Q. What is the difference between the short (640mm) and long (670mm) scale lengths?
A. The longer scale (standard oval hole model) creates slightly more string tension for a given guage, and possibly a bit more volume and projection. There may be some tonal effect, but it would be very subtle. The real basis for this choice would be personal preference. You may like the feel of the longer scale, or if you have smaller hands, the short scale is a good choice.
Q. Can I Use Phosphor Bronze Strings On A Gypsy Jazz Guitar?
A. You will not hurt the guitar by using suitable guages (.10, .11) of bronze wound strings. However, the classic sound of these guitars is obtained with silver plated copper or steel strings. Part of this is historical: silver plated copper or steel was the current string technology in the earlier years of jazz guitar, and it is integral to django’s sound. Tradition aside, most players using maccaferri style guitars prefer the sound and response of silver plated copper or steel. Bronze, brass or other bell-related metals can produce some tonal depth and sustain not offered by silver plated copper strings. However, these qualities do not necessarily play to the strengths of a maccaferri style guitar. Based on experience and anecdotal evidence, bronze wound and silver plated copper wound strings also seem to have different attack/decay envelopes. Silver plated copper seems to have a slighter quicker response, which is ideal for these guitars and also the approach to playing in gypsy jazz. Bronze strings are ideal for martin style guitars, for example, which are constructed to optimize the qualities of that string material, which include booming bass and sustain. The sweeter tone and quick attack desired in a maccaferri style guitar is not as achievable with bronze wound strings. Silver plated copper sacrifices some sustain, but offers the response and attack normally desired in a maccaferri style guitar. One should never discount the potential versatility of the maccaferri design. They have more ‘sweet spots’ than they are given credit for. For example, they make excellent finger style instruments. But in any case, their tonal identity and responsiveness is generally considered to be best realized with lighter silver plated copper strings.
Q. Why Do These Guitars Use Such Light Strings?
A. The characteristic sound of these guitars as is enhanced by the inherent brightness and snap of lighter strings (guaged .10 or .11). The vigorous approach to playing in the styles associated with these guitars is also well suited to the flexibility, quick response and playability of lighter strings. Heavier strings (guaged .012 or more) may offer a bit more volume (admittedly, always useful in a jam session), sustain and bass response, but these qualities are generally not considered worth the trade off for the comparative brightness, responsiveness and flexibility of lighter strings. Optimal sound and responsiveness is achieved in a guitar when the construction is closely matched to the anticipated tension load from the strings. Most maccaferri style guitars are built to respond optimally to lighter strings. Heavier strings are not just harder to play, over time the load from heavier strings might also take some toll on the instrument. A heavier construction would accommodate heavier strings, but only at the expense of some of the crispness, brightness and response usually desired in these instruments.
Q. What Is The Effect Of The Soundport?
A. The effect of a sound port is proportional to the size of the sound hole. The effect on an oval hole can be dramatic, as the net amount of escaping air is almost doubled. This doesn’t seem to compromise the instruments forward projection, the overall volume usually increases. The effect on a d hole is subtler as the air flow is already maximized by the original design. In both cases there is noticeable better monitoring for the player, again more pronounced with an oval hole, where there is noticeable air stream displacement from the side port. On an oval hole model a sound port also allows many of the trapped overtones and lower frequencies to escape, adding sustain and a wide range of color. This effect is harder to detect on a d hole.
Q. Which Models Are More Suitable For Lead Playing Vs. Rhythm Playing?
A. Traditionally, oval holes are more often used for lead and d holes for rhythm. These roles are logical extensions of their respective inherent sounds: a cleaner brighter sound for lead supported by a darker throatier sound for rhythm. However… logical arguments can be made either way: The cleaner articulation and brighter sound of an oval hole is also a desirable quality for rhythm playing. For a good example, listen to angelo debarre’s striking rhythm playing on any recent recordings. The richness of a d hole also provides a wonderful palette for lead. Examples include django’s early recordings, and some of bireli’s recent work. On a 12 fret model, the bridge is mounted a little further back (2 frets distance) on the top. This places the bridge at the widest part of the body, which maximizes the transference of vibration between the bridge and top, offering a bit more volume and depth. The 14 fret neck join offers a logical advantage for lead. Greater fret access is generally considered worth any small sacrifice in volume. These are just some factors to consider, every combination of these elements has worked well in either context. Your choice of sound hole should really be based more on the sound (see above)you prefer, than on necessarily conforming to established roles for the various models.
Q. What Do I Need To Know About Humidity And My Park Guitar?
Guitars go through changes related to humidity as the seasons change throughout the year. The most common problems relates to a lack of humidity, and this is frequently a problem in winter when the relative humidity drops significantly and electric base board or forced air heating systems circulate this dry air. The subtle symptoms of a guitar drying out are generally noticed while playing – a lack of humidity can cause the arch of the top to fall, and this causes the action of the instrument to drop, creating frustrating buzzes. One may also notice the ends of the frets feel sharper, caused by the fingerboard shrinking. In more extreme cases, cracks can appear, braces may loosen and irreversible damage can be done. Many people have humidifiers for their homes, and while it is certainly recommended to continue their use, they should not be relied upon exclusively to keep your guitar moist in the winter. One is well advised to include the use of an internal guitar humidifier as they provide moist air where it is needed most – inside the guitar. The planet waves system works really well – the unit hangs through the strings when the guitar is not being played, it is easy to maintain and won’t leak. When you aren’t playing your guitar, consider leaving it in its case with the humidifier in place. There is a wealth of information online related to guitars and humidity. Just type in ‘guitars and humidity’ into your search engine to find out more on the subject.
Q. What Strings Do You Use/recommend For Park Guitars?
A. All park guitars leave the shop strung with savarez argentine 1510mf. The guages on this set are as follows: E.011 b.014 g.023 d.029 a.037 e.046 There are plenty of other manufacturers of gypsy jazz strings including ghs, galli, john pearse, dell arte, saga gitane, newtone and d’addario. All of these strings are widely available online
Q. What Is The Difference In Sound Between The Oval Hole Guitars And The D-hole Guitars?
A. With an oval hole all the air movement generated by vibration is channeled through a relatively small opening resulting in the top functioning somewhat like a drum head. The energy is focused into a stream of air through the small opening. One of the intentions achieved with this design is excellent directional projection. Though oval hole models often don’t sound as loud as d holes to the player, they are usually just as, or even more audible to the audience. The characteristic bright focused petite bouche sound also has a lot to do with the smaller opening withholding some of the lower frequencies, as well as many of the overtones. The net effect is a focused punch and refined assertiveness. The beloved gaping maw on a d hole allows the body and top to function more like a bell than a drum head. Most of the frequencies and overtones generated by vibration cascade out of the mouth, resulting in the characteristic rich and hearty sound. Ample bass response provides a touch more thud and sustain, and the more abundant escaping overtones impart a delightful raunchiness.
Every Park Guitar is a tasteful balance between authenticity and subtle originality, an instrument that is both a classic and a unique expression.