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Thread: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Story And The Initial Tone Report

  1. #1

    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Story And The Initial Tone Report

    Sometime last year, I got the idea that I needed a maple small jumbo. I'd had a Collings that I liked, well, two actually, but I no longer had them. And in any event, I was more excited about what PRS did with the Tonare Grand Custom I had. The Tonare is pretty close in shape to the traditional small jumbo. So I decided I'd sell the Tonare, and order the same thing with maple sides and back. Simple, right?

    Wrong. PS only.

    And I wanted a carbon fiber truss rod.

    PS only by last year (it had been standard on my '11 Tonare).

    Well, I found that my recordings worked better with maple over the years, and I was determined. And I wanted the carbon fiber. So I called Jack Gretz, my trusted friend and PRS dealer. Jack asked questions, we discussed my goals with the guitar, and we got the process going.

    I told him that I wasn't really keen on traveling to pick out the woods, since I have no idea what I'm doing in a wood room anyway, and it seemed like PRS could just pick something out. Then Jack said, "Tell you what, Schef, I'll go pick out the woods at Experience for you." I thought that was pretty cool. What I didn't know at the time was that Paul Reed Smith would be going to the wood room with Jack. And that together, at Experience 2012, they'd pick out some pretty fantastic lumber!

    Here's the Addy top; the top on an acoustic guitar is like the speaker in a speaker cabinet. It's the thing that moves the air, and this was a primo piece of wood, destined for a great sounding guitar:



    Oh, why, um...yes, that will do.

    Did I get lucky? You bet. But methinks a lot of my "luck" was because I dealt with Jack.

    More to come in Part 2, but my laptop needs a charge.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-22-2013 at 01:21 AM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  2. #2
    Part 2

    Pictures of the guitar are elsewhere in the Forum, so I won't bore anyone with that. Let's go right to the tone report:

    Oh let's not. I'd rather go play it than type about it. For now. LOL.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  3. #3
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I don't read good... so I likkes pickturez.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    I don't read good... so I likkes pickturez.
    Haha. I'm going to kill this thread, let pictures on the other threads tell the story, and post some recordings with the guitar instead.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Ooh, that will be a treat!

  6. #6
    The guitar is so nice that I can't help but wonder what might have been if I'd picked it up from factory or dealer two states over, instead of letting it bake in a UPS truck for days on end in the heat and humidity of summer. And bake it did. The case was literally hot when I took it out of the box.

    I mean, would I let a guitar like this sit in the trunk of a car for even a short ride? Hell no. But it did the equivalent for several days getting here.

    I could kick myself (a) for allowing that to happen instead of picking it up; and,

    (b) for worrying about it at this point.

    I clearly need intensive therapy. Very, very intensive therapy.

    Ego: "Shut up and play the damned guitar, Les."

    Id: "I can't. I need to spend time in deep worry over something I can't change after the fact."

    Superego: "When did this thought enter your head?"

    Id: "Today, as I was playing it, I started thinking about how hot and muggy it's been this week. And I started worrying."

    Ego: "STF up."

    Id: "OK. At least I've gotten it off my chest. Wait, I haven't gotten it completely off my chest. I'd like a do-over."

    Superego: "You don't get do-overs."

    Id: "B-b-but it's a private stock. Doesn't that entitle me to maybe a very small do-over?"

    Superego: "Not really, no. You see, as far as we know, time can't be reversed. Even Paul Smith himself can't get a do-over."

    Id: "That's really disappointing. Well, perhaps I'm just lucky to be alive and to be able to play this guitar. But I might just have a nervous breakdown in spite of everything if I can't have a do-over."

    Ego: "Well, you definitely have the right to a nervous breakdown over your guitar. Go right ahead. Have one. You know, one benefit of the private stock program is that along with the certificate, you get a discount on electroshock therapy. Or a nice lobotomy. Several forum members have already taken advantage of this discount. It's really been a big help, and enabled them to order more private stock guitars without worry."

    Id: "I didn't know that. It's certainly reassuring. I think I'll skip the electroshock therapy, and go straight to the lobotomy, if that's ok."

    Superego: "Certainly. It'll keep you nice and calm. Enjoy! And don't worry about the guitar, it'll outlive you."

    Id: "Oh great. Thanks for reminding me of that whole death business."

    Ego: Oh, hello, Doc. Are you ready for me now? Yes, I'll start counting backwards...100...99...98.......um...92........27. ...zzzzzzz......."

    (SFX: surgical drill).
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-22-2013 at 06:21 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  7. #7
    I spent some time earlier today sorting through picks. I wanted to select each of the best sounding picks of the bunch. This was a very easy thing to do. They were all a little different. I put them all into a small nylon case that was originally meant for camera odds and ends, but is a much better guitar odds and ends container.

