Guitar Review: Rainsong 12 String Acoustic Guitar (CO-JM3000T)

The 12 string guitar — whether acoustic or electric there is something wonderful about the shimmer, chime, chorusing and overall tones that come from them.  They are a delight to hear, but not always to play.

There are complaints about the species, and there are many humorous comments about them.  This is my favorite:  “A 12 string guitarist spends half his time tuning one, and the other half playing out of tune.”  The complaints and jokes can still hold true, but all are more accurate for 12 string guitars constructed of wood.

Rainsong CO-JM3000T

Of course, the wooden guitar is a beautiful instrument, but it comes with innate problems.  Wood is structurally susceptible to damage from both excess atmospheric humidity and dryness.  It is susceptible to extremes of temperature.  It is susceptible to damage from the incredible tension put on the entire instrument by its strings, and this is even more true for the 12 string guitar.  The tension brought about by 12 steel strings demands a formidable construction.  The formidable feature is the neck.  It is wider (12 strings take up more room than six strings), and it is stouter — the circumference is larger than almost any six string acoustic guitar.

Enter carbon fiber/graphite.  The material is not susceptible to heat, cold, or any atmospheric condition.  Carbon fiber has the strength to withstand the pressures of 12 steel strings that no wooden guitar could withstand. In this review I will compare the characteristics of a Rainsong Concert Series Jumbo 12 string neck to that of an Eastman jumbo 12 string neck, and discuss the Rainsong’s great playability and tone.

Nut Width:

Rainsong CO-JM3000T:  1.875 inches, or 4.125cm

Eastman AC530:  1.875 inches, or 4.125 cm

Distance Between Strings at Nut:

Rainsong CO-JM3000T:  1.75 inches, or 3.85 cm

Eastman AC 530:  1.75 inches, or 3.85 cm

So far, identical measurements for both guitars.

Neck Circumference at Nut:

Rainsong CO-JM3000T:  5.41 inches, or 11.9 cm

Eastman AC-530:  5.64 inches, or 12.4 cm

The advantage goes to the Rainsong.

Neck Circumference at 12th fret:

Rainsong CO-JM3000T:  6.5 inches, 14.3 cm

Eastman AC 530:  6.91 inches, 15.2 cm

Again, the advantage goes to the Rainsong.

I am familiar with both guitars.  The ease of play with the Rainsong is very noticeable, is clearly superior to that of the Eastman.  The playability advantage that goes to the Rainsong is attributable to only one thing:  the smaller dimensions of the Rainsong’s neck.  This smaller dimension is due to the carbon fiber construction’s superior strength and stability.

Eastman AC530

Back to the joke quoted above regarding tuning stability.  To its credit, the Eastman generally stays in tune between “play dates” (if not detuned after play), but not to the degree that is found with the Rainsong.  With my Eastman I had to think about the potential to retune — I generally detune down by at least a whole step after playing it to preserve the integrity of the guitar.  So, do I want to take the time to tune it, or pass.  I’ll pass.  No need with the Rainsong — it can withstand the pressure of 12 strings at standard tuning at all times!

Unfortunately, a carbon fiber guitar is a non-starter for many acoustic guitar traditionalists.  The conceptual objection centers around tone:  How can a carbon fiber guitar possibly sound as good as a wooden guitar?  Subjectively, I find the “Rainsong tone” to be exceptionally pleasing.  A Rainsong guitar’s tone sounds like a guitar should sound — there is nothing foreign or alien about it.  In fact, I own two Rainsong’s myself, a Nashville series jumbo N-JM1100N2 (see the review:)  which possesses a thin spruce layer infused onto the carbon fiber top, and now the 12 string jumbo CO-JM3000T.  The complexity of tones that come from these guitars are both wonderful and differ from each other — Rainsong guitars are not clones.  (And remember, every wooden guitar also possesses differing qualities that effect tone, and some of them not at all pleasing).

The Rainsong Jumbo 12 String

A Rainsong guitar is inimitable:  it cannot be copied due to its qualities of design and construction.  I own a number of wooden acoustics, and on any given day I will choose to pick up one of the Rainsong guitars — they are the ones I pick up time and time again.  Regarding this jumbo 12 stringer, it is nearly as easy to play as any 6 string acoustic, and there is no hesitancy to play it due to the issue of necessary tuning and fine tuning that would come with the Eastman AC530.  The Rainsong CO-JM3000T is truly a winner and a keeper.  I give a “hats off” to the Rainsong guitar company (, and am thankful to discover and own my two treasured guitars.

Keep on playing!

