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GUEST,songbob Two Guitars or Just One? (57* d) RE: Two Guitars or Just One? 07 Aug 11


No one has mentioned a reason I find "convincing" to keep multiple guitars -- tone. A rosewood guitar is much different in sound from a mahogany from a maple from a Koa, etc. And dreadnoughts vs. 0- 00- 000- shaped guitars is another distinction. Not to mention archtop vs. flattop vs. resonated (and we won't mention guitar-banjos, shall we?).

I have about five flattop steel-string guitars and have a reason for each. A Martin rosewood dreadnought, with its deep bass and chimey treble, a Chinese mahogany dread, for its crisper, zingy sound, a Martin 0-18 with mahogany's dry sound but a much different sound from the Chinese dread, another Chinese 000-size guitar (I think it's spruce top on sapele, which is sort of chimey, but dryer than the Martin rosewood dread, and my everyday guitar, which is a Gibson J-185-shaped jumbo in spruce and sycamore, a complex-sounding guitar with the bass of a D-28 but more chime on top and lovely mid-range tone.

And that's just the steel-string ones. I have the use of a nice old parlor guitar that's essentially a steel-string sized classical guitar (if you can see what that means), and a couple of classicals, both of which have significant cracks and need repairs to be at their best. Once the owner of the parlor guitar takes it away, I'll have to get one of the classicals fixed for real.

To show how much difference there is in tone, one wood to another, Jennifer, my wife, used not to want my accompaniment when singing, when I was using the Martin D- model. Once I got the sycamore jumbo, she allowed as how it was the tone of the rosewood guitar that she didn't like, not my playing (whew!). So even a non-instrumentalist can hear the difference from one tonewood to another.

So yes, unless both guitars are essentially the same damned thing, get more than one, and learn the strong suits of each. One for finger-picking, one for flat-, one for vocal accompaniment, one for stringband instrumentals, etc. Get to know which one does best for which kind of song.

Then start adding other instruments (uke, mandolin, banjo, autoharp, fiddle) as you expand your musical styles. Eventually you'll come to a balance point (though I'm not sure I've ever reached it).

Good luck!

Bob Clayton


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