    But now a word from my wife...

    "Hey, hon, check out how responsive this guitar is to different picks."

    (I pick them up one by one, play the same few bits with each pick, amazed at the differences from pick to pick)

    "Amazing, huh?"

    "I couldn't tell the difference. Was that the same song each time?"

    "Yes. Listen once again."

    (again, I go through each pick with the same little playing bit, smiling knowingly when I was sure this time ANYONE would hear the difference in some little filigree)

    "I couldn't tell the difference, they all sounded the same to me."

    "OK. Well, the difference was HUGE to me."

    "I'm sure it was. But they all sounded the same to me."

    "You said that."

    "Yes, I said they all sounded the same to me."

    "I heard you say that the first time."

    "Yes, they sounded the same to me. I could show you three black eyeliners, and you'd never notice the difference between them, but I would."

    ---

    "I really wish I'd picked up the guitar. That was my plan originally. I should have done that."

    (I get "the look")

    "Seriously, I should have picked it up."

    "But you didn't. And now it's here."

    "I know. I think I'll go into the studio now and putter around."

    You know, if you were just dating your spouse, she'd simply tell a little white lie, and confirm your pick sorting genius by saying she could really hear the difference between picks. Maybe she'd even compliment you on your ability to distinguish such subtle nuances of tone, or tell you how talented you are, or what a great ear you have.

    She'd certainly commiserate with you on your sadness for not picking up the guitar in PA. Yes, definitely.

    But when you're married, what you get is something different. On a personal level, I'd much rather have someone simply feed my id, ego, or superego (I'm never sure which gets fed by a compliment), even if it's insincere. Because there's a certain sense of sharing when you tell someone what they want to hear. But no, that doesn't happen any more. And the kids are grown up and gone, and they were never into feeding my ego anyway. So...I dunno. There ain't no satisfaction in this world.

    But one day, very soon, I will be asked this question:

    "Do I look too fat in this dress?"

    I WILL have my revenge.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-22-2013 at 08:13 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    I'm so confused....I shouldn't be ....I should know better...but I am....what about the tone report??!?!?!
    -Bob

  9. #9
    Tone? Yeah. I got sidetracked.

    So instead of a report, I'm submitting this. I used a Neumann TLM102 into a Focusrite ISA preamp. Unfortunately I'm not used to recording this new guitar yet, and I recorded it with the soundhole a little too close to the mic, so there's a bit of low end woof. I tried a low pass filter to kill it, but too much affected the tone.

    But it will give you a basic idea of the tone, articulation, and sustain of the instrument. Please forgive the very simple noodling, I wasn't playing anything, just trying to give forum folks an idea of how this guitar sounds. And yes, there are a couple of clams. Just for the fun of it.

    EDIT -- LINK REMOVED. I FERGETTED TO TUNE THE GUITAR!!!

    Seriously, I forgot to tune the guitar before recording. It went 12 hours without being tuned. After I listened when I left the studio, I realized my error, and killed the link.

    It sounds awful. Truly awful. I was more concerned about miking and recording than tuning and playing. It happens. I will replace it at some point tomorrow.

    And the tuning error sounded even worse on little teeny computer speakers where all I could hear was discordant crap. I'm so embarrassed.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-22-2013 at 11:52 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  10. #10
    Recovering Bass Player ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! 's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Very nice, Les.
    One Life

  11. #11
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! View Post
    Very nice, Les.
    That's sounds incredible. Super tasty playing and tone.
    Plank Owner

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    That's sounds incredible. Super tasty playing and tone.
    Thanks, guys. Probably woulda sounded better if I'd been in tune, huh. And my timing was definitely off. Sometimes I'm much more into the recording aspect than the playing, and it was one of those days.

    What I wanted to capture on the recording was the sustain of those pauses, and the string separation, articulation, etc. But the guitar was just slightly out of tune, and I think that detracts from the whole.

    I'll post something later today that will be in tune and hopefully better done all around.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  13. #13
    Large Member Kine's Avatar
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    Wow! She shines through so nicely! Records awesome I'd say. You are certainly right in the sustain, all those notes were hanging forever!

    Great playing Les!

    What mic did you use?
    Last edited by Kine; 06-23-2013 at 12:24 PM.

  14. #14
    So...here's something that is actually in tune...

    https://soundcloud.com/lschefman/ps-blonde

    Quote Originally Posted by Kine View Post
    You are certainly right in the sustain, all those notes were hanging forever!

    What mic did you use?
    Neumann TLM102. Nice on acoustic guitar! And yeah, the sustain is off the chart!

    Next time I'll try a Royer R-121 just for fun. It won't be as revealing, but it should sound sweet, too.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-24-2013 at 01:15 AM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  15. #15
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Soundin' good!

