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  1. #1

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    Hi Guys,
    I've had enough time to make a valid assessment of this guitar. I've put a lot of time into trying to get it to work for me. Did it work? Well, kind of.
    1st off, you might not believe it, but I love this guitar. It sounds like nothing else I've ever played. Its big, bold, bright and beautiful sounding. Its got the Rose on the pickguard, which is something I always wanted. But like 2b said one time, when you have it, you probably wont even look at it that much. He was right.
    This guitar is all about sound. I've come to appreciate its sound a lot. When combined with my brain, hands and heart - this guitar seems to always be a fraction of a note behind. These big deep boxes take a little while respond. A millisecond. I was hoping it would be a Panamera. Its turned out to be Buick Roadmaster. And I am not exactly Eddie VanHalen. So guess what? I love the guitar. Not all guitars worth having should be exactly like the other guitars you already have.
    I've learned some things about guitar design with this guitar. 1st off, you cant defy physics. Huge Guitars + not such big guys = a bit of a mismatch. Its difficult to get in the right position to command this thing. The recipe for the Johnny Smith was perfect the way it was. 17" and 3-1/8 deep. Perfection for the masses. This guitar was custom made for tall and lanky fellow with an incredible amount of experience with some of the finest instruments ever made, Don Dean. And after all 200+ of his guitar collection had been passed on, he kept this guitar till the end. That says more than I can put into words.

    One last thing, I would be terribly remiss if for one last time, I didn't thank the people who made this guitar possible. MartyGrass found it. He brought it back to life by giving it to Pete for a couple of days. Then, MG blessedly moved it on to our Big Mike Hale, the Hugh Hefner of guitars.. No one knows how Mike made it "vinny-like" possible for a schlub like me to have this guitar, except for Mikey. Mike, you are one of the nicest people I've ever met. And absolute gentleman in EVERY sense of the word. I am blessed to be able to call you "friend".

    Before I put her away for a while, On Oct 30 at 2am in the morning, I recorded one last very appropriate song for the season. Kenny Burrell's Autumn in New York. I hope you like it.

    Thanks Everyone.
    Joe DeNisco


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  3. #2

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    Your playing is beautiful Joe and the guitar sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing and for giving us such a nice and touching description of the instrument!

  4. #3

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    Joe,

    Thanks for the clip. Great tune, great arrangement, great guitar.

  5. #4

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    Really has the super 400 sound. Very nice!

  6. #5

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    It/you sound just amazing.

  7. #6

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    Thanks as always Joe !

  8. #7

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    If I've learned anything in my life you don't always bond immediately with the really great guitars. In your case that 18 inches is part of the issue, but it's such a well built and hand tuned guitar that if you apply yourself and give it time you will be rewarded. Try sitting in an upright chair wear a strap, that's what worked for me with that beauty...

    Big

    Great playing Joe, hope you don't mind me reposting your clip on Facebook today...

  9. #8

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    Congratulations Joe,
    a beautiful rendition of “Autumn in New
    York” which KB had made his own.
    The HJS sounds really good, but as Larry
    Carlton said “ it’s all in the fingers.”


    Alan
    Last edited by silverfoxx; 11-02-2017 at 12:06 PM.

  10. #9

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    One of my all time favorite songs played gorgeously. Bravo bro !

  11. #10

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    Joe D, it is you who made and make it great. The 18" HJS is lucky to have you.

  12. #11

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    so nice ...it made me homesick for old nyc! hah

    cheers

  13. #12

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    I got a 1920s L-5 as a kid by shear luck. I moved from a ES-345 to this monster. The L-5 was not easy to hold, let alone play. But it was now my only guitar.

    It didn't take long before I didn't notice its size. I did get used to its largeness, but importantly it may have been because I had to since it was my only guitar. Thankfully it soon was just plain normal in its feel.

    The point is, sometimes life is easier when there are no comparisons or choices.

    The 18" HJS is a fine, fine instrument. If it were more compact, it just wouldn't sound the same.

    Joe, I think you are doing an excellent job tackling this guitar. I'd like to hear your thoughts in another year. By then, maybe your other guitars will feel too small and like toys.

    Here are some pics of smaller guitarists who mastered guitars big for their physiques. Maybe they will inspire.


    Heritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-gtrchgwld-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-rosannecash_0-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-maxresdefault-jpg




    MG

  14. #13

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    This little guy seemed to adjust pretty well to his big Gibson.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankLearns View Post
    Your playing is beautiful Joe and the guitar sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing and for giving us such a nice and touching description of the instrument!
    Frank, Thanks Buddy. It was my pleasure totally. JD
    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Joe,
    Thanks for the clip. Great tune, great arrangement, great guitar.
    GT, Thanks buddy.
    Quote Originally Posted by skiboyny View Post
    Really has the super 400 sound. Very nice!
    The sound of this guitar can only be appreciated once I play the other guitars. They pale by comparison. I cant imagine what it would sound like if I put 14's on it and played like Freddie Green. The guitar can certainly pull it off!
    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan View Post
    It/you sound just amazing.
    Aww, Thanks RhythmMan. I cant wait to see a writeup on the "new" 175!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis D View Post
    Thanks as always Joe !
    Dennis, Thank YOU buddy. Its always my pleasure.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ View Post
    If I've learned anything in my life you don't always bond immediately with the really great guitars. In your case that 18 inches is part of the issue, but it's such a well built and hand tuned guitar that if you apply yourself and give it time you will be rewarded. Try sitting in an upright chair wear a strap, that's what worked for me with that beauty...

    Big

    Great playing Joe, hope you don't mind me reposting your clip on Facebook today...
    Mikey, Thanks and Thank you for posting that clip. I am not on Facebook as you know, so just make sure somebody doesn't smear my name.. L,J

    Quote Originally Posted by silverfoxx View Post
    Congratulations Joe,
    a beautiful rendition of “Autumn in New York” which KB had made his own.
    The HJS sounds really good, but as Larry Carlton said “ it’s all in the fingers.”
    Alan
    SF, alias Alan, alias 007..
    We are lucky enough to play the most beautiful music ever written. I know about the fingers.. Sometimes I wish I had fingers instead of these sausages hanging off my hand..
    L,J
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k View Post
    One of my all time favorite songs played gorgeously. Bravo bro !
    Vin, Its a beautiful melody. I will check out Tal's version. Thanks bro.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Joe D, it is you who made and make it great. The 18" HJS is lucky to have you.
    Jabbs, My man.. Thank you very much. I've missed you dude. JD

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    so nice ...it made me homesick for old nyc! hah
    cheers
    Thanks Neatomic. NYC is a nice place this time of the year. Regardless of who is trying to ruin it! Thanks buddy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass View Post
    I got a 1920s L-5 as a kid by shear luck. I moved from a ES-345 to this monster. The L-5 was not easy to hold, let alone play. But it was now my only guitar.
    It didn't take long before I didn't notice its size. I did get used to its largeness, but importantly it may have been because I had to since it was my only guitar. Thankfully it soon was just plain normal in its feel.
    The point is, sometimes life is easier when there are no comparisons or choices.
    The 18" HJS is a fine, fine instrument. If it were more compact, it just wouldn't sound the same.
    Joe, I think you are doing an excellent job tackling this guitar. I'd like to hear your thoughts in another year. By then, maybe your other guitars will feel too small and like toys.
    Thanks Grass. You have a knack for finding great stuff. I will keep at it. For sure. I am OK with the size. The response is hard to get use to. Also, good move on getting the pickup changed on yours. I hope the newer ones are shielded better. This pickup picks up way too much EFI and RFI. Its very frustrating. The BJB, JS and the 57's are dead quiet in the same environment. You will notice the difference on yours when you get it back.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler View Post
    This little guy seemed to adjust pretty well to his big Gibson.
    Yeah and even he had Gibson make him a slimmer body depth.. Jeeze, Dean wasn't that tall? George must have been a little dude!

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler View Post
    This little guy seemed to adjust pretty well to his big Gibson.
    He looked even smaller behind his Super 400





  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ View Post
    If I've learned anything in my life you don't always bond immediately with the really great guitars. In your case that 18 inches is part of the issue, but it's such a well built and hand tuned guitar that if you apply yourself and give it time you will be rewarded. Try sitting in an upright chair wear a strap, that's what worked for me with that beauty...

    Big

    Great playing Joe, hope you don't mind me reposting your clip on Facebook today...
    I like the strap option on big guitars myself ... puts the guitar in what I call the "classical" position which helps with access and playability ... IMHO of course

  20. #19

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    Kenney Burrell was uncomfortable playing anything but his Super 400. He mentioned in an interview that was the reason he disliked the special deeper cutaway L5 Gibson made for him--the L5 body was too small, and it was more comfortable having his arm around his Super 400.

