December 18, 2012

New Strings

I was told to go down to Coleman Street in Singapore if I wanted to buy a new guitar. It has been a few years since I bought a new instrument, and while my fingers may be a bit more dexterous, and I may be able to jump slight more lithely from chord to chord, my knowledge of guitars and woods and sound is still very amateur. I had no idea what I was looking for. I was hoping that a guitar would feel right in my arms and sing to me. Very romantic I know.

I have had a Takamine for several years, and I know very little about this instrument. I know that it is black, which I no longer like; it is twangy and trebley and sounds crooked and rusted. As far as I know, it is none of these things, but the sound feels hallow and old and I knew that I needed a new guitar.  I parked the car and began exploring the various shops of the area, of which there were several.
I am looking for something warm and rich with a full sound. I mostly strum and I want the Em chord to linger and echo and be felt rather than heard. I like to finger pick a bit, so I would like some crisp high tones too. I can spend about $700-$1000. What have you got? 
I had a few hours to kill, and I couldn't help but think how pleasant it was to walk into store after store, sit on one of those tiny stools and be handed guitar after guitar to play. I began to learn that the wood matters. Rosewood, Spruce and Mahogany created fuller sounds. Solid wood is a factor as well. Before embarking on my quest many people told me to look for Taylor guitars, but I wasn't sold on any brand. I just wanted to find the right instrument for me.

I must have been on my fourth or fifth shop when I walked into Maestro Guitars. The place was quiet and felt of wood. A calm and gentle guy came up to me and asked me if I needed help. After giving him my "warm and rich with a full sound," spiel, I noticed that all the guitars were the same brand. A signature M identifying the maker.

After speaking with the salesman, seems too cheap of a name for the guy, I found out that Maestro was indeed some thing different:
Maestro is the only Singaporean brand that handcrafts guitars and ukuleles. Since 2004, we have been providing quality handcrafted guitars and ukuleles to discerning players that are very particular with tone, playability, and craftsmanship. Through the years, we have established a strong presence in Singapore, even drawing crowds from the region just to experience our instrument.
The more time I spent there, the more I realized that my new guitar would be found here. I played a few and they were perfect. I played a several in my price range and a few slightly beyond, and as luck would have it--my favorite was right in the middle and on sale.
Traditional sound fused with the Maestro Signature projection is what the Beta & Omega is all about. Constructed from the ever dependable combination of Spruce and Mahogany, these Full Solid guitars offers the classic sweet and woody Mahogany sound, with good volume, projection, and depth of which Maestro instruments are known for.
The body itself is as light as air and so delicate. Untarnished by lacquers and chintzy decorations it feels from the earth. As if pulled from a tree and strung up and ready to play. The neck is a more solid and the girth fits my hand perfectly. After years of hating the steely sound of my Takamine, this guitar is perfect. I knew after a few chords that it was the guitar for me.

The salesman was super chill and not pushy at all. I couldn't decide if I wanted to add pick-ups, but he said I could take it back later and they can add it. (Do I want pick-ups? I still don't know. If I ever play live, I can just mic it right? Why pick ups? Please sell me in the comments.) The guitar comes with a lifetime guarantee. I felt like I was being inducted into a family. A movement. Upon further research, when I got home and read this message from the founder of the company, I couldn't be more pleased. Not that it matters but the website is a pleasure to navigate as well.

After a day of roaming the streets of Singapore, I found the perfect instrument for me. I could have bought some factory guitar with a well known name, but instead I feel I found the guitar that I know I should have at this point in my life. Who knows, this may be the first of several Maestro guitars that I own.

Bonus, because the guitar was only $700 and a bit under my budget, I also picked up a hand-made starter Ukulele that is a beauty in her own right. Here are my new babies.

I am off to Thailand tomorrow, so you have to wait for recordings in a few days. Although I am taking the Uke with me to learn a few chords and who knows I may record some island tune.

Thanks Maestro. You guys rock.

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