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  #16  
Old 08-19-2019, 11:06 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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I think you'll find that was an example of Portland Bill's sense of dry English humour.

Cheers,
Steve
My processor speed must have been running slower than usual lol as I took it literally...
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  #17  
Old 08-20-2019, 11:21 AM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Well, it was quite a ride. Most of all, it showed my inexperience with guitars of this class. For two hours, I played the Traugott and a couple of extraordinary, and quite different, guitars for comparison. These included a Kostal Mod D in German/Walnut and a spectacular Strahm OM-sized guitar in Swiss/ABW.

The Traugott was very very responsive, and as stated here, quite unforgiving — but I didn’t find that a bad thing at all, on the contrary I found it all the more rewarding in the moments when I got it to really sing. I found it easier to make the Kostal sing, and the huge bass response felt really satisfying. The Strahm, I felt, sat there in the middle in terms of “transparent” responsivity.

Estimating the treble response was the thing that gave me the most trouble, and after a full two hours of playing, I couldn’t make my mind about it. At first, I thought that the Traugott’s trebles seemed a bit harsh, which I think has to do with the Brazilian back — I heard this same quality to some extent in all the BRW guitars I played, including a Maingard and a Greenfield. The walnut-backed Kostal didn’t have this “harshness” at all, and for the first hour of playing I felt that it had the best tone of all just because of that. It also had a really satisfying “growl” when hit harder. The open E string had a noticeable bass “thump” in the beginning of the note just after the initial attack. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Then, as the second hour of playing went by, I felt that my perception of the trebles dramatically changed. I don’t know if it was the guitars “waking up” or my ears getting tired. I would think it was the latter, but cannot say for sure. The Kostal started to sound more and more dull and the Traugott more and more sweet. Where at first the Kostal really got me playing, now I for the first time found myself grabbing the Traugott more than the others, and enjoyed playing it immensely. It was great with a capo as well, the power in the notes stayed there no matter how high up the neck I went. The same could be said of the Kostal as well, whereas the Strahm’s tone seemed to get noticeably thinner when played above the 7th fret.

Also, the Traugott has a quite noticeable wolf note, I believe it was either F or F sharp on the A string. That kind of bothered me. I’m not sure if this is unavoidable to some extent?

In the end, I was very confused. Should I trust my ears when they were fresh off the street, or after an hour of playing? Was the perceived difference in the trebles mostly due to the guitars’ tones changing when getting played, or my ears getting tired? Based on my humble experience in the recording studio, I know that at some point, you just need to take a break from listening and then come back with fresh ears. I decided to do just that and will return to play the three guitars tomorrow. For now, I’m too unconfident in my ability to really hear the guitars to make a decision for that much money.

Thank you for letting me share my journey with you!

Last edited by cbjanne; 08-20-2019 at 11:36 AM. Reason: Grammar check and additions
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  #18  
Old 08-20-2019, 06:14 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Can you take a guitar buddy with you?

I would want another set of ears with me, and also want to hear it from the audience POV.

Two hours is a long time to listen attentively! One needs to take a walk for a few minutes every half hour or 45 minutes. There is a reason Union musicians get a break every 45 min! And no it is not just to blow reefer in the alley. Hahahaha

I have not gotten to play a Traugott, but I did get to play a couple Kostals at B.I.G. Including Michael Watts new big Maple, and they were FINE as one would expect!

Have fun and thanks for sharing this with us

Cheers

Paul
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  #19  
Old 08-20-2019, 06:36 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
Well, it was quite a ride. Most of all, it showed my inexperience with guitars of this class. For two hours, I played the Traugott and a couple of extraordinary, and quite different, guitars for comparison. These included a Kostal Mod D in German/Walnut and a spectacular Strahm OM-sized guitar in Swiss/ABW.

The Traugott was very very responsive, and as stated here, quite unforgiving — but I didn’t find that a bad thing at all, on the contrary I found it all the more rewarding in the moments when I got it to really sing. I found it easier to make the Kostal sing, and the huge bass response felt really satisfying. The Strahm, I felt, sat there in the middle in terms of “transparent” responsivity.

