Occasionally folks ask about my instruments and equipment. I use a variety of guitars, depending on the sound I need. Here are some of my favorites:
- I've played Kirk Sand electric classical guitars since about 1993, when my dear friend and mentor Clyde Kendrick loaned me his Sand to use on several projects. I got my own custom Sand in 1996. This is the guitar you see and hear on most of my books and CDs. It has Indian rosewood back and sides and a spruce top, with a Gibson CE pickup and a Ray Butts preamp. The neck is low profile, just a fraction under 2 inches at the nut. I always use D'Addario Pro Arte Extra Hard Tension strings on it.
Here's a clip of me playing the custom Sand on
- In 2013, Kirk honored me with the Craig Dobbins Signature Model (or CDM), which we designed together. It has Mediterranean cypress back and sides, a Brazilian rosewood wedge on the back, Sitka spruce top, and Brazilian rosewood trim. The deep cutaway is inspired by Jerry Reed's Baldwin classical, and the curve of the cutaway is a nod to Django's Selmer archtop. It has a Prismatone pickup and preamp by Sam Kennedy. The scale length is 25 1/4 inches, and the neck is low profile, with a 2 inch nut width. I use D'Addario Pro Arte Extra Hard Tension strings on this guitar as well. At Kirk's suggestion, I replace the 3rd string with a Savarez Alliance 543 J string. It's a little brighter and thinner gauge, and transitions better to the wound 4th string.
- A Gretsch 6122-1959 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman. It has a TV Jones bridge pickup and a custom neck pickup made for me by Paul Yandell. (The pickup is now available as the Paul Yandell Duo-Tron from TV Jones.) I've added a few tweaks to suit my personal taste, and a couple more suggested by Paul: a brass Tru-Arc bridge, which increases sustain; and a mini zero fret for intonating a plain 3rd string. I use D'Addario pure nickel strings, gauges .010, .012, .016p, .028, .038, .048. I'm playing the Gretsch in this tribute to Paul Yandell, My Friend Paul.
Here's a clip of me playing the Gretsch on
- I've owned several Taylor acoustics through the years. That's an XXX-MC (30th Anniversary mahogany/cedar model) on Melissa from Melissa and the Green Blanket. I also used it for rhythm work on Fingerpickin' on the Beatles. Before that, a 514-C (another mahogany/cedar model) was my main acoustic. It was equipped with a Fishman Matrix saddle pickup. I used this guitar for tunes like Walkin' Shoes and Au Contraire from the Down Home Picking book/CD set, and for rhythm work on many other projects. The past few years I've been enjoying a Baby Mahogany as my "sittin' and thinkin'" guitar. (It's also found its way into the mix on several tracks, like Jojobean.) I usually use D'Addario Phosphor Bronze Extra Light or Custom Light strings on the Taylors, although sometimes I'll go to a slightly heavier gauge.
Here's an audio clip of me playing a Taylor on The lead is played on a Delvecchio, and the two rhythm tracks (panned left and right) are on the 514-C.
- An early 1980's Takamine C-126 classical that's been heavily customized. I had the back of the neck shaved to match the neck profile on my Sand guitar, and installed a Baggs LBC saddle pickup and a Fishman preamp. It sounds really good amplified, a little like a Baldwin. This guitar has laminated mahogany back and sides and a laminated spruce top. Even though it's basically just a plywood guitar, it sounds good acoustically, too. I leave it tuned in open G, for Reed and banjo-style picking. I use LaBella strings on the Takamine, usually a mixture of the red nylon Flamenco trebles, and the flatwound Studio Recording basses (to cut down on the squeaks). I used this guitar for the open G tunes in the 5 String Banjo Styles for 6 String Guitar book/CD set, as well as tunes like That's My Boy from Fingerpickin'.Here's an audio clip of me playing the Takamine on
- A 1960's Del Vecchio Dinamico. It's a resonator guitar like Chet Atkins used, except it has a longer scale (about 25 1/4"). The body is made of light Brazilian rosewood. I bought this guitar from Nashville songwriter Paul Craft. He had some work done to it, and Paul McGill did some fret work for me and made a compensated saddle for it, too. It really sounds good, but it's a bit temperamental tuning-wise. I used this guitar quite a bit on the Christmas Time CD and the Acoustic Christmas book/CD set, and also on The View From Here. I use D'Addario Silk and Steel strings on it, with an unwound .016 or .017 3rd string. Sometimes, I'll use D'Addario ProArte classical strings on the 5th and 6th strings, for a deeper tone.
Here's a clip of me playing the Delvecchio on
- I also have a few other odds and ends that I use occasionally for recording, like an old Yamaha acoustic that I have set up as a high string, an old no-name Japanese bass ("borrowed" from my friend David Moon about 25 years ago), and a couple of electrics (including a Fender Telecaster for Reed-style pickin').Here's a funky Reed-style lick on the Tele. It's got the sound.
For picks, I usually use a Herco blue thumbpick. I file them down to the size and shape I like, smooth them with 600 grit sandpaper (which I also use on my nails), and maybe polish them with something like 3M Imperial Glaze, to get them really slick. Sometimes I use a heavy-gauge Herco flatpick/thumbpick when I play electric. When I want a big sound, I use an old National or a Dunlop. For rhythm, I use various flatpicks, depending on the sound I want. More often than not, I just play rhythm with my thumb and fingers. My capos are Shubb and Planet Waves.
When I record, I like a really short signal path. I usually go from my guitar into a Demeter Stereo Tube Direct, a Lexicon PCM 60 reverb, and on to the recorder or DAW. I connect everything together with short lengths of high quality cable, like Monster Cable Studio Pro 1000 or Planet Waves American Stage Cable. When I use a mic, I'll run it through a tube preamp as well, to warm up the sound. When possible, I prefer to record to analog.
When I play live, I use various amps, depending on the situation. Lately I've been using an AAD Cub AG-100 amp by Phil Jones with the acoustic-electrics. Sometimes, I'll just use the amp as my monitor, and go through a Demeter Tube Direct into the PA. For electric guitar, I like smaller amps like a Music Man RD-50 112 or a Fender Princeton Reverb. I keep the volume low and mic the amp. I generally leave the effects at home, except for maybe a reverb or delay. When I do use effects, the Whirlwind Rochester Series pedals are great. I have the Orange Box phaser and the Red Box compressor, and they really capture that '70's sound. I connect everything with Planet Waves American Stage Cable.
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