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Paul Gunningham, MoM

   

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Guitars, the PA use of
« : 19.04.06 at 11:08 »
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Pete has used and still uses various guitars over the years. As far as I know, he currently has the Taylor and the Atkin (as well as the legendary and rarely sighted National Steel).
 
I was wondering whether Pete finds either of his current guitars better for certain types of music, or whether he has a preference overall? I haven't seen enough of his performances since he had both guitars to be able to tell. I think he used the same one throughout the performance the last time I saw him (during the last tour with CJ).
 
Does he use different string gauges on each? What strings does he prefer?
 
Basically I'd like to know more about the guitars Pete uses and what he thinks of them.
 
A subsidiary question: does Pete ever use any different tunings? I don't think I've ever seen him use any but I'd be interested to know.
 
Hoping for a response. I guess there will be other guitarists in this group who would also find this topic interesting.
 
Cheers
 
Paul
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S J Birkill
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #1: 19.04.06 at 13:01 »
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By way of explanation for the move:
If this thread isn't on-topic under "Music", I don't know what is.
 
Steve
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Ian Chippett
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #2: 19.04.06 at 16:07 »
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Paul G. wrote:
 
<<A subsidiary question: does Pete ever use any different tunings? I don't think I've ever seen him use any but I'd be interested to know. >>
 
I don't think he ever did or does: as I remember from the First Folio Songbook, even "National Steel" was recorded with the usual tuning. I once learned to play this more or less correctly but in my innocence without a bottleneck just a very sore little finger. Did Pete use a bottleneck and if so how did he manage to avoid what would have been for me the inevitable discords (dischords?) I had the opportunity to play a steel guitar recently albeit not I think a National Steel and I can safely say that it's not a guitar for the weak of back: just lifting it was a triumph.
 
Ian C
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Richard Bleksley
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #3: 19.04.06 at 16:38 »
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Yes, by the sound of the record Pete certainly did use a slide of some sort on National Steel (I know of no other way you can get that sound out of a guitar) - even though, as I'm sure I've seen him say somewhere or other, he retained normal tuning.
 
But hopefully Yer Man will contibute to this thread soon and we'll have the answers from the horse's mouth.
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Jan
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #4: 20.04.06 at 17:06 »
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Pete mentioned in one of his newsletters:
... the Taylor problem has been solved quickly and easily by Dave Brown (of the Shrinks) who has taken it off my hands, so Iíll still be able to visit it occasionally...
 
Since the said instrument appeared on tour with Pete later in the year (certainly at Sevenoaks) he must have been allowed not only to visit it but also to take it away for a short break.
Jan
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Paul Gunningham, MoM

   

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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #5: 20.04.06 at 17:21 »
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on 20.04.06 at 17:06, Jan wrote:
Pete mentioned in one of his newsletters:
... the Taylor problem has been solved quickly and easily by Dave Brown (of the Shrinks) who has taken it off my hands, so Iíll still be able to visit it occasionally...
 
Since the said instrument appeared on tour with Pete later in the year (certainly at Sevenoaks) he must have been allowed not only to visit it but also to take it away for a short break.
Jan

 
Ooerr! Holds out wrist for a slap for missing that snippet (or more likely, forgetting it).
 
So it seems Pete prefers the eponymous instrument and my question seems somewhat irrelevant then.
 
But it would still be good to hear Pete's views on what's better about the Atkin than the Taylor. I remember Pete making some very complimentary comments about the Taylor when he first got that (presumably as compared with the Gibson), so the Atkin must be quite a guitar if it has replaced the Taylor as his favourite in such a relatively short time.
 
Cheers
 
Paul
 
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Pete Atkin
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #6: 25.04.06 at 12:29 »
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OK, here's the run-down.
 
I have four guitars at the moment, the Atkin OM electro-acoustic with cutaway being the one I think of as my main one.   When I met Alistair Atkin a couple of years ago and sampled his wares, it was obvious I was going to have to ask me to make an instrument for me.  At the time I'd only had the Taylor 716CE for a year or so and was completely happy with it, so at first I pondered on having Alistair make me something significantly different, maybe even a twelve-string.  But then I thought it would be a shame if the Atkin only got occasionaly use, so I asked him to make me a potential 'main' guitar on the basis that if it worked out well I would sell the Taylor on.  And that's what happened.
 