Fr. Irenaeus

Guitar Review: Rainsong CO-WS1005NST Acoustic-Electric Guitar

An acoustic-electric guitar is no longer uncommon as it was 50 to 60 years ago.  They now make up the majority of acoustic guitars produced.  Carbon fiber guitars are no longer an anomaly, more and more manufacturers are emerging, e.g., we have the long established Rainsong brand to the newer Irish made Emerald Guitar brand, and established all-wooden companies are now producing carbon fiber guitars such as McPherson Guitars.  Reviewed in this posting is the relatively novel Rainsong CO-WS1005NST.  It is novel, in my opinion because it is a “12-fret” acoustic-electric guitar. (To add to this Rainsong’s attributes, it also has a 24.75 inch scale length.)

A “12-fret” model does NOT mean the guitar has only twelve frets.  Rather, it means the the neck meets the guitar’s body at the twelfth fret.  Although at one time this was typical for acoustic guitar production, at some time about 80 to 90 years ago Martin expanded the acoustic guitar’s construction.  With this innovation the neck now met the body at the fourteenth fret.  The result was a bolder, and clearer tone.  This quickly became the “standard.”  Go to any guitar store and you will see the vast majority of guitars are “14 fretters.”

Most major acoustic guitar makers offer a 12-fret model:  Taylor, Larrivee, Martin, Takamine, and the list goes on to now include the Rainsong reviewed in this posting (which I now own!).  .

Why did I buy a 12-fret guitar?  Let me begin to answer this with my own observation in playing the typical 14-fret acoustic.  I have noted that if I capo a 14-fret guitar at the second fret, I have a more comfortable playing experience.  I see that I am more articulate with my fretting hand.  So, if in any form of tuning (standard or open-D, etc.), why not capo at the second fret and continue the comfort by simply tune-down a whole step and have the same experience?  For one reason, a 12-fret guitar has its own unique characteristics.  The first tonal difference is volume:  a 12-fret acoustic will tend to be a volume canon when compared to most 14-fret acoustics.  This is because the bridge is placed lower on the guitar’s top, and the result is more vibration on the surface of the sound board.  Notice the distance from the body’s top to the bridge:  it is 30.1 cm in distance.  This stand in comparison to my Rainsong Nashville Jumbo’s 28.2 cm distance from body top to bridge.  This is a notable distance.  Volume is also added by the sound whole’s off center position in the upper bout — there is even more surface area created for vibration of the sound board.  Again, increased volume is the result.

Additionally, a 12-fret guitar has more mid-range, and this Rainsong is possibly the exemplar of this characteristic.  Mid-range plus volume offer can offer a challenge to the guitarist who plays with a pick such as me (“you can have my pick when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers!”).  Hence, I have to overcome the “muddiness” in two ways:  use a thin pick, or (a frightening possibility) begin some finger style techniques.  (As an admission I have tried the first few bars of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and was somewhat pleased with my initial, faltering attempts).

This is the third Rainsong acoustic guitar I have reviewed.  Previously, I have reviewed two jumbo body guitars:  The Rainsong N-JM1100N2 (Guitar Review: Rainsong N-JM1100N2, AKA the Nashville Series Jumbo) and the Rainsong  JM100N2 (Guitar Review: RainSong JM1000N2.)  Rainsong’s WS body style is its take on the Auditorium body.  This WS body model reviewed is all carbon fiber construction with a copper to orange-burst finish.  It comes with Fishman Prefix Plus-T electronics with added built-in tuner.  I am no authority on electronics, but when plugged in the control were easy to find and adjust, and seemed fine when played through my Fishman Loudbox Mini-charge.

As with any carbon fiber guitar you have structural advantages.  Primarily you never have to worry about humidity – no need to humidify or dehumidify based upon your climate.  Carbon fiber means no worries about structural breakdown in commonly encountered temperature extremes.  Carbon fiber guitars will hold tune very well when compared to their wooden cousins.

I am a Rainsong fan — sign me up as a card carrying devotee, and I hope to own a 12-string model in the not too distant future.  In my humble opinion Rainsong’s are very well made guitars with great acoustic tone, and the carbon fiber construction will bring great longgevity to any guitar you would purchase.  Finally, though this 12-fretter will require technique challenges and resulting (albeit painful and frustrating) growth beyond flat-picking, it is a welcome addition to my collection.

Keep on playing,

Fr. Irenaeus

Guitar Shows are back!, with a brief review of the Bright “Bear Cub”

IMG_0124Whether you have called it (or still call it) a pandemic, or a plandemic (as would the more skeptical among us), cultural, social, sporting, and community events were cancelled by state authorities.  Washington was among those states locked down in varying phases.  Finally, this state is — at least for the time being — opening up to a return to community gatherings.  My oldest son, Trevor, and I (pictured to the right) decided to support local and regional luthiers and music stores by attending the 2021 Tacoma Guitar and Drum Fest.

I have attended this festival in the past.  It was much larger with more vendors and musicians.  But, such trade shows are loud.  So, you want to try out an acoustic guitar?  Good luck with that — electric guitars take the day with both interest and volume.

