. The threads appeared to have been worn out and almost needed the complete neck to be replaced. But, the repairman didn’t give up and finally got the nut to grip the threads of the truss rod. YAY!

The weapon of choice for taking the frets out was a flatiron. That’s really the last thing I expected in a repair shop! This, in order to heat a large number of frets so they could be taken out without taking (too much) wood with them. That was a really weird visual - a guitar with an iron on it’s neck.

Then it was lunch time. We were told that when he would actually perform the repairs, we could go upstairs and wait there. But before we went upstairs for lunch, we got a little tour through the headquarters. We saw the lacquer/finishing room, the curing room, the warehouse, the polishing room… awesome!

When we went upstairs we were told that if we wanted something we could get it (coffee, food, whatever it may be). And that we could play the guitar that was sitting next to a couch in a stand. It was a beautiful 714e. We were told that the guitar was everybody’s friend.

Both my girlfriend and I were blown away by the friendliness of the staff and the hospitality. I mean, we could just sit and wait upstairs, among offices and what not. That I could just pick up that guitar and play it. I mean, they might as well have kicked us out to come back later.

The waiting game

We waited for quite a while, must have been about 2-3 hours. My girlfriend was viewing a book that laid on a table. It was filled with unique instruments that Taylor has built over the years. Amazing. I spent most of the time playing the 714e, what a great guitar that is! My girlfriend, meanwhile, was greatly fascinated by the building. From the inside it was very interesting. There was carpet, modern looking couches, classic looking chairs at the large lunch table, a room built from wood and glass, concrete and ducts showing and everything. It felt modern, but very friendly and homely, and warm.

My girlfriend and I talked about how great it was that they let us wait there and how nice the people were. And that we could get something if we wanted to and that we could just play the guitar that was there. My girlfriend told me she could see me working there. That with being so interested in the how and the what with guitars, eager to learn about them and how they are constructed or repaired and my willingness to learn it also. And how passionate I’d be about and would love doing it.

I played the 714e a bit more and then went downstairs again to find a restroom. Before I came back I looked through the glass at how the repairman was working on my guitar. It felt kind of weird. I know it’s just a guitar, but I’ve spent so much time playing it that it’s gotten some sentimental value. But I was absolutely certain that it was taken care of and would be amazing once finished.

After a long time of playing I put down the 714e and sat with my girlfriend for a little while. Then we heard footsteps up the stairs and the repairman appeared with my 110ce. He sat down and proceeded to play it, while telling about all the things he did and that were improved and/or restored. He handed me the guitar and I busted out a bluegrass tune (one that drives my girlfriend insane, very entertaining). He asked me if I was happy with how it turned out. It felt like a brand new guitar! The playability was smooth, smooth, smooth and the action was excellent. The sound seemed rounder indeed, but I was very happy with it. I felt a bit weird. I was really happy, but felt a bit odd. I mean, this man has overhauled my guitar from being a somewhat worn instrument with some issues to a factory spec one.

Then we went back down to grab my gig bag and head on out. But before that, he had to show me how the guitar sounded. Apparently it was a tough job to get the saddle exactly right in contact with the piezo pickup. He was certain that this was the best the guitar had ever sounded amplified. It sounded excellent. I hope to make more use out of it’s amplified sound. That, and I was handed a Planet Waves Humidipak to keep the humidity level right for the guitar. I was recommended to store the guitar in it’s gig bag for the cold months when the central heating would be on.

I packed up my guitar, made sure that everything we talked about repair-wise was OK. We thanked him for the in-depth experience at the repair shop, the tour through the headquarters. We thanked everybody for their kindness and hospitality. We were walked out by the repairman and I thanked him again. We told him we were going to Nijmegen to visit the Road Show and he told us to say hi to one of the guys there that would host the show.

Conclusion

When I got my Taylor, I got it for it’s sound and playability. Little did I know that I had a guitar that had such a great name on it. A name with great customer service, great innovations, and caring about the environment and it’s resources.

My girlfriend said that even if she didn’t need it right away, it’s nice to know that there’s amazing customer service ready when needed.

If you own a Taylor guitar, and there is repair needed, let Taylor certified people do it. They’ve got all the expertise and skill specific to these instruments and are very well-trained. That, and you should have the guitar checked by them once a year, just to make sure everything’s alright and prevent any small issue from becoming a real problem.

A few last words

I felt a bit bad when walking back to travel to the station. Because I felt so odd - even guilty, I was afraid I didn’t thank the repairman enough, that I didn’t let it show enough or something.

So I’ll do it again - thank you so much for informing me about the issues that had to be worked out with my guitar, how the repair would be done and of course performing the repairs itself. I know it’s your job to do so but I still can’t thank you enough for giving me back a guitar that feels like new and plays like a new guitar as it rolls out of the factory.

That, and I want to thank EVERYBODY at the Taylor headquarters in Amsterdam for letting us wait there. For the hospitality and kindness. Both my girlfriend and I felt quite at home and at ease. We hope to see you again next year, when I’ll have my guitar(s) checked!

Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll talk about the Road Show we visited that same day.

New microphone - Audio-Technica AT3035! It’s a large-diaphragm condenser.

What’s new? Well, I got some foam from places and did some basic reflection treatment. What’s the next step? Traps!

Having a load of trouble tracking down the right material though, like, should I go for Rockwool, Isover, Knauf or something alternative like Thermo-Hemp?

Anyhow, I’ll post it soon enough, when I’ve got my traps!

Here’s my recently acquired Laney LC15R - about 10 or more years old. Nice price, in great condition. So I got it.

I’ll probably get an Eminence Ragin’ Cajun speaker for this amp as the stock HH Invader isn’t all that awesome.

That, and I’ll change out the tubes (or have them changed) and have the circuit looked at as there’s some tiny issues with it.

Jacobien - full session

As promised, here’s Jacobien & friends’ full session: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFE937DD78470036A - enjoy!

New recordings

Howdy,

Had some people over to record last weekend. They came to record demos (for one of them) for the RockAcademie in Tilburg. I’ve got it on video too so videos are coming up soon!