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  #31  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:02 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Hi cbjanne,

Thank you for very eloquently describing your experience. I completely understood what you meant and have had a similar experience with a pair of guitars that I have compared. It is humbling to discover that some extraordinary things might not be a good match after all. I love what you said about looking for a "partner" rather than just a new guitar. Sounds like you came away from this exploration with a deeper understanding of yourself as a player. Best of luck with the slow simmering and I look forward to hearing where this journey takes you.

Best,
Jayne
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  #32  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:12 AM
John K John K is offline
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Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
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.
Great post! Thank you.
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  #33  
Old 08-22-2019, 09:34 AM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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Cbjanne,

Playing a great guitar is a privilege and it does change you in a good way. It is great to read of your transformative the experience was for you.

Some of the things you wrote kind of echoed with me too because I have played and owned many great guitars. The guitar I have today is in it's own way as good but I cannot say it is better than rhe best of those exceptional instruments but I enjoy playing it more than any guitar I have had, and that makes it the best guitar for me...

Here's to you finding that ideal guitar that will be the mirror and perfect interface between you and your music!
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  #34  
Old 08-22-2019, 11:46 AM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Thanks guys!
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  #35  
Old 08-22-2019, 11:53 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
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.
You must be crazy man! - I had no idea that English was not your first language: I often supervise native UK PhD students and your command of English is better than many of theirs! You have to have a pretty firm grip to slip in, "cognitive biases".

Expressing sound and its perception with words is extremely difficult and often futile; I struggle endlessly with it myself. What you have written is lucid and makes complete sense. Bravo to you, Sir!

Cheers,
Steve
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  #36  
Old 08-22-2019, 11:54 AM
Vaillant75 Vaillant75 is offline
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That was a fascinating read, thanks for taking us along.

I have owned a Traugott for a bit more than 6 months now (the one Marc is mentioning), and your experience about the Jeff’s guitars acting as extensions is very smartly put. I'd also second the unforgiving aspect of a Traugott, for better and worse. Hardly the guitar you quickly grab for 10 minutes while thinking about something else. It often requires focus to fully please the player, but man it can be so satisfying once you reach the "sweet spot”.

Beyond the gap between my skills and the caliber of the instrument, playing such a high end guitar often came with a sense of obligation - a “it has to sound good!” feeling - that prevented me from fully enjoying it. As my playing has improved lately through classes and structured practicing, I realize these guitars also reward impeccable technique and a rather soft touch. I like to think I turned that restraining feeling into a learning motivation, aiming to deserve that instrument (one can dream).

Finally, nice touch about the partnership, it reflects my thinking very well. There is almost a lyrical aspect about that exclusivity, and it's very hard to achieve with so many amazing instruments at our consideration.

Great thread, please keep us informed of your journey!
Tom
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  #37  
Old 08-22-2019, 12:17 PM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Originally Posted by steveh View Post
You must be crazy man! - I had no idea that English was not your first language: I often supervise native UK PhD students and your command of English is better than many of theirs! You have to have a pretty firm grip to slip in, "cognitive biases”.
Steve, thank you. I used to be a psychiatry intern, so I caught some of that vocabulary. That journey definitely made me more or less crazy as well.

Tom, your post resonated heavily. Thank you.
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  #38  
Old 08-22-2019, 01:40 PM
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Deft Tungsman Deft Tungsman is offline
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cbjanne,

Thanks so much for your very articulate description of this phase in your journey ! As others have said, your English is better than that of most native speakers by far ! I'm a language professional, and you, sir, rock !

What you've discovered about the Traugott is what I discovered with the Claxton OM I bought six months ago. Everything I do, every little change in pressure or means of attack, changes the timbre of the music coming out of this glorious box. So transparent. Luckily for me, and probably due to Ed Claxton's perfect setup, it is forgiving enough for me never to feel discouraged by it, even when I'm just farting around, thinking about other things at the same time. But when I'm totally focused, the rewards abound at every moment, and I have become a much more attentive player as a result. To top it all off, it weighs next to nothing, even less that Thomas' stunning Traugott, and therefore after a few moments in my lap, it ceases to be a "medium" and becomes an "extension". You've captured the essence of an experience that is very difficult to describe. A great read that has spawned a great conversation.

I wish you luck in your search, but you really don't need it. You're on the right path to the guitar that is out there somewhere, just waiting to meet you! (We should all be so wise...)