However, I made a few discoveries.  Among them was meeting Will Bright who is a luthier from Bellingham, Washington.  He is the owner of Bright Guitars (  He makes both electric and acoustic guitars, along with an intriguing short scale guitar, the Bear Cub.  I quote from his site:

The Bear Cub is an arch top mini travel guitar with a 17 inch scale length. It was designed to be small, playable, and sound great.  When I designed the Bear Cub I decided to use a technology that is tried and true with smaller instruments; arched plates. I hand carve the spruce top and maple back just as I would a mandolin or a violin. This, combined with the oval sound hole, gives the guitar warmth, clarity and projection from a very small body. A travel guitar doesn’t have to sound like a tin can or look like a hockey stick, and the Bear Cub proves it.


With its short scale, the Bear Cub sounds “mandolinish” when first heard by the player.  But, it is, as you see, a six stringed instrument and is tuned as a guitar.  With its shorter scale, it would take me a while to adjust to the initial “cramped” feeling (as when you capo up beyond the seventh fret on a guitar), but the tone is bright and pleasing.  Will Bright offers two versions of the Bear Cub — the basic, and the more ornate version (as pictured).  Production time for the “basic cub” is two weeks; much longer for the more elaborate version.

In comparison, I recently tried a Chinese made Gold Tone F6 Mando Guitar at Tacoma’s Ted Brown Music.  It is a similar take:  a six stringed small scale guitar that plays like a guitar, but the guitar player doesn’t have to learn the forms required by the mandolin family’s tunings.

The American made Bear Cub is a better build, and as I recall, the neck seemed a bit wider. Further, it simply looks like a small archtop guitar, and did not seem to have the “choppy” tone of the more mandolin structured Gold Tone F6.  Well done Mr. Bright!

Keep on playing,

Fr. Irenaeus

Guitar Review: Rainsong N-JM1100N2, AKA the Nashville Series Jumbo

Nashville Jumbo

Inimitable. Now, that is an adjective that is not commonly used in everyday speech. Its definition: “so good or unusual as to be impossible to copy.” I would use this adjective to describe Rainsong’s new Nashville Series Jumbo (N-JM1100N2). I also use the adjective exquisite to describe this guitar in review. Over several years I’ve played three other guitars that I would describe as exquisite in tone and quality: a Breedlove dreadnought, and Breedlove grand auditorium, and a Martin HD-28. All guitars were well above my price range, and I completely shut them out of my mind, thus giving them no further thought or attempt at pursuit of purchase.

Serendipity. Now, that’s a noun not commonly used in everyday speech. Its definition: “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” (Its adjectival form is serendipitous.) Several months ago at Tacoma, Washington’s Ted Brown Music I had a serendipitous encounter with an inimitable and exquisite Rainsong guitar — the Nashville N-JM1100N2 — a jumbo bodied guitar with a beautiful, glossy tobacco burst finish.

Prior to my serendipitous meeting, I had noticed an ad in Acoustic Guitar for Rainsong’s new Nashville series lineup. This series, as well as the company’s Vintage Series of guitars, has a unique “double top” construction:

“A thin spruce soundboard fused with a unidirectional carbon fiber top [offers] rich crystalline carbon sound subtly colored by spruce…and impervious to temperature and humidity changes.”

I have been aware of, and appreciated Rainsong guitars for many years. In fact I have reviewed this Nashville’s cousin, the Rainsong JM1000N2, elsewhere in this site (Guitar Review: RainSong JM1000N2 ).  They are great guitars, and offer many advantages to the traditional wooden guitar. They also come with a price tag that is beyond the reach of many, many guitarists.

I interject some details on this Rainsong guitar. As previously noted, it is a jumbo bodied instrument: its lower bout measures 17 inches in width. The nut width is 1.75 inches, and scale length is 25.4 inches. It stays in tune between “play dates”, I imagine because, not only due to its tuners, but the overall structural stability offered by carbon fiber. To add, it is incredibly comfortable and its playability is fantastic. The LR Baggs electronics (see the photo) are solid, and the output is great when the guitar was played through my Fishman Loudbox Mini-charge amplifier. But, the tone unplugged is its strength — this inimitable guitar is truly exquisite! It offers sustain and good volume, but also a rich palate of secondary tones not found on the only-carbon Rainsongs displayed.

