Q: How many guitars does a guitarist need?
A: One more
So I bought yet another one. An Epiphone Broadway electric archtop. It has a laminated maple body with a spruce top and rosewood fingerboard. It’s fitted with two Alnico Classic humbucker pickups and a rather weird ‘Frequensator’ tailpiece. It’s a nice-looking object, as you can see …
I must confess I was influenced by the new Beatles Get Back documentary which shows John Lennon using a natural-coloured Epiphone Casino. I haven’t had a semi-acoustic guitar since my early teens, when my older brother gave me a lovely Hofner Club 40 guitar which, incidentally, was also used by the Beatles, around the time they were playing in Hamburg:
Along with the Hofner guitar, I received the once-ubiquitous Play-in-a-day book by Bert Weedon.
And that’s how I learned to play. Interestingly, Bert is playing a natural-colour semi-acoustic too!
Why a semi-acoustic? Well, apart from the fact that they look great, I like the fact that they’re loud enough to play without amplification. The hollow body is more prone to feedback but then I’m not using one on stage at high volume and, anyway, the humbucker pickups reduce the problem.
Although I liked the look of John Lennon’s Casino, that wasn’t quite what I wanted because it’s really just another rock guitar and I have a number of those. I wanted one that was designed primarily for jazz. Now, I’m not a jazz guitarist, so what’s that all about? Well, I like the idea of writing and playing pieces for the electric guitar as a solo instrument and the only people who really do that come from a jazz tradition.
What’s different about a jazz guitar? Not so much, but they are usually played with a higher action and heavier strings than a rock guitar, so rather like a steel-string acoustic. I went for D’Addario Jazz Light strings (.011-.050) as the ones fitted to the guitar when I bought it were unbelievably heavy. What you lose when compared to my Strat or Les Paul is the ability to bend the strings but then you do have more control, which is essential when you’re trying to play melody and accompaniment at the same time.
So, I’ve tried composing a short piece just for this guitar. Appropriately, it’s called First on Broadway:
I recorded it directly into my Apogee duet interface and applied some effects using Guitar Rig 6.
If you want to have a go at playing this piece, you’ll find the score and tablature below: