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Aug 25

All Cole Clark guitars have a unique feel and tone to them that sets them apart from other acoustic brands. Constructed with integral neck joints, the neck runs straight through to the soundhole, providing you with a depth of rich and balanced tone from the instrument. We were fortunate enough to have acoustic virtuoso, and Cole Clark endorsee, Maneli Jamal stop by to give a rundown on a few of these great guitars. We captured some cool video of him demoing the FL-1, FL-2, FL-3, and AN2, along with an explanation of what makes these guitars so special. You can check out Maneli demoing all of our Cole Clarks by clicking on the links of the Cole Clark guitars we have in stock!

 

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Aug 05

USA Today Taylor Article

USA Today put out an article on their site today about Taylor Guitars, who are celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year.  We were honored (and a little surprised) when USA Today recently called The Music Zoo for some input from owner Tommy Colletti.  But, seeing is that Taylor is one of our best industry friends, we were more than happy to offer some input for the column.  In addition there is a nicely produced video, have a look at it here and be sure to read down the page.  We’re looking forward to another 40 years of great Taylor Acoustic Guitars!  Be sure to have a look at our current inventory right here, we stock the entire line-up of this awesome brand.

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Aug 01

If any guitar manufacturer can attest to building a great guitar that retails for an affordable price, it’s Godin and its Seagull brand of acoustics. Seriously, try Seagull’s flagship model, the S6; you’ll hear a big, very audible instrument that projects while plenty of lows and crisp top-end pour forth effortlessly. Many guitars from other manufacturers in the S6’s price range can sound like a cigar box with strings, the result of using dull sounding, lesser-quality wood with poorly executed bracing and construction.

Among Seagull’s claims to fame is its manufacturing. Godin is a Canadian company based in Quebec. All of its products are hand-built there using, for the most part, locally sourced  tonewoods with other components made in-house. For Seagull and Godin, these tonewoods are often Canadian-grown wild cherrywood for their instrument’s body and Canadian spruce or cedar for the tops. One anomaly to this formula is an S6 Koa edition that’s exclusive to The Music Zoo. This guitar is constructed with a laminated Hawaiian koa back and sides with a mahogany top. The net result is tone that is warm, with plenty of upper-midrange presence and a bright, crisp top-end. According to Seagull, some of the brightness will mellow as the guitar is played. We also noted excellent detail and clarity when playing chords and solo lines in the upper frets.

It should be noted that a guitar for less than a grand and using koa for its back and sides is quite a rare thing. Koa may grow on trees, yet it doesn’t just grow on trees; in other words, it’s rare, exclusive to the Hawaiian islands, and not readily available. At least, there aren’t a lot of koa trees that are large enough and straight enough to be used for guitar-making purposes due to dwindling supply. Moreover, it all comes from one particular tree farm on Hawaii’s big island. Think about that the next time you play a koa guitar.  Have a look at the Koa S6 guitars currently available right here.

Seagull (1 of 12)

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Seagull (12 of 12)

 

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Jun 30

Taylor Expression Main Image 2

Mention the word “Piezo” to guitarists and they’ll likely think about the brittle, harsh, quacky, artificial, sound typical of under-the-saddle Piezo transducers that have been very associated with virtually all brands. Really, it wasn’t any guitar brand’s fault,  just the technology at the time. One well-regarded finger-style guitarist, Adrian Legg, actually sculpted his sound playing Ovations with their under-the-saddle Piezos with digital delay to great, umm… effect. But Adrian Legg was an exception; popular consensus generally indicates that most guitarists don’t like the under-the-saddle sound for good reason: it doesn’t capture the natural tone of an acoustic guitar.

Taylor is one particular guitar builder taking a leading role in developing on-board electronics to compliment their fine-sounding acoustic guitars. For such an endeavor, eliminating the harsh Piezo sound and capturing the natural voice of the instrument is priority. The company’s efforts have paid off with its proprietary Expression System 2 electronics. The ES2 still uses Piezo technology. However, whereas the unfavorable Piezo tones were generated using the aforementioned “under-the-saddle” type of transducers, the ES2 uses three individual transducers behind the bridge. This approach eliminates the harsh tones that came not so much from the Piezo technology but from putting the pickups under the guitar’s saddle (it was believed that the saddle moved up and down as the strings vibrated, and most efficiently created the output energy needed for transduction). Taylor debunked that theory, and realized that placing the Piezo sensors behind the bridge yielded less treble and more natural acoustic tone.

