Adirondack Guitar | Adirondack Guitar News and Blog
Adirondack Guitar News and articles on music, southpaw instruments, guitars, basses, gear and updates on the industry from a left-hand specialist. Just your friendly local guitar shop with a unique flair. We specialize in left-handed, used and other boutique products. Our in-house technicians can take on any of your repair needs; guitar or amplifier.
All instruments have their strengths and weaknesses, and once you become familiar with a new guitar you may become frustrated by its limitations. It may seem like the best solution might be to upgrade to a guitar with a different tone wood if you aren’t satisfied with the guitar’s sound, or a new neck shape or scale length if you’re unhappy with the playability. But that is not always the best thing to do. In many cases, the easiest thing you can do is try a different type of strings. A new set of strings is usually the simplest and most cost-effective way to reshape your guitar’s sound and improve its playability.
So Many Options
Today there are more string options available than ever before in terms of string gauges, materials, brands and coatings. Each string option represents a potential change that you can use to reshape your guitar’s sound and playability. It’s important to remember that not every guitar is equipped to handle every type of guitar string. The bridge and nut on your guitar have been designed to handle a particular range of string gauges and certain types of string materials. Trying a new string gauge and material, or trying a type of string that has a particular coating, may be the key to getting the sound or playability that you are looking for from your guitar.
The nut on your guitar has been designed to handle a specific range of string gauges which the manufacturer is likely to put on your guitar’s spec list as the recommended brand and gauge for your guitar. Using strings that are too light or too heavy for your guitar can cause several problems that may make you unhappy with the way your guitar sounds and plays.
If the strings you are using are too light, it can adversely affect the string tension, making the strings too slack, which can result in buzzing frets and a feeling that the strings are simply too loose for comfortable playing. Reduced string tension may cause a slight change in your neck shape, causing it to go from being slightly concave to being slightly convex, which can cause tuning and intonation problems as well, requiring a truss rod adjustment and other alterations to be necessary to correct the action and intonation. Playing a slightly heavier gauge string may solve these problems instantly.
If the strings you are using are too heavy, on the other hand, the opposite problems are likely to occur. When your string gauge is too heavy, there will be too much tension on your guitar’s neck, the action will be too high and you will possibly experience tuning and intonation problems that will eventually have to be addressed with a truss rod adjustment. The strings will also feel tight and unwieldy, making bends and vibrato more difficult than they need to be. This can be corrected by trying a lighter gauge string.
What About Scale Length?
Diane Ponzio from Martin Guitars Discusses Scale Length
The Martin 000 vs. the Martin OM Style - YouTube
Guitarists are creatures of habit. When we get a new guitar, we are likely to put a set of our favorite strings on it as soon as possible after buying it, often finding to our chagrin that the guitar we fell in love with at the guitar shop doesn’t feel or sound the same anymore. One of the biggest reasons why this happens is that the guitars we've played in the past and the new guitar we just started playing do not have the same scale length.
The term scale length refers to the physical dimensions of the guitar. Specifically, it is the distance from the inside edge of the nut to where the strings meet the saddle, and this distance determines the character or voice of the guitar more than any other factor. For instance, the voice that we associate with a Fender Stratocaster begins with its 25.5“ scale length, which differs from a Gibson SG which has a 24.75“ scale length. Even if you have identical pickups on an SG and a Strat, they will have distinctly different tones due to their scale length.
In terms of acoustic guitars, this accounts for the tonal differences between smaller guitars, like Parlour acoustics, and larger guitars like Dreadnoughts. Shorter scale guitars, like Parlour acoustics and 3/4 scale guitars, can take lighter strings and will have a lighter and brighter tone, the down side of which is a lack of low end projection. Larger acoustic guitars, like Dreadnoughts, are generally strung with heavier gauge strings which give them that booming tone they are so famous for.
The rule of thumb is that heavier gauge strings have more volume and bass, while lighter gauge strings are more trebly and melodic. On acoustic guitars you may say that heavier gauge strings are for strumming and projection while lighter gauge strings are for finger picking and melodic playing. Because lighter gauge strings are more pliable and easier on the fingers, they are ideal for beginners who are just building their callouses, but the drawback is that they have less volume and bass, giving them a thin tone that does not project as well as heavier gauge strings.
After string gauge, the next key factor in the tone and playability of your guitar is string material and construction. Steel guitar strings are made from two basic components -- the steel core wire and the wire wrap. Differences in the material and shape of both the core and the wrap will account for vast differences in tone.
Acoustic Guitar Strings
Today, the two most popular string types used on acoustic guitars are 80/20 and Phosphor Bronze. These are two variations of bronze alloys that have distinctive tonal colorations that have endured for decades. Another popular string formulation that comes from Martin, an industry leader in acoustic instruments, is called Retro Monel Wrap which is a revival of one of their vintage formulations from the 1930‘s.
80/20 Bronze - 80/20 bronze is a string alloy that contains 80 percent copper and 20 percent zinc. This alloy gives strong highs and lows with reduced mids, resulting in a vintage tone that’s both bright and warm. However, due to its high ratio of copper in the alloy, 80/20 strings corrode more readily than other alloys. 80/20 Bronze are ideal when you have a large-bodied acoustic guitar that may lack brightness. 80/20 Bronze will allow your full bodied guitar to retain its low end clarity while also gaining a considerable treble boost.
Phosphor Bronze - The Phosphor Bronze alloy was first introduced by D’Addario in the 1970‘s to deal with the problem of corrosion encountered in the use of 80/20 strings. The result was a string with a softer, more mellow tone that gave a boost to the mids and low-end tones, while toning down the treble register. Phosphor Bronze strings are perfect if you have a smaller bodied acoustic that is too trebly or ‘tinny’ and needs a warmer, softer, more mellow mid range, with a subtle low-end boost.
Retro Monel Wrap - Martin’s Retro Monel acoustic guitar strings are made with a solid nickel/copper wrap called Monel. The Retro Monel strings from Martin deliver a consistent tone without adding any additional tonal coloration. Martin Retro strings reduce the sound of pick attack, allowing the guitar’s tonewoods to be heard, rather than being overshadowed by the string’s tonal coloration. These are perfect if you have a guitar with a highly resonant, high quality top that you want to shine through. Martin Retro strings allow you to discover the true voice of your acoustic guitar.
Electric Guitar Strings
Like acoustic guitar strings, electric guitar strings are made with two standard components -- a core which is usually some type of steel, and the wrap material that is wound around it. The differences in tone, feel, and durability that can be found in electric guitar strings comes from the wrap, while the core is largely similar across brands and types.
Standard Nickel Wound - The majority of electric guitar strings are some form of nickel plated steel which gives a bright tone that is snappy and articulate. The tone of the strings can be altered by the amount of nickel and other metals that are used in the alloy. Pure nickel wraps are warmer and smoother sounding than those that contain more steel. Strings wound in pure stainless steel are even brighter and more articulate than standard nickel wound strings. Experimenting with these differences is as easy as simply changing your strings, and will usually cost less than $10, but may make a huge impact on the way your guitar sounds and feels.
Chrome - Chrome strings feature added warmth with reduced resonance and are often chosen by jazz and blues guitarists looking for a richer and warmer tone.
Titanium - Titanium strings have a fairly bright tone with enhanced tensile strength and lasting durability.
Cobalt - Cobalt strings feature a wide dynamic range with notable brightness and clarity, delivering enhanced output.
Flatwound Strings - Flatwound strings offer the most dramatic difference in sound and feel of all electric guitar strings. Compared to roundwound strings, flatwound strings are made with an extra layer of polished winding ribbon, resulting in a tone that is characteristically smooth and mellow. The smooth flatwound surface decreases the amount of detectable finger noise, making it possible to glide silently and almost effortlessly across the strings. This smooth, mellow tone is most often associated with traditional Jazz, but flatwound strings also work well for fingerstyle and slide guitar styles.
