(reprinted from Larry's posts in AcousticGuitarForum.com)
The final part 7:
The sound that jumped out of my WRX was like nothing I'd ever heard...I mean I know and you know what an "E minor" chord sounds like but I'd never heard it like this...
I kept strumming chords and playing little riffs and phrases, and whatever popped into my head because I was listening so hard to what was coming out of this instrument.
First of all the volume was right in your face..immediate..just like I remembered the Sexauer built pernambuco guitar I had played at Eric Schoenberg's shop a few months earlier. As I kept playing, it wasn't just the volume, but it was the quality of it that was riveting. It was the utter clarity of every single note within a chord. Then as my ears adjusted to this..and yes it did take some adjustment because I was simply not used to hearing so much so clearly.... I mean..what..I've got to have played that "E minor" chord a million times..but I swear I was hearing overtones, colors, and spaces between the notes of that simple chord that I hadn't noticed before...
Anyway...as I was saying...as I continued to play and my ears adjusted I started to notice the balance that Howard and Bruce kept referring to when they described the tonal qualities of pernambuco...and it is indeed an exquisite balance. It's not so much that this guitar has a deep rich bass, or a clear present midrange, or fat singing trebles...but the entirety of the wonderfully musical frequency spectrum offered up by this guitar was completely in harmony. No particular portion of it stuck out or overwhelmed any other...you hear it all...in a perfect mixture.
And, I've recently discovered it has an ability to do what I've only experienced up until now on a telecaster played through a really good tube amp. Some of you guitar players may know the joy of plugging a good single coil electric guitar into a well made low wattage tube amp..how the amp will mold itself to your touch, reacting to your changes in attack and dynamics...sounding beautifully clear and clean as you play lightly, but growling and putting some hair on the notes as you dig in...really an exquisite feeling..
This WRX acoustic guitar does it..I swear...as I dig in..on the low end, I can coax a growl out of the bass strings..and as I attack the treble strings more I get a point to the note that just sings out...how cool is that...!
And all this can be done effortlessly.....
I'm going to switch gears momentarily and talk about the neck. The neck carve on this guitar is what I've since seen described as Bruce's "Sexauer" shape, which starts as a mild "V" at the nut smoothly transitioning to a "C" at the heel. "Comfortable" doesn't quite do justice to it...the manner in which the beautifully finished 1 piece mahogany neck fit my hand, and how it made all movements and positioning completely transparent and effortless was quite sublime...
That combined with the nut width that Bruce cuts to 1 49/64"..(no kidding... that's exactly the dimensions he shoots for).., and the 2 9/32" string spacing were just perfect...and even though I know ebony is an extremely hard wood, this neck's ebony fingerboard felt luxuriously soft to the touch...
The frets felt flawlessly and smoothly rounded as my fingers glided over them, and as I continued to go on this maiden voyage I noticed yet another wonder. This guitar is the most in-tune guitar I have ever played. As I've continued to marvel at this I've come to have a newfound appreciation for the importance and ramifications of proper intonation and being in tune. I don't know how Bruce did it..maybe it's the multi-scale architecture ( don't worry..I'll get to that in a moment..)..but this guitar just flat out stayed in tune all up and down the neck...which as I think more about it, has everything to do with clarity, projection, balance..you name it...
One last thing about the neck for now...as part of a test of any guitar, I like to play a diabolically fingered chromatic scale designed to hit every single note on the neck. It's my way of gauging playability, setup, and intonation, and I always find at least a couple of dead spots or at the very least areas of the neck that are not quite as alive as others...
I'm here to say I found one (1) relatively less alive spot on this neck..it's the "g" at the 15th fret of the low "e" string...and every other note on this entire neck sings like a bird, or growls like a junkyard dog...whatever you want..!
In a way I'm glad there's one slightly questionable note, because if it was unequivocal in it's perfection, I would have no choice but to sell all my other guitars..and I really like my other guitars...and just tell Bruce to keep me in permanent rotation in his upcoming build queue...hmmm...not such a bad idea actually...!
OK..as promised..what about this multi-scale asymmetrical body....what's up with that and how does it effect my experience of the guitar. As for the multi-scale fingerboard...essentially as Bruce related to me, the multi-scale design allows a single guitar to enjoy the short scale length's inherent sweetness of tone and enhanced playability on the treble strings along with the longer scale lengths innate qualities of projection and volume on the thicker bass strings. The smoothness of the multi-scale length transition in Bruce's implementation caused me to take maybe 3 minutes to get used to it, to the point where now it's completely transparent. And if I may quote Madeline Kahn from "Blazing Saddles"..."..it's twoo, it's twoo.." the qualities of the different scale lengths can be easily heard and felt...
Now the asymmetrical body is another story, but equally satisfying..Again in Bruce's description, the asymmetrical body shape, elongated bridge, and re-angled neck results from wrapping the entire guitar around the multi-scale string path, rather than just the braces..or as I understand it, it was re-designing/engineering the entire body and ergonomics of the instrument to fully take advantage of what the multi-scale neck was delivering...one successful concept begetting another..
Any again my experience is that I got used to it almost immediately..from an ergonomic perspective the guitar sits or hangs in a more comfortable way, and the neck angle seems more sensible in it's placement than standard guitar necks now do. And visually..it's just so flat out cool looking...what more can I say...!
Alright..I could easily keep going on and on...the longer I have this guitar the more I enjoy it and continue to discover more fabulous things about it...(I didn't even talk about the flawless fit and finish or the cool blue starred cloth wrappers of some sort that Bruce uses as part of his internal bracing)..
And in summation all I can say is that this Sexauer JB-15 WRX-Pernambuco is by far the finest guitar I've ever played...I play and sound better than ever on it, and I look forward every day to picking it up and making music with it. It makes me unbelievably happy to know this guitar is in my possession and that I can play it whenever I want...
My thanks to Bruce for building such a truly inspiring instrument...!!
Roger and out..!!
(To Pictures of This Guitar)
And a hearty Thank You Very Much to Larry!
|Copyright Larry Clyman 2010
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