Monday, December 23, 2013

Major Score

Earlier this year, Taylor Guitars announced it's Spring Limited Editions to the world.  One of which included an 600 series made of African Ebony.   We were excited about them and we ordered one.  As it turned out, however, an African Ebony limited edition turned out to not be in the cards for us at Portland Music Company.  Unfortunately (or fortunately as we see it) the number of wood sets that were expected to be yielded for this edition came up about 100 sets.   We were called and informed of this and then given a choice.....we could either cancel our order or have one built using Macassar Ebony instead....and get the SAME price!  Now if you've ever spec'd out a Taylor Build to Order (aka BTO) guitar, you might know that Macassar Ebony carries a pretty hefty upcharge.  We didn't even have to think twice about it.  It was a no-brainer.....Our limited was going to be made of Macassar.

When this guitar arrived many months later (far past the Spring, in fact) we immediately knew that this guitar had been worth the wait.  Our first impression, upon gazing at this treasure, was how incredible it looks.  Taylor did a great job of highlighting the natural beauty of the wood.

 Macassar Ebony Back

The ebony is strikingly rich in its coloring, alternating between reddish brown and dark chocolate brown stripes. The simple yet elegant inlays and binding of Koa and Ivoroid perfectly enhance it's beauty. 

 Engraved Koa Ovals w/Progressive Arrowhead-like Ivoroid Triangles
The Koa and Ivoroid theme is continued for the trim, binding and in the rosette. The gold Gotoh 510 tuners add the perfect finishing touch of class to this instrument.

European Spruce top w/Koa Rosette and Ivoroid Binding

The Gold Gotoh Tuners add a nice finishing touch

Sonically, this guitar is very special.  The rich low end of Macassar combined with the European Spruce top and Adirondack braces is something to behold.  European spruce loves a good strong attack and can completely handle it as it has plenty of headroom.  When paired with Macassar ebony, the results are a guitar with notes that are thick and saturated.

 European Spruce top

Played softly, this is a mellow, sweet sounding guitar that would be a wonderful match for someone who plays full fingerstyle.  This particular instrument also shines with a slow flat picking style which produces a rich, lush tone with a surprisingly good clarity.  This guitar is like a glass of really good wine.  You sip it and watch the legs slowly slide back down your glass.  It's savory, it's rich and it pairs well with chocolate....cause really, who doesn't love chocolate?

 Box of Chocolates

If you'd like to know more about this guitar, give us a call at 503-228-8437 or, better yet, come down to 2502 NE Broadway in Portland and ask one of us for a test drive of this beautiful instrument.

Photo's and text by Carrie Warlaumont

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blown Away....our pick of the week.

Many of you may not realize that we are more than an acoustic guitar shop. In fact, Portland Music Company began it's life in 1927 as The Saxophone Shop. The original owner, Bob Christiansen was himself, an amazing saxophonist who could sit in with any band around.

 Bob Christiansen and his Saxophone

Fast forward some 86 years and we could probably call ourselves "The Acoustic Cellar". However, we haven't forgotten our roots and are still committed to providing a fine selection of Brass and Woodwind instruments. In this day and age, with the plethora of no name, cheap instruments that have flooded the marketplace, this has become quite a challenge. We are constantly on the look out for instruments that we can provide at a reasonable price, but that we can also stand behind as there is nothing more frustrating than finding out that your pretty new instrument will never play in tune.

On that note, we are excited to present to you.....our pick of the week....

The P. Mauriat PMXT-66RDK Tenor Saxophone.

 P. Mauriat PMXT-66RDK

This is a handcrafted saxophone with drawn and rolled tone holes that are created in a way that is truly unique to P. Mauriat as they use no soldering. The result is a beautifully resonant horn that has an incredible response across it's full range.

Rolled tone holes 

This horn also features a large, elegantly engraved bell, over-sized nickel-silver keys, richly colored abalone key touches and a gorgeous dark lacquer finish.  The fit and finish on this saxophone are fantastic. It has both a metal thumb hook and thumb rest adding to it's sturdy feel in your hands.

 Large bell with a peek at the engraving

Beautiful Abalone key touches

Now....for the sound.

