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The Unwound Third => Gitfiddles, Harps, Washboards & Kazoos => Topic started by: Cartouche on March 01, 2013, 08:30:06 AM

Title: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Cartouche on March 01, 2013, 08:30:06 AM
I know this link has been posted before,
http://www.earlyblues.com/blues_singers.htm (http://www.earlyblues.com/blues_singers.htm)

but I was looking over it again and I started wondering why so many of the blues musicians that reappeared during the folk boom choose to go with larger-bodied guitars. Since I started playing this type of music 18 months ago, I was under the assumption that a parlor size was the preferred weapon of choice by many/most of the masters.

So why, when they later had access to a wider choice of guitars than the Sears & Roebuck catalog did they go for J-45, D-18, D-28, B-25, etc.?

Was it just a lack of availability or financial resources to buy a dread back in the day? Would that have been preferred over the parlors?

Or maybe during the 50s-60s parlors were not in production or had fallen out of favor?

It makes me wonder, if Blind Blake or B.L. Jefferson made it to the 60s, would they have gone for a J-45?  :-\
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on March 01, 2013, 09:04:15 AM
I can't answer your question, but I can tell you what Rev. Gary Davis said about why he would only use a Gibson guitar (approximately; it's been a lot of years): "You can sing on a street corner with it in the rain, and it won't fall apart."

It's possible that street singers, who needed more volume, would have chosen larger guitars if they could have afforded it.


Lyle
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 09:12:18 AM
The answer is sort of obvious, when they could they did. Also the quality of smaller guitars had fallen off precipitously during the fifties-sixties. Mostly they were considered beginner's guitars not to be taken seriously. If you found yourself with some money and a choice for the first time in your life and could have had any car you wanted at the time it would not likely have been a VW Beetle.
Also Dreadnaughts are pretty great all around guitars. My D-18 tells me so.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 09:15:10 AM
The Martin "New Yorker" was the only high quality "Parlor" guitar being produced during most of that period (50-60's-70's). The resurgence of interest in old Stella's and such is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: blueshome on March 01, 2013, 09:17:37 AM
 A large numbers of the guitars these guys used were either loaned to them or bought for them by their "re-discoverers". In most cases they would have been unlikely to have been able to afford a Martin or Gibson, but may well have aspired to them. Pre-war they used Stellas and similar because they were cheap and loud and easy to replace.
Another example is Son House, where there are plenty of photos of him with various Nationals, nearly all on loan to him.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 09:18:33 AM
Of course there were the wonderful smaller body , larger upper bout Gibsons LG-1 through 3 (I have a 3..X braced as opposed to ladder bracing in the 1 & 2 and the later B-25 such as Furry Lewis played all of which could be superb...or not.
But for playing Gary Davis, there is nothing like a J-200.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Cartouche on March 01, 2013, 09:36:21 AM
And here I am about to dump my Martin D-1 for an Art & Lutherie Ami...

Thanks for the useful info, fellas.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 01, 2013, 10:36:34 AM
Most of what I read above makes sense and is what I've heard and read over the years, too.  But keep in mind not all players used Stellas.  The scant photos of players, pre-WWII, show some guitars identified as Stellas, and there is some oral history gathered post-WWII of the preference for Stellas, but in some photos, like Blind Lemon Jefferson's, I don't believe there is enough hard evidence to name the guitar brand, other than it's a smallish, slot-head pre-WWII guitar.  Maybe someone with a sharper eye and more knowledge can clue me in, though.  Also, it can't be confirmed in some cases if, indeed, the player actually owned the guitar in his/her publicity photo, or was it loaned as a prop?  Que the RJ guitar discussions...

One point not brought up above, I think, is the availability of these cheap guitars.  Most small towns had a general store or furniture store that sold goods, including guitars, as did the mail catalogs, such as Sears, which had already been familiar to rural folk since the last quarter of the 19th century.