Allow me to continue with my serendipitous experience. The Ted Brown store I frequently haunt is a distributor of the Rainsong brand, and they have a sizable portion of one wall in their acoustic room devoted to the brand’s offerings. The Nashville jumbo caught my eye, and she began her call to me. A few strummed chords were followed by a progression of arpeggios, and then some of my favorite chordal riffs. I was stunned — the guitar quite literally took my breath away! Several more minutes were spent thoroughly enjoying it. I compared it to the Rainsong jumbo JM1000N2 also displayed — very good, but no comparison. I compared the Nashville jumbo to some Taylor guitars — all very good, but no comparison. But, then comes the cold slap of reality: the price tag! $3,499. Ouch! Unlike the other noted exquisite guitars, I could not get this one out of my head. What was to be done? Well, why does a guitar player sell a guitar? To buy a new guitar. So a small number of my guitars were sold over a period of time on Then, a great price was found on a Nashville N-JM1100N2 on, and the purchase was made.

The Nashville jumbo is inimitable due to its construction, and its subsequent voicing is exquisite! I would encourage you to find one and try any Rainsong Nashville or Vintage Series guitar. Sell off the needed number of guitars, save up a bit, and go for it! I am thankful to own this treasured instrument!

Here is a link to Rainsong’s fusion top processing:

Keep on playing!
Fr. Irenaeus

Shubb Capo Royale vs G7th Performance ART: A Comparative Review

G7th ART (left) Shubb Capo Royale (right)

My quest for the perfect capo continues. I search because the two primary problems with capos still exist: string buzz a loss of tune upon application. A few months ago my first capo review involved a comparison of three G7th capos: G7th Nashville, G7th Performance, and G7th Performance 3 ART. String buzzing when a capo is applied was the problem addressed. The G7th Performance 3 ART makes the claim that its Adaptive Radius Technology provides “…buzz-free use.” The claim was held up when compared to the other G7th capos. With G7th’s most recent product, there was only one buzz recorded which contrasted to multiple buzzes with two other capos made by “The Capo Company.” The string buzz contest was settled, in this posting maintenance of tuning is addressed. Two capos which boast the ability to keep your guitar in tune when applied to the fret board are compared this day: the Shubb Capo Royale, and G7th’s Performance 3 ART.


Let’s begin with the claim set forth by G7th:

The Performance 3 is the culmination of years of designing, tweaking, and improving — but most importantly, listening to guitarists and their views on what a capo SHOULD do. Now, coupling our Unique Tension Control system with the ground-breaking ART [Adaptive Radius Technology] string pad mechanism gives a near-perfect capo experience.
The ART system within the top bar of G7th Performance 3 capos adapts to the true curvature over your strings and fretboard, exerting completely even pressure across all the strings — setting a new standard of in-tune, buzz-free use. It gives you the maximum tuning stability with the minimum possible tension in EVERY position, on ANY guitar neck.

Next, we have the Shubb claim:

The Shubb Capo is designed to reduce tuning problems. Its custom material presses the strings just like your fingertip. Its unique design closes onto the neck just like your hand. Its pressure is totally adjustable. The result: no retuning is necessary.

Similar claims, but will there be similar results? I put the capos to the test on five different guitars using one Snark electronic tuner. All five guitars were tuned (standard tuning) using the Snark tuner. Then, each capo was placed on frets 2, 5, and 7 on all five guitars. Each guitar was retuned before repositioning each capo at the above mentioned frets. “Distuning” was noted for each capo at each position by the number of “minute” increments (flat and/or sharp noted by -1, or +2, for example) from the “12 o’clock” position on the tuner. Here are the results in terms of total “distuning minutes” at all three fret positions (again 2, 5, and 7).

Breedlove Pro Series D25/SRH acoustic dreadnought:

Shubb: +9 (all sharp), G7th ART: +6 (all sharp)

Faith FG1RE PJE acoustic dreadnought:

Shubb: +20 (all sharp), G7th ART: +10 (all sharp)

Yamaha A5R ARE acoustic dreadnought:

Shubb: +13 (all sharp), G7th ART: +16 (all sharp)

Taylor Grand Pacific 317e acoustic dreadnought:

Shubb: 0, G7th ART: +4 (all sharp)

Ibanez Talman Prestige solid body electric:

Shubb: +4 (all sharp), G7th ART: +9 (all sharp)


Shubb: +46 minutes sharp, G7th ART: +45 minutes sharp

Subjective winner

In conclusion, I was pleased with the tuning stability provided by both capos. I will NOT run the results through a Chi Square statistical analysis, but I would guess by the results there would be no statistical difference between the two. Further, the minor distunings at all five fret positions would not be audibly noticeable to the vast majority of players except, perhaps, to someone blessed with perfect pitch. My experience with tuning issues with other capos allows me to express the opinion that both capos live up to their respective claims. However, I would give the Shubb Capo Royale the nod given its price of $20.85 (Amazon) compared to the G7th ART’s price of $49.99 (Amazon). Plus, with its slim gold-plated presentation, the Shubb just looks cooler!

Keep on playing!
Fr. Irenaeus

Guitar Review: Godin Multiac Steel (Natural)

Godin Multiac Steel

There are only two kinds of guitar players in the world…Well actually there are many types of guitar players in the world, but allow me to break it down to what applies to me. There are only two types of guitar players in the world, those who can move between acoustics and electrics with ease, and those who cannot. While my two sons occupy the first position, I, sadly, occupy the latter. I’m an acoustic player. While I appreciate the wonderful tones that come from an electric guitar when played through effect pedals and amplifiers, I am far, far, more comfortable with an acoustic guitar. Part of that comfort comes from the fact that acoustic guitars were the first guitars I owned, and upon which I learned the instrument. Another aspect is that with an acoustic guitar no set up (and take down) of amp, cables, or pedals is part of the music making experience. You pick one up and play. One more admission: I have a relatively “heavy hand” and I find an acoustic far more accepting and forgiving of my touch. So, my three electrics generally languish in their cases and my amps collect dust.

In my explorations, I have tried various acoustic-electric hybrids such as the Taylor T5 and Godin’s Ultra-6 to name a few. Their necks and touch are far too electric in feel, and thus, never purchased. Then early in 2019 I learned about Godin’s new Multiac Steel hybrid. I tried one out at a local store comparing it with a Taylor T5. Hands down the Multiac Steel was the winner. Though heavier, it felt and played far more like an acoustic than an electric. Yet, there were many features that make it also an electric guitar.

Volume (top) Tone (bottom)

It is an attractive instrument having the appearance of a Les Paul. It is solidly built guitar.  It makes a statement of quality.  This Multiac has a solid spruce top, mahogany neck with a synthetic fretboard of Richlite (used on some Martin guitars as well), and a chambered wooden body. It has a 25.5 inch scale length and a nut width of 1.72 inches which together add to the acoustic feel I prefer. There are both acoustic LR Baggs pickups and a Seymour Duncan lipstick pickup (this single coil is located just below the fret board). There are two sets of controls and two outputs jacks that allow you to dial in a mix of both acoustic and electric qualities, acoustic only tone, or electric only tone. The control knobs on the body are the true captains of the tone. When you plug into the acoustic output you can blend the acoustic and single coil pickups: the volume knob adds in the single coil to taste while the tone knob dials in the single coils tone (neck to bridge tones). When the single coil output is accessed alone no acoustic blend can occur — it becomes purely electric in character. However — since it is a hybrid — you can plug into both outputs and play through both an acoustic and an electric amp.

The guitar without any amplification when played has the sound of a hollow body electric when such a guitar is not amplified. But, of course it needs to be amplified to demonstrate its true qualities. The Godin was first played through a Marshall AS50D acoustic amp through the acoustic output jack. Through this amp the Multiac sounded like any amplified acoustic guitar until you blend in the lipstick single coil with the volume control knob. Here, the tone is quite unique.

Next, I went for the pure electric aspect of the Godin. I plugged into a Blackstar HT Club 40 amplifier. The tone produced was truly that of a electric guitar whether played clean or on overdrive. A variety of tones were selected from the amp, and this guitar handled all of it quite steadily.

I truly have the best of both worlds — I now have an electric guitar that has the comfortable feel of an acoustic guitar.

Keep on playing,
Fr. Irenaeus

Gear Review: G7 Performance 3 (ART) Guitar Capo

Quests. Some are factual, some mythical. I have one of my own: the quest for the perfect capo. Some say it doesn’t exist. I have a collection of a variety of capos. Some work well on some of my guitars, but not on others. With any capo there can be the problem of skewing the guitar’s strings upon application of the capo. Then there’s problem of the guitar staying in tune after application. And, of course, there is the issue of a buzzing of strings when the capo is applied. Thus, we guitarists have the never ending quest for the perfect capo.

There have been developments is capo design. One involves application of specific pads which correspond to the guitar’s fretboard radius. This likely solves the problem, but is impractical (I would never take the time to change the pads). Recently I read of the marketing of a new G7 capo in Acoustic Guitar magazine. The new capo is called the G7th Performance 3 Guitar Capo (clamping mechanism). It involves G7’s technology called “Adaptive Radius Technology” (ART). Per G7:

Revolutionary new active string pad infinitely adapts to match any guitar perfectly. The ART mechanism delivers unrivaled tuning stability by applying even pressure across the strings. Suitable for ALL ACOUSTIC and ELECTRIC 6 string guitars.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: Taylor Grand Pacific 317e

Taylor Guitars is one of America’s premier guitar makers. Their guitars stand shoulder to shoulder with Martin, Gibson, Larrivee, and other great North American guitar manufacturers. They are known for their quality of build and playability. I have owned three Taylor guitars, but have sold all three. I bought them all for their playability. I sold them all due to tone. To me they all were “strident”, and this tone quality always put me off from them. They were set aside, all to be sold to a guitarist who loved that well known “modern Taylor tone.”