This baby blows!   And, when I say it blows, I mean it in all the good ways.

It's a very free-blowing horn that is amazingly rich and warm in it's tone. The enlarged bell just seems to add to it's fatness. It's extremely responsive and can go from a smooth, sultry sound to the thick, luscious tones that are reminiscent of a vintage horn.

What else can we say? Some horns just have that extra special something and this is one that definitely qualifies.

If you'd like to know more about this horn, give us a call at 503-228-8437 or, better yet, come down to 2502 NE Broadway in Portland and ask one of us for a test drive of this outstanding instrument.

Don't forget to bring your mouthpiece and reed!

Photo's and text by Carrie Warlaumont (Except for vintage photo of Bob Christiansen. Photographer unknown) .

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Guild Orpheum: Part Deux

You may remember our earlier review of the prototype that first introduced us to this fine instrument.  Well, here it is folks.....the real deal.....

Introducing the Guild Orpheum 12 Fret Slope Shoulder. 

The Guild Custom Shop presents to us this beautifully crafted and rich-sounding Orpheum  "Slope 12" dreadnought acoustic. Built in the U.S.A. by the Guild Custom Shop, the Orpheum series models are designed to remind us of 1930s-era golden age of U.S. acoustic guitar design and construction.  Well done we say!

 First the features and amenities:  Adirondack red spruce top with scalloped red spruce bracing.

Look at this beauty!

Solid mahogany back and sides.  Traditional hot hide-glue construction.   Soft "V" neck profile, 20-fret ebony fingerboard with pearl-dot inlays with a 12" radius.  24 3/4 inch scale length.  Bone nut, elegant cream body binding, and  nitrocellulose lacquer neck finish.

 Orpheum Back

Other features include a tortoiseshell pickguard, pyramid-style ebony bridge with bone saddle and pins, Guild-logo Gotoh SE-700 open-back tuners with Guild engraved cream ivoroid buttons. Included is a handsome deluxe hard-shell case. The finishes available are Natural and Sunburst nitrocellulose lacquer.

 Guild Logo Gotoh Tuners

Now for the fun part.  Actually getting to play, listen and behold this fantastic guitar.

Right of the bat we were struck by the finish and overall styling of the Orpheium.  Seriously, just look at it!  From the fancy headstock, tobacco burst finish, down to the very unique binding and purfling, this guitar is an absolute stunner.

Orpheum Headstock

Sky blue is integrated into both the binding and purfling adding just enough of a "cooling" element to the otherwise dominant warm black and brown tones.  Understated and elegant, this addition of sky blue serves up a perfect counterpoint.

                   Back strip detail                                                                Rosette

Upon picking it up we were immediately struck by its light weight and thought perhaps we were in for something very special.  Indeed we were!  Holding it was far more comfortable than most guitars this size and its balance was obviously spot on.  No doubt, the neck joining the body at the 12th fret and the 24 3/4" scale length has much to do with its overall incredible bass response but we weren't counting on the volume!  This thing is a cannon.  Playing any open chord with a flat pick produces an experience unrivaled in recent memory.  The notes are clear, articulate, and endlessly musical.  The punch is tight and immediate and the mid range tone is outstanding.  This guitar has such immense vibration that it practically jumps off of your lap! 

Finger picking the Orpheum is an absolute pleasure.  The dynamics available to the player are many and varied.  Because of its incredible volume and tone, lightly finger picking the Orpheum produces a more than an intimate moment.  Digging in a bit reveals its full potential as an instrument capable of sounding incredible in any dynamic range.

The fretboard, with its 12" radius, is most comfortable and its 1 11/16" nut width makes it perfect for finger style playing.  The ebony finger board plays like butter.

We are all big fans of 12-fret guitars here at the store, but this one absolutely will blow you away.  Quite frankly, this Orpheum might have us losing a little sleep at night.

Written by Carrie Warlaumont and Gerald Collier
Photos by Carrie Warlaumont

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pick Of  The Week.

The Taylor K26ce

Unreal.  Just unreal.  The Koa on this new K26ce is breath taking.  Up close, as it catches light, it appears to be on fire at every angle.  View from a distance and a whole other profile appears.

