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Does anybody actually notice? (guitars)

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Pete Jennings 02 Nov 04 - 09:37 AM
Ebbie 02 Nov 04 - 11:07 AM
frogprince 02 Nov 04 - 12:59 PM
Strollin' Johnny 02 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM
MMario 02 Nov 04 - 01:04 PM
PoppaGator 02 Nov 04 - 01:05 PM
Sorcha 02 Nov 04 - 01:15 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM
treewind 02 Nov 04 - 01:48 PM
Spot 02 Nov 04 - 02:07 PM
breezy 02 Nov 04 - 02:26 PM
Once Famous 02 Nov 04 - 02:49 PM
Roger in Baltimore 02 Nov 04 - 03:13 PM
PoppaGator 02 Nov 04 - 03:18 PM
greg stephens 02 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM
Amos 02 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM
Dead Horse 02 Nov 04 - 04:09 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 04 - 04:13 PM
jimmyt 02 Nov 04 - 06:21 PM
Cluin 02 Nov 04 - 06:28 PM
greg stephens 02 Nov 04 - 06:29 PM
freightdawg 02 Nov 04 - 06:49 PM
Cluin 02 Nov 04 - 06:56 PM
Micca 02 Nov 04 - 07:39 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM
muppitz 03 Nov 04 - 07:33 AM
Pete Jennings 03 Nov 04 - 07:37 AM
jonm 03 Nov 04 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Joe 03 Nov 04 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Cluin @ girlfriend's 03 Nov 04 - 06:46 PM
Gurney 04 Nov 04 - 02:08 AM
fiddler 04 Nov 04 - 03:55 AM
GUEST 04 Nov 04 - 08:10 AM
Willie-O 04 Nov 04 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,DrWord 09 Sep 12 - 11:31 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Sep 12 - 03:00 AM
Ebbie 10 Sep 12 - 11:46 AM
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Subject: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 09:37 AM

Vis a vis Seamus winding up Alaska Mike about his Martin, how many people actually notice about what guitar people play in a plugged-in environment? Okay, the guitarists are bound to be interested and if it's a really crappy guitar, out of tune, etc, then I guess most people will notice. But if it's a decent box, in-tune, going through a decent sound system how many non-guitarists actually care what it is?

I remember telling Roger Pitt, (chairman of St. Neots FC and fine melodian player and singer), that I'd got a new guitar. Next club night I took along an old one and he intro'd me as "Pete, with his new guitar"!!

Pete


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 11:07 AM

I can only proffer this:

I was visiting Washington State and my brother took me to an open mike at a grange.

At one pointk four people with four guitars did their stint on stage. The guitars sounded wonderful and I told my brother, At least two of those guitars must be Martins.

Waylaid them on their way past me- all four of the guitars were Martin.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: frogprince
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 12:59 PM

I suspect I would represent one good sized segment of the audience; I'm a total sucker for anyone who plays guitar at all well, and have nothing at all like Ebbies ear for subtleties in instrument voice or quality. I do love to see visual stuff like Grit Laskins decorative work, too.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:02 PM

I notice what guitar I play, and that's what matters to me. Don't care what other people play, it's their choice. One man's meat etc.........??


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: MMario
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:04 PM

I don't care one way or the other what make the guitar is - I do care about the sound. And it's the sound that counts - - -


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:05 PM

I'm pretty sure that non-players rarely take note of the name on an instrument, and if they notice anything striking about the sound (good or bad), they're more likely to chalk it up to the player's talent, not to the quality of the intrument.

What they *will* notice is anything remarkable about the guitar's appearance -- quirky off-center soundholes, extra mother-of-pearl, fancy pickguards like on Gibson Doves and Hummingbirds, etc.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:15 PM

Well, I don't play guitar but I do notice which make they are because I know the good ones from the cheap ones. I am an instumentalist so I can often hear the differences.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:28 PM

Good question. I notice the person playing the guitar. The make doesn't make that much difference. I had a good friend, Luke Faust, who could make the cheapest plywood guitar or mandolin sing in a way that tohers could never approach, playing a Martin or Gibson. It's like guitar players I've known who work out the most intricate and demanding arrangements of a song and never manage to get the "feel" of it.

As a generality, some people seem to prefer Martins because they have a brighter treble sound. It used to be that Gibsons were preferred by people who wanted a more full-bodied sound. Now, I don't even know where Gibsons are made any more... maybe in Korea, as far as I know.

When people ask me what model my guitar is, I have no idea. Or interest.

