Thursday, September 14, 2023

Fender Three String Guitars - These Are New Kids Guitars


Fender X

A few weeks ago I ran across a news article stating that Fender is offering a 3 string electric guitar. My first thought was,  Say what!? 

I investigated this and realized this is a tiny guitar marketed for children as their first guitar. 

I recall those long-ago years when I got my first guitar at age 12. It was an old Harmony Patrician archtop model from the late 1940’s strung with heavy gauge Black Diamond strings that were almost an inch off the neck at the 12th fret. But it did have six strings. At the time I wasn’t aware there were any chords above the third fret. 

Guitar Class
I took a class at the local YMCA with a neighbor girl. We actually started learning chords on the first 4 strings. The book we purchased had some little stick-on colored dots that we put on the fret board to remind us what string to put our fingers on to make C – G – D  and A chords. 

We strummed guitar and sang along with some well-known folksongs. Within a year I had acquired a much better guitar and learned how to use the fourth and fifth string. Heck, I even learned how to play a barre chord. 

But you know, I sometimes wonder what became of that neighborhood girl?  She was so very cute.

It is just my opinion but I believe that a child of that age would be better served leaning on a ¾ or ½ size guitar, such as a mini-strat.  The Fender Mini Strat and Mini Jazzmaster are even $10 cheaper than their 3-string model.  

But after taking a deeper look into these FenderX Loog guitars, it become evident these guitars are more in the line of toys. I recall those tiny Suzuki violins that some of my friends kids started out playing.

The bodies of these guitars are quite tiny and made for smaller hands, kids perhaps 6 to 9 years of age. They come with the Fender Learning app, chord flash cards, picks, stickers, and a Leo Fender book for kids. Tuning is GBE as the first three guitar strings.

When I started playing there was no Leo Fender Story Book for kids. We had to settle for Mel Bay's Big Book O' Chords.

Fender has partnered with a company called Loog that specializes in building and selling 3 string guitars for children.  This company also offers a six string model. These instruments are aimed at the pre-school market.

Martin Guitars have done a pretty admirable job of marketing and selling their small  Backpacker travel guitars. 


This Backpacker was developed through a relationship to a luthier/guitar teacher, Bob McNally, who invented a 3-string instrument that he called The Strumstick. Chris Martin saw McNally's booth at a NAMM show and became interested. The six string Backpacker shape is similar to The Strumstick, 

At risk of being unfair to a new generation of players, I may be wrong, and I hope the little guys and girls have a great time playing their Fender 3 string guitars playing Guitar Hero. After all, it is essentially a toy.  Mom and Dad can add a tiny 3 watt amp for an additional $45.

But if their kiddoes show interest in developing their skill as guitar player, it won’t be long before Mom and Dad will need to purchase a more practical instrument 

I suggest starting out with a full sized guitar.

©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
   Click on links under the pictures for sources

This little girl is only six years old!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

One Man Band - OMB Guitars


Deke Moffittt Band
My parents loved Big Band Music from the 1940's and '50's. I grew up listening to The Great American Songbook. There were still some big bands around when I was growing into my teen years. And because of the popularity in the 40's and 50's a guy could make a living playing horns or percussion in a 25 piece band. 

Bill Haley and The Comets
But by the 1950's  live music started to favor the Combo consisting of 3 to 6 players, due because the cost of paying four players outweighed the cost of maintaining twenty-five full time musicians.  

For the past few years, due to technology a solo act or a duo can sound like a full orchestra by using relatively inexpensive technology. 

Godwin GuitarOrgan
In the late 1970's I used to see a guy playing a GuitarOrgan at a club. His was made by a company called Godwin. They created this in 1967 by taking a Japanese made hollow body electric guitar and fitting the body with a complex series of oscillators, transistors, and organ circuitry. Wires were connected to each fret in six places. 

The frets became switches to create the sound. 

Vox Guitar Organ
Jennings Music created the first guitar organ in 1965. Either of these guitars could sound like an organ or guitar, or both. So this guy had a virtual one man band, minus the drums and bass. 