Can you believe the back on this K26ce?

Upon playing this beauty, it was very obvious to us that this guitar takes a flat pick like a champ.  Most Koa takes a bit of time to really open up.  Not this one.  It's a knockout straight outta the gate.  No doubt about it, there is a distinct, full and incredibly round bass response on this guitar.  Surprisingly warm, clear and big, it absolutely doesn't give up when pushed. Yet, light finger picking reveals shimmer and shine in the way of tonal complexity that Taylor is known for the world over.  What a wonderful guitar for a singer to accompany themselves with.

Island Vine Headstock Inlay

Indian Rosewood binding, Island vine inlay on the fretboard from top to bottom, shaded edge burst and The Taylor Expression pickup system round out the exceptional detail on this fabulous guitar.

                          Island Vine Inlay                                                                                Rosette

So, when it comes to looks, playability and sound. This guitar hits, what we call, the "POTW" trifecta. It's a stunner in every way and oh yeah, get this: It's a production model! Not a custom build. Unreal. Just Unreal. Hands down the Pick Of The Week.

The incredible top on this K26ce

If you'd like to know more about this guitar, give us a call at 503-228-8437 or, better yet, come down to 2502 NE Broadway in Portland and ask Gerald or Carrie for a test drive of this outstanding instrument.

Written by Gerald Collier and Carrie Warlaumont

Photos by Carrie Warlaumont 

Monday, June 10, 2013

This idea deserves to live.....

Yes indeed it's true.  We are holding open mic's every third Wednesday of the month here at the Broadway location of Portland Music.

 At the beginning of February we created a new window display depicting an Open Mic Stage.
We'd been trying to figure out what to do that would be new and inspiring to musicians.

The window that started it all.

Now, understand, that we do a new window display 8-10 times a year.  No one has ever asked us if we are going to celebrate Mardi Gras in the store or if we are having a Christmas party......but whoa Nelly.....did we ever get asked if we were having an Open Mic Night!  Each and every day we had inquiries.  After about a week or so, Steve (Miss ya, big guy!  Hope the road is treating you well!) and Carrie (our manager extraordinaire) took a look at each other and said...."I think we need to have an open mic night!".   Steve started taking names and email addresses of people interested and Carrie started trying to formulate how we were going to do this.

Faster than a folkie on fire, we had our first sponsor.....Eastman Guitars and Mandolins. As soon as they heard the details, they were in and we were on our way.

 Our Eastman rep, Steve Bernstein.

Eastman has been very generous and went as far as to offer us our Grand Prize to be raffled off at the end of our series:  An Eastman AC-220!  That's right, you could win a guitar!

Winner of an Eastman AC120, generously donated by Eastman Guitars and Mandolins 
for our very first Open Mic Night.

Right on. Fast forward a few weeks to  when D'Addario strings heard about what we were doing and they too jumped in to offer some support for this rolling acoustic guitar/songwriter party we were on.  Even local luthier, Todd Mylet of Portland Fretworks, has also generously donated to our nights.

Thanks to you, our customers, who asked about it and are now enthusiastically participating.  We are having a blast with this!  We have held two events so far and momentum is building!   We upped the ante as well.  We got Eric, our trusty webmaster, on board to film the performances.  With the performers permission, we post these to our Portland Music YouTube channel. The performers can forward them on from there to their friends and family....How cool is that?  Now Jed's a millionaire!

The first two events were certainly a lot of fun and it was great meeting the performers, their friends and getting to see some great networking going on between musicians who were previously strangers.

Our next two will be held on June 19th and July 17th.  After that, well, we think this idea deserves to live on, so stay tuned!  We hope to see everyone from the previous shindigs and some new faces as well.  Remember, if you just show up, you are eligible for prizes and the GRAND PRIZE!!

Alright, enough for now.  See you the 19th!  7:00 P.M. sharp.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos from our previous two events.

 If you'd like to see more, please go to our facebook albums found here.....

and here.... 

