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One of the last words of advice we got from Jim Dickinson was "Get less accurate tuners" - Jimbo Mathus, South Memphis String Band, at Music in the Hall

Author Topic: Country Blues guitar prefence  (Read 4239 times)

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AX17609

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Country Blues guitar prefence
« on: March 18, 2006, 11:02:14 AM »
Hello eveyone,

     Aside from playing a bit of country blues I have been building acoustic guitars as a hobby for a couple years now. I've only built a few so far and a Uke. Here is a question for the group. What style, brand,scale length, cut-away or not do you perfer when playing country blues? The reason I'm asking is I'd like to aim toward a country blues type guitar. I do realize I can't build a guitar and make it 70yrs old but you get the idea.

 Thanks

 John G

Offline onewent

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2006, 11:15:16 AM »
Ax, this the oft asked question on several of the BB's I read ...  check out the Gitfiddle forum here on Weenie, you'll find lots there, including new-made like you envision ... my personal preference for country blues style is the instruments that were made during that time, like the old Stellas and Nationals...

Just curious, and if you view it as a thread hi-jack, email me, but how did you learn to build?  I'm interested in getting my repair skills up to snuff and am always curious how folks learn to build and repair...  regards, tom

Offline waxwing

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2006, 11:36:57 AM »
Heck, I thought I ouhgta just move it over here.

I agree with Tom, if you're talking woodbodied, I'd say a ladder-braced Stella. If you want to be a little different, you might look at the Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-14, essentially a ladder-braced L-00. If you want to stick with X-braced, I think something in the L-00 family would be your choice. And if you want to get esoteric, build an early slightly arched, H-braced L-1 or L-0. Slack did and I'm sure he would give you pointers -G-  (and I know there are plans out there).

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline Buzz

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2006, 01:51:24 PM »
FWIW:
I seem to have have played a lot of guitars last few years, and for country blues and fingerstyle I seem to go back to my little Stella "knock-off" from 1905-10 (from the New York School of builders: could have been a Galiano, Miami, Lyra, Bruno, Jewell, Reliance, who the hell knows, had no inlay on the headstock or label inside) , that Todd Cambio restored so sweetly ;)... Small body, 12 frets to the body, ladder braced, and Todd added some nice braces, new ebony bridge plate and now can play light steel strings, low action 3/32" at the treble strings 12th fret. Lightweight, easy on the arms and hands with no ergonomic tendon aches like dreadnaughts cause, sweet woody tone, comfy thick but not chunky neck without a big V :D.

I played this lady at PT and was so great to take classes and play on it , for example at John Miller's classes on Clifford Gibson's Tired of Being Mistreated. Light to carry, easy on the fingertips, fun to play.

And, Slack: Note Well: Just received my newest sweetheart, a Gibson 1929 L-4 O-hole archtop, through my vintage guitar friend in Seattle, Joe Vinikow. Gorgeous flame maple through the dark sunburst on the back and top. Got a Pick Up The World Pick-up placed under the bridge--invisible, does not add any knobs through the top to danmpem the sound,  and sounds great. Am playing this one for jazz and swing, though it has amazingly thin and fast neck and low action, and can paly blues and fingerstyle on it too.

Still have to keep my day job to support my guitar addiction 8)

Buzz...(Miller)
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline Slack

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2006, 02:18:12 PM »
Congrats Miller -- those are very cool mandos -- sure would like to see a picture of it!

AX, as you can see many CB players prefer a smaller guitar than a deadnaught.  The Gibson L-00 is a favorite of mine.  I built an X-braced, Maple, 13 fret, 24 3/4 scale, L-00 - that has great sound.  There is also a plan for Gibson first flat top, an L-0 (great body shape) here:

http://luth.org/plans/pl06.jpg

that I think is very cool.

AX17609

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2006, 06:45:25 PM »
Hello again everyone,

 First, I'd like to thank you all for the responses which are great.
 Tom, I took a couple of classes. The first was a 10 day course, where I built a Martin D 28 Kit. For me a kit was a good way to get started. I now build everything from the ground up. The other side of learning for meis too build and  build and buy old junks and try to make them sound good and I read many periodicals and books, watch DVD's and I have a couple of luthiers who live close by that help me along when I get stuck. I'm trying to document some of the work I do to put on a webpage one day. My most recent guitar was an OM style Austrailian Lacewood back and sides, Western red cedar top. I'll try to put a couple pictures on here of it. I hope that is ok. Tom, here are a couple links, but there are hundreds on the internet all with great information.

http://pweb.jps.net/~kmatsu/
http://www.lmii.com/
http://www.stewmac.com/

  John thanks for moving the post over. Much appriciated. I'm going to investigate the older Gibsons and Stella. To be honest, and I really probably should know by know, i'm not aquinted with ladder bracing. So a new exploration. Very exciting. The L1 and L0 sound interesting too.
 Buzz(miller)  I think I'll look for an old Stella on ebay or some of the pawn shops and see if I can disect it a bit and rework it like your friend. Sounds like a good learing experiance and I may got a nice guitar out of the deal. thank's for the other info as well.
Slack..I just printed the plans for the L-00 I'm going to have a crack at that too. I like that idea and just may see what might evolve from doing that. Maybe with some of these combined I could come up with a good sound Idea for what will be my own "Mango House Country Blues" model.