Estimating the treble response was the thing that gave me the most trouble, and after a full two hours of playing, I couldn’t make my mind about it. At first, I thought that the Traugott’s trebles seemed a bit harsh, which I think has to do with the Brazilian back — I heard this same quality to some extent in all the BRW guitars I played, including a Maingard and a Greenfield. The walnut-backed Kostal didn’t have this “harshness” at all, and for the first hour of playing I felt that it had the best tone of all just because of that. It also had a really satisfying “growl” when hit harder. The open E string had a noticeable bass “thump” in the beginning of the note just after the initial attack. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Then, as the second hour of playing went by, I felt that my perception of the trebles dramatically changed. I don’t know if it was the guitars “waking up” or my ears getting tired. I would think it was the latter, but cannot say for sure. The Kostal started to sound more and more dull and the Traugott more and more sweet. Where at first the Kostal really got me playing, now I for the first time found myself grabbing the Traugott more than the others, and enjoyed playing it immensely. It was great with a capo as well, the power in the notes stayed there no matter how high up the neck I went. The same could be said of the Kostal as well, whereas the Strahm’s tone seemed to get noticeably thinner when played above the 7th fret.

Also, the Traugott has a quite noticeable wolf note, I believe it was either F or F sharp on the A string. That kind of bothered me. I’m not sure if this is unavoidable to some extent?

In the end, I was very confused. Should I trust my ears when they were fresh off the street, or after an hour of playing? Was the perceived difference in the trebles mostly due to the guitars’ tones changing when getting played, or my ears getting tired? Based on my humble experience in the recording studio, I know that at some point, you just need to take a break from listening and then come back with fresh ears. I decided to do just that and will return to play the three guitars tomorrow. For now, I’m too unconfident in my ability to really hear the guitars to make a decision for that much money.

Thank you for letting me share my journey with you!
It sounds like you went to The North American Guitar to try out their guitars. What a nice time you must have had sampling those nice guitars!

Did you try the rosewood kostal mod d that they have in stock also? It may be a better comparison against the traugott and strahm than the walnut kostal that was always going to suffer against especially the traugott in terms of the top end response.

Having said that there really is nothing out here that sounds like a good traugott - the fatness, the sizzle, the harmonics that the fundamental note seems to throw off, the awesome clarity and definition to each note. Definitely traugott guitars are among the world's very best guitars and having played one, the only directions you can go in guitar dom are sideways at the same level or down to lesser guitsrs. But if that's the sound that grabs your ear, nothing else is really going to satisfy.

I would suspect that as you played it, it wasnt the sound that changed but your ears and brain got used to the traugott's sound - at first it seemed too sharp and harsh because you were not used to it and the earthiness of the walnut guitar seemed more accessible, but after a while the walnut guitar seemed to get less interesting because your ears were starting to appreciate the greater information contained in that clarity of the traugott.

Having said that though the more woody and organic sound that you liked from the walnut guirar is something the traugott may not have in its quiver - and you may also miss that in the longer run. The traugott may get a little wearing if you play it solely and sometimes you want something more accessible and more welcoming so to speak.

Since you probably wont want to buy both guitars at this time, you may have to choose between which quality can you live with the best and which you can afford to live without the most...

Or you can cast your nets further afield if you want some alternatives or if the money involved is just too foreboding. As I said I used to own a traugott and it was one of the best I have ever played and I enjoyed playing it a lot. The only reason why I sold it was purely economics- it just had
way too much money locked into it than was financially advisable for me.

I found a Poljakoff S-1 guitar that was able to scratch to large measure the uber clarity itch that the traugott delivered while having much more woodiness and a kind of "chewy" substance to its fundamental that I cannot explain well. It's not steely at all like the traugott was and a very different sound so I am not saying it's a substitute- but to my ears and fingers it seems to give me what I looked for and got from the traugott while being exponentially cheaper than the traugott, which i also liked a lot.

I am surprised at your mention of a wolf note on the traugott - I hae never heard of a traugott having such issues as they r usually renowned for having as good intonation as any guitar can have. But if it does have one it's going to sound even more jarring with the traugott's great clarity and that's something to consider...

