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--- Sep 09 1999 Go to category
Subject: Acoustics
Category: Guitars
From: James (Doc) McKinley (Lansing, MI/USA)

Hi Pat, I LOVE this part of your site! Took me several days to get through all the previous questions/answers. More musicians should do this! It must be really hard to answer all these questions with the busy schedule you keep (Jeez do you play ALL the time?, it's hard to pick up a jazz CD by the various artists I like without finding you on it, either as a player or producer, or both, wow! But that's a good thing IMHO), I love you man! Anyway, to my questions, what kind of acoustics do you use? I love the sound of the nylon string Acoustic/Electric you play on the "More Travels" video. I find myself cursing the camera man when I watch it because he doesn't give a focused shot of the headstock so I can catch the brand (maybe it's an endorsement thing? hehe). I'd also like to know what steel string brand you use on "First Circle" and what gauge strings you play. You beat the hell out of it but I don't hear any 'Whannng' on the bass strings. I recently traded in 4 guitars to get a long neck Ovation Adamas deep body that I really like, but the problem with it is if I play with other people at parties or whatever, it's meant to be tuned to D, so when I tune it up to E, I end up breaking strings all the time, doh! It's great for altered tunings though, especially drop tunings, no 'Whanng' sound on the bass strings. Finally, I'd like to know how you manage to get the great tone you get on the A/E classical using a pick. I've never been able get a good sound out of the classicals I've had using a pick (maybe I didn't try hard enough, my classical teachers in school were pretty tight-assed, I remember being patronized when I would bust out some Steve Howe stuff or whatever for them, so I didn't play classical with a pick too much, it would have been sacrelegious, hehe). Do you use specific equalization or other effects to get that kind of tone or is just the way you play? I could go on and on with more questions, but if you could just answer these few I'd really appreciate it. Although be warned, if you do answer these, I'll probably come back with 3 more, and 3 more, etc..., hehe. PLEASE COME OUT WITH MORE VIDEOS! I just got the "More Travels" video from CDNOW (all the others were Laser Disc) and I'm about to wear it out already! While all your CDs are awesome, it's oh so much cooler actually watching you guys play it. I'd love to see a full video of "Imaginary Day". I luckily happened to catch "Roots Of Coincidence" on Sessions At West 54th, but the whole thing should be videotaped IMHO (and everything else for that matter). Please give us fanatics a fix for when we can't see you live, I've been into PMG since the late 70s and saw you at Ravinia in Chicago a couple times in the 80s, but since then, I've been jonesing, hopefully the mailing list will keep me updated so I don't miss you guys when you're in my area. And if Lyle happens to be hanging around when you read this, please tell him I really dig his new CD too, especially the title track "Street Dreams" it's VERY cool. I just recently ordered your songbook from my local music store and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I hope you've got some of the nylon string acoustic stuff in there I'd love to learn how to play some of those tunes. But even if you don't I'm sure there's enough in there to keep me going for several years, hehe. OK, I know you're busy, so I'll shut up now, thanks for making this site happen! Take it easy, and say 'thanks' to the rest of the PMG and every one else you play with (and to the guys that maintain your web site). The music and your site are greatly appreciated!

Pat’s Answer:

hi doc,

wow, there's a lot in there in your post! thanks, i am glad you like the music that much....

the guitar on the more travels video is actually "student" model ibanez that i bought in a store for 89 dollars - i liked it because it had a small neck and was very easy to play. i had someone install an ovation pickup in it.

almost all the acoustic guitars i play (including on first circle) are made by linda manzer, a canadian luthier who has made about 15 instruments for me over the years. her guitars are simply amazing.

playing classical guitar with a pick remains a fairly controversial thing to do i guess - but i have no idea why. it can sound great and at it's best is a very viable way of getting a sound out of that axe. i also use my fingers, but i can actually get a "fatter" sound from pick than i can with my fingernails.

again, i'm glad you like the music so much!