I follow the guitar industry. I strive to keep abreast of what is new, and who is doing what. What are the innovations? What are the new models? Of course, Taylor came out with its “V-Class” bracing in 2018. Bracing — you might as well try to discuss particle physics with me (and I’d probably appreciate particle physics more than bracing). “Big deal!” I thought of this innovation. Then, this year (2019) came the new Taylor news — a new type of dreadnought guitar with V-class bracing that offered a completely new Taylor tone. Okay, I might be interested, but I doubted it.

In mid-April I made another trip to Tacoma’s Ted Brown Music. In the store’s properly humidified acoustic guitar room there is a wall of Taylor guitars. In a corner hung a Taylor Grand Pacific 317e. Okay, I’ll bite. I sought to compare it to a Yamaha A5R dreadnought, and my own Faith Legacy Mars dreadnought which I happened to have with me. I compared the Grand Pacific to a Grand Auditorium 414ce, then a Grand Orchestra model. Was there a difference in tone with the Grand Pacific? An emphatic “Yes,” was stated. I have become a fan of Yamaha’s A5 series guitars. They are very playable with great clear tone and fantastic electronics. The Grand Pacific was equally playable, and its electronics, when played through a Fishman Loud Box Mini Charge (by the way, a fantastic acoustic amp!), was equal to the Yamaha system. The 317e was then compared to my beloved Faith Legacy Mars drop shoulder dreadnought. The 317e’s blended tone with strummed and arpeggiated chords held up to the Faith dreadnought, and the quality of tone was equally pleasing. Contrasting the Faith Legacy Mars to the Grand Pacific, the Faith has a more muscular tone, while the Grand Pacific had an airier, but very pleasing tone.

My go-to songs of the Beatles, Kinks, and others were a pleasure to play. The playability is typically Taylor, and of equal ease to the Yamaha A5 and the Faith guitars’ own playability.

Like the Faith and Yamaha A5 dreads, the appearance of the 317e is simple, tasteful, and classy. The tested Grand Pacific model has a gorgeous bear claw spruce top which puts forth a lovely gloss finish. The sapele back and sides are of a satin finish, as is the mahogany neck. It has an ebony fretboard and bridge. The nut width is 1.75 inches. The lower bout is 16 inches in width. The rounded dreadnought body is not new, but follows Breedlove’s (and now Bedell’s) rounded dreadnought design — this shape is nothing innovative as Taylor may claim. By the way, the case is eye candy. I feel I should buy a case to protect this case!

I was pleased and impressed with this 317e. It is truly a new Taylor sound with all the Taylor quality one is to expect. The Grand Pacific was purchased a week later. This Taylor dreadnought is a “keeper.” Finally, there is a Taylor guitar that rings true to me, and will do so for a new group — yet a more traditionally minded group — of guitarists. Well done Andy Powers and Taylor!

Keep on playing!

Fr. Irenaeus

Guitars Reviewed: Yamaha A4K Limited and A5R ARE

Confession: I suffer from G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). I’m not in denial, but I don’t see it as a problem. No one does except my wife (wives must always, in some way, be opposed to their husband’s interests). In fact, those to whom she expresses her misplaced concern see no problem with my G.A.S. (I love enablers!). In this posting is reviewed my latest acquisition: Yamaha’s A4K Limited, as well as its sibling, the A5R ARE. They are both dreadnoughts with built-in electronics, and are all solid wood, and very well made guitars.

A4K Limited

The dreadnought A4K Limited is an all koa guitar — solid top, back, and sides. As you may know, koa is a hard wood, and comes principally from Hawaii. Koa, in my opinion, gives a bright , crisp, and clean tone which is quite pleasant. Other materials of this guitar are mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard and bridge. The binding appears to be mahogany, as is the case for the A5R ARE. The lower bout is a generous 16.25 inches (41.3cm), and the nut width is a typical 1 11/16 inches (43mm) of a dreadnought.



The A5R ARE sibling has a solid sitka spruce (torrefactioned, or ARE as Yamaha describes the process), and solid rosewood back and sides. It too, has a mahogany neck, with ebony fretboard and bridge. The body and neck dimensions are identical to the A4K Limited.

Both models have identical electronics which consist of volume, treble, bass, and blend (you can mix mic and under saddle piezo pickups to you taste). The controls are laid out on the upper bout on the bass side of the bodies. A plastic “dear dummy” applique surrounds the controls and labels them for the player. The packaging that comes with the guitars contains smaller decals which are to be applied for identification at each knob. Both models have an attractive pick guard (surprisingly rare these days on many dreadnoughts).

