Hello once again fellow tone-seekers! Sooo, I build electric guitar
pickups … and amps … and am a part of this great WGS family that builds
electric guitar speakers. However, this
week I want to pay homage to an ACOUSTICguitar! Hey why not? Acoustics ARE a huge part of the guitar
experience, right? And, it’s probably
been the better part of a couple years since I last featured an acoustic on
this here blog (Read here). So ya ready?
Let’s jump in!
So first I’ll set the stage: It was a
dark, rainy night in London when I walked across the creaky threshold of Wan’s
shop of ancient oriental oddities and first laid eyes on a guitar the likes of
which I’d never seen in all my years. Okay,
actually it was middle of the afternoon when I entered Nashville Used Music. My friend behind the counter said “dude, I’ve
got an acoustic in that you gotta check out … you’re going to BUY this one!” Nope, I was most certainly NOT going to buy
ANOTHER acoustic, I explained. Yep, I
bought it. But that’s not the truly
crazy part, I’m always buying guitars I didn’t intend to buy; the crazy part is
that before that moment I hadn’t even HEARD of this particular guitar. Yea, that was a first!
This guitar was really seriously unique (read: different), and my experience
has been that “different” usually equated to “bad”, especially in the world of
acoustic guitars. The time-tested
designs of C.F. Martin are just flat impossible to top; no matter how boring
and predictable they may appear. And so,
when I laid eyes on my first ’81 Daion Caribou,
I simultaneously thought “man that looks cool” and “Bet that sounds like crap”. I was about to be surprised.
The guitar truly has some of the most aesthetically pleasing lines I’ve ever
seen in an acoustic. Somehow, the
Caribou managed to be DIFFERENT in almost every possibly way … yet look absolutely,
totally “right” all at the same time. I’d
NEVER encountered that in an acoustic before!
From the totally unique hemispherical cut-out at the bottom of the body,
to the brass saddle, to the oval soundhole, to the brass nut, to the headstock …
it was all so different, and so RIGHT. I
marveled at the solid tiger-stripe fully un-braced maple back, and once again
thought “looks great … bet it sounds awful”.
There was NO WAY this guitar was going home with me, or at least there
wouldn’t have been if I had just left well enough alone and not actually PLAYED
Holy crap, she sounded sweet! How on
earth? That unusual shaped body, strange
soundhole, brass nut & saddle, unusual wood choices … it shouldn’t have
sounded like this; or so my mind kept saying.
But, it did sound good, really good.
Like any acoustic made from fine woods, the years had been good to this
guitar, opening her tone up in a most beautiful manner. I was expecting a guitar very heavy in
upper-midrange, lacking especially in body and depth. But what DID it sound like? I would describe the sound as very much like
a Taylor “grand auditorium” body guitar … very full, yet very balanced with a
bit more extra-top-end sparkle and a “bigness” about its bottom end. Yep, write me up, she’s coming home with me
In the couple of years since, I have had the opportunity to both record with
this fine guitar as well as use her “plugged-in” on stage on a handful of occasions,
and it’s always a rewarding playing experience.
To those of you considering one of these fine vintage guitars, I will
suggest you make note of the fact that the pickups in these are passive, as was
the norm in the late 70s/early 80s. That’s
not to say that the pickups sound bad, they sound great actually, but you WILL
need an external acoustic pre-amp to obtain that great sound.
My epilog to this story is bitter-sweet, as I’m just packing her up to ship
to Connecticut. Yep, she’s on her way to
be the muse of another. My wife recently
bought furniture for our dining room, which I had been using as a storage space
for spare musical gear; she laid down the law: the stuff had to go! I love my gear, but I love my little woman
more, and so I put the guitars, amps, and drums stored in the dining room up on eBay. The Caribou was the last item to be put up on eBay, and I secretly hoped she wouldn't sell. She sold in the first
day to a collector who informed me he had been looking for one for years. So if one of these guitars crosses your path
and you are smitten … you had better gobble it up right away because the word
on the overall greatness of these fairly rare guitars seems to have gotten out. They don’t come up for sale often, and when
they do, they don’t stay for sale long.
Now, a few pics of this fine gal … I call these sexy shots “guitar-porn”