A SUPERB DREADNAUGHT
Over the years I have had a number of acoustic guitars. In the beginning Saxon and Echo then Fylde, Lowden, Guild, Taylor and Gibson. None of them really 'did it' for me. One day I visited Peter Norris Music in Douglas on the Isle of Man and sitting there were three Collings guitars. I ended up over time buying them all, selling one then buying it back again! This post is about the D2H.
"It is well known that the square-shouldered 14-fret dreadnought is the most popular steel-string acoustic guitar body shape in the world. It's well balanced but the bass response makes the dreadnought ideal for vocal accompaniment."
The sound of this rascal is massive with warmth and clarity at the bottom end and shimmering treble at the top. My OM2H sits in the mix better in a band situation but for a duo or solo, it's perfect.
On my second solo album 'The Knife', Andy Seward (who produced and played bass on the album) managed to capture the sound of this beautifully. It is featured on 'Do You Want Me' and 'Broken Man' and miked with a Soundelux Elux251 Tube Condenser and Telefunken U47.
More recently I recorded it with a pair of Schoeps CMC-64, the results which you can hear on the featured track - 'Can't Find My Way Home'.
As with most of my acoustic guitars, it's fitted with a Highlander IP-2 pick up which allows me to add an additional passive pickup if required - I use the Jim Kaufman Sunrise. Strung now with Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 13-56.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
PURE BRITISH CLASS
I remember taking a mandolin to a party when I was about 17. I can't remember what I played or what happened to that particular instrument but the sound has always really got me. Perhaps listening to Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on Led Zeppelin III had something to do with it!
My wife Suzy bought me an Oakwood for my birthday when we first moved in together but sadly my fingers were a little fat to really play it well.
She bought a Fylde King John Bass (pictured above) and this reignited my love of these fine British instruments and subsequently asked Roger to build me a mandolin. I wanted it to record really well and I wasn't disappointed sounding fantastic mic'd with a pair of Schoeps CMC-64. We haven't released any music so far with this recorded but watch this space.
Again fitted with a superb Headway HE5/M.FEQ undersaddle pickup and Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze strings - 11, 15, 26, 40
Roger says about the mandolins:
"A design unique to Fylde, with a slightly longer string length and wider fingerboard than many mandolins. Ideal for players who frequently change between guitar and mandolin, its extra string length helps to produce a powerful, rich tone, and the extra spacing and fingerboard width make it ideal for those players who need more room on the fingerboard.
Over years of cutting English Walnut for the Alchemist and Magician, I have a lot of undersize sets of lovely timber, and I haven’t made mandolins with cedar soundboards for a long time, so here we are, a new mandolin model. Very sweet and warm sounding, charming in every way.
English Walnut back and sides, Western Red Cedar top, Honduras Mahogany neck, Ebony fingerboard and bridge, gold plated Gotoh tuners, Rosewood bindings, marquetry purfling front."
a CLASSIC CLASSICAL
An important tool in every guitar players arsenal is a great classical.
This is a great one indeed and since I picked it up in Penrith, I haven't put it down. From Peter Green and Willy Nelson to Bill Callahan these sounds regularly show up in contemporary music.
The imminent recording of the new Starlite Campbell Band contemporary folk album did precipitate the purchase of this instrument and it sounds amazing. The bass is resonant with sustain for days and the nylon strings have a great attack. Perfect for recording.
I am not particularly big on guitar 'bling' and this is no exception: if it doesn't contribute to the sound it doesn't go on!
It features Indian Rosewood back and sides, Englemann Spruce or Cedar top, three-piece laminated neck, Ebony fingerboard and bridge, no position markers, gold plated Gotoh tuners and Rosewood bindings. Unusually for me it does feature a cutaway which, on a 12 fret I have found really useful.
Amplifying a nylon-strung guitar is tricky as there isn't a lot of tension under the saddle for a standard piezo unit so this time Roger fitted a K&K Pure Classic passive pickup.
Strings are Savarez 500CJ High Tension.
The 'go to' acoustic...
Over the years I have had a number of acoustic guitars. In the beginning Saxon and Echo then Fylde, Lowden, Guild, Taylor and Gibson. None of them really 'did it' for me. One day I visited Peter Norris Music in Douglas on the Isle of Man and sitting there were three Collings guitars. Over time, I ended up buying them all, selling one then buying it back again! This post is about the OM2H.
For those, like me, who knew little about acoustics, 'OM' stands for 'Orchestra Model'. I have been told that 80 years after this body shape was first designed it has become the most popular 14-fret model with fingerstyle guitar soloists who choose to play on steel strings!
It has a very immediate sound with enough mid-range punch to sit in a mix, live or in the studio, with no trouble. Due to its diminutive depth (just over 10 cms) it doesn't have a lot of bass, but hell, do you need it if you are in a band situation?
I have used it on many of the tracks on my last solo album 'The Knife' and it sounds amazing. Best featured on 'Sorry I Broke Your Heart'. Miked with a Soundelux Elux251 Tube Condenser and Calrec Soundfield Microphones.
More recently, it was used for the solo of the Starlite Campbell Band single, 'Can't Find My Way Home' recorded using a pair of Schoeps CMC-64.
As with most of my acoustic guitars, it's fitted with a Highlander IP-2 pick up which allows me to add an additional passive pickup if required - I use the Jim Kaufman Sunrise which is shown above.
