Prof Dave’s String Changing Tips

Prof Dave’s String Changing Tips

To make your guitar or bass sound better, perform better

& last longer, consider the Professor’s advice.

 

  1. 1.     Before you even change the strings – when was the last time you had a professional setup? If the neck is out of line or intonation is incorrect, new strings won’t help. If you don’t know when the last setup was, it’s probably time  to get a setup.
  2. 2.     If you change string gauges (for example go from light to extra light), be aware this may necessitate a setup all by itself. It’s common, string tension, pressure and size can make a huge difference on the neck and intonation.
  3. 3.     After removing your old strings, clean the areas that you can’t get to like on the body under the strings, the bridge, fretboard, headstock and tuning machines.
  4. 4.     Use fretboard cleaner and conditioner on an ebony, rosewood or ironwood fretboard to clean and treat the wood. These products may be lemon oil, teak oil, walnut oil or turpentine (pine oil). NEVER USE FRETBOARD CLEANING PRODUCTS ON A MAPLE FRETBOARD. Rosewood, ebony and ironwood are treated during manufacture, not finished. Maple fretboards are finished and fretboard cleaners will make a big mess on finished surfaces.   On a maple fretboard, and the rest of the guitar, use a regular guitar cleaner – polish.
  5. 5.     While the strings are off, use a wrench and gently tighten the tuning machines. This is often overlooked and they can become loose over time. Remember: GENTLY!
  6. 6.     Use a stringwinder when putting strings on. It not only makes the job quicker, but helps the strings wind evenly.

 

Get more tips online at www.openmindedmic.com and click on “blogs” and then Prof. Dave’s Guitar & Bass Buying Advice

Are You Looking For A VERY Low Priced Acoustic Guitar?

Are You Looking For A VERY Low Priced Acoustic Guitar?

It’s not a sin to go with an inexpensive acoustic guitar because of personal budget restraints, you’re new to playing guitar and don’t want to invest big money until you know you like it, or you want a low priced acoustic to take with on the road and don’t want to take your higher priced gear. There are many other reasons not you may not want to spend a lot on a guitar, but there’s not reason to buy a piece of junk. In the lower price range junk is certainly out there, so beware.

 

Of the acoustic guitars I recommend in the lower price range, none are made from solid wood; they’re all laminated which is a nice word for plywood. Laminated woods vary widely in qualitLaminated woods vary widely in quality, some are durable with good materials and laminated under high pressure and some vaguely resemble wood.

 

Here are my low priced acoustic guitar picks:

 

  • Applause AA13 Mini Bowl Acoustic Guitar sells online everywhere for $149.95 and for the money, it’s a good choice. Applause is the low-priced import line of Ovation and this guitar shares many virtues of its higher priced cousins. The sound is good, playability a cut above and once you get used to the bowl body, it’s very comfortable.
  • Epiphone PR150 Acoustic Guitar sells everywhere for $129.95 and it’s a winner at that price. The guitar looks very nice, the sound quality is good and it’s not hard to play. The construction, fit and finish are surprising in such a low priced guitar.
  • EKO Ranger Acoustic Guitar. EKO?? What’s an EKO? EKO is Europe’s largest guitar maker, but trust me, this model isn’t made in their Italian Custom Shop. I haven’t seen this online at any major music retailer, but I ‘ve seen it in stores and for about $150.00 or so, it’s not bad. Good sound, not as attractive as the Epiphone or Applause, but not a bad finish and good playability. This guitar also has a quick and easy to use adjustment to customize string height without altering the tuning. This is worth taking a look at.
  • Ibanez SGT110VS Sage Series sells for $179.95 at the major online vendors and it’s a very good low-priced choice Ibanez competes well, sometimes leading the pack, in every price range where they compete and in the low cost market, it’s not exception.
  • Jasmine by Takamine S34C is a cutaway that sells online for $129.99 and it’s nice looking, plays decently and sounds good for the price. Takamine makes a huge assortment of acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars and basses and they do well in all markets.

 

In the lower cost guitars, in spite of my affection for Fender, I don’t care for their low-priced acoustic guitars and feel they sell mostly on the Fender name, not the performance or construction. I also don’t recommend low priced Stagg guitars, Dean, or any brand that sells thorugh stores that have “Mart” in their name or besides selling guitars sells paint, clothing, major appliances, tires, prescription medicine, eye glasses or hearing aids. At these stores the instruments tend to be horrible and nobody at these stores knows how to set them up or even that they need to be set up. Buying a poor quality instrument that’s inadequately adjusted is a fast track to failure in learning to play and an absolute waste of your money.

 

What’s you opinion? I”d like to hear from you. If you have a low priced guitar you like, let me hear from you or if you disagree with my ideas, be heard. Reply on this blog or send an email to dave@openmindedmic.com. Thanks for visiting. Prof. Dave

Review of the Ovation 1771AX Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Review of the Ovation 1771AX Acoustic-Electric Guitar

I’ll start off by admitting that historically, I’ve not been a big fan of Ovation guitars or other guitars made from products other than solid wood. Recently, I’ve had a paradigm shift and have become a big fan of Ovation and the Ovation Adamas. Have they really improved that much? Maybe,  or perhaps experience has taught me to open up the mind a bit.