The ES2 uses a preamp with a gain structure that makes the system 25-percent “hotter” than the original ES system, which is still used in Taylor’s 400 lines and lower and can be custom ordered on guitars that come stock with the ES2. Its circuitry features controls over volume, treble, and bass. There’s also a phase reversal switch that helps cancel out common low-frequency feedback “woof.” In summation, we love the ES2 system and believe it’s a guitar advancement toward achieving truly an amplified guitar tone that’s convincing and natural from within the guitar…no easy feat, but Taylor’s done it.  Check out our deep selection of Taylor Acoustic Guitars with this amazing ES2 system right here and enjoy this video from Taylor about the new design:

Expression System 1

Expression System 2

 

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Mar 17

Cole-Clark

The Music Zoo is proud to announce we are an Authorized Dealer for Cole Clark Guitars!  This Australian company is known for building stronger, lighter-weight guitars with a naturally amplified sound.  Currently endorsed by an impressive roster of artists including Jack Johnson, Johnny Marr and Ben Harper, these guitars feature both traditional and Australian tone woods, a patented pickup system, and a unique integral neck joint making them ideal for studio and live performance.  They even offer a couple variations on the Lap Steel which are popping up on stages all-around the world.  The exude tone, quality and reliability!  Check out our current inventory here and be sure to contact our sales team for more information on model availability!

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Jan 28

brushfire

A gorgeous new burst is now available from Taylor on select 600 Series and Maple Custom guitars called “Brushfire”.  It’s a 3-step process and adds $1,500 retail to the build, but if you want one of the most stunning looking new Taylors on the block it’s a great choice.  We can’t wait to see it in person.  Want to order one?  Contact sales@themusiczoo.com today.

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Jan 27

Tucked away inside the Larrivee factory in Oxnard, California is a small workshop that is the home of Frank Falbo’s namesake new acoustic guitars.  We visited Frank for a demonstration of these instruments and came away with resolve that we had to have them at The Music Zoo.  Frank understands not just how to build an acoustic guitar, but exactly how an acoustic guitar makes sound, and he’s incorporated some very unique and modern features into these instruments that really do make a difference.  Watch the video to learn all about it, and then check out the Falbo guitars we have in stock right now!

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Dec 20

Get used to seeing Liam “Skin” Tyson on your screen and hearing his psychedelic and pastoral acoustic guitar work fill your ears, for he is now the guitarist for Robert Plant. This wacky Englishman can play the pants off of any guitar, and here he’s showing us what the new Gibson J-35 is capable of. Good stuff. Interested in our large selection of brand new Gibson acoustics? Click here.

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Oct 24

Fender Custom Shop Acoustic

Factory Tour: Part One  Part Two  Part Three

In parts one and two of our factory tour of the Fender Acoustic Custom shop in New Hartford, CT, we saw how they pick tonewoods and construct all the parts required to build the guitar.  Now it’s time to get down to business and we start with body construction.

 

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These CNC side benders were designed and built in house.  The 2 axis design allows for the waist bender (shown) to push the shoe into the waist, while mechanical arms wraps a sealed shim on the upper and lower bouts.   The process including shutting down the heat is automated, allowing a worker to focus on other things during the process.

 

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Here are some bent sides cooling in a rack.

 

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Workers will use this fixture to join the two completed guitar sides by adding the head block and tail block.  The white plastic parts are clamp calls, that assist with locating the parts.

 

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Here’s the rim assembly process after getting removed from the fixture.  The head and tail blocks are clamped onto the calls.

 

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Here are some completely assembled rims with kerfing installed.  These bodies are an OM style with Gibson/Martin inspired wood sides stays (the brown lines inside the rim).   The sides stays add strength.  The collars used to shape these rims can be seen in the background.

 

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Fender uses basswood kerfing in the guitars.  It’s lightweight, easy to work with, and bonds well.

 

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Here’s an individual maple side stay getting sanded.  These have to fit between the kerf on the top and bottom of the rim.

 

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Colin is bonding in the side stays using clamps.

 

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This shot shows the clamps in action, and also gives us a look at the truss rod access in the neck block.

 

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If you look closely at the near edge of the rim, there is a bit of wood that protrudes past the kerfing.  This “stand off” is lasered in when the side is cut.  In the next step, the stand off is used to locate the specific position of the assembly once it is placed inside inside the collar.

 

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The position of the rim inside this collar is important, as you’ll see when the part gets sanded.

 

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Fender has three of these disc sanders, they are used to sand a specific radius onto the rim’s edge.  This is what helps the top and back of the guitar have a very subtle shape.  This one has a 30 foot dish radius and is used to sand the edge for the top of the guitar.  For backs, they use one with a 16 foot radius, and there is a flat one too for guitars like carved top jazz guitars, where the top or back is naturally arched.

 

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Remember the stand offs we saw on the rim’s edge that help locate it in the collar?  Here’s where they get sanded off, as the collar is placed on the aluminum blocks to rest at the exact right height.

 

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Here’s the interior of the guitar during fitting, complete with the laser Fender logo.

 

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Here’s Marty applying some glue to radiused braces for the interior of the guitar.

 

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This white locator is used to show where to attach the braces to the top.  It has holes in it that the braces fit in precisely.  Not all the braces are bonded at once, about half of them in one pass then the other half.

