such beautiful things, but there was a time when the guitar was not the king and the icon that it has become over the past six decades. The piano had it’s day with one in every music hall, bar and parlour, and various different instruments have reached the critical masses and had their fifteen minutes of fame, but somehow the guitar has held the top spot for a long, long time. I read a very interesting book about this a few years ago. Written by Tim Brookes, Guitar: An American Life details the building of a beautiful custom acoustic guitar by a Vermont luthier whilst weaving in the history of The Guitar in America, and what a history it is – “(The guitar) was always the object of the swells’ suspicion: a thing of the gypsies, the blacks, the poor whites; an outlaw object that became even more dangerous to the keepers of moral order when it fell into the hands of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Brookes covers a wide swath: the dash of flamenco and the surf rock of Dick Dale, the handiwork of Ernest Tubb and Andrés Segovia, early blues, late blues, parlor music, Hawaiian steel, black slide, the British Invasion, the mainstreaming of the instrument and its domestication. ” – For anybody interested in the history of the guitar, this is a great read. For me, the guitar has always been a very personal sounding board; a magical object or icon, something to wrap yourself around and pour yourself into, a sort of magic mirror that conjures sound from emotion… and a tool that has helped me turn those intangible things into a living for over 30 years. I’ve never really been a collector because, for one reason or another, as many guitars have left my home as have stayed. I feel badly if a guitar sits idle in a case at the back of my studio for too long and chances are it will be traded on or given away before too long. No, for me the guitar is a beautiful tool and since the start of my career, when I owned and played just one guitar, I am slowly acquiring a variety of instruments that suit different tasks. Below are some of the ones that have come and gone and those that have stayed and get played most nights.
Manzer Cowpoke (1989)
My main guitar is a Manzer “Cowpoke”, built by Toronto Luthier – Linda Manzer and bought brand-new from her Cabbagetown workshop (thank you Linda!). This guitar is a large, deep-bodied 6 string with a gentle venetian cutaway. The top is German spruce, inlaid with abalone and boxwood at the sound hole, with Indian rosewood back and sides and an American mahogany neck. I love this guitar in a way that is hard to put into words. It has a huge dynamic range, tone and character to spare and is supremely road-worthy. Over the years, the Manzer has been repaired, refinished and even had an adjustable truss-rod installed (the earlier version was not adjustable), but somehow the sound just keeps getting better and the songs keep flowing. I have recently ordered a new “Cowpoke” from Linda and am eagerly awaiting the new kid’s arrival. This version of The Cowpoke will also have Linda’s trademark ” Wedge” design, which I am very eager to try out.
Harmony H-75 (1963)
Apart from the Manzer, this is my most treasured instrument. I first came across one of these beauties (a red sunburst with a Bigsby) about twenty years ago when I saw Luke Doucete playing it at a Veal gig in Seattle, I’ve coveted it ever since. I finally found one after searching for years, right in my own backyard at Folkway Music in Guelph, On. When I found out that the guitar and I were the same age, the deal was sealed. Three great sounding, over-wound DeArmond pickups give you a wide variety of tone from soft and warm to twangy and loud. The shape is a gorgeous example of classic design and detailing, from a time when Harmony was an American giant at the top of it’s game and even Gibson was nervous of them. I’ve been told that this model inspired the ES335.
Gibson SG (1971)
This guitar was given to me by Andrew Paule, an old friend from my Minneapolis days, he simply said ‘here, you should have this’… It’s not a fancy SG (I’ve played late 60’s versions of this classic Gibson design which are far more ornate and intricate) however it does boast a really good pair of humbuckers that have that lovely chiming quality and vast tonal possibilities. My first non-Harmony, ‘classic’ electric guitar and a classy addition to my little gang of cheapies, this guitar with its skinny neck and double cutaway horns a is lean, mean metal machine. I have since removed the Bigby whammy bar as it was a tuning nightmare and the neck is so skinny that you can get quite a bit of tremolo just by wiggling the headstock.
