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No. 164, August 2006

Storyteller
Since his emergence in the 1970s with the Paul Winter Consort and Oregon, Ralph Towner has been acclaimed worldwide for his acutely expressive compositions and improvisations. He recently sat down with us to share his insights on telling stories with your instrument, open-structure voicings, and "uncovering an idea" in creating music. By Scott Nygaard.

Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Ralph Towner.

Six-String Schizoid
Dave Grohl went from being an acoustic-strumming preteen in the 1970s to changing rock history in the early '90s as drummer for grunge kings Nirvana—and then to reinvigorating hard rock in the new millennium as the melodic mastermind of multiplatinum-selling Foo Fighters. Here he talks about where he gets his uncanny melodic sensibility, why it was easy to "unplug" his hits, and how the band's latest acoustic recordings showed him that "the intensity of a quiet dynamic can be as powerful as a Motorhead record." By Shawn Hammond.

Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Dave Grohl.

New Old-School Flattops
Steel-string acoustics from the 1930s, '40s, and '50—including legendary Martin, Gibson, and Stella guitars—helped define entire musical genres and are now the stuff of legend. They also cost a fortune, which puts them out of reach for all but the most affluent players. But a cadre of dedicated luthiers is painstakingly replicating these vintage classics—sometimes even mimicking structural shortcomings—in order to make holy-grail tones available to vintage aficionados at a fraction of the originals' prices. By Michael John Simmons.

 

ACOUSTIC CLASSIC
Daydream. Words and music by John Sebastian, from Daydream.

BULLETIN BOARD
Africanize Your Blues. Corey Harris unveils a new DVD about combining African folk and Delta blues styles. By Ian Zack.
Celtic on the Coast. Find out about Robin Bullock and Steve Baughman's Guitar Retreat in Pacific Grove, California, March 2-5, 2007.
Newport News. Get the lowdown on the Newport Guitar Festival, August 4-6, in Newport, Rhode Island.
Pick up the Pieces. Bruce Muckala's new book Preston Reed: Guitar Impact transcribes nine of the fingerstyle guru's compositions.
That High Lonesome Sound. Backbeat Books' new Bluegrass Guitar:Know the Players, Play the Music provides historical background and playing tips on bluegrass guitar.

PRIVATE LESSON
A Private Lesson with Vicki Genfan. The queen of alternate tunings talks about her new album and gives tips on accompanying songs and getting started with two-handed tapping. By Teja Gerken.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Vicki Genfan.

NEW GEAR 1
Luna Henna Paradise S Flattop. A cleanly built, eye-catching guitar with flexible electronics and body dimensions specifically designed for women and smaller players. By Andrew DuBrock.
Larrivee LSV-11E. Graceful looks and balanced tones meet in a well-appointed fingerstyle guitar with irresistible playability. By Doug Young.
La Patrie Hybrid CW. A flashy-looking nylon-string with killer electronics and exceptional playability for those accustomed to electric guitars and modern steel-string acoustics. By Patrick Francis.

In the Stores
Audio Technica AT3060. A new large-diaphragm microphone powered by a vacuum tube.
Babicz Tribeca. New OM- and dread-style guitars with a torque-reducing split-bridge design.
C.F. Martin and Co. FeLiX II. A new Little Martin with graphics of the famous comic-strip cat.
Sony PCM-D1. A new portable digital recorder with built-in stereo microphones.
SoundTech LightSnake. A new guitar cable with built-in USB interface for PC and Mac computers.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Songcraft
Megan Slankard. On the rise to stardom via a TV makeover and her natural, infectious enthusiasm, this young California singer-songwriter finds inspiration in little mental "accidents" that she turns into intelligent songs. By D. Patrick Miller.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Megan Slankard.

Roots
Mary Flower. The camaraderie, energy, and professionalism of fellow musicians at a summer music camp provided a midlife epiphany for this former Colorado "picker mom," now emerging as a celebrated recording artist, performer, and teacher on the acoustic-blues scene. By Ian Zack.
Equipment Picks: The guitars and gear of Mary Flower.

HERE'S HOW
Fingernails 101. Whether you favor natural or synthetic nails, here are the key points to keep in mind about using and maintaining them. By Doug Young.

THE BASICS
Transposing Made Easy. The ability to change keys so you can play or sing a piece more readily is one of the most useful skills in a guitarist's trick bag—and, with the help of this handy guide, it's a lot easier than you may think. By David Hodge.

SHOPTALK
Just Like New. Although refinishing vintage guitars is always controversial, there are times when it has to be considered an important part of a complete restoration. Here's an example of a guitar brought back to life with a properly applied new finish. By Rick Turner.

STAGE AND STUDIO
How to Choose and Use Studio Monitors. Studio monitors are one of the most important tools for creating great home recordings. Here we show you how to shop for and set up a pair that will meet your budget and provide great sonic results. By Mitch Gallagher.

Reader's Rig. New England-based Jeff Snow relies on a 1993 Taylor 812C and a Peavey mixer for his full-time gigging and teaching schedule.

LUTHIER'S WORKBENCH
Scheerhorn Guitars. Unhappy with the way his own resonator guitar performed at jams, Tim Scheerhorn set out to redesign the instrument. Eighteen years later, his instruments are chosen by many of the hottest players around, and he continues to push the envelope of resophonic design. By Steve Romanoski.

G.A.S. STATION
California Gypsy. Record-store owner Dave Prinz started collecting Selmer-Maccaferri guitars after learning to play Gypsy jazz, and before he knew it, he was sponsoring a festival and had founded a label. By Michael John Simmons.

Q&A
To Repair or Not to Repair. Luthier Alan Perlman answers a reader's question about whether or not to repair the pickguard that's peeling off his 1979 Martin D-18. By Alan Perlman.
Hang Time. Luthier Charles Hoffman answers a reader's question about the safety guitar wall hangers. By Charlie Hoffman.

PLAYLIST
Darol Anger's Republic of Strings. By Celine Keating.
David Russell, Renaissance Favorites for Guitar. By Mark Small.
Jackie Greene, American Myth. By Mike Thomas.
Luka Bloom, Innocence. By Kenny Berkowitz.
Slick Ballinger, Mississippi Soul. By Ian Zack.
Jennifer Kimball, Oh Hear Us. By Judith Edelman.
John McCutcheon, Mightier Than the Sword. By Larry Kelp.
Melissa Greener, Fall from the Sky. By Celine Keating.
Raphael Rabello, Cry, My Guitar. By Teja Gerken.
What the AG Editors Are Spinning.

WOODSHED
Building Extended Chord Voicings. Extended chords don't have to be complicated. Learn how these chords are constructed, then build them all using just several basic chord shapes. By Sean McGowan.

SONGBOOK
Atholl Highlander's Jig. Traditional, arranged by David Surette. By David Surette.

GREAT ACOUSTICS
1987 Peter Finger Dreadnought. A beautiful, unique-looking dread built by the German fingerstyle virtuoso. By Buck Curran.