Now strung with Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 12-53.
A lovely compact acoustic with a big tone...
Over the years I have had a number of acoustic guitars. In the beginning Saxon and Echo then Fylde, Lowden, Guild, Taylor and Gibson. None of them really 'did it' for me. One day I visited Peter Norris Music in Douglas on the Isle of Man and sitting there were three Collings guitars. I ended up over time buying them all, selling this 0001 guitar then buying it back again two years later when I realised the error of my ways :)
The 12-fret 000 has the same general appearance as the Collings 00, but in a larger size with a longer string scale. Although it's the same width and depth as the OM, the longer body typically produces more bass and overall volume.
It has a big wide, almost classical neck, which suits my fat fingers, with loads of bass, fantastic intonation and is absolutely beautiful to play. As it is only 12 fret the guitar feels small and not unwieldy - plus it records great!!
In 2010 when I was working at Gracieland Studio in Rochdale, England, I recorded 'All I Have Left' with this instrument using a Shure SM81 and Neumann U87A. It appears on my first solo album 'ThirtySix' and more recently on 'It Started Raining' by the Starlite Campbell Band.
It is fitted with a superb Headway HE5/G.FEQ pickup and strung with Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 12-53.
The king OF acoustic 12 stringS...
My first acoustic was an EKO 12 string which didn't sound great and played like a pig, but you can't help but love the sound of these instruments. Listen to Pete Townshend, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brian May, Dave Gilmour and you will hear these rascals. It's pretty essential as part of a guitarist's armoury and I looked for ages to find the right one. This is it, and it's great... I love this guitar!
When you pick it up it feels 100% pure quality with good weight providing gravitas.
The neck is wide enough to fit my big fat fingers, which cannot be said for many other acoustic and electric 12's out there. Many are quite brash and loud but the F-512 is quite the opposite being quite subtle and requiring the 'gentle' touch. It is also very balanced with a tight low end and lovely detailed mid-range.
"Guild twelve-string guitars have set the standard by which all others are judged. The F-512 continues the Guild twelve-string legacy, matching a tight grain Sitka spruce top with Indian rosewood back and sides to produce shimmering highs, singing mids, and a warm, focused bass response that truly sets it apart. With elegant cosmetic appointments, premium specifications and exceptional playability not commonly associated with twelve-string guitars, the F-512 is one of the finest twelve-string guitars available today."
I am using this instrument on our new Starlite Campbell Band album 'The Language of Curiosity' and our 'contemporary folk' album 'The Coat' to be released late in 2021.
We generally record all our acoustics with a Schoeps stereo set fitted with MK4 capsules.
As usual, it was expertly fitted with a Highlander iP-2 pickup by the fantastic Stuart Palmer from Doncaster, England and strung with Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 10/10,14/14,23w/08, 30w/12, 39w/18, 47w/27.
For when you are travelling light...
James (our eldest son) borrowed this guitar when serving in Afghanistan with 45 Commando Royal Marines... Great, if not difficult memories but I have now managed to recover it from his sticky hands. I travel with it all the time as it can be checked in as hand luggage.
The fingerboard on this instrument is refreshingly wide and for such a small guitar it has a big sound! It is 3/4 size and consequently a doddle to play and great to travel with.
Recently, when recording my latest album 'The Knife', I restrung it using Nashville Tuning for the song 'Dreamer'. Unusually, I replaced all the strings with their octave counterparts which gives the track some jangly top end to compliment the dark valve Wurlitzer piano.
Fitted with an LR Baggs Element undersaddle pickup by the amazing Stuart Palmer of Doncaster, England and strung now with Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 12-53.
NATIONAL RESO ROCKET STEEL
Classic sound - MURDER to play
The excuse to myself was that we were stocking our new Supertone Records studio with as many classic instruments as possible. The reality of course is that I have always desired a resonator guitar and now use it all the time. Before buying, I took advice from my friend Andy Swearman, who has a fetish for these beasties. He suggested I go for this model 'Because of the way I play'... he was right!
"A resonator guitar or resophonic guitar is an acoustic guitar whose sound is produced by one or more spun metal cones (resonators) instead of the wooden soundboard (guitar top/face). Resonator guitars were originally designed to be louder than regular acoustic guitars, which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion instruments in dance orchestras. They became prized for their distinctive sound, however, and found life with several musical styles (most notably bluegrass and the blues) well after electric amplification solved the issue of inadequate guitar sound levels."
The Reso Rocket is one of the newly designed National single resonator guitars. It incorporates a redesigned cover-plate pattern to complement the distinctive Tricone-style grillwork. The upper bout has been modified for easier access to the higher frets.
Although the 'biscuit' is fitted with a Highlander iP 1-X inline transducer, I also retrofitted a HotPlate system designed by Mike Dowling which features a Tele-style Lollar 'Special' pickup and allows me to use it with an amp.
Strung with either Curt Mangan Phosphor Bronze 13-56 or Nickel wound (16-18-28w-36-46-56) if I use the magnetic pickup.
The action is set high for slide work. In fact, a reasonably athletic limbo dancer could easily practice their art at the 19th fret :)
Many people use brass slides but I find them too heavy. To get the best tone, I prefer to use a Dunlop Moonshine Ceramic slide on this instrument.
Great classic sound and the audience love it when you whip it out at a gig, so to speak...