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Mikey's Blue (And Not So Blue) Guitar Gallery

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SPECIAL FEATURES:
»Subscribe to the Mike Golay Podcast Series subscribe to mike golay's podcast series.
»All About Across the Bridge, the latest solo record
»All About Half Pint, my first solo record
»The Bumby Tapes: 10 Questions and Answers
»Q&A with the Portland Press Herald

Over the last... I don't know, decade and change, I guess, I've amassed a somewhat unimpressive, yet special, to me anyway, collection of guitars. Some I play regularly, some I rarely touch. And here they are, so far.

For some related technical notes, trundle on over here.

my guitar wants to fight you.
2004 Berkowitz Guitars J6-CW Custom - "Bumby"

It's not blue, but it goes to the head of the class.

Details:
I asked D.C.-based luthier David D. Berkowitz to build a custom for me after I visited his shop for a few repairs and got suckered. Cedar top, old-growth sapele back/sides, bi-directional body taper (or "wedge"), rosewood bindings, 25.7" scale, Gotoh Super 510 tuning machines with black buttons, heavy mojo. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

I'd wanted a larger-bodied guitar for a while, but there were issues. I wanted to be able to play more percussively without overdriving the guitar, but I still wanted great response for delicate playing. Also, I have a hard time getting my arms around a big guitar. The cedar top gave me the darker sound I was going for, and the special bracing system David uses lets the top vibrate more freely. The guitar's body taper solved the size issue. It's very comfortable to play. More info and photos here.

bring da funk..
2006 Berkowitz Guitars J28-CW Baritone Custom - "The Bambata"

Oh yes. It does rock the proverbial socks. A fantastic instrument. Playing it has taken me in surprising new directions compositionally, and that's always a good thing. I've gotten a real kick out of playing the guitar live and in the studio.

Details:
Another one of David's exquisite creations. Spruce top, padauk back/sides, bi-directional body taper (or "wedge"), ebony bindings, 28" scale, Gotoh Super 510 tuning machines with black buttons. Strings are gauged .70-.17. K&K Pure Western Mini + Twin Spot pickup wired stereo.

I first heard a baritone guitar played on Don Ross' "Huron Street" album. From that moment on I had to get me one. David's baris are some of the very best in the world, and I mean that. It was a thrill to take delivery of this monster at the 2006 Newport Guitar Festival, where I demoed a number of David's guitars in mini-concert.

quite nice.
2006 Avalon A101c Custom

I'd played several first-generation Avalons and had been impressed. Several years later, looking for a reliable road guitar with specs close to those of my main recording guitar, I asked Avalon, whom I now endorse, to build this one. They delivered a very nice instrument.

Details:
Cedar top, mahogany back/sides, pearwood bindings, 25.5" scale, Gotoh 503 tuning machines with black buttons. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

Carrying on in the Lowden tradition, Avalon are building some of the best values in acoustic guitars today. This guitar is slightly smaller-bodied than my main guitar, but maintains the wider nut and string spacing (1 7/8" x 2 3/8") that I prefer. We stopped short of doing a longer scale (25.7") guitar for practical reasons, but the guitar still plays very nicely in low/open/altered tunings. Definitely check out Avalon if you're in the market for a fine yet affordable guitar.

it's all mine and you can't have it.
2002 Taylor 612ce Custom

This guitar was made after I got spoiled playing Al Petteway's Sifel custom spruce and rosewood cutaway. I got horribly jealous and resorted to consumer therapy.

Details:
Custom order. Maple back and sides, sitka spruce top, maple neck, 1 7/8" nut, abalone purfling, Schaller tuners with ebony buttons, no fret inlay on an ebony fingerboard, 20 frets, 25½" scale, and a custom nut with precisely calibrated string spacing (duplicated from Al's Sifel, the truth be told). The pickup is a Fishman Blender. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

The guitar is set up like a dream, records beautifully and takes a wide variety of tunings like a champ. A real pleasure to play. And it's all mine. I prefer smaller bodied instruments, and I'm very happy with this one. However, I must confess that I'm considering having a baritone built using different tonewoods, a slightly longer scale, and a jumbo body. Because I like the growl, that's why.

salad bowls and banjo rolls.
2001 Ovation CS257 Celebrity Deluxe

This was my first reasonably "serious" guitar, and I still play it, despite having acquired a few nicer instruments. I originally bought an Ovation because Adrian Legg played one, and I have been heavily influenced by his music. Plus it was blue, and cheap-ish. This is where it all started...

Details:
Super-shallow cutaway, spruce top, 25¼" scale, rosewood fretboard, walnut bridge, thinline under-saddle pickup, 1 11/16" nut, gold tuning machines. Strings are custom D'Addario Phosphor Bronze or a special John Pearse High-Strung set.