  21. #20

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    Your an excellent musician and a true gentleman, both rare qualities.

    Salute Paisano, per cent'anni.

    Tony D.

  22. #21

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    I am in a different camp. If I do not bond immediately I most likely never will. I do not like small guitars. The smallest I can play is a 16 inch. Neck profile is super important to me. If it doesn't feel right from jump street it is gone.

    I bought a great Unity from Patrick. It was beyond a true guitar masterpiece. I disliked the neck profile and had to punt even though it sounded and looked like a slice from heaven above.

  23. #22

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    Man this non cut Super 400 is as red as my Red is !!! WOW what a beauty...


  24. #23

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    Very nice playing as usually Joe - but honestly - I don't see that big smile (yet). Perhaps the bonding with this instrument will take a little longer......sometimes it just does.

    In any case, I'm sure the grounding buzz isn't helping any - which I'm sure is quite distracting and frustrating.

    I agree with Vinny though - a guitar either moves you creatively or it don't ....no need to settle , life is too short.

    Perhaps when the grounding issue is resolved you'll be in better spirits to really assess things.

    Just giving you my honest opinion.

  25. #24

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    This is going to sound counter-intuitive. If you don't bond with a guitar, it could be because (a) it just isn't for you and never will be or... (b) you are dating a lady who, for the moment, is way above your level in some way. She'll love you, but you're maybe going to have to earn it. But it will be worth it.

    Some guitars make how you play sound even better. Other guitars force you to play better to rise up to their level.

    Maybe I'm crazy, too...
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by QAman View Post
    Very nice playing as usually Joe - but honestly - I don't see that big smile (yet). Perhaps the bonding with this instrument will take a little longer......sometimes it just does.

    In any case, I'm sure the grounding buzz isn't helping any - which I'm sure is quite distracting and frustrating.

    I agree with Vinny though - a guitar either moves you creatively or it don't ....no need to settle , life is too short.

    Perhaps when the grounding issue is resolved you'll be in better spirits to really assess things.

    Just giving you my honest opinion.
    hey qaman, i getcha...but

    joe D is a big heart guy..he takes in strays...nice guitars...& he polishes them and he tweaks them...or he has them tweaked (by old masters) and then he passes them along again...all the better for having been well played upon and well taken care of


    my honest opinion too!! haha...i like that!

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 11-02-2017 at 07:12 PM. Reason: typo-

  27. #26

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    I finally got a chance to listen to this, and it was worth the wait. A lovely (and timely) tune that perfectly captures the mood of the season. Mrs. k and I had occasion today to tour a hundred or so miles of Pennsylvania byways up and down the Allegheny River, through forests no longer verdant but scarlet and gold and everything between, and "Autumn in Mew York" would have been the perfect soundtrack, especially as performed by Joe D.
    The HJS sounds absolutely regal in your hands. Thank you so much for this, and all your other videos!
    Best regards, k

  28. #27

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    ck74- sounds like it was the perfect soundtrack...just not quite in exact sync!!! haha

    cheers

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ View Post
    Man this non cut Super 400 is as red as my Red is !!! WOW what a beauty...

    Same one I linked Big.
    It's a '39, he had it refinished in cherry which was the inspiration for his L5CT Gobel model.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by pilotony View Post
    Your an excellent musician and a true gentleman, both rare qualities.
    Salute Paisano, per
    Tony D.
    Tony, thanks my good man. 100 years? Nice, I’ll take it!
    JD
    Quote Originally Posted by QAman View Post
    Very nice playing as usually Joe - but honestly - I don't see that big smile (yet). Perhaps the bonding with this instrument will take a little longer......sometimes it just does.
    In any case, I'm sure the grounding buzz isn't helping any - which I'm sure is quite distracting and frustrating.
    I agree with Vinny though - a guitar either moves you creatively or it don't ....no need to settle , life is too short.
    Perhaps when the grounding issue is resolved you'll be in better spirits to really assess things.
    Just giving you my honest opinion.
    You know me Stevie. You know me well.
    The pickup noise does drive me nuts, but only when I record. I think this pickup is very EFI sensitive and it picks up interference from my computer. Yeah I know, that sucks..

