Hi everyone! What a way to start off the new year! I just returned from the NAMM trade show in Anaheim where Fender/Guild debuted two new models in my signature line for Guild. It was pretty cool to see some of the biggest stars and best pickers around picking them up to play and seeing smiles come up on their faces.
One is the Kirk Sand and Guild design electric nylon string. Kirk has made guitars for Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Jose Feliciano, Kevin Eubanks and many more! I’ve played Kirk’s guitars since my friend Darrell Owens introduced me to him in 1993. This guitar is very much like my Kirk Sand custom guitar but a little smaller and very focused on the upper mids. It is a great guitar for the fingerpicking style that I do and the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed stuff. I’ll have to say it cuts like a knife on the fast stuff and is as beautiful a sound that can be heard on the slow ballad and worship songs. I really love it! The pickup system is a new Barberra pickup with the LR Baggs pre-amp that has always been in my models. In fact, I’ve switched to this system in all of my signature guitars. The response is incredible on the nylon string as well as the six and 12 string models… which leads me to this.
The new Signature 12 string guitar is beautiful and sounds absolutely amazing! The playability is unsurpassed by any 12 string and with the smaller body, it’s easy to hold and is very focused for finger-style solo guitar as well as the wonderful full chords while strumming. Love this guitar! The two As and Es are also switched around to get a fuller sound while finger picking (the thumb picks downwards) as well as with the chording of the left hand as the two bass strings are easy to have one accidentally muted. With the bass on the top side the smaller or octave bass notes get muted first so the guitar actually has more bass while playing which gives a fuller sound which is very important to me.
All of these models have the same pickup system as mentioned and all have up-graded Gotoh tuners and are a slightly shorter 25 1/4″ scale which makes all of them easier to hammer out solo anthems and full bar chords. Guild has made it possible for people all over the world to own the best finger-picking acoustic guitars I’ve ever seen. I’m very proud of the team who made it all possible especially Ren Ferguson, Tim Shaw and of course Kirk Sand. I’m also proud of the Fender CEO Larry Thomas as he was the one who encouraged me to bring my friends into ‘the Fender fold’ which is how Kirk Sand, LR Baggs and Richard Barberra got involved. (KIrk introduced the pickups to us.) My input was simply to give them the ideas collected through the years that appeal most to finger-style guitarists and how to sound our best and play our best. These guitars will help you do just that. However, these guitars are also great for flat-picking as well as contemporary or pop music and now with the nylon electric, even flamenco and jazz. There really are no rules in this… just what sounds and feels good to you and makes you want to pick it up and play!
We also introduced two signature guitar straps for Guild which are very Nashville or shall I say… Texas as they were inspired by my boot making buddy C.L. Wallis from San Angelo. My signature strings will be out in the spring… “Spring-strings!” Did I tell you about my signature haircut and dental floss? Okay, please don’t misunderstand all this but it really is a dream come true to have such great things to share with you. Perhaps you should read my book The Lights of Marfa in the A Word From an Outlaw chapter and maybe you’ll understand even more about all this.
Another highlight was to have my good friend and Crooner Johnny Tillotson to once again share the stage with me at NAMM. Johnny sings so great and his song It Keeps Right On a Hurtin’ is always a crowd pleaser. One lady I saw was so taken by the whole thing she had this big continual smile on her face from ear to ear. She was a huge Johnny fan no doubt. Other people came and said how much it made their trip to hear him. It was wonderful for me too. Although he’s lived in Los Angeles for years, he’s still my ole Jacksonville, FL buddy! Our good friends (Producer) Michael Lloyd, (UK… Sound Technology) Robert Wilson and (Mr Groove Tubes himself) Aspen Pittman and Johnny’s wife Nancy were right behind us cheering us on. Crowds were tremendous….Fender’s booth was the place to be!
Just last night my friend Jimmy Capps was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. I was planning to attend this gala event (Duane Eddy even played!) but the weather kept us in very close proximity to our little town. It’s rare to have snow and ice here. It’s more rare to have a friend who’s played with everyone from the Louvin Brothers (who brought him to Nashville) to Chet Atkins to Kenny Rogers and a big percentage of some of the greatest hit songs that ever came out of Music City. Jimmy was the one who recommended to Bob Whittaker that he have me on the show. The show was the Grand Ole Opry. Jimmy was staff guitarist on the Opry when I was with Grandpa Jones in 1975. He still is. Hats off to our buddy Jimmy “The Sheriff” Capps for his years of great music and entertainment and for being consistent and a role model to many a player including me. Congratulations on being in the Musicians Hall of Fame! I love you Jimmy! (You too Michelle!)
Well, that’s all for now. Thats enough to make me wanna go pick a little bit tonight before bed. Happy picking and thanks for giving me some of your time!