Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gordon Lightfoot's D 18

An Amazing Sounding, Beautiful and Timeless Acoustic Guitar

The Martin D 18 is one of the most wonderful guitars that has ever been produced in America, or anywhere.  It's look is simplistic and beautiful because of it.  It's sound is highly prized, and marvelous. I've owned one, and I'll own another if I have my life the way that I think that it should be.

Now, something for the dream list:

Gordon Lightfoot is well known around the world as a singer and songwriter; perhaps the best known Canadian folk musician ever.

Now sure, Gordon is often seen playing an old Gibson twelve string guitar, and that's all good, but he and his late guitarist, forget the name for the moment, that died this past year in February - they both also played Martin D 18's very often.

The D 18 is the world's most under rated acoustic steel string guitar, in my opinion - but besides that, people often just consider it a cheaper instrument instead of properly realizing that it's not cheaper, just less expensive.

Well, that's how it is until you get to the Gordon Lightfoot limited edition signature model.....which is considerably more dressed up with abalone inlay, and of course, cost quite a bit more.  But it's still a D18, specifically, it's the D18 GL.

The Martin D !8

Mahogany - it doesn't sound anything like rosewood.

I once saw a link online where a luthier was saying that tonewoods were a scam, and that he didn't think that anyone could hear the difference between mahogany and rosewood, so forth and so on.

I'd never been so shocked in my life!

I can not just hear the difference between mahogany and rosewood - I can hear the difference between East Indian Rosewood and Brazilian Rosewood.  It's inconceivable to me that a luthier ...someone who should be an audiophile of the highest order - can't hear the difference between mahogany and rosewood.

I'm thinking that the man had spent too much time running saws and none of it with ear protection.  How could he claim to even know what made for a good sounding guitar if he couldn't even hear the difference between mahogany and rosewood?  I'm hoping that he's got a fine eye for wood grans, and knows the specs that typically generate a great sounding guitar - as if he doesn't, then his make of guitar or guitars that he makes for someone else - aren't going to be much good in the sound department.

Mahogany has such a distinctly different sound from rosewood that it's literally the defining characteristic as to whether someone buys mahogany, or rosewood - if it isn't, then you know then that someone is only shopping via their wallet, and not their ears.

Dumbest shit I've ever done was sell my D 18.  I've said that before, and lord willing and the creek don't rise, it'll be the dumbest shit I've ever done for years and years to come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Russ Barenberg

Russ Barenberg

I don't really know much about Russ Barenberg off hand, but I want to take a minute or several before I bust out big daddy Google and some old guitar magazines to find out and refresh myself on his subject - to tell you all about how my life has benefited from the music that this man has made in the past.
No really - the music of Russ Barenberg has made a HUGE bit of difference in my life! Let me explain:
I'd been such a shy youth that it was literally the monster in my life to be overcome. I'd arranged to perform in the school talent show my senior year, and up until the moment when the curtain was drawn and it was my turn to play on stage in front of the four or five hundred persons in the audience - I was just as ready to bolt as to perform. But I didn't run, I performed, and I kicked the ying yang out of the medley of tunes I'd rehearsed so thoroughly. The medley was started off with a complex "floating" arrangement, and segued into Russ Barenberg's Irish war songs "Keep It Up / Prince Charlie."
I can't play those things now at all - my fingers aren't in shape enough for it - and were it not for a very beautiful young woman that could sing beautifully too, I'd have won the competition. If you're interested in hearing the Irish war tunes I've referred to by Russ Barenberg, then I've got a link to his Myspace music page where you can hear the whole tune, or a link where you can get a bit of a sample.

A Younger Russ Barenberg.

Purchase The Music Of Russ Barenberg!