Written by Gerald Collier and Carrie Warlaumont
Photos by Steve Parr and Carrie Warlaumont

Saturday, March 23, 2013

POTW - Alvarez AP-70

Am I the only one who's noticed a new interest in "specialty" guitars? It seems as though, lately, people are foregoing the tried and true 14-fret neck Dreadnaughts and OM styles and opting for other, less common guitar types. If what was on display at the January NAMM Show was any indication, the answer is "No, I'm not the only one who's noticed it". Guitar companies are sitting up, taking notice and offering up a tasty smorgasbord of various guitars.

One of these companies is Alvarez.

Alvarez, along with their expected crop of Dreadnaughts and Folk (think "OM") models, offer a couple of instruments outside the usual selections found in the line-up of an import guitar line. In particular is the one upon which we will heap the title of "Pick Of The Week", the AP-70 Parlor Guitar:

An AP-70, in all of its 12-fret splendor...

The AP-70 is from the "Artist Line" of Alvarez Guitars. It features laminated East Indian Rosewood back and sides, and a finely grained, solid Sitka Spuce top.

East Indian Rosewood back and sides on the AP-70...
The fingerboard and patented bi-level bridge are Rosewood, as is the peghead veneer:

The Alvarez bi-level bridge...

The neck meets the body at the twelfth fret and is topped off with a slotted headstock that's fitted with open gear tuners. It comes equipped with D'Addario EXP strings. 

The slotted peghead on the AP-70...

This little guitar plays extremely easy. The 12-fret neck makes for slightly less tension while, at the same time, helps round out the sound. The slotted headstock allows for a bit of a greater break angle over the nut, which helps to counter any "slack" feeling you might otherwise perceive in this guitar.

Being a smaller body, it doesn't have the low-end punch that some guitars have, but it's not supposed to. The guitar has center-scalloped bracing which permits the top to respond to even the slightest of touches. This is a fingerstyle player's guitar, first and foremost, and it performs that role convincingly well. 

The smaller body also makes it a perfect choice for young beginners; maybe 12 years old and younger, or those adults who enjoy a petite build and have a difficult time properly handling a larger bodied instrument. In either case, this is a guitar which will stay viable for who ever is playing it for a long time.

I remember being rather impressed with the AP-70 the first time I picked it up, and that impression hasn't waned in the weeks since that first encounter. After spending some "quality time" with it over the last couple of weeks, this is a formidable instrument which scores high marks on the BFTB (hereafter and forever known as "BANG FOR THE BUCK") scale.

So, what's the bottom line? 

This guitar is a winner. For someone looking for a well-made 12-fret guitar, that doesn't cost $1,000.00, one needn't look any further. For a "street price"of $379.00, this guitar matches up quite well to other similar, but higher priced, instruments on the market.

So, if you're looking for a guitar which isn't going to break the bank or raise the eyebrows of your significant other, the Alvarez AP-70 is a good way to go.

Actually, when your significant other hears how inexpensive it was, the eyebrows might get raised, anyway, but only for all the right reasons.

*Text and photos by Steve Parr

Sunday, March 3, 2013

POTW - Martin 000-17SM

You might think I just sit back all day running through the litany of cool gear suitable for POTW but, let me assure you... well, you're right. I do. We've got a lot of cool gear here at PMC @ Broadway and, sooner or later, we're going to tell you about all of it. 

A few weeks back, Carrie (our Manager) went to Anaheim, California for the annual NAMM Show. She went shopping, and we're beginning to see some of the things she bought coming through the doors of our store.

I'd had another instrument picked out for this installment. I was all ready to start taking photos, and then I planned on sitting down at the computer and writing all about it. It was right about that time when Nick, our driver, brought through our door a guitar I've been dying to get my hands on. When I saw the box, I knew the previously selected little POTW nugget was just gonna' have to wait another week.

You see, this week, I decided I would bestow POTW honors on the Martin 000-17SM:

The Martin 000-17SM...

A couple of things about this guitar just jump out at you when you first see it. First, the finish on the gloss top (the back and sides are satin) is just silly. It's a subtle, yet striking example of understated beauty. Second, you notice the slotted headstock. It gives this instrument a distinctively vintage vibe and fits in very well with the whole motif. This is a 12-fret guitar, so this 000 body size is a bit smaller, particularly in the upper bout, than, say, a 000-28.

