About Jim Fusco

Jim Fusco is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and all-around musician. Learn all about him and his creative works at http://jimfusco.com!

In Search of the Perfect Acoutic Guitar…

Originally posted 2010-04-16 00:55:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

A little over two weeks ago, I got the urge.  On a chance visit to Guitar Center in Manchester, CT (while my wife shopped at the Christmas Tree Shop), I began getting that familiar, “I really wanna buy a guitar” feeling.  I started to think about my fellow “Traveling Acai Berries” member, Steve, who has a beautiful (and beautiful-sounding) Martin D16-RGT acoustic guitar.  I remember playing it and noticing how well it sounded.  Every fret was in tune.  I didn’t have to try so hard to make it sound great.  Plus, it had some nice volume without having to strum very hard.

So, I thought about the idea of actually purchasing a Martin guitar.  I mean, I was always a nay-sayer.  I remember countless conversations with my brother, saying, “Oh, Martins are overpriced- there’s no way they can sound THAT good to justify being over a thousand dollars!”

Then, I played Steve’s guitar.  It was magical.  I knew I had to have one someday.  Little did I know that day would be now!

So, the bug was in my mind.  I began doing some research and honed-in on a few models.  I decided right off the bat that I wanted an all solid wood guitar.  To me, there’s no other way.  I actually didn’t even want Steve’s same model because of its Micarta (synthetic) fretboard.  Not to say that it’s a bad thing- I mean, it’ll NEVER wear down- but, to me, I really wanted an instrument I could hand down for generations.

You see, Martin guitars have been around since 1833 and have been produced (the all-wood ones, at least) in Nazareth, PA for over 175 years.  That’s pretty incredible, especially considering that, after all this time, it’s STILL a family-run business!  When you buy a high-quality Martin, you keep it for life (it has a lifetime warranty, too) and it only gets better (and even more valuable) with age.

So, my search brought up a few potential models, including the DSR, the D-15 Mahogany, and the DSM.  These guitars are all “custom” because they were made for major guitar retailer Guitar Center.  So, they’re not the standard Martin models, but they do offer a significant savings.

Which brings me to my next point: Yes, I gave myself a budget on this, but I really didn’t want to limit myself budget-wise.  I mean, I set out to buy the best acoustic guitar I could possibly purchase- one that sounded great.  I wanted the best acoustic money could buy.  But, I ended up saving a lot of money only because “the best” to me didn’t include a ton of pearl inlays and fancy appointments.  I think it’s true that, with Martins, they stop sounding better at a certain point…and then just start looking better.  Sure, I could’ve gotten one with the perfect cut of wood on the top (no “bear claws”, as they say), but that doesn’t make the sound any better now, does it?

So, I went to a couple stores to try things out.  I played the highest of the high end Martins, including the famed HD-28 and the Eric Clapton signature edition, which actually contained his signature inside the guitar!  But, I didn’t love the sound.  They sounded too muted to me.  They certainly didn’t have the booming, yet sparklingly clear, tones that Steve’s model had.

So, I had to do more research.  I learned that I was looking for a guitar with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides for the tone I liked.  But, I wanted to get a mahogany neck, because I simply can’t resist that intoxicating mahogany smell.  I also decided that I wanted a guitar with an ebony fretboard, because it was the kind of fretboard they used on the highest-end Martins.

I ended up finding the Martin DSR, which had everything I wanted except for the fretboard.  I could’ve lived with that.  But, the guitar had a satin finish to it.  It looked okay (other than the tacky white binding) and was LOUD- a big plus.  I came to the conclusion that the glossy coat was what was holding the other guitars back from being as loud as they could be.  Then, I started thinking about the fact that I want this instrument to be the be-all end-all acoustic guitar.  Am I really going to hand-down a guitar that didn’t have full-body gloss and that had a lower-end fretboard?  I mean, the guitar was about $1000, but I still felt that I would be taking the low road.

So, I got pretty disheartened and kept searching.  I spoke to my brother Mike, who then told me to expand my horizons.  Martin isn’t the only high-end acoustic guitar company, you know.  So, I seriously considered Taylor (so many famous people play them) and Larivee (a Canadian company that Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies uses).  But, stores around here don’t sell Larivee and I’ve never heard or played one in person.  And, I tried a couple of Taylors that were around $1,000 and they didn’t trill me.  To me, they played like every other guitar I’ve tried.