All Ovation guitars have a different feel because of the bowl back. Part of the problem is, it does feel different – not bad, but different and that takes a bit of getting used to. The 1771AX sells for around $699 new, $550 – $590 as a factory second and around $400 – $450 used and it’s hard to part with that kind of money on something that feels “different.” People who play and love their Ovation / Adamas guitars all tell me that you get used to the different feel very quickly. In my opinion, they’re right. If you like the guitar, give it a little time and it’ll feel fine to you.

The neck is slender and very well shaped. When this guitar first arrived at our shop, set up was quick, easy and precise. The playability of this guitar is superior, especially at this price range and it’s a very solid instrument.

The sound is impressive too. With a solid AA spruce top and carefully designed mid-depth bowl body, the guitar has a sweet, ringing voice with good sustain. Where this guitar excels is when it’s amplified – the electronics, Ovation OCP-1K,  are crystal  clear with a lot in the tank to put out impressive volume. The guitar provides you with clean, natural, sustain and the controls are easy to read and operate while you’re working.

Ovations have a unique, and most people think, a beautiful appearance. The one I tested had a really impressive cherry finish that got a lot of positive comments. Does it compare well to other guitars in its price range made of solid wood? First of all, there aren’t many solid wood guitars in the $700 price range. Epiphone Masterbilt guitars are of very few choices. For $700, it’s very hard to do better than the 1771AX.  For an acoustic-electric in this price range, it’s a good deal and compares well to guitars costing considerably more.

What’s your opinion? Have you used or owed an Ovation 1771AX? I’d love to hear about that or any guitar or bass buying experience you’ve had. Let me hear from you. Prof. Dave

Review of the Kramer Disciple 4 String Bass

Review of the Kramer Disciple 4 String Bass

This is a GREAT bass, especially at the relatively modest price. My bottom line is that I highly recommend you test it before you buy anything else in the $400 – $500 range. I say that knowing there are a lot of great basses in that price range including Fender’s new Modern Player series, Peavey Millennium, Schecter Raiden Elite (scorching good bass), and the MTD Kingston Saratoga. All great basses; so is the Kramer Disciple and the Disciple has some unique features that truly set it apart from the crowd.

We took in a beautiful white Disciple into our shop as a factory 2nd and as we examined this full scale, 34” scale length, it was obvious that in spite of the scale length, this bass was signficanlty shorter than what I usually see. I put it in a stand next to an Ovaiton 1771AX acoustic-electric and the Kramer Disciple was only slightly longerr than the acoustic guitar right next to it. The Disciple is also very light with an extremely slim, assymetrical maple neck. Visually, the ebony fretboard and black hardware were a striking contrast to the white body and looked great.

This combination of light weight, slender neck, and compact size immediately seem to make this bass a good option for a guitarist who wants to play bass, a young bassist who’s outgrown his Fender Starcaster and wants a serious bass to fit the emerging skilland the still growing body, and female bassists who would appreciate the bass’ size and feel and with no compromise on sound. I’ll get to the sound in a bit and promise no disappointment there either.

Setting up the bass was easy. It set up beautifully and quickly. The literature says the bridge is a “fully adjustable flush mounted bridge.” We examined it and have no idea on how it adjusts. If someone out there knows, please write back and share it with me. Thanks. Fact is, we didn’t need to adjust it. The action, intonation were superior and landed perfectly.

The heart of the sound for the Disciple is an oversized EMG MMC5 pickup and EMG BTS preamp (uses a 9 volt battery) is pure EMG: versatile, powerful and clearly makes the list as “the good stuff.” I was able to create tones of remarkable clarity that would please any jazz quarter and sounds of a jumbo jet taking off.  The sound quality rivals my far more expensive Fender Marcus Miller bass. I handed this instrument to master bassist Andy Lalasis who played it, reflected on the experience and stated firmly “I love it man.”

My advice is pretty clear: check out the Kramer Disciple bass. It’s worth looking at and if you buy it, a great value.

What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tested or own this bass or of your observations, shopping experience, if you discovered a great deal or just want to tell us about you guitar or bass. Please reply on this blog. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

Fred Reviews His “Stellar” NEW/USED Adamas Guitar

Fred is a good, trusted friend, a regular reader and contributor to this blog, and I think it’s safe to say that his knowledge of guitars is significantly above average. His ability to find a bargain is uncanny and world class.

