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  • Epiphone Les Paul Standard
    Company was founded by Anastasios Epi Stathopoulos in 1873 in what was then the Ottoman Empire Epi moved the company to Long Island in 1903 and it was later purchased in 1957 by the Chicago Musical Instrument Company which also owns the Gibson Kimball and Hammond brands Epiphone had its own distinct products prior to the 1957 merger but was quickly relegated to a budget line status to Gibson Most of Epiphone s current instruments are cosmetically identical to Gibson s some with unique names Epiphone Casino vs Gibson ES 330 while others use the Epiphone logo and the Gibson model name like my Epiphone Les Paul Standard The differences between the Fender Telecaster and the Gibson Les Paul were significant The Tele had a flat slab body where the Paul had a contoured archtop design The Les Paul s body shape more closely resembled that of an acoustic guitar than did the Telecaster s The Tele used single coil pickups while the Paul used dual coil humbucking pickups The Tele had a longer scale bolt on neck compared with the Paul s shorter scale set neck design The current Les Paul Standard is pretty much unchanged from the original Les Pauls of the 50s The arched top actually a maple laminate over the mahogany slab body makes the body heavier so the strings sustain longer The 3 position pickup switch is placed above the strings and out of the way of the player s right hand making it less likely to be moved unintentionally which happens to me a lot when I m playing a Tele or a Strat The electronic wiring is accessed mainly through removable panels on the back of the guitar making for a cleaner front design than on most slab guitars and easier access than

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/12/1_Epiphone_Les_Paul_Standard_electric_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Dean Boca 12-string electric guitar
    years I d checked out acoustic and electric 12 strings in music stores and online for years but had never quite found that balance of price to quality Although I tried many cheap acoustic 12 strings well within my budget the intonation was usually quite poor or the neck was too thin or the tuners were cheap and wouldn t hold pitch The well built ones were usually several hundred dollars out of my reach or more And electric 12 strings were rare and ridiculously expensive I ve bought reliable vehicles for less than the price of a 12 string Rickenbacker In 2009 I decided to step up my search a bit and found the Dean Boca 12 string electric Dean Guitars was founded by 17 year old Dean Zelinsky in 1976 Although the Dean brand name has been through some changes in ownership and leadership over the years they ve long had a reputation for building quality instruments The reviews I read about the Boca seemed honest but were generally flattering After saving up for a few months I ordered the Boca in April 2010 I chose the amber sunburst finish because I tend to prefer wood tones The Boca is also available in a cherry sunburst or a beautiful high gloss black finish The MSRP is 599 USD but it can usually be found online for about 400 and I got mine when it went on sale for 299 As is usually the case I added Schaller strap locks and a purple nylon strap The archtop body is small and comfortable reminiscent of a Les Paul The two humbucking pickups are well placed and the neck is wide enough to allow my moderate sized hands plenty of room to play chords and scales Many 12 string necks even

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/8/1_Dean_Boca_12-string_electric_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Latin Percussion angled cajon
    between the front face and the box body to resonate slightly resulting in a sound similar to a snare drum Striking between the top and the center will give varying tones like congas or tom toms Some fancier cajons have guitar strings arranged inside to amplify the snare drum effect This cajon made by Latin Percussion actually uses the metal snares you d find on the bottom of a snare drum arranged to rest at the top edge under the playing surface The effect is quite astounding with a little practice you really can sound like you re playing a full drum kit My first experience with a cajon was when our guitarist Bryan Baker brought one to band practice His is built by Meinl and has a straight vertical face and resonant strings When I had a little extra cash I started looking for a cajon too finally settling on the LP angled model for the additional bass response I ordered it online through Musician s Friend As the drummer with The Grape Ape Trust it s nice to be able to simplify the band s setup for small intimate events like the farmer s market in the picture

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2010/11/9_Latin_Percussion_Angled_Cajon.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Hohner HW-600 acoustic guitar
    me to my job on the nights I d stay in Des Moines This worked fine until the weather started getting really cold and I started worrying about the damage the cold air could do to an instrument in the back of an unheated car At that point since we weren t sure how long I d have to continue commuting before we moved back to Des Moines it made sense to pick up an inexpensive guitar to keep at Justin s house so it wouldn t have to schlep cross country with me twice a week On a night I knew Justin was working late and I wouldn t be able to get in the house I killed a little time by stopping into Crazy Horse Guitars near Drake University Old John the owner there had picked up a pallet full of Hohner acoustic guitars in anticipation for Christmas and I gave one a once over I liked the satin finish and the maple mahogany construction but ultimately it s the sound of the guitar that makes the difference The HW 600 has a nice balanced tone not tinny too much treble thin too much midrange or boomy too

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2010/12/18_Hohner_HW-600_acoustic_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Hofner Icon Series Vintage Violin Bass
    Many of my own recordings try to emulate the sound used on Beatle recordings and I ve chosen many of my own instruments at least loosely based on the instruments they played But the Hofner bass played by Paul McCartney was a bit of a stretch Through the 80s and 90s a genuine 60s Beatle Bass would cost well into the thousands of dollars Even when Hofner introduced reissues in the 90s and 00s they were well over two grand My best hope for the longest time was to buy a knockoff violin shaped bass and pretend I was just as happy Imagine my surprise around Christmastime of 2006 when Hofner introduced its Icon Series Beatle Bass retailing at under 500 USD I immediately started saving my nickels and knew I couldn t buy any more instruments until I had it in my greedy little hands Finally in April 2007 it went on sale just as I d saved up the last few dollars I ordered it online from Musician s Friend for 369 with free shipping Paul had chosen the Hofner at least in part because of its symmetry there weren t many options available in 1961 for left handed players I m not a lefty so I ordered the standard right handed version I was immediately struck by three inter related details 1 this is an extremely short scale bass 2 the semi hollow body makes for a very light instrument and 3 it has a very thin neck What this means for me as a player is that it s a very easy instrument to pick up and play I can stand and move around with ease even dance or jump around if the mood strikes me I couldn t do that with a Fender Jazz or