You may want to delay your return to TNAG as they have a greenfield g3 and a casimi c1 coming in imminently. You might as well try those guirars also to see if you like their tone more. There is also the brazilian rosewood maingard GC that they also have currently- did you try that guitar?
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Last edited by gitarro; 08-21-2019 at 06:45 AM.
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2019, 12:43 AM
Carey Carey is offline
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A responsive instrument without wolf-notes, or wolfish ones, would really be out of the ordinary; no matter the maker.
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  #21  
Old 08-21-2019, 06:46 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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A responsive instrument without wolf-notes, or wolfish ones, would really be out of the ordinary; no matter the maker.
I have to say that's not been my experience with steel-strings, but very definitely with nylon guitars: The most responsive are extremely lightly built - as they have to be given the relative lack of energy driving the top - and wolf notes are common on high end, sole-luthier guitars.

I know of one internationally renowned classical guitarist who has a real howler on the D on his top E, but who works around it because the guitar is so tremendous otherwise. For steel strings it may not be a big deal if you play in multiple different tunings since that will move the note/location around.

I would also say that for the amount of money we're talking about here, I would expect everything to be perfect.

Cheers,
Steve
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  #22  
Old 08-21-2019, 07:05 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
The Traugott was very very responsive, and as stated here, quite unforgiving — but I didn’t find that a bad thing at all, on the contrary I found it all the more rewarding in the moments when I got it to really sing. I found it easier to make the Kostal sing, and the huge bass response felt really satisfying. The Strahm, I felt, sat there in the middle in terms of “transparent” responsivity.

haha - shows how different we all are, and how different individual guitars from the same maker can be: My experience of Traugotts vs. Kostals is almost the complete opposite of yours! I've owned both and found the Traugott more responsive and woodier, whereas the Kostals had more projection, power, and were steelier with greater separation. Both great instruments from great builders, equally impressive, but different in terms of where they are shooting sonically.

I did a short direct comparison a few years ago for this forum, which can be found here:

https://soundcloud.com/stevehhh/guitar-comparison

The first is a Traugott R and the second a Kostal OM. Listening back to this a few years later, I'm not sure what I say above is coming across in the recording, but that's how I heard and felt it with the instruments in my hands at the time.

Relative comparisons maximise the differences between the items being compared - A vs B vs A vs B etc gets very tiring and can be unhelpful unless there is a very clear preference. It's unfortunate that it usually requires an extended period with an instrument to discover how you really feel about it. I can't make my mind up - for sure - until I've lived with an instrument for a while. Usually, that's just not practical, not least when the instrument costs 23K!

Ultimately, which is the guitar you pull out of the case the most? It may not be the one that was most immediately impressive. I brought a Bown OM home many years ago that I thought was a "nice" guitar but not as nice as my Sobells. After a couple of weeks, I found that the Bown was getting 90% of the love. Why? Well, because it was beautifully refined and tremendously well-balanced. Those are not attributes that hit you in the face; they declare themselves over time. In contrast the Sobells were very impressive right away - huge projection and power, very bright - but got a little tiring after a while.

First world problems guys!

Cheers,
Steve
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  #23  
Old 08-21-2019, 08:28 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveh View Post
haha - shows how different we all are, and how different individual guitars from the same maker can be: My experience of Traugotts vs. Kostals is almost the complete opposite of yours! I've owned both and found the Traugott more responsive and woodier, whereas the Kostals had more projection, power, and were steelier with greater separation. Both great instruments from great builders, equally impressive, but different in terms of where they are shooting sonically.

I did a short direct comparison a few years ago for this forum, which can be found here:

https://soundcloud.com/stevehhh/guitar-comparison

The first is a Traugott R and the second a Kostal OM. Listening back to this a few years later, I'm not sure what I say above is coming across in the recording, but that's how I heard and felt it with the instruments in my hands at the time.

Relative comparisons maximise the differences between the items being compared - A vs B vs A vs B etc gets very tiring and can be unhelpful unless there is a very clear preference. It's unfortunate that it usually requires an extended period with an instrument to discover how you really feel about it. I can't make my mind up - for sure - until I've lived with an instrument for a while. Usually, that's just not practical, not least when the instrument costs 23K!