Italia – Maranello (2004)
I am a sucker for a good deal and this one was way too good to pass up. On a mission to buy a power source for one of my pedals, I stumbled into a music store in Cambridge Ontario. In amongst all the ridiculous plexi-glass and chrome shredder monsters was this unbelievably gaudy and weird looking sparkler. Styled on ’60’s Italian electric guitars (spot the accordion influence) these guitars are designed in the UK and manufactured in Korea by Italia Guitars. This one sounds and feels great to play and the combination of banana-bike-seat top and mother-of-toilet-seat everywhere else means that it says something special about the player. Seriously, this guitar rocks.
Morgan “Resophonic” (1995)
This is a one-of-a-kind, wooden bodied, resonator style acoustic with a cutaway. Built by David Iannoni in Vancouver BC, I believe this is his first (and only?) resonator style guitar. It has a very unique and warm Dobro-ish sound, but is not typical of most wooden resonator style guitars (chiefly because of it’s solid top which alters the way the resonator responds). Like all of David Iannoni’s instruments, this is well built and plays beautifully. It has a very percussive, woody attack and almost no decay… a sort of banjo-like sound that is very pleasing to the ear and perfect for fast finger picking. Originally commissioned by a collector on the west coast, it found it’s way into my greasy mitts through the generosity of Rob Friedman (owner of Not Just Another Music Shop in Vancouver) – thanks Rob! I installed the DeArmond soap-bar pickup after consulting with Colin Linden – this in turn lead me to my love of Harmony Guitars and electrics in general.
The Hammertone (Inspired by Vox Mandotar) 1998
A truly wonderful hybrid of a mandolin and a 12 string Telecaster! This electric guitar has a version of the classic rounded Vox body shape, two Tele. style pickups and twelve strings. What makes it really stand out is that it is strung a full octave above the standard guitar tuning, putting it in the mandolin range. It shimmers and chimes, is lovely for volume swells, cuts through the murk of even the loudest Blackie and The Rodeo Kings gig and is built for fighting off hordes of angry folkies. As it says on the little instruction sheet “This is not a toy”. The Hammertone was built at the Guitar Clinic in Hamilton Ontario, but I’m not sure if they are still being manufactured.
Hand carved from personally selected woods, this copy of a butterscotch blonde ’52 Fender Telecaster is meticulous in it’s attention to the original details and (more importantly) sounds amazing. Built by an old friend and co-writer (We wrote On The Great Divide together) it’s as if somebody found a mint ’52 Tele in their attic and sold it to me for a song. When I first got my hands on this, I immediately understood what all the Telecaster fuss was about. It has “the” sound.
Roca – La Bradona Valencia (19??)
Spanish ‘Flamenco’ style (?)
It’s funny how little I know about this guitar’s origins or history, and yet, it has a large sentimental value for me. It is my first guitar. It was hanging on the wall of my stepfather’s front room, when he and my Mother got together. I guess it was inevitable that I would take it down and start trying to figure out chords and sounds on it. This guitar was my introduction to all things guitar and to a passion that has intrigued and captivated me ever since. I learned to play everything from Bach to The Beatles, Homeward Bound to Romanza and Air on a G string. I love the sound of gut string guitars, that peculiar (to steel string players) sonority and timbre that makes you think of Willie Nelson or Segovia. No doubt, this was a cheap model in it’s time and is unplayable and in need of repairs… one of these days, I’ll shell out to get it fixed and maybe record something with it.
Teisco Kawai Crown Archtop (196?)
I know nothing about this guitar… I THINK it’s a 1960’s Japanese-built electric, from back in the day when Asian builders were making odd versions of classic N. American standards. It’s solidly made and now that I’ve put some decent humbuckers in it, it sounds kinda cool. I like the look and I love the headstock “Crown” logo (also crowns embossed on the back of the tuning heads – Rodeo King freindly). Anybody out there know something about this, please drop me a line.
Update: Eureka! the wonders of the internet. Not six hours after posting this, a friend wrote to me and sent a link that has me now convinced this is a Teisco Kawai made in Japan during the ’60’s. I’m definitely hanging onto this now. Thanks Sytske!
