All posts by Nick

LIVE 090 • Moonglow (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of Moonglow, a song I wrote years ago while sitting outside under a full moon. I’ve played it on and off for years, most always on steel string guitar. More recently I tried it on nylon and found it worked quite well – perhaps even better. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 414ce-NR (Rosewood/Spruce grand auditorium nylon string) and an Ear Trumpet Labs “Edwina” microphone.

LIVE 067 • Waimea Ride (Slack Key Improvisation)

Today’s song from the vaults, “Waimea Ride,” is a slack key improvisation that blossoms from a familiar type of descending figure.  Though often used as part of a turnaround, this type of walk down has also been featured as a melodic device in a number of songs, most notably Leonard Kwan’s classic signature tune Opihi Moe Moe.   I also recall Ozzie Kotani using it in some of his songs.  Anyway, I thought the descending figure and overall pace of this improv might evoke the picture of a Paniolo riding downslope on horseback, ergo the title.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM 141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 1/11/08.

GEAR 516 • Koa as a Tonewood

Today we explore the use of Hawaiian koa as a tonewood, also discussing the wood’s origins in mauka forests in Hawai’i, its historical uses in native Hawaiian culture to modern day usage, and forestry stewardship.  Koa is a bright, relatively dry tonewood with punchy low-mids; clear, sparkly highs; and sweet chiming overtones.  Not only is koa a good sounding wood with a strong heritage, but it is also a beautiful wood that can exhibit stunning figuring.  Koa guitars are excellent for jazz, folk and rootsy fingerstyle, and slack key among other applications.

Recorded with a Taylor K22ce (solid koa grand concert with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

GEAR 515 • Taylor Koa Series Guitars (feat Taylor K22ce)

This video provides an overview on Taylor’s Koa Series guitars, featuring a Taylor K22ce with solid koa top, back, & sides.  Though Taylor uses koa on various models throughout its line, the Koa Series is Taylor’s dedicated koa line and features solid koa back & sides on all models in the series.  In recent years, Taylor has moved to a more organic look with solid wood appointments and earthy edge burst finishes.  The guitars are bright, but in a good way – the note separation is great for complex chords, making it a good fit for jazz; the punchy low-mids are good for folk and rootsy fingerstyle; and the sweet overtones make the guitar perfect for slack key among other applications.   

Recorded with a Taylor K22ce (solid koa grand concert with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 068 • Louisville Rag

Here is a demo from the vaults of a song called “Louisville Rag” that I recorded a few years back. The idea behind the tune was to write an uptempo instrumental with a similar feel to the Nashville Skyline Rag from the eponymous Bob Dylan album. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 310 in Louisville, Ky 9/28/12.

LIVE 087 • Mino’aka – Keola Beamer

Mino’aka (Smile) is a short, sweet song from slack key master Keola Beamer’s Soliloquy album. Soliloquy is one of my favorite Dancing Cat era albums from Keola and a highly recommended listen. Keola’s book is one of the first I picked up when I really delved into the slack key style years ago, and this was one of my favorite songs featured in the book. In fact, I also recommend Keola’s book for beginner to intermediate fingerstyle players who are looking to learn some slack key. Although the version I recorded here is at a slightly faster tempo, I hope it still captures the original’s relaxed feel. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

LIVE 086 • Silver Threads – Slack Key Improv

Here is an improvisation I did based on Leonard Kwan’s famous slack key arrangement of “Silver Threads Among the Gold.” This classic tune is a popular piece in the slack key repertoire and often one of the first things people learn when exploring Drop C tuning. Most listeners of modern day Hawaii radio will recognize Silver Threads as the slack key passage quoted in the intro to Country Comfort’s Waimanalo Blues, a beloved song in the islands in its own right. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

GEAR 514 • Taylor 912ce Review and Demo

The Taylor 912ce is an easy to play guitar with a balanced eq that is ideal for fingerstyle or light strumming. The Grand Concert body gives it a balanced EQ, the advanced performance bracing and vibrant top give it a clear, articulate speaking voice, and the higher grade rosewood back and sides add complexity and richness to both single notes and chords. Gotoh 510 tuners offer greater accuracy and tuning stability – a welcome upgrade to those who use a lot of open or alternate tunings. With the addition of a beveled armrest, the compact guitar is the perfect companion for hours of comfortable play.
Of course, people often notice the cosmetics of the 900 series first, mainly the upgraded inlay work on the headstock, fretboard, and in the rosette & soundboard trim. Yet the inlay work is more subdued than previous incarnations of the 900 series and the upgrades are more tasteful than showy. The guitar does indeed look great, but more importantly it plays and sounds even better. In short, if you’re looking for a small-bodied guitar with upgraded features, the 912ce is a great choice.

Sound demos recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and an Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.