Fred recently purchased a used Adamas on ebay, and since he wrote to me about it, I’ll simply quote him and then add my two cents – or more. we’ll see

“Hello Prof. Dave,
I recently bought one of the most under rated electric acoustics made in the USA. As far as acoustic dreadnaughts go, I have played every thing that would be considered the best. That includes Martin, Larivee, Taylor, Gibson, etc.. Recently I managed to get my hands on an Adamas. This is not a dressed up Ovation. if you get the chance to play one you’ll find that is an exceptional instrument. Ovation has always been a great guitar to play, they are extremely stable, and playability can be maintained and relied upon for what ever your style. My last Ovation was however lacking in tone and projection. The Adamas, with its carbon fiber top is far better suited to the synthetic Lirichord back.  Projection is very good, but the tone is off the charts. It is the brightest guitar I have ever heard, without a hint of tininess. The response is razor sharp, it remains crisp and crystal clear even during hard driving hard strumming. Another aspect of this guitar that I find I’m liking more and more as time goes by, is the round back. Those times I go from some weeks of working with an electric and I go back to a normal acoustic, I find the thick body to be uncomfortable to hold. The bowl back however allows the guitar to roll giving a better position for your right arm.  It dose take a bit of getting used to but once you’ve got it, it’s like riding a bike, it just feels natural. These guitars are expensive and are priced with the high end Taylors and Martins. I consider myself very lucky, I found mine (a stellar example) used on e-bay for under a thousand dollars. This guitar is one of two in my collection I plan to keep for ever.”
Those were Fred’s comments – these are mine: don’t count on finding an Adamas in stellar condition for under $1,000 – Fred’s a pro and his tricks should not be attempted by amateurs. That really is an amazing price to pay for an Adamas. I say that for a few reasons.
First, they’re so well constructed, so strong that I believe you can put one of these in a case and in 4,000 years archeologists can unearth it, pull it out of the case and play it. It’s simply not subject to some of the damage that even superbly made wood guitars may experience.
As far as tone is concerned, I completely agree with Fred. Although I’ve played some Ovations in the same lofty price range of $2,500 – $3,500 with AAA Sitka Spruce tops that sounded magnificently, which is what you’d expect from a guitar in a lofty price range.
Adamas and Ovations have exceptional playability. The construction of the Adamas redefines “durable.” When introduced, Ovation was a true innovation in guitar design and use of alternative materials. Adamas is no less annointed. They are underrated and do stand up to competition very well.
I think Ovation and Adamas have superb electronics too that really take advantage of the science of the instruments design. One of my regular performers at our Open Minded Mics, singer-songwriter Joey McGowan, has a high end Ovation that stads up to anything else being played onour stage for tone, sustain and playability.
The bowl, the bowl, the bowl; what to do about the shape of that body? Or the shape of my body? I think Fred is right again in that it takes some getting used to and then it becomes second nature. That may be the biggest resistance to these guitars. When you first strap one on, ti does feel awkward. Not bad, but different. So you’ve come to a point where you’re willing to shell out $3,000 for a guitar, do you choose one that you played in the music store that felt awkward and different or one that feels familiar? Most of us will go withfamiliar.
If you favor the carbon fiber construction but the back is too distressing, you might consider trying a Rainsong guitar. It’s a fine instrument with similar durability. Since sound and tone, like beauty, arein the eye (and ear) of the beholder, you decide. I’ve played both and prefer the Adamas. But the Rainsong is quite good too.
It’s a bit of faith that you need to show, that you will adjust. If you’re really interested in an Adamas, and willing to shell out the bucks, here’s a thought, but an inexpensive Ovation, used for a couple of hundred dollars, get used to the bowl, sell it and get your money back and buy the Adamas with confidence. OR, you can have Fred find you a super deal on an Adamas, and if you find you don’t like it you can resell it at a profit.
So the gauntlet is down Fred: bring your “stellar” Adamas down here, get on the stage and let’s hear it in action.
Thanks Fred.
If you have an opinion on a guitar or bass, I’d love to hear from you. If you recently shopped for an instrument, what did you try? What did you like? What didn’t you like? What did you end up buying? Please reply on this blog or write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com or reply on this blogy. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

Doing Some Online Guitar & Bass Bargain Hunting & Shopping For You

Doing Some Online Guitar & Bass Bargain Hunting & Shopping For You

I spent a little time going through the web to locate some exceptional bargains on guitars, basses and gear that I think are great to own. If you’ve kept up with my blogs, you know my feeling that there’s a lot of great instruments out  there, and some junk too. I like a lot of brands, and like all of you, have my favorites. Here’s a quick look at what’s sitting out there that’ll get you what you want at a great price. If you see a bargain, let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

For some of these deals, they’ll show you a sales price with a slash through it and instruct you to “add to cart” in order to find out the final price. This isn’t done to trick you; it’s done to trick competitors. These web pages are being scanned, crawled and examined constantly, and you have want to offer a unique, competitive deal, if you have it appear in the cart, that’s secure and not available for scan or discovery. If you don’t want the item you can either delete it form the cart or simply don’t place the order. I’d delete it personally.

My first stop was at Sweetwater (www.sweetwater.com) a good, dependable vendor with a great inventory and selection. These are the items I found there that I think represent a outstanding deal.