The body sports tortoise shell binding, as well as a tortoise shell pickguard. The bridge and fingerboard are Morado (think Pao Ferro), and the headstock overlay is East Indian Rosewood.

Small diamond inlays on the Morado fingerboard...

The solid Morado bridge with solid Ebony bridge pins...

Flipping the guitar over, you get a good look at the solid Mahogany back and sides. The "select hardwood" neck (I'm thinking it's something similar to Mahogany) has a low oval shape, and is very comfortable.

The satin finished Mahogany back and sides of the 000-17SM...

So, how does it play? Well, it plays really well. The 12-fret neck, as you would suspect, affords a bit less string tension than a longer scale neck. I'm not exactly known for multi-fret finger-stretches, but I could probably pull them off a bit easier on this than on, say, my Yairi. The slot headstock increases the break angle over the nut, which seems to reel in a "slack" feel one might otherwise feel in the strings. The fingerboard width is 1-3/4" at the nut, so there's ample space. 

The slotted headstock; a very definite vintage vibe...
On a scale of 1 to 10 in the playability department, I'm giving this one a solid 9.

Now, let's talk sound.

Sonically, I've always loved 12-fret guitars. They just sound a bit warmer than their 14-fret counterparts, and the 000-17SM does not disappoint. There's a rich, almost breathy sound to this guitar that I really like, and the bone nut and saddle only enhance this. 

The low end is more prominent than I expected out of a smaller body, but the high end isn't nearly as pronounced as I thought it would be. It's definitely a bit subdued.. Overall, though, it's an amazing sounding instrument. Mahogany and Spruce is one of my favorite guitar combinations, and it takes on a certain quality in a 12-fret that's difficult to describe. It's like a hot cup of coffee on a cold Portland night; it warms you right up. I tuned the guitar to a double drop D and I got all gooey inside. It sounded sooooo freakishly good.

So, looks, playability and sound. This guitar hits the "POTW" trifecta, and in convincing fashion. With a street price of $1,599.00 (which includes the Martin hardshell case), this guitar delivers, and it delivers big. It's not the least expensive guitar you'll ever buy, but it hangs in there, rather handily, for a lot less than the competition.

So give us a call at 503-228-8437 or, better yet, come down to 2502 NE Broadway in Portland, and ask Steve or Carrie for a test drive of this wonderful instrument.

Photos and text by Steve Parr

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Staff "POTW"...

By now, you might think that all we like to talk about here at Portland Music Co. is expensive, high-end acoustic guitars. Well, truth be told, we really do like to talk about them. We're also acutely aware, however, that there are a myriad of other fine acoustic instruments out there which deserve the spotlight, as well.

It's in that regard that we bring you the "Pick Of The Week" (hereafter referred to as "POTW"). The POTW isn't always going to be a wildly expensive acoustic guitar (but it may be on occasion). it could be a ukulele, or a mandolin. It could be an accessory that we've decided falls into that "bang for the buck" category. Whatever it is, we're going to tell you all about it.

The POTW is intended to bring you what our staff here at PMC @ Broadway deems to be a good quality product which represents a good, solid value. Sometimes it might be pricey, and sometimes it might be inexpensive, but it'll always be a value-rich selection. 

For our inaugural POTW selection, we've chosen the T100D from Lâg Guitars.

Lâg Guitars is a French company, founded in the Occitania region of France, by master luthier Michel Lâg-Chavarria. Lâg has produced guitars since 1980, starting with the Beast "superstrat" models and, most recently, to the Tramontane line of acoustic guitars.

Lâg Guitars are made in China, in Lâg's own factory. The models we currently have in stock here at the PMC Broadway store are from the Tramontane 100 and 200 series.  They feature solid Red Cedar tops, and laminated Mahogany backs and sides. Headstocks and fingerboards are Indonesian Rosewood. They feature graphite nuts and resin, compensated saddles. Like the fingerboards and headstock overlays, bridges are Indonesian Rosewood, and bindings are Mahogany. All models feature high gloss finishes.