Guild D35 (1981)
I bought this Guild dreadnought over 30 years ago when I was living in Minneapolis, from The Music Emporium in Dinkytown . It was my first serious brand-new guitar and though I don’t remember exactly how much I spent on it, I do remember thinking that it was some serious coin for a dishwasher who was just starting to make music in the local coffeehouses. As my first professional guitar, this instrument was very special to me and my solid, dependable workhorse/companion for ten tough years of dodgy cars (Datsun 510 Wagon anyone?) baggage handlers, hot summer-festival stages and freezing prairie one-nighters. When I bought my Manzer Cowpoke in 1991, I was inspired by this guitar, looking for a replacement instrument that had the same sense of sonic and physical weight to it (but built with more finesse and attention to detail). For live work, I prefer a guitar that has some heft or meatiness, an instrument that requires a little elbow grease to get it singing. This Guild definitely had those qualities and could speak softly or rage depending on the attack. Eventually though, it just couldn’t take the abuse any more. I retired it in 1990 when the neck literally fell apart! After that, it sat in a case for three years (a sad reality for any guitar) until Linda Manzer was kind enough to build me a replacement neck. Alas, despite Linda’s best efforts, it was never the same. It’s a lovely old thing that deserved to be played, so I gave it to a friend who was recovering from an illness and needed to do something with his hands and his heart.
Harmony Silhouette (1964)
I bought this guitar at the now defunct Songbird Music in Toronto sometime in 1999. Once again the ‘quirky’ Harmony thing caught my eye. I played it at the shop for a while and realised I was holding a unique, soulful guitar. These things were only about $120 new and now are rarely more than double that price (even in Canadian $). Featuring the DeArmond Golden Tone pickups, a ridiculously simple, but nonetheless effective tremolo system, and a rather fat neck that plays nicely, this is a great little guitar. Inspired by the Fender Jazzmaster, this is one of the low-end Silhouettes. Having said that, and despite its lowly status, its capable of producing a wide variety of tones and stays in tune remarkably well. Another Harmony triumph and another bargain for those who like to pay less than $500 for a soulful, vintage guitar. I loved this guitar and part of me still wishes I had held onto it, but I gave it to my good friend Suzy Vinnick after we made a great record together – Happy Here. Easy come, easy go….
Harmony (REBEL)(Ca. 1965)
This electric guitar was a mystery to me for years as I could not figure out what model it was. I bought it at Eddy Music in Nelson BC where it was hanging in the NFS rack. I managed to talk my way out of the store with it after another customer declared it to be the ugliest guitar he’d ever seen. (Ha!) To me, it is the epitome of late sixties cool and was most definitely inspired by The Beatles and their ulta-hip Rickenbackers. Predictably it is a little murky sounding but it plays quite easily and frankly I wouldn’t really have cared if it played like a baseball bat, It’s cool as fuck and in gorgeous shape (still had the little tag with the guy in a cowboy outfit playing a guitar), it’s stand candy… it’s for the video when I go through my Beatles phase… I strung it with medium strings (too heavy for most elec. players, but perfect for my ham fisted technique). Sadly this guitar went out my door as a trade for some gear that I really, really wanted (at the time). I miss it and should never have sold it. Live and learn.
Harmony Monterey (circa 1960-64)
I was given this acoustic arch top by my pal Brian denHertog (thanks Brian). It’s in great shape for it’s age – early sixties (?) and was,I gather, the top of the line for Harmony arch tops. A red sunburst on the machine carved top a lovely headstock logo and ingenious adjustable saddle make this a very striking guitar. The neck feels good and not as baseball bat-like as you’d think. After a few years I mounted an old DeArmond pickup up by the neck. Sadly this one didn’t get played enough and was traded for something else.
Harmony Holiday (Ca. 196?)
Looking very much like a cheap, bottom of the line version of the Stratotone, this Harmony Holiday is a one trick pony, with a single pickup, volume and tone control. The switch that you see beside the volume pot actually turns the tone pot off and on(!)I found this beauty at a little out-of-the-way music store in New Hampshire, stuck on a rack amongst new Fenders, Paul Reed Smiths and reissue Danelectros…it spoke to me, actually it said ‘get me out of here… NOW!’ So I did. Also traded for something more enticing.