They have Gibson SG Standard (Lefty) in Vintage Cherry (no surprise on the color) for only $1199.99. The SG has been around a long time and withstood the test of time. An American made Gibson certainly costs a lot more than a similar SG in Gibson’s import brand Epiphone. But for true quality and enduring value, it’s no contest. This is a great guitar.

There’s Fender American Special Strat in the clearance area too with HSS pickups for only $799.99. This is another legendary guitar at a great price.

I have a high regard for Takamine instruments, and like Ibanez, they sell instruments in a wide spectrum of sizes, construction and options. And like Ibaniez, they mostly use Alpha-Numeric Coding to identity the instrument. This particular offering is a beautiful acoustic-electric, the Takamine EF381SC Acoustic-Electric and at $1249.99, it’s a wonderful deal.

Looking for a great starter bass at a modest price? Consider the Peavey Millennium Bass 4 BXP. While Epiphones, Squiers, and fancy Deans and B.C. Rich basses are out there in abundance, the Peavey delivers on sound, playability and quality. For a low priced bass it’s terrific and at $215.99, it’s a steal.

Kala Ubass (Ukulele size REAL Bass) 4 string. Solid Acacia is going for $585.99. The acacia is beautiful wood and normally sells for $625 – $650. A lower priced option, and still beautiful is the Kala all mahogany Ubass which I see for around $500 – $550 range. If you just want the sound, which is a surprisingly good bass sound from such a small acoustic-electric, you can get one with a solid spruce top for $400 – $440, although I’ve seen them new, with a gig bag for $349 on ebay.

At the high end of the guitar buying spectrum, they’re offering a PRS DC3 Electric Guitar for only  $1779.00, which is a great price for this guitar. PRS guitars are beautifully made, awesome sounding and exceptionally high quality.

Musicians Buy (www.musiciansbuy.com)

This online source of guitars, basses and gears has become one of my favorites. Good service, knowledgeable staff and very low prices, even before the stuff gets to a closeout. They don’t have a huge variety of brands that we’re accustomed to seeing online, but they do have great stuff, and again at great prices. Here are some great deals that I found on their site.

They have a Laravee L05E with a hardshell case for an incredible $1750.00. Many folks, especially in the eastern U.S., aren’t familiar with Laravee; if you’re a guitarist, you should be. They make exceptional guitars, this is one of my favorite models and I haven’t seen it offered at anywhere near to this price.

I really like what Godin produces and the Godin 5th Avenue CW Kingpin Natural is a classic semi-hollow electric guitar. At $788.00, it’s an amazing value too. This is such a smooth playing guitar, it’s easy to love it.

Godin A4 Semi-Acoustic Bass, is an item I’ve reviewed, now own and love. There is a fretted 4 string version available here for only $688. That’s literally hundreds less than anywhere else I’ve seen.

A final item that got my attention is a VERY nice Traynor YCV80 amp for only $688.00. I say “only” because this is a powerhouse, top line amp and that’s a great price for this item.

Alto Music (www.altomusic.com)

Alto Music is a very fine music store in Armonk, New York. They have an excellent selection, do a fine job at setting up items they sell and enjoy a well-deserved good reputation for competitive pricing and great service. They have a couple of used items in the “Blowout Deals” section that got my attention.

Yes, I do like Peavey produces and the used Peavey Woldgang Flametop Electric in trans red with case for $999.99 is a terrific price on a high end Peavey. I’m usually a little reluctant to buy a used guitar or bass online, but not from these guys. They’re great to work with.

There’s also a used Ibanez JS1200 Joe Santirani Electric Guitar candy apple red with a case for $1199.99.  At the pricier end of the guitar buying universe, Ibanez has some entries and they compare very well with similarly priced competitors. This is a very good deal.

Guitar Center (www.guitarcenter.com)

Guitar Center is a huge online resource with an enormous retail store presence to support the sales effort. They have an arsenal of used and closeout guitars, basses and equipment and their pricing is right in line with everyone else’s or perhaps, better said, it might be one of the authors of that line. If you’re willing to sift through quite a bit of inventory, there are some unusual bargains. Here are the gems that I found.

The Music Man StingRay is HOT. Great design, feel and electronics make this one of the most prized basses out there. There’s a Music Man StingRay Humbucker / Piezo pickup in Sapphire Black (it’s a “blem” but big deal, so am I) and it’s being sold as used for $1476.83. Very tempting.

I love Martin Guitars and the Aura series is awesome. GC has a Martin JC-16RE Aura Acoustic-Electric Blem for $2299.99. My advice is accept the blem and save a few hundred dollars.

If you’re looking for a low priced, good quality acoustic-electric consider Hohner. I think the Hohner Essential Plus Mini Jumbo Acoustic– Electric Guitar is a great example of what I’m talking about and for only $349.00, it’s an excellent buy.