When at Last
Amazon Price: $11.71
List Price: $17.99
Teach Yourself Bluegrass Guitar
Amazon Price: $11.10
List Price: $17.99
When At Last
Amazon Price: $8.99
Teach Yourself Bluegrass Guitar
Amazon Price: $17.95
Skip Hop & Wobble
Amazon Price: $11.41
List Price: $17.98
A Flatpickers Guide To Better Playing
Amazon Price: $16.65
List Price: $29.95

Russ Barenberg

Russ Barenberg has his own website with a great bio that would be pointless for me to imitate, or copy from - but suffice it to say that he's well known to have been a huge fan of the late Clarence White, the phenom who'd blown so many minds with his acoustic guitar playing withThe Kentucky Colonels, and then moved on to blowing more minds with electric guitar innovations and his playing with The Byrds.
Nothing exceptional about that - everyone in acoustic music was in awe of Clarence White,but withCountry Cooking, a sort of Bluegrass super group - Russ Barenberg made a name for himself. I think thatCountry Cooking was where most any of us first heard Russ Barenberg.
Of course Russ Barenberg has many another fine solo recording, and I used to own at least one of them on cassette tape. I might hit up a peer to peer program and see what I can find for him - not that I'd not want to pay the man for his music, but it's more that I'm paying a tribute here, and own a computer, and precious little else in this world. But I've digressed.
What I didn't know until today was that Russ Barenberg had been involved with a very fine film project, and on the musical end of it, of course. Most folks who are into knowledge or education and like to experience and gain those things from a film format know who Ken Burns is. It's sad that the ilk that control the mainstream media are in conjunction with the globalist banker cartel - the same that controls the White House, and the criminals in the US congress.
But whatever, Russ Barenberg participated in the soundtrack of Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War.

Russ Barenberg - Melodic Flatpicking.

Russ Barenberg represents everything that is great in flatpicking the acoustic steel string guitar. The instrument itself, the steel string dreadnought, was created for accompaniment or rhythm, and not for the playing of leads. Russ Barenberg plays a very tasteful rhythm, and his very tasteful and melodic style of playing leads seems to flow naturally from the Irish and Scottish fiddle tune melodies that modern Bluegrass originated from.
Of course Russ Barenberg and his music aren't exclusive to traditional Scotch Irish fiddle tunes, Russ Barenberg also writes and performs his own original music based upon those traditions, and also other styles as well. Of course my personal experiences with his music - as already detailed above, leads me to favour very much the Celtic melodic styles.
In any case, it's my pleasure to honour the music of Russ Barenberg here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Steve Kaufman, Champion of Contests and Of Teaching Acoustic Guitar Flatpicking

Steve Kaufman Is a Fretboard Master.

Simply put, Steve Kaufman is the all time king of contest guitar playing in the field of flatpicking acoustic guitar. On top of that, Steve Kaufman is, perhaps, the greatest flatpicking instructor in the United States of America. I've met Steve Kaufman, and he's a nice guy; but he's very busy. I've bought Steve Kaufman tutorial magazines and compact discs directly from Steve Kaufman, and I've even played one of his guitars. This is a man who, perhaps, knows and performs more traditional, public domain folk tunes on the acoustic guitar than any other man or woman living, and he does that at a higher level of skill than most anyone can even approach.

Steve Kaufman. Master Flatpicker and Master Instructor.

Steve Kaufman

Finding nothing, and this is very surprising considering who the man is, and what all he's done, in Wikipedia, I've been unable to find the typical "Steve Kaufman was born on such and such date in such and such, U.S.A." stuff, suffice it to say, . . . . . . .here's his official website:
One need not be very bright or observant to have noticed that I, the author here, was born and raised, and continue to live in Kaufman, Texas; this has nothing to do with Steve Kaufman, who he is, or why this is being published. I sort of doubt the the amazing Steve Kaufman has ever been to Kaufman, Texas; has ever heard of the place, or has ever had any reason to have; except that I personally told him that I was from, Kaufman, Texas; and I sorta kinda noticed that it rang no bells for the man. But the name of Steve Kaufman resounds with anyone who plays an acoustic guitar with a pick anywhere in the United States, and the rest of the world.  He's just that big of a deal.  His Kaufman Kamp schools for flatpicking guitar and mandolin are huge events with many instructors on Kaufman's level, and with classes for beginners on up to serious amateurs and professionals.  Steve Kaufman's books of tablature for learning Celtic, Bluegrass, Gospel, and even Seasonal tunes for guitar and mandolin  are also among the very finest learning materials available on the market.  I've a stack of Steve Kaufman "always free, never cheap" newsletters, and the arrangements for both obscure and well known folk tunes found within are always a treasure.

