BIT 37 – January 31, 2010
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A few weeks ago Dad & I were at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California with Deering Banjos who provided 2 Badges for Dad & I to attend.
This was my first time attending! And like I said in my last BIT, it’s kind of like a dream come true to go as an Artist!
For the 4 days of the tradeshow I played at the Deering Booth throughout each day helping out by answering clients questions & demonstrating a variety of Deering models. During this time we were able to get acquainted with Greg & Janet Deering. I was also reacquainted with both Carolina Bridges & Barry Hunn.
Barry Hunn is the owner of the first 12-string Banjo Deering ever made! A few years ago when Dad & I took the Deering factory tour Caroline brought out Barry’s Banjo for me to try. What an experience that Banjo was, the sound is beyond what I can describe with words. We had a great time talking.
While playing on the 3rd day a gentleman introduced himself to me… Mr. Jens Kruger of the Kruger Brothers! It was such an honor to get to speak with & swap ideas with him. He opened my eyes to a whole new level of potential on the 5 string Banjo. I’m now planning to get a 5 string to start experimenting with some of the ideas he showed me!
Deering also re-designed their Deluxe, Boston & Sierra model inlays. Giving them updated and upgraded fretboard inlays. The D-6 and the B-6 also got the upgraded appointments. I played them both as well as the Vega Senator 6-string which is an open back banjo, and the sound is wonderful on each one. Each model has it’s own signature tone and response. In fact, I’ve acquired a used B-6 to add to my collection for recording and touring. The tone is unique from my D-6. Not better, just different.
On the first day at NAMM Doyle Dykes played at the Taylor booth and his kids, Miss Haley, and Caleb joined him on some tunes which were great. There was even a surprise performance with Doyle Dykes & Johnny Tillotson! Dad later told me how he grew up listening to Johnny’s songs.
I was able to meet Caleb for the first time… he was very nice. He is as polite as his dad is with everyone, and is a mean guitarist to boot. I could see that Doyle is a proud papa of his kids.
I also caught up with a great friend of mine, Michael “Bear” Clair. We first me last year during a visit to Sweetwater in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is the manager for Johnny Highland, and they were playing at a booth. What a great performance.
Johnny is such a nice guy, and quite funny, but man can he play! It was great to catch up with Bear again. Listening to Johnny play was a real treat.
You can tell that when he plays he’s having a ball every minute of it. That’s passion!
Bear is always a riot to be around. You can’t help but have a smile on when your around him. Smiling becomes infectious :-)!
After playing Taylor guitars since 2002 I was honored to finally meet Mr. Taylor in person. We’d communicated over the phone & email in the past, but never had met face to face till now. I was able to show him what I’ve been doing with my Baby Taylor recently & he told me about an intriguing new development they’re planning to release in the near future. All I can say about it is that I can’t wait to see it when it comes out!
While visiting the Taylor booth I played many guitars, and really came to appreciate (i.e. fall in love with) 2 particular guitars… A Custom “BTO” (Build To Order) Koa Nylon with a Florentine cutaway, tropical vine fretboard inlay & custom soundhole rosette inlay pattern. That was an AWESOME nylon string! Someday I plan to order one like it with a few upgrades such as: An armrest bevel, Abalone edges on all edges: around the top, back & sides. Also edging around the fretboard, headstock & outlining the edges of both sides of the joint of the Florentine cutaway. Someday… soon I hope!
The other was a Custom Presentation Series model. A PS12ce with a Florentine cutaway, Western Red Cedar Top, Master grade Cocobolo Back & Sides, and Abalone edges on every edge! It was quite a looker! And the sound was superb. The Cocobolo was such high grade both visually & acoustically that it fooled me into thinking it was actually Brazilian Rosewood! That doesn’t happen too often for me as I am quite familiar with Cocobolo having lived in Costa Rica for so long. In a word this guitar was exceptional.
I also met Mr. Lloyd Baggs. I’ve been using L.R. Baggs electronics in my guitars since 2000. I also use their Para Acoustic D.I. on stage as well as in the studio including on my 1st CD “For the Record“!
My favorite under-saddle pickup is the Ribbon Pickup (Sadly discontinued). It’s got a great tone for a soloist. Rich, full & balanced, and very natural sounding to my ear.
The Element pickup is also a great pickup, and is designed to really cut through a mix. So it is a natural choice for someone playing in a group setting.
I also got to visit my friend from Northern Ireland, George Lowden and play some of his fine guitars. I met him during my tour through Ireland & Northern Ireland in 2008. (You can read about that in BIT-26).
The Lowden Jazz model is a great sounding nylon stringed guitar. Very easy to play, an especially good choice for a steel string player.
I also went to the Zaolla booth to say hello to Jonathan Pusey. They’ve made more advancements in their cables… That’s pretty much like saying that they found a way to improve on perfection!
I’ve been using their cables for about 3 years now, and have noticed a big difference in my amplified & recorded tone. The clarity across the tonal spectrum is noticeable to me. The highs are sweeter & the bass is clearer too. It just seems cleaner sounding when I use them.
Their latest developments are intriguing. They now offer an improved 1/4″ jack which utilizes a solid pure silver rod in the 1/4″ jack so you can now have pure silver from end to end guaranteeing even clearer tone, and frequency response delivery between each item in your signal chain.
Across from Deering’s booth was the McPherson Guitar booth, so I dropped in to see what they were up to…
One of the models that stood out to me was this gorgeously quilted Mahogany limited edition using wood from “The Tree”. It is a world famous tree that was felled decades ago and the luthier community has turned this tree’s lumber into the stuff of legend… and rightly so. It IS amazing!
You can read a nice synopsis on the history of “The Tree” on the R Taylor site. (UPDATE: former article no longer available, instead please check out these well written articles from Acoustic Guitar and Guitar Player)
It’s appearance was breathtaking, and the sound… well, I’ll just say it is in a league of it’s own.
While we were in the Orlando area our friends at TV-45 invited me over for another performance & interview. It was a fun time seeing our friends Ken Mikesell & Barbara Beck. They loved the Banjo!
Dad & I should be heading back to Costa Rica soon. I sure am home sick! I hope you enjoyed my BIT on the winter NAMM show!
Keep pickin’ & grinnin’…