Category Archives: Acoustic

LIVE 083 • Wonderful Tonight (Alternate Take)

Here is an alternate take of my fingerstyle rendition of Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Eric wrote the song about his then-wife Pattie Boyd, who had already inspired great songs from Eric and previous husband George Harrison. This song has been the theme to many a high school prom, and its simple yet tasteful melody has held up over the years. In keeping with that, my arrangement here is fairly straight forward: it doesn’t move around the neck very much or have any unusual chord voicings. Hope you enjoy it.

Recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone in Honolulu, Hawaii 4/27/15.

GEAR 513 • TC Electronic UniTune

Most of you know I have been a fan of TC Electronic’s Polytune Clip for a while now (review linked below). The Polytune Clip does really well with alternate and open-tunings on acoustic guitar; it latches on to notes quickly, has good tracking, and even does well reading the lower bass notes we sometimes tune our sixth strings to which other clip-on tuners can have trouble with. So I still love the PolyTune Clip even though I spend most of my time in open tunings and hardly ever use the PolyTune function. Recently, I learned that TC Electronic had partnered with music retailer Sweetwater to produce the Uni-Tune, which is just like the PolyTune Clip in every respect but without the PolyTune mode. (Also it is about $15 less expensive.)

As with the Polytune Clip, I found that TC Electronic’s Uni-Tune clip-on tuner latches on to notes quickly and accurately, has excellent tracking, and picks up the low 6th string bass notes well (even down as low as Bb). So if you use mostly open / altered tunings, or can otherwise live without the PolyTune function and want to save $15, you might consider the almost identical UniTune clip-on tuner from TC Electronic.

LIVE 081 • Embryonic Journey (Jorma Kaukonen / Jefferson Airplane)

From the uber psychedelically titled Surrealistic Pillow album, Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s solo fingerpicking tour de force Embryonic Journey highlights his country blues influences and provides a rootsy counterpoint to far out songs like White Rabbit.  Though I don’t listen much to the rest of the album, Embryonic Journey stayed on rotation in my car for a number of years – sometimes when I was in the mood I would listen on repeat four or five times in a row.  It seems like this song was often playing when I was cutting over from Waialae to cruise on down Kapahulu, stopping for groceries at Kokua Co-op or Down To Earth Moiliili, or hanging out at Kapi’olani Park.  Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD Light strings) and an Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina microphone.  

LIVE 066 • Brownsboro Road, Original Fingerstyle Guitar

Today’s song from the vaults, Brownsboro Rd., is one of the earlier fingerstyle songs that I wrote. The recording was made in an attic apartment with the windows open on a warm night and features the sound of crickets in the background. Brownsboro Road was the second track on a project I had called Signs Music Has Changed Your Life. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded in Louisville, KY. Mixed and mastered by Kevin Ratterman.

GEAR 511 • Taylor Nylon Series Guitars

This video gives an overview of Taylor’s nylon stringed guitars, along with some sound samples of my 414ce-NR (sorry, forgot to mention the “R” in the video, which designates the rosewood back/sides). Taylor’s nylon string guitars are not true classical guitars, but rather cross-over nylon models good for a variety of uses. A Taylor nylon guitar would be a good fit if you like the playability of steel string Taylor guitars but want the sound of nylon.
Similar to their steel string models, Taylor nylon guitars are very playable, they work well with alternate and open tunings, and they have a good pick up system (most feature the excellent ES-N pickup) which makes them adaptable for live performance. While you can play some classical pieces on these, they are probably used more for jazz, Latin, Bossa nova, folk, slack key, and anything else you might want try with a nylon flavor.
Playability, versatility, and stage readiness make these guitars great for players looking for a nylon crossover guitar, as well as steel string players looking to add a nylon sound to their palette.

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

GEAR 512 • Taylor 414ce-NR Review

This video gives an overview of my Taylor 414ce-NR (sorry, forgot to mention the “R” in the video, which designates the rosewood back/sides), along with some sound samples. Taylor makes nylon string guitars in a variety of wood combinations, but just two sizes: Grand Concert (smallest body size) and Grand Auditorium (the next size up from Grand Concert, and their most popular body style in general). Though I often prefer Grand Concert Taylors for steel string work, I chose this Grand Auditorium size model as my nylon string guitar for a couple of reasons. First, the larger GA size worked well with the rosewood back/sides to give a nice, rich bass sound. Second, I do like to use notes on the upper frets, and Taylor’s nylon Grand Auditoriums feature 14 fret necks. With the cutaway, that gives ample access to the upper frets. By comparison, the GC nylon strings are only offered in 12 fret configuration; while they usually come with a cutaway, you also lose a few of the upper frets with that design. Overall, I have found the 414ce-NR to be a practical, playable, and enjoyable way to add a nylon sound to my palette.
Note – the song featured at the beginning/end of the video is an adaptation of Leonard Kwan’s famous slack key arrangement of Silver Threads Among the Gold, which was also quoted in the intro to Country Comfort’s Waimanalo Blues, another beloved song in Hawaii.

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

GEAR 510 • Armrests on Taylor Guitars

For extended playing sessions on the guitar, especially when wearing a short sleeve shirt, you can develop a set of creases on your picking arm where it lies over the lower bout of the guitar. Taylor has alleviated this problem by offering armrests on some of its guitars at both low and high price points. Their Academy series offers armrests in a budget priced guitar, while more aesthetically refined versions can be found on some of Taylor’s higher end guitars such as their 900 series. Overall, I figured having an armrest would be an improvement, but I am really surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed it. It does make the playing experience more comfortable, especially on longer sessions.

LIVE 052 • Kona Snow

Kona Snow is another improvisatory piece recorded for my “Awake Again” project, which included a handful of songs that were connected by mostly shorter and improvisatory ‘transitions’ such as this. This song is named for the early spring blooming of the coffee trees on the slopes of Hualalai. People merrily dubbed the effect of white blossoms covering row after row of coffee trees “Kona Snow.” At the time I recorded this song, I was living next to a coffee orchard in Holualoa, Hawaii, just mauka of Kailua Kona. The setting amidst a wonderful agricultural tradition over a century old inspired me probably more than I knew at the time. 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, 6/20/09.

LIVE 051 • Hand Dancing

Hand Dancing started out as an introductory fingerpicking study I wrote for students back when I was teaching guitar full time at a music store. I kept the song in my set for a number of years, playing it on both nylon and steel string. This version was recorded as a demo for my “Awake Again” project. The wallpaper shows me with my old Taylor 310ce that I used to record this song. 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, 6/20/09.