Jump to content
  • The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    A Musical and Audiophile Journey

     

     

    I've loved music and good sound for as long as I can remember. As a first grader in 1981 I taped a penny to a Columbia House magazine flyer and awaited the arrival of my six "free" cassettes. In second grade I brought Pink Floyd's The Wall into Ms. Van DeWeigh's class at Sonnesyn Elementary School and played Another Brick in the Wall for my classmates. By third grade I was drawing band logos on all my paper garbage bag covered school books. I had not only mastered the Van Halen logo, but I knew every word to every song. 

     

    Around the same time, I had the desire to play guitar. However, my attention span as a seven year old was fairly short, so I often thought about guitar for a minute, then went outside to play hockey (ice hockey in the winter, street hockey in the summer). As the years went by, I remained interested in guitar, but mainly in music, good sound, and hockey. Around 12 years old, I finally asked my parents if I could take guitar lessons at the local Schmitt Music. Schmitt charged $29 to rent a guitar and amplifier, and take part in several weeks of lessons. How could anyone say no to this? My parents didn't think too long about it and said NO. 

     

    At the time, my life was consumed with hockey. Playing seven days per week, traveling all over the state, and even to Canada as part of Team Minnesota (the best 20 kids in the state). I can kind of, sort of, in a way, see why my parents didn't want me involved in another activity, but not really. In reality, I needed something else, like a musical instrument. My sole focus on hockey 24/7/365 was detrimental and caused me to burn out by the time high school was over. I coached kids hockey for a couple years following high school, but give that up after dealing with overbearing parents. Unsurprisingly, I have little interest in hockey today. 

     

    My interest in music, good sound, and playing guitar only increased as I grew older. Bringing a four channel Klipsch KG5.5 system to college, bringing that same system to Milwaukee, WI for a three month internship with the US Marshals, buying a pair of B&W Nautilus 802 speakers and thousands of CDs after getting my first job, etc... But, I never acted on my desire to learn guitar. Until last week!

     

    Note: Stay with me on this one, I'll link it up to audiophilia shortly. 

     

     

     

    814ce Whole.jpg

     

     

     

    A few weeks ago I finally decided it was time to learn guitar. I started researching all the endless options. I contacted @bluesman for some sage advice and he provided plenty. I read every article I could find about learning, using, and caring for both electric and acoustic guitars. Now I know what it feels like for people just getting into digital audio. The options never end and only branched out into other options. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing when just getting started.

     

    After some analysis paralysis, I finally stopped the madness and purchased a Taylor 814ce acoustic guitar. I think electric may have been easier to use while learning, but an acoustic will enable me to play with my daughter in other areas of our house after she opens her Christmas presents this year. Shhh, don't tell her we got her a guitar too. She has been asking for a guitar for months!

     

    814ce Inside.jpgThe Taylor's arrival was a really big deal for me. It was like a dream come true, nearly 40 years later. Unboxing the 814ce I was immediately struck by the new guitar smell. Taylor's ultraviolet-cured gloss finish is pungent. After that initial, unforgettable olfactory experience, I picked up the spruce, rosewood, and ebony body and gave it a strum. WOW! The sound and the feel of this guitar were amazing. I don't remember the last time I heard an unamplified acoustic guitar and I know for a fact I've never heard on in my listening room.

     

    I soon dove right into online guitar lessons from Justin Sandercoe's JustinGuitar app. Eventually I'll connect with a local guitar teacher for in-person lessons, but this app enabled me to start immediately. It didn't take long for me to learn how hard it is to play anything. I thought there was no way my fingers would bend or even survive this experience. I woke up the next day with incredibly sore fingers. In fact, as I type this six days later, the fingertips of my left hand are partially numb and hurt at the same time. 

     

    Painful fingers and a contorted wrist. This is what they call fun? Absolutely! The last week has been frustrating and exhilarating. I'm working on my D and A chords, and the nearly impossible feat of switching between them in a reasonable amount of time (don't even think about switching without looking at the strings). I feel fortunate to listen to this guitar every day and attempt to play along with the lessons. This is already a satisfying experience and I can't wait to continue the journey.

     


    Relating to Audiophilia 

     

    In addition to the main reason for learning how to play guitar mentioned above, I also really wanted to learn in order to enhance my music listening experiences. The more I learn about an artist, a recording, an instrument, the more I like that artist, recording, or instrument. Learning guitar is a major step in helping me understand much more about what I listen to and it has already been fruitful. 

     

    During my guitar research I listened to many different styles of guitar, from dreadnaught, to parlor, to grand auditorium and symphony. Sprice, cedar, koa, and steel and nylon strings were also part of this. After playing for almost a week, I'm hearing my favorite music in a different way. I don't hear it as only an audiophile or only a "musician" (notice the quotes), but rather an audiophile who is starting to understand more about music. Listening to an acoustic album the other day I immediately identified a large dreadnaught guitar in the background. The sound was unmistakable. Prior to today, that would've been just another acoustic guitar to me. Now, I can't miss it and I love this new ability!

     

    This also begs the question about an absolute sound or accurate music reproduction through our audio systems. Is it possible to identify if our systems are reproducing music accurately? I don't believe so, and here's why and how it relates to my guitar experience. In the last month I listened to guitars in several configurations. Among other things acoustic guitars can have steel or nylon strings (easy one), bronze steel strings, phosphor bronze steel strings, coated/treated strings, V bracing (my guitar), X bracing, shifted X bracing, scalloped bracing, sitka spruce, englemann spruce, lutz spruce, Adirondack spruce, or red cedar, mahogany, or koa tone woods, and the list goes on. How about the age of the guitar? It's relative humidity level? It's endless. Without knowing these things, how can one possibly begin to identify accurate playback in a home audio system. 

     

    Danelectro.jpgOne thing that I've always been told by people who think they know more than they do, is that musicians or people more involved with professional audio, don't get into the audiophile types of things like cables or power supplies, etc... Now that I have a toe dipped into playing an instrument, I can most certainly tell you that musicians have different but equally "crazy" obsessions with what matters with respect to sound. Spend a little time reading guitar forums and audiophiles will feel right at home reading general questions turn into crazy pursuits for that illusive sound. 

     

    At a local guitar shop it was fun to see an audiophile-esque item in the Danelectro carbon zinc batteries. According to the company, "Alkaline batteries suck your tone. The Danelectro battery is just like the batteries of yesteryear. You will dove the tone!" I'm not speculating on the efficacy of these batteries to do what is advertised. I just find similarities between these batteries and audiophile power supplies. Thus, I picked up a two-pack of the Danelectros and will use them in the ES2 pickup in my 814ce. 

     


    Bringing It Home

     

    After nearly 40 years of dreaming about playing guitar, I finally took the leap. My music-loving journey started long ago, while my music-playing journey started last week. In only one week, plying, learning, and listening to an acoustic guitar has been good for my soul and fueled me in ways I never imagined. The additional benefit of enhancing the listening experiences of my favorite music through high end audio components has been enlightening and enjoyable as well. The way these two worlds meet should enable me to better translate what I hear into written product reviews for members of the Audiophile Style community. It's really a win-win all around. Life is good, now it's time to take the rest of the week off work to learn guitar and enjoy Thanksgiving with family :~)

     

     

    P.S. Aurender N20 reviewing coming next week. 




    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Probably it's impossible to be 100% correct about the relative contributions of raw talent, practice and temperament in accounting for progress with a musical instrument. Someone who says it's for sure a particular permutation of these would sound to me like the old-timer attributing his longevity to whusky, women or wild-living. I lol when you said "my attention span as a seven year old was fairly short". Mine still is - and that's why I'm not a rock star!

    Congratulations on the Taylor. Looks very, very nice. Guitars are like rock 'n' roll! The best of what is available evolved and is made in the USA (he said with admiration from the UK). I had a Taylor Special Edition of some sort once, and I've owned a Gibson J-180 too. I own a Martin D-42 now.

    If you're improving switching between D and A, I guess I got a bit further than you as a child. I wish, wish, wish I had more time for guitar, Maybe next year will expand favourably in this way for me. I know in the end we prioritise what we prioritise. I agree with you totally about the enhancement of musical appreciation that follows familiarity with a musical instrument. Can be just insight into the nature and structure of music. Can be to play along to your favourites.