Different strokes for different folks.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: treewind
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:48 PM

I've noticed that Martins have a brighter sound, but then I've worked with Chris Amos who has a Martin so had plenty of time to listen to the difference. The rest of the time I am totally unable to distinguish one guitar from another, and often I don't really know a good player from a bad one.

I can tell the difference (by looking) between a Crane and a MacCann duet concertina, though, and I could probably identify several brands of melodeon just by listening :-)

I do agree that the quality of the playing is the important thing. Half the difference with instruments is what they feel like to the player. When Chris first got his Martin, his first comment to me was "it plays itself!". As a player that's often what you notice first, not necessarily the sound.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Spot
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 02:07 PM

'Allo all...
               Its the first thing I look for...the make, that is!! Personally, I cant understand this affectation with Gibsons and Martins....in 40 yrs of fingerpicking , I never played one of either that I liked!!! (ok...its my opinion!!)I'd prefer to listen to a good player on a mediocre guitar............I know you're a Martinite, Pete,but I dont care!!!:-)

               Regards to all....Spot


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: breezy
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 02:26 PM

anyone whose been around a banjo for too long will think any guitar sounds good;-) cudnt resist that Ana

Its the sound

Its the set up that easies playabilty.

The dread set the standard for balanced tone plus playability which even my non-playing son (19 yrs then) commented upon when saying 'Isnt it easy to play?' as he fingered a couple of chords.

The more models you play then the more you will hear the difference.

I've had many favourable comments on my Brook Tamar and some have gone out and bought one on the strength of it.

I regret to say that Martins are nowadays struggling to stay in the game.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Once Famous
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 02:49 PM

There has been a discussion off and on for quite a while about what makes "tone" the insrument or the player.

My opinion is that a player makes his own guitar's "voice" by his style, "attack", left hand intonations, etc. However that "voice" can truly vary by the quality of the instrument just as a human voice can vary by the quality of a microphone.

So, yes, I always judge a musicians's choice as to how his guitar's "voice" is heard by the quality of his instrument. You better believe I am looking at the headstock.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:13 PM

I am a Martin owner, and I believe that there is a difference in sound between guitars. The difference that quality makes is minimized when "plugged in". The sound person can adjust for the balance of tone and other qualities to make a guitar sound "better" than it does acoustically. It is more difficult to adjust for a really bad guitar.

It may be that the pickups used in plugging in make more of a difference then the guitar when the guitars are of equal quality. I have a distinct dislike for Ovation guitars because of their pickups and the "quack" one often hears when they are played.

However, a Takamine can sound awfully good plugged in. Many players save their "good" guitar for recording and take a good sounding but less expensive guitar on the road. Most of the audience won't know the difference.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:18 PM

A skillful player can "coax" some good sounds out of a mediocre instrument, but will sound even better given a quality instrument. On the other hand, a not-so-good player will fail to take advantage of *any* instrument's potential -- but will still probably sound a bit better using a fine instrument than a hunk of plywood.

The original question is still open, though -- do non-players take note of an instrument's namplate? One insight that popped up here was something I hadn't previously considered: musicians who play some instrument *other* than the guitar may not be any more likely than non-musicians to observe, or much care about, the brand name on the performer's headstock.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM

Everybody notices my guitar. The crack on the front is held together with gaffer tape(or duct tape, as I believe they say in America).It's been like that for ten years, I'll get round to fixing it soon.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM

I love this thread, because everybody is right. A lot depends on the kind of music your playing, and whether you are using the guitar primarily as accompaniment, or instrumentally. My friend Luke, who could make a packing crate sound good was able to do that because we were trying to sound like the old 78's re-issued on the Anthology Of American Folk Music. We had poor fidelity built-in to our sound.. Luke's guitar would have been terrible if he was doing bluegrass, and even he couldn't have salvaged it. Blues guitarists have favored Gibsons more than Martins over the years, but even there it depends to some extent what kind of blues you're playing. Mance Lipscomb recorded on a Harmony guitar for some of his stuff, and it had a nice, funky sound to it. I personally think he would have lost something playing a Martin, even though the guitar was much better.

When I played duets on guitar with Luke, he'd play nylon string (anethema for all but 60's girl folkies and Gordon Bok :-)) and I'd play steel string, and the resulting sound was different (and much better to our ears) than if we both used steel string guitars.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Amos
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:57 PM

My Martin sounds head and shoulders better than most othe rguitars I hear or try in shops.

But that is all acoustic. Amplified, the distinctions get lost quickly.

A


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 04:09 PM

Hey Greg, I noticed the gaffer tape, but thought it was there just to be handy in case you broke a string :-)


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 04:13 PM

Hey Jerry! Gibsons are made in Bozeman, Montana as far as I know.

I agree with those who have been saying that any guitar that sounds good and is played well is a good guitar. I have a Gibson now but played a Yamaha F200 for about twenty-five years. Before that I had three different models and ages of Gibsons. I learned on my uncle's Gibson L-5 and would have had a Martin when I bought my own guitar but for the fact that I was able to buy a Gibson J-45 (very used) for $25 and a William C. Stahl banjo for $50 and couldn't afford the Martin D-28 (for $50 too!) (This was back in 1959, William C. Stahl's widow was selling off all his instruments, tools and parts, he was a well known violin maker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

I liked the Yamaha's tone but the finger board was narrower than the gibson I had learned on and I never could get used to it.

The Yamaha cost $100.

CB


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: jimmyt
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:21 PM

Recently while travelling to Venice, I heard an amazing acoustic guitar sound coming from around a corner on one of the little winding streets.the guy was playing a Bach invention on guitar and it was real technique heavy and the sound was beautiful. As I approached him it was a very cheap "piece of crap" instrument. Another time I heard another street group of jazz guys and I thought the upright bass player was phenominal. When I got to where I could see him the bass had 2 big holes in it a cat could have run through and he only had 3 strings! I tend to agree with Jerry on this one!

I do seem to always look at what people play but only for the interest.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Cluin
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:28 PM

I notice. But then I have a legitimate obsession.

"Hello. My name is ________ and I am a guitarophile."


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:29 PM

I've played more than a thousand gigs on the old Yamaha. It does just fine. It'll be going strong when I'm not.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: freightdawg
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:49 PM

Okay follow-up question guys and gals....

For those of you who look at headstocks and can tell the difference between a Martin and a Takamine and a Yamaha et, al., could you tell the same difference if you were blindfolded and six different musicians played (rotated their playing, that is) on six different makes of guitars?

It seems to me there was a thread a long time ago about a sound test that a group of classical musicians collaborated on. We all know what our guitar sounds like from the position of being over it. Well, they wanted to know if they could identify their guitar if someone else were playing it. They tried the experiment at different distances, with different players, etc. If my memory serves me right (and that is a BIG if) it seems like inside a certain distance they were pretty good at picking out their guitar, but beyond a certain foot range all the guitars sounded remarkably alike. Now, I know they were all probably playing $10,000 guitars, so the analogy may be skewed. But I am wondering if most guitars are made of the same basic wood types how they could be so readily identified just because they come out of a different shop. If a Martin has a spruce top and mahogany back and sides, would it be all that different from a Takemine with the exact same wood types? Could you identify my custom made with the exact same wood types?

No challenges here, I am just really curious. I know my custom made sounds significantly different than my Yamaha. But one costs $2,500 and the other was $500. They SHOULD sound different!! I was just curious if anyone has done a "blind" sound test, and what were the results.

Curiouser and curiouser,

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Cluin
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:56 PM

I honestly don't know. I'd love to get in a room with several makes of quality guitars and try it out.

But I do know that nothing sounds quite like a Gibson. Not saying that they are the best guitar or anything. They just sound like Gibsons.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Micca
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 07:39 PM

Forgive me putting my "non Player" foot into this but when I worked for a Unversity that had Instrument making courses (including Guitars, both Acoustic, classical and electric) it was a settled policy of the Music Technology department to invite , and pay for, Professional Guitarists and other instrumentalists to come in at the end of the examinations in the Final year and Play the instruments of the Graduating students,in that way the students got a chance to hear how their instruments Really sounded and also to get a good comparison between instruments. Sometimes the differences were VERY large, and somtimes negligible, but it was amazing what a professional could coax out of an "indifferent"(on the test bench) sounding instrument .
One year the had a distinguished professional Harpsichordist to play 3 New , student built, instruments,mostly Bach and Scarlatti and when the recital ended and there were just a few Technicians left clearing up he started playing Jerry Lee Lewis's " Great balls of Fire" on a 2 bank harpsichord!!! and It sounded like it had been written for it!!!


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 09:17 PM

Interesting point about not being able to hear what your guitar sounds like if you were in front of it. We all spend our lives singing and playing music that is flying away from us at the speed of sound. Monitors help, but you're only hearing an electronic approximation of what you would hear if the instrument was acoustic and you were standing in front of it. That's why I enjoy listening to someone else play my instruments.

It's the only time I really get to hear them.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: muppitz
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 07:33 AM

My Mum, as a non-guitarist, says my Tanglewood sounds better than my Yamaha.

What she said initially was, "Your guitar sounds better tonight, what have you done to it?"

Some people do notice, but I don't know if it's just because she's my Mum that she listens closer!

muppitz x


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 07:37 AM

Spot is right, I'm a Martinite, but I also have a Tak which plays well and has a great pickup system with a digital pre-amp.

I played my OM35 (with Highlander pickup) at a local place a couple of months ago and during the intro to the second song, the guy on the mixer adjusted something and made it sound absolutely awful.

I'm going to take the Tak out soon and see if I get any (negative?) reaction to not having a Martin with me. Bet I don't.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: jonm
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 08:28 AM

I notice. I am also a card-carrying guitarophile. I do recognise that the player is a more significant element to the tone than the instrument, but I'm still willing to talk luthiery, tonewoods, makes and shapes with anyone.

Has anyone else noticed the "lead guitarist syndrome" which sometimes creeps in? If you play something well in a session, some flash guitarists will immediately enquire about the guitar. The implied message is "I could play like that if I had your instrument."

Probably true in my case, even with a cheapo guitar, though.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 12:28 PM

Yes, I did the "blind" sound test "freightdog" - on a Martin and a Simon & Patrick (at half the price) - difference very slight - but for the $600 price differential.

Yes - folks notice, all the time. They know that "you get what you pay for" doesn't necessarily apply to guitar procurement.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: GUEST,Cluin @ girlfriend's
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 06:46 PM

Some guitars sound better with different strings too, IMO. You've got bronzes, brasses, phosphors, sink & steels, coated strings, etc. You should try `em all and see which sound you prefer on each machine. Best if you do it infront of a flat wall so you can get the sound reflected back to you, but you also have to like the sound you hear when you don't get the reflection too, since that's how you'll most often hear it.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Gurney
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 02:08 AM

On the thread, I think most non-players don't really notice the guitar because they are listening to the words. They might notice something odd, like a resonater or a really ornate 'country' guitar, but only an enthusiast would detect that finger-style number followed by a flatpicked one are actually played on the same guitar, especially when a group is passing instruments around.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: fiddler
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 03:55 AM

Well for my two penneth (or 50 cents) I think there is a difference but a lot of it is if a musician has an instrument they are happy with and pleased to be playing they play better!

having said that I have a humble Ovation and wouldn't change it unless it was for a nother Ovation!

Andy


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 08:10 AM

What about the guitarists who make their own instruments? Brian May made (makes?)his own guitars, including winding his own pickups. Not being a player myself, I'm not qualified to make an observation whether his guitar playing sounds as GREAT as it does because of his instruments, his talent, or both. All I know is, he's one of the best who has ever walked on the planet, in my book anyway.

S


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice?
From: Willie-O
Date: 04 Nov 04 - 08:42 AM

Greg didn't give you the punchline...he has claimed he doesn't want to fix his guitar properly (new gaffer tape?) because he doesn't actually own it and the rightful owner might ask for it back...

...and Greg claims not to be Scottish!

W-O


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice? (guitars)
From: GUEST,DrWord
Date: 09 Sep 12 - 11:31 PM

yeah, i notice. also every mudcat thread with guitar included.
thanks, all, for the sharings. Better than a flat wall is a parabola--i have an old satellite dish that works well, and I remember a luthier at Winnipeg Folk Festival's Handmade Village had a hardwood "reflector" that was sorta parabolic ~ worked well in that open-air venue, I thought. And I really love hearing good guitarists play my guitar!
    thanks again 4 the thread, Pete. Keep on pickin', 'catters.

peace

dennis


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice? (guitars)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Sep 12 - 03:00 AM

I'm sure they do. I've had listeners ask me what makes my Mugen THE 78 sound like that (aftermarket Headway in it) and sound men say "I remember that" about my THE 78 12. It surely is unlikely to be my playing although something (I don't know what) about the way I hit the strings makes my chords sound more bass-heavy than most.


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Subject: RE: Does anybody actually notice? (guitars)
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Sep 12 - 11:46 AM

I was somewhat taken aback the other night when a player put his *small* Martin on my lap when he went out to have a smoke. This is a guitar that his older brother had had and my friend fished it out from under his bed.

I picked it for a bit (didn't strum) and couldn't make it sound right. It sounded tinny and timid to me- and yet it sounds great when he plays it.

Why is that? He is primarily a singer and the guitar backs him up superbly.

It wasn't just my perception either. After my friend returned and I picked up my own D35 again, another friend in the circle smiled at me. Sounds different, doesn't it, she said.


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Mudcat time: 19 October 8:00 AM EDT

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