|Tone for Days...The Acoustic Challenge at Tommy's|
The town of Viersen, Germany is a 15-minute drive from our home. It is a beautiful old town, and home to Tommy's Guitars. This past Monday at lunchtime my wife and I drove to Viersen to run an errand, and decided to stop by Tommy's to look at acoustic guitars. We had been talking about acoustic guitars after a recent party because of our dissatisfaction with my old Alvarez acoustic. The Alvarez has become very tired, and while taken on its own it sounds OK, an upgrade is definitely in order.
Tommy carries Martin, Lowden, Larrivée, Stevens, Guild, Tacoma, et al, and keeps some of the high-end designer models in stock as well. We greeted Tommy in his great shop and told him we wanted to look at acoustics within a specific price range. Tommy started pulling cases from the back of the shop, and some guitars off of the wall. Playing a combination of "Wildwood Flower", "Over the Hills and Far Away", and "Mystery Train", I tried about 15 different guitars. All but of few of the guitars were great, but a Larrivée D-09 just absolutely blew the others away. It was one of those "mojo moments" when you know that a guitar is special and different.
What sold me was that my wife perked up when she heard the Larrivée and stated how good it sounded. I played four different Larrivées, and I have to say that this particular D-09 was far and away the best sounding of the bunch. Tommy immediately offered to let me take it home for a try since I'm kind of an employee -- I've repaired a number of pickups for him!
I have this fear of moving a guitar away from an environment in which it sounds great. Have you ever bought a guitar or amp that sounded killer at the shop then get it home to discover a fully developed "thud tone"? When I got the Larrivée home, it still sounded great in our living room, in the attic room, and in my office. Boy, what a guitar.
The lesson remains -- all guitars are different. Even guitars that look exactly the same sound different. This is why you don't -- repeat after me -- buy a guitar sight unseen from an Internet storefront. Even though it may sound great when you get it out of the box, how does it sound in comparison to the guitar sitting next to it in the shop? Or the next better model? Or that Martin in the corner?
Buy books and CDs on the internet -- buy guitars in a local shop. Support your local musicians and merchants!