Jun. 1st, 2012

missroserose: (Partnership)
As evidenced by the new icon, I feel like I'm hitting the next stage in the guitar-learning process. Don't get me wrong, I'm still firmly in the "raw beginner" category (and probably will be for the next year at least), but it's starting to feel more comfortable, and not just in the "my fingers hurt less" sense. I'd say that it's starting to feel more right to be playing guitar regularly, but that's not it exactly - oddly, it's felt surprisingly "right" since I started this (possibly because my mother played on and off while I grew up, so it felt more odd to go years *without* hearing guitar music regularly). It's more that I've started looking at it less as a separate instrument and more as an extension of myself - I plan things around practice time, and when I make travel plans one of the first things I look at is how I'm going to get my guitar there, too. Really, it's not unlike settling into a relationship that you've realized is going to be long-term.

I'm still incredibly pleased with Mary Jane the $100 Yard-Sale Ibanez. Especially after taking her to the music shop in Sierra Vista for an adjustment, she plays very nicely and has a surprisingly good tone. I've been doing a fair amount of research on guitars in general, and one of the things that people mention occasionally is that cheaper guitars aren't necessarily worse than more expensive ones; mostly it's the fit and finish (which you can redress by taking it to a good luthier for dressing) and consistency in quality that's lacking. Hence why, unless you're ordering a $2000 Gibson (*cough*), it's extremely important to actually play a guitar before you buy it. In any case, MJ seems to have been on the upper end of the bell curve, and I'm thankful for that.

Which doesn't mean I'm not eyeing other options for possibly trading up. Last weekend Brian and I went up to Tucson and played a whole mess of guitars; I got to hear the difference between a number of different woods as well as what an acoustic-electric sounds like when it's plugged in to an acoustic amp. (Mostly? Like a louder acoustic. I bet you never would've guessed that.) Probably the richest sound came from an $800 Takamine, with a cedar top and rosewood sides; apparently cedar gives a very warm sound and rosewood very rich deep bass (at the expense of some brightness in the treble). However, I'm not sure I'd want to go with cedar, since it's apparently a fairly soft wood that picks up dings and scratches easily. This Vineyard felt very comfortable and had that nice richness of rosewood; I was surprised when the shop owner told me it was a jumbo body, but when I compared it to my Ibanez it was absolutely bigger. I tried a Luna Butterfly, which was very pretty, but I didn't think much of the sound - maple seems to give very bright highs and almost no bass. I also tried their Dragonfly, but being spruce and mahogany, it sounded almost exactly like MJ. Certainly a nice tone, though - mahogany seems to give a very balanced sound between lows and highs.

At one point Brian tried a used Gibson that they had on sale for $1700; it was marked as a Hummingbird, but didn't have the fancy pick-guard, so it was probably from their "Hummingbird Pro" line (apparently those use slightly less cosmetically-perfect wood and don't have the painted pick guard but are supposed to be similar in every other way). It certainly sounded nice, but I avoided playing it as I didn't really want to end up deciding I wanted a $1,700 guitar. So now, of course, I've been eyeing the regular Hummingbirds, which go for rather more than that. I guess by the time I've busked enough to earn the purchase price, I'll be about ready skill-wise to play a $3,000 guitar...

Ah well. For now I'm perfectly pleased with Mary Jane, and with her there's the added bonus of not being too heartbroken if she picks up a few dings.
missroserose: (Partnership)
As evidenced by the new icon, I feel like I'm hitting the next stage in the guitar-learning process. Don't get me wrong, I'm still firmly in the "raw beginner" category (and probably will be for the next year at least), but it's starting to feel more comfortable, and not just in the "my fingers hurt less" sense. I'd say that it's starting to feel more right to be playing guitar regularly, but that's not it exactly - oddly, it's felt surprisingly "right" since I started this (possibly because my mother played on and off while I grew up, so it felt more odd to go years *without* hearing guitar music regularly). It's more that I've started looking at it less as a separate instrument and more as an extension of myself - I plan things around practice time, and when I make travel plans one of the first things I look at is how I'm going to get my guitar there, too. Really, it's not unlike settling into a relationship that you've realized is going to be long-term.

I'm still incredibly pleased with Mary Jane the $100 Yard-Sale Ibanez. Especially after taking her to the music shop in Sierra Vista for an adjustment, she plays very nicely and has a surprisingly good tone. I've been doing a fair amount of research on guitars in general, and one of the things that people mention occasionally is that cheaper guitars aren't necessarily worse than more expensive ones; mostly it's the fit and finish (which you can redress by taking it to a good luthier for dressing) and consistency in quality that's lacking. Hence why, unless you're ordering a $2000 Gibson (*cough*), it's extremely important to actually play a guitar before you buy it. In any case, MJ seems to have been on the upper end of the bell curve, and I'm thankful for that.

Which doesn't mean I'm not eyeing other options for possibly trading up. Last weekend Brian and I went up to Tucson and played a whole mess of guitars; I got to hear the difference between a number of different woods as well as what an acoustic-electric sounds like when it's plugged in to an acoustic amp. (Mostly? Like a louder acoustic. I bet you never would've guessed that.) Probably the richest sound came from an $800 Takamine, with a cedar top and rosewood sides; apparently cedar gives a very warm sound and rosewood very rich deep bass (at the expense of some brightness in the treble). However, I'm not sure I'd want to go with cedar, since it's apparently a fairly soft wood that picks up dings and scratches easily. This Vineyard felt very comfortable and had that nice richness of rosewood; I was surprised when the shop owner told me it was a jumbo body, but when I compared it to my Ibanez it was absolutely bigger. I tried a Luna Butterfly, which was very pretty, but I didn't think much of the sound - maple seems to give very bright highs and almost no bass. I also tried their Dragonfly, but being spruce and mahogany, it sounded almost exactly like MJ. Certainly a nice tone, though - mahogany seems to give a very balanced sound between lows and highs.

At one point Brian tried a used Gibson that they had on sale for $1700; it was marked as a Hummingbird, but didn't have the fancy pick-guard, so it was probably from their "Hummingbird Pro" line (apparently those use slightly less cosmetically-perfect wood and don't have the painted pick guard but are supposed to be similar in every other way). It certainly sounded nice, but I avoided playing it as I didn't really want to end up deciding I wanted a $1,700 guitar. So now, of course, I've been eyeing the regular Hummingbirds, which go for rather more than that. I guess by the time I've busked enough to earn the purchase price, I'll be about ready skill-wise to play a $3,000 guitar...

Ah well. For now I'm perfectly pleased with Mary Jane, and with her there's the added bonus of not being too heartbroken if she picks up a few dings.

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