I’ve just been to Sedgefield Guitar Show at The Racecourse. There weren’t too many people there this afternoon, but there were some lovely guitars, as well as excellent show prices on leads, stands, knobs and switches. I managed to come away without spending any money at all, though I did play 3 guitars that I would dearly love to have brought home with me (one in particular).
This 1930s Kalamazoo was surprisingly playable and had a lovely warm tone to it. It sounded good for strumming as well as fingerpicking. If I had it, I certainly wouldn’t want to drill holes in it for electrics, it would have to be miked up. I would certainly be happy to own it, though! John, the owner of the Kalamazoo and the lapsteel below, has many nice guitars, which he buys and sells just as a hobby.
The guitar I really really would have loved to bring home is the Recording King lapsteel. I’ve been tinkering with my Tanglewood acoustic lately, trying it out for lapsteel, but this Recording King from the late 30s is just in another realm. Played through a small valve amp it had “that” classic lap steel sound – I just needed a touch of reverb and some tremelo and I’d have been in heaven – the pickup has been rewound by Wizard pickups and it was so warm and inviting, I could have played it all day. Recording King were made by Montgomery Wrad and later evolved into Gretsch lapsteels. Luckily for me (I guess), even though it was reasonably priced, I had no money to buy it, though there’d have been room for haggling, I guess. Unluckily for me, John, the owner, lives in Durham City and I work in Durham City, and I have his card – so it’ll be niggling at me for ages!
The other guitar I enjoyed playing was this Alembic style guitar built by Martin Dixon of Otley, near Leeds. I was attracted to it, of course, because Garcia and Phil Lesh used Alembic instruments, but this was a good guitar in its own right – easy to play and a good variety of sounds from the Kent Armstrong pickups and the pickup switching system. Nice inlay too. Martin runs “build your own guitar” courses, and they’re very reasonably priced – I’ve added this to my “list of things to do when I win the Lottery!” Martin gave me a promotional CD which I’ll investigate more closely. I’d like to have got to the show a little earlier and stayed longer, but they’ll be back in September. Maybe if I start saving, I can get that Recording King! (If not, Recording King still make lap steels today)