Saturday, February 24, 2007

La Patrie CW Concert First Impressions

OK, second impressions sorta/kinda, as I borrowed a non-cutaway version from my pal Mark Pollock of Transpecos Guitars a couple of months back.

*****

One of the things I find interesting in life are the various evolutions of thought that I go through. Years ago I wasn't happy playing anything other than handmade one-off acoustic classicals. I'm talking about guitars in the $2,500.00 to $7.500.00 range. That range would have extended higher if I had the means. Problem is, I'm a mega-klutz "bull in a china closet" kind of galoot: Bad things happen to good guitars if I own them. For example, the very first electric guitar I ever bought - a Les Paul Recording (Don't ask) - I put a MAJOR gash in the top of before I even took it out of the case for the first time. How? Well, you see, I set it on my bed, opened the case, and then unwrapped the brand new cable I got for it. While doing that, one of the cable ends swung around and augered into the soft mahogany top.... I cried bitter tears. I was eighteen, OK?

Over the years I've had one-of-a-kind gutars get damaged in ways you'd only believe if you saw videographic proof. The last straw came a couple of months ago when I mashed a $2,500.00 handmade classical to bits when I... tripped and fell into a tripple stand with three of my guitars on it. See, I have this anti-stat plastic sheet on the floor so I don't fry my computers and so I can slide my desk chair around on it, and the edge caught my slipper, and, well.... yes, it was late, I was watching a DVD, and... beer was involved.

*****

Super fine guitars are just as seductive as super fine women are: Super fine guitars make you sound good, and super fine women make you appear like a god to competing males. However, if you are a real artist, you can make any decent guitar sound good, and if you are a real man you can find the unique charms within the girl next door as well. So, I effected a major change of attitude with respect to guitars (I'm working on the women part): They have to be duplicable and they have to be replaceable. In other words, I need to have two of everything: My guitar PA rigs (I actually have three now), my electric nylon strings, and my acoustic nylon strings. This means I'll have a backup for everything, and if anything is stolen (Or, broken... ahem) I'll be able to replace it at the drop of a hat.

This was facilitated by my old acquaintance John McLaughlin. Says John, "I am an electric guitarist who loves acoustic guitar." He is the wisest musician I have ever personally met! That's it exactly: If I was a Christopher Parkening or a Scott Tennant I might actually merit a gazillion dollar acoustic... but I'm not and I don't. So...

*****

A few months back my wrist was aching from over-practicing, so I decided to visit my friend Mark to take a break and chew the fat, and I couldn't help but noodle around on a La Patrie Concert while he was busy with a customer. It felt almost exactly like my Multiac! More to the point, it had a low Flamenco-like action and marker dots on the side of the fingerboard.

"Too bad they don't make this in a cutaway." I said.

"Well, actually..." came the reply.

Sure enough, Lasido had just announced the cutaway version, so I ordered one on the spot. Now, you can get this axe with or without a built-in pickup system, but I chose the non-electric version because I'm going to put a Carlos CP-1a in it, natch.

It is not nearly as loud as my two (Surviving *arg*) concert classicals, but the tone is dark and solid, and as I say, it has a low enough action that pieces like Eddie Van Halen's "Spanish Fly and Joe Satriani's A Day at the Beach are very natural to play on it. Most concert classical guitarists - who are accustomed to dragging strings in from about an inch off the fingerboard - would find the action too low. That means it's just right for those of us who actually enjoy playing the guitar versus those who make a job out of it.

Best thing? It feels almost the same as my Multiac Grand Concert SA playing-wise. I really like that.

*****

Now, there are compromises, but none you wouldn't expect with a guitar in this price range (Circa $700.00 list). The back and sides are mahogany and the fingerboard is rosewood. If I ever get famous enough that they'll make a "Hucbald" model for me, it will have Indian rosewood back and sides, and ebony for the fretboard (And it will cost more, of course). I'm not a fan of cedar tops, and this one is pretty rugged (Read thick and less-than-optimally responsive) but that's one of the things I LIKE about it: I live in a desert where the humidity gets as low as 4% from time to time, and thick tops resist cracking (Uh... one of my other "ruined" concert classicals has gaping cracks in it from low humidity exposure). The Hucbald model would also have Sitka spruce for the top (But not some paper thin "tuned" top: Rather, a robust one). The nut and bridge are not bone, of course, and that's the last bone I have to pick. OK, the level of finish on the saddle is sorta/kinda primitive, but as I say, for the money, this is the most playable acoustic classical I've ever encountered.

Bottom line: I like it, and it is what I think a guitar should be for me now: A tool for making music.

Likewise, I no longer hunt with fancy schmancy rifles with Monte Carlo thumbhole stocks and blued finishes: Give me stainless steel and synthetic stocks every time.

*****

The LaSiDo Triumvirate:



The Ruger .270 Percent Solution:



I'm still a fan of the fancy schmancy girls though: Especially if they can shoot.

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