Road Trip I Reviews and Recordings - North

Mark, Sept - Oct 2010: Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

 

The Traveller was handed over to Mark at the Hebden Bridge meetup of the Acoustic Life Forum members. A great time was had by all:

 

 

 

Here's the Big Man putting The Traveller through it's paces for the first time with two tunes he wrote in readiness, a slow air "The Traveller's Tale" and a slip jig "There and Back Again"- wow!!

 

 

Followed by his stunning arrangement of "My Favourite Things":

 

 

Mark has done some recordings that I'll let him explain:

 

"First off is a short jazzy/dissonant DADGAD piece entitled "Nocturne No 2", I think I've still got Nocturne No 1 on my profile page which has some similarities (I'm hoping to get round to re-recording that on the Traveller too). The plan is/was to compose 3 descriptive pieces with Nocturnal themes (pretensious? quite possibly); No. 1 was meant to depict walking through Manhattan late on a crisp winter night, No.2 is about not being able to sleep at night, the hours just stretch away in the middle of the night, it seems like it goes on forever, very annoying........ and No. 3 hasn't suggested itself to me yet, maybe the Traveller will coax it out. Second one is an modern Irish tune called "One to One", written by a concertina player called Tommy Cuniffe, which happens to be the theme tune to Irish Language TV show "Geantrai". In DADGAD, and arranged by me. Lastly for now, is "My Favourite Things", with a few less mistakes compared to the other night, as I'm more sober. Again in DADGAD, and arranged by me.

 

Anyhoo, here are another two tracks (pipe tunes this time); First one is my DADGAD arrangement (Capo 5) of a tune called "The Dark Island", the melody was composed by Iain McLaughlin, words were set to it at some point, and it was used as the theme a BBC mini series called "The Dark Island" which was made c1962. From experience, if you play the pipes at any sort of function in Scotland you are almost always guaranteed for someone to request you play this, still a very popular tune. Second one is two and a half minutes of anarchy, its a 9/8 pipe tune, written by Hamish Moore, called "Ian McGees Romanian Boots", its a bit full on and unrestrained, but always fun to play. Arrangement is mine, (Capo 2).

 

Next a lovely minor key scottish fiddle air called "Roslin Castle", DADGAD (capo 5), I usually play it in D, but it sounded nice with the capo on followed is an Aiden O'Rourke fiddle tune from Lau's debut album, called "The Gallowhill", in DADGAD (no capo, but in G). Another couple of tunes today These are two (or three in reality) tunes I wrote after I knew that I would be getting a chance to participate in the Road Trip. First one is "AJ's Boogie", named for my beautiful wee grandaughter, Ailise, who is three and is a continual whirlwind of activity and loves to dance. I wanted to specifically write something bluesy to show that DADGAD can be versatile. Second one is a couple of tunes to celebrate the Travellers journey around the country, a Slow Air and a Slip Jig - "Traveller's Tale/There and Back Again"."

 

Next up "Leaving Stoer/The Roaring Barmaid" - "Leaving Stoer" is a lovely air written by Ivan Drever, a weel kent Scottish Musician, and "The Roaring Barmaid" is from a Michael McGoldrick CD, written by the Mancunian banjo player Tony (Sully) Sullivan. 

 

Okay, this is the second last instalment of tunes from me (I know, I know, I've taken the piss a bit, but I've had an excellent two weeks, playing guitar and recording stuff, I don't want to go back to work). First one is a bagpipe tune I wrote for a colleauge's retirement "Alistair Black's Farewell tae the Council", I had the score and dedication printed on nice paper, then framed, and presented it to him on the day of his leaving, along with a recording of it played by a piper who also worked in the office, it was a really nice moment letting them hear it, they were a bit weepy. It needs some touching up as a guitar arrangement, in terms of filling things out, but it sounds nice. (DADGAD capo 5). Second one is a favourite Irish Jig "Sliabh Russell", in A Dorian, for some reason I seem to be drawn to tunes in that mode, they tend to be a bit moody. Lastly, I rerecorded my arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" on the Traveller, to see how it sounded.