Please don't be shy about reporting back on the subsequent twists and turns you'll navigate along the way, it's a great story.
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  #39  
Old 08-22-2019, 01:43 PM
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Deft Tungsman Deft Tungsman is offline
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And just for the record, Thomas, in my book, you already deserve your Traugott.
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  #40  
Old 08-22-2019, 03:48 PM
Vaillant75 Vaillant75 is offline
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Marc you're too kind, the amazing reverberation at your place was certainly helping.

Was about to comment on your Claxton, a lot of common ground with the Traugott. Lightly built, airy and resonant, very nuanced... maybe my fav' among your herd (even if the Meridian fits your playing style very well). Got really intrigued by Walnut to be honest.
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  #41  
Old 08-22-2019, 04:13 PM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Based on the little I can tell from numerous pictures and sound clips, Claxton guitars appeal to me greatly. I almost blind ordered one from Luthier’s Collection but decided against it. It feels like too much of a gamble to make such a commitment based on compressed audio files and pixels, especially now that I have learned what it can be like to connect with an instrument of the highest class.

Having said that, I’d be really interested in hearing players’ perceptions on the similarities and differences between Jeff and Ed’s guitars. If there is one thing that I might have felt lacking in the Traugott I played, it might have been a certain “warmth” of tone, although I suspect that too has to do with the new strings. Some of the Claxton sound clips I’ve heard have had quite a lot of what I hear as “warmth” or “sweetness”, though those clips were played by Doug Young, which surely is a deciding factor. And again, sound files only reveal so much.
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  #42  
Old 08-22-2019, 04:21 PM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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I just got home. Time to sleep and rest my overheated brain. Thanks again to all of you! It’s been an intensive three days, and having you guys to share everything with has been a joy. I am most grateful.
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  #43  
Old 08-22-2019, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
Having said that, I’d be really interested in hearing players’ perceptions on the similarities and differences between Jeff and Ed’s guitars.
It's so hard to compare guitars with words - what you just did was more ideal, experience them yourself. I have 3 Claxtons and a Traugott BK (bigger than the R). I've played quite a few Traugotts, and have had different reactions to them over the years. Whether that was me or the guitars is hard to say. I like the one I ended up with. I found your descriptions of the Traugott a bit counter to my current experience, but that's not surprising, everyone's different. For example, I've never thought of the Traugott as being "unforgiving" as several here have said.

Anyway, I hesitate to make any blanket statement about Claxton's vs Traugott, since everyone hears differently, specific guitars might be different, and so on. But I'd say my BK has a big low end, deeper than my (smaller) Claxton's, but with slightly scooped mids (or maybe it's just that the mids are dwarfed by the low end) and is slightly diffuse sounding - it sort of has a softer feel, while the Claxtons are more focused, and have stronger, rounder mids.

When I was considering buying the Traugott, I took my Claxton Malabar in to compare - mostly to have something to reset my ears. It wasn't a very valid comparison, the small, OO-1/2 Claxton vs the jumbo Traugott, but I ended up hearing both similarities and differences and liked them both. But putting those into words is hard to do.
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  #44  
Old 08-24-2019, 03:33 PM
cbjanne cbjanne is offline
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Doug, thank you for your kind message and observations. I’d really like to try a Claxton, but thus far haven’t had an opportunity. Especially the Malabar model seems interesting.

If only I lived in California!
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  #45  
Old 08-25-2019, 07:44 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Originally Posted by cbjanne View Post
I’d really like to try a Claxton, but thus far haven’t had an opportunity. Especially the Malabar model seems interesting.
Some very wise words above regarding comparing guitars and the relative merits of Traugotts and Claxtons.

I was told that Claxton and Traugott worked for Santa Cruz back in the day and when they set up as sole luthiers, their workshops were very close indeed. That might suggest some common DNA. What I will say on that topic is that the first time I played a Claxton, a cuban mahogany OM, I instantaneously thought of a Traugott; it was incredibly well-balanced and refined, clear, complex and responsive, and with a traditional edge - a lot of "wood" in the sound as well as string.

After having played a few of each (there aren't many of these Ferraris around!), I still think there are far more similarities between them than differences, given similar body shapes/woods (in the way that Somogyi and his apprentices share a common sonic signature). Indeed, if pushed, I think the biggest difference is simply the price. Claxton is a relative bargain. I have never heard a negative comment about Claxtons from anyone.

Probably the best mids and trebles I've ever heard were from a Claxton Malabar that a friend was selling. Astonishing. Had I not become enamoured by nylon instruments, that guitar would have been mine. Also goes to show that people sell "lifetime" instruments, often just for the sake of a change.

Cheers,
Steve
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