Q: How many guitars does a guitarist need?
A: One more
So I bought another one. A Martin 000C nylon-string acoustic.
It cost me £1200. This exact model is no longer available but Martin has something very similar for $1995. In my mind, that’s a fair price for a professional guitar used by artists like Laura Marling …
Martin is, of course, primarily a maker of steel string acoustics, which it has been doing since the 1830s. There are other makers who major on Spanish/flamenco/classical nylon string guitars but I’m not a specialist in any of these genres and I fancied my first Martin. You could say this is a crossover guitar, for people who want to get that distinctive nylon string sound within the context of a genre not normally associated with these sorts of guitars – perhaps folk, jazz, or pop.
As a crossover guitar, which may well be used on stage with a band, it has a Fishman pickup so it can be direct injected into an amplifier, PA or recording setup. This also comes up with a really useful tuning system on the side of the guitar …
So is it any good. In a word, yes. It looks really nice and plays well. It took me a while to get back into the playing style needed for a nylon string guitar (it had been several decades since I last had one) but it’s now a guitar I look forward to picking up. And the distinctive nylon string tone stimulates new ideas for composition.
I chose the nylon string guitar as the first instrument I would explore in the Instrumming section of the Instrumentality site and I wrote three pieces that would test out both the guitar and my ability to perform with it. Here’s one, called Almuruna …
I recorded the guitar using direct injection into my audio interface (an Apogee Duet). I would have got a richer sound using a condenser microphone but this was quicker to set up.
There’s notation and tablature for this piece in Instrumming.
So, what’s next in terms of my guitar collection? I’m interested in a Gibson ES-335. Let’s see.