I am now an official endorsee of FRET-KING GUITARS--Founded by TREVOR WILKINSON and distributed by JOHN HORNBY SKEWES & CO. LTD., Fret-King represents a new standard in boutique quality guitars that deliver 100% in a professional capacity, at a price that really belies their quality--Trevor has been designing guitar parts for years; most notably, the Wilkinson Roller Nut that was featured on the Fender Strat Plus, along with his 2 point vibrato--He went on to design the Wilkinson Compensated Brass Saddles for the Telecaster; in addition to many classic designs for pickups--In the last 10 years, he went on to found FRET-KING--I really cannot say enough about his level of innovation and integrity--I feel he has found the magical sweet spot where everything connects as a unified whole on an instrument--I am playing a JERRY DONAHUE ARTIST model from him(and will play more models in the future!!!)
They have a beautifully rendered website and a top notch team; notably Artist Liaison Gavin Coulson [...]
I started studying with Charlie in 1991, when I was living in Newburyport, Massachusetts--I was on his waiting list for about a year and a half, when the call from his secretary came that there was an opening on Tuesday at 8/30am--It took all of 15 seconds to say yes!!!!!; so I would make the trip down to his studio in Beverly--It had the weight of meeting a guru, but a funny one---I used to call Charlie the missing Marx brother as he was really funny and at times just goofy, but in a very real way---He used to kid me about the fact that I recopied his lessons with a fountain pen(mr mont blanc!!!)
There was no pretense about him--and when it came to music, there was absolutely NO MESSING AROUND--you had to work or you could not study with him---No exceptions---He could play everything literally from Bud Powell on up, but I think Bill Evans was his favorite, if there was such a thing---And he had a way of giving you exactly what you needed to work on at that time in your development---Uncanny, [...]
Joni, Miles and Picasso are my patron saints. The thread that runs from them into my musical, personal and spiritual life is truly intoxicating, like a fine cognac; layers of art and inspiration.
Song to a Seagull, one of Joni's early recordings, weaves a story of late 60's Greenwich Village; innocent, authentic, and utterly compelling. Kind of Blue, THE modal masterpiece, hits me on any number of levels. It's pure jazz, it's chamber music, it's NYC cool, in the truest sense. Joni and Miles were for real, not a creation for the masses. The reason why this music isn't heard or expanded upon is the culture we now live in doesn't support it. It's a largely artificial and digital age.
It's interesting to note that guitarists Robben Ford and Michael Landau,& saxophonist Wayne Shorter worked with both Miles and Joni. Joni is also a painter who was largely influenced by Picasso. And Miles' music is timeless, like Picasso's art. Over time, I've come to understand the influence they have left [...]
From time to time, I do get asked "what makes a guitar play great?"
I've had the opportunity to watch and learn from some really, really good luthiers/repairmen--I would answer that it is the 'cumulative effect'--And what I mean by that is taking into account every component of the instrument--In my experience, the first thing is a neck that is properly adjusted and frets that are properly leveled, dressed, and re-crowned--A guitar simply will not reach its' full potential without this critical step--Even a guitar that does not have all the other elements(quality of wood, pickups, hardware)will play significantly better with the proper fretwork and a neck that has little to no relief in it--Along with that, it's impossible to discount a nut that is free of pinching and cut close to the first fret--
As to neck and body wood, wood that is cured and dried out simply sounds better and will improve with age--And as much mythology has gone on about finishes, I prefer a nitrocellulose finish--It's [...]