OK, so here's the follow-up to last weekend's Summer NAMM posts. I don't know what I was thinking that I could get them up on the first day back in the office, so please accept my apology for being a day late...
The Czech Republic’s Stonebridge
guitars have been making a splash with fingerstylists such as Antoine DuFour and Richard Smith, and now the company has added to its already extended lineup of models. A new Maccaferri-style Gypsy Jazz guitar impressed with clean craftsmanship and true-to-the-original details such as a walnut neck. Stonebridge also showed a couple of new acoustic-electric models with a proprietary set of pickups, consisting of a magnetic type embedded in the fretboard extension and a piezo pickup under the guitar’s saddle. Final model numbers and prices haven’t been determined yet, but the info should soon be on the company’s website
Stonebridge's Roger Schmidt with one of the company's new acoustic-electrics
showed several new acoustics, and the one that caught my eye was the SGE 130ES. A jumbo with a reddish sunburst finish and a built-in magnetic soundhole pickup, the guitar should be a worthy consideration for budding performers who will have some change left over after paying whatever the final street-price of the guitar’s $357.13 list will be.
Boulder Creek guitars are distinctive in that their only soundhole is a port on the bass-side of the lower bout. But even more interesting is the instruments’ suspended bracing system, which includes a pair of aluminum bars that assist a set of very light wooden braces. This year, the company has added line of OM-size models to its offerings.
Boulder Creek's unique bracing system
In the “blast from the past” department, I’m happy to report that Eko
guitars are back. Built under the supervision of Remo Serrangeli, the production manager of the original Italian Eko factory in the 1960s, the guitars are now made in China. Available models include re-creations of the Ranger series acoustics and Kadett electrics. Prices start around $250.
Already one of the major players in Britain’s acoustic guitar market, Tanglewood
has added the MasterDesign series to its offerings. Designed by Swedish luthier Michael Sanden
, guitars are available in auditorium, grand auditorium, and jumbo sizes. List prices start at just under $2,000.
Canadian amplifier manufacturer Traynor
has introduced two new acoustic amps, the AM Studio, and the AM Standard. Featuring 65 and 150 watts respectively, the units offer two channels, digital effects, and a convenient design that allows a stage monitor-like tilted back position.
Many players don’t spend much time thinking about the material their picks are made of. One of the most unusual approaches I’ve come across is found in the Wheatware
line of picks, which are actually made from—you guessed it—wheat. Made from a renewable resource and completely biodegradable, the Wheatware picks feel similar to many synthetic picks and are available in a variety of thicknesses.
A selection of Wheatware picks
Offering a more traditional take on pick design, John Pearse Strings
has introduced its new line of Fast Turtle picks. Made from a material called “Casein,” these picks are designed to closely approximate the tone and feel of real tortoise-shell picks. Available in thin, medium, and extra-heavy sizes, the picks run about $13 each.
A trio of John Pearse Fast Turtle picks
Another product that may enhance the tone of some guitars is found in the O-Port
. A funnel-shape soundhole insert, the unit is reminiscent of the “tornavoz” found in some vintage classical guitars or the internal reflector of some Maccaferri guitars. Made from soft plastic, the O-Port slips into the soundhole in a similar fashion as most “feedback-buster” type soundhole inserts.
The O-Port installed in a Gibson J-45
s introduced its line of Ukuleles last January, but the company brought some outrageous custom versions to Nashville. Of these, a bright-red model dubbed the “Liberace Mariachi” was definitely the instrument getting the most attention at the Austin, Texas-based company’s exhibit.
Collings's cool custom uke