Strings Treated for Enhanced Tone and Durability
Another aspect of string choice is durability and long life. To achieve longer life, string manufacturers like Martin and Ernie Ball add special coatings or employ cutting edge technology, resulting in strings that maintain their tone for a longer period of time without corroding or breaking, and may also help protect your instrument.
Silk-wrapped - Silk-wrapped strings are so named because they have their ball-ends wrapped in silk. This is done to keep the raw metal of the string from coming into contact with your instrument's bridge plate and end pins. This protects the bridge plate and end pins from wear and tear, making silk-wrapped strings ideal for vintage and collectible instruments, particularly for acoustic instruments.
Ernie Ball Paradigm - Ernie Ball paradigm strings employ nano technology to strengthen the string core wires in a new state-of-the-art wire drawing process. This results in a new and much stronger grain structure, which simply means that the strings can take a lot more punishment and last a lot longer than standard electric or acoustic strings. Employing an exclusive ‘plasma process,’ the wire is exposed to high heat which removes contaminants and smooths out defects for a smoother, more consistent finish. As a result, the string wire has a more stable micro-structure before it is wrapped, which means that the strings will have a much longer life. A reviewer for Guitar.com reports that not only did his Paradigm strings survive strenuous play, and what he calls ‘abuse,’ but that they also lost virtually none of their tone after several weeks. Read more here.
Finding the Right Strings For Your Sound and Style
Experimenting with new strings is a simple and inexpensive way to modify the sound and feel of your instrument. The next time you feel any sense of frustration with your guitar’s tone or feel, just try out a new brand or style of strings, and you may find new voices and colors that you never knew your guitar had. Take some time to experiment, and if you have any questions you can contact us online or call us or speak to one of our knowledgeable staff by visiting our Hudson Falls store location.
Summer is upon us, which means that graduations, weddings, parties, BBQ’s and plain old Summer fun are just getting underway. What better time is there for a new guitar? New guitars are the ideal gift solutions for every occasion. Have a child graduating from high school or college? Get them a new guitar. Another boring family wedding? Guitar them. Want to spruce up a Birthday or a boring BBQ? Guitar. Whatever it is, you need to bring a guitar. And it just so happens that we have the best guitars, new and used, affordable and luxurious, classic, boutique and badass.
Many of the guitars we told you about back in February, March and April are actually in stock and ready to look at, try out, lust after and, with Klarna hassle-free financing, buy. Read on below for info on the new and used guitars and basses that have recently arrived in our showroom and then stop by our store to try them out, or just buy them online - your choice!
Introducing AMI Guitars
Since 1984, AMI GmbH, has been distributing and producing some of the finest acoustic guitars in their price range from their headquarters in Munich, Germany. Today, AMI-Guitars is a leading brand in the low-to-mid price range in international markets, and is now just entering the American market. These exciting new AMI Guitars have just arrived in our store and sound just as beautiful as they look! Learn more about AMI guitars here.
The AMI-Guitars 000M-15L Auditorium acoustic offers a variety of premium appointments and high quality tonewoods, delivering the sound and playability of a much more expensive guitar. Featuring a highly resonant solid Mahogany top, with Mahogany back and sides, a Mahogany neck, and bone nut and saddle, the AMI-Guitars 000M-15L delivers a warm, rich and mellow tone with vibrant treble and mid tones and excellent lowend clarity. If you’re looking for a great sounding Auditorium acoustic at an affordable price, be sure to give this beauty a closer look!
The AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000MC-15EL 15 Series Acoustic Electric Guitar offers a variety of premium appointments, delivering the sound and playability of a much higher priced instrument. Featuring a highly resonant solid Mahogany top, back and sides, with a Mahogany neck and a deep cutaway to provide access to the fretboard beyond the 14th fret, along with hardware and electronic appointments like a bone nut and saddle, and Fishman preamp, the AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000MC-15EL delivers a warm, rich tone with vibrant treble and mid tones and excellent lowend clarity, whether you play as an acoustic or plug it in.
The lefty AMI-Guitars JM-AG45L AG Series Acoustic Electric is a slope-shouldered dreadnought offering a variety of premium features at a fraction of the cost of similarly appointed guitars. Featuring a resonant solid Sitka Spruce top in a beautiful burst finish, Fishman Sonitone electronics, a bone nut and saddle and Grover Nickel Open-Gear tuners, this slope shouldered dreadnought offers the tone, power and playability of a premium quality acoustic electric at an impressive price point.
The new left handed Reverend Trickshot is based on the classic Charger body style with updated appointments to give it a sound all its own. The new Trickshot comes equipped with Reverend Alnico pickups that have a tone that hearkens back to the glory days of the 1950‘s with a twang that is balanced and never harsh. The neck single coil is reverse-wound giving it a reverse polarity and hum-canceling capabilities when used with the bridge pickup, giving this Reverend incredible tonal versatility and amazing functionality.
The lefty Trickshot features a lightweight Korina body with resonant tone and rich harmonics which give it a highly-prized midrange bump. With a silky smooth roasted maple neck, string-thru construction and a bridge with stainless steel saddles, the Trickshot delivers copious amounts of sustain and bite, and with the proprietary Reverend bass contour control, you can tighten up the low end and essentially revoice the pickups however the music requires.
The Reverend Decision is a modern-classic tone machine. The Reverend Decision P is loaded with a P-Blade pickup at the neck and a Jazz Bomb pickup at the bridge in conjunction with a pickup pan control making this super versatile covering anything from percussive funk to focused thump, and everything in-between with just the twist of a knob. The pickups combined deliver extended highs and lows with incredible punch and sustain.
Featuring a lightweight and comfortable Korina body with a gorgeous roasted maple neck, the new Decision has the harmonic richness, thunderous tone, and silky smooth playability that any bass player will appreciate, with the lockdown bridge that enhances clarity and attack, producing bell-like sustain.
Watch Andy Irvine demo the Reverend Decision P! - YouTube
New From D’Angelico
Many of the new D’Angelico guitars that we told you about back in March or April are coming in now and they couldn’t be prettier! From fresh new faces like the Brighton, to new takes on classic models like the new Premier SS, the latest arrivals from D’Angelico are sure to please!
The new and upgraded D’Angelico Premier SS Semi Hollow electric features a laminated maple top, back and sides with a full size, lightweight center block for increased tonal resonance and reduced feedback when playing at high volume, making the new Premier SS from D’Angelico a modern powerhouse with the playability and sonic versatility to travel across a variety of musical genres. The Premier SS gives you the classic looks and tone of a D’Angelico Semi Hollow with a modern sound and playability perfect for today’s music scene, at a price that all musicians can appreciate.
The electronics on this semi hollow powerhouse includes two Seymour Duncan designed humbucker pickups with eye-catching chrome covers, voiced for everything from clean jazz to soulful rock. With volume and tone controls for each pickup, and a 3-way pickup selector switch, you can mix pickup voicings with ease, resulting in a sonically versatile semi hollow that travels really well across a wide range of musical genres. Comes in a signature D’Angelico stair step tailpiece, or classic stoptail tailpiece in three colors: Turquoise, Champagne and Fiesta Red. Check them out!
Premier SS | Horace Bray | D'Angelico Guitars - YouTube
An exciting addition to the D’Angelico solid body lineup, the D’Angelico Premier Brighton in an Ocean Turquoise finish delivers classic looks and ultra modern sound at a price point that musicians everywhere are sure to appreciate. Sporting a classic double cutaway Alder body, with a silky smooth Maple scarf neck that is a pleasure to play, the D’Angelico Premier Brighton delivers the sonic versatility and silky smooth playability of a much more expensive guitar at a surprisingly affordable price.
The key to the Brighton’s versatile tone is its Seymour Duncan designed pickups. These HB-101 and HB-102 humbucker pickups have all of the power you would ever need for rock, with coil splitting capabilities that allow you to dial in spanky single coil tones from the neck pickup and twangy tones from the bridge pickup. D’Angelico’s unique wiring also allows you to activate the coil splitting functions on the tone knobs without any loss of volume, giving you the ability to travel seamlessly between lead and rhythm pickup voicings with ease. Available in Black with a tortoise pickguard as well!
Introducing The Premier Brighton® with Tyler Bryant | D'Angelico Guitars - YouTube
The left handed PRS SE Custom 24, in an impressive Tobacco Sunburst finish, is a real stand out for its world class tone and amazing playability. The PRS 85/15 humbucker pickups deliver a highly versatile tone with high output, plenty of gain and great brightness and clarity, making this guitar perfect for just about any style of music. No matter what style you play, this PRS SE Custom 24 has the tonal versatility, power and price point to make it a good choice for guitarists of any experience level.
PRS SE Custom 24 Guitar Review with Michael Casswell - iGuitar Magazine - YouTube
What’s New in the Used Inventory - New Takes on Classic Offset Double-cuts
This used 2017 Fender American Professional Jazzmaster, in Mystic Seafoam, is in excellent condition and delivers the versatile tone and sophisticated styling that is loved by musicians across a variety of genres. Featuring a highly resonant Alder body, a silky smooth Maple Neck, and incredibly versatile Michael Frank-designed single-coil Jazzmaster pickups with the proprietary Treble Bleed circuit giving you enhanced tonal control, this Fender American Pro Jazzmaster has the fat tone and silky smooth playability to make it a favorite guitar among professional musicians in all genres.
The Fender Duo Sonic HS in a light and bright Daphne Blue finish puts you in the driver’s seat with a light and slinky feel that is incredibly easy to play for hours on end. Developed in the 1960‘s as an ideal student guitar, the Duo Sonic HS is now a modern classic with the versatile sound and smooth playability of a much more expensive instrument. Featuring a 24“ scale length and a scaled down offset body, the Duo Sonic has a light and slinky feel, with a buttery playability and sonic versatility that will give you increased control of your tone and total command of your sound. Small enough for students and anyone new to the guitar, this used Duo Sonic is also sonically versatile enough for players at any experience level to enjoy.
The unique offset double-cut Alder body is thin and light, and extremely comfortable to play, while the modern C-shaped Maple neck with its 24“ scale length and 9.5“ fretboard radius delivers impeccable comfort and easy playability. The Duo Sonic HS has a 22-fret Pau Ferro fretboard which is extremely easy to access even at the highest registers due to its sculpted body with deep cutaways that put nothing between you and your axe.
This gently used Fender Mustang 90 delivers modern feel and playability with a strikingly vintage sound. With its compact and lightweight Alder body and 24“ scale maple neck, the Mustang 90 is extremely comfortable and easy to play all along the entirety of its 22-fret Pau Ferro fingerboard. Featuring Mustang MP-90 pickups in the bridge and neck positions, this used Mustang 90 easily delivers a variety of vintage tones that range from warm and aggressive to bluesy and soulful, making it perfect for a wide arrange of musical genres.
With a short 24“ scale and a 9.5“ fretboard radius, the Mustang 90 has a slinky feel, with easy bends and smooth playability that puts you in control of your playing, and with a hardtail string-thru-body bridge design, your tuning and intonation will remain incredibly stable no matter how long you play!
Patrick Droney Demos the Fender Offset Mustang 90 | Fender - YouTube
This gently used Guild ST-200 T-Bird is a reissue that is very faithful to the original in tone and looks. Featuring an iconic yet quirky asymmetrical ‘offset’ double cut body with versatile LB-1 Guild pickups, this used T-Bird delivers the classic sound you need with electronics that allow you to set your controls to whatever tone you desire. The Mahogany neck is extremely comfortable and easy to play, while the Hagstrom Style Tremolo system gives you the total picture of a revolutionary guitar with idiosyncratic features that make it an underground classic. Very low hours with very few signs of use. Includes the original paperwork with operating manual, truss rod wrench, tremolo arm, and matching Guild gig bag.
Guild S-200 T-Bird Demo by R.J. Ronquillo - YouTube
In October of 2018, when asked for the difference between a Sigma guitar sold in Europe and an AMI guitar sold in the United States, a representative from AMI Guitars replied, “Same guitar -- different name, or as I like to say, AMI is a new brand, but not a new guitar.”
AMI, or Acoustic Musical Instruments, Gmbh, started out in 1984 as a distributor of acoustic instruments rather than as a manufacturer. The AMI company distributed Martin Guitars -- yes the Martin guitars we all know and love -- in Germany. In fact, they still do to this day.
Martin had started the Sigma brand in 1970 as a response to the ‘lawsuit era’ when guitar manufacturers from Asia were marketing convincing look-alike guitars at rock-bottom prices.
The Sigma brand, a subsidiary of Martin (the way Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson) manufactured guitars in Japan to CF Martin specs, but because of the lower production costs, they were able to compete with the lawsuit guitar manufacturers on price. In 2011, when AMI reignited the Sigma brand, they were not able to sell Sigma guitars in the United States due to trademark issues. The reason for this is explained in an article posted on AMI’s website:
“First and foremost, it’s important for folks to understand that Sigma had been a brand offered by C.F. Martin for years and they made a decision to no longer offer that brand...When that happened, AMI decided to purchase the trademark rights in Europe for the brand Sigma. Once that was completed, they enlisted the services of the Cort factory to make a new version of an old name.”
Winter NAMM 2019 - AMI Musical Instruments - YouTube
Sigma and AMI Today
The result has been an incredible surge in popularity as the Sigma brand has seen impressive growth in sales worldwide. However, in the United States, trademark restrictions stopped them from selling their guitars under the Sigma brand name, which is why they bear the AMI name when they are sold in the United States. This is how it can be said that they are the exact same guitars, with a different name on the headstock.
According to published sources shared on the AMI website (and cited above), in 2017 alone AMI sold 40,000 guitars in more than 50 countries, with a very favorable response from players, dealers, and industry professionals. Since 2011, when AMI´s owner and founder, luthier Günther Lutz, re-ignited the “Sigma Guitars” brand, AMI has built a “...proven track record of quality with a very low rate of warranty issues. A dealer can be assured that they are offering a quality product they can stand behind and be proud to sell to their customers.”
Now that the trademark problem has been resolved, dealers are lining up to carry these affordable, high quality acoustic instruments, with a strong selection of left handed models. Here at Adirondack Guitar we are proud and excited to offer these high quality, yet affordable acoustic instruments to our customers.
AMI seeks to carry on the Sigma tradition begun in 1970 when CF Martin built the brand. This is a tradition of using high quality tonewoods like Mahogany, Sitka Spruce, with high end appointments like Grover diecast tuners, bone saddle and nut, Micarta fretboards and Fishman electronics to create great sounding, yet affordable instruments. For example, take a look at this Grand Auditorium Acoustic that retails for under $500:
AMI-Guitars GMC-STE-BKB ST Series Acoustic Guitar features a highly resonant Sitka Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides in an impressive Blackburst finish, giving this Auditorium acoustic a warm, rich tone with excellent projection and wonderful harmonic complexity. This single cutaway grand auditorium style has classic dovetail construction, and a low profile Mahogany neck offering comfort and easy playability. The cutaway provides easy access to the highest register of the neck where the body usually blocks off access.
The Micarta fretboard is extremely comfortable, and plays extremely well, delivering a tone that is comparable to Rosewood or Ebony with its own unique characteristics. Micarta is a synthetic material that is more dense than solid wood, giving the fretboard greater durability and resonance without absorbing finger grease and environmental moisture. Micarta is also 100% renewable which is important in this age of dwindling tone wood supplies.
This AMI-Guitars GMC-STE-BKB ST also comes equipped with premium hardware appointments such as an all-bone saddle and nut and chrome Grover diecast tuners, ensuring rock solid intonation and excellent tuning stability. The electronics include a Fishman Isys+ preamp with chromatic tuner, featuring Volume, Tone shaping, and Phase controls and a Fishman Sonicore pickup with low profile control knobs, delivering a natural acoustic sound.
The matte finish on this model allows the grain of the Sitka Spruce top to shine through, while maintaining a gorgeous vintage look. Typical guitars at this price point tend to lack volume and projection, but the AMI GMC-STE in blackburst has a full yet mellow tone, with excellent projection, and electronics that allow you to shape the tone to the demands of the music when plugged in. The bottom line is that this is a lot of guitar for under $500!
Every attempt to create great sounding, yet affordable, instruments is sure to be met with skepticism, but AMI Guitars is quickly gaining a reputation for building guitars that far exceed expectations at their price point. For example, look at this all Mahogany lefty AMI 000-15 that comes in under $450:
The AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000M-15L 15 Series Acoustic Guitar features a highly resonant Mahogany top, back and sides, giving this auditorium acoustic a warm, rich tone with excellent midrange and bass emphasis. The Mahogany top has a gorgeous reddish-brown color with impressive grain patterns showing through the satin polyurethane-lacquer finish.
The AMI-Guitars Left Handed 000M-15L was designed with classic dovetail construction, and a low-profile Mahogany neck offering comfort and easy playability all the way to the 14th fret. The Micarta fretboard is extremely comfortable, and plays extremely well, delivering a tone and feel that is similar to Rosewood or Ebony with its own unique sonic characteristics.
This Lefty 000M-15L from AMI-Guitars also comes equipped with premium hardware appointments such as an all-bone saddle and nut and chrome Grover diecast tuners, ensuring rock solid intonation and excellent tuning stability. The sound of this all-Mahogany auditorium acoustic is mellow and warm, with excellent volume and impressive projection, and excellent clarity in the low and midrange register.
Check out this classic-styled slope-shoulder Dreadnought for under $700!
The lefty AMI-Guitars JM-AG45L AG Series Acoustic Electric is a slope-shouldered dreadnought offering a variety of premium features at a fraction of the cost of similarly appointed guitars. Featuring a resonant solid Sitka Spruce top in a beautiful burst finish, Fishman Sonitone electronics, a bone nut and saddle and Grover Nickel Open-Gear tuners, this slope shouldered dreadnought offers the tone, power and playability of a premium quality acoustic electric at an impressive price point.
The AMI Standard Series
The AMI Standard series guitars feature solid Sitka Spruce tops with Mahogany backs and sides, giving these models the classic look and impressive sound of much more expensive guitars. Setting a high standard in quality, AMI’s standard series models deliver the look, feel and sound of guitars with premium appointments at prices that the average guitar player can afford. A perfect example is this Standard Series auditorium acoustic for under $500:
At this price point, the AMI-Guitars 000M-18 offers a variety of premium appointments delivering the sound and playability of a much more expensive guitar. Featuring a highly resonant solid Sitka Spruce top, with Mahogany back and sides, a Mahogany neck, and bone nut and saddle, the AMI-Guitars 000M-18 delivers a warm, rich tone with vibrant treble and mid tones and excellent low end clarity. If you’re looking for a great sounding Auditorium acoustic, with impressive volume, at an affordable price, be sure to give this beauty another look!
All of us here at Adirondack Guitar are excited to offer these high quality, impressive-sounding yet affordable AMI guitars to our customers. To learn more visit us online or visit our showroom where our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you discover more about the quality and value of AMI Guitars.
Remember when music lessons meant going to the music store and sitting in a small room crowded with music stands, guitar cases and amplifiers for a half hour a week? No wonder so many of us quit lessons when we were young! Today, you can get a lesson any time you want about anything you ever wanted to learn and carry it with you on your phone everywhere you go. It’s crazy! Of course, we’re talking about guitar channels on Youtube and today we are going to look at three of the best we’ve found so far.
If you’ve ever wondered how so many young guitarists like Taz Niederauer and Taj Farrant have developed such good chops at such a young age, the lessons and information available on Youtube must be at least part of the equation. Being able to see a lead or daunting riff played at reduced speed and explained to you can help anyone develop the guitar techniques they’ve always wanted, but these Youtubers also teach us the subtle nuances of each musical phrase making it possible for us to play them with confidence and, most importantly, with feel.
Of course, there are so many guitar-playing Youtubers that there is no way we can give anything but a smattering of what is available for the avid guitar enthusiast to learn, so we looked for what we thought were some of the most inspiring, funny, and entertaining Youtubers who had a lot of great videos and a lot to teach. Here are three Guitar Youtubers you’ll learn a lot from:
Whether you are looking to learn new lead techniques, riffs from many of hard rock and metal’s leading acts from Van Halen to Mastadon, or Blues, Jazz and Fusion riffs from legendary players like Stevie Ray, Django and Zappa, Ben Eller’s Weekend Wankshop is a great place to visit.
Uncle Ben’s thorough knowledge of modern guitar styles, coupled with his characteristic wit and humor give his lesson videos a binge-worthy quality that makes it hard to stop watching, even when Uncle Ben himself tells us to shut down the computer get 'wanking' on our own. With ample repetitions at ‘step-dad speed,’ and in-depth looks at what makes these iconic riffs tick, you can always count on Uncle Ben to offer all of the information you need with just the right mix of theory and technical tips to give you a full grasp of music he covers.
Below, Eller breaks down one of Stevie Ray Vaughan's most famous lightning-quick riffs:
Scuttle Buttin’ with Stevie Ray
Weekend Wankshop 60: Scuttle Buttin' with Stevie Ray Vaughan - YouTube
Jim Lill - Country Picking and Professional Music Tips
Jim Lill is a Nashville session guitarist and Country Music Youtuber with an energy and enthusiasm for traditional Country guitar that is infectious to say the least! Every lesson, like the first one I watched, 10 Country Licks You Need to Know, teaches you a lot more than just how to play some cool riffs. In each case, Lill takes you deeper, inside the music, explaining the most subtle nuances of the playing techniques, as well as the tricks the original musicians used to achieve the sounds you hear on the recordings.
Another useful feature of this guitar channel is the tabs that Lill runs under the video of each riff as he plays it, which, he explains, can be slowed down or paused while you get it under your fingers. Whether you are looking for tips on how to Chicken Pick like Brad Paisley or want to learn more about playing classic Country leads like Luther Perkins or Roy Nichols, Jim Lill has all of the bases covered!
Beyond learning specific country licks, Lill also has a lot to show you about gear and classic country instruments that you may not be very familiar with, like the Pedal Steel and the Dobro, revealing classic riffs on these instruments that are sure to enrich your music. He also runs down all of the gear you need to get a professional sound (All the Parts of a Pro Guitar Rig) and even how to build a professional recording studio in your home! (Step By Step Professional Home Studio).
The thing that first attracted me to Rick Beato’s channel was his ongoing series ‘What Makes This Song Great?’ After watching and learning from Rick’s in depth breakdowns of Rush’s ‘Limelight’ (What’s Makes This Song Great Rush) and Van Halen’s ‘Running With the Devil’ (What Makes This Song Great Van Halen) I was hooked and I binge-watched ten or so episodes in this series and ended up moving on to even more Beato videos, including interviews with Marty Friedman and Paul Reed Smith and videos on Radiohead ( Why I Love Radiohead) and Smashing Pumpkins.
Just a quick perusal of Rick Beato’s channel will reveal a music obsessive’s delight of riches, with videos on every topic imaginable in the field of popular music, including Rock, Jazz, Metal, Fusion, and even Djent. Beato is equally at home explicating melodies and parsing out the subtleties of complex harmonies as he is discussing improvisation, gear and recording techniques. Just a couple of hours watching Beato’s Channel and you’ll gain a much greater appreciation of the complexity and richness of modern music, and an even fuller appreciation of our musical heritage and the long lines of musicians whose hard work formed the soundtrack of our lives.
What makes Beato’s videos so informative is his in depth knowledge of everything music. Not only does he show us how to play the riffs in each of the songs he explicates, but he also pulls apart the audio showing us how tracks are layered, taking a closer look at the bass, drums, keyboards and vocals and whatever else there is to listen to, showing us how our favorite songs tick. In terms of music, he breaks down the chords and modes musicians use in their melodies, harmonies and lead playing, as well as technical information about how the musicians created their iconic sounds. Where else will you learn that Runnin’ With the Devil’s vocal falls in the Mixolydian mode, or take a journey through the layered chord structures in Radiohead’s Paranoid Android? Only on Rick Beato’s channel!
What Makes This Song Great? Paranoid Android, by Radiohead
What Makes This Song Great? Ep.31 RADIOHEAD - YouTube
There are plenty more where that came from and in the future we will bring you more of our favorite guitar and music Youtubers who have a lot to teach us about our instruments, music and gear. If you know of a Youtuber you think we'll like, tell us about them in the comments below!
Of course, there are many types of guitars that are considered the top of the line in modern culture. There is no question that millions of individuals enjoyed playing them, but the guitar legends are the ones who have truly made all of these guitars stand out. It’s much like how you can do things with basketball, but an NBA star can literally make magic with it. It’s the same way with these guitar musicians. To that end, here are four different guitar types, along with the legendary individuals who made them famous.
Semi-Hollow Body Electric
The most famous semi-hollow electric body guitar is the Gibson Lucille played by B.B. King. He gave it a special sound simply by eliminating the f-holes in order to reduce feedback. Moreover, King was able to blend some sweet acoustics with an electric edge.
There is no question that the Cigarbox Electric brand has many examples of unconventional body types. These would include such examples as The Twang Machine, popularized by well-known '50's and '60's musician Bo Diddley. He was able to engage in a lot of showman tactics even with a guitar that normally has the sound effects of a tin can!
Buddy Holly's 1952 Les Paul Goldtop can be seen in the famous Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, TX, just ten minutes from the airport. Holly is depicted in a few early photos playing this Les Paul guitar, but there are no known recordings that exist with this guitar in the background. Interestingly enough, Buddy Holly actually etched his original name, “Buddy Holley” onto the sound box that came with the guitar. It’s probably a good thing he did that, especially considering that the original spelling of his name would be lost to history.
This is an active electric guitar that was distinguished by the style of Metallica’s James Hetfield. One of the things that the ESP MX220 is known for would be an “active pickup”, which is a great way to distinguish the sound tones. Moreover, the ESP MX220 is a good instrument to use overdubbing to create some of the massive riffs that Metallica has become known for.
As you can see, the guitars themselves are very special. However, when they are paired with a legendary guitar player, they take on a whole another dimension. It truly is a thing of beauty, and it’s not limited to just one musical genre either.
Guitarists talk about their instruments like they're their children, yet many overlook the fundamental importance of proper maintenance. If you own a guitar and want to keep it as good as it was when you first bought it, you have to be able to take care of it. These tips will help you keep your guitar in good order.
It's hard to tell from the naked eye, but your fingers transfer all sorts of dirt to your strings. While strings need to be changed regularly, cleaning them after each playing session can help to greatly increase their lifespan. Use something like a T-shirt to go up and down your strings. Makes sure to also get in between your frets so that you can keep your guitar as clean as possible. You want to get your money's worth from your strings and have them sounding as sweetly as possible.
Just because your guitar seems like it's more or less operating fine doesn't mean that there couldn't be hidden issues that you need to address. Bring your guitar into an expert, such as a luthier, and see what sort of advice they have. You might need to have new pickups installed or get a new finish. Bring your guitar in for inspections on a yearly basis.
You need to keep your guitar in a place that's not only secure but also not going to cause any serious issues in regard to its playability. Make sure you know the optimal conditions necessary for storing your guitar. Wooden instruments are famously responsive to changes in temperature and humidity, so keep in mind the optimal conditions necessary for storing your guitar safely. Environments should be neither too hot nor too cold.
Guitars, especially acoustic ones, aren't terribly heavy. The unfortunate flipside of that is it can be easy to scuff up the body of your guitar if you're not careful with it. Putting it down too quickly or bumping it into walls can really hurt its quality as well as making it look shoddy. Be gentle with your guitar wherever you go, and get a sturdy case for it. Put your guitar in and take it out of the case with your full attention.
It doesn't take much for a guitar to lose its integrity. A guitar's quality depends on how much care its owner puts into it. You need to never take your instrument for granted as guitars can be expensive to replace. Taking a moment to think about how your actions are affecting your guitar will help bring about much greater longevity.
Despite the Rain, Things Are Heating up At Adirondack Guitar This Spring!
Spring Break? It’s Spring here at Adirondack Guitar but you’d hardly know it. As the torrential April rains begin to subside, the thermometer struggles to rise into the 40‘s and 50‘s, and folks out in the western half of the country are still getting snow by the foot!
With weather like this there’s nothing left to do but stay inside and clean out our closets, basements and garages where we’re likely to find long neglected guitars, basses and gear sitting there collecting dust. Our message for you this Spring is don’t let those old guitars, basses, amps, and pedals just sit there, gathering dust -- bring them by and trade them in for something new.
At Adirondack Guitar we love trades of all kinds! Whether you live within driving distance or halfway across the country -- or even halfway around the globe -- don’t worry, we will take your trade whether you can deliver it in person or have to send it in through the post. Just get in touch with us and we’ll help you arrange the details.
Not only will we take in trades, we also have tons of great new and used guitars, basses and gear in stock that you can trade for, including these amazing Ball Family Reserve guitars and basses that recently came in. Read on for more on our latest arrivals!
Ball Family Reserve guitars and basses represent a celebration of the Ball family’s long history of fine craftsmanship. BFR guitars and basses are produced in limited production runs, making each one a rare sight to behold. At one time, BFR instruments were reserved for friends, family and artists, but now Ernie Ball Music Man makes them available to the public in counts so limited that you are only likely to see 1 or 2 per shop.
Nothing says Spring like bright and punchy sound of this Hades Black MusicMan StingRay bass featuring a 22 fret Rosewood fingerboard with ornate pearloid block inlays. This BFR StingRay also features a beautifully roasted maple neck with a hand-fitted white binding that plays like a dream and black Ernie Ball Music Man tuning machines. The BFR StingRay Special 4H’s super punchy sound comes courtesy of an 18-volt active preamp and 3-band EQ that allows you to really craft your sound, making it a perfect fit for just about any style of music. Only 81 of these beauties have been made available worldwide and we’re proud to say that we have gotten one in our shop!
Who doesn't have a crush on this BFR St. Vincent HHH featuring a lightweight African Mahogany body in a gorgeous Turquoise Crush sparkle finish? This BFR St. Vincent sports a marvelous figured maple neck with a 22-fret Rosewood fingerboard adorned with special pearloid inlays painted to match the body. The figured maple neck has a silky smooth satin finish, and with a 25.5“ scale length and a 10“ fretboard radius feels great in the hand. With features like custom DiMarzio mini humbucker pickups, white pearl Schaller locking tuners and a custom designed Ernie Ball Music man tremolo system, you can enjoy total sonic freedom without worrying about ever going out of tune. Production run limited to 87 pieces worldwide.