Thanks much for all the help

 John

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Offline slidnslim

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2006, 07:27:39 PM »
I guess I'm at the other end of the spectrum,after years of
 playing country Blues on Nationals mostly,
 I seem to prefer Jumbo's for picking,Ive got a Kay jumbo thats straight
 braced,and is freaky loud bass wise and treble just a great
 Blues guitar and I only paid 140 bucks for it,
 I once tried a M series Martin large body and I really liked that!

 Kenny O0

Orb Mellon

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2006, 10:35:26 AM »
I second the kudos for the ladder braced L-OO copy. I have a 1935 Cromwell G-2 which is exactly the same guitar as a Kalamazoo KG-14, both of which are ladder braced Gibson made L-00s give or take a bit of binding etc.  That is the ultimate acoustic blues guitar design and ladder bracing is critical IMHO.

I tend to go off center with a lot of stuff, but here I believe the majority opinion is dead on.

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2006, 12:58:49 PM »
Hi all:

What is a critical piece of evidence to me is... What did the rediscovered bluesmen play after they were rediscovered.

None to my knowledge played ladder-braced anything, including Stellas.

Many followed slidnslim's suggestion and played jumbos (Skip James, RGD.

I'm of two minds. For non-damped base stuff, I like the L-00 and it's like. But  for damped bass a larger bodied jumbo sounds better to me IMHO. And when fighting it out with a resonator.

Alex

Offline waxwing

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2006, 02:03:33 PM »
Just for arguments sake, and not really addressing the original question (-G- and yes, just to be humurous on my sickbed), if you are going to look at the choices of rediscovered blues players in the '60s, it's important to look at what guitars were available to them at the time. Aside from the very poorly made Harmony Stellas, virtually no relation, sonically, to the Oscar Schmidt Stellas heard on a vast majority of pre-war blues recordings, and perhaps the tail end of the production line of LG-1 and LG-0, there really were few quality sounding ladder-braced guitars available. Another issue to consider about the rediscovery era would be the psychological aspect of a long impoverished man, suddenly thrust into the limelight and given funds to buy a far better sounding, or flashier, or just bigger, guitar than he has ever had. Actually, compared to today there were relatively limited choices in the '60s. Heck, the dread was king and many more Harmony dreads and Gibson J-45s are seen in the hands of rediscovered bluesmen than Jumbos. Actually, I like the story about Mississippi John being taken to a guitar shop filled with top end guitars and told he could choose any one. After taking down and playing many he settled on, IIRC, something like a modest litlle Guild F-30. I played an old '60s F-30 recently. What a sweet little blues guitar, even if the neck was a little slim.

Anyway, it strikes me that taking your "authenticity" from the '60s could be construed as just as silly as taking it from the '20s and '30s. Perhaps the real question should be, what guitar would those players have chosen if they were playing blues today. Of course, many would probably choose to go electric.-G- But, looking at the acoustic blues players today that are out there touring, or just playing at the local clubs, you can find just about any guitar under the sun being used. Lots use the old Stellas, or the new Fraulinis, many use vintage Gibsons, and lots use both vintage and modern Nationals, as well as Johnson and Fender resos. Many use modern guitars with more on-board electronics than my car. There are all kinds of high end (Froggy Bottom, Collings, Martin) and low end (Larivee, A & L, Martin) makers represented with dozens of different styles.

But if you ask this question, on a pre-war blues/player oriented board, I think you're gonna get an awful lot of respondents who favor the, currently readily available for a reasonable amount of money, Oscar Schmidt Stella Guitars. Perhaps there is a desire to be "authentic" (call it silly if you will), but I think it has more to do with sound than label.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline Mark

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2006, 03:07:46 PM »
with more on-board electronics than my car

I've seen your car John - I wouldn't have though it has any on-board electronics   ;D

Mark

Offline waxwing

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2006, 03:17:57 PM »
Hey, BION, my '71 VW Squareback actually has a computer that runs the fuel injection! So I was exaggerating about the guitars.-G-

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Orb Mellon

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2006, 08:03:14 AM »
I've always felt the 60's, with a couple of exceptions, was a relatively weak period in the world of acoustic guitars acoustic. The opposite being true for electrics. The most badass electric guitars ever produced are the product of all that drug fueled high volume counter culture.

Don't bogart that Goya Rangemaster baby ...... Oh, yeah!

Offline Stuart

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Re: Country Blues guitar prefence
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2006, 09:08:43 AM »
Orb:

I agree, but would extend that into the 70s. Consistency and quality control were problems--just ask any repair person. It isn't that Gibson and Martin didn't make some great instruments, it's just that a lot of them were not so great. The focus of management was a problem as it always ends up affecting what goes on on the shop floor.

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