One more thought on this, we're also approaching the concept of 'moving up' to better quality from our 21st century point of view.  It's likely that folks back in the day were content with what was available at the local store, and what their peers were playing.  Moving 'up' to a Martin wasn't even in their thoughts..which is why I'm still driving an '87 Saab  ::)

Quote
Or maybe during the 50s-60s parlors were not in production or had fallen out of favor?
Just for the sake of clarification, the 'parlor' era music had fallen way out of favor by the 50s, and even in the 20s and 30s when so much of the so-called 'country blues' music was recorded.  To my knowledge, no one ever marketed a 'parlor' guitar per se, it's a relatively recent nomenclature.
Guitars like Stellas are most accurately described by their size, as they were in the catalogs of the period:  Standard, Concert (the smaller bodied examples ~ 13" across the lower bout); Grand Concert (14.5" across); Auditorium, sometimes referred to as Jumbos (~ 15" across).

Listen to Pan's recent youtube video and tell me that old Stella doesn't sound sweet! >:D
Tom
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 10:53:58 AM
Hold onto that Martin AND buy the Ami...thats my advice. Sometimes you need that deeper bass...but I am a big fan of the Ami.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Prof Scratchy on March 01, 2013, 11:01:45 AM
@onewent: let's start a thread on '87Saabs...
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 11:16:21 AM
Quote
It's likely that folks back in the day were content with what was available at the local store, and what their peers were playing.  Moving 'up' to a Martin wasn't even in their thoughts..which is why I'm still driving an '87 Saab 


Lets not forget that Big Bill seemingly always played either Gibsons or his final Martin 000-28 Brazilian Rosewood herringbone guitar, and many of the more successful players did the same, Scrapper Blackwell comes to mind, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie's Gibson made National archtop. I would say that all evidence indicates that Blues players were not only aware of better alternatives to cheap Stella's but grabbed 'em first chance they had.
Galliano, Lyon & Healy, Martin, Ditson, Bay State, Larson Bros., Mauer, all made small guitars of better quality than Stellas imho. I find the faddish preoccupation with cheap student guitars from an earlier time, just because they appeared in promotional photos, a little ridiculous to tell you the truth. They also have nothing to do with the mass produced forties- fifties plywood and metal tailpiece guitars of the kind I first learned on and which have magically become sought after "Parlour guitars". Give me a fuggin' break! As for Mr. Pan, I would argue that its his playing and not his guitar that deserves credit for the sound, in fact I'd love to hear him do his stuff on a good guitar. Most of those plywood birch guitars were crap then, crap now, crap forever...just my opinion. Fun to play sometimes though. I've heard tell that Blind lemon's guitar was actually a small mahogany body Martin, don't know for certain however.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 01, 2013, 11:20:24 AM
@scratchy:  '87 TC 206K mi!

@O'Muck:
Quote
plywood birch guitars were crap then, crap now, crap forever
Pre-wwII were solid birch, nuttin' but the best.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 11:26:29 AM
Yeah, so people claim, but I've seen them busted up and they're plywood sure as shit. Like cross grains glued together? Actually though depending on the guitar plywood can sometimes sound pretty good. The plywood Blueridges are amazingly good.

Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 01, 2013, 11:45:58 AM
Quote
I've seen them busted up and they're plywood sure as shit
For the purpose of clarification to those reading the thread, Oscar Schmidt guitars (like Pan's)  made pre-wwII were always solid wood.  If you saw busted up guitars made from plywood, they were not OS guitars, but some other maker. 
BTW, plywood does not always infer lower quality, some very nice Gibsons pre-wwII were made with plywood back and sides.  Tom
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 12:01:36 PM
Ok Tom we agree that plywood can sound pretty good sometimes. But going forward I would urge people to try and de-sentimentalize the choice of a guitar and use sound and playability as the criteria for their choice. I see younger players getting saddled with a lot of overpriced guitar shaped detritus because it fits some romantic profile they've concocted and usually it involves an instrument that never had had anything to do with this music. There are more good cheap guitars out there now than ever in my lifetime. Guitars that would have been inconceivable at their price points when I was starting out. Of course, some like the Blueridges, involve supporting Chinese labor practices which is a concern no doubt, but were I buying a primary use guitar now the solid spruce top, solid Indian rosewood 000-28 shaped Blueridge for $650. would top my list. If the Chinese labor issue is too disturbing to you and I must admit it is becoming increasingly so for me, the $270. Canadian made, solid wood Ami will beat the shit out of any 60's metal tailpiece skinny fretwire piece of crap, in every parameter of sound, playability, and craftsmanship. Gotta take the stupid rubber rossette off from around the sound hole though.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Cartouche on March 01, 2013, 12:21:07 PM
Hold onto that Martin AND buy the Ami...thats my advice. Sometimes you need that deeper bass...but I am a big fan of the Ami.

Well, I've also got a Martin OM, that seems to be plenty o' bass for me. I never play in group settings nor do I strum much, I just pick in the parlor. The dread just hasn't been doing much for me lately.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Pan on March 01, 2013, 01:50:43 PM
I'd like to add, to what has already been said, that maybe the players just played what was available at a reasonable cost there at the time.
The construction of guitars has changed during the years, and nowadays we see mostly bigger and more heavily constructed guitars that require heavier strings to drive the top. This has to do more with warranty issues rather than seeking for a perfect sound, I'm afraid.
I seem to remember at least one of the rediscovery bluesmen longing for an old Stella in an interview, but can't remember who exactly he was.  He could, of course, have been on a nostalgia trip.  :)

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Prof Scratchy on March 01, 2013, 03:29:16 PM
@onewent ...great car. Heated seats?

Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Rivers on March 01, 2013, 05:27:49 PM
Don't forget John Hurt famously picked out the Guild F-30 Aragon when given the run of the store, an Orchestra size. Great choice, the extra body depth pushes just a slightly bigger sound than a small guitar but less than a dread or jumbo. Similar principle to the Nick Lucas. I love mine.

But I still play my Tonk 14 fret parlor more than any other instrument. Something about the bass, particularly when playing with others, no mush, plenty loud, everything clear and audible. The treble end is also striking.

I suspect the other posters are right, it's what was around at the time, and the relative price had come down so why not experiment. Did we mention Brownie McGhee yet? He was a Martin Dread guy, probably should have a commemorative signature model if he doesn't already.

Josh White stuck with small body 000 Martins.
Title: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 05:55:54 PM
Are you sure your Tonk is a "parlor" guitar and not just a smallish body guitar? My idea of a parlor guitar is a late nineteenth early twentieth century bridgepin , narrow waisted , spruce top, rosewood, mahogany, cherry, pear, oak and rarely maple, slot head guitar. They were marketed. To women who couldn't afford pianos in the days when folks had parlors.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: oddenda on March 01, 2013, 06:05:50 PM
It's what the damn White folkies stuck in their hands upon "rediscovery"! Son House and the National being just one example. I was somewhat guilty of that myself in the 70s, but I did have a few really fine instruments for folks to chose from. Generally, they picked my Gibson SJ, or '39 National... see Trix LP covers for pics!

pbl
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 07:21:30 PM
Come on Pete, you think that when John Hurt was tryin out Martins & Gibsons & Guilds at Manny's or wherever he was thinkin' "Garsh if i could only get my hands back on my ol' shitbox sears & Roebuck gitar I'd be a happy man"?
If someone took me to say Matty Umanov's and said here get whatever you want...boy howdy! James Goodall? Fraulini? Froggy Bottom? 1940's j-200?..the mind boggles !
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 01, 2013, 07:26:03 PM
Quote
@onewent ...great car. Heated seats?
Yes, and they still work!
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: bnemerov on March 01, 2013, 07:27:26 PM
Rivers, (and O'Muck)
According to Hurt, he picked the Guild 'cause he didn't want to abuse the generosity of the Newport committee paying for  the guitar of his choice---he really wanted the Martin that was there, but it was 50 dollars (or so) more.

