Acoustic Alchemy! - The latest Squire Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the latest newsletter where we unplug the guitar, and investigate songs beyond the Squire repertoire, moving into the realm of lyrical songwriting. Today we are listening to the upcoming Anthony Meynell / Passengers On Trains LP and use ‘Tapestry of Fire' as an example to contrast the different sounds of acoustic guitars!

Passengers On Trains is a mix of folk and pop influenced songs with an overarching theme of observation, introspection and discovery. In keeping with the context of solo album the lyrics dig deep inside the psyche and capture thoughts while, for instance, gazing through a train window, moving yet static (a sensation already visited in the Squire song ‘Girl On A Train’), or documenting inner conversations while searching for solitude in an otherwise crowded world.

This timeless illusion is spelt out in the text of ‘Tapestry Of Fire’ which asks the question - Is this a real moment or just a figment of  imagination? The songs musical accompaniment plays like a child’s wind up musical box, while the lyric unfolds like pages of an illustrated storybook turned in time. The story brings to life a moment in the fourth dimension where time and space seem to stand still.

You can hear the song on this lyric video.

The song, taken from the upcoming Passengers on Trains LP release, is a simple arrangement of voice, harmony, two acoustic guitars, bass, with a woodblock,

 and güiro making the scraping sound,

 (actually played by scraping a drumstick down a vacuum cleaner hose!) 

Two acoustic guitars are featured on the song, and the contrasting difference in tonality is very apparent.

The Martin D18 acoustic guitar,

which is the first guitar you hear playing the rhythm, has a sound that is unique and ‘woody’ and great for recording of any genre. The body is made of mahogany with a warm rich tone, so great for rhythm guitar. The ‘X’ bracing inside that holds the guitar together is at the front which leaves the back of the body free to vibrate and so creates a louder sound. The D18 sound suits the track as it is not so prominent and allows the voice to stand out naturally.

The Martin D18 is the classic dreadnaught style acoustic guitar that was used by Elvis,

Simon & Garfunkel and Kurt Cobain. Indeed Cobain’s guitar, used for the MTV Unplugged session sold for $6.1m - the highest price for any guitar ever!

Contrast this to the Martin D28 style, the next model up in the range, which has rosewood body, that produces more overtones, which is great for fingerpicking, with a deeper sound and brighter tone. The D28 guitar is recognisable for the more ornate finish and white binding around the body. Used by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney et al.

The single string lead guitar melody on 'Tapestry Of Fire' which appears on the right hand side of the soundscape, was played on a Guild F50 jumbo acoustic. The guitar is much larger than a dreadnaught model, has maple sides and and arched back which helps projection. 

It has a sweeter tone and is a perfect contrast to the Martin, helping the guitar line to stand out. It is also great as a rhythm guitar where you need a more prominent and percussive sound. You can see it here with Eric Clapton.

The two guitars were recorded exactly the same, using the same microphone configuration (with microphone pointed at the 12th fret about 2 feet away) as this Simon & Garfunkel picture, with Paul Simon using the D18.

Yet although the two guitars were recorded in exactly the same way, they sound so distinctively different. To complete the recording the bass line was played on a Gibson EB2 semi acoustic.

 You can hear a live version of 'Tapestry Of Fire' on The Live In Tokyo CD released last year. The CD features acoustic versions of Squire songs to contrast with the solo Passengers On Trains tracks. You can get it here!

The Passengers On Trains LP is now being planned for release and more details will be released soon!


All the best from Squire!

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