The Taylor which made a brief appearance at the start of the '05 tour was not that one, the one now played by Shrinkmeister Dave Brown.  It's an NS (nylon-strung) Taylor which I bought last year on eBay.  I'd played one in a store a couple of times and been greatly impressed.   It's constructed specifically for nylon strings but with a fingerboard much more like a conventional steel-strung fingerboard than a classical one, i.e. narrower and slightly curved, so that fingering doesn't require the major shift in technique demanded by a classical guitar.
 
I also still have my old 1968 Yairi Virtuoso classical guitar, but, probably to my shame, because of the extra technical demand and my own laziness I hardly ever play it these days.  (It's the guitar I used on Beware Of The Beautiful Stranger and on a few of the tracks on Driving Through Mythical America, but since I'm unsentimental about these things, I'm thinking of eBaying it myself at some point.  I'll let you know if I do.)
 
And, yes, I still have the National.
 
As far as strings are concerned, I was won over by the Elixirs that were fitted on the Taylor 716 when I bought it, and I've stuck with them ever since (I use 11-53 gauge).  The microscopic coating cuts down that irritating noise as your fingers move up and down;  beyond that their sound is clean and warm, and they have excellent longevity.  Even so, I'd always put on a new set for a gig.  On tour with Clive, when the use isn't so heavy, I usually change ever other gig.  Sometimes I'll let them go for three gigs, but I usually end up wishing I hadn't.  Most people don't change them often enough.  It's a false economy.  I guarantee that new and decent strings will make a huge difference to whatever kind of guitar you play.   The guys who play acoustic on sessions in Nashville, etc., change strings every hour, usually during a playback, which has to tell you something.
 
And, no, I've never experimented much with non-standard tunings, which is probably a mistake.  There's a huge range of possibilities -- you can make up your own -- and each one offers a difference range of tonal effects.  You have to make up a whole new set of fingerings for each one, but, hey, why not?  Watching Richard Thompson's outstandingly good Live At Austin DVD is great inspiration for being a bit more adventurous.
 
And, yes, the National Steel song itself is played with conventional tuning and a bottleneck (actually a chromed brass slide in my case).  As with a lot of my picking, I use first and third fingers to play either first and third, or second and fourth, or third and fifth strings, rather than all of the strings at once.   The top three strings played with the slide give you a minor chord, of course, while the second, third and fourth give you a major chord, so pretty much all of the possibilities are there.
 
Hope, as they say, that helps
 
All best -- Pete
 
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Gerry Smith
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #7: 25.04.06 at 13:21 »
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on 25.04.06 at 12:29, Pete Atkin wrote:

 
And, yes, the National Steel song itself is played with conventional tuning and a bottleneck (actually a chromed brass slide in my case). †

 
As good a place as any to keep it, I s'pose!  Cheesy
 
All very interesting.  But as someone who has attempted to learn to play the guitar to a standard beyond strumming out bad renditions of hits of yesteyear, the imagination truly boggles at the prospect of learning a whole new set of fingerings for every custom tuning!  Hats off to anyone who can do that.
 
Gerry
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Ian Chippett
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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #8: 25.04.06 at 14:00 »
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Pete wrote:
 
<<Most people don't change them often enough.  It's a false economy.  I guarantee that new and decent strings will make a huge difference to whatever kind of guitar you play. >>
 
I act on the skinflint principle of never actually changing a string till it breaks but this can prove embarrassing: a friend of mine was playing my guitar in the garden last week and complained that he couldn't actually hear anything...
 
When is Pete going to get an electric guitar? You automatically are no longer considered a folk singer with one of these plus you can make a lot more noise.
 
Ian C
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Paul Gunningham, MoM

   

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Re: Guitars, the PA use of
« Reply #9: 26.04.06 at 19:12 »
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on 25.04.06 at 14:00, Ian Chippett wrote:

I act on the skinflint principle of never actually changing a string till it breaks but this can prove embarrassing: a friend of mine was playing my guitar in the garden last week and complained that he couldn't actually hear anything...
 
When is Pete going to get an electric guitar? You automatically are no longer considered a folk singer with one of these plus you can make a lot more noise.

I must admit I don't change my strings very often, although I haven't been playing much over the past few years. (But I've just recently started doing a few spots in folk clubs, sessions, etc., so I'll probably have to start.)
 
"In the clear at exactly fifty-five" - are belated happy returns in order, Ian? If so, consider them wished in large numbers!
 
Well, Pete got a sort o' lectronicaw gutter, don'm?  'E gotta plug'n in, see, or we cassn't 'ark at 'ee Smiley
 
Cheers
 
Paul
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