That's one difference between us and MJH, O'Muck. ;)

best,
bruce
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: bnemerov on March 01, 2013, 07:31:21 PM
Should also mention the lovely (Hooks Bros.?) photo of Frank Stokes with a gorgeous 000-28 slot-head, pyramid-bridge Martin.
best,
bruce
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 01, 2013, 07:35:51 PM
I'd heard that actually. Skip James on the other hand actually preferred a Yamaha but chose a far more expensive Martin D-28 (35?) supposedly because it had a longer warrenty.

Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Stuart on March 01, 2013, 07:44:27 PM
Did we mention Brownie McGhee yet? He was a Martin Dread guy, probably should have a commemorative signature model if he doesn't already.

The D-18 with the top crack was a gift from Andy Griffith. They were friends in NYC and I believe worked together there, as well as in the film, "A Face In The Crowd." When I  met Brownie back in the early 70s he emphasized that the guitar was a gift from Andy and talked about their friendship.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Stuart on March 01, 2013, 08:12:41 PM
@onewent: let's start a thread on '87Saabs...

Not another Saab story... :P
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Johnm on March 01, 2013, 08:12:59 PM
Hi all,
The recent vogue for ladder-braced, relatively small-bodied guitars for playing blues is just that:  recent.  I think anyone who came up in the pre-amplification era would be looking for two things in a guitar:  LOUD and relatively easy to play.  If the little guitars we see old blues players using in photos were so great, why did any of them who actually came into some money go for something more expensive, fancier, bigger, louder, etc?  Except in very rare instances, I think the players we admire sounded as good as they did not because of the instruments they played, but rather, in spite of the instruments they played.  And to say that the characteristic sound of the music is a ladder-braced sound, or a National sound, is to confuse cause and effect.  The characteristic sound of the music is the sound that was in the players themselves, which manifested and would have manifested on whatever instruments they happened to be playing.  I think the best quality any guitar can have for a serious player is absolute familiarity, to the extent that you know where to go on the instrument to get the sound you're looking for, and you know how to get that sound once you get there.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Parlor Picker on March 02, 2013, 01:27:15 AM
Johnm - I tend to agree and thank you for one of the most observant, intelligent posts in a long time.

If they could have afforded them, those old players in the 20s and 30s would not be playing cheap mail-order, ladder-braced guitars, but better quality, better sounding Martins, Gibsons, Larsons or whatever.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Cartouche on March 02, 2013, 02:43:37 AM
Just to clarify, I wasn't wondering why the re-discovered players went for instruments of a higher quality , I'm more curious as to why they would go for a completely different body type. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't have just used a cheap dread in the early days if that was their real preference.

From some of the previous posts, I see now that -
1. back in the 20s-40s, dreadnaughts tended to be more expensive than the smaller, mass-produced guitars

2. smaller guitars were more easily obtained at the local general store or mail-order catalog

3. in general, during the folk boom/re-discovery era, there was a lack of quality parlor guitars

Please correct me if I'm off on any of these points!

This is an interesting tidbit as well from the Martin website: Dreadnaughts were introduced in 1916 when Martin made them for a Boston company called Ditson, and they were marketed in Boston and New York. Martin didn't produce them under the "Martin" name until 1931! So maybe the dread body type was quite a bit more rare than I  assumed. Since it doesn't appear to have been a mass-produced body type, I can see this making them prohibitively expensive for most rural folk.

btw, thanks for all the great replies!