OK, I’ll admit it, I love Harmony guitars. I love their esthetic, their prices and above all, their tone. If you are interested in learning more about these wonderful instruments, and the company that built them, check out: www.broadwaymusicco.com is a decent site with some very cool pictures of guitars and old catalogues. If you have a Harmony fetish, are interested in vintage cheapies, or know of an interesting website that you think might be of interest, drop me a line! I am intrigued by this stuff and always learning.
To be continued…
In the past 20 years, the acoustic guitar has gone through a number of modifications in design and materials, but none more so than in the amplification department. For a long time the acoustic was treated like the electric guitar’s younger sibling when it came to gear and acoustic players we were always forced to wear the technological hand me downs of the electric players; the amps, effects, mics. and assorted pedals that were designed for solid body instruments, keyboards and PA.s, but rarely anything designed specifically for the big resonating box that is the acoustic guitar. Nowadays, things are very different as changing trends continue to keep the acoustic guitar in the spotlight, and the folks who design and produce black boxes are forever coming up with yet another gizmo to fill the demand for all things unplugged, roots, nu-folk, Americana etc. However I still vividly recall early visits to my local music shop where I would pull a guitar off the rack and trudge across the shop floor to the amp department. Plugging an Ovation into a Marshall combo always seemed like anarchy and usually resulted in ugly blasts of feedback and nasty looks from the owners.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a small group of dedicated and persistent guitar tech’s to create and install pickup systems in my acoustics and (as airline baggage restrictions increase) figure out ever more cunning ways to safely transport my gear from venue to venue and year to year. This collection of equipment is ever changing and is definitely a work in progress. The never ending journey to the “Golden Tone” started with my buddy John Sharples (a.k.a. “The Guitar Doc”). I didn’t like a lot of the pickups and preamps on the market at the time (we’re talking the late ’80’s), so John and I designed a system comprised of various different over-and-under-the-counter components that would give me a lot of gain before feedback and somehow capture or recreate an acceptable approximation of the huge warmth and vigor of my Manzer. Finding a pickup system that works for your acoustic guitar is a frustrating endeavor as you probably already know, made even more difficult by the fact that what sounds good in somebody else’s guitar might sound like shit in yours. My pickup and preamp systems have changed considerably over the years but, for what it’s worth, I’ve included my current stage setup below. Be warned, this can be extremely dull stuff, and unless you are the sort of person who enjoys reading manuals or making up your own cables, I suggest you skip onto the next part.
My current amplification rig is a dual pickup/internal microphone setup made by the good folks at K&K Sound. The K&K Quantum Trinity System was originally suggested to me by my friend Don Ross who gently reminded me that things had changed dramatically for acoustic guitar amplification in the past decade and I might want to consider updating mine. K&K’s Quantum Trinity System is basically a combination of an under saddle piezo pickup (glued under the bridge plate), plus a microphone placed in the sound hole with both signals running through a stereo quarter inch cable from the guitar and down to a preamp/pedal board at my feet. Once there, the two signals are fed through separate sides of the K&K Quantum Preamp/Blender.
Although the K&K system is quite “accurate” in producing woody, warm, loud acoustic tones, I still feel that the three band EQ section on each side of the Quantum Preamp/Blender is not enough (there are always wolf notes or feedback areas that can vary from instrument to instrument and venue to venue which a three band EQ cannot control). So the next piece of gear in my audio chain is the Rane ME15S a dual 15-band EQ (which gives me plus/minus 12 dbs of cut or boost over 15 bands of graphic EQ for each input). I’ve found that any under-saddle pickup (even one as good as the K&K Pure Mini ) can sound a bit harsh or shrill on the top end and with this in mind, I often reduce some of the frequencies above 6khz as well as around 400hz. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of bass and tend to boost the sub frequencies, especially 80Hz. On the microphone side, I find that most of the frequencies below 400hz sound muddy, so I tend to shelve, or cut the bass frequencies from 400hz down. A dual 15 band EQ gives you a whole lot more control over your sound than simple Bass/Mid/Treble controls, but is still relatively small and light which makes flying easier.
