It's the wood that makes it good!

Well Hello Everyone!  I hope you all had a very fanciful Valentine's Day.

Our resident meow, Chino, was very off put by this day of hearts and flowers.  After all, we are the only two souls residing here at the moment and with the ground being covered in snow, not even the Crocuses are out yet.  What was he to do?!
He is a creative sort though and he worked hard all day...... and the results….  Well, it was a most interesting hairball......  

In return, I will say, I too, am most creative!  Chino received a beautiful red and gold brush. 
Valentine's Day next year should be, shall I say a tad less "hairy"!  (lol)

If you are joining us for the first time, Welcome to The Living Pen.  We are thrilled that you have stopped by.  If you have an interest in music, guitars or the creative process required to compose and record an album, you may find this series interesting.
If you do, please feel free to leave a comment or if you have a question for Peter, leave it in the comments and I will be sure to ask it.  If you are a returning guest, Welcome and Thank You for coming back!  

Please remember to register if you would like to be notified when a posts goes live.   You will find the option to do this at the bottom right across from ADD COMMENT.

In this installment, Peter and I chat over coffee and cocoa and the conversation went like this: 

Good Morning Peter, I have my steaming cup of International Coffee, are you ready for my question attack?! (lol

I’ve got a steaming cup of dark chocolate hot cocoa so I think I’m more than ready!  

I would like to pick up where we left off last week.  We were talking about your guitars.  While I know there are many different styles of guitars, I don’t really understand their differences and I was hoping you could explain it for us. 

The guitar is a very cool and versatile instrument because of all the different makes, models and variations according to the style of music you are playing. 

In very general terms, nylon string guitars are used for classical and some jazz, and steel string acoustics and electrics are used for every other genre of music. 

For the album I am recording, I have one song on nylon with the rest on electric. The back and sides on the nylon are made from maple and the top is made of spruce. The nylon guitar was made by a friend and great luthier Tom Malapanis who recently passed away. His guitars are played by many top classical performers including Angel Romero who is a legend in the classical guitar world. The electrics are standard fare – a Les Paul (modified) and Stratocaster. Here are some pics:


 Les Paul

Your answer has created a few extra questions Peter.  First, I am sorry you lost your friend.  You called him a great luthier.  This is not a term I am familiar with, can you enlighten me? 

A luthier is a maker of string instruments. Everyone recognizes the name Stradivarius, the famous violin maker who was considered one of the greatest violin luthiers of all time. Other luthiers in the guitar world include Benedetto, a well-known maker of jazz guitars and the Ramirez family who are well known for their classical guitars. Of course there are thousands of luthiers who make great instruments, Tom Malapanis (classical) and Roger Borys (jazz) being two of my favorites as I’ve had custom instruments built by both of them. 

How does one discover a luthier?  

Trade magazines, blogs, recordings and what other artists in the industry are playing. 

Another question that I have based on your first answer is and I have always wondered about this.  You state that the nylon guitar you are using on your current album is made of maple and spruce.  Does the shape of the guitar or the wood it is made of effect the sound it produces, or are just the type of strings responsible? 

The wood definitely influences the tone. A guitar made from rosewood (sides and back) and cedar (soundboard) will tend to have a warm tone whereas spruce and maple tend to have a sharper clearer tone. There are also several bracing systems that affect tone that each luthier tends to use. A bracing system is a type of construction underneath the soundboard (top) and can greatly influence how the top of the guitar vibrates to produce the tone and projection of the guitar. Strings also have an impact on sound – but that’s a subject for another time ;>) Below is a pic of my Malapanis guitar when under construction – that is what the bracing system looks like: 

One of our reading guests, Linda, would like to know, besides the sound what are the differences between electric and classical guitars? 

Well, Linda, electric guitar is amplified, uses steel strings, usually played with a pick and is used for music other than classical. Classical guitars are played acoustically (without amplification), use nylon strings, played with fingers instead of a pick, and for the most part play music from the classical genre. 

You mentioned the album you are recording presently.  Can you share anything about it or is it top secret? 

I will not only share but plan on posting snippets of songs as I record them. The first share is…………..I’m laying down the piano tracks. I’m not really a pianist, however, with today’s technology I am able to create convincing tracks from having an understanding of music theory. In addition, I’m also creating the percussion tracks.  I’ve sent out the rhythm section tracks to the guest artists for them to start getting ideas on how they will solo against the first track. 

Peter, you have been most generous and on behalf of our readers and myself I want to say, thank you.  I do have one more question for you today.  Can you share any information on your guest artists for this album? 

Guest artist names at this point in the process are top secret ;>) However, I can tell you the instrumentation of the 4 guests: a cellist, violinist, trumpet player and guitarist (hence, why I’m playing mostly piano). Identities will be revealed in subsequent conversations.

Top Secret?!  Hmmmm, maybe next week I will find the right questions to ask to get you to spill the beans.  Until then, Peter have a great and productive week.

Peter: Thanks Blu, another wonderful episode in the books!

Well my freinds, I have enjoyed this time together.  I hope you all find the interview interesting and I look forward to chatting with you next week.  If you have questions please leave them for me by 2/24 as I hope to post the next interview on 2/27.
For now, I have to throw on some winter gear, pick up a shovel and go play in the driveway.  Wouldn't want to hamper the arrival of my post person as that is the only person visiting The Living Pen.  



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