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    I finally got a chance to listen to this, and it was worth the wait. A lovely (and timely) tune that perfectly captures the mood of the season. Mrs. k and I had occasion today to tour a hundred or so miles of Pennsylvania byways up and down the Allegheny River, through forests no longer verdant but scarlet and gold and everything between, and "Autumn in Mew York" would have been the perfect soundtrack, especially as performed by Joe D.
    The HJS sounds absolutely regal in your hands. Thank you so much for this, and all your other videos!
    C74, Thank you so much buddy. This is a beautiful time of the year, particularly in the lush terrain over in PA. You tell Mrs K I’m sorry I didn’t post it a day sooner. I was up in Boston with clients and also I didn’t want to butt heads with big mikes Citation thread. I wouldn’t have gotten a single view!
    All the best to you!
    Joe D

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    This is going to sound counter-intuitive. If you don't bond with a guitar, it could be because (a) it just isn't for you and never will be or... (b) you are dating a lady who, for the moment, is way above your level in some way. She'll love you, but you're maybe going to have to earn it. But it will be worth it.
    Some guitars make how you play sound even better. Other guitars force you to play better to rise up to their level. Maybe I'm crazy, too...
    Lawson, you are right. Goldenwave77 told me that Rich Seversen said it best. He said something to the effect of 16 and 17” guitars you play. 18” guitars you just ride on. It is true. I have had moments with this guitar when I thought I had it figured out. And the next day, I’m back to dragging it along. I’ll keep trying.

  33. #32
    Beautiful playing Joe. Such a unique guitar. I don't have an 18 inch in the stable anymore, but I did have to adapt when I had one (even though I am a giant dude). Once I played it for a week though, it made me want to practice with just the right amount of electric volume where the acoustic sound comes through. Something special about an 18 inch body. Always enjoy your interpretations of these great songs.

  34. #33

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    Thanks rhoadscholar. I do the same thing. My amp is 20 ft away. And I have to make LOUD to get the right balance. But that is a GREAT experience.
    Thanks again!

  35. #34

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    I forgot to add some shots..
    Heritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-7fbcba19-ed18-4f09-b815-6f04078da81c-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-2742bce1-e753-45ad-a3ea-a6d09f95df4e-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-4cff3e40-8a17-4242-ae82-05ac2daa6c16-jpg

  36. #35

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    Some more..Heritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-7925ad9a-c115-4461-be1c-a839c1e1a585-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-efdbc57e-8433-4c98-8dfb-f4fbd68e4b68-jpgHeritage 18" Johnny Smith - a couple of months later..-c96e39bf-485f-47c6-8829-c47b3b70bf94-jpg

  37. #36

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    Wintermoon,

    Not trying to be Tommy Two Times (I'm gonna get the papers, get the papers)... LOL


    I'm sure you know a hell of a lot more about that guitar than I did. Today was the first time I even saw it (on YouTube after watching the first Dean/George clip).

    Big

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405 View Post
    Lawson, you are right. Goldenwave77 told me that Rich Seversen said it best. He said something to the effect of 16 and 17” guitars you play. 18” guitars you just ride on. It is true. I have had moments with this guitar when I thought I had it figured out. And the next day, I’m back to dragging it along. I’ll keep trying.
    I have a horse like that. It actually took me about 2 years to bond with this horse. I had to learn his ways, learn how to partner with him. But when I did, it became a true journey together. Still have this horse though both he and I are showing some age.

    Some guitars I imagine are like that.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMikeinNJ View Post
    Wintermoon,

    Not trying to be Tommy Two Times (I'm gonna get the papers, get the papers)... LOL


    I'm sure you know a hell of a lot more about that guitar than I did. Today was the first time I even saw it (on YouTube after watching the first Dean/George clip).

    Big
    Nah Big, glad you posted that clip.
    Just pointing out it was the same '39 Super that George had prior but refinished from blonde to red.
    Pretty sure your '39 Premier retains it's original nat finish, that's my favorite guitar you own that you've posted.

    I'm thinking the red finish was because it showed better on tv, much the same as Tal Farlow's red Gibson was made for a tv appearance.

  40. #39

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    That HJS' voice, if only acoustically, could be found in round wounds.