And then, in my search through literally hundreds of pages of online forums and articles, I came across one post that mentioned the Martin MMV.  It’s a model, originally made in 2005 (thus “MMV”) for Guitar Center.  It featured EVERYTHING I wanted in the guitar: glossy, Sitka spruce top, East Indian Rosewood back and sides, and the elusive ebony wood fretboard!  It had that same white binding, but I felt a lot better when I realize that the famed HD-28 had the same binding and looked very nice when glossy.  I was so excited, but realized that I would have to buy this sight-unseen.

So, I did as much research on the guitar as I could.  I literally read every webpage I could find about it.  I wanted to buy it on eBay, but really wanted that Martin Lifetime (yes, LIFETIME) warranty, so I decided to buy it new.  I finally found a 15% off coupon from a reputable site, which was good because this model (at Guitar Center, at least) was a full $500 more than the other models I was looking at.

Let me just say how much I love and appreciate my supportive wife, Becky, for understanding that I need such comfort items as these after working all day and night for the past year and a half!

Back to the story: I even got the guy to throw in six sets of Martin strings!

The guitar came in on Tuesday and I couldn’t be happier with it.  It’s LOUD and sounds amazing.  It also smells wonderful.  It came with a hard shell case, too.  I realize that even higher-end Martins use “choice woods” and other classy appointments, but I truly believe that this model sounded better in my ears.  It’s not the flashiest guitar, but I think it’s the highest quality and best sounding Martin before you just start paying for visual upgrades.  I will be proud of this guitar for the rest of my life and will be proud to hand it down someday.  But, they may have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. :-)

I hope this guitar will further excite me to play music and inspire me to continue writing new songs.  I look forward to playing it all the time now and feel like I finally have an acoustic guitar that brings me to the next level.  I’m glad to be a Martin owner, too.  I join some pretty good company there.

So, again, this may not be the perfect overall guitar, but to me, it certainly is.  The sound, the look, the prestige- they all fit me like a glove.  I hope it will be the last acoustic guitar I’ll ever need to buy.  Of course, that just leaves me more room for my growing electric guitar collection!

Stay tuned- next week I bust-out the Martin MMV for my first Laptop Session acoustic cover song music video!  See you then.

“Good Timin” (Beach Boys Cover)

Originally posted 2007-11-13 22:09:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Here’s a great tune from the Beach Boys, originally sung by the legendary Carl Wilson (written mostly by Brian).  Good Timin’ is one of those gems that clocks in at just over 2 minutes.  But, so do many of the Beach Boys’ hit songs.  Of course, most of those I’m talking about came out in the early 60s.  “Good Timin'” is from 1980, off of the “Keepin’ the Summer Alive”.  It’s not the best album of all time, but it holds some serious sentimental value with me.

You see, every year on the last day of school, we would get picked up from school in my dad’s 1990 Camaro.  He’d pull up to the school, blasting “Keeping the Summer Alive”.  It was the sure-fire way to know that summer was here!  So, I associate this album with being extremely happy and that great times were ahead.  So, even though I know “Keeping the Summer Alive” isn’t the Beach Boys’ best album, I still love it.  I’ll be doing many acoustic cover songs off of that album in the future.

“Good Timin'” just sounds like a classic Beach Boys song.  I can imagine that they were all very proud of this track when they were finished.  Plus, the song has a great message.  I end up singing “Good Timin'” to myself quite often.  And nothing feels better than when you’ve got good timing on something- it could even be a well-timed joke.  When the timing clicks, you can’t help but feel good about yourself.

One note about “Keepin’ the Summer Alive”- it’s the last album Dennis Wilson appeared on for the Beach Boys, but he’s hardly on it.  In fact, the credits only say he played percussion on the song “Endless Harmony”!  I always thought he had the line, “Goin’ on!” in the raspy voice (in the song with the same name), but it turns out it was just a 350 pound Brian that sang that line.  It’s such a shame that Dennis didn’t get to contribute, whether it was his fault or not.  He had such a great contribution to “L.A. (Light Album)” the year before with songs like “Baby Blue” and “Love Surrounds Me”, plus an amazing lead vocal on “Angel Come Home”, written by his brother, Carl.  I’ll probably be recording acoustic versions of those songs, too, as they could use the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song treatment!

I love this period in Beach Boys history, as they were making great music from every one of the band members, not just Brian.  I hope you’ll agree and that you’ll enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song.


“The Voice” (Moody Blues Cover)

Originally posted 2008-01-27 23:00:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

And now, pinch-hitting for an under-the-weather Jeff, is Jim Fusco!  I’m sitting in to bring you yet another great acoustic cover song music video here on the best music blog around: The Laptop Sessions!  Tonight, I bring you one of my favorite songs from the Moody Blues, “The Voice”, from their #1 album, “Long Distance Voyager”.

Actually, this tune is climbing up my all-time favorites list as it has all the criteria for a song I would love: a catchy tune, faster paced, that glorious late 70’s, early 80s sound that’s not too overdone, and a great guitar solo.  Of course, I’ve stripped all of that out in my version here, except for the tune and the tempo, but I think it gives a different take on the song as a whole.  And that’s what you should expect from all of my cover songs- a different take on my favorite songs of all time.  And, if you like the same songs I like, you’re sure to love my original music, as well!  Visit my website at http://jimfusco.com and take a listen!

I actually recorded a full version of this song a few weeks ago, complete with synthesizers! I think it sounds just like the original and was a lot of fun to try recreating the sounds.  There’s something about that synthesizer sound that the Moody Blues used.  They hired Yes keyboardist Pat Moraz and updated their sound for the late 70s.  Of course, they didn’t have Mike Pinder’s mellotron anymore, so they had to have something to replace it.  I know the songs probably sound very “80s” to everyone now (“The Voice” is very heavily based on synthesizers), but to me, the music has worn pretty well.  There are some 80s songs that I can’t even listen to.  The synthesizers sound so fake and dated.  But, the music of the Moody Blues during the Pat Moraz years doesn’t sound embarrassing like those other songs from the same time period (like the synths the Beach Boys used on “Love You”).

But, again, my acoustic cover song versions take away the synthesizers (and everything else, for that matter) and give you the song in its raw form.  I want people to know what the song really sounds like.  It’s interesting, though- you’ll actually hear all of the other parts in your head as you listen to my cover video.

By the way- if you haven’t heard “Long Distance Voyager” yet, please get a copy!  It’s an amazing album and features some of my favorite songs of all time in “The Voice” and “Gemini Dream”.  Plus, there are great contributions from drummer Graeme Edge (“22,000 Days”) and Ray Thomas (“Veteran Cosmic Rocker”).

Okay, look for a new cover song music video from Jeff tomorrow and again on “Original Wednesday”, as no matter the circumstance- you’re getting a Session a Day in ’08!


“The Man With All the Toys” (Beach Boys Christmas cover song)

Originally posted 2007-12-20 03:21:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By MoU:

Back again for another edition of the Laptop Sessions, this time a first: with a band! Here with me are Chris Moore, Mike Fusco, and Cliff Huizenga- all members of the band Masters of the Universe (or MoU, as we call it). You can check out all of our original music on our website at http://jimfusco.com/albums.html!  There, you’ll find everything we’ve ever recorded.  And, it’s all free to listen to online before you buy.  I can personally guarantee that the original songs you hear on MoU’s website are top-notch.  There’s just something magical that happens when five creative people get together and make music.  It’s like when the Traveling Wilburys were formed.  They just all wanted to make music together and had a good time doing it.

Speaking of “good times”, you can clearly tell we’re having a ball singing “The Man With All The Toys”, originally played by the Beach Boys.  MoU did a great live version in concert last year, so we wanted to reprise that with this live acoustic version in my basement studio.  Cliff normally plays bass, but decided to provide only vocals for these sessions. But, you’ll hear his great bass playing abilities (plus Mike’s full drum set and guitar work) on MoU’s normal studio and live efforts.  One interesting thing is that the live version MoU did of “The Man with All the Toys” for our Christmas album was actually in the wrong key!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were actually singing the song a half-step higher than the Beach Boys did in 1964.  We rectified that problem for this music video.

I’ve said it a million times before, but the Beach Boys Christmas Album is one of my favorite albums (Christmas or otherwise) of all time.  It’s got such a great style and charm to it.  The members of the Beach Boys sound so young and happy- it’s just a great album if you want to put a smile on your face.  And, for the first side of the album, the Beach Boys themselves play all the instruments.  So, you get a really special sound.  The original songs, with the likes of “The Little Saint Nick” and “Santa’s Beard” have become hits, and “The Man With All The Toys” is no exception.  It’s such a short song- it wasn’t until about 40 years later when Brian Wilson re-recorded this song (I guess a self-cover song of sorts) for his solo Christmas album, “What I Really Want for Christmas”, that he extended the tune by adding a rocking instrumental break.  But, I’m happy with the sub-two minute original version, as well.  It’s a little slice of musical heaven.  Their voices were perfect on the vocal breaks and it’s really just a great holiday song.

I hope you enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song and over the years, we’ll be bringing you many more Christmas songs here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!