The only real weakness of this guitar, in my opinion, is that it sounds quite thin acoustically, mostly due to its shallow body. But then, Ovations are made to be plugged in. It records nicely and its sound is quite balanced. Though I dislike bridge pickups as the sole means of amplification, the ones in Ovations are better than most and do a nice job across all six strings. I currently use this as my high-strung guitar, with Pearse Phosphor Bronze gauges .30, .23, .16, .12, .16, .12.

tiny twanger.
2001 Yamaha APXT-1 Travel Guitar

This was an impulse buy. It's cute and somewhat fun to play. Since I've moved to a wider neck, I find this guitar a bit of a challenge for the twanging. The diminished scale is pretty cool, though.

Details:
Spruce top, Agathis/Alder back and sides, maple neck, Indian rosewood fretboard and bridge, 22 frets, 1-way piezo bridge pickup. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldBronze in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

I've done a few home recordings with this guitar and have been pretty pleased with it. I have travelled with it a bit and it's pretty easy to get on a plane, etc. If you're looking for a travel guitar, it's worth a plucking. Of the ones I've tried, the Yamaha's balance and comfort, as in how it hangs on your body, is one of the better out there. Still, I have to use a strap when playing with it for any length of time.

for when i'm feeling especially noisy.
2002 Danelectro Convertible

I'm a bad man. I saw a picture of Elvis Costello with one and had to have it. Danelectro has reissued a bunch of old classic guitars. They're cheaply made, but there are some interesting models and they don't sound too bad. The bridge on this one floats and you have to intonate the guitar every time you change the strings.

Details:
Hardboard top and bottom with plywood frame, hard maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, 25 scale, 21 frets, original style pickup with brass tube and chrome plating, original formula 50s style Alnico magnet. Strings are nickel-wound D'Addario Jazz Mediums.

I've yet to do anything with this one. It sits in the living room and I pick it up now and again. Acoustically, it sounds something like a banjo. It sounds nicely vintage when plugged in. The tone knob appears to be largely cosmetic and seems to simply increase feedback when turned up. I suppose this could be used to some effect or another.

notes that go and go and go some more...
2002 Lowden O25c

I've long been a fan of George Lowden's work. In fact, some of the guitars that have made the biggest impression on me both in terms of aesthetics and sound have been Lowdens. My main recording guitar is an attempt at taking some of the Lowden characteristics and tricking them out a bit more. At any rate, this is a lovely guitar and I'm happy to have it.

Details:
Cedar top, Indian rosewood back/sides, mahogany bindings, 25.5" scale, Gotoh 503 tuning machines. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldPhos in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

Another in a long line of Jim Tozier's cast offs. Jim is the original owner and sold the guitar several years ago to a friend, Paul. Paul subsequently sold the guitar back to Jim to finance another purchase. Jim tells me that it's the only guitar he's ever really regretted selling. But... that didn't stop him from flipping it [again], finally to me. And it's not going anywhere.

12-banger.
1999 Taylor 355

This one came to me from my good friend Jim Tozier. We both have way too much gear. I thought I'd help him out. He thought he'd help me out. We are both in need of "assistance."

Details:
Sapele back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck, 1 7/8" nut, Grover mini tuners, 20 frets, 25½" scale. The pickup is now a dual-source McIntyre. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldBronze in .56/.36, .46/.24, .36/.12, .26/.10, .17/.17, .13/.13 gauges.

I've wanted a 12-string for a while. I couldn't pass this one up. I usually tune this guitar down a third or more from concert pitch, to C or Bb, depending on the tuning I'm going for. I've had it all the way down to open A (AEAEAC#), and it sounds fat. Jim took the pickguard off, and I thank him for it (there's now a factory clear one on the guitar). This one is a lot of fun.

happy pickin'.
2003 Larrivée L-01

I had been looking for some time for a guitar with which I wasn't [overly] afraid to travel. The airlines are not kind. This was a very, very pleasant find and a phenomenal value. Paired with an SKB ATA Roto Flight Case, I'm good to go, nearly worry free.

Details:
Mahogany back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck, 1 3/4" nut (soon to be switched to bone along with the saddle), Ping 18:1 tuners (ebony buttons installed retrofit), 20 frets, 25½" scale. No pickup - yet. Strings are a custom set of Dean Markley Alchemy GoldBronze in .56, .42, .32, .25, .16, .13 gauges.

I'm incredibly impressed with this guitar. It ha become the travel guitar for me. I've never played an affordable guitar that was set up so well, out of the box, and that sounded this full. The L-01 is made in limited quantities and is essentially a bindingless L-03, which is Larrivée's standard mahogany guitar. The only bummer is it only comes in a standard-width nut, no substitutions. Still, I truly love this guitar and I've gotten a lot of music out of it.

ah, the sound of nylon. coming off.
2001 Yamaha CGX-171CCA

I have no business playing a classical guitar. I am tremendously unschooled. I do love the sound and feel.

