Acoustic rig rundown
I'm predominantly an acoustic player. Have been pretty much my entire playing life. I have a few electric guitars that I've acquired over the years, but nothing speaks to me like an acoustic guitar. I learned to play on my grandfathers Larrivee dreadnaught cutaway, until I proved to my parents I was serious about this guitar thing. They told me, "you learn and get good enough, we'll pitch in and help you get your own guitar."
After about two years, my family all put in for Christmas and helped me buy my first acoustic guitar. It's a Martin DX1AE. I remember playing nearly every guitar the Tallahassee Guitar Center had on the wall. Nothing spoke to me quite like this one. I remember the ease the action had as I pressed my fingers in to a G chord formation. It was tuned to perfection, felt right under my arm, and I knew from the first strum it was the one. Of course, a 1940's Martin D-28 is on my wish list as a preferred choice of guitar, but that'll come once I win the lottery!
The Martin DX1AE is built with a D-14 platform and a dreadnaught body, that pairs a sitka spruce top with a mahogany grained high pressure laminate(HPL) back. At the time, I had no idea what difference the HPL would make, but after owning the guitar for close to 10 years now, I'd make no hesitation buying again. It came with a Fishman Sonitone pickup installed, and still currently has the same pickup in it. I know I'm bias, but I have yet to come close to hearing the volume and tonality that the Sonitone picks up with this guitar. Every soundcheck, I've always noticed to be a tad louder in volume than most others, even at the same setting. If it ever goes out on me, I will be buying the same pickup.
My grandfather always told me, "it'll sound better with age." These aren't just his words, but I heard them straight from him. He wasn't lying. The spruce-top has aged extremely well for me on this guitar, and I hear a deeper, more rich tone from the body as the years pass and the wood changes. Of the time I've owned this guitar, I've only had one job performed on it, and that was recently(2018). I heard a minor vibration from the bridge area, but come to find out, the saddle bone just needed to be filed down a bit. Nothing structurally, knock on wood (no pun intended!).
For strings, I use Elixir's Nanoweb lights. Occasionally I'll use the Light-Mediums to get a little extra bass in sound, but majority of the time I can't find them in the stores, so I stick with the lights. I know dreadnoughts are built to hold medium gauge strings, but my fingers prefer the lights. Adds a little extra brightness that I favor, as well. I've tried most every brand of strings out there, but the Elixir's top all for my personal taste. They tend to be a little bright out of the box, but once they're broke in, the tone I get lasts longer than any other string I've demoed.
When it comes to playing live, I don't get too crazy with effects. I keep it simple and to the point. I run my Martin DI in to a TC Electronic Polytune Mini-2, and from there, straight in to the board. I'll get the sound guy to add a slight taste of reverb, but the guitar itself already has a mild ambiance that is produced from the vibrations the dreadnought body carries. I adjust the tone knob on the Sonitone and I'm good-to-go! One piece of hardware I've had my eye on for a while now, is the L.R. Baggs Venue DI. The tone's I've heard come out of those is pretty pristine, and one good enough to make me spend the cash. Sturgill Simpson used it on his Metamodern album, and Ricky Skaggs uses it for his guitars also. I may have to pull the trigger if these Black Friday prices are kind enough. Don't tell my wife though!
What are your personal favorite acoustic guitars and gear to use? Any questions about my rundown? Just ask in the comments!