Ultimately, which is the guitar you pull out of the case the most? It may not be the one that was most immediately impressive. I brought a Bown OM home many years ago that I thought was a "nice" guitar but not as nice as my Sobells. After a couple of weeks, I found that the Bown was getting 90% of the love. Why? Well, because it was beautifully refined and tremendously well-balanced. Those are not attributes that hit you in the face; they declare themselves over time. In contrast the Sobells were very impressive right away - huge projection and power, very bright - but got a little tiring after a while.

First world problems guys!

Cheers,
Steve
I did hear what you are referring to in the sound clips.

Tough decision for the OP and I am also one of those folks who needs a little time to play and listen to a guitar before coming to what it all brings to me and what I can bring to it. A friend of mine who is a fine player, purchased a high end guitar and had a several day period to evaluate. We discovered that it had a wolf note and after we explored ways of diminishing the effects of the wolf note, she ended up returning it. The funny thing was that with my playing style, the wolf note hardly ever came into play to be an issue, but with her playing style and attack, it did.

To the OP - Good luck on making a decision that works best for you.

Best,
Jayne
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  #24  
Old 08-21-2019, 07:46 PM
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"The one" is tough. The best sounding guitars I've played and owned are wholly "imperfect" from some vantage point. My favorite guitar to strum and flatpick complains when I tune it to DADGAD and honestly, I think there's something kinda neat about that. I mean, these things have personalities.

Perhaps there are other luthiers making instruments that are a better fit for the way you approach music-making than Ervin, Jeff or Jason? Maybe this luthier isn't one of the big time "haute couture" kind of names, but does that matter if you end up preferring the sound and feel of the instrument?

I'd love to own one of Michi Matsuda's guitars. I think he's a brilliant. However, his sound has virtually nothing in common with how I like to play the guitar. I require something different, and many of the Somogyi and Somogyi-school builders aren't really compatible with my playing. C'est la vie.

It took me a little while to realize that, but I think my biggest lesson was to buy with my hands first, ears (close) second and eyes third. Whatever the case, best of wishes to you!
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  #25  
Old 08-22-2019, 12:38 AM
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Deft Tungsman Deft Tungsman is offline
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Very interesting thread. Thanks for keeping us posted and sharing your impressions!

steveh and usb_chord make many excellent observations that have proven to be true in my experience, too.

I've bought four of the five guitars in my current lineup online, sight unseen. I'm lucky in that I've had no disappointments, but I still wish that I could have done what the OP has the opportunity to do: re-visit the store, perhaps with a knowledgeable friend who is familiar with my repertoire and playing style, as many times as it takes before uncertainty gradually disappears because I find myself naturally gravitating towards one guitar above all others.

Don't get me wrong, I love having the variety and am extremely fortunate to be able to afford it. I've never been a "one-guitar guy". However, this year I purchased a guitar that I could have bought long ago but didn't because I wasn't in a position to decide based on the "hands, then ears, then eyes" approach. (Well, that and the fact that it was waaaay above my budget at the time.) Once I did eventually acquire it, it still took me several days before I realized that I'd met a personality that matched mine better than I ever could have dreamed possible. It's the one that gets the most playing time, the one I never want to put back in its case, the one I sometimes force myself to ignore so the others get their turn to do their thing. Rich man's woes, to be sure, and I've never spent more than a third of 23K on a guitar!

Take your time, enjoy the search, follow your heart, choose wisely. And thanks again for sharing.
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  #26  
Old 08-22-2019, 05:05 AM
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I really enjoyed reading your review and I surmise that your search is to find the ideal one instrument.

My go to guitars at the moment are Madagascar rosewood and claro walnut, so I agree with you about the contrasts and the relative strengths of these two tone woods. I feel very fortunate that I can have both from world class luthiers, one a Wingert and the other a Baranik. And with both these guitars to enjoy I would still have change out of the cost of a Traugott.

