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Introduction

Singer-songwriters are often referred to as Troubadours. Since the 1960s, a certain kind of troubadour has strapped on an acoustic guitar and told a story. These stories are often based on personal experiences or observations about the world. Some singer-songwriters prefer the traditional approach of an un-amplified context. Some gravitate towards an amplified scenario, one that is more in-step with modern trends. The Martin D-28 and GPCPA4 are the best choices for singer-songwriters, addressing the unique needs of each type of artist.

Martin D-28

When the Beatles recorded "The White Album" it was a state-of-the- art effort. A relatively new multi-track recording technology allowed the group to create the complex and layered performances that produced some of their most critically acclaimed albums. But when it came time to record the song "Blackbird", a traditional approach was taken. Paul McCartney stood alone in the sound booth of EMI Studios with only his Martin D-28. For a few hours during that Tuesday in 1968, one of the world's most famous musicians was simply a singer who performed his song, accompanied by only his acoustic guitar. There are many artists who still prefer this traditional approach today. The Martin D-28 is the best choice for the singer-songwriter who wants to keep that feel of an un-amplified performance.

The Martin D-28 is a Dreadnought, which has been a popular model acoustic guitar for nearly 100 years. First introduced in 1916 and named after a class of battleship, the Dreadnought provided a much-needed service to musicians in an era when powered amplifiers were rare. The large body allowed for a level of projection not common at the time.

The D-28's construction is a key component to its popularity. For overall strength, an "X" top-bracing pattern is used. Driving the construction is an optimum choice of woods. Its back and sides are made of solid East Indian Rosewood, a popular choice in guitar construction since the 1960s. The neck is made of Mahogany, a wood known for accentuated mids. This is particularly important for acoustic guitar, as the midrange area is where the instrument most naturally sits. Ebony is employed for the fingerboard and bridge, producing a bright sound and fast feel.

Sitka spruce is by nature stiff and strong, a combination that makes it a perfect choice as a top wood. Much like mahogany, Sitka spruce is also known for a clear and warm midrange. The combination of woods used for the body, top, neck, fingerboard and bridge work in concert to not only render clear and articulate sound, but also provide reliability.

Joni Mitchell relied on her 1956 Martin D-28 during the early days of her career, using it on some of her more famous recordings. Johnny Cash admired his 1971 Martin D-28 so much that he renamed it "Bon Aqua" after his private Tennessee ranch, and it became his main personal guitar for the rest of his life. The fact that so many well-respected musicians have employed the Martin D-28 speaks to how well suited the guitar is for the genre. The Dreadnought body produces a large projected sound and well-defined low end, the combination of woods used is optimum, and the world-class construction ensures reliability. When added up, these variables translate to a guitar that a singer-songwriter can count on for the intimacy of their performance and one that is rugged enough to stand the test of time.

Martin GPCPA4

The demands placed on modern musicians can be challenging, and no less so for singer-songwriters. The task of amplifying an acoustic guitarist is sometimes frustrating. When concert halls are larger, volume levels are increased and the use of stage monitors can introduce feedback problems. The Martin GPCPA4 embraces the rich tradition of acoustic guitar yet includes smart features that address the needs of today's singer-songwriter who needs to work in an amplified context.

Fishman's F1 Analog electronics provide a critical path to complete control over the GPCPA4's amplified sound. The key areas addressed are tone shaping, feedback control, and tuning. By providing tools in these important areas Martin meets the needs of the live performer. The F1 Analog's low-profile knobs remain out of the way, yet easily accessible. A companion to these two knobs is a single-character menu, which keeps the footprint of the electronics section to a minimum, yet provides the information needed to navigate its multiple features.

Tone shaping becomes effortless by using the dedicated "tone" knob. But this control goes beyond simple EQ. Because the overall sound of the guitar is also affected by how the guitarist is playing, both strumming and fingerpicking techniques are well serviced by the electronics. For strumming, the Fishman F1's tone knob can be used to reduce the mids. This can be helpful in creating a more airy feel, and allow the guitar to sink deeper into the mix. For fingerpicking, that same tone knob can be used to emphasize the mids, which will create a more percussive texture. Further tone shaping is accomplished via the "Phase" control. At low volumes, it can be used to increase bass response, playing a helpful role in more intimate settings. This control can also be used to suppress feedback at high volumes.

Because variables such as stage lighting and weather changes cannot be easily controlled, tuning is an unavoidable reality for any performing guitarist. The GPCPA4's built-in chromatic tuner is indispensable for live situations. It automatically mutes the guitar's output when engaged and allows for hands-free operation. As an added convenience, the guitar's battery pack is located near the endpin for easy access.

The Martin GPCPA4 is the best choice for the singer-songwriter who plans to amplify their instrument. The body is not as boomy as that of a Dreadnought, which means that there is less concern with preventative low-end EQ settings. The mids are more accentuated which is better suited to an amplified context. Whether the occasion is intimate or that of a large-scale concert, the GPCPA4 features a tool-set that allows the guitarist to optimize their instrument for the occasion at a reasonable cost. Featuring tone shaping, feedback control and a chromatic tuner, the Fishman F1 Analog electronics transforms this guitar into a rich canvas with which the artist can frame the poetry of their song. The singer-songwriter can unburden themselves of the challenges associated with amplifying the instrument and perform their song with confidence.

Conclusion

While there have been a wide variety of singer-songwriters, many have been guitarists. Musicians such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Paul Simon all played an active role in shaping the genre and turned to Martin guitars for some of their most important work. The Martin D-28 and GPCPA4 are top choices for singer-songwriters. Each instrument offers its own unique blend of features that allow these artists to paint with broad brushstrokes and best serve their craft.

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