Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tools of the Trade

I get asked a lot about the guitars I use on stage. Which is nice, it means folks are listening and noticing. They look like pieces of art. To me anyway. I love my guitars. So here you go ...

All my guitars are Martin 12 fret, wide neck models. Why the wide neck? Because of tone and clarity. When you play a chord on a regular guitar, Martin or otherwise, you hear the wash of the chord. With a wide neck, especially these, you strum the chord and actually hear the individual notes that make up the chord. I love that. And I love the classic look of the slot tuners
(pictured from left: Martin 00-28s, 000-28s and D-28s).

Specifically, I have a 1969 Martin 00-21s, a 1971 and 1974 Martin D-28s, a 2005 Martin 00-28 and two new Martin 000-28s guitars.

I use D'Addario phosphour bronze 80/20 medium guage strings on all of them. All have a McKinney capo that I leave on the nut of the guitar, I use .88 Dunlop ridged flat picks, .013 Dunlop steel finger picks and Goldengate large white thumb picks. I find the most convienient and accurate to be the Intellitouch Center Pitch tuner. Works great on banjos, too. I prefer a good, padded leather gig bag to a hard shell case. The best are made by Reunion Blues. I strap a small, leather Indian dream catcher to the B string tuner of the guitars. Always have and I don't know why. 'nuff said on that.

My favorite guitar is the Martin 000-28s. It is a perfect songwriter's tool. Let me rephrase that: it is a PERFECT songwriter's tool. The D-28s has a larger body which sounds awesome in a room but does not translate to mics very well. So the engineer has to EQ the bottom end down. Essentially, making is sound like the 000-28s. So why not just use the 000, I say?

Honestly, the real gem in my collection is the smaller body 00-28s. It sounds and records like an acoustic diamond, even more so than the 000. The 00-21s is the same body type and style, but the 00-28s has a deeper, richer tone. I can hear the wood. I used it throughout the new Walden album. The problem with the 00 is cosmetic. The smaller body makes the player (me) look bigger and every time I use it onstage I get a series of emails from fans suggesting I do something about my "sudden weight gain." Funny, but true. This is the strange road that always leads me to my Martin 000-28 slot neck, 12 fret guitar.

It is balanced, rich, easy on the eyes, different from the rest and DANG it sounds pretty. Back in the day, I would protect my Martin guitars at all cost. Even at big stages with union stage managers. I would stare them in the eye and say,

"There's my Martin - and over here is my wife. Don't EVER let me catch you messing with my Martin."

... at least I still have those Martins :)


dmackenzie1 said...

You and I have practically the same instruments! I have a '70 D-28S (which is for sale), a '72 00-21, and a '96 000-28GE. You're spot on with your comments regarding the 000. It is the most perfectly balanced instrument I own. The 00-21 has gotten a big sound, now that it's over thirty years old. My 000-28 is my main axe, though. I also am caring for my brother's 1952 00-21, but it doesn't get played much these days. I rounded out my gigging machines with a Dobro Model 90 Duolian for old blues. I've been playing seriously for over thirty years, now.

Phillip J Ashcroft said...

Thank you for sharing information about your guitars, why you love the sound of them, and I agree about the 00 series Martin's, They make me look "HUGE".

Keep up the wonderful work,

Thank you

Phillip J Ashcroft
(Liverpool, England)

Jim Monaghan said...

Michael -

Add another to the "practically the same instruments" category! I have a 00-21 and a D-28 both from the early 70's, and a 000-28VS which is about 4 years old. The two older ones have aged nicely and the 000-28VS is turning into my main instrument these days.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this guitar info.
i write songs and play a little guitar but my guitar is just primitive for beginners. it doesnt even have a brand name. i played with my guitar on pizza place and coffeehouses because i have no other guitars and i really wanna express myself through music...

so now i have an idea what to buy..:-)

michael from cebu city, philippines