If you are looking for that one guitar that can do anything, look no further! The Michael Kelly 20th Anniversary Hybrid is like a Swiss Army Knife guitar, with construction and features designed to get you through any possible sonic territory. A celebration of Michael Kelly’s 20th anniversary, this hybrid delivers fully voiced acoustic and electric tones that will suit any style of music.
Featuring lightweight, chambered Mahogany body with a beautiful quilt Maple top, the 20th Anniversary Hybrid comes equipped with custom gold covered Seymour Duncan pickups and a Fishman Piezo built into the bridge. The gold-covered Duncans don’t just look like a million bucks, but also deliver fully voiced electric guitar tones with plenty of gain, clarity and articulation, while the Fishman Piezo delivers natural sounding acoustic tones, giving this hybrid a sonic versatility that is second to none!
The 20th Anniversary Hybrid is also equipped with dual output jacks and two 3-way selector switches, one a traditional pickup selector switch and the other to control the Piezo and allow you to switch between the magnetic Duncans and the Piezo, even allowing you to blend the two. To get the most from this guitar it is recommended that you use a hybrid Y-cable to plug into both output jacks and send the signal from both pickup systems into a single amp or channel.
Blackstar's Artist 15 15-watt tube combo amplifier is based on their boutique Artisan series, but with added features to make the Artist 15 ready for any musical situation you can throw at it. Built from the ground up to work incredibly well with all of your favorite pedals, the Blackstar Artist 15 tube amp is designed to meet all of your rehearsal, gigging and recording needs.
The Artist 15 from Blackstar offers two independent channels that deliver a range of clean, gritty and crunch tones. The 6L6 power tubes deliver a bright, glassy, American-style tone to the clean channel while the dirty channel takes you through a range of classic British crunch and drive tones. With a simple overdrive pedal, the Blackstar Artist 15 can easily carry you to the high gain territory that much of today’s music demands, while still allowing easy access to classic clean and crunchy tones.
With high performance features like onboard reverb, effects loop, and Blackstar's ISF control let you dial in your ideal tones. The ISF is an innovation patented by Blackstar designed to give a tight, focussed, percussive response, characteristic of American amps when turned toward ’0' and a woody, crunchy and warm response, like traditional British amps, when dialed toward ‘10‘.
With 15 watts of power and a 12“ Celestion V-type speaker, the Blackstar Artist 15 delivers the ideal blend of vintage and modern tones, with just the perfect amount of cut and was built with your pedal board in mind.
This rare left handed Martin GPCE Grand Performer acoustic electric guitar is made with Walnut back and sides for its clear, bright treble tones with just the right amount of bass, and a Sitka Spruce top, resulting in a guitar with a really balanced tone. Walnut is also known for its beautiful appearance and this GPCE Grand Performance guitar is finished with an Ambertone shaded top and a select hardwood neck with a low oval shape and a high performance taper for smooth playability. This Martin lefty GPCE acoustic-electric comes equipped with Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT2 electronics for a natural acoustic tone even when plugged in.
Watch the Demo:
Martin GPCE Black Walnut Amberburst Demo from Peghead Nation - YouTube
The Ernie Ball Music Man Left Handed John Petrucci JP7 w/ Piezo in a beautiful Firemist Gold finish is an evolved and refined version of the JP6 featuring blistering lead tones, fat rhythm tones and authentic acoustic tones from a chambered Alder body, custom DiMarzio pickups and a Piezo pickup built into its floating tremolo bridge. The JP7 delivers all of the sonic versatility and superior playability of the JP6 in a new 7-string version that opens up completely new doors of musical expression.
One of the most impressive refinements found in the Music Man JP7 is the addition of a 5-way pickup selector switch that allows you to access to the individual pickup coils so that you can blend them in both traditional and unique ways. The acoustic piezo pickup gets its own separate volume control and a 3-way toggle switches you from the magnetic pickups to the piezo pickup, or combines both, giving you access to unique tones.
The Sterling by Music Man Left Handed StingRay 34 electric bass is new to the Sterling bass lineup in 2019 and living up to the StingRay bass legacy in every way. Modeled after the classic Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay, the lefty Sterling by Music Man StingRay 34 sports a classic look, and delivers a vintage bass sound. By combining a vintage design with a host of modern appointments, like a Sterling by Music Man designed Alnico-1 Humbucker pickup and a 3-band active preamp, the southpaw Sterling by Music Man StingRay 34 covers a wide range of sonic territory from bright and punchy treble tones, to thunderous and seismic bass tones that make the Ray 34 perfect for an array of musical styles. Click here to buy this bass.
Sterling by Music Man | StingRay Bass Demo - Ray34-KOA - YouTube
Like the 20th Anniversary Hybrid (mentioned above), this Lefty Michael Kelly Hybrid delivers the tone and playability of a modern electric with the authentic tone of an acoustic, or a unique blending of the two. Available for the first time in a left handed edition (and available now only in limited quantities so act fast), this Michael Kelly Hybrid has a chambered Mahogany body with a Spalted Burst finish and a set Mahogany neck with Pau Ferro fretboard and abalone inlays. Equipped with Rockfield® SWC Humbucker pickups and a Fishman Piezo bridge, the Michael Kelly Lefty Hybrid Special sports two 3-way selector switches that allow you to blend magnetic pickup voicings with the Piezo acoustic sound, for a unique blending of voicings. Available in very limited quantities - click here to buy this guitar!
It happens a lot more than you might think. Someone comes into a guitar shop like Adirondack Guitar and has a hard time finding a guitar that suits their hand size. This is especially daunting for people with small hands. Kids, teens and some adults struggle to find a guitar that will feel good in their hand and be comfortable and easy to play.
When you visit guitar websites, you are probably familiar with the long lists of technical specifications that you find in the descriptions of guitars they are selling. However, you may have always thought that those lists were for techy-type people who like to know everything about guitars. The fact is that you can use that technical information to find the guitar that will be perfect for your hand size. This can be especially helpful for people who are having trouble finding a guitar that is suited to their anatomy.
Playing the wrong size guitar is like wearing the wrong size shoes. Sure, if the shoes are too large you can get your feet in them, and you may even be able to walk around, but soon you’ll have blisters and all kinds of other problems. Playing a guitar that is too large for your hand size can be just as daunting.
The body size of a guitar can make or break your guitar playing experience. When the body of a guitar is too large, it forces you to reach around awkwardly to pick or strum the strings, putting your fret hand in an even more awkward position. The remedy for this is to find a guitar that is sized appropriately for your body type and hand size.
In terms of acoustic guitars, Grand Auditorium and Dreadnoughts are the large sizes that may be challenging for someone with small hands to play. These guitars are designed to project very loudly, loudly enough for the concert stage. Those who have small hands will be best suited to play a parlor or concert size acoustics, perhaps with a cutaway to make the body even lighter.
Rainsong acoustics are made from a carbon fiber material that makes them super lightweight, and this parlor acoustic has a thin, short scale neck, making it a real joy to play. Also, because of its carbon fiber construction, you can be sure that you will enjoy incredibly low action and impeccable intonation with no fret buzz for the life of the guitar.
Body Wood and Styling
In electric guitars with solid bodies, the size or thickness may not be as problematic as the weight. Some tonewoods can be notoriously heavy, weighing down on your shoulder or knee while you play them, making them uncomfortable or even painful. People with small hands usually have small bodies in proportion to their hands and a heavier guitar may tax them more than they tax larger people who can bear the weight of the guitar more easily. This is one of the reasons why body woods are mentioned in the spec lists of all electric guitars.
Heavier body woods include Korina, Mahogany and Maple, while lighter woods include Basswood, Swamp Ash and Alder. Some guitar brands, like the aforementioned Rainsong, use carbon composite materials to help lighten the load, while brands like Reverend actually hollow out or ‘chamber’ the bodies to give them increased resonance and a lighter weight. A perfect example of this is the Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Guitar.
