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.

“Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley cover)

Originally posted 2014-08-20 06:00:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco

Welcome everyone to the first new Jim Fusco Laptop Sessions cover song video for over a year and a half!  I can’t believe it- doesn’t feel like that long ago AT ALL.  The last cover video I did was “What Am I Doing Hanging ‘Round” by the Monkees on February 7th of 2013.  Yikes.

As all fans of the music blog know, I’m releasing a new album called “The Easy Ways” in September!  It’s been the spark I needed to get back into recording more Laptop Sessions cover song videos.  I’ve compiled an incredible list of songs over the past 18 months and I can’t wait to get back into the full swing of it.  I’ll even be re-recording some of my older videos.  Yes, even I messed-up now and again, so I’m going to finally fix those mistakes and make the videos the best they can be.  I went back and listened to over 220 cover song videos I’ve done in the past and only found 14 that need to be redone.  That’s not so bad!  I may do a few others that were poorly lit (or when I didn’t shave, was in my pajamas, etc.), as well.

Speaking of lighting, I’m still trying to perfect it, but I’ve got a new lighting kit to go along with my new video recording process.  I’m now recording on my new iPad (should we change it to the “Tablet Sessions”?) with my trusty ZOOM H2 microphone.  I”m also doing the video editing on the iPad.  It’s so much faster and easier, but I’ve noticed a lot of features are lost on the watered-down mobile version.  Thankfully I’ve found workarounds for the issues I’ve found so far.  I hope there are updates to the app in the future that will allow me to enhance the colors in the video and normalize the audio better.

But these first few videos I’m doing came out pretty good and they took less than a quarter of the time it used to take me to record.  And that’s the biggest part- I’ll do many more videos if they’re easy to create.  That’s what was great about the Laptop Sessions in the first place: I could just open the laptop and hit record.  But now, I’ve got to light it properly, have a nice background, and even comb my hair!  I’ve noticed that people really like seeing a nicely lit frame with my electric guitars in the background and I think some of my older videos don’t get viewed much anymore because of their poor video quality.

So now, onto today’s video:

“Suspicious Minds” is a song by Elvis Presley that he debuted around the time of his big comeback special in 1968.  I really need to see that video- I heard he really knocked it out of the park.  Isn’t it so sad that the man was only in his early thirties and he already had to make a “comeback”?  That’s show-business, I guess.  Anyway, the song was a big hit for Elvis and it’s been a song I’ve known and loved for just about my whole life.  It’s a fun one to sing, too, as it has some real passion in that slower middle section.  I hope I did the song justice!

Stay tuned for an original song to come at you next Wednesday for my first Original Wednesday post for quite some time.  I’ll be alternating original songs and cover songs until my new album comes out.  In the meantime, you should be checking out http://jimfusco.com for previews of some of my new songs, plus the album cover artwork that will blow you away!  See you all again next week and enjoy, “Suspicious Minds”, originally done by Elvis Presley!



“California Callling” (The Beach Boys cover)

Originally posted 2014-09-10 22:00:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco!  Today I go back to my ol’ stomping grounds to give you another Beach Boys cover song.

“California Calling” is from their self-titled album from 1985.  It’s the only track on the whole album that features real drums…and as an added bonus, they’re played by Ringo Starr!  Of course, Dennis Wilson, the band’s drummer since they began, passed away in 1983.  I think Ringo is just about the only drummer fitting enough to be the first person to play drums on a Beach Boys song after Dennis’ passing.  And the drumming on “California Calling” is very similar to what Dennis would’ve played.  I like to think they did that as a tribute to Dennis.  Supposedly, the sequenced drum track on the hit “Getcha Back” was done in the style of Dennis Wilson as a tribute.  I hope that’s true because it would be a great tribute.

To be honest, this really wasn’t one of my favorite songs on the album for many years.  I think I was just irked by the fact that it’s another Love/Jardine “Don’t F with the formula” song that didn’t fit in with the rest of the album.  But I’ve changed my mind on that recently.  I mean, when you’re looking for a Beach Boys song, you’re looking for a song just like “California Calling”!  Plus, it’s a good tune and I’m a sucker for that classic Beach Boys sound.

Onto some personal business: “The Easy Ways”, my new album, is coming out very, very soon- on September 20th, in fact!  It’s an album full of 16 original songs that are assembled into a true “album” instead of just a collection of songs.  You’ll just have to check back soon and grab a copy of the album on CD or digitally to hear what I mean!  I’ve been practicing non-stop for my album release party, so I hope everyone in the Connecticut area will come check it out!  It’s at 5:30 on Saturday, September 20th at Silver City Restaurant in Meriden, CT.

I’ll be back next week with another original song in anticipation of my new album’s release.  I hope everyone enjoys tonight’s Laptop Sessions cover song music video of The Beach Boys’ “California Calling”!



Martin MMV Acoustic Guitar – Jim Fusco’s Guitar Collection

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to my new series: “Jim Fusco’s Guitar Collection”!  I was going to go with a more search-engine friendly name like “Singer-Songwriter-Musician Jim Fusco’s Acoustic and Electric Guitar Collection”, but figured I’d go for simplicity on this one. :-)

The first entry in my guitar collection series is my acoustic guitar.  That actually kind of sounds odd to me- my singular acoustic guitar.  Yes, I also have an acoustic-electric guitar from Seagull, but the Martin MMV is my one and only true acoustic guitar.  It doesn’t have any electronics in it, and that’s 100% fine by me.  I actually didn’t want an acoustic guitar with electronics in it because I wanted an old-fashioned heirloom type instrument that I could play for the rest of my life and pass-down to my family for generations.  I think I found the perfect guitar for that purpose!Martin MMV Acoustic Guitar

The Martin MMV acoustic guitar was originally made in 2005, though I bought mine in 2009 (and it was made in 2008, I believe). The guitar features all-wood construction with a solid Sitka Spruce top, East Indian Rosewood back and sides (that smells wonderful, by the way), a mahogany neck, and an ebony fretboard.  It has a mortise and tenon neck joint, which I know some people frown upon, but honestly, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to hear any differences between that and a set-in neck.  Plus, I think this method actually makes the guitar stronger so it’ll last in its current condition that much longer.

The guitar features a light gloss finish.  It has some very simple inlays around the sound hole and fake pearl inlays in the fretboard.  The Martin logo at the top is a stick-on gold nameplate, as opposed to the inlayed “C. F. Martin” that’s featured on the much more expensive models.

The tone of this guitar is, in my opinion, truly amazing.  It’s loud, punchy, and projects the bass very well.  The sound is very “tight”, as well.  I thought my Seagull acoustic electric sounded fantastic when I first got it.  But then I played it next to my Martin and it was no contest.  The Martin just sounds great from the start.  It almost sounds like it’s already been recorded, if that makes any sense.  The guitar’s sound is just perfectly in tune and sparkles, especially on a standard “D” chord where it’s mostly higher-pitch notes.Head of Martin MMV Acoustic Guitar

I truly believe the Martin MMV acoustic guitar to be the best overall value in higher-end acoustic guitars.  It has the high-end sound without a high-end price.  The only sacrifice is that it doesn’t look very flashy.  But, I didn’t buy it to look great.  I bought it to sound professional on all of my future recordings.  I’d be happy to field any questions on the sound, the materials, or anything else regarding the Martin MMV acoustic guitar!