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: Faith Mars Legacy Drop Shoulder Dreadnought

The name Faith Guitars is little known in the United States. I discovered the brand just a few years ago. I must admit the name Faith drew my initial interest. Now, I can have a lot of fun with the name since I am a priest in the Orthodox Church, but I’ll spare the world such plays on words. This is my third review of a Faith guitar. Here reviewed is the Mars Legacy.

Read the rest of this entry »

GUITAR REVIEW: Faith Blood Moon Neptune Acoustic/Electric (FNCEBMB)

Neptune Blood Moon

Trembesi. Interesting name. So, trembesi is not the site of a battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Neither is it a monument, or square, of historical interest in London. It is a tropical hardwood native to Java. It has been used for furniture for years, but recently has been used for guitar tone woods. Britain’s Faith Guitar company now uses trembesi in two of its guitar series: the Trembesi Series (possessing a spruce top), and the Blood Moon Series. The Blood Moon Series consists of three body styles: the Neptune (mini-jumbo), Saturn (square-shoulder dreadnought), and Venus (concert-style body). The Neptune and Venus bodies come with cut-aways and Fishman electronics. As the title indicates, this posting reviews the Neptune model.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: RainSong JM1000N2

Any tradition must be living to be valid — otherwise tradition becomes dead “traditionalism.” That is, there must be “creative faithfulness” to the established, ongoing tradition. Hence, each new generation must both live within the established tradition, and express the tradition with a new, excited, winsome voice.


The Orthodox Church, which I serve as a priest, isn’t the only bearer of tradition — the acoustic guitar also stands within a sound and revered tradition. The acoustic guitar of 100 years ago is still recognizable today: there is a neck, body, sound hole, bridge, saddle, tuners, and strings. And the acoustic guitar of the twenty-first century has the very same features. The twenty-first century guitar, however, is constructed in its factory or workshop very differently than the one made 100 years ago. Here, the creative faithfulness, in fact, has produced superior acoustic guitars which stand solidly within this venerable tradition. Such creative faithfulness to the production of the acoustic guitar is alive and well, and taken to the next level, in the RainSong brand of guitar!

Read the rest of this entry »

“The Only Living Boy in New York” — Here I Am

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

“The Only Living Boy in New York” is my favorite song by Simon and Garfunkel. It was one of their final songs as a duo being recorded in late 1969. Its origin comes from Art Garfunkel’s departure from New York to Mexico to film “Catch 22” (“Tom, get your plane ride on time / I know your part’ll go fine / Fly down to Mexico…”).  It is a great acoustic guitar song, with wonderful melody and lush vocals. The song’s bridge in its final presentation is fantastic fun to play, but it’s the lyrics of the bridge that win my attention:

“Half of the time we’re gone / But we don’t know where / And we don’t know where.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“Wigglin’ O’ The Puppy” — A Fun Song

Albert as a puppy

My wife and I have five dogs: two males and three females. They are a small mixed breed — a blend of Bichon and Havanese. Though small, they have big hearts and personalities. They’re active. They have the run of our three acres, where they dig, run, and chase both squirrels, and an occasional rabbit (though both species always outrun them). We’re also “back yard” breeders with the dogs. The joy is not only to see the puppies when they are born, nurse, and grow, but to see the joy they bring to those who buy them. We continually receive photos of their now grown dogs as they have grown and enriched their lives.

Shortly after the births of our first litters, I composed the following poem, setting it to a tune that popped into my head (what I think is a traditional Irish / Scottish folk tune, or something like a sea chanty). It is entitled “The wigglin’ O’ The Puppy.” I hope it brings about a smile and a chuckle!

The Wigglin’ O’ The Puppy (Key of G)

……………G.                                                 C.
Oh, the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin o’ the tail,
G                                                   D                       D7
For their cute black noses an ocean I would sail,
G.                                                           C.
And for their sweet puppy kisses a mountain I would scale,
…………….G.                                                  D              D7        G
Oh, the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

………………G.                                  C
Oh, they love to play and they love to bark.
……………….G.                                                          D.             D7
And they love to chase squirrels when they go to the park.
………………G.                                               C
And they cock their heads when they hear this reel
…………G.                                                  D            D7        G
O’ the wigglin’ of the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

Oh, the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!
In spite of all the cuteness there’s a dark side to my tale
And to overcome the terror I must be heart n’ hale!
Oh, the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

Oh, they love to play and they love to bark.
And they love to chase squirrels when they go to the park.
And they cock their heads when they hear this reel
O’ the wigglin’ of the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

Oh, the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail,
O’er the peein’ and poohin’ I someday will prevail,
But now in their wake of ruin, I can only wail
At the wigglin’ o’ the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

………………G.                                    C
Oh, they love to play and they love to bark.
……………….G.                                                           D             D7
And they love to chase squirrels when they go to the park.
………………G.                                               C               C7
And they cock their heads when they hear this reel
O’ the wigglin’ of the puppy…
……………………………………………………………D.           C        G
O’ the wigglin’ of the puppy and the waggin’ o’ the tail!