Marc
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Rivers on March 02, 2013, 06:11:13 AM
Are you sure your Tonk is a "parlor" guitar and not just a smallish body guitar? My idea of a parlor guitar is a late nineteenth early twentieth century bridgepin , narrow waisted , spruce top, rosewood, mahogany, cherry, pear, oak and rarely maple, slot head guitar. They were marketed. To women who couldn't afford pianos in the days when folks had parlors.

parlor-ish. It's more parlor than anything else I own.

I have a theory that the musicians back then playing cheap guitars knew a thing or two about setting them up properly. We've all played cheap old guitars that have an 'agricultural' feel; and we've all played cheap old guitars that were a joy to play.

I will go out on a limb here and say I consider it impossible for the precision, virtuoso players like Blake & Jefferson to have achieved their results on a badly set up guitar. Simple buzzing, flubbed notes, poor intonation etc would be apparent in their recordings due to simple physics. They are not. Ergo the guitars may have been cheap but they were almost certainly quite well set up. Impossible to prove, either way.

Some players were not so astute or anal in this regard. Little Hat Jones comes to mind; when he gets 4 or 5 frets up the neck the intonation is revealed to be spectacularly awful. It doesn't make him any less interesting, on the contrary, I'm just comparing and contrasting here.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: uncle bud on March 02, 2013, 07:09:28 AM
My theory about dreadnaughts is simple and only half tongue-in-cheek: loud is one thing, loud, big and ugly is another. And uncomfortable. Today add ubiquitous to the formula.

Why didn't anyone start building dreadnaught violins or cellos? Ugly.

As for today's modern guitars by both the big companies and the many talented indie luthiers, there are lots of beauties, but some of those guitars really don't seem suited to blues. They are gorgeous and sound gorgeous, but not for blues IMO.

Of course, loud, big and ugly worked for several blues singers, but that's another thread.

Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 02, 2013, 08:33:07 AM
Cartouche, I think you're digging down to the core points.  The key point being that Dreads, even though introduced in the late teens, were extremely rare and expensive, relatively. They didn't become more common until the late 30s, but even the D-18 was a fairly pricy guitar for plain folk.

So, the Dread shape was not even a consideration for the early players we know from the 78s. 
Maybe a weak analogy is that most people in the US drive Toyotas and Hondas because they're available, affordable and functional.  So, most of the players on 78s used non-dread guitars because they were available, affordable and functional.

Another thought on this, the guitars used in the parlor in the late 19th century, what we now call parlor guitars, were lightly built, and very 'sweet' sounding, commonly built for gut.  As musical tastes changed, and left the parlor for the dance halls and road houses, players needed a guitar that was louder.  The ladder braced guitars from the 20s and 30s fit this bill .. they were cheap, but most importantly because they were built for steel strings..!  Plus, just like today, people following 'trends' want the latest thing.  The 'old' parlor guitars could have been associated with 'old' out-of-fashion music.

And, I think we're referring to two types of musicians, too.  Some made a record or two and faded back into obscurity, and others had hits, were in demand and made some money..and these players were often more urbane or city-oriented musicians that O'Muck reference earlier.  So, they had some cash, and were in and around cities where 'better' guitars were readily available in large music stores.  Even though Leadbelly was presented to his white audiences as a hick or country exotic, he had the wherewithal to custom order a jumbo Stella 12-string in the 30s.  He knew exactly what sound and quality of guitar he wanted.  Even though his guitar was a Stella, it was Oscar Schmidt's top of the line in appointments. (Well, that and 'who else was making 12-strings!') ???

@Rivers .. good point about set-up.  I often wondered who and how these guys set up their guitars, considering today we freak out when the humidity reaches 35% and our strings begin to buzz.  But I guess it's like the craftsmen of days gone by, they know how to sharpen, and keep sharp, their chisels and saws, because it was their livelihood at stake if they didn't.

One thing I really enjoy doing is finding old pre-wwII 'junkers' and getting them back into playing condition, getting the neck reset, eliminating too much relief, dressing the frets and so on. .. Very satisfying and keeps me out of trouble! 

