This recent trip of mine down a 6 string path has thrown a lot of people I know into a loop. Been getting a lot of emails and messages from other producers largely falling into one of two camps:
– Those who don’t get the sudden fascination with the acoustic guitar of all things, especially not for someone known for many things having to do with electronic music.
– Those who get the shift in focus of my tools, but are curious why I choose exactly what I did out of all the guitars out there.
For those of you in the first camp, what can I say, I’ve always been a guitar player. My first music dreams were of playing the guitar and it was the first instrument I ever bought. I went from being a guitar player to being an electronic music producer without realizing it, and the two never really integrated as closely as I would have liked in hindsight. Without a doubt for a long time the electronic world was my focus, and it still is to this day for obvious reasons.
But these days I feel the need to spend more time with a traditional instrument in my hands too, there’s goals I have on that front that I haven’t even tried to reach in a long time. It’s time to step back and refocus my attention on a way of expressing musical emotion that I haven’t explored fully yet. And it’s a chance for me to find a way to bridge these two worlds of mine; the incredibly beautiful world of traditional music making, and the hauntingly bold new sonic landscapes electronic music offers.
For those of you who just want to know why an acoustic guitar, or more specifically why a Taylor acoustic guitar, well…
I have a nice electric already, a one of a kind Parker DF724 Dragonfly. I got it for far less than it’s worth, and it’s just a joy to play. It’s the first guitar in 20 years that made me think of giving up my Ibanez S540, something I never thought I would do (HA! says the Elektron crowd).
But… it’s not perfect. There are tiny flaws here and there (really small things admittedly), largely due to the one off nature of it I’m sure (Parker never made a blue DF724 for production, this was a test unit). But still, as an admitted minimalist when it comes to gear and “stuff” in general, and I want the instruments I own and plan on investing time into to be perfect.
I also like companies who look forward and don’t get stuck in the past way of doing things. Those who find a blend of the best of the old and new, and in the process create something really unique in this time period. For a long time I thought my Ovation acoustic would be that, a guitar that used old and new techniques to create a modern day blend of the two.
And while it was impressive when I got it, I knew very quickly that it just didn’t SOUND the way I expected it would. Too much like the modern way of things, not enough depth and beauty from the past. Too bright and sharp, not enough warmth and subtlety (and I mean that in the nicest way possible, it was an incredible guitar for $600).
No, for a long time I knew it was going to be a real acoustic guitar that was my instrument of choice. That would be the path where I would find that blend of old and modern craftsmanship that would create an instrument I could spend a huge chunk of my life learning to play better.
The problem was, even though I loved the guitar, I never really bonded with traditional acoustic guitars. They were too loud (hehe), to uncomfortable, just plain too old fashioned looking despite the craftsmanship they obviously involved. So for a long time it was just a plan that percolated in the back of my brain, someday I’d buy a nice guitar that suited me and spend some time relearning that.
And then recently I was watching the (slightly depressing) movie “Musicwood”, about how Sitka Spruce forests are disappearing, and some of the most famous guitar makers like Martin, Taylor, and Gibson use these woods in their best guitars. I really recommend the movie, it’s an interesting look at a complex issue.
Anyway, it was the first time I had seen a higher end Taylor in awhile, and it struck me by how modern it looked. The more I looked into Taylor guitars, the more I realized here was a company making beautiful instruments using the best of the modern world while still doing a lot of the more intricate work by hand. So I tracked a few down at local stores here in Seattle and sat down to play a few to see what I think. I guess we know how that turned out!
Having owned my 814ce for about a month now, it’s definitely not something I’ve regretted even for an instant. Not only is it beautiful sounding and feels incredibly natural while I play it, but it’s put together perfectly. I mean literally. Every fret, every binding, all the joints and woodwork fits together flawlessly. I really can’t find a single flaw, no matter how tiny or insignificant. Truly a testament to how painstakingly these guitars are put together!
Still, I like to tinker and I couldn’t leave it completely stock. For one, I never was really a big fan of gold hardware on guitars, even though my last couple of guitars had it. So the first thing I did was swap out the Taylor tuners for some nicer cosmo black Gotoh 510’s (seen in the top pic), along with a cosmo black strap button up front, and replaced the gold truss rod cover screws with black ones as well. Much more my style, still looks classy but not so blingy!
So, there you have it, a few reasons why I went the route I did recently. If you listen to some of the new music I’ve posted the last couple of weeks, I think you’ll hear that it’s already being put to good use too!