Affair With A Blonde

On Wednesday I bought a Larrivee D-05e. It's one of the best acoustics on the market, retailing for about two thousand and street priced at seventeen. I got a deal. I was really pleased with the new guitar. She is everything I hoped she'd be. And as I spent the day with her, my blonde seagull watched with kaleidoscope eyes ...

One of the most stupid things I have begun to do is confuse the collection of guitars as objects, with the value of guitars as instruments to be related to and enjoyed because of their responsiveness, the balance between their highs and lows, their sweetness and sense of drama. Sometimes there is a good match, and sometimes, there isn't.

My Seagull Artist dreadnought is made of flamed maple and light spruce. It is one of the most beautiful guitars I've ever seen. It's a bright beauty, not inward or dramatic, but all golden and willing to be seen, uninhibited ... and ready to express a direct and unambiguous sweetness when she is touched with perfect sincerity.

Yesterday I played the Larrivee all day, and I swear she lays in your hands like a crystal ball, and discerns your yearning to communicate through your hands what won't fit into the spoken word. She is a beautiful and a sweet guitar.

But later on last night I found myself playing the Seagull with a different appreciation.

Because I've been watching these guitars go on E-Bay at five hundred or less I began to think of the guitar as a medium quality instrument. That is the danger of using the market instead of your ears.

It's like buying wine. Tonight I had a really delicious red wine, but I got it at Trader Joe's on the cheap. It's a Bear's Lair Merlot, and when I recorded my reaction to it on my wine's to buy list, I just put, "Mmmmerlot." That means I found a cheap wine that tastes expensive. I like that a lot better than just shelling out the money for a sure thing. Maybe.

The Seagull Artist is undervalued for one simple reason. It has a neck action that is not narrowed into the configuration of an electric. It has a wider fret board, when the market is concentrated on the "electric guitar" neck in acoustics. That, plus the fact that Seagull is known as an inexpensive guitar line, makes their top of the line solid woods guitar a steal at the price.

If I hadn't bought the Larrivee, I would have bought a rosewood and spruce Seagull Artist for a second guitar, which is also a steal on E-Bay when it comes around. I decided not to only because I didn't want to make the blonde see her doppelganger. I did mention that she's very, very sensitive. The Larrivee is a dark beauty she can get along with. When I pick her up she's instantly in the mood to be handled. I say, "You don't mind?" and she says, "I mind just fine."

The longer I play the Seagull the better I like her slightly wide neck and easy action. It's got a substantial feel to it.

My friend Clay, who is an amazing guitarist, pronounced the Seagull an exceptional guitar, with remarkably good balance across the spectrum from low to high. But beyond the technical excellence of balance and tone, this Seagull is just sweet. The maple is very hard, and she resonates with that responsiveness peculiar to the very sensitive nervous system. She feels every thought in your mind and when it moves your fingers she makes no mistake in her response. She gives you what you deserve and when you find within your heart a secret she will share it as a deliciously discreet accomplice. In a word, this is a sexy guitar.

But I didn't really know that until I bought a guitar that is supposed to be worth twice as much money, but which is, maybe, the equal. I don't know that I could like either of them better. But it is surprising that I don't like the Larrivee better than the Seagull, because there should be a level of quality difference. But when I just pay attention to the sound, regardless of the good looks of both these guitars, the Seagull really holds its own.

The important thing that happened when I bought the Larrivee wasn't just that I got a good deal on another great guitar, but that I really learned how good the guitar I have is. This Seagull Artist is a guitar that you like to pick up and then you can get lost in, and not remember how long back it was that you picked her up.

And then again ... the Larrivee D-05e is also special instrument. I was looking at Larrivee's on E-Bay, and this guy had an expensive model for sale. He said he bought it after trying his nephew's D-05e. He thought the more expensive model would be even better so he bought that instead. I'm sure it's really nice, but the 05 is something special, and the sound is unique. I don't think there's another Larrivee that sounds as sweet, no matter what you pay for it.

What luxury ... two beauties and I ... and a glass of Mmmmmmmerlot

Posted: Sun - July 11, 2004 at 05:30 PM