Featuring a highly resonant chambered Korina body. the Billy Corgan signature guitar is lightweight and a pleasure to play, and is available in lefty and righty versions!
Another example of a guitar that has a light, slender body, perfect for anyone with small hands and a proportional frame is the Sterling by Music Man St Vincent Signature guitar which was built to the specifications of Alternative music legend St. Vincent.
The Sterling by Music Man St Vincent's unique styling is ultra thin, lightweight and contoured for comfort, making it an ideal body style for those of us with small hands and proportional builds.
The scale length seems like one of those technical specs that only guitar geeks want to know. What difference could it make whether the guitar has a scale length of 23“ or 25.5“? Believe it or not, scale length can make a major difference when it comes to ease of playability.
The scale length of a guitar is the distance from the saddle to the nut, which is the measure of the vibrating part of the strings. A more precise way to measure the scale length is to calculate twice the distance from the inside edge of the nut to the 12th fret. Without getting too deeply into technical matters, the scale length determines the string tension.
The longer the scale length of the guitar, the more tension it puts on the strings, making them feel tighter and more difficult to bend. Longer scale also means that the frets on the neck will be spaced more widely apart. Therefore, someone with small hands should look for a guitar with a shorter scale length. A good example of a great sounding guitar with a shorter scale length is this ESP/LTD EC-256FM.
With a scale length of 24 3/4“, the ESP/LTD EC-256FM has decreased string tension and frets that are less widely spaced than guitars with a scale length of 25.5“ which is common among many popular guitars. With more closely spaced frets and looser strings, those of us who have small hands will find this guitar much more comfortable to play than say a full sized Strat or an Ibanez with a 25.5“ scale.
Neck Profile and Fretboard Radius
The neck profile or neck shape along with the fretboard radius is another spec that determines the comfort of a guitar neck, especially for those of us with diminutive hand size. The neck of the guitar is somewhat like a wooden dowel that has been flattened on one side. Wide, thick neck profiles can be very uncomfortable for people with small hands to play, meaning that guitars with more narrow, thinner neck profiles will be a much better choice than a neck that is too chunky to get your fingers around.
Over the years, there have been several neck profiles that have become associated with iconic guitars. For instance, the ‘C’ neck profile with a 9.5“ fretboard radius was made famous by the Stratocaster and may seem perfect for players with large hands, but feel like a baseball bat in a smaller hand. Guitars with ‘V’ neck profiles also may feel great to players with long fingers, but can feel clunky and thick to those of us with shorter digits. Today’s ultra thin U profile is probably the best neck profile to look for when other neck profiles feel too clunky or substantial.
The fretboard radius is one of those specs that takes a little more explaining. The fretboard radius is the curvature of the fretboard’s playing surface. When the fretboard of a guitar is designed it is imagined as being part of a larger circle, as you can see in the picture below:
The size of this circle determines the roundness or flatness of the fretboard. This means that, the larger the circle, the flatter the fretboard will be. People with small hands tend to have an easier time playing on flatter, thinner necks, which means that they will often benefit from a fretboard radius that is 12“ or above. This is why shred guitars like the John Petrucci Signature series for example, have a fretboard radius of 16".
The D’Angelico Premier Atlantic features a slim ‘C’ neck profile with a 14“ fretboard radius, making the neck very slender and flat, perfect for those of us with small hands. The action or string height on this guitar could not be lower or easier on your fingers, and the 24.75“ scale neck means that it has very low string tension, making it very light and easy to play.
Don’t Give Up!
When it’s difficult to find a guitar that is comfortable and easy to play, you may get frustrated and feel like giving up the guitar altogether. Our message to you is don’t give up! There is a guitar out there that you can play comfortably and it’s our job to help you find it! Therefore, we invite you to call or email us, or come down to the Adirondack Guitar store, and speak with our knowledgeable staff who will help you find the guitar that is perfect for your hand size.
Adirondack Guitar is proud to announce that we are now an authorized PRS dealer and will be receiving several of their excellent acoustic guitars, along with their flagship PRS SE Standard 24 and SE Custom 24 electric guitars, in the coming weeks.
Since the late 1980‘s, many of the finest guitarists on the planet have chosen PRS guitars as their instruments. Iconic guitarists like Ted Nugent, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Alex Lifeson and Tony McManus (who was named to Guitar Player Magazine’s list of 50 transcendent acoustic guitarists) have all played and endorsed PRS guitars for their quality, reliability and playability.
A Brief Look at the History of PRS Guitars
The PRS story is one of the more inspiring stories in modern guitar history. PRS founder Paul Reed Smith learned to build guitars at an early age, because he had to. His family did not have the money to buy him the musical instruments he wanted. If Smith wanted a guitar, he would have to learn to build it himself.
Smith’s first proper guitar was finished during college. It was a guitar that he built for one of his music instructors who basically told him that he would get full credit for the class if he could turn a bag full of wood into a functioning guitar. Smith succeeded, and went on to create his first pre-production models in the coming years. Soon, Smith dropped out of college to pursue his career as a luthier and guitar maker, opening a luthier and guitar repair shop with a handful of employees in Annapolis, Maryland.
Beginning in 1976, Smith would build about one guitar per month until his brand took off in 1985. But it wasn’t easy. His way of finding customers in those days was to bring his guitars to shows and try to make his way backstage before or after the show for artists to try them. Soon there was a growing list of major guitarists playing custom PRS guitars including Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, and Al DiMeola.
We generally associate PRS guitars with Carlos Santana, but getting him to endorse PRS guitars wasn’t easy. In fact, Smith had to build 4 different custom signature guitars before Santana agreed to endorse them in the mid-1990‘s.
Through the decades, PRS has become best known for their iconic electric guitars, but their acoustic guitars have a similar history of incredible tone, reliable performance and incredible playability. The PRS build philosophy is simple: pair select tonewoods with a comprehensive selection of body shapes and bracing styles to create guitars that meet the high benchmark of PRS quality and playability.
Body Shape: Any guitarist will tell you that body shape will have a major effect on the tone and feel of the guitar. PRS acoustics come in two basic body shapes -- the Angelus Cutaway and the Tonare Grand. The Angelus cutaway acoustic has a softer and more intimate tone, while the Tonare Grand (tonare means ‘thunder’ in Latin) delivers the thunderous tone of a full size dreadnought acoustic.
Bracing: Acoustic guitars have rich interior lives. Their interior bracing contributes to the tone as much as the tonewoods that make up their top, back and sides. PRS uses two main bracing styles in its acoustic guitars, the traditional ‘X,’ and their own proprietary Hybrid X/Classical bracing. The traditional X bracing allows the top to resonate really well, giving the voice stability and a characteristic punch. The Hybrid is a combination of an X soundhole bracing with a classical ‘fan’ bracing, which ‘locks down’ the guitar’s back and sides, allowing it to project through the top with a unique voice.
Back and Sides: The tonewoods chosen for the back and sides of an acoustic guitar help determine the guitar’s overall sound. PRS uses a variety of choice tonewoods including Mahogany, Ovangkol, and Maple for backs and sides, pairing them with Sitka Spruce tops to create uniquely warm tones that also have the ability to cut through the mix in ensemble playing.
When Plugged In: All PRS Acoustic Electric Guitars have a Fishman GT1 pickup system which features both an undersaddle pickup and a preamp mounted in the soundhole, with ergonomically designed volume and tone controls that are easy to access while you are playing.
The PRS SE TX20E pairs a solid spruce top with Mahogany back and sides to deliver a warm, balanced tone. The traditional “X” bracing allows the top to vibrate while also providing excellent stability, giving the SE TX20E a punch that can stand alone beautifully or cut through the mix in ensemble playing. The Tonare Grand body shape gives the TX20E a familiar look and a thunderous tone, making it well suited for either picking or fingerstyle playing.
