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Musings

When we have something to say, we say it here. Updated only occasionally, because we're too far away from the Muse of Inspiration's usual route.

 

Posted by in General on May 20, 2015 .

Guitar manufacturers guard their image very carefully, which is a good thing.  But in the real world, things happen.  A clear finish coat may have a couple of specks of dust or the wood grain may not look the same all over the guitar (these are often called “B-Stock”), or a fret may not have been completely seated into its slot. None of these things affect how a guitar sounds or plays.  But they can affect a company's image. And remember, they protect their image very carefully.

When shipping thousands of guitars it is inevitable that casualties will occur.  Sadly, some guitars suffer greatly. Headstocks snap. Tops collapse....

Posted by in General on Apr 10, 2015 .

The guitar industry, like most, has its share of blowhards and "Mad Men". You know, those people that can spin anything and everything to their favor. That's why I found Taylor Guitar founder Bob Taylor's comments on his guitar's lack of acceptance by bluegrass players so refreshing.

Bob said, "Most people who play bluegrass don’t like Taylor guitars; they prefer Martin guitars. The fact is that the popularity of our guitars is very much associated with our sound, and that is because our sound was/is different than the traditional sound, and there are many people who prefer our sound. I once went to the Walnut Valley Festival in...

Posted by in General on Mar 23, 2015 .

There's much discussion and debate about the two primary "food groups" of tube amps. Personally, I think the online debate is a little silly. It's a little like debating who makes the "best" pickups? Or bolt-on vs set necks. As a rule, I think we guitarists (especially me) tend to obsess over our gear too much. Here are the basic differences...

In a Class A circuit, the current is flowing at all times through the tube. In a Class “A/B” design, a negative “bias” voltage is applied to the grid, which will cause the tube to “shut off” when the audio waveform is below a certain point. Hence the term "push-pull".

There are a...

Posted by in General on Feb 12, 2015 .

Have you ever tried to carry an instrument onto a plane, only to be told that it has to be checked instead?

Section 403 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 says that “An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage…”

If you don't remember that being the case in 2012, apparently the FAA has been really, really busy doing really, really important things and the...

Posted by in General on Jan 07, 2015 .

The most basic and often overlooked guitar maintenance is cleaning. Your guitar should be cleaned regularly, or whenever it gets dirty. Keeping your guitar clean will lengthen its life, improve its resale value, and make you look way cooler than your drummer sitting behind his dingy drum set.

Guitar shops are happy to sell special polishing cloths, but a basic 100% cotton rag (or worn out tee shirt) will work just fine. That 4-set gig you played on Saturday night in that sweltering club was as tough on your guitar as it was on you. Sweat is an oily and salty concoction that will cause your guitar to age prematurely. Try wiping with a...

Posted by in General on Dec 03, 2014 .

We all deal with a lot of tension in our lives. But for our guitars, the tension is never-ending. Your guitar's neck can easily have 150 pounds of tension pulling on it at all times. Now imagine that 150 pounds trying to rip the very thin guitar top right off of the instrument! Sometimes I'm amazed that all of our guitars don't spontaneously implode upon themselves.

Three things are going to affect string tension. This isn't rocket science, but it's worth a quick review.
1) String Gauge: Simply put, thicker strings are going to have more tension.
2) Scale Length: Scale length is the distance from a guitar's bridge to the nut. When...

Posted by in General on Nov 12, 2014 .

Nothing will mess up your guitar faster than low relative humidity. We're about to enter another winter (Please, NO polar vortex), and in many places, we'll be relying upon our heating systems to keep us toasty. But, while we love the blast of our 150,000BTU central heating systems, our guitars are crying out for help.

What many guitarists don’t realize is that heating our home can bring its relative humidity down to a level that can cause real harm to our six-string friends. And, sadly, the better the guitar, the more susceptible it is to drying out. 

Although still vulnerable to low humidity, a solid body electric guitar with a...

Posted by in General on Oct 28, 2014 .

Ebony has long been used by guitar makers, primarily for fingerboards. Just like rosewood and mahogany, ebony grows with wide variances of coloration. And as guitar owners, we have voted with our wallets and shown our strong preference for uniformly black ebony.

Here's the problem: Only about one out of every ten ebony trees has that uniformly black color that has long been the standard within our industry. And our insistence for black ebony, combined with wasteful logging practices and the lack of responsible forest management has created a lot of waste. Because ebony's lighter colored sapwood has little perceived value to the music...