After leaving the EQ, the microphone signal goes straight to a built-in active DI box and from there to the front of house PA. The pickup signal takes a more circuitous route before getting out of my rig as I send it through the chain of effects pedals (see Electric Rig below for more details) before splitting the signal and sending one side to a quarter inch jack that can connect to an acoustic amp, and the other side to an active DI box which plugs into the front of house PA. I usually ask the sound person to mix my pickup hotter than the internal microphone so that the pickup is the guts of the guitar’s sound and the microphone is augmenting this signal, by adding top end and “air”. If any of you have read descriptions of my previous acoustic rigs, you will note that everything has gotten a lot less complicated and mostly that is because the quality of stuff available on the market now is far superior than even ten years ago.
I am almost certain that this list of gear will be out of date in a year, perhaps even in six months. In the past two years I have radically changed what I play through and how I transport it, but in the spirit of “you’ve got to start somewhere”, here is a list of what is currently in my pedal board. First in the chain is the Xotics Effects SP Compressor which was chosen for it’s winning combination of sound and size. I use this occasionally with my acoustic, but more often with the electrics for sustain and solos. I especially like the “blend” control on the SP which allows me to blend the compressed signal with the original signal.
– Next is the Union Tube and Transistor More Pedal which is a clean boost circuit (made in East Vancouver BC). I occasionally use the More to boost my acoustic guitar signal but most often use it on my electrics. I tend to turn the pedal on and leave it on all the time when playing my electrics as I love the warmth and sizzle it brings to the sound and how it pushes the front of my amp. I first came across this pedal when playing a show in Saskatoon at Village Guitar and Amp, I think Dan explained it to me by saying “this is the magic pedal” or something equally cosmic. It sure sounded good and made me re-think my entire pedal board (… uh… thanks Dan!)
– I’ve been swapping out distortion/overdrive pedals for some time but have settled (for now!) on the Wampler Thirty Something. This pedal covers a lot of ground and has a great variety of tones based on the sound of a Vox AC 30. You want to get that sweet British Invasion chime or the full on Brian Mays? Check out the link for more details.
– After the boost and drive section of the pedal board we get into delays, starting with a Wampler Faux Tape Echo. Again, Wampler has come up with a very useful pedal that combines the warmth and weird artifacts of analog tape machines with the headroom and clarity of digital. I have an old EP1 Echoplex Tape Delay and it is the standard bearer, but much as I love this machine, it is cranky, bulky and not suited to the rigors of touring. The Faux Tape Echo covers some of the same ground but with the addition of a tap-tempo button and a much broader variety of sounds and delay times (and no moving parts).
– What’s better than one delay unit? Two of course, which brings me to the TC Electronics Flashback a digital pedal that is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. I use this pedal most often for backwards delay or to add some weirdness to a solo (often in addition to the Faux Tape Echo), the TC is tiny and has a couple of odd ways of doing things, so it’s a little less useful. Finally we come to the more traditional effects of Tremolo and Reverb, both of which I love for either the acoustic or electric. The Strymon Flint is a great pedal combining a huge variety of both effects in one compact unit and again bringing together the best of the analog and digital worlds. One of the bonus features of the Flint is the ability to add an expression pedal to either effect and so change one parameter on the fly with your foot – very useful. The other components of my pedal board are; a Boss FV- 50H volume pedal which I use to vary the signal going into my rig (especially useful for creating big delay washes and whale noises), a Roland EV-5 expression pedal (for controlling parameters on the Flint), a TC Electronics Polytune-2 which is a tiny but very accurate strobe tuner with a big, bright LED readout. Finally there is one of the key components of this rig unit – the little footswitch that tells the Whirlwind AB-8 (hidden underneath all the other stuff) which mode to be in. Acoustic Mode engages the K&K Quantum Blender and Rane ME15 + plus all the other pedals. Electric Mode bypasses the K&K and Rane and only engages the stomp boxes. This allows me to have one rig to do it all. The picture below identifies the various pedals etc.