    Wish you well with your playing endeavours.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Cool. It's inspiring to me, as I'm planning on going back to the piano (which I gave up at a young age) when I retire, which isn't far off. 

    Let us know how it goes. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The songwriter Harlan Howard is credited with defining a great country song as "three chords and the truth."

     

    you only have one more to go 😄

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    So your first guitar is a Taylor 814ce, where did I go wrong 😉.  Congratulations.  I have to admit that this past year with the pandemic and work, I have not listened to a lot of music.  But I have bought and sold at least 20 guitars (all electric) 5 amps and various pedals.  It's been a sellers dream if you know what people are looking for.  It's starting to slow down as guitar shops are now filling up to pre-pandemic inventory levels. 

     

    Good luck with the practicing.  If we ever do that Minnesota meet up some day, I can bring some song books for you to learn.  I think it's too soon for the Pearl Jam, Ten song book, but I have it.  I've had a Stevie Ray Vaughan book for over 30 years and I still can't play a note in it.  I should just stick to buying and selling.  This time of the year is great for learning something new and listening to music as winter rolls in.

     

    Rock on, 

    Shawn

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    9 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

    So your first guitar is a Taylor 814ce, where did I go wrong 😉.  Congratulations.  I have to admit that this past year with the pandemic and work, I have not listened to a lot of music.  But I have bought and sold at least 20 guitars (all electric) 5 amps and various pedals.  It's been a sellers dream if you know what people are looking for.  It's starting to slow down as guitar shops are now filling up to pre-pandemic inventory levels. 

     

    Good luck with the practicing.  If we ever do that Minnesota meet up some day, I can bring some song books for you to learn.  I think it's too soon for the Pearl Jam, Ten song book, but I have it.  I've had a Stevie Ray Vaughan book for over 30 years and I still can't play a note in it.  I should just stick to buying and selling.  This time of the year is great for learning something new and listening to music as winter rolls in.

     

    Rock on, 

    Shawn

    Thanks Shawn!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Very cool!  I always said I would learn if I was ever able to support manufacturing on a split shift.  Split shifts never happened.  Now with arthritis spreading in the hands, not sure it will.

     

    I watch Rick Beato on YouTube and he can do some interesting stuff.  I do not know what others (real musicians) think of him but he focuses on the technical aspects of music.  He also can figure out which note just by the sound.  I think that is astounding.  If nothing else, he recently, like last week, posted a great interview of Sting.  Well worth the time to watch.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Quote

    A few weeks ago I finally decided it was time to learn guitar

     

    Ah, that is one surefire way to revisit every hockey injury and the lingering wear and tear after years of mostly sedentary behavior.  

     

    Quote

     I thought there was no way my fingers would bend or even survive this experience. I woke up the next day with incredibly sore fingers. In fact, as I type this six days later, the fingertips of my left hand are partially numb and hurt at the same time. 

     

    Onwards with passion and gusto overwhelmingly forcing through the pain and maladjusted postures.    

     

    No developed thought, no training, no awareness of how much too late it is to address... form.  That all important all informing, ever present "Do it again correctly!!!" which sets apart anyone attempting a musical instrument from those who successfully play without stress or injury.  

     

    Quote

    It's really a win-win all around. Life is good, now it's time to take the rest of the week off work to learn guitar and celebrate Thanksgiving with family :~)

     

    Chris, being the first to laugh can also mean being the first to help.  Your pro musician friend missed a few cues about your past life that might not occur to someone who hasn't personally experienced the violence of hockey. 

     

    You are fighting two major issues which need to be addressed intelligently.  Three if we account for skin issues.  First is being a keyboard warrior - carpal tunnel syndrome - with deeply imbedded posture of someone who sits for considerable amounts of time.  Second is you didn't prepare to prepare.  Get out some of that hockey toughness instilled in [cripes what is below peewee] Atom(!) players.  Get a little skating time and coordination (physically spending time with the guitar in your hands without any attempt to play) while you heal up until nearer Christmas (yes I'm serious).  It doesn't seem like much but that weight out in front of you, a 40 something adult, will cumulatively strain every core and neck muscle because....  you didn't prepare them for this unexpected and vigorously attempted new experience. 

