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A Pickup On My OM-18V”¦


“¦ was installed at the same time as the aforementioned nut job, above. So far, and after only a quick audition in the store, it is all I expected it to be: like an acoustic guitar with a pick-up on it.

Let me be clear: the sound of an acoustic guitar with a pick-up, of whatever flavour, is not something I expect ever to quicken the pulse. I have not heard any that hasn’t imparted a certain”¦ ah”¦. grittiness to the sound. Anyway, “loud acoustic guitars” is almost a contradictio in adjecto – it’s not their natural state. Even when carefully mic’d they sound unrealistic if even just because they are loud. Still, it’s a means to an end (to allow me to play place where there is much “ambience”) without having to haul another mic and a PA (been there – done that). So it’s a wee compact acoustic amp which will take a mic for the voice that will do for me.

For the time being, I can pop along to open mics where the rock guys play and plug in and get it all “under my fingers”. Then I’ll need to buy one of them compact acoustic amplifier thingies. Oh, and a mic – and stand. Not forgetting I also need to figure out which EQ and compressor is good to get for this application. On the other hand, I’ve got an old Lexicon reverb unit which will serve for songs written specially for the Taj Mahal, or when I’m playing in a carpet factory. So, I’m almost set. Ready to rock’n roll. As they say. Yup.

The pick-up in question is a K&K Pure Western Mini. And In case you’re wondering: no, I’m not going to be putting any pick-up on my OM-28V. Waverly tuners? You bet!

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Why just guitar and voice?


From time to time I receive advice or comments from other musicians that this or that song of mine would suit an ensemble arrangement of some kind; a bass here, some percussion there, perhaps a fiddle or a wind instrument”¦

I’ve no doubt that much may be done to provide some ear candy over some of my songs; solo guitar and voice is hardly mainstream mass consumption and the buying public continues to expect a pretty full arrangement and production. A full CD of acoustic guitar and vocal might make them feel short-changed or unsatisfied, somehow – or they might find it just plain boring.

Well, I have considered it and have even played around with recording a bass guitar and hand percussion on some of my songs a few years ago. And in the dark days of the early ’80s two of the songs on I Can See Dover were actually given the full band treatment – raunchy electric guitars, and all. These two were actually recorded as demos and only ended up on Dover when they failed to attract any interest from record companies. I have done another couple of demos with backing singers, a fiddle, and a bass guitar (Red John, The Spaniard and Pandora) but they exist now only on my hard drive as curiosities and will not be published.

But that’s the extent of it. And I do have a reason for keeping it all solo these days despite the commercial disadvantages, namely, my playing style is fairly full insofar as there are many notes per bar! This is particularly true in my up-tempo songs and I have even coined the term “gatling-gun” to describe it for promotional purposes. I think I may have developed this style to compensate for perceived gaps that otherwise would be filled out by playing in an ensemble. Other instruments now would just make it all sound congested and messy in these cases.

Also, it’s also a lot less work being solo. Heh!

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Mixing it


Getting to grips with some new titles is always interesting for its own sake – but it also refreshes the ears if they’ve been only fed a diet of familiar sounds and songs thereby slowly losing critical acumen. At another level, there’s the odd effect caused by continuously recording and mixing solo acoustic guitar and vocal. That kind of presents my ears with a pretty constant sonic palette and while that’s great for becoming sensitive and attuned to subtle nuances, it does become make me feel satiated with that sound world and in need of some contrast.

An easy short term fix is just to slip in a CD in the hi-fi for some sonic wash and rinse, but from time to time a real break is needed; some distance between the recording (say) and the mixing and the “auditioning”. It’s at this time I’ll explore swing jazz or immerse myself in some Sibelius or Mahler, or get out some maps and plan some days in the hills. I may even take a look at the TV but I always end up staring at twenty-four hour news channels or endlessly scrolling the schedules. Occasionally, a favourite movie DVD will get spin…

But not too long and I’m back in the chair again, mulling over that soundworld and trying to hear it with someone else’s ears. Just a guy with a guitar: who’d have thought it would be so involved?