American Musical Supply (www.americanmusical.com)

This is a high quality online dealer and you can get to them by clicking on the banner ad on this page, or other pages on this site. Yes, they are my only musical instrument supplier mentioned in this blog who is a direct affiliate. They aren’t the biggest with every brand under the sun available, but their pricing is consistently as good as, or better than anyone else’s. The service eis amazing. Orders are filled and shpped extremely quickly, returns are handled promptly and they do what they promise. They have an “Outlet Zone” on their site, and it’s one of the best resources out there for a musical instrument and equipment bargain hunter.

They have a Schecter C1 Hellraiser Electric for an amazing $549.95. This is a high end performer with a very low price tag. Good deal.

Here’s another superb deal, a Fender Classic Player Jazzmaster Special with gig bag for an rock bottom $639.95. That’s far better than anything I’ve seen for this guitar.

Gibson’s line of acoustic guitars are pricey, and exceptionally well designed and built. The Outlet Zone has a Gibson SJ200 Studio Acoustic-Electric at an outstanding $2199.95

The Ibanez Exotic Woods series are good playing and sounding guitars that are beautiful. The Ibanez EW200Me Exotic Wood Cutaway Acoustic-Electric for $339.95 is a great deal.

The Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass is sleek and hot. If you can accept it with some scratches and dings, you can save yourself $200 off of one without a scratch of ding. If it doesn’t come scratch I’ll put a few in pretty soon. You can buy this one for  $799.95

The Perfect Bass (www.theperfectbass.com) & The Perfect Gutiar (www.the perfectguitar.com)

These two online merchants that appear to the the same store with different online identities, are another quality choice and they don’t offer every brand. But they do have some good offering. I picked out these two amps from their “Scratch & Dent” offerings. When it comes to electronics, scratches and dents mean very little to me if the electronics are intact. I’ll gladly take the discount.

There’s an Orange Micro Crush CR65 with a schmushed box for $89. You’ll probably throw the box away anyway, take the fun little amp and save the money.

Another amp is the very high quality Tech 21 Bronzewood 60 Acoustic Combo Amp (this was a demo) $449.00. That’s a great price for this amp.

If you’ve come across any great deals for guitars, basses or related equipment. Please let me know by posting on this blog or send an email to dave@openmindedmic.com and I’ll happily post your comments.

If someone plays, or has played the Samick Remngton Greg Bennett design, solid body acoustic bass guitar. I’d love to har your impressions. It seems to be similar in design to my Godin A4 and I’d like to know a bi tmore about it. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

Two Months With My Godin A4 Ultra Natural Semi-Acoustic Bass – How Much Do I Love It?

Two Months With My Godin A4 Ultra Natural Semi-Acoustic Bass – How Much Do I Love It?

I absolutely LOVE this bass. It’s not perfect, and I’ll get into that, but it’s one of those instruments that I will never part with. How’s that for a statement of love?

OK, the first the most obvious negative: the guitar has terrific electronics with L.R. Baggs Piezo and a very sleek, low profile Lace pickup – that doesn’t sound like a negative yet – it also has some neat EQ controls on the upper bout of the soundboard, but there a bit difficult to figure out exactly how to use them. So you have to refer to the owner’s manual. This wouldn’t be a real problem if there was an owner’s manual, but there doesn’t seem to be one.

If you go to Godin’s web site (www.godinguitars.com) you’ll see a very impressive web site featuring the different instrument and amp brands in the Godin family, and you can download owner’s manuals. The manuals that exist that is. As I reviewed the list of downloadable manuals, the A4 / A5 weren’t there. Being a fan of Godin and Seagull Guitars, I noticed a number of models didn’t have owner’s manuals. They make great guitars, you’d think they could produce a mediocre manual.

Is that all for the negatives? Well, no. I’m not sure if this is a negative or just a fact to be aware of with this bass. It’s quite heavy. As heavy as a a maple solid body and that’s not what you’d expect with an acoustic or semi-acoustic bass.  The back and sides are chambered, silver leaf maple and so if you expect a light ride for your shoulder, this isn’t the guitar for you. If the normal weight of a bass isn’t an issue, this won’t be a problem for you.

One more cautionary note: strap locks are a much for this bass. I’m not sure if it’s the strap buttons, or the distribution of the weight, but this bass just shed straps and strap locks will cure that. I use a simple cam strap lock available at Stewart MacDonald (www.stewmac.com) whichis a great resource for all sorts of part, tools and supplies. These cam locks are inexpensive, pop on neatly and off neatly and require absolutely no installation or modification of the guitar. Dunlop has a great strap lock system too available everywhere.

Now for the many positive things about this beautiful  instrument.  Well, it’s beautiful. The top wood is either solid cedar or solid spruce (depending on the model, mine is solid spruce), the neck is maple, the fingerboard is ebony on the fretless (which is what I have) and rosewood on the fretted model. The look is understated, classic and very distinctive.