There is no denying that Traugotts are exceptional guitars but given the diminishing returns achieved as one ventures into that price range and the fact that you enjoyed the attributes of both the BRW and the walnut guitars you played, perhaps you might consider two lower priced but still amazing guitars rather than one Traugott?
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  #27  
Old 08-22-2019, 05:18 AM
Portland Bill Portland Bill is offline
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Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
Well, it was quite a ride. Most of all, it showed my inexperience with guitars of this class. For two hours, I played the Traugott and a couple of extraordinary, and quite different, guitars for comparison. These included a Kostal Mod D in German/Walnut and a spectacular Strahm OM-sized guitar in Swiss/ABW.

The Traugott was very very responsive, and as stated here, quite unforgiving — but I didn’t find that a bad thing at all, on the contrary I found it all the more rewarding in the moments when I got it to really sing. I found it easier to make the Kostal sing, and the huge bass response felt really satisfying. The Strahm, I felt, sat there in the middle in terms of “transparent” responsivity.

Estimating the treble response was the thing that gave me the most trouble, and after a full two hours of playing, I couldn’t make my mind about it. At first, I thought that the Traugott’s trebles seemed a bit harsh, which I think has to do with the Brazilian back — I heard this same quality to some extent in all the BRW guitars I played, including a Maingard and a Greenfield. The walnut-backed Kostal didn’t have this “harshness” at all, and for the first hour of playing I felt that it had the best tone of all just because of that. It also had a really satisfying “growl” when hit harder. The open E string had a noticeable bass “thump” in the beginning of the note just after the initial attack. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Then, as the second hour of playing went by, I felt that my perception of the trebles dramatically changed. I don’t know if it was the guitars “waking up” or my ears getting tired. I would think it was the latter, but cannot say for sure. The Kostal started to sound more and more dull and the Traugott more and more sweet. Where at first the Kostal really got me playing, now I for the first time found myself grabbing the Traugott more than the others, and enjoyed playing it immensely. It was great with a capo as well, the power in the notes stayed there no matter how high up the neck I went. The same could be said of the Kostal as well, whereas the Strahm’s tone seemed to get noticeably thinner when played above the 7th fret.

Also, the Traugott has a quite noticeable wolf note, I believe it was either F or F sharp on the A string. That kind of bothered me. I’m not sure if this is unavoidable to some extent?

In the end, I was very confused. Should I trust my ears when they were fresh off the street, or after an hour of playing? Was the perceived difference in the trebles mostly due to the guitars’ tones changing when getting played, or my ears getting tired? Based on my humble experience in the recording studio, I know that at some point, you just need to take a break from listening and then come back with fresh ears. I decided to do just that and will return to play the three guitars tomorrow. For now, I’m too unconfident in my ability to really hear the guitars to make a decision for that much money.

Thank you for letting me share my journey with you!

We’re new strings fitted prior to your dem, if they were you should take that in to account quite significantly.
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  #28  
Old 08-22-2019, 08:26 AM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Thank you for the helpful and friendly messages, guys. I really, really appreciate them.

The second day of playing, and the hours of pondering afterwards, really helped with my thoughts. I think I got the “feel” of the Traugott and the Kostal, at least in terms of me interacting with the instruments. With this, I’ll also try to elaborate on what I tried to say when I said I found it easier to make the Kostal “sing” than the Traugott. My English vocabulary fails me, but I’ll try my best. To any luthier and those informed on the construction and voicing of the acoustic guitar, what I write must sound totally ridiculous, and I can only accept that I’m making a compete *** of myself. With that said...

The Kostal, in my experience, seemed to have a quality of “ultra-sweetness” that is difficult to put into words. I felt it as a sort of “blossoming” around the fundamental note that I’ve not experienced before. As if I was playing an electric instrument whose sound went through an effects loop containing a low-pass filter, some compression, a bit of chorus, and a slight reverb in the end. Almost if I could sense a glimpse of old Ervin’s spirit coming through with the notes. This quality was very pleasing at first. It was almost if I the guitar sounded great no matter what I did. Even when I played it with a very sloppy hand, especially when my fingers had not yet warmed up, the guitar sounded very good. This must at least have played a part in my tendency to pick this guitar up more than the others in the beginning of my first session. I’m well aware of cognitive biases and the fact that some people here have written things that are somewhat in line with my observations. Still, I couldn’t help but to notice them.