Roland G-700 Midi Guitar

Later on Midi technology came into being, and Roland and Arp created the first Midi guitars.  This instrument, and those that followed used a hexaphonic pickup that was placed near the guitar bridge. This device translated sounds into electronic waves that could be sent to a synthesizer.

Yamaha QY-10
Years ago I used a Yamaha QY-10 sequencer to add a bass and drum part when I played casuals.  Though it sounded like a great idea on paper, But I would have to program that little unit to the desired key, tempo, and amount of measure repeats since it did not have a lot or RAM.  I could fit about 10 songs on it. I purchased two of these units second hand on eBay.

One friend sells his CD's at his concerts and he has a CD that he recorded of his backing tracks that did in a studio to play along with on his guitar.

Lately some of my friends play guitar and sing use backing tracks on their PC or tablet. I know that some of these tracks can be found at the Karaoke Versions web site for around $2.99 a download. They can be customized with desired instrumentation and key preference. 

Band In A Box
Then some players record their own tracks to their computer or tablet for backing tracks by using Band in a Box. They play along to these tracks to create their own faux combo. 

Any of these systems allows a solo artist to sound like they have an entire band behind them. I have been to some concerts that have professional players using backing tracks on a computer to enhance their performance. 

Lip Syncing Mic Tosser
And there was a recent concert with Cardi B, a rapper I know virtually nothing about, recently became angry when an audience member lobbed a bottle of water at her. In retaliation Ms. B threw her wireless microphone into the crowd, hitting an innocent audience member.  

During the altercation it was revealed to the audience that Cardi was not rapping or singing when the backing track went on, because her lips were not moving. She was lip-synching! But I digress.  

Recently an Israeli company, OMB, has manufactured a built in device that turns you acoustic or electric device into a One Man Band.  The device can be purchased stand alone with all the attachments preinstalled in the guitar, or with add-on units.

OMB Acoustic
Note the MIDI unit
and copper strip on neck
The company claims that the OMB acoustic/electric guitar or attachment will take your playing experience to a whole new level and help develop your creativity as a musician. 

With its MIDI system, warm mid-frequency and crisp high frequency make it set up and playing easy.  You will need an iPhone or iPad. The software turns your guitar into a real time MIDI controller.  

aMure Software screens
To use the OMB, you will need an iPad or iPhone to download the music arranger program aMure.

Using the built in styles, you can easily play along with a backing band in various musical styles.  The company's acoustic guitar features a full sized body with a laminated Spruce top, and Mahogany back, and sides. The built in electronics include volume, and EQ and a piezo pickup.

With the OMB technology you can enjoy the accompaniment of a full-size virtual band, following your chord progression in real-time without changing the way you play and your original guitar for beginners sound. 


OMB Adapter Kit
The secret is the OMB device that is below the instrument's bridge / tailpiece and a metal strips that are on both sides of the fretboard that come in contact the the edges of the frets. converts your guitar playing to MIDI signals without any perceived latency.  

OMB Instructions
This doesn't disturb or change the original sound of your guitar, it adds another rich dimension to your playing, 

OMB could also accompany you with a full size virtual band that tracks your playing in real-time. OMB's technology converts your guitar playing to MIDI signals with no perceived latency. 

The software and add on unit can change your guitar into any MIDI instrument from their vast library. By adding the OMB effects pedal or the OMB Ketron unit you will have a much larger library of sounds.  

The effects pedal sell for $359 USD, while the Ketron units are rather expensive, priced from $1869 to $3169.  

This all sounds amazing, but please check out the reviews first.

© 2023 UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)
Click links under the pictures for sources

If you are really interested in installing the OMB device
please watch this video. It is long.


Thursday, April 6, 2023

Amazon Guitar Finds

 I tried to get this one out as soon as I could, however health problems have delayed me. I apologize.

As I have been spending most of my time at home this past year, I have discovered home shopping.

In the past I did purchase one guitar and some equipment from Musicians Friend. The guitar was not exactly what I ordered, but I kept it and it has become one of my favorite instruments. However, I digress. Last year I had discovered a really unique guitar under the brand Lava Guitars. These carbon fiber instruments are sold exclusively through Amazon. 