The playability is nothing shy of magnificent. On the fretless model, the flatwound stings give this bass guitar a sound that is so similar to the upright bass. The instrument is very well balanced.  The neck is a slim 1.5” at the neck and the fingerboard radius of 16” is a bit flatter than I’m used to, but very easy to work with. Your hands will love this bass.

The sound is amazing. Mine has an L.R. Baggs transducer and as I’m a fan of Godin, I’m also a big fan of L.R.  Baggs – who by the way has great customer service if you need help with any L.R. Baggs product, you get to actually speak to a knowledgeable human. It picks up the acoustics flawlessly.  My A4 also has the Lace low profile pickup which adds great depth and punch when needed.

With the flatwound strings, no frets and a great, slim neck, I move up and down with ease, get a great “thumpy” string bass sound and slide to get a sound like a trombone – fun and cool. I usually play this bass through my Yamaha  EMX512SC mixer with nothing but excellent results. Whe I use an amp, I think I get the best results with a Genz Benz Shenendoah  Jr. even though it’s an acoustic amp, it’s very versatile and the A4 plays great through that. There are separate ¼” inputs for a mixer and an amp on the A4 and that specialization seems to make a big difference. There also a 13 pin port so you can play through a synthesizer. I haven’t tried that yet and based on my history with high tech, I’ll hand it over to one of my technologically inclined friends for that. But it’s there and it can give you an incredible range of tonal possibilities.

Among the issues of sound, is a sound that this bass never makes: feedback. This is amazing to me. Having played acoustic basses, the big hollow bodies are a breeding ground for feedback. I’ve never had any feedback, not when playing right next to my amp, pointing the guitar toward a speaker or on a loud stage. Feedback is simply not a problem with the Godin A4.

The base model Godn A4 starts at around $1,170 anwhere with the 5 string version being about $50 more. It does up the Ultra, which sells everywhere for $1,245. If you’re in the market to buy one, I suggest you contact Musicians Buy (www.musiciansbuy.com) , call Bob and get a quote from him. I’ve dealt with Bob, he’s knows what he’s talking about, he’s honest in his dealings and he’ll get you a great price. They aren’t affiliates on this site, I get no fee from them, but it’s the truth. Musicians Buy doesn’t have every brand, in fact they’re a bit limited for an online retailer, but they have great brands at great prices and they’ll get it if they don’t have it in stock.

The last time I checked Musicians Buy did have a fretted A4 (basic model) on a closeout for an incredible $688. I haven’t seen any price close to that on a new A4.

If you’re looking for an acoustic bass, don’t overlook this unique instrument. And after you try it, let me know what you think about it.

This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dave

Review of: Fender Pawn Shop ’72, Martin Aluminum Grand Autditorium, DiPinto Belevedere and Schecter Riot 4 string bas

Review of: Fender Pawn Shop ’72, Martin Aluminum Grand Autditorium, DiPinto Belevedere and Schecter Riot 4 string bass.

 

Well, I am a big fan olf diversity and so this review is of two electric guitars, one acoustic-electric and a bass and the testing was done at three different shops. I love my job.

The first test was at Music Central, in Egg Harbor Township, NJ where John and I played a DiPinto Belvedere DeLuxe. If you’re looking for a guitar that doesn’t look like everybody else’s, this is a good candidate for you to check out. This single cutaway guitar has a striking appearance, with a semi-hollow body, plastic top and mahogany back and sides and two screaming humbuckers, the guitar clearly stands out in a crowd: both visually and sound.

DiPinto is a family owned, small manufacturer in Philadelphia. They started as a highly regarded repair shop and began building their own guitars in the mid 90’s. Now they have a full scale operation creating a limited line of well made, distinctly different, guitars.

The look is out there, a bit too much for my taste but it is a matter of taste. It is bold and I prefer the less ornate look of the Belvedere Standard, but that’s only having seen a picture, not the actual instrument.  The controls are very simple, in contrast to the look, one volume control, one tone and a three way switch produce a very nice, vintage rock sound. It comes with a tune-o-matic and a classic Bigsby Tailpiece that really help the strings sing and add a distinctiveappearance. Nice playing, very well shaped neck and tuners were precise – the guitar is clearly a quality piece. For about $875 retail, it stands up very well against similarly priced Fenders, Gibsons and other quality brands. The Belvedere Standard, which wasn’t available for testing sells for about $625 and I think it’d be worth checking out.

As for the look, you’ll love it or you won’t. It will attract its audience and if you like it, try it; it may just be the odd ball guitar you’ve been looking for. For the price, it has my recommendation as a “GO.”

Moving up to northern New Jersey to the venerable Ritchie’s Music Center in Rockaway, I went drifting through a very large selection of new and used guitars with my buddy Fred and we had some fun with a Martin with an aluminum soundboard and a Fender Pawn Shop ’72 Electric.

If you’re familiar with Fender guitars, but not this series, you’ll likely be a bit confused when you see it. The guitar has a Strat like semi-hollow body with a Tele neck. It’s undeniably Fender and unfamiliar at the same time. It comes with two Humbucker pickups, a Fender Enforcer at the bridge and a Wide Range at the neck. One volume control and one tone with a three way switch and you’re off to a good start. The guitar has a straightforward, classic look and a glaring polyester finish on the body and the bolt on neck. I’d rather have a satin finish on the neck but they didn’t ask me when they made it.

The playability of this guitar is excellent. I’m sure that has something to do with the setup and the shops where I do most of my tests are fanatics about making sure their display items play correctly. Clean, neat style that’s both distinctive and classic,  fun to play and sounds more like a Gbson Les Paul than a Fender, but it’s a great sound anyway.

This Fender sells for around $875 retail and my recommendation is to try it before you buy it. Or, if you buy it online, remember that all legitimate vendors of new online instruments have an unconditional return policy so if you buy that way, don’t think you’re stuck with it if you don’t love it. I think you just might love it though. “Go” on this one too.

The next guitar I played at Ritchie’s was a Martin Acoustic Eelctric Grand Auditorium with a solid aluminum top and solid cherry back, sides and neck. It has similar specs to Martin’s 000CE Al Cherry Acoustic –Electric that sells new for around $1,850. This used item was in great shape and selling for $875, but is it worth the price? The playability was excellent, the cherry neck was well shaped and the small body was very comfortable. I was surprised with the sound – pretty good and in spite of the metal top, the sound was full and warm.

This guitar is part of Martin’s line of environmentally responsible instruments made from wood and other resources that are renewable and available. It’s a nice guitar, well built as you would expect from Martin and the look would stand out in a crowd. Top isn’t painted, it’s aluminum. If  I were buying this new, I’d probably spend an extra $150 and go with the Martin Performing Artists CP3 series, and I’d also check out Martin’s new line of solid wood guitars that use cherry. Cherry is a fine tone wood and worth looking into. In this case, the used item was  a good value but from a player’s point of view, I’d look at other used Martin’s or Taylor’s in the same price range. It was fun to play and very, very novel.

Heading west, Fred and I stopped at Robbie’s in Hackettstown, NJ and in a brief visit I tested a Schetcter Riot 4 bass that I had been hoping to find on my journey.  Where I commented how unconventional the other guitars I tested were, this one, made with beautiful burled maple has a classic, understated appearance with the wood catching your eye stealing the show.

This bass sells for around $675 (clearance price ) – $750  online (when you can find it) at Musician’s Friend and Musiciansbuy.com (who will special order a product for you if they don’t have it in stock).  The look is sleek, and the sound is wonderful, full bass, a lot of punch in the two pickups and the playability is as good as any bass out there. The neck is slim and wll countoured and for the money, it’ll stand up to any competitor in its price range. There are so many quality choices out there today, it’s really hard to say that one is the best, but this one is among the best. For the money – this is a  “Go.”

Want a great bass at a low price? Try looking for a Fender Jazz (J) or Precision (P) bass made in Mexico (MIM) and you can get a used item for around $300, in very good shape. The MIM Fender is made very well in Mexico. Add a Full Contact Hardware Bridge (about $80 for a 4 string bass) and a bone, tusq, brass or ceramic nut ($12 – $20) and you’ll have a great guitar for about $400.

This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dav

Are Everly Acoustic Guitar Strings Worth The Extra Couple Of Bucks?

Are Everly Acoustic Guitar Strings Worth The Extra Couple Of Bucks?

I’m usually skeptical when it comes to claims of massively improved tone with one string brand over another. There are differences between brands but the composition of the strings and manufacturing techniques are similar and I don’t think the difference is as dramatic as the makers want us to believe. The biggest difference in string quality is how fresh and clean the strings are, not as much the brand. But brand does make a difference.

On my acoustic guitars I typically use Martin SP and D’Addarrio EJ10 which both sell for around $5.00 to $6.00 online and a bit more in stores. They’re vine strings and I’ve been using them for years. I also use extra light guage strings on all of my guitars and basses. If you use heavier gauge strings, you will get more volume and if you work the guitar hard, heavier gauge strings may be the right choice for you. That’s personal preference. But I think strings are so well engineered and designed that you don’t compromise on tone with lighter gauges. I also resist using high priced coated strings and boutique strings. I don’t think the added longevity of coated strings is worth the extra price and I don’t think boutique strings produce a better sound.

I put a set of D’Addario EJ10’s on my Babicz Spider Identity acoustic-electric, a set of Martin SP’s on my beautiful old Guild F-50, and a set of Everly Sessions (sell for around $6.50 – $7.50 online) on my Tribeca acoustic-electric. Then I got to work evaluating the results, taking into account the different guitars have different tone and volume qualities.

The Babicz Spider Identity is all solid mahogany, including the soundboard. (Babicz now uses Englemann Spruce soundboard which is a brighter sound but I wouldn’t trade mine for a new one). The Spider has a very rich, piano-like sound and the D’Addario strings support that very well. I live and work near the ocean and notice that the D’Addario strings tend to lose tone after a few weeks. But they do sound and play well.