Steve Kaufman Flatpicking Instructional Material.

Mel Bay presents My First Bluegrass Guitar Picking Songs (My First (Alfred Publishing))
Amazon Price: $9.34
List Price: $17.99
Bluegrass Guitar Solos That Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know (Bluegrass Guitar Solos Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know)
Amazon Price: $50.68
List Price: $69.95
Basic Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar
Amazon Price: $18.02
List Price: $29.95

Contest Champion, and the Walnut Valley Festival

The Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas is without a doubt the largest folk music festival in the United States, and it is held annually during the third week of September. Held at the festival every year is the amazing, and very prestigious World Flatpicking Guitar Championship, and nobody has won this contest as many times as has Steve Kaufman, who has won the contest an amazing four times over the years.  I thought I'd give a bit more information for how these contests are scored, and the following comes from the official website, and there is a link for that at the bottom of this section:
0 points 1. ARRANGEMENT - Contestant's version of the tune selected. Is it appropriate to the tune and arrangement? Is the tune selected in keeping with the flavor of the festival? Is the arrangement original, for the most part, to the contestant, or is it someone else's known arrangement?
40 points 2. EXECUTION & ARTICULATION - Are the notes buzzing and muddy, or are they clear and distinct? Tone - Are the notes full or thin sounding? Timing - Is the tempo steady and constant? Dexterity - Are the notes played in difficult positions up and/or down the finger board or is the piece played for the most part in first and/or second position? Tuning - Is the instrument in tune with itself and relatively close to concert pitch of A=440?
10 points 3. EXPRESSION, DYNAMICS & SHOW VALUE - The music should be played with life and feeling. The performance is not to be based on audience response.
10 points 4. OVERALL IMPRESSION - Paragraphs 1 through 3 are considered at this point

The Seven String Gallagher Steve Kaufman Model Acoustic Guitar.

The Steve Kaufman Seven String Guitar.

Steve Kaufman, being one of the pre-eminent flatpicking guitarists in this world, has many fine instruments, but among them is his own Gallagher Signature Model Seven String Acoustic Cutaway Guitar, and I've played it myself, though not nearly so well as he can.  At the last Walnut Valley Festival that I'd attended, right after buying some books from Mr. Kaufman directly, a man behind his booth named Mr. Gallagher, who I'd previously spoken to at the festival, saw me, remembered seeing me playing on someone else's guitar, and handed me Steve Kaufman's guitar.  Now, Mr. Kaufman didn't know me from "Adam," really, so I saw him give a quick turn an look at this stranger playing one of his instruments.   He then saw that I was under the supervision of, probably, the man who'd made the thing to begin with, and so it was all cool then.  Sadly, having someone like Kaufman standing within earshot had an effect on my . . . .abilities.

The Steve Kaufman Model Gallagher Guitar is another fine instrument well worth knowing about and owning, but it's a seven string guitar, which is very uncommon.  It features a lower "D" string, which is larger in diameter than the typical largest string, the big "E" string.  As must be expected, the neck of the guitar is thicker than usual, and this is to accommodate the additional string.  I've large enough hands and long enough fingers to play an instrument like this, but it would definitely take some getting used to, and it's not for everyone.

Conclusion. . . .Play Yer Guitar!

I hope that this article has done something towards introducing you to who Steve Kaufman is, and maybe, given you some direction towards discovering some great music, and the music instructor who has done, probably, more for more aspiring acoustic guitarists and mandolin pickers than any other in the realm of instruction.  It's also my sincerest wish that you enjoy the videos I've provided, but surely there are many, many more.  If I can get just one person started in the fine art of acoustic flatpicking, then my job here has been an amazing success.  Play Yer Guitar!

Steve Kaufman, International Flatpicking Champion

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