Details:
Cedar top, rosewood back and sides, nato neck, 1 7/8" nut, standard scale, and a bridge pickup and condenser mic. Strings are D'Addario Pro-Arte Extra-Hard Tension Composite.

I was inspired to finally buy a nylon string guitar after hearing Ed Gerhard's Live Album. I play all sorts of styles on this guitar, including celtic, fingerstyle, pop music, and... I do attempt the odd etude. I am interested in recording some multi-track nylon and steel duets with this guitar. If I had it to do over, however, I'd probably go with a bit longer scale instrument. With the standard classical scale, lower tunings tend to get quite flabby. On that note, the tuners that came stock tended to slip, so I replaced them with Schaller gold hausers with ebony buttons. They're faboo.

slide-o-rific.
2002 Regal RD-45MS

I'm not a bluegrass player by any stretch, but I do love the sound of a resophonic guitar.

Details:
Mahogany top, back, sides and neck, squareneck, Quarterman cone, bone nut, ebony bridge (custom setup). Strings are currently a special Paul Beard Phosphor Bronze Reso set, though I've used D'Addario Flattop Phosphor Bronze EFT13s, some no-name nickels and a set of John Pearse Nickel Gs. Gauges on the Beards are: .56-.18.

I'd been listening to a lot of Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, Mike Auldridge and a few other great players (I should also mention Ed Gerhard's work here, again), and I just thought I'd give it a try. I'd been playing the Harmony as a lap slide guitar for a little while, since the action is so high and the guitar actually sounds pretty nice. I had mostly been playing that instrument in Open G (DGDGBD). Now that I got a real reso, I found out that G tuning is most commonly tuned GBDGBD, on a dobro anyway. Interesting. I guess you don't have to do it that way... And maybe I won't.

wheedly-hoodle.
2004 Gold Tone SM Weissenborn Style 3

Been waiting too long. Had to have it.

Details:
Solid mahogany top, back, sides and neck. Tuners are a Kluson-type copy. I may upgrade them in the future. Strings are currently D'Addario Flattop Resophonics, .56-.16. I've installed a Fishman Rare Earth Humbucking pickup.

As much as I like my dobro, the sound in my head that I've wanted to hear come out when I hack around with a slide has always been a Weissenborn. I've been in love with them for years, but they're hard to find, and expensive if you can get hold of one. When I found out Gold Tone was making an affordable copy, I did a little searching and thankfully found one hanging in a local shop. I pounced. The quality is surprisingly good. I keep this one in Open D (DADF#AD), or more commonly down a step to Open C (CGCEGC). Occasionally I stray to Open G (DGDGBD).

so very silly.
Lanikai CKB Baritone Ukulele

Impulse buy in Hawaii.

Details:
Curly koa veneer. Made by a Hawaiian company. In China.

I was in Kaua'i, without a guitar. I got the itch to play. The 'ukes looked cute. I found a baritone that sounded good. A baritone 'uke is typically tuned DGBE, like the first four strings of a guitar in standard. That works, but I've found my own four-string tunings, among them DGAD, DGBD, DF#BD and DF#AD, as well as a few C tunings. Interesting instrument and family.

the original box of doom.
'60s Harmony Flattop

I received this guitar on very long-term loan from a lost uncle more than 15 years ago.

Details:
My best guess is that this is a '60s Grand Concert Model 162 with spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The strings haven't been changed in five years at best. I think they're D'Addario Phosphor Bronze Ultralights. They're quite brown. I haven't found a lot of information on Harmony guitars, but maybe I don't know where to look.

I've gotten a ton of use out of this oddly beautiful sounding instrument. In its day it went for around $42. The action is horribly high, and I've always been afraid to make any truss rod adjustments. The intonation between the 12th and 15th frets is as uneven as a muddy graveyard. There is about an inch of gunge on the fretboard, which I like to think of more as "protectant" than accumulated filth. There is a huge crack in the top, sadly put there by me. I took a knife to its top in a fit of adolescent ennui. It has never known a case. I both love the thing and hate it with a vengeance.


Jump to a category:
News | Music | Dates | Reviews | Bio | Media | Gear | Tech | Links | Buy | Merch. | Press

Like Mike. become a fan. go on.
For detailed booking information and requirements, please click here.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
»Subscribe to the Mike Golay Podcast Series subscribe to mike golay's podcast series.
»All About Across the Bridge, the latest solo record
»All About Half Pint, my first solo record
»The Bumby Tapes: 10 Questions and Answers
»Q&A with the Portland Press Herald

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