And, perhaps in another topic, who can explain why so many musicians played 12-strings in the Atlanta area back in the hay-days of 78 recording?

Tom
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Rivers on March 02, 2013, 11:10:33 AM
And, perhaps in another topic, who can explain why so many musicians played 12-strings in the Atlanta area back in the hay-days of 78 recording?

Tom, there is a thread that touches on that point, although the original premise was '12 string players NOT from Georgia'. There was some discussion as to why many were from Georgia. See also the linked-to page on Todd Cambio's site: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2446.msg18548#msg18548 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=2446.msg18548#msg18548)

Glad you're saving old junkers, thanks from all of us who appreciate them.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Pan on March 02, 2013, 11:26:56 AM
Perhaps THIS is the reason, why the Dreadnought guitar had to be invented!  :P

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fcontent.cdlib.org%2Fark%3A%2F13030%2Fkt9290234p%2Fhi-res.jpg&hash=a2240b1d69420ad50e5d49376dea7488b23e9d05)

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: frankie on March 02, 2013, 11:55:40 AM
one thing for sure - when i'm re-discovered, it's a J-45, advanced jumbo or D-18 for me.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: alyoung on March 03, 2013, 02:25:09 AM
Did we mention Brownie McGhee yet? He was a Martin Dread guy, probably should have a commemorative signature model if he doesn't already.


Well yeah ... but I met Brownie McGhee during a New Zealand tour quite a few years ago and in conversation told him I had a Stella. He was quite offhand -- until he saw it "Shit," he exclaimed. "You've got a Stella like my daddy used to have." He'd though I mean a Harmony; mine is a 1920s Stella. He played it, offered to buy it, then asked for first option on it if I did decide to sell. Was he bullshitting? Well, he gave me his card, and when he came back a couple of years later and we met again at a press conference (I was working for a newspaper) he walked into the room, saw me and immediately said "Hey Al! You still got that Stella".  That Stella was my main acoustic blues guitar for years (I concede that the Martin 0017 is a bit more versatile), and it is an amazingly loud, clean and penetrative instrument. Patton, House, Wilkins ... no problem. Someone said above there was no comparison between the 1920s Stella and the Harmony Stellas  from the 1960s; quite right.   
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: alyoung on March 03, 2013, 02:31:51 AM
It's what the damn White folkies stuck in their hands upon "rediscovery"! Son House and the National being just one example. I was somewhat guilty of that myself in the 70s, but I did have a few really fine instruments for folks to chose from. Generally, they picked my Gibson SJ, or '39 National... see Trix LP covers for pics!

pbl

Pete, I believe I recall you telling me that it is your National  Johnny Shines is holding on a Biography cover pic. I went to a guitar workshop that Mr Shines did in Sydney, Australia,   in the early 80s, and turned up proudly clutching my Spanish-neck triplate. Mr Shines wasn't interested. Said he didn't like Nationals and wouldn't have one.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Rivers on March 03, 2013, 05:23:38 AM
Great story there Al, thanks for sharing it.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: onewent on March 03, 2013, 01:58:36 PM
@Al .. good story about Brownie and Stellas. 

Quote
Mr Shines wasn't interested. Said he didn't like Nationals and wouldn't have one.
Funny, I have a CD he did, maybe in the 80s, where he's playing a National, making it sound great, too.  Wonder what the story is behind that?
Tom
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Lyndvs on March 04, 2013, 11:39:44 AM
Johnm - I tend to agree and thank you for one of the most observant, intelligent posts in a long time.

If they could have afforded them, those old players in the 20s and 30s would not be playing cheap mail-order, ladder-braced guitars, but better quality, better sounding Martins, Gibsons, Larsons or whatever.


