On Sat, 30 Jun 2001, Al Past wrote:
> I wonder if anyone heard the NPR interview yesterday with the electric
> guitarist (whose name escapes me) who talked about why he prefers his
> old, old, Fender Telecaster guitar (I think it was). He was talking
> about the finish they used to use, inferior stuff because it wasn't
> airtight, and allowed the wood to dry and crack...but the result was a
> much clearer, lighter sound. More modern electrics used some kind of
> lacquer which held in moisture, and he said they sounded muddy.
This whole issue has really been on my mind the last couple of weeks.
Every two years they hold the Boston Early Music Festival in New England
in June, some years they luck out and real summer hasn't hit yet, this
year they didn't, they found out what we actually live with. And there
were instruments all over the place that were supposed to be the last word
in instrument building that had sluggish keys, which some builders refused
to ease, claiming the weather was a fluke or something; aside from what
may have happened to the sound, and yes, my instruments certainly do sound
different in the summer than in the winter. Weather a fluke? Today is
nice, comparatively; the weather billboard in downtown Providence RI said
84 degrees Fahrenheit, 79 percent humidity. Much better than most of last
I do a lot of seasonal adjusting of my instruments, which they seem to
need. I'm still having to tune down in pitch every time I tune, this
usually continues most of the way to August. That seems to me a clear
indication the case geometry is changing. I bend tangents on my
clavichords, which is much easier than refiling the tops to keep the angle
constant. I have more time to practice, and give solo keyboard recitals,
during the summer than during the winter, so it matters that I get them
adjusted for summer, so I don't mind doing the work. (I do, I will say
parenthetically, mind getting made fun of for doing it by people in other
parts of the world, who assume this must mean I have crummy instruments.
Maybe in some cases I do, but I make them work).
But I guess the instruments were developed in a different climate; and the
modern early music movement tends to be well-to-do, and modern well-to-do
people have embraced that modern abomination known as central
air-conditioning. I don't have it, neither do the authentic historical
houses I give clavichord concerts in. Somehow, I think the
instrument-building world has worked out how to accomodate to central
heating; but they are not even trying to accomodate to east-coast US
summers. The biggest clavichord kit-maker in the US used to make patented
tangents that were easily adjustible, but I heard at Boston this time that
they are abandoning them, presumably in the name of HIPness.
Jest venting in the heat.... Not at all wishing for an air-tight plastic