 

"Calum's Road/The Jaiket Poakt". Second is two pipe tunes "Angus G MacLeod", by PM Donald MacLeod, and "Cion A'Bhuntata (Scarcity of Potatoes)" by Norman MacLean. I wouldn't recommend these if your not a fan of the pipes - "Angus G MacLeod/Scarcity of Potatoes". Lastly, a version of the Irish classic Jig "Out on the Ocean" done for Bernd as we were discussing triplets played on the G string, and this has triplets on all three treble strings. It's a bit rougher than I'd like, but I'm posting it more for the relevance to that discussion.

 

So that's about that, I've kicked the arse right out of it, and if anyone has managed to listen to all the tunes, you seriously need to get out more! But thanks for your perseverance all the same.

 

Right, time for a review! As others have done previously, it's maybe better to give some background, so readers can maybe get a feel from the perspective I'm looking at things from. I've been playing for 24 years, exclusively acoustic for the last 18 years or so. Style wise I'm very much an instrumental fingerstyle player, with very rare forays into strumming, and an extreme allergic reaction to singing (I believe the medical term is castrated hyena syndrome), I'm not someone who has a vast list of previously owned guitars, I tend to be very monogamous, and try to choose very carefully, the fun of the chase just doesn't excite me as it does others, if I buy one I don't expect to be selling it in 12 months time, as I don't want that hassle. That being said I do enjoy trying as many guitars as possible and I do try to keep up with what's available, just in case.

 

AESTHETICS: Taking the Traveller out of the case you are struck by the small but perfectly formed body shape, which is very much to my taste, and the understated elegance of the appointments, again in keeping with my own sensibilities. I'm not a fan of bling unless it is of the wooden variety, and Dave's choices work for me, in fact aesthetically there are many correspondences between the Traveller and aspects I specified for my own Alan Arnold guitar - wooden rosette, front and rear veneers on the headstock, Gold Gotohs with Wooden buttons, contrasting neck (although mine is Ash rather than Sycamore), no fretboard markers, not forgetting the non-gloss finish (more on that later) etc etc. I loved the choice of Columbian Rosewood, a wood unfamiliar to me, and was appreciative of the subtle figuring and reddish hue, which leans ever so slightly towards the look of Cocobolo, though obviously less pronounced both in colour and in figure. There has been some discussion regarding the headstock design, and I admit to certain slight misgivings prior to seeing it in the flesh, but having seen it in context, I'm happy to say the photo's don't do it justice, and it's organic styling fits very well into the overall aesthetic of the guitar's design. The angled bridge (which in itself was very attractive), the assymetrical frets and the Soundport are all deviations from the norm visually, but they are deviations I find quite appealing. I can understand people with more conservative tastes being less enthusiastic, but luckily these are options rather than permanent fixtures. If pushed to change anything it would be to spec the binding to match the neck, which would bring it all together in a more coherent manner for me, though I appreciate this is a purely aesthetic view that won't necessarily be shared by others.

 

PLAYABILITY: This is a very well set up guitar! It was an absolute pleasure to play, whether it be a lingering slow air or a full on slip jig, there were no impediments to transferring the music from my head to the strings barring the expected reluctance of my fingers at the most inopportune of moments. Action, nut width, string spacing were all as I would hope them to be, and all the frets seemed to be in perfect order. It would be no exaggeration to say that it is a guitar that positively encourages you to pick it up and play it, and I have to admit to playing it a lot over the two weeks. My own guitars sat neglected in their cases unless I wanted to make some direct comparisons, and I don't think they have quite forgiven me yet. The biggest surprise to me was how little I noticed the multi scale setup, sitting playing the guitar on the lower frets you don't notice it in the slightest in terms of finger placement adjustments, and even better, playing further up the neck on certain pieces I play, the shorter treble scale was a boon for those awkward 4 and 5 fret stretches. I suppose the one minor detail I should mention with regards to the multi scale was that I found it quite easy to overdrive the treble strings into buzzing submission, due to a combination of a strong right hand, low action and reduced string tension (which is particularly emphasised in a tuning like DADGAD), this however is easily overcome by putting med gauge treble strings on, and this is not a criticism of the guitar, more a result of my playing style, and is something those with a lighter touch may not notice at all.