Not sure,surely players such as  Patton,Jefferson and Blake could afford better guitars than they,supposedly, used.They were big sellers in their prime and made some good money,especially for the era.Didn`t Jefferson have a chauffer driven car?!.Surely he could have had a Martin or Gibson if he desired.
lyndvs
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: banjochris on March 04, 2013, 01:26:25 PM
Patton's last guitar (presumably the one he recorded with in New York) was a Gibson, according to Booker Miller in the Wardlow/Calt bio, if I'm remembering rightly.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: oddenda on March 04, 2013, 06:00:29 PM
Shines did a session for Biograph Records (at the request of Arnie Caplin) where he used my 1939 vintage National... it's a very mellow sounding one that can also be heard on many Trix releases (save Wilie Trice - that was his own that I had refurbished for him by Bob Gear). Mine sounds unlike most Nationals which are quite plangent in tone. See the Tarheel Slim cover for a photo of it. The other guitar that I carried and was used by many on sessions is a Gibson SJ that is still a wonder: In tune and low action all the way down the neck, so I am told. Sounds good, too! Also had a Fender Princeton (herringbone) and Gibson 335 for electric players (Tarheel Slim, again). These were made available to folks who no longer had a dependable guitar for the purpose of recordings - many wished to keep said guitars!

pbl
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Rivers on March 04, 2013, 06:16:42 PM
(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-h7ljMrvpQVU%2FTZZBM48nUBI%2FAAAAAAAAAcQ%2FuLl9bDqke0A%2Fs1600%2Fts%2Bfront%2B%25255B800x600%25255D.jpg&hash=3e8b74d2d3e687f92219cdc770c248f01058544b)

'plangent', after looking it up, is a great adjective in this context and makes two new words for me in a couple of weeks.
I need to practice working them into a conversation, the other was 'rodomontade'.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 04, 2013, 07:01:39 PM
I would like to try that guitar!

Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: blueshome on March 05, 2013, 06:36:11 AM
"one thing for sure - when i'm re-discovered, it's a J-45, advanced jumbo or D-18 for me."

Then straight down to the pawn shop!
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 06, 2013, 09:03:55 AM
In the interests of clarity I am posting four photos, two of actual Parlor guitars in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one being a 19th century Martin
http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/musical-instruments  (http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/musical-instruments)     
http://www.metmuseum.org/search-results?ft=guitars&x=0&y=0 (http://www.metmuseum.org/search-results?ft=guitars&x=0&y=0)
and two 40's-60's style Stellas or Harmony made Stellas. The differences in quality, style and materials should be obvious. A painted guitar (other than decorative touches) is a good indicator that you're probably dealing
with a cheap plywood student model, as is very thin fretwire on a painted fingerboard , and a stamped metal tailpiece. Except for use as slide guitar I would avoid these guitars like the plague. I also defy anyone to show me a photo of a rediscovery playing one of these pieces of crap (OK they probably exist but no one actually CHOSE to play one of these).
$50-$60 bucks TOPS for these folks! Don't encourage artificial inflation of garbage.  >:D
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Westside on March 06, 2013, 09:10:55 AM
How about this?:

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi10.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fa132%2Ffireonyoursleeve%2Fparlor_zps58b50b8b.jpg&hash=8529f033112ec0007d57fb6b5706323fd3a2ccd7)
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Norfolk Slim on March 06, 2013, 09:30:17 AM
Clearly- a vintage Martin and a Stella are very different things.

The point with the stellas is that the Oscar Schmidt ones, whilst always budget instruments in their time, were better made than some, and were almost invariably solid birch.  The good ones have a distinctive and (to some of us) very pleasing sound and are a pleasure to play.  Once Harmony took over they were less good it seems- though most were still birch for some years before they become plywood.

Most of those we see are 50s/60s/70s Harmony student models which I absolutely agree are very widely available and pretty lousy though fun for a bit of rasping slide tone). 

