Stefano Barone

           Wow, check out the set…oh, the music’s good too. A brief description of Stefano Barone’s musical profile: He is an Italian fingerstyle guitarist that has been slowly gaining recognition. With his immense talent and creatively, combined with his flair for percussion, his instrumentals leans towards the experimental side. He slaps his guitar so often that there are scars on its surface. I have been thoroughly impressed by his debut album particulare#uno, and it is clear to see (and hear) that he is an artist exploring the boundaries of the acoustic guitar. Stefano Barone just released a new album a few days ago called Danze Altalenanze. I wish him much fame and success.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  

My Tacoma BM6C Thunderhawk

           Just yesterday I have procured my first baritone acoustic guitar, a Tacoma BM6C Thunderhawk. Tacoma Guitars is, or rather, was a luthier company based in Tacoma Washington, USA. It has since been defunct, a fact that I hope will increase the value of this guitar as the years go by. I am its second owner; the first owner purchased it brand new in 2007. The deal came with the guitar, its soft case, a Tacoma Guitars catalogue, and the soft case’s information card. With its 29 inches scale length (nut to saddle measurement), the Tacoma BM6C is a big guitar, as one can see when compared to the average 25.5 inches scale length of my Taylor 314ce. Tacoma BM6C Thunderhawk has a jumbo-like body, a venetian cutaway, a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, one piece mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard, all covered with a light satin finish. Note the unusual shape and location of its sound hole. A fine piece of woodwork art to be sure.
          It is not without a few dents and scratches on its finish, however. And the less than seamless mating area of the neck and body is the only craftsmanship flaw I could find. I have yet to test its built-in pickup. A trivial detail, as I never plug in my acoustics anyway. I plan to slap on new baritone acoustic strings, and like the guitar itself, it’s not exactly a common item, as my local music shops does not carry any. I will also adjust the action and relief a bit to better suit my liking.
          As for how it sounds, it has a very warm tone. Almost too warm. I suspect new strings will improve this. And as expected of a baritone, the bass has a very strong presence, but yet it doesn’t drown out the higher notes. It is slightly more difficult to play, mainly due to the thicker strings and a longer scale length than what I’m used to.
          I originally had in mind an Alvarez Yairi YB1, but this Tacoma BM6C appeared for sale locally, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. A baritone acoustic was a necessity, as for years I have practiced songs such as Heather’s Song, Ebon Coast, and Joyland, all pieces written for the baritone acoustic, using standard guitars. While they sound alright in standard tuning, I cannot help but shake the nagging feeling that I was not playing the music as the artist intended it to be played. I have even tried tuning my standard guitars down to baritone tunings and played those pieces that way. Not a good idea, as I broke numerous strings when I did that, and the playability and sound of the guitar just wasn’t right. Now with my Tacoma BM6C Thunderhawk, I can faithfully reproduce (or try to anyway) these groovy songs in their native tunings; as NVIDIA would say, the way it’s meant to be played.

Published in: on February 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm  Comments (7)  

Masaaki Kishibe – Hana (My Cover)

           As I analyze my own taste in music, I notice my favorite fingerstyle instrumentals are possessed by the pioneers (Leo Kottke – The Fisherman), the innovative (Michael Hedges – Because It’s There), and the virtuoso (Andy Mckee – Rylynn). In my perpetual exploration of fingerstyle guitar, eventually, like almost all the musical artists I discover, I stumbled upon Masaaki Kishibe on Youtube a few years ago. One of his more popular songs is Hana (花), the character in Japanese (and in Chinese) translates to flower. As I listened to his music, and particularly to this piece, I realized that one doesn’t need fancy techniques, nor esoteric music theory manipulations, nor be pushing the boundaries of an instrument, to create beautiful music. As beautiful, elegant, and charming as it is simple, Hana has since become one of my favorites tunes of all time. So here it is, my cover of Masaaki Kishibe’s Hana.

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Andy Mckee’s Joyland – Album and Tablature Book

“I kind of had this idea of an old abandoned amusement park when I came up with this tune. I sort of had this vision of old rides that are rusted and nobody goes to this cool old theme park that used to be really great for people. Sort of as a metaphor for growing up a bit.”
Andy Mckee
on his song Joyland, initially titled Music for a Vacant Amusement Park.

As a huge fanatic of Andy Mckee, his every new album and sheet music are a must have for me. His latest release is Joyland, released a few months ago, and I have already given the CD plenty of spins on the CD player. The album also includes a DVD containing videos of him performing album songs identical to the ones on YouTube. I also have its corresponding tablature book, which was published a few weeks ago. It contains the sheet music for every song on the album. Official tablature for ten mind boggling difficult songs is a heck of deal for $16.50 CDN, considering the sheet music for a single piece at Stropes is $12 US.
I would rank Joyland as somewhere between Art of Motion and Gates of Gnomeria, slightly weaker than the former but much stronger than the latter. Thus far I like every single piece on Joyland, except Layover. Joyland continues the trend in Gates of Gnomeria, where some of his pieces on the album have accompaniment, such as his title track Joyland and Never Grow Old. And like with Gates of Gnomeria, I much prefer the solo versions, as seen and heard on YouTube.
Currently I have just memorized and am attempting to master his title piece Joyland. This is the third song I have learned that is written for the baritone acoustic guitar, the other two being Heather’s Song and Ebon Coast. I really need a baritone acoustic…

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 6:56 pm  Comments (2)  

Andy Mckee – Joyland

There are no words that can fully capture the beauty of this song. My soul is satisfied, and I can die in peace…

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment