coating... I didn’t have any idea of what it
could be. When I found out about Elixirs,
I went into a store and bought ‘em. They
have just the right amount of brightness and
they stay like that. They’re not for everybody
or every guitar. I’ve got an old Martin 000-
45, and I keep Elixirs on it, but if I were to
record with it, I’d want heavier strings and
something with a bit more sparkle. But all my
guitars are strung with Elixirs.
Do they help cut down on finger noise?
They do, but I’ve never really had too much
trouble with finger noise anyway. And, the
amount that I do get, I quite like.
Like the end of the one tune where you
actually slide your hand up the neck...
Yeah, “Bluesette.” I like the noise; it makes
it sound more human. It’s like a sax player
when you can hear him take a breath.
There’s one track, “Young and Foolish,” if
you listen to it in headphones, you can hear
me breathe. I wasn’t aware of this at the
time, but it seems I do this. I breathe like a
horn player—with the phrases.
You recently worked with luthier Mike
Vanden to design your signature archtop gui-
tar; can you tell me how that came about?
When I spoke to Mike about it, I said I wanted
to design the guitar with him. I wanted it to be
a jazz guitar and I wanted it to be a small guitar.
What size is it?
It’s only fifteen inches. I also wanted it to look
like a classic archtop guitar, but brought into
the present a little bit. I wanted it to be a
little more European. Like the cutaway being
a bit more like the Maccaferri. I didn’t really
want it to sound too much like a standard
jazz guitar. I wanted it to have a big bass
response and have sustain. So, it is and it isn’t
a standard jazz guitar. The other thing about
Mike is he also makes guitar pickups as well.
Does he do the Mimesis pickups? I’ve been
curious about them. They have a beautiful
sound. It’s got the transparency of the tone,
but the fullness and richness of the guitar.
Well, he designed the pickup and did a
deal with Fishman. A lot of those Fishman
blend pickups are Mike’s. Mine has a magnetic pickup but has a piezo in the bridge
as well, which I only use live because in the
studio I only use microphones. But even
when I play live, I like to use a mic, too. It
was important to me to have really good
electronics in the guitar. So often you see
really nice guitars and the pickups just
seem like an afterthought.
You mention you might do a few more of
these duet albums over the next few years.
Who’s on your list?