Guitar resources – (Tell Them I Sent You!)
Here are some links to Music stores and repair shops (mostly) in Canada and the US. If I’ve personally visited, I’ll give some detail – if not just the link. I’ve been requesting people to send me links on FB as I figure it’s always a good thing to share the knowledge and who knows when you will find yourself in a strange town with a problem that needs to be fixed pronto. If you have a favourite link to share, please send me an e-mail or you can reach me at my Facebook Fanpage
Another sad story of broken guitars and a skilled repair man. I met Brian Schultze (who has since gone up to the big repair bench in the sky) at Avenue Guitars when he helped me out of numerous jams over the years (thanks Brian, we miss you). Avenue is still going strong and has an excellent inventory of new and vintage instruments, amps, effects pedals etc. (although the vintage stuff can be a leeeeetle bit pricey). I definitely recommend stopping in to try out some great examples of classic instruments and gear and heartily endorse their repair work. While you’re there, you might as well stop next door to Dadeo’s for some gumbo.
Brit features prominently in the long story of my current guitar rig (see below). If you have ANY problems with amplifiers, pedal boards, pickups etc, and you happen to be touring through The Maritimes, Brit is your man,
Bob Egan has played guitar and pedal-steel in some of the finest bands on the planet (Wilco, Blue Rodeo…) AND he’s a great repairman. So if you live in the Kitchener Waterloo area and need work done on your acoustic, electric or amplifier, pop in and see him… you’ll probably walk out with a new purchase as well.
Here in Canada, it is a sad truth that all guitars have to travel underneath the plane with all the other baggage. Because of this, all my guitars travel in Calton Cases. I bought my Calton here in Canada from Al Williams who ran the factory in Calgary AB before selling and getting out of the game altogether. Since then Calton (which became Workhorse) has gone through many changes and much of the history up until recently has been a very sad tale of mismanagement and shitty customer service. Happily, a new chapter for Calton has started in Austin Texas and as far as I know, Calton is now back to making the best instrument cases in the world. They’re not cheap, but then again, neither is a major repair after the airlines have done what they do all too often (United Breaks Guitars). If you travel, it will happen to you eventually (like death and taxes) and your prized guitar, fiddle or bouzouki will get the living shite kicked out of it by a baggage handler or some other neanderthal. If your baby is in a Calton Case, you can at least be assured that it’ll stand a much better chance of making it home in one piece. Go to their web site and check out the testimonials, or simply keep an eye open at the next major festival you attend… how many Caltons can you count?
(How do you know if you are an Air Canada baggage handler? Lock yourself in a padded room with a bowling ball. If you lose or break the ball, you’ve got the job.)
Capsule is Toronto’s coolest place for vintage acoustic and electric guitars, amps, etc. at very decent prices. They also do excellent repair work on both guitars and amps AND they sometimes have exceedingly cool cowboy shirts for sale. Staffed almost entirely (I think) by working musicians, this is another great store to kill a couple of hours in trying out and tuning the inventory. The first time I darkened Capsule’s door, I had to step over a sleeping mutt, which was sprawled in front of the cash register. That’s my kind of guitar store – Cowboy shirts and dogs – Definitely worth a visit.
Folkway is a great resource in the heart of Guelph Ontario. When I lived there, I spent many happy hours playing instruments that I had sometimes only seen in books or in the US. A few years ago I walked in off the street to buy some strings and there was the Harmony H75 that I had been searching for, ever since seeing Luke Doucette playing one in Portland Oregon many years previous. I did an immediate 180 and went home for my cheque book. I still play that guitar every night I am onstage with B&RK or F&W. Folkway boasts a stellar collection of rare and beautiful vintage acoustic instruments and some interesting electrics and amplifiers (including a significant selection of south-paw guitars), an excellent repair shop, an ongoing concert series featuring local and international touring artists, plus a burgeoning teaching dept. Folkway does it all. Guelphites are very lucky to have such a fine store in their little town. I recommend a visit if you’re passing through in person, or on the web. Prices are on the steep side, but quality is good. Oh, and Folkway often stocks Newtone String.