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2011/6/12_Hofner_Icon_Series_Vintage_Violin_Bass.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Jiggs Pbone plastic trombone
    added a sliding section that could lengthen the tube incrementally allowing the player to reach any note in the chromatic scale Even modern valve instruments trumpet French horn euphonium tuba have holes in the chromatic scale that can t be reached with any combination of valves Sound is produced by the player s vibrating lips inside the mouthpiece Purse your lips together and blow that s the fundamental sound that s resonated and amplified through a brass instrument A moderately experienced player can produce five or six notes without changing the slide position simply by varying the rate at which their lips vibrate These notes are the first harmonic B flat second harmonic F third harmonic B flat an octave higher fourth harmonic D and fifth harmonic another F More experienced players can reach even higher harmonics but these tend not to be usable tones The slide allows the player to reach those notes that fall between the harmonics From the first harmonic lengthening the slide a few inches at a time will reach the lower notes of A A flat G G flat and F players with long enough arms might be able to reach an E or E flat From the second harmonic of F above the first harmonic B flat we can pitch down to E E flat D D flat C B and B flat matching the first harmonic And so on starting at the third fourth and fifth harmonics In college I took a brass methods course which basically explains the theory behind brass instruments and how to teach young musicians to play them We studied each of the major brass instruments trumpet French horn tuba and trombone and I found I had a renewed interest in picking up the bone again I stumbled into an old silver trombone at a garage sale in Des Moines for five bucks and I ve had it ever since But it s pretty tarnished and not a lot of fun to play Tarnished brass tends to leave black grime on anything it touches particularly the player s hands And that grime tends to smell pretty nasty So while the interest is there I just don t pick up the trombone as much as I really ought to So when I saw some brightly colored plastic trombones at Rieman Music a couple years back I started thinking about how much easier they d be to maintain than a brass instrument and began investigating what the experts had to say about them Jiggs pBone was developed in Great Britain and is made from light durable ABS plastic The slide components are made of fiberglass with a brass insert to make an airtight seal Although not indestructible they are less delicate than a brass trombone won t dent and don t require oil based lubricants on the slide components They re fully functional instruments with fine pitch adjustment water key usually called a spit valve and slide locking mechanism pBone is

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2015/5/10_Jiggs_pBone_Fiberglass_trombone.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Yamaha RBX250F fretless bass guitar
    1958 And I understand they do a fine job with those too I didn t realize I was in the market for a fretless bass in the spring of 1994 My wife and I were in Rieman Music Unlimited looking for a used piano for her to play and we d found an old 1952 Kimball that she liked While Donna was talking price with the salesman she managed to get it for just 400 delivered I walked into the guitar section to look around As per usual I looked at some Telecasters and ES 335s and was about to pick up a Jazz Bass when my eyes landed on a blue Yamaha fretless bass I d played a fretless bass before a late 70s Fender Precision and loved the sound but was totally baffled with the lack of markers on the neck The Yamaha though has flat fret markers all the way up the neck making it easy to hit notes pretty precisely I was able to pick up this bass and begin playing with no trouble at all The Yamaha RBX250 and its fretless variation RBX250F is a budget line bass guitar modeled after the Fender Precision Bass The pickup placement and electronics are similar although many players say the RBX250 has a punchier sound than the P Bass The body is made of alder wood which is strong but light and the neck is thin and comfortable It does seem to be a bit neck heavy but not as bad as some other instruments I ve played I purchased the RBX250F that day brand new for just 225 Only after I got it home and as we waited for Donna s piano to be delivered to the house did I realize how similar it looks to my

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2012/6/1_Yamaha_RBX250F_fretless_bass_guitar.html (2016-02-16)
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  • De Rosa CGA0910 student congas
    to be a bit more diverse in my percussion arrangements than with a cajon alone When I played a reunion gig with my friend Ernest Bach in The Word Green last year Ernest used a small snare and hi hat a stomp box for a kick and substituted my student congas for his tom toms The makeshift club kit sounded so good he asked to buy my student congas to make the setup permanent And so I sold the student congas to Ernest Then I started to remember how useful they were in those tight stage and studio settings and although I certainly don t regret setting Ernest up with a useful rig I began to think about getting another set of my own A web search kept turning up the same model De Rosa s CGA0910 student congas I ve had De Rosa instruments before I briefly owned a De Rosa 12 string acoustic guitar bought on a whim and traded later to a friend My acoustic baritone guitar is a modified De Rosa GAB47 NT acoustic bass and it s one of my favorite instruments Both guitars were well built and sounded very good especially considering their price points When I contacted De Rosa s parent company Bridgecraft USA for a Q A about the bass that became my acoustic baritone I actually got to speak to one of the higher ups of the company That impressed me a lot De Rosa instruments and their sister brands Glen Burton Huntington and BGuitars are made in China to Bridgecraft s specifications and are sold mostly in the western United States Their focus on low cost instruments for students and beginners probably doesn t earn them very much attention from professional players but my experience with De Rosa instruments has

    Original URL path: http://www.cwsmith.fm/CW_Smith/Featured_instruments/Entries/2014/7/20_De_Rosa_CGA0910_student_congas.html (2016-02-16)
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