The Traugott had none of that “topping”. It was what it was. When I played it with a lazy hand, it sounded lazy. In the beginning of playing, when I still had no “feel” for the guitar at all and was playing with very little focus, I felt disappointed in the tone. Is this it? Did I come all the way to London to hear this? In that moment, it hadn’t yet occurred to me that it wasn’t the guitar that sucked, it was my playing.

And thus, after two long playing sessions and the intense meditation afterwards I slowly realized what the difference between the two fine instruments was to me. “Transparency” was the key word with the Traugott. When I did bad, it didn’t cover up for me. It let my deal with my own problems. In the short moments when I really nailed the playing, the guitar sounded better than any guitar has ever sounded on my lap. In the end, the Traugott appeared to me more as an “extension” than an “instrument”. Kind of like a brush to a painter (fully aware of my strict limitations as a player when writing this). The ultra-light build contributed to this, compared to the heavy Kostal. The Traugott seemed to disappear from my hands as I really got into the playing. As if I could touch the music itself instead of the strings, without a medium in between. I could go very lyrical and melodramatic describing this idea. One could only imagine what this kind of a connection could develop into, if it became a lifelong companionship, two buddies slowly maturing, flourishing and eventually declining together. Ok, sorry, I’ll stop now. I’m kind of tired from the trip, so forgive me.

When all was said and done, I backed off from buying the Traugott. That particular guitar was not for me. Reasons for this are beyond my current consciousness, but I suspect that some of it has to do with a sort of longing that arose when introduced to something this mighty for the first time. The idea of not just a “new guitar” but a “partner”. This could not be something I would be able to buy from a guitar showroom, no matter how fancy. One can easily sense where this kind of thinking could eventually lead. But it’s not time to make those decisions yet. This needs some more slow simmering.

Also, the post above made me realize what I hadn’t realized myself: that the initial “harshness” of the BRW guitars’ tones was probably all about the brand new strings. I have noticed the same phenomenon with my own guitars for years, but somehow that didn’t occur to me at all in the moment. Way to go. Also, the strings were coated, which doesn’t work for me. Lack of friction where it shouldn’t be.

I will have to agree with Steve that all these truly are first world problems. On the Tube ride to my hotel I saw homeless people and an ad campaigning for funds to help fight cancer in kids. Kind of made me feel stupid.

Last edited by cbjanne; 08-22-2019 at 08:46 AM. Reason: My grammar stinks
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  #29  
Old 08-22-2019, 08:43 AM
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Smile My goodness...

I believe you are being a bit hard on yourself here, CB!!!

Your English is excellent. And your abilitie to express your impressions is impressive.

Yes, these are first world problems, but in my NOT so humble opinion this stuff is worthy of our attention and money, too!

I often think of what Churchill said when asked about the validity of funding the arts during WWII. Something along the line of "What are we fighting for, then?"

Without music and art life would be miserable indeed.

I have found my preferences in instruments have morphed a LOT over the years.
And I feel most fortunate indeed to have found the great ones I currently get to caretake and play!

May your search bring you to a great axe... or two!

Have FUN today

Paul
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Jumbo OLD Brazilian RW/WRC

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  #30  
Old 08-22-2019, 08:49 AM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
I believe you are being a bit hard on yourself here, CB!!!

Your English is excellent. And your abilitie to express your impressions is impressive.

Yes, these are first world problems, but in my NOT so humble opinion this stuff is worthy of our attention and money, too!

I often think of what Churchill said when asked about the validity of funding the arts during WWII. Something along the line of "What are we fighting for, then?"

Without music and art life would be miserable indeed.

I have found my preferences in instruments have morphed a LOT over the years.
And I feel most fortunate indeed to have found the great ones I currently get to caretake and play!

May your search bring you to a great axe... or two!

Have FUN today

Paul
Paul, your post brought tears to my eyes. Thanks.
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