Sunday 13 October 2019

What's happening October 2019

I posted a video of me playing a quick fast phrase on YouTube, recorded in slow motion. I found it quite fascinating, I was going to post in on my "other" YouTube channel but I made the decision a while back to put everything on the one Jawmunji YouTube channel. Knowing that most people subscribed only really like the cover arrangements, not me nattering on about stuff. Well, not unsurprisingly, had quite a few dislikes, more than normal. Fair enough. Gives me second thoughts about live streaming on there, but, my channel, my choice :-)

OBS Project seems to be the way to go for live streaming. I have done some tests with it, nothing actually live yet, it's good, possibly not as good as I was hoping. But that's because I want things done how I want them done...when you don't fit into a mold that's when you make life hard for yourself.

Now yesterday I had 2 hours to kill while my son was at a party, across the road was a music store. I've been into music stores before and just played guitars and I  have been a pest, I'm wary of doing that now, so I was super polite and up front, "hey I've just got some time to kill, do you mind if I play some guitars?" They weren't busy and didn't seem to mind, they were busy repairing and restringing guitars, so off I went. I've always had a soft spot for

I first played something that I hadn't seen before - a Taylor dreadnought looking classical guitar! It was a cross over hybrid, similar to my hybrid Yamaha but big bodied. I should have taken some photos.  Next time. I was excited to see what it sounded like...and sadly I was disappointed on all levels.

The neck was narrower - I realised years ago I don't like narrow necks. Not the Taylor's fault. I can adapt to the narrowness, my main issue comes from the top and bottom strings being too close to the edge of the fretboard. I'm sure you'd get used to it, but I can't deal with it immediately.

The action was set incredibly low - I'm pretty sure it has a truss rod so you could adjust - but coupled with very low tension strings I was getting fret buzz even at my lightest touch. I was thinking with the big body I could get a big fat sound out of it, nope. The moment I tried to open it up it was noisy and grating. Higher tension strings and action adjustment would help.

Finally, I was playing it through an amp, and I didn't like the pickup. I spent a bit of time working out what I like and don't like in a pickup, and this was the sound I don't like. A single undersaddle piezo transducer has a sound that has too much fundamental frequency causing an "electric" sound. Only ever once have I played a single undersaddle piezo and it sounded okay, think it was a Baggs, or Fishmann. I need to pay more attention.

I mentioned these things to the store guy and he said "Hmm, we might have to have a look at the setup, it has been on the shelf for a long long time."

Second guitar was a Yamaha NTX, I hadn't played one before, it's another hybrid crossover, they must have come about after I had bought my CGX hybrid. I immediately felt at home with it and it had that "Yamaha Nylon" sound to it. The dual pickup is still good, although the neck is narrower I adapted. I messed with the EQ and, it might be confirmation bias, but, even unplugged, I found the same issue which eventually turned me away from my CGX. There is a hole in the sound profile. I can't quite pick it. They have a big strong bass sound, and clear trebles, but somewhere in the middle it is missing a tone. The 6th string is too boomy in comparison to the 5th string, the 3rd string "classical guitar problem" is quite prominent...the sound lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

I liked the Yamaha - I don't think I've ever played a Yamaha classical I didn't like, from 70'smodels  through to current. Although if you buy a C40 today I would smile through gritted teeth at the sound, they need a decade to mellow.  Please buy the cheapest CG instead of the C40, or better, a 10+ year old CG. Convince your kid that new isn't always best.

At this stage there wasn't anything else nylon of note on the shelf.  I still had half an hour, so I tried a Brand K classical with no pickup. I say Brand K because I don't remember the actual name and I hadn't heard of it before, except it started with a K. (Found nothing about it on Google either.  Just another Chinese guitar.) The shop guy told me they are competing quite well with Yamaha these days. The one I played was a true classical (shape, neck, look) valued around $AUD450(2019).

Wow. Okay, its shape was exactly like my Esteve playability wise, and it had fresh strings on it which is always a good start, but it sang out, and I dug into it to really push the tone and it didn't crack. It wasn't missing "the Yamaha hole" in the sound (one day I should do some spectral analysis of the sound, broadly I would compare these as "Japanese sound" versus "Spanish sound"). Maybe I'm bias, okay, I *am* bias, but it punched out a sound similar to my Esteve, played easy, looked nice, it was basically just a great guitar. Possibly the best value for money for its price sticker.

Hmm, this review was kinda long, and without photos and model numbers doesn't have much value, but I think I would like to review more guitars. I have played quite a few over the years, not enough, I know what I like, maybe next time I am killing time in a music shop (with permission from the owners) I should _properly_ review some :-)


  1. Hey Jaw, I was thinking of Yamaha NTX700 for my next guitar. Looking for something a little different.
    Im pretty happy with my Yamaha CG182SF, (flamenco spruce model) low action, fair bit of string rattle, but that gives it a percussive feel.
    I have an old Yamaha G_220A classical guitar but I dont like it. The strings too high, very bassy and loud (real classical).
    Any One love your blogs/tubes and tabs
    keep it up

    1. Hey Mark, I imagine the CG182SF would be a great guitar, if you found you were digging into it too much causing rattles you'd probably improve that with higher tension strings. The only note of caution I'd offer on the NTX would be over the narrower fretboard. I loved my hybrid Yamaha for a year or two before I concluded the neck was too narrow. I need the fretboard space. I would say play it in the shop and see how you go, well, definitely do that, but unless you immediately dislike the fretboard you won't know if you like or dislike it for a long time. I guess as we "grow out of guitars" we could sell them, but who ever sells a guitar? :-)

      I have an old G-231II and yes, the string action is too high like your G-220A. Is it part they were originally too high or part over the years the guitar has bowed out? Probably both. I still haven't played a Yamaha that doesn't have a boomy bottom end.

      Don't discount finding a classical you really like and fitting a pickup - that's where I arrived. Depends if you need the pickup and what you are looking to do with it.

      I'm with though brother, every now and then you feel the call for a new guitar, something that is a little different. I'm glad I'm not feeling that right now, it is frustrating to not know exactly what you need/want!