The PRS SE A55E features a single cutaway Angelus style body with a solid Sitka Spruce top and Quilted Maple back and sides for tone that is simply stunning in its warmth and depth. When matched with the PRS Hybrid“X” - Classical bracing, the top is allowed to vibrate freely and project, giving the the SE A55E a deep, wide open character that is not usually found in an acoustic with maple back and sides. The Angelus Cutaway body shape delivers comfort and playability, well suited for picking and fingerstyle playing.
With the SE T40E PRS paired Ovangkol back and sides with a Sitka Spruce top in a Grand Tonare body style with PRS Hybrid ‘X'/Classical bracing, creating an acoustic with a full and nuanced tone and incredible volume. While the Tonare body style delivers thunderous volume, the Hybrid bracing allows the top to vibrate freely, giving the T40E to deliver delicate nuance which makes it ideal for fingerstyle playing.
Like the SE T40E, the SE T50E PRS pairs the Grand Tonare body style with PRS Hybrid bracing, but puts Figured Maple and Mahogany back and sides with a Sitka Spruce top to create an unconventional 3-dimensional character that travels well from the recording studio to the stage. The Grand Tonare body shape delivers all of the volume you would ever want, with a warm quality from its select tonewoods.
Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 combines the design of the Custom 24, with all-mahogany body construction and classic PRS appointments, including a 24-fret maple neck, rosewood fretboard with bird inlays, 85/15 “S” pickups, and the PRS patented molded tremolo. The result is an affordable guitar with a powerful voice for players who demand a rock-solid reliability from their instruments.
The PRS SE Custom 24 Leftybrings classic PRS playability and reliability to left-handed players around the world. The Custom 24 Lefty comes gig-ready with a studio quality sound right out of the box. Keeping all of the same specifications as the SE Custom 24 that started it all, including a maple top, mahogany back, wide thin maple neck, 24 fret ebony fretboard, 25” scale length, the PRS patented molded tremolo, the latest SE Custom 24 features dual 85/15 “S” pickups with a 3-way pickup selector switch and push/pull tone control for coil tapping capabilities, making it more sonically versatile than ever!
Stay tuned to the Adirondack Guitar blog for more information about Paul Reed Smith models and other guitars due to come into our store in 2019!
The Gibson ES-175 is an iconic hollow body Jazz guitar played by many legendary guitarists including Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny and Steve Howe. Known for many years as the ‘workhorse of modern Jazz guitar,’ the Gibson ES-175 has an iconic sound that has been imitated by many guitar makers, but never precisely duplicated. In its long production history, the ES-175 has become synonymous with the greats of Jazz guitar. Its tone is warm and rich but also clean and articulate, chiming with a quality that is both spacious and airy but also distinct and bell-like. The ES-175 is unique among hollow bodies for its sonic versatility and its ability to stand up to more modern levels of crunch and volume better than other hollow bodies from the same era.
Pat Metheny Playing his Natural Finish ES-175 in 1989
Pat Metheny Group - Better Days Ahead - 1989 - YouTube
A Brief Overview of the ES-175‘s History
Gibson produced the ES-175 from 1949-2019. In its long production history, the ES-175 ran through several evolutionary steps on its way to becoming the legendary Jazz/Rock/Fusion guitar we know today.
When the Gibson ES-175 first came out in 1949, it measured 16“ wide 3 1/2“ deep, and featured a single Florentine-style single cutaway body built with maple laminate construction, a triple-bound maple archtop with dual f-holes, single bound back and fingerboard with a single P-90 pickup in the neck position. The hardware included a classic trapeze tailpiece with a Tune-o-Matic bridge on a rosewood base. The rosewood fingerboard featured double-parallelogram inlays and a crown peghead inlay on the headstock that gave the ES-175 its distinctive look. It was available in two finishes when it was first introduced in 1949: sunburst and natural finish.
In 1953, the ES-175D was formally introduced, which was a double pickup version with the same body and hardware specs as before. While the double pickup version did appear both in 1951 and 1952, it was not formally designated the ES-175D until 1953.
The next change to the Gibson ES-175 occurred in 1957 when the ES-175D was outfitted with two Gibson 490 humbucker pickups instead of the customary P-90‘s. Another version of the ES-175D soon came with a tailpiece with a "T" in the center and zig-zag tubes on the sides. This version was released in 1958.
The single pickup version of the ES-175 was discontinued in 1971, but the double pickup version, the ES-175D was available until 2019 and was released in several signature editions and variations including:
The Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis Signature is actually a re-release of the 1953 ES-175 single pickup version that Ellis loved for years. Originally, the ES-165 was released with a single 490 humbucker, and single volume and tone controls. In 2004 the 490 humbucker was replaced with a Gibson BJB Floating humbucker and the tone control was removed and the volume control placed on the surface of the pickguard.
In or around 1955, Gibson released the ES-175 Special Wurlitzer, a custom made ES-175 that was thinner than the standard ES-175 and trimmed down to feel like a Les Paul. This model was custom built for guitarist Andy Nelson who worked for Gibson in the 1950‘s as a clinician and in sales, and later for Epiphone. The Special Wurlitzer got its name when Nelson pitched the streamlined ES-175 model to Wurlitzer stores and even ran a spot on WBBN radio that Wurlitzer sponsored. Though we know Wurlitzer for their jukeboxes and pianos, in the middle of the 20th century the Rudolph Wurlitzer company was a major musical instrument distributor and dealer.
The ES-175 Steve Howe Signature was one of the most luxurious archtop hollow body guitars that Gibson ever produced. The Steve Howe Signature ES-175 comes in a fully hollow single-cut maple body in a vintage Sunburst gloss finish with a creme binding, a Mahogany neck topped with a 21-fret Rosewood fretboard and the distinctive double-parallelogram inlays. The hardware is chrome plated and includes a tune-o-matic bridge with a stoptail bar and features a pair of '57 Classic Gibson humbucker pickups.
More Than Just a Jazz Guitar
To achieve its characteristic tone, the ES-175 is generally played with the volume and tone rolled back a bit to allow its notes to chime through with their usual warmth. However, the ES-175D is unique among archtops for its ability to take modern levels of overdrive (as illustrated in Steve Howe's playing in particular). This is due to its maple laminate construction, which was somewhat unique for its time. While most hollow body electric guitars are prone to excessive feedback, especially at concert volume, the Gibson ES-175 has impressed many Rock and Fusion players with its ability to stand up to such volume without excessive feedback, and with the same characteristic warm and richness in tone.
When you play a Gibson ES-175, simply turning up the volume and tone controls pushes the tone into new sonic territory, but the addition of crunch and overdrive can yield some very interesting sounds as well. Though the Gibson ES-175 is associated with Jazz greats like Jim Hall, Pat Metheny (see video above) and Joe Pass, it’s versatile tone and ability to take overdrive has made it a favorite of Fusion and Progressive Rock guitarists like Steve Howe of Yes and Asia fame and Buck Dharma who played an ES-175 on Blue Oyster Cult’s classic ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper.’ In fact, the iconic opening guitar riff of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ and the clean parts of the lead section, were recorded using a Gibson ES-175.
Steve Howe Playing his Sunburst ES-175D:
Steve Howe- The making of 'Yours is no disgrace' - YouTube
Anyone looking for an authentic Jazz tone should naturally gravitate to the ES-175D, especially the later models with dual humbucker pickups that give it a more versatile sound. The list of guitarists who have played the ES-175D is astounding. It includes BB King who played an ES-175D before the release of his signature Lucille guitar, Jazz legends Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, and Pat Metheny and legendary rock guitarists like Andy Summer and the Edge just to name a few.
Gibson ES-175 Guitar | Reverb Demo Video - YouTube