Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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The Difference a Guitar Makes

December 7, 2010

I won’t give a day-by-day account of all the open mics I do in Paris, because that could get tiresome (if it hasn’t already). But the one little point I took out of last night’s playing at the Galway – I also played at the Tennessee Bar, where there was some great jamming with many musicians together – was the difference a guitar can make to a musician’s sound.

That may sound like a banality. But as I have recently been contemplating buying a new acoustic guitar, I have continually come back to the same conclusion: Since I’m not much of a guitarist, my Seagull S6 does me just fine. In fact, this fabulous guitar has been praised around the world, even once in England by a guy – a good guitarist – who said it blew away a 10,000 euro Martin signature guitar he had played a few days before. And this Seagull – minus the pick-up – costs less than 400 euros.

So back to last night. Stephen Prescott is the MC of the Galway open mic and I have always enjoyed his singing and stage persona, and I have also been intrigued by his guitar playing. I’ve liked the guitar playing, but I have always found there was something I could not understand about it, or pinpoint. That may sound weird, but last night when the battery ran out on his regular guitar – a travel guitar with no body to it – he asked if he could use my Seagull. I agreed with no problem – the guitar has been used for two years now at various open mics by people around the world, and I love that.

So then when Stephen started playing away in his usual way on MY guitar, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here, finally, I realized, was what Stephen’s guitar playing really sounds like! The Seagull gave to it, above all, the “body” it was missing with his no-body guitar. A depth, a range, a sound that was very cool indeed. It not only added a whole dimension to his music, but also made my guitar come to life in a different way than when I play it. Unfortunately, I ran out of battery life on my Zoom Q3 recorder at the same time as his guitar ran out of pick-up battery life, so I only got a small little taste of the Stephen sound on my guitar in video, and more unfortunately, the automatic level thingy toned down the guitar too much when he really got to playing it hard. But give it a listen:

P.S., it is normal that Stephen does not have a great guitar for his open mic, since it is the one that gets passed around to all takers, every Monday, many hands, if they do not have their own instrument.

P.P.S., I forgot to finish off with one of my conclusions! To see the difference with Stephen’s sound when he used a different guitar made me reconsider my relationship with my S6. On the other hand, so far I have only found Gibsons and a one or two other guitars that cost 5 to 10 times more than my Seagull that strike me as adding a little difference in sound to my guitar playing….

One Comment

  1. Hello!

    Am just trying to get in touch after the year spent on the road. Was stuck in Paris last weekend, and discovered that we have a friend in common when Jim Haynes came to the rescue with a sofa to sleep on. Anyway, here’s my email address – don’t be a stranger, and I hope to see you again before Bahrain!


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