My modified Yamaha APX7 guitar

My Yamaha APX7 was bought from Elgin Music in Notting Hill, London W11 about 25 years ago. The sound from the double piezo pick ups was always too bright and thin to my taste so I had a luthier remove the original double piezo’s and replaced them with an LR Baggs i-beam transducer. Unfortunately, it always sounded too ‘quacky’ or mid-range-y to me so I have very recently fitted a magnetic Seymour Duncan Tube pick up to the sound hole which is good but perhaps a little too thin sounding. I run both pick ups at the same time, although matching a passive and an active pick up is not ideal; both have separate volumes dials but the Seymour Duncan needs to be fully up and the active i-beam just up a notch – it’s workable but I’m not happy yet. To compensate I use a Boss EQ stomp box with a ‘smiley face’ setting, (-: that is, low frequencies up, mids down and highs slightly up. That gives me plenty of fullness and presence without the quack, and I use a reverb stomp box and slap back delay to give it some fatness. The guitar only really starts to come alive when there’s plenty of level in the floor monitors with spill into my vocal mic – the bigger the sound the better it feels. The top surface has a psychedelic image of Jimi Hendrix attached as a vinyl layer, it can be peeled off – the vinyl dulls the resonance of the guitar acoustically but when plugged up, it’s fine. The things I really like about this guitar is the firstly the calibration, the fret and neck are perfectly accurate, the action is great, it’s tunes up easily and holds well. Secondly, the neck is small, so switching to an electric guitar is an easy transition for the hand, and finally, the body is narrow so it feels like a comfortable small guitar. One day I’ll buy a Gibson J 100 jumbo but until then, Jimi is my BFF.

Bonnie Raitt concert at the Civic

We loved seeing Bonnie Raitt last week, she puts on such a professional show and yet it feels so personal. There’s a real enthusiasm and freshness even though you know she has been playing these songs with this band for decades. She changes guitars nearly every song; various Stratocasters and a jumbo acoustic that looked like a Guild. She explains that some artists change their outfits but she changes her guitars, and goes on to explain each one has a slightly different tuning. What I admired was that the changeovers were done so smoothly. All the guitars are radio frequency with the transmitter pack on the back of the strap, so no unplugging and replugging – no thumps or bumps. Once she has a new guitar over her shoulder, with help from the guitar tech, there’s no fusing with stomp boxes or volume controls on the guitar – she just plays it. Many of her songs are slow, ballads I guess, and even the rocking ones are slow-burners. The guitar solo work from both Bonnie and her guitarist George Marinelli are restrained, they never try to take the roof off. Here’s a review of the concert by Marty Duda