Joe Glaser is one of the best guitar repair guys in N. America, no contest. Now there’s a statement that is hard to prove, but judging by his client list I’m not the only one who thinks so. Last time I was in his shop there was a phone number scribbled on the white board with P. McCartney underneath… presumably Macca goes with the best also. Being the Nashville guy means that Joe works on a lot of vintage and high-end acoustic and electric instruments, and not just guitars either. Joe also has two of the Plek Fret dressing machines which are remarkable and rather than me trying to describe what they do, you should just go check out the web site. In a nutshell, they dress frets better and more consistently than the best guitar repair guy in N. America! OK, so maybe you’re headed to Nashville with your band or on a holiday or something. If your lovely axe needs a fret dress or a tune-up, bring it in to see Joe, I promise that you will thank me. Call ahead to make an appointment.
Do L&M really need me to talk them up? Do they even need a hyperlinlk? Emphatically no, they are one of the most successful businesses in this country and have systematically swallowed up the competition, be it the Mom and Pop music store in your small town or one of the other music chains that didn’t make it (Mother’s Music etc.). No, the reason why I am mentioning them is because I like dealing with L&M. Their prices are reasonable, their inventory of instruments and gear is comprehensive, their rental policy is outstanding and most importantly, their attitude towards musicians of all stripes is respectful and fair. I’ve found this attitude towards musicians to be consistent from coast to coast and in this era of 1-800-fuck-off, from a large corporation such as L&M, that is remarkable and worth noting… word!
Mike Spicer has been repairing and restoring guitars in Hamilton forever and for everybody. Mike has years of experience with acoustic and electric instrument and over the years has worked bailed me out on numerous occasions. He is one of those guys that clears his bench for you if you have a gig that night and always comes through.
One of the most well known music shop in Toronto amongst both professional and amateur players alike. Twelfth Fret is definitely worth checking out for its inventory of high-end acoustic and electric instruments, both new and vintage, but also for it’s reputation as a great repair and rental shop and a place to get custom-built instruments. David Wren, one of the owners, is one of the early names in Canadian custom-built acoustic guitars, he’s right up there with Laskin and Manzer. Also, The Twelfth Fret is the Canadian distributor of Newtone Strings (sustained applause!).
I haven’t been to this store and their website is a little odd, but the selection of guitars looks interesting. Next time I’m in Kingston I’ll have to stop in.
I have been to this store and there are some gorgeous instruments to be had. My most recent visit was when I was in Edmonton producing an album for my friends John Gorham and Terry Morrison, The album features some fantastic local players including Byron Myhre the proprietor of Myhre’s Music. Byron is a truly gifted country fiddler and not surprisingly Myhre’s has an excellent selection of violins and a definite slant towards that beautiful instrument. I daresay they would be a good place to get repairs done as well – but if you play fiddle you probably already know this.
Another new one for me – Lauzon seems to have a decent inventory of new instruments and also does repairs. Good to know!
Yet another new one to me – Lil’ Demon offers repairs for “serious players”… also looks like they have some cool old amps and used guitars that they have refurbished or brought back to life. Will check them out next time I’m in TO.
Elderly are one of the oldest shops in the business and also one of the oldest online purveyors of instruments and accessories. Definitely more roots-oriented they have a good selection of acoustics, mandolins, autoharps, violins etc.
A great store is Seattle, with a large selections of acoustic and electric instruments, amps and gear. They also do repairs and have a large teaching staff. definitely worth a visit!.
One of the great Canadian roots music stores, specialising in sales, repairs, teaching and outreach to the “folk” community. Started in 1976 by Arthur McGregor, this center has been a strong advocate for the Ottawa and greater Canadian Folk Music scene since the early heydays of L’Hibou etc. and continues this tradition through The Canadian Folk Music Awards and The OFC Music school and through it’s various publications. Definitely worth a visit.
Another one of those great old stores that has been around for decades and survived the fads and phases of the music business. Rufus’ has an excellent selection of new and vintage instruments and also offers excellent repair work and lessons.It’s been years since I visited, but I will surely be stopping in when I move back to The West Coast.