The Guild F-50 has a beautiful, vibrant voice with a solid spruce top and gorgeious maple back and sides. The Martin Sp strings sing well on this guitar and when you strike a chord, you hear a chord, not a series of individual notes. The Martin strings are balanced and maintain their tone longer than the D’Addario’s did. I think these are excellent acoustic guitar strongs and if you haven’t tried a set, I recommend that you do.

My Tribeca is also a Jeff Babicz design. It was a prototype of a more traditional X-Braced design that Jeff decided not to produce, so it’s a rarity. I love this simple guitar with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. I switched Martin SP strings for the Everly Sessions on this guitar and the difference was striking. When I first put them on, the sound was beyond “bright.” It was downright glaring. I was tempted to take them off and put on a set of Martin’s but decided to let it go for a bit and see if they calmed down. In about three days, the tone did calm down and became very vibrant and lively.

I use this guitar when I perform and also it’s the guitar we make available for performers at our Open Minded Mic shows who don’t have an acoustic-electric guitar. A remarkable credit to the Everly strings is that while I had those strings on this guitar, I got so many compliments on how beautiful the guitar sounded. The comments came from people who had no idea that I changed string brands on the guitar. That’s a very revealing review.

Another favorable point for the Everly Strings is that they had great durability. In constant play, near the ocean, these strings sounded vibrant for months and that’s not only great sound, it’s great value. Too.

I recommend the Everly Sessions: great strings at a slightly higher price.

A couple of recommendations: after I play I clean my strings by using a string cleaner / lubricant like Dunlop’s Formula 65 string cleaner. Run the applicator over the strings and it cleans them and removes damaging moisture. Follow that with a quick wipe with a clean cloth and your’e strings will last longer and sound better.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you change strings clean the fretboard (on ebony, rosewood or ironwood us a fretboard cleaner, on maple just use regular guitar cleaner / polish) and tighten the tuners. A very important consideration, especially if you change the string gauge, is to check the setup. Different string gauges can have an enormous difference on the neck.

This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dave

Is Buying A Factory 2nd / B Stock Guitar Or Bass A Good Idea?

Is Buying A Factory 2nd / B Stock Guitar Or Bass A Good Idea?

Usually, they’re absolutely worth looking into. There are a few considerations you need to make in order to make this a worthwhile purchase..

A brief review of what I’m talking about when I say “Factory 2nd” or “Be Stock.” When musical instrument manufacturers produce products, the product should go through a final inspection before leaving the factory. In the case of guitars and basses, the instruments are examined for performance, electronics, fit and finish and color. If a problem is found in the electronics, it’s sent to a technician, corrected and shipped out and the same is true for an adjustment or hardware problem.

If there’s a blemish, blotch, flaw or nick in the finish many manufacturers won’t send it out as a new instrument. What they do is stamp the back of the headstock “USED” so it can’t be sold as new, sell it to a licensed refurbishing center who will either correct or reduce the blemish and in turn sell it to a dealer. The dealer then offers this guitar as “USED” although its never been owned by anyone before: essentially a new guitar with a minor flaw.

This can be a great deal for the buyer. A brand new Fender Geddy Lee Pass sells everywhere for $999.00 and I saw a refurbished, factory 2nd Geddy Lee for $749. A few years ago I purchased a Crate 100 watt 212 guitar amp that normally sold for around $300 for $150 because it had some damage to the body and molding. The damage was relatively minor. You can save a lot of money buying a guitar or bass this way, but it is used, sold as used, no manufacturer warrenty applies to the instrument and sometimes it’s sold “as is” with no returns allowed.

Some manufacturers sell these 2nd ‘s to dealers who resell them at a discount. The reduction in price isn’t great but if you can live with a minor flaw, it’s still good to take it. An ESP LTD KH-202 Kirk Hamnett Electric as a factory 2nd was selling for $299 normally sells for $349. A Seagull Coastline S6 as a factory 2nd was selling for $399 and normally sells for around $450.  A very cool Italia Torino electric bass was selling for $629 as a factory 2nd, if you bought it as a new, perfect unit you’d pay around $679. You get about $50 off the price of these instruments, they’re sold as new with warranty and the retailers examination period and return policy should be in effect too.

If you’re going to buy a factory 2nd that is stamped used, here’s some advice:

  1. Look for, or ask for, a 10 day return policy so you can play and inspect the guitar or bass.
  2. Check the asking price of the guitar or bass by looking on ebay or amazon – for a factory 2nd that nobody else has owned, you can expect to pay toward the high end of the used instrument market. For example, you may find a Fender Aerodyne Bass used for $500 – $550 and so you could expect to pay $550 for a factory 2nd of that model.
  3. Get specific information on the exact nature of the flaw, don’t settle for “a little blemish.” You’ll want to know where the blemish is, how large and if possible see a photo or even better, examine the instrument before buying it.

Any other thoughts, ideas or experiences? I’d like to hear about it. Reply on This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dave