Category Archives: Acoustic

GEAR 705 • Neumann TLM 102 Review

Here is my review of the TLM 102 large diaphragm condenser microphone from Neumann. In short, this mic is smooth and velvety throughout the frequency range with an overall balanced sound. It adds a nice body and presence to the bass, while smoothing out the highs at the same time – perfect for my Taylor 412ce, which is a bright, focused guitar. The microphone’s small size makes it easy to work with and the large sweet spot makes it easy to place. This would be a good mic for someone who wants to experiment with a lot of different mic positions, or just someone who wants an unfinicky mic that is easy to work with.

LIVE 040 • Saturday Song

One day in the fall of 2012, I sat down to record a set of improvised songs with a Taylor dreadnought acoustic guitar. I improvised five original songs and two versions of Amazing Grace. With only one or two false starts, they were mostly first takes. The set was nothing really mind altering, but it had some cool songs with good vibes – so I considered it a success. It’s not the kind of thing I do often – in fact I haven’t done the exercise since, haven’t played any of the original songs again, and don’t consider it the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. Yet somehow it stands out in my mind as a creative milestone, a memorable event. Sometimes it’s important to break out of the mold with such experiments to reach a new frame of mind, a new level. This was the third song in the set, which I dubbed “Saturday Song.”

Recorded with a Taylor 310 and a Tascam DR-40 in Louisville, Kentucky, 9/29/12.

LIVE 037 • Home Abroad – Slide Guitar

From the vaults, here is a slide guitar song I wrote called Home Abroad. I used to play a fair amount of slide guitar, but I don’t play it much anymore. I figured I’d either have to go all in on the slide or not, but couldn’t just dabble with it – so I decided to work on other areas instead. This is a fun leftover from when I dabbled with it though. 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, 3/18/09.

LIVE 036 • Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór

Here is my arrangement of Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Little Fairy, Big Fairy), reportedly the first song composed by famous 17th century bard Turlough O’Carolan. This version of the song is played a little on the slower side of what you normally hear, but I may record a slightly more uptempo version later on. I think the song works well both ways to be honest, one of the many interesting things about it. Hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, Gotoh 510 tuners, strings are Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

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Banyan (Slack Key on Nylon String Guitar)

GEAR 702 • Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Review

Here are some of my thoughts on the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina after recording with it for a couple of months. For what I do (acoustic guitar instrumentals) – the Edwina is a great mic. On steel string I think it would pair a little better with a Martin than a Taylor, however I really enjoy it on my nylon string Taylor. The mike is crisp and clear with a high end bump that has a little body (not too thin). The bass is there, but it’s not boomy and you can get up close to the mic without too much bass from proximity effect (at least on my Taylors – maybe not with other guitars). I haven’t used it live, but it has a narrow / close pattern that along with its other characteristics would probably make it suitable for live use. Other pluses include: boutique mic made in Portland Oregon, not super pricey, and last (but not least) it looks cool.

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Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Unboxing

“Banks of the Ohio,” recorded using both the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina and the Neumann TLM 102

GEAR 506 • Taylor Guitar Nut/Saddle Material

Several people have asked me lately about upgrading to a bone nut/saddle, and specifically in relation to Taylor guitars. A drop in saddle can be an easy experiment, but if you’re looking at a nut/saddle replacement and set-up, I would say first (if your action / playability are ok) to try some different makes of strings and different alloys. Next, be advised that bone saddles often make a guitar sound brighter and more clear; Taylors already sound bright and clear so adding a bone nut/saddle may be “too much.” If your guitar is 5-7 years old a Tusq nut/saddle (or Tusq/Micarta) will probably do the job. That’s just my opinion; milage may vary.

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“Banks of the Ohio,” recorded using the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina & Neumann TLM 102

Polytune Clip – clip-on tuner demo / review

GEAR 701 • Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Unboxing

While I find unboxing videos a little bit silly, I thought it would be fun to record my unboxing of the Edwina microphone I ordered from Ear Trumpet Labs. Their customer service, packaging, and presentation are part of the selling points of the company, on top of the fact that they offer quality boutique mics made in their Portland Oregon shop at reasonable prices.
In addition to its distinctive looks, the Edwina is a good sounding and useful mic that offers clarity with a slight top end boost (though not too hyped). I look forward to recording some music with it and thank the fine people at Ear Trumpet Labs who answered my questions along the way.

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“Banks of the Ohio,” recorded using both the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina and the Neumann TLM 102

LIVE 033 • Banks of the Ohio (+ Neumann TLM 102 & Ear Trumpet Edwina Comparison)

Here is my Clarence White inspired arrangement of the Bluegrass classic, “Banks of the Ohio,” played fingerstyle with a thumbpick (rather than flatpicked or cross-picked). I’ve uploaded two versions of this song: one was recorded with the Neumann TLM 102 microphone that I have been using for a while; the other features my new Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina mic. So if you’re interested in how these two mics sound, this provides a comparison. The Neumann is a little bit smoother to my ear, while the Edwina has a little more clarity with a slight top end boost (though not too hyped). Both are fine microphones and I look forward to continuing to record with them both.

Using the Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina microphone:

Using the Neumann TLM 102 microphone:

Both recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, Gotoh 510 tuners, strings are Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Fred Kelly thumbpick.

GEAR 505 • What’s in My Guitar Case?

While working on some other stuff, I thought it would be fun to shoot a video about the things I currently have in my guitar case – mostly strings / string changing tools, batteries, and picks… but maybe it’ll give you an idea or two.

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Polytune Clip: Acoustic / Fingerstyle Guitar

Using a Partial / Drop D Capo

GEAR 530 • Fishman Loudbox Artist – Overview

This video is meant to explore the features of the Fishman Loudbox Artist, a great affordable acoustic combo amp. The amp has an EQ section well tuned for acoustic guitar and some great effects as well. Features like master volume, mute button, and both “mix” and individual channel direct outs make it a practical companion for gigs both large and small. This amp is a great choice for acoustic guitar players (and players of other instruments) doing fingerstyle, jazz, blues, or any type of singer-songwriter stuff.

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Slack Key Improv on a Taylor 414ce-NR through a Fishman Loudbox Artist

Taylor Guitar through a Fishman Loudbox Artist