 

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This vacuum membrane bonder will lower over the braces and suck the parts down tightly together.

 

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Not only does the membrane apply very even pressure to the braces during bonding, it helps with the time required as well.  In a conventional clamp these would need an hour of clamp time.  In the membrane the vacuum action shortens that to 15 minutes.

 

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Here’s an Englemann spruce top, complete with bracing.  Note the tabs on the ends, these will be used for more locating and then removed.

 

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Next, the top and back are joined.  This phenolic plate has the arch of the top carved into it, and uses vacuum pressure to hold the top in shape while the rim is joined.

 

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Darren is showing us that suble arch to the back of this guitar body, thanks to the 30 foot radius sanding disc.  Fender makes a lot of effort to build the final shape of the guitar into every part, so there is as little stress as possible within the wood.

 

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Here’s a nice look at a beautiful FSR built with claro walnut and a carpathian spruce top.  Very elaborate purfling and rosette.

 

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Dave the fitter is working on the neck fit.  The tolerances are carved so tightly that he’ll end up using a clamp to drive the neck all the way home once it is in position.

 

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Fender uses traditional hand fit dovetail joints for the neck fit.  Dave is using a unique chamfered sanding block to get the shape just right.

 

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Now we’re in final assembly.  Here’s Andy McDonald touching up the shape of a saddle.  The saddle is what sits inside the bridge and supports the strings.

 

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This is Mike Shear, the body department supervisor.  He’s worked with Fender/Guild for years and has done bindings on thousands of guitars.

 

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The binding process is hard, precise work.  This is a Doyle Dykes Guild model with an intricate multi-laminate binding.

 

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Due to the porous nature of a wood like mahogany, vinyl sealer is shot onto the neck then paste-wood filler is applied.  A builder will apply the filler by wiping it on with the grain, then wiping it off against the grain.  That way, he won’t strip out the filler he just applied.

 

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Here’s Drew spraying color onto the walnut FSR run of guitars we’ve been seeing a lot of today.

 

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Some of these FSRs are getting a sunburst finish, while some (like the one in the back there) are staying natural.

 

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The sapwood part of the walnut is the lightly colored area next to the darker hardwood.  It’s bookmatched to great effect here.

 

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After the guitars have been painted, the paint that has covered the logo, binding, and other decorative elements need to be scraped off.  It takes a lot of concentration and a steady hand to do this job, and Leon has both.

 

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Scraping the Fender logo on this sunburst painted headstock.

 

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This FSR has been scraped, and will now go to get clearcoat.

 

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The painted guitars are left to cure for at least 2 weeks before they can be worked on.  Jason here has been with the group for years also and is seen here sanding the clear.  He’ll use gradually finer sandpapers to prepare the body for buffing.

 

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This guitar is being buffed by Todd, a long-time Guild guy who has been building guitars since the Westerly era.

 

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Lead buffer Chris is working the wheel on this headstock.

 

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Some of these areas have been reconfigured since our visit; this area is now used for neck fitting.  As we mentioned in part one, this antique building is huge and complex and it is easy as pie to get lost.

 

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Final setup time.  Chris Jarvis is shown here working on a Fender koa auditorium limited run.

 

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This builder is filing the nut slots.  All the nuts used on Fender Custom Shop guitars are made of bone.

 

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Bob is using a gauge to check the height of the string at the nut.  This action at the nut is important for the playability of the guitar.

 

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Dialing in the action.

 

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Here’s Phil putting a Guild archtop through its paces.  All three of the guys in here can full setup and finish any of the guitars.

 

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We liked this neatly organized, decidedly not digital ledger book.  This book has literally every detail about every guitar built written into it, and as Darren Wallace said, it’s like “seeing your life pass before your eyes” flipping through it.  The Music Zoo has been to a lot of guitar factories and we are genuinely impressed with the craftsmanship and attention to detail that the Fender Custom Shop is putting into this current breed of acoustic instruments.  These are truly great sounding and authentically constructed guitars that we’re proud to carry at the shop.  Thank you to Darren Wallace, Tim Shaw, Ren Ferguson, Gary Waugh, Sean Morrissey and all the other good Fender folks who hosted us for the tour.  Want to see some Fender Custom Shop acoustic guitars that you could own now?  Check out our current inventory. 

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Oct 11

If you’ve ever picked up a classical guitar and found yourself at odds with the traditional string spacing and unforgiving neck feel but loved the sound and touch of the nylon strings, we would like to introduce you to the Taylor 412ce-n. This fantastic guitar gives the best of both worlds: and easy to play nylon string model that has that legendary Taylor quality, not to mention a built in pickup that is specially voiced for the nylon sound.   The Music Zoo’s Tim Reynolds and our friend Dennis Delgaudio (Billy Joel, The Turtles) give you an overview of this useful line of Taylor guitars.

Want to explore the world of Taylor nylon string guitars for yourself?  Check out our current inventory!

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