 

SOUND: It's a difficult thing to describe your impressions of how an acoustic guitar sounds without starting to sound like a Wine or Whisky Geek (toasted wheat underpinnings and all that nonsense), but I can say the Traveller sounds truly magnificent, across a range of styles and tempos, it is a very expressive guitar with a surprising output. The balance across the strings is very pleasing, and I was particularly drawn to the lovely rounded treble notes, which remain very sweet as you travel up the fretboard. I didn't find it lacking in any department, which is more than can be said for many more expensive guitars I've played. One thing a talented builder can do is ensure that a guitar is responsive to the lightest of touches, yet is happy to give you more the harder you drive it, and Dave has certainly shown his credentials here, the Traveller certainly made me think more about dynamic range in my playing, something I think a lot of Steel String players tend to neglect (including myself). More sonic delights made themselves apparent when I decided to play a few tunes with a Capo, what a revelation! It sounded truly beautiful capo'd at the fifth fret and I found myself being mesmerised by the sounds being produced. Unlike many other guitars, it loses nothing by using a capo, in fact the beauty of the sound was in some indefinable way enhanced. On a final sound related note, I just wanted to make mention of how easy it was to record, even with a humble recording setup, often it takes some considerable time to find a sweet spot when recording solo guitar, and some guitars really put up a fight, but the Traveller was remarkably forgiving and seemed to enjoy sitting in front of my Zoom H4. I would have really enjoyed taking it to a proper studio to see how it sounded through a quality setup.

 

FIT AND FINISH: People's expectations of a well built guitar can vary widely, but generally, due to the amount of money we spend in procuring quality handmade instruments, it is only right that our standards are relatively high, having said that, on the Woodworking Scale of Fussiness which ranges from "Chronic, Microscopic OCD" all the way down to "Blissfully Myopic" I'd say I'm at the midpoint, and am forgiving of certain things, particularly if the sound and playability are excellent. Overall the craftsmanship displayed by Dave on this build is exemplary, and the guitar is undoubtedly very well built. There are however one or two minor cosmetic issues, and if it were my newly purchased guitar, one of them would require a bit of attention. The most noticeable issue is the short area separation of the binding from the soundboard on the upper waist, which looks like it would be easily dealt with. Over and above that the nut slot is slightly too big, or the nut is too small, and there is a slight area of roughness in the finish of the soundboard just behind the bridge. Neither of these were immediately obvious to me, indeed it was just by chance I noted the roughness on the soundboard, so whilst they can be considered cosmetic flaws they would not necessarily be deal breakers for me….. Now we get on to the finish, I have been interested to read the widely varying opinions in previous reviews, and I think preferred finish is a very subjective thing, and in large part preferences are shaped by what we are used to, not to mention the views of others we respect etc etc. Firstly, the oil finish on the neck, I was pleasantly surprised at a) how tasteful it looked and b) how little resistance it provided when moving up and down the neck, certainly far less than a gloss or even satin finish. My only reservation would be how it would react to sweaty hands, particularly in the summer, I'm not sure how it would cope with my corrosive sweat. I personally like the finish on the body, I'm not a fan of high gloss finishes, particularly US style boiled sweet finishes, but neither am I particularly a fan of Satin finishes as you would find on mass manufactured guitars like certain Taylors and Martins. Dave's method IMO sits somewhere in between the two, sitting approximately in the same region as Lowden's, and I'm a fan of that finish too, unsurprisingly. Stefan Sobell's finisher Dave Wilson has been used by a couple of people as an exemplar of what a quality finish is in comparison to the one on the Traveller, and yes it is a nice finish which makes the wood "pop", but I have to say having seen a few up close I have been dismayed by the amount of sinking in his finishes, which suggests not enough care has been taken to ensure the pores are filled, and resultantly the overall effect can be off putting visually, of course I'm happy to be corrected on that front if there is some other reason why the pores are not filled. I mention this as I wanted to point out that even the finest of guitars can have finishes that are not appealing to everyone. Notwithstanding that, I do think in business terms that it would be worth Dave having a guitar finished by someone like Dave Wilson, at least to test how it effects the way his guitars sound, as should it prove successful, it would be a useful addition as an add on to his Standard spec should someone want a glossier finish, particularly given the importance a fair proportion of prospective buyers put on the type of finish. Ultimately that's a decision for Dave to make, and as I've said my preference is for the kind of finish he currently provides.