The T100D has a 20 fret neck which meet the body at the 14th fret, and it has a 43mm (1.693") nut width.
My first impression upon unboxing my first Lâg, which was the T100D, was that it was very lightweight; much more so than I'd expected. I grabbed my tuner, got the guitar ready to go, and gave it a strum on a G chord.

The Lâg Tramontane T100D...
The Lâg Tramontane T100D...


Because the guitar is laminated Mahogany, I expected it to be rather balanced, tonally speaking, and it certainly was, with nothing too overbearing on either end of the tonal spectrum. There was enough high-end clarity to balance out the surprising amount of low-end gusto. The action was set very nicely; not too high and not too low. It was, in my estimation, the right height for a guitar coming out of the box when the end user is yet to be identified.

Examining the fit and finish of the guitar, it's clear that these guitars are a cut above what we've come to expect (unfortunately) with instruments in this price range. The gloss finish is clear and bright, with no lapses or dull areas. The gloss neck was smooth and comfortable.  The binding has beautifully rounded edges, a feature typically found on much more expensive instruments, making it a very comfortable guitar to play.

The graphite nut is something new to me on an acoustic guitar, but it certainly seems to be an attribute. Tuning is effortless, accurate and smooth. The tuners; Lâg's own, are a closed case design which work very well, and turn cleanly with no binding. The T100D is equipped with D'Addario 80/20 light gauge strings.

Lâg headstock and tuners and graphite nut...

So, with all of this said, how does it sound?

Well, it sounds pretty darn good, to be completely honest with you. Don't get me wrong, it's probably not going to give a Brazilian Rosewood Dreadnought a run for its money but, for a guitar in this price range, I'm having a difficult time thinking of the last time I was this impressed. The action was nicely set, and the intonation was pretty spot on all the way up the fingerboard. It has a bright, almost airy quality to it that I really liked.

A solid Cedar top, gloss finish, comfortable playability and a comfortable price? It would take me the better part of a day to even begin to find anything negative to say about this guitar.


It doesn't come with free lessons. There; there's something negative although not really something about the guitar.

I have people asking me all the time what the best "entry level" guitar is. Well, to be frank, there aren't many differences, quality-wise, between Brand X and Brand Y when you're discussing entry level instruments. For $399.95, though, Lâg allows you to add a few more dollars into the equation and, in return, get a guitar that is anything but "entry level".

Simply stated, the Lâg Tramontane T100D is one of the stonger values you're likely to find out there in this price range...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"The One"...

NAMM is fun.  Really, really fun.  It's where the manufacturers pull out the stops, lift the governors off their engines, spin their fancy tires and try to woo your socks off.  Well, this year, there came that special moment when we'd played her, fell instantly in love and knew we just had to have her...

So, without further adieu...

May we please introduce to you...

Our new love...

Our Brazilian beauty...

Our lovely, big bottomed girl...

Taylor PS18.  
(can you hear the angels singing yet?)

Taylor PS18...

It's hard not to gush about this guitar. It really is that special.  So special, in fact, that we did everything we could to make sure that we got this one.  Not one yet to be made.....but the one we fell in love with.  

Gushing aside, we're sure you'd like some details:
Brazilian Rosewood has a long and storied history and is, by almost every measure, the "holy grail" of tonewoods. When it's used on a guitar of this stature, it takes on an almost mythical quality. It's difficult to acquire and it's not inexpensive. But it's Brazilian Rosewood, and that matters.

This year, Taylor Guitars introduced their new body style, the Grand Orchestra (designated X18). The idea behind it was to reinvent the Jumbo. In doing so, they actually introduced a guitar which is closer to the Taylor Grand Symphony size than the old Jumbo. Pairing this new body style with this old growth Brazilian Rosewood and a European Spruce top has resulted in an amazing sounding guitar.

Let's just say that the PS18 is an extraordinary guitar in every respect, and definitely falls into the "investment instrument" category. The craftsmanship is exactly what you would expect from Taylor. It's simply impeccable.

For the uninitiated, "PS" stands for "Presentation Series", and represents the pinnacle of the luthier's craft. It's not only an incredible sounding guitar, but the workmanship which goes into the elaborate inlay work is unparalleled:

The exquisite detail of the Paua shell inlay...

The top, back and sides of the PS18 are trimmed in Paua shell...

The ebony armrest on the PS18, trimmed in Paua shell...
The ornate peghead of the PS18, complete with Gotoh 510 tuners...

The inlaid bridge of the PS18...

Let's talk about aesthetics. We think the one word which best describes the PS18 is "spectacular".

Paua shell adorns practically every surface of the guitar; the top, back and sides are all trimmed, as are the neck, bridge and peghead. The Nouveau Paua inlay, standard on the Presentation Series, is along the fretboard. This is one beautiful instrument.

The PS18 also features the Laskin armrest, developed by Canadian luthier Grit Laskin. The Paua trimmed Ebony armrest is perfectly executed and offers the player a level of comfort that allows you to play for hours on end without feeling the typical arm fatigue.The guitar also features a Brazilian Rosewood backstrap and antique gold Gotoh 510 tuners.

Of course, how a guitar looks is only one part of the equation and, it could be argued, not the most important part. Above everything else, the sound of a guitar needs to reach out and smack you around a little bit. Well, the PS18 just isn't that subtle. The PS18 lulls you into submission and mesmerizes you with its beauty right before it reaches out with a gut-punch that knocks the wind out of you.

Brazilian Rosewood enjoys the reputation it does for good reason. In the case of this guitar, it produces a low frequency response that's warm and round, and which seems to take days to decay. There's a quality to the overtones which can only be described as piano-like. The high-end, while subdued when compared to woods like Maple or Koa, has a glass-like quality which almost shimmers when strummed.

The stunning, milk chocolate brown of Brazilian Rosewood makes for a visually striking instrument...

As if the beautiful inlays and remarkable woods weren't enough, there's a level of scarcity with this instrument that's rarely found from a large builder like Taylor Guitars. Only 13 of these guitars are being made for the entire North American market. This example is the first of the Brazilian Rosewood PS18's, and one of only two which have been built thus far.

If you'd like more information about this exquisite guitar, call or visit Carrie. Our phone number is 503-228-8437, and our address is 2502 NE Broadway in Portland.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

5 Star "Off Menu" Delicacy.....

Working in a guitar shop can be a lot of fun. I mean, let's face it, there are certainly worse ways to make a living and, as with any other job, I suppose, every once in a while you happen upon a day which makes your job seem just a bit more cool than it normally is.

This past Monday was one of those days.

Some background:

Last October, Carrie (our fearless leader and store Manager) and I had the privilege of visiting Taylor's huge campus in El Cajon, California. During that visit, we were able to select woods to be used on "Build To Order" (BTO) guitars. The cool part about that is that the woods offered up when we visit Taylor are quite often woods which might be wildly figured, rare, or otherwise just normally hard to come by. The pinnacle of such wood is known as being "off menu", meaning that it's not listed on Taylor's BTO options sheet.
We enjoy a ridiculously close relationship with the folks at Taylor Guitars, and that sometimes reaps rewards. We work hard to represent their line and, in return, they'll help us out when and where they can.  We knew we wanted something special and we knew we wanted something spectacular. With the help of Joe Bina and Andy Powers from Taylor Guitars, that's exactly what we got.

Laid out before us in the "wood room" were stacks of amazing Koa, Walnut, Madagascar Rosewood, various flavors of Spruce; you name it. As gorgeous as all of it was, though, there was nothing that really reached out and grabbed us by the throat.

"C'mon, Joe", I recall us saying, "we want something special".

He looked down at the stacks of wood before him with a quizzical look on his face. He thought. He pondered. And then he had it.

"Okay, hold on".

As he returned with a set of wood under his arm, he uttered those magic words that we always long to hear: "Okay, I don't have too much of this stuff. It's off-menu".

Those magical words.

"Off menu".

He set the wood down in front of us, almost reverently. He laid it down as if he were afraid it might shatter. He stepped back and looked at the wood as though he had just discovered fire. Well, it wasn't fire.

It was Amazon Rosewood.

