Autumn and Guitars
The leaves are turning, the temperatures are dropping, and the humidity is easing downward. We are all thnking of taking our jackets out of storage as we begin to smell wood fires in the evenings. It is the "cozy" season in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, and from what I can tell, the acoustic guitars are overjoyed! They've shaken off the sullen "thunkiness" that settled over them during the hot summer doldrums and have replaced it with an optimistic shimmer and crispness. Their actions have dropped ever so slightly. They beckon you... and they WANT TO BE PLAYED!
So, what brought this to my mind? I had an hour to myself in the early stillness of a Saturday morning so I stole into the guitar room to play a little for my own enjoyment. The warm autumn morning light of the golden hour streamed through the blinds and welcomed me. I started my playing on a very intimate Martin OM-28, running through some of my favorite fingerstyle pieces, many of them my own compositions. The guitar's tones were clean and clear in the autumn air. I found that the action was just a little lower and more comfortable as well. Suspecting that I'd encounter the same tranformation, I switched over to a Martin HD-28 dreadnought. For some reason, John Denver was on my mind, so I tried out his songs "Farewell Andromeda (Welcome to My Morning)," "For Baby (For Bobby)," and "Rocky Mountain High." Those songs really fit the big body well. Next I tried a couple of my compositions that I wrote for my wife that she prefers to hear on big rosewood guitars like the HD-28. This morning they sounded really, really nice and warm on the guitar and the slightly lower action made the intricacies of the melodies easy to work through. The seasonal high-end crispness also accentuated the harmonics I had written into the pieces. After playing the Martins for a while I decided to try something lighter. I trotted out the 1999 Taylor K14c grand auditorium guitar that is just back from the Taylor factory. My wife gave me that one in 2000. I tried out those same songs on this guitar, plus a few more. With the lower humidity the guitar sounded pretty, bell-like, and light. Honestly, when playing this guitar with my fingers, it is rare that anything sounds less than stellar, but this morning it was just really alive. It just ended up being a little idyll, one of those playing sessions where you can't seem to do anything wrong and the guitars seem eager to help. Eventually my time was up - I had to put the guitars away and I head back out into the world. I tucked them in their cases and reluctantly snapped the latches, dreaming of our next autumn rendezvous.
So, perhaps autumn in the Mid-Atlantic is the best time for acoustic guitars. Maybe one evening next weekend we should all put on a log and try playing quietly in front of the fireplace.