 

CONCLUSION: To conclude, I think this is a wonderful guitar, perfect for the way I play guitar, if I had any money, I would have no problem in making Dave an offer for it or commissioning my own. The sad fact of the matter is I'm broke, so for the time being I can lust after one from afar and hope for a wage rise. It's unusual to come across a guitar in this price range that inspires so much and sounds so good, its more than a match for many a more expensive guitar I've played, to borrow a term from Geordie, this is a "proper" guitar, made to be played and to inspire.

 

Many thanks to Dave for giving me the opportunity to enjoy his creation, it's been a pleasure, and I certainly look forward to future encounters with his guitars.

 

Martin, Oct 2010: Hamilton,

 

 

Here's Martin's first recording, the Fliss Davies/Ann Croenen song "Walk With Me", Arlo Guthrie's "Darkest Hour" in dropped D capoed at the third fret and Stephen Stills' "4+20" in dropped D capoed at the second fret. Next are Jackson C. Franks "Blues Run the Game", a version of Johnny Cash's "Hurt", Tom Paxton's "Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound", "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" and Bert Jansch's "Strolling Down the Highway". A final batch - another Jackson C. Franks song "My Name is Carnival" capoed at the sixth fret, a Mississippi John Hurt tune "Shake That Thing" with the capo on the second fret, Stefan Grossman's "Bermuda Triangle Exit" again capoed at the second fret and finally Oasis's "Wonderwall" with the capo at the second fret.

 

First Impressions: Well, my very first experience of the traveller was at Hebden Bridge, but really I didn't pay too much attention to it, partly because there were so many other guitars there, and I knew I would have a chance for a closer inspection very soon afterwards. Actually, the real reason was I was afraid Mark might give me a kicking for taking up his own ST time. When Mark brought the guitar up to my house just over two weeks ago, he commented that it was about an hour of chatting and playing before I even opened the case, and that was only because HE mentioned it. Yes, I think that was indicative of how nervous I was to play this guitar in front of witnesses... Nevertheless, I did bring it out and play something...

 

How it Looks: I was struck right away by the size of the guitar. The body looks quite small, a facet which is exacerbated by the larger soundhole, and indeed the instrument does feel like a smaller bodied guitar, which is generally how I like them anyway. The next thing to hit me between the eyes was the fretboard. Those frets sure are wonky! It takes some real getting used to, but I love the fanned frets. It's so unusual, and combined with the slanted bridge and nut, give the guitar a real 'work of art' look about it, and you just know it hasn't rolled off some production line. The fingerboard itself is a sumptuous slab of striped ebony, with delicious chocolatey streaks of dark and light brown mixed together. Much better than the more usual stained black stuff. Speaking of the bridge, I was very taken by its design; the way it sweeps over and down at the back, and when changing the strings (the easiest change I've ever done), I noticed the quality of the bridge pins, which were a lovely smooth solid and substantial ebony, and they fitted perfectly into the slots and held the strings securely even when winding the tuner knobs furiously. The tuner knobs were another real plus for me. Gorgeous to look at, beautifully tactile and very tight fitting to the posts. Of course, the Gotoh tuners themselves are a joy, so smooth and accurate, and tuning was never a problem for me. The headstock is another design aspect I'm completely happy with. It looks organic, nicely finished and adds real character to an already quite quirky little instrument. The woods that have been used on this guitar look great, first of all, and the simple, natural-looking rubbed finish is exactly what I'd ask for if I was commissioning my own example. I don't mind a high gloss finish, and in fact I have a few guitars with a fair bit of the stuff layered on, but I do think a natural satin look is very classy. I liked the look of the sycamore neck, and although the stacked heel did seem slightly out of proportion to the guitar as a whole, it hardly registered with me as an item of concern.