Albert grown up

Fr. Irenaeus

Guitar Review: Yamaha LL-TA (TransAcoustic)

I love acoustic guitars. There’s a T-shirt that sums it up for me. It reads, “Love one woman, many guitars.” I think I just fell in love today with a guitar I met at Tacoma’s, if not western Washington’s, best music store: Ted Brown Music. A sales associate named Steve introduced me to Yamaha’s new LL-TA dreadnought. OK, so it may only be infatuation, but let me tell you about this guitar.

img_0635Honestly, I haven’t cared for the vast majority of the Yamahas I’ve played. Several years ago I picked up a LL bodied 12-string, and immediately put it back — stiff and lifeless. However, I have truly appreciated their A Series dreadnoughts. This Yamaha dreadnought caught my eye. I pulled it off its wall mount and began playing the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.” I was impressed by the easy playability, and its very open, clear, and pleasant tone. Steve saw my attention and informed me of its truly unique and incredibly innovative electronic feature: in-built chorusing and reverb! Unplugged you are able to access reverb and chorusing! The TA stands for Trans Acoustic — it is self-amplified, or better, self-effected. Wow! Then, after Steve set up a bass amp (YES, a Fender Rumble 500 watt head and cab) this feature came alive like no other acoustic-electric I own, or have ever played! Wow, and wow! In this new universe, the Kinks’ “Village Green,” the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” and “Norwegian Wood” — songs I’ve played for years — sounded completely new to me. Wow, wow, and wow!

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: Faith Mars FRMG All Mahogany Dreadnought

img_0491I first learned of the existence of Faith guitars about two or three years ago. I was, naturally, intrigued by the name: I am a priest, and thus I am all for faith. If you go to their website you will find a wide array of acoustic guitars, all designed by owner and master luthier Patrick James Eggle. His guitars have a solid following in the U.K., and the brand has won the award of the U.K’s Best Acoustic Guitar for four consecutive years. Rather impressive. The brand is now available in the United States as a new British Invasion. And just like the lads from Liverpool, the reviewed guitar is FAB!

Read the rest of this entry »

California Dreamin’: Prayer and Chords

mp1“California Dreamin’” is one great pop song. It was written by John and Michelle Phillips while living in New York City in 1963. Their version of the song was released in December, 1965, and, well, the rest is history. “California Dreamin’” is, in my opinion, the signature song of the Mamas and the Papas. It remains an evergreen song, and is a boatload of fun to play on acoustic guitar.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fender Paramount PM-1 Standard Dreadnought All-Mahogany NE

2016-10-22-16-55-18After dropping off an old appliance at a recycling center, I thought I’d swing by Ted Brown Music in Tacoma — just a slight detour. I recently learned of an addition to Fender’s Paramount acoustic line up. It is an all mahogany dreadnought. Ted Brown Music carries the Paramount line in addition to a nice selection of Fender electrics. My friend Gary at Ted Brown saw me walk into the acoustic room of the store. I asked him if there were any new arrivals. “We have a number,” he said. Then he added, “we have a new Paramount — the mahogany one.” That’s exactly the guitar I wanted to see. Could this be providence? He brought out the unopened box (I have never seen a freshly opened guitar before — quite an opportunity). “Do you want to give it a try?” Well, YES!

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: Cordoba Acero D10-ce

img_0467-1Quality and value: these are two traits that any consumer wants coupled together when considering a purchase. Sometimes this combo is elusive, but in today’s guitar market these two qualities are the norm in this “golden age” of modern lutherie.  In fact, you have to be most unlucky to buy a “lemon” of a guitar. So, I come to this review of the Cordoba Acero D10-ce, a guitar that fully embodies both quality and value in an all sold wood import package.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar Review: Fender Paramount Series Deluxe PM-1 Dreadnought

This is the “Golden Age” of guitar making. Acquaintances in the guitar stores I frequent enthusiastically agree with my non-professional assessment. Guitars, both acoustic and electric, have never before been so well made. America has been a leader in the innovations that produce such wonderful instruments. Manufacturers such as Taylor, Breedlove, Martin, Collings, and so many others, have changed the guitar world. However, their innovations aren’t held within the geographical boundaries of the United States — the quality of asian made guitars matches those of America and Canada. I have reviewed two Eastman guitars, two Bedell Performance Series guitars, and one Cordoba Acero Series guitar previously in this blog. All of these guitars are manufactured in China — a put-off for some guitarists — but a blessing for guitarists who want a quality instrument at a more affordable price. In this posting I review Fender’s PM-1 Deluxe Dreadnought, a guitar that is part of its new Paramount line of acoustics.

Read the rest of this entry »