Acoustic guitars are the foundation for what I do. I have too many, but there’s something so magical about the good ones that they really are a source of inspiration. I used a bunch of different ones on this album, not always through a long thought process, but often because I used whatever was either A. on the stand next to me, or B. was in tune, or C. had newish strings. Here’s a rundown (from memory, which is not complete) of what was used on what. I, in no way, maintain that you can really tell the difference in the fairly dense arrangements on these tunes, but it’s fun to go back and figure out what was what.
September 7th: 1934 Martin 000-18 (long scale)
A Crab of Many Shells: 1935 Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe, 1932 Gibson L-0 (Nashville tuning)
The Light There: 1929 Martin 0-18
Early Dark (Springtime Remix): 1943 Gibson LG-2
Momentary: 000-18, 1937 Gibson J-35
The Window: J-35
Early Dark: LG-2
Churrito: 1917 Gibson H-2 mandola
It’s Like This, It’s Like That: J-35
As much as a love acoustic guitars, I can’t do without electric guitars. There’s something so satisfying about playing a good electric through a good amp loud – there’s really nothing else like it. So, I’ve collected a bunch of them over the years, most not really valuable, but each making one interesting sound or another.
On Unsung, I used several quite a lot. First, a ’55 Les Paul goldtop (renecked and refinished, the only way I could afford one, but all else original) that, once I had it set up properly – adding a Bigsby made a huge difference – completely changed the way I played. I’m very late to the party on Les Pauls, but I understand now. Second is a ’60 Telecaster with a blackguard-era flat-pole bridge pickup. Third is a ’55 Gretsch Duo-Jet, which my good friend and extraordinary guitarist Steven Ulrich turned me on to. The Dynasonic pickups are just magic, they have a sound like no other. You can hear it well on Churrito. Finally, my white ’65 SG Junior – just about the best electric guitar I’ve ever played. All of these guitars have single-coil pickups – there’s something very immediate about them.
Last but not least, steel guitars. I played a lot of slide earlier in life, and bought a pedal steel once, which proved to be beyond my capabilities – my mind just doesn’t work well enough to master that king of instruments. But I bought a lap steel for cheap off eBay, and I was hooked. Brona encouraged me to play steel more after neglecting it for a few years, and I was lucky enough to find one of the walnut-bodied double-8-string Fender Dual Pro’s from the early ‘50’s, with the trapezoid-shaped pickups. This guitar makes me feel like a genius. It’s also heavy as hell, and a nightmare to carry around, so I was looking for a single-neck version to play live with Brona, and I found one – they’re called the Deluxe. I had just gotten this guitar when I sat down, luckily with Pro Tools open, hit record, and All Other Routes was the result, recorded through the DI in the ULN-8. The smaller (and lighter) body has some effect on the sound, but still, it’s special.