Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

With the rest of the country, I have been grieving the death and destruction we experienced here in Boston yesterday on what was otherwise a perfect Marathon Monday. The pictures and footage of the detonations and carnage do not convey the full horror of dozens of instantaneous amputations among a cheering crowd of onlookers, well-wishers, and friends and families of the runners.

Unable to focus on work and overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall news coverage, I felt relieved yesterday afternoon when I was able to beckon my son outside to throw a baseball in the street out front. Such a simple pleasure in life, one that sadly will no longer be possible for some local families. I hope those directly affected by the blasts have family and friends to support them through such tragedy.

Later in the evening, I forced myself to spend some time cleaning and re-stringing my latest guitar acquisition. In times of what can be paralyzing grief, focusing on manual tasks helps me to go on. A newly re-strung guitar must be played and frequently re-tuned while the strings initially stretch. So I played some and re-tuned, and played some more. So too, we must process this terrible attack on our community and adjust step-by-step and resume living, enjoying the small blessings of each day. I simply pray that we can protect our children and continue to make music as we move forward, as we must.

Friday, April 12, 2013

2010 Yamaha FG-730S

Another Craigslist strategy that has served me well when I notice a guitar for sale at an inflated price is a respectful email informing the seller what the actual resale value is and expressing interest if they ever want to sell at a more realistic price. So it was that I received a text message this week from a seller who had had no luck selling his Yamaha FG-730S guitar after listing it at $300, which is the current street price new. (The MSRP is $490).

The Yamaha FG-730S features a Solid Sitka Spruce top, and Rosewood back and sides. (Yamaha has designated its solid top FG models with the "S" suffix since their introduction in 1977). Premium appointments include an attractive abalone rosette and vintage-looking yellowed-cream binding, including a bound fretboard and headstock. The headstock also sports an inlaid MOP Yamaha company name and leaf logo and die-cast chrome tuners. Online reviews overwhelmingly agree that this is one of the best options currently available new in the price range for the beginner or intermediate-level player.

The seller had received the guitar as a gift, never learned to play, and was now very motivated to sell before an impending move. We met up outside a local restaurant and I quickly confirmed that the guitar was in brand new condition. Even with its old set of strings, the guitar was easy to play with medium action and without the tinny tonal quality often found on cheaper guitars. It even came with a floor stand. Short story even shorter, I am now the happy owner of an unused 2010 Yamaha FG-730S at a steep discount to retail.  Sweet!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ovation CSD225 Celebrity Double Neck (Mark Kroos)

File the Ovation CSD225 Celebrity double neck guitar under niche market!  This production model acoustic electric guitar made between 2001 and 2005 is set up with a 12-string neck on top and six-string neck on the bottom allowing a performer to switch instruments instantaneously.  It features a Spruce top with sunburst finish, nato necks, and super slim shallow bowl back.  Note that the current model, the Ovation CSE225-8TY, now features a figured Maple top that is finished in transparent blue.

One guitarist who has made this guitar his own is Guitar Player Magazine's 2011 Guitar Superstar Competition winner Mark Kroos.  As Mark tells me, he just didn't have enough space to do what he wanted on one guitar neck, so he bought a used Ovation CSD225 guitar in 2009 and took half the strings off the top neck to be able to play two six-string necks at the same time.  The results are so impressive that he is now sponsored by Ovation.  Check him out below playing both parts of Dueling Banjos simultaneously with his distinctive tapping style!  Mind-blowing!!  If you like what you hear, check out his two albums of instrumental tracks.