A good early harmony or OS one however, whilst it should never command the sort of prices quality old Martins etc do, can be a very desireable and enjoyable guitar. 
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 06, 2013, 09:46:05 AM
Ryan I've waxed Rhapsodic about the A&L Ami on here several times. I think they are stunningly good little guitars for the price. So what's the dif between it and its Harmony predecessors? Manufacturing techniques, computer aided saws and carving machines have allowed a degree of fit and finish on contemporary inexpensive guitars that was simply not available earlier. My understanding is that they ARE solid Cherry or Birch with solid Spruce or Cedar tops.
I think they're great. Wouldn't trade my main '63 D-18 for one but I'd certainly consider it for a guitar to take out on the road. And for a dedicated slide guitar, they are superb. Buy two, one for Spanish one for Vastapol!
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Stuart on March 06, 2013, 09:54:29 AM
Related topic:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=6659 (http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=6659)
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Westside on March 06, 2013, 07:34:12 PM
Ryan I've waxed Rhapsodic about the A&L Ami on here several times. I think they are stunningly good little guitars for the price. So what's the dif between it and its Harmony predecessors? Manufacturing techniques, computer aided saws and carving machines have allowed a degree of fit and finish on contemporary inexpensive guitars that was simply not available earlier. My understanding is that they ARE solid Birch with solid Spruce or Cedar tops.
I think they're great. Wouldn't trade my main '63 D-18 for one but I'd certainly consider it for a guitar to take out on the road. And for a dedicated slide guitar, they are superb. Buy two, one for Spanish one for Vastapol!

Good to know 'cuz I just bought one.  I am not to crazy about the blue color (maybe it will grow on me), but the price was to good to pass up.  I just have to get that rosette off without taking some of the cedar top with it!

On another note, I have a slothead 12 fret 0-15 Martin.  Everyone who sees it calls it a parlor, which it isn't.   
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Cartouche on March 07, 2013, 07:38:53 AM
Hey, there's a coincidence! I just picked up an Ami last weekend. I'm having a lot of fun with it, a nice mid, punchy sound to my ears. I got the cedar top, antique sunburst finish.

http://www.artandlutherieguitars.com/amicedarantiquebst.html (http://www.artandlutherieguitars.com/amicedarantiquebst.html)

I thought about one of the newer, hand-made parlors, but I just can't. I'm pretty careless and am constantly putting dings and scratches on my guitars by leaning them on furniture, banging them into doorways, chopping cilantro with them, etc. Accidentally gouging a $300 guitar doesn't give me that heart in the throat feel that I would probably get if I had a $2800 Hauver.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: eric on March 07, 2013, 10:47:42 AM
I'm gonna get one of those AMI's to keep at my girlfriend's house.   I kind of like the black finish.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Westside on March 07, 2013, 10:50:43 AM
I scored mine used and in great condition for $120!  That's cheaper than those plywood faux "parlors" from the '60s are going for nowadays!
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Johnm on March 07, 2013, 02:27:48 PM
Hi all,
I moved this thread over here since it is essentially a guitar thread as opposed to a blues thread.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: RobBob on March 09, 2013, 04:39:42 PM
I recently got a Guild F-20 in a trade.  It is for all intents and purposes a parlor guitar with a big sound.  I like the size and the sound is very good.  But for volume nothing beats a J-45 IMHO.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Westside on March 09, 2013, 06:29:38 PM
Is a Guild F-20 the size of a Martin 00?
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 09, 2013, 06:34:34 PM
An early model F-20 before they were compelled to change their headstock design.


Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: RobBob on March 10, 2013, 02:36:35 PM
They are like a single 0.  Great sound.  Heard my first one many years ago.  A woman was playing it behind my fiddling and it filled the air.  She had gotten it at a yard sale near Philly for $25 many years before that.  Mine is new and has some kind of new pickup in a D-hanger or something.  Don't really need the pickup but it may come in handy at some gigs.
Title: Re: Why did so many players go for dreadnaughts after their "re-discovery"?
Post by: Westside on March 11, 2013, 01:43:16 PM
Sounds like my kind of guitar!  I wish I could get lucky at a yard sale like that!
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