The company's name is Lava Music.  They are offering three guitars, the ME2 , the ME3, and the MEPro. 

These guitars are manufactured totally by one piece injection molding with proprietary high pressure laminate carbon mixture they call Airsonic.

Neck Design of Lava Guitar
Lava Music was founded by two students at the Musician's Institute (formerly The Guitar Institute of Technology) back in 2013.  

By 2017 they had invented a process by which a guitar could be crafted entirely out of carbon fiber, which they have patented and call AirSonic Carbon Fiber.  This includes the L.R. Baggs preamp with reverb. 

Lava ME3 Guitar

The ME3 Smartguitar is quite an upgrade from the ME2. It includes the same features, but with a touch screen operating system that syncs to their proprietary app.  This is called The HILAVA Operating System.

This allows you to tune your guitar, add effects and loops, and even record your songs. 

Lava Guitar ME PRO
The ME PRO is very similar, however it includes a built-in L.R. Baggs pre-amp with multiple effects. The ME2 retails for $699 USD, the ME3 retails at $999,  while the ME PRO goes for $1399 USD.  The most expensive guitar includes a charging dock base.  

All of their instruments come in multiple colours. Song write Jack Tempchin, who wrote many songs recorded by The Eagles seems to prefer a Lava guitar for his beach concerts.

If Lava Guitars seem too expensive, you may consider an Eyna or Donner Carbon Fiber Acoustic guitar. These are made in China (as most things seem to be manufactured there). The only experience I have with Donner is from last year. I purchased two effects, a compressor, and a reverb-echo unit from them. Both guitar effects work well, so no complaints from me.  In my opinion there are only slight difference in both instruments; the headstock, sound hole shape, pick up, case vs. bag, and price.

The Enya Carbon Fiber guitar comes with a 100% Carbon Fiber Soundboard. 
As a substitute for tone wood, carbon fiber has the resembling tonal traits. The top of X4 Pro is made of a carbon fiber composite material with a purity of 95%, maximally transferring the string vibration energy into great acoustics performance, loud and balanced.  Carbon fiber never warps, cracks, or scratches, staying consistent across different temperature and humidity conditions. 
The patented AcousticPlus Pickup system works for both acoustic guitars and acoustic-electric hybrid guitars. It gets you reverb, chorus, and delay, with no effects pedals needed.. 

Donner Carbon 
Fiber Guitar

The Donner Company makes a very similar carbon fiber instrument called The Rising G Pro. There are two models, neither is electric. The neck has a truss rod like most wood guitar necks, it’s for adjusting the bow of the neck to the exact preference of every player. The Fingerboard is made of high density and high stability greatly improves the problem of fret floating and deformation. The crowned fretboard is complete with rounded frets and Elixir strings. This is unlike the Lava instrument in which the neck and frets are molded carbon fiber, the neck and fretboard are made of high pressure laminate.

Donner Carbon
Fiber Guitar Pack

These guitar includes a travel kit, a set of Elixir strings, a very sturdy protective gig bag, straps, capo, Allen wrench, and tuner. The Donner guitar with black top and colored sides and back sell for $399.99, while the guitar with the black top and black back and sides sells for $599.99 with a hard case, $499.99 with a gig bag.

A few years ago a company called Voyage Air Guitars came out with the concept of a folding guitar. Their versions which sell from $700 up to $2700 include a hinged neck that folds over the body, The guitar come with a proprietary travel case that can fit in an TSA overhead airline bin. 

Now a company called Journey Guitars offers similar portability with a full sized acoustic guitar that breaks down to fit in it’s own airline sized bag at a less expensive price. These guitar come with their own gig bag that includes a compartment for a 14” laptop. 

Journey Guitar in it's bag
Unlike the Voyage Air, which have a hinged neck joint, the Journey guitars have a collapsible neck system which allows the player to disassemble the guitar in 20 seconds without removing the strings. The guitar body stores in one padded compartment, while the neck stores in a separate section of the bag. The headstock on the Journey guitars is slightly smaller to accommodate the travel bag. 

The neck is held on by a recessed stainless steel nut and screw locking mechanism with a lifetime guarantee on the instruments back. 

Journey guitars feature a traditional sound-hole that is forward shifted, a solid top, and X-bracing, and of course the gig bag is included. There are several models that range in price from $399.99 for the mini “Puddle Jumper” with a solid Sitka spruce top and sells for $399.99. 

Journey Acacia

While, $849.99 is the price for the full size solid Sitka  or Acacia top model. The Journey guitars also are available with a Koa top, and nylon string models. 

Journey Carbon Fiber
Collapsible Guitar

Journey Guitars also offers a collapsible Carbon Fiber Guitar with similar features and a proprietary TSA approved bag. These sell for $1399.99 for the steel string acoustic model to $149.99 for the red finish or classic guitar model. 

Journey Carbon Fiber
Collapsible Bass

Journey also offers a collapsible bass guitar., with or without frets. 

Check  Amazon for pricing and deals.

Click on links below the pictures for sources and the links in the text for more information.
© UniqueGuitar publication 2023 (text only)



Sunday, January 1, 2023

Where Did The Unique Guitar Blog Go? - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down


For the majority of 2022 I have been unable to continue the Unique Guitar Blog due to illness and changes in my life.  

Regrettably 2022 welcomed me to the new normal.

Looking back from November and December of 2021, I began having significant mobility issues. I had been using a cane to steady myself for several years when walking in public, but as my wife pointed out, my walking was becoming much worse. 

In December of last year, I developed double vision. This condition was quite annoying. I could not drive. I had to close one eye to focus.  My doctor immediately sent me to the emergency room for CT scans and MRI studies. 

The report came back negative, but for a white space at the top of my brainstem. (I figured my stuffing was probably falling out). I regained my normal vision, but still had trouble walking. 

By January of 2022 I was sent to physical therapy because of my limited gait. (I was pretty much walking like Tim Conway’s little old man). The therapist consulted my doctor asking why I had not been assessed for Parkinson's Disease.

In March I visited a neurologist and was diagnosed with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, which is a Parkinson type disease. I was told by my doctor that white spot at the top of my brainstem showed a “hummingbird’ sign.

This white area is a positive indicator of this disease. This condition is also known as PSP. It is not true Parkinson Disease, which causes involuntary shaking of the body. PSP affects balance and mobility and also the voice and vision 

My therapy was then changed from physical to a form of occupational therapy called LSV Big and LSV Loud. This therapy involve exaggerated movement and counting in a loud voice to overcome what your brain is telling you that you can’t do. 

 I spent the next five months doing therapy, an hour a day for four days a week, plus exercising at home. 

I can walk around my home unassisted, although I have fallen three times, but outside I must use a walker. It is sort of unseemly, but it beats hitting the ground. Concrete is very solid and since I don’t easily bounce, and it hurts.

We had moved into a large apartment complex in March of 2017 after taking care of my aging mother since 2011. 

My wife and I had left our home in 2011 to take care of Mom.  However, she  went to a nursing home in late 2016, so we had to move so her house could be sold. 

Five years later, in July of 2022 the entire complex was purchased by an investment company, and we received notice they were converting the building into luxury apartments. To do this all 232 units and residents were being forced to leave so construction could get underway.  

I have since found out this is happening not just to me, but to renters worldwide, as investment companies are buying up property.

Robotic open heart surgery
We moved in late October to a larger and much nicer complex. Moving was difficult due to my illness.  Weeks after the move, in early November, my wife suffered a massive heart attack. 

Her doctor immediately put her in hospital and within a week she underwent robotic cardiac bypass surgery at Christ Hospital in Ohio (a procedure that is not even done in the state where we live). 

All went well, and she is currently recovering from the surgery at home. I am thankful for the help and support of my children. I am thankful that she was quickly diagnosed and treated by the most excellent staff and doctors. However all of these health problems have caused significant changes in our lifestyle. 

Recently I learned that Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is the same disease that has forced Linda Ronstadt to retire. I was able to write to her recently to share my experience. I received a lovely response. 

Now here it is New Years Day of 2023. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and may you have wonderful New Year. 

I hope to get back to the blog sometime in early 2023 with some new ideas.