     

    Get up from your desk or listening chair and move around with the guitar (Not playing it).  When you feel healed up... rest some more and continue grabbing the guitar to reinforce the schema you will ultimately need to build up in order to start working on form.  Learning a few chords is the easy part.  That could easily take a few days and stick with you for the rest of your life.  Pay very close attention to what muscles and tendons hurt severely the more you rest.  Start doing opposing exercises (these are light weight to establish flexibility and... constantly reaffirm their place besides the larger growing muscles) before you cannot feed yourself or struggle with clothes. 

     

    If you start seeing signs of arthritis or other concerning worse-with-age issues, move on.  Teach the kid and let that be that.  Try the Sax or something else fingering might be less debilitating to play.  If you really want to pursue this.  I really suspect a good teacher in your active playing years might have told you to try a different instrument.  Knowing how hard on your wrists and tendons that sport is.  :)

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hi Chris

     

    Nice to hear that you finally got your guitar.

    Please take care of your body, skin is not the worst. But fingers, wrist and arm could start hurting !

    I guess the right teacher will show you the nessesary exercises to do.

     

    Jørgen

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Congratulations on taking up the guitar! You made the right decision to get an acoustic. By definition you now don't have to worry about a whole bunch of controversial issues, like batteries for example (carbon batteries are de riguer in fuzz boxes...). And yes, it's true: most guitar gearheads are audiophiles without even knowing it, albeit with a slightly different take on the manifestation of the early (or not so early) stages of psychosis.😄

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Congrats on the Taylor. It looks beautiful and I'll bet it sounds even better. My son has a Martin (D28 I think) and I get to be wowed by its glorious sound occasionally. Last summer we had a week-long family gathering at a lake place. There was  going to be daily music with guitar and another son on mandolin. I wanted to take part so I put together a washtub bass. It was a blast playing music with the boys. But the tub is very limited, I could not even get one full octave out of it. The good news is it convinced me that I needed to buy a guitar-type acoustic-electric bass. It doesn't sound like much unless it's amped, but the acoustic sound is just right for practicing in my apartment. And with a small amp, it is a real bass when playing in the living room at my son's place.
     
    Anyway, I have practiced/played almost daily for 3 months now and I'm happy to say I notice improvements every day - small but consistent. Met up with one son last week and was actually able to make some music. So just stick with it - every day - and you'll be great in no time.
     
    P.S.  And speaking of great, if you want to be inspired (or maybe discouraged) listen to Tommy Emmanuel Live at the Ryman. The guy is sooooo musical, and not bad at playing guitar. The SQ of the recording brings out the live sound of an acoustic guitar better than most.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On a similar journey - just started electric guitar 2 years ago at age 58. Best advice is get a teacher ASAP. Did the same online videos (which I liked) and thought I was doing the lessons correctly but I was WAY off leading to cramping problems and bad technique etc.. During the pandemic, I continued with my in person teacher over the internet (FaceTime) and continue that way today. It's not perfect but surprisingly effective.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 minutes ago, agladstone said:

    Nice job on the guitar selection! 
    I have been playing guitar for 40 years now and I recently purchased a Limited Builders Edition Taylor 814 myself (June 2021) and it’s become the pride and joy of my guitar collection (an equal to my Fender Custom Shop Aztec Gold reproduction of a 1959 Stratocaster). 
    It is actually the first high end Acoustic Guitar that I’ve ever purchased. 
    I have historically been focused on Electric Guitars, only having a 30+ year old Acoustic that my parents bought me when I was 10 years old. 
    Ever since I purchased the Taylor 814 this summer, I play it about 75% of the time, and rarely break out my Electric Guitars, pedals, and Amps these days. 
    It literally plays like a dream (after a really good setup, it did need attention to the neck angle and the bridge and saddle height and string height also needed minor adjustments - you should definitely bring it to a local Taylor certified Guitar shop or Luthier for a custom setup! In my experience, literally all guitars require one after purchasing new from the factory). 
    Enjoy !!! 
     

    Fantastic!

     

    I will take it in when I setup lessons at Twin Town Guitar here in Minneapolis. 
     

    Thanks!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites




    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...