Though my lovely wife Minette and I got married all the way back in May, we’ve both been pretty swamped with work ever since, and the idea of a decent honeymoon has been on the back-burner. Well, that all ended this week, as we filled up our tank and decided to take a scenic drive through the south! We didn’t do all that much pre-planning, figuring that we would just set up a few hotels along the way, and do whatever struck our fancy on any given day… but knowing that we were going to be spending a little time in both Asheville NC and Nashville TN, I made sure to have a few fine guitar stores on my mental list of places to visit, and they did not disappoint. WARNING : if you’re not interested in some pretty subjective ideas about sound and a lot of out-and-out minutia concerning some positively lovely acoustic guitars, you’ve probably already read too much… things are about to get long and geeky! I’ll also take this moment to point out that for every minute I spent looking at guitars, Minette probably spent five in thrift stores and boutiques shopping for unique and vintage articles of clothing… so everybody came away happy!
About twenty minutes outside of Asheville, nestled inconspicuously along a residential country road sits Dream Guitars, a unique appointment-only showroom and internet store owned and operated by Paul Heumiller. Paul started the company a while back with none other than world-renowned fingerstylist Martin Simpson, and both men know more than a little bit about fine acoustic guitars. There are few places in the world where so many unique hand-built and small shop guitars are available to play, and I tried my best to take it all in… though it wasn’t easy! In 90 minutes I played just a handful of instruments, each one just as beautiful as the last, and each with its own particular set of aesthetic and tonal strengths… and though I’ll admit it definitely feels a little haughty to pick apart any of these guitars, as a longtime fan of the instrument, I had no choice but to follow my ears, and these are some of my thoughts. Continue reading →
This is not my own scoop, but a re-blogging of a recent article by Marshall Newman. It’s interesting, considering that Renbourn has never been known to play a Martin… but then again, as my friend Steve commented, “Linda Ronstadt has a signature model Martin, and she’s never even played guitar!” In any event, sounds like it’s going to be a fine instrument! Martin doesn’t seem to have made a formal announcement yet, but Newman’s article let’s us know what’s in store:
John Renbourn’s musical influences range from folk, blues and jazz to early music and classical, and all – separately and in combination – have found a place in t he rich musical landscape he has created during his long career. One of the world’s most brilliant fingerstyle guitarists, Renbourn has dazzled, confounded and inspired, whether solo, paired with Bert Jansch or Stefan Grossman or as a member of Pentangle, and he continues to create music of uncommon beauty and depth.
Over the years, John Renbourn’s acoustic guitar preference has evolved; beginning with a round-hole archtop, he moved to round and square-shouldered dreadnoughts, and eventually settled on orchestra models from both American and European builders. So joining forces with C.F. Martin & Co. – which originated the orchestra model in 1929 – to create the Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition is the natural culmination of a lifelong quest.
“I am over the moon about this guitar,” Renbourn commented. “The goal is to combine the best of American and European lutherie; a guitar that has design features that recall the European influence on early Martins, but with all the innovative qualities that Martin has developed since. My own priority is simple – I am after the very best tonal quality and balance.” On both objectives, the Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition succeeds spectacularly. Continue reading →