Joe Bina checks a Grand Auditorium template against the Amazon Rosewood we selected...

Carrie with our sets of Amazon Rosewood and Alpine Swiss Moon Spruce...

It didn't take us long to decide that we wanted to offer a guitar built from this to our customers and, with the help of Andy Powers, we paired the Amazon Rosewood with some Alpine Swiss Moon Spruce (which was also off-menu).

We left Taylor Guitars that day very happy with what we managed to do. As a direct result of our close ties with Taylor, we were able to get a very special wood set to offer to our customers in the form of a Taylor "BTO".

Well, that guitar showed up a mere 49 days after we put it on order:

Taylor Guitars "Build To Order" in Amazon Rosewood and Alpine Swiss Moon Spruce...

Incredible grain patterns abound...

Cosmetically, we took some liberties. We opted for a bound soundhole, which is actually not unusual, as it's one of the classier options offered in BTO. In our case, we opted for Ivoroid binding on the body, soundhole and along the blank fretboard. Since we'd already gotten an off-menu wood set, we decided to find out how far we could take it. We started with an Amazon Rosewood peghead veneer and matching truss rod cover (both gloss). Then we brought the Amazon Rosewood flair down to the top of the guitar, which has a slight bit of bearclaw in it, by including an elegant Amazon rosewood rosette.

Look at your BTO sheet and let me know when you find those options.

I'll wait.

Detail of the Ivoroid bound soundhole and Amazon Rosewood rosette...

A full shot of a very classy rosette...

Amazon Rosewood peghead veneer and matching truss rod cover...
The back of the guitar, which shows off the Ivoroid binding...

Visually, this guitar is stunning. It's almost over-the-top in its simplicity. But a good looking guitar is only that: good looking. "How does it look?" is only one third of the "big question trifecta", which also includes "How does it sound?" and "How does it play?".

Sonically, the guitar is an absolute joy. The Adirondack bracing we opted for pairs ridiculously well with the Alpine Spruce top, and allows the top to resonate freely and brightly. The Amazon Rosewood permits all of the attributes you'd come to expect from Rosewood, but with a slightly increased bass response and rich overtones. The highs are almost crystalline, and there's a distinct separation among the notes which you don't necessarily expect.

This guitar is a strong strummer, and those who lean towards using a pick will not be disappointed. The description "lap cannon" fits here, and it fits well. Likewise, the guitar is extremely responsive and warm when played fingerstyle and the top has a sweet resonance which is difficult to describe with words. Think of the feeling you get when you're working out at the gym, and you're all hot and sweaty and then you walk outside and that first blast of cool brisk air hits your face.

That's how sweet it is.

So, yes, the "How does it sound?" question has been answered.

That leaves us with that third aspect; the missing piece to the fire triangle of our impending guitar bliss:

"How does it play?"

The guitar is short scale and at 24-7/8" it plays almost effortlessly. The slightly reduced string tension makes for easier bends while, at the same time, helps with those mega-fret finger-stretching chords you've tried (probably unsuccessfully until now) to play. The nut is Taylor's standard 1-3/4" and, like the saddle, is Tusq. Taylor's renowned ES pickup is installed, making the guitar stage ready, whether that stage is in front of a 1,000 seat auditorium or in front of the couches and easy chairs at the local coffee house.

It's been a while since I've had this much fun playing a guitar...

Yep, it's a Custom!

And here it is with all the case candy, including a clear pickguard, should you want to install it...

Carrie tested... Carrie approved...

It would be real easy for me and Carrie to sit back and take all the credit for having designed this profoundly wonderful instrument but, truth be told, the wood selection and "design" of it are only two facets which are joined together in this guitar. We would be remiss if we neglected to acknowledge the talents of the Taylor Guitars team down in El Cajon, California. See, we had the easy part. We just had to tell them what we wanted. They had to pull it off, and that was made only more difficult due to the fact that a lot of what we wanted was "off menu".

They did pull it off, though, and they did so with flying colors. As a result, we're now able to offer you this incredible instrument, one which you're simply not going to find anywhere else. Give us a call or, better yet, stop in and Carrie or I will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about this wonderful guitar.