 

How it Plays: I will admit that initially I was not sure. The fanned frets did not immediately fall under my fingers as I'd hoped, and the guitar just felt - different. I wasn't convinced it was a good different, either. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, and it took a few days play, but as I started to get used to ST, I realised what it was about the guitar that was troubling me. Two things, really. The string tension felt a little bit higher than I was used to, but I'll admit, there wasn't really much in it. The big thing for me was the neck width and string spacing. While I've played a wider neck guitar before, apart from a classical, I haven't played an instrument with such wide string spacing before. It was leading me to miss all sorts of notes, and was so frustrating until I started to 'get it'. Once I knew what it was and felt comfortable with it, I could adapt to it, and started to really enjoy it. It actually made fingerpicking pieces much easier, as you'd expect - it just took an adjustment period. The neck is smooth, and substantial, bordering on heavy I'd say, but not in an unbalanced way - the guitar never moved while being played, and it felt very solid. The multiscale setup gives the bass strings a real presence, and they feel nice and chunky when plucked with heavy thumb downstrokes. The small body sits very nicely in the lap, even allowing for belly ingress, which is fortunate As I've mentioned already, the tuners and buttons are smooth and reliable, and a pleasure to use. My only criticism here, and I realise this may be entirely down to my own technique, is that the first string is a bit too near the edge of the fretboard for me, and I occasionally pulled it off the board when playing, particularly doing pull-offs.

 

How it sounds: For me, the most important part of this review, and fortunately for Dave, this is where the guitar really shows its worth. I changed the strings after a few days (Mark told me to!), and wow did it make a difference! It was just so bright, loud and zingy - perhaps too much so, and I didn't record anything until they'd been on a day or two. The volume for such a small guitar is simply astonishing, and while I thought this might be down the the clever monitoring soundport and my own perception, it was confirmed to me by four other players who sampled the guitar independently, and myself, as I sat in front of them listening to them play. It's a monster, and actually kept up with an HD-28 at a bluegrass jam, bashing out chords and flatpicking like crazy. I'll get to strummage later... I like the soundport. Not only do you get to see into the guts of the guitar, but I think it really does allow more of the sound to reach you ears as you play, making a fuller, richer experience for the player. Fingerpicked, this thing is amazing. The bass notes are deep. So deep, I could feel the rumble in my chest. Yet these are complimented by the sweetest, chirpiest trebles that just ring and ring, without too much effort. I didn't really try alternative tunings, but did some stuff in dropped D, and the difference when using ST was extremely obvious, as it gave the whole piece a new dimension sonically. Strummed? Maybe. It will strum fine, no problem, but it is not the strong point of this guitar (and nor was it meant to be!). Perhaps it's the exceptional seperation that makes chords hit or miss with me. I did try a couple of strummy ones. One came across fine, sounded good and full, if a bit bright. The other sounded a little thin, and I changed from picks to nails, and the pattern to partial slow strums, and the guitar responded beautifully, picking up every nuance and slightest touch. It is sensitive and unbelievably responsive, and the sounds it produces are the finest I've heard on an acoustic guitar.

 

Conclusion: I'll keep it brief. Would I buy this guitar? Yes. No question, absolutely. It looks great, the few very minor flaws that I haven't even mentioned (because they don't matter enough to me) would be easily sorted by Dave, and I am a fan of the design and the finish. It plays very well indeed, and once I'd gotten used to it, made several pieces I'd previously had trouble with much easier. Can't argue with that! It sounds magnficent, provided it is utilised the way it was intended, and not thrashed with plectrums playing chords for the latest power ballad. Lightly fingerpicked it was sprightly, rich, rumbly and clear. I tried to compare it with my other guitars, and in particular my Moon, but I'm not confident of being able to explain the differences properly. At one stage I definitely preferred it, but then I reasoned it was quite different enough in feel and sound to make the comparison a bit redundant. Thank you very much Dave for setting up this road trip, and for trusting us all with your incredible guitar, and I really hope this experiment works out for you they way it deserves to.

 

Andy, Oct-Nov 2010: Aberdeen, Scotland

 

 

Here are some observations and recordings from Andy:

 

"They say that interviewers make their mind up within a few seconds of meeting a candidate and the rest of the time is just spent gathering evidence to justify a decision that's already been made. I'm not sure if the same applies to "interviewing" guitars, but if it does I'd say that Dave is on to a winner. The first impression when opening the box is really quite stunning. Most people have commented on the size and it does appear quite compact. Here is a shot of it between my Tanglewood Parlour (really more of a 00 size) and the Fylde Orsino. Fits in quite nicely wouldn't you say.

 

 

In terms of body length, overall length and body depth it is much more like the Tanglewood than the Fylde. I was quite pleased by that as I've always found the Tanglewood much easier than the Fylde to play and putting ST on my lap gave a very similar feeling of comfort and control, which I really liked.I must admit that, based on previous reviews, I wasn't expecting to like the look of the guitar too much. I'm one of those people who tends to see beauty in symmetry. I don't like scratchplates or cutaways, for example. While ST is thankfully devoid of these it has an asymmetric headstock, bridge and wonky frets! However, as soon as I picked it up I was really struck by the beauty of this thing and the more I've had it the more I like it. If I was being picky I'd say that the rosette needs to be changed. The sound hole looks a bit too large. Obviously changing the size of the hole would change the sound, but maybe a thinner rosette would give it more balance. But I love pretty much everything else about the look; the contrasting colours, the headstock, the neck (although the heel is perhaps a touch on the chunky side). The back is simply stunning.There are a few blemishes. Personally I'm not too bothered by these as they mostly serve as a reminder that it is a handmade guitar. Yes the finish is a bit rough behind the bridge and there are a couple of tiny gaps in the binding on the top edge, but neither of those bother me. The nut is slightly mispositioned though (seems to be offset by a mm or so to the treble side), which I would get fixed if it were mine. But overall it shows a fine degree of craftsmanship. One thing that does bother me is the small gap between the 1st string and the edge of the fingerboard. I've mentioned in the past that this is also an issue (for me) with the Fylde. Basically, if, like me, you have developed the bad habit of playing with your hand touching the bottom of the fingerboard then (on both the Fylde and the ST) you'll find that you accidentally mute that 1st string from time to time. This isn't a problem on the Tanglewood, for example, which has lots of space. Of course, if you play with a proper technique this isn't an issue and I have been trying to train myself to leave a bit more of a gap anyway, but I'd still prefer a bit more room there. One obvious design feature is those slanted frets. Now maybe it's because I'm still a beginner and I don't place my fingers carefully enough, but I just don't find them a problem at all. I miss the odd note whatever I'm playing but right from the very first session I found it just as easy (or hard) to hit the note on this as any other guitar. In fact I'd say that certain positions are noticeably easier. An open position G for example can sometimes pose a challenge in getting the position right on the 6th string, but with the frets sloping a bit it actually makes that easier. Right, finally on to the sound. Obviously this is the most important thing, but the hardest to describe. What strikes me most about the sound is the fantastic bass and the overall volume, both of which are every bit as good as the larger Fylde and significantly better than the similar sized Tanglewood. In fact, if it weren't for the issue with the 1st string I'd say that it offered the best of both worlds; the ease of the smaller body without losing volume or bass response, which is pretty impressive.I've had a go at making some recordings with my new Zoom H1, but I have to say that they sound pretty hideous to my ear. Maybe I've not got the hang of the recording lark, but the guitar certainly sounds sweeter in person that it does on the recording.  I thought I'd start where Martin left off, with my own clumsy attempt at "Shake That Thing". For comparison I tried it with the Tanglewood, Fylde and ST in that order.

 

One thing that really strikes you is the sustain, which is quite phenomenal. I gather, from a few of the luthier threads on here that long sustain is hard to achieve, so it's a real testament to Dave's skill as a designer/builder that he's nailed this one. Another striking thing when comparing the three guitars is the weight. It's hard to quantify this as I haven't found a reliable way to weigh them. However, while ST is smaller than the Fylde (but larger than the Tanglewood) it is noticeably heavier (but lighter than the Tanglewood, although the latter has some electronics). It's also not as naturally resonant as the Fylde (presumably due to the weight). If you have the Fylde on your lap and happen to cough or even just talk to somebody you can feel (and even hear) it vibrating. It really feels alive. You don't get that with ST or with the Tanglewood. I mention this as an interesting observation, but I'm not sure that it can really be called a criticism. After all guitars are meant for playing not for just sitting on your lap and talking to.  I guess at some level it must imply that it takes a bit more effort to get ST vibrating than the Fylde, but it's not something that I've been able to detect while actually playing. I've already mentioned that it is surprisingly loud, has remarkable sustain and it certainly doesn't feel as though it takes any more effort to play. Just thought it was an interesting observation. One thing that really impresses me with ST is that it is not trying to be anything else. This isn't a copy of anything, it is Dave's own design, incorporating his own thoughts and views. Personally I would always value this sort of originality over the mass of guitars that seem to be trying to copy somebody else's design. Of course, it does make it a bit harder for Dave to sell. If you can say "this guitar was designed to sound just like xxx" then many of your customers will already know whether it is likely to be the guitar for them. Still, I guess that's where this Road Trip can help. Andrew has already (kindly) mentioned that the Tanglewood sounded impressive and he is right; it s an amazing guitar for the money. It is far and away the easiest guitar I've played, the build quality is almost flawless and it sounds as good (to my ears) as guitars costing 2-3 times the price. It really ought to be all the guitar I need for many years to come. But to me it is still a bit soulless and I've never really formed an attachment to it. At the end of the day, no matter how good it is I can't forget that it's basically a very well executed Chinese copy of something (not even sure what). Its a bit like wearing a fake Rolex; it may tell the time just as well as the real thing, but it's still a fake. Of course this is very much a personal opinion, but I'd value ST over any mass produced copy of somebody else's design. If nothing else (and it has much more than this) it is an original. Now for a couple more recordings. Hate them both of course, but there you go I've put a trace of reverb on both of these, which ironically seems to make them sound closer to the original than the raw files, but otherwise they are untouched. I've not had time for comparison recordings I'm afraid and I'm not sure what value they really had (with different strings), so they are both just ST. First, with apologies to all the Scots for massacring one of theirs (think of it as revenge for Bannockburn) here is a stab at "Wild Mountain Time". I usually play this with a capo on the 7th fret but I seem to be getting a strange buzzing on the 3rd string with a capo there. I say strange as I can't seem to replicate it by using my finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd string no matter how hard I try. Maybe it is something to do with having all six strings held down. There is virtually no relief in the neck, so it might be an idea to back the truss rod off by 1/8th of a turn or so, but I'm loath to try this as it's not my guitar. The nasty ringing buzz in the middle is down to my dodgy technique and not a fault of the guitar. My hand started drifting back towards the bottom of the fretboard and the first string buzzed against my ring!

 

The second really shouldn't be released into the wild. I play pretty much exclusively fingerstyle. However, sometimes, late at night, after a few too many glasses of wine, I indulge in a bit of strumming. Last night was one if those nights and I happened to have the zoom handy. Of course in the cold light of dawn it sounds horrible, I can't play sober, let alone half-cut. But with, job, family etc, time to play is quite short and time to play with no background noise is almost non-existent. So as this could be the last chance I get and as there are not many clips of ST being strummed, here goes. It's just strummed with fingernails."

 

So here are a few final thoughts. A few people have commented on the trebles, which are certainly sweet, but for me it is the bass that is so impressive. Or, rather, the combination of the bass with the compact size. For a beginner a compact guitar is a real boon, but I've never experienced one that can produce that solid thwack. I said earlier that I didn't really find the wonky frets an issue and they certainly didn't bother me. But I've tended to just dismiss the multi-scale as irrelevant. However, if the multi-scale is responsible for the strong bass then it's certainly something I'd consider. Finally, just wanted to say a big thanks to Dave for letting us play this game. I'll certainly miss her, but I'm looking forward to hearing how others get on with her.