  16. #16
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Wow, sounds great! That kind of tone can carry a song all by itself, really articulate. Good stuff Les.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

    S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE 30 Head/Cab

  17. #17
    Thx guys!

    So you know, the tone report...

    As you can hear in the clips, the sustain portion of a note is pretty powerful, and the guitar rings. But the string to string separation is also really lovely, each note is very articulate, and if you're listening on halfway decent speakers, there's a lot of low end and fundamental to support the overtones. So the guitar is nicely balanced.

    There's something really nice happening in the midrange, and I don't know if you can hear it on the clips, but it's very warm and there's almost a kind of bloom off the pick when you strum a chord. You can hear the pick slide off the strings...it's cool!

    Also there isn't that hard "guhh" sound that you get with many maple guitars. The attack of the note is fast, and the soundboard responds.

    The guitar responds very nicely to firm picking, but also to the softest of picking strokes. It's clear and open, and is everything I'd hoped for in a maple guitar. It's just great! And yeah, I have a lot of practicing to do to get my acoustic chops in shape. It's been a while since I had one.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-24-2013 at 01:58 AM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  18. #18
    Older getting younger
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    Les, you did not mention this; when Jack goes to the factory to pick out wood, not only does he pick out nice looking wood, but he taps the pieces of wood for tone, sustain, resonance. Some pieces resonate better than others. You clearly have gotten the best of the best in this guitar. I cannot wait to hear more clips when time permits. I enjoyed what you did so far, thank you.
    PRS electrics and bass, Taylor BTO GS Cocobolo, K26e Koa, 2012 FLTD 412ce-N and GS mini mahogany acoustic guitars; Bad Cat Cub IIR, Carr Rambler, Fender Supersonic 22, Univox, Fishman Loudbox 100, Loudbox Mini and Mark Bass amps
    In music, one must think with his heart and feel with his brain.
    I was joeprs on BAM

  19. #19
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    Les, that guitar sorta sounds like an idealized (more even response; better sustain) version of a Gibson J-200. I wanna grab it and do "Pinball Wizard"!

    Sounds nice. And the TLM-102 sounded nice -- full and warm but with enough definition -- I'm gonna have to pull out my TLM-103 and see how it does on acoustic guitar. (I typically use KM-184s and/or the U87 that I bought from PRSh 7 or 8 years ago)

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by pondsnorkeler View Post
    Les, you did not mention this; when Jack goes to the factory to pick out wood, not only does he pick out nice looking wood, but he taps the pieces of wood for tone, sustain, resonance. Some pieces resonate better than others. You clearly have gotten the best of the best in this guitar. I cannot wait to hear more clips when time permits. I enjoyed what you did so far, thank you.
    Yeah, I should have mentioned that Jack is a luthier himself. That's why I was so appreciative that he picked out the lumber for this guitar; and Paul Reed Smith also went to pick out the wood, I guess Jack grabbed him. Who better than these two doing this, and the result speaks for itself!

    I knew the maple would be beautiful, but to see that Paul OK'd a top that had been set aside for an endorser, I was floored. I don't know the story behind that, but I figured it'd be among their best stuff tonally.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingsleyd View Post
    Les, that guitar sorta sounds like an idealized (more even response; better sustain) version of a Gibson J-200. I wanna grab it and do "Pinball Wizard"!
    Yeah! That's exactly what I hoped it would be! A great classic acoustic that would stand on its own solo, but would also work in the context of a rock track.

    Quote Originally Posted by kingsleyd View Post
    And the TLM-102 sounded nice -- full and warm but with enough definition -- I'm gonna have to pull out my TLM-103 and see how it does on acoustic guitar. (I typically use KM-184s and/or the U87 that I bought from PRSh 7 or 8 years ago)
    The 102's presence peak is tuned to a slightly higher frequency curve than the 103, and that gives it a more neutral character in the upper mids, where I think the 103 is really more tailored toward producing vocals. I like the 103 for a lot of reasons, by the way. One slight negative about the 102 is that it is a bit more sensitive to proximity effect, so I do have to be more careful about placement. I'm still experimenting with that. The 103 tends to be more forgiving.

    I like the Neumann pencil mics, too. KM184s are great.

    And of course the classic '87 is always a great all around workhorse! I had a U89 for years, and then switched to a Blue Kiwi, that I sold later; the Blue was also a nice mic, but honestly, I just love experimenting with mics and moved it for some reason I don't recall.

    My only real complaint about the 102 -- it comes in a cardboard box, though one with the typical Neumann hard foam insert. But really. I'd have paid a few bucks more to get a wood box.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 06-24-2013 at 11:38 AM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

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