    Thanks for Kenny Burrell's AINY...loved it. Flats or rounds, that's one sweet sounding archtop Joe!
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  41. #40

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    Joe,
    Guitar Porn at its best!
    It might amuse you to know that yesterday,
    waiting while June was receiving attention.
    I listened again to" Autumn in New York" on
    my iPhone, the administration manager walked
    by me, asking " where is that lovely music
    coming from ?" I held the iPhone aloft and told
    her from whence it came, she declared _' its
    so much better than the the usual tripe we have
    to listen to. !!! I just smiled.
    So there you go, you are now famous in the Medical
    Industry also !
    May I reiterate, its a great piece of work

    SF

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I have a horse like that. It actually took me about 2 years to bond with this horse. I had to learn his ways, learn how to partner with him. But when I did, it became a true journey together. Still have this horse though both he and I are showing some age.
    Some guitars I imagine are like that.
    I look forward to growing with this guitar. I am not giving up on it.
    I had a great conversation with QAman last night and he opened my eyes to a few things. He is really a WEALTH of good solid information. I am going to look into getting a new nut for this guitar. Also, the pickup might have to go.
    Ive never given up on anything because of failure. So, I am not done yet with the HJS18..

    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop View Post
    That HJS' voice, if only acoustically, could be found in round wounds.
    Thanks for Kenny Burrell's AINY...loved it. Flats or rounds, that's one sweet sounding archtop Joe!
    This is exactly one of the things me and Steve talked about last night. I might try some different strings too.
    But frankly, the sound of this guitar is brilliant with regular old TI12's. Thanks buddy.

    Quote Originally Posted by silverfoxx View Post
    Joe,
    Guitar Porn at its best! It might amuse you to know that yesterday, waiting while June was receiving attention. I listened again to" Autumn in New York" on my iPhone, the administration manager walked
    by me, asking " where is that lovely music coming from ?" I held the iPhone aloft and told her from whence it came, she declared _' its so much better than the the usual tripe we have to listen to. !!! I just smiled.
    So there you go, you are now famous in the Medical Industry also!
    May I reiterate, its a great piece of work

    SF
    SF, You are one of the nicest dudes in the world. I really mean it.
    I got a PM yesterday from a old friend who I use to box with growing up. He said, he couldn't believe that a "goon" could play such beautiful music. Then this morning, as I drove my son to school, and we listened to Johnny Mathis' "All the Things You Are".. We were both almost in tears, because we agreed that the lyrics of the song seem to have been written about my wife.
    Music is one of the greatest privilege's ever awarded to humans. And to be able to PLAY this stuff ourselves, is an absolute blessing.

    _ _ _

    Thank you all for your graciousness. This kind of thing really makes some intolerable circumstances, well, Pretty tolerable.. I cant tell you all how much I appreciate the relationships I've developed with I don't know, 99.8% of you (was that the percentage SS??).. Hey even if I cant play "Jazz Guitar", I am blessed to be able to share this with all of you.

    Sincerely, Joe DeNisco

  43. #42

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    Joe,

    Beautiful playing as always. Obviously you've been sold a piece of junk, though. So I can help you by giving you maybe a hundred bucks for the Heritage so it won't be in the way. I'll even drive down to get it to save on shipping

    BTW, I miss the M-4 in the background on your newer vids. I feel less safe.

    Zig

  44. #43

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    Joe,
    Like yourself I value greatly the friendships
    forged here on this Forum, it is a good
    refuge sometimes when things are not going
    so well, and without overdue sentimentality
    we can liaise and share our joys , and sorrows.
    Coincidentally , my dear wife’s two favourite
    songs are ATTYA, and Long ago and far away
    plus Johnny Mathis is an all time favourite.
    The unkindly remark to you was unjustified.
    We don’t take kindly to our friends being
    insulted , it is not beyond the realms of
    possibility that one could don the alter ego
    of 007 and deal with the offender ( LOL)


    Kind regards my friend,
    Alan

  45. #44

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    Joe,
    Your guitar sounds probably the best to my ears of any I've heard you record. That comment should mean absolutely nothing, when you decide if it deserves to be one of your cherished keepers. When we play, it's absolutely vital that the guitar is one that we can play in total comfort and that the music is all we concentrate on. This is what creates the "perception" of a great guitar. Any struggle, ends up making the sound null and void. Some things on a guitar are changeable some are not. If you were a collector it would be easy, but you play them!
    Quote Originally Posted by Max405 View Post
    I look forward to growing with this guitar. I am not giving up on it.
    I had a great conversation with QAman last night and he opened my eyes to a few things. He is really a WEALTH of good solid information. I am going to look into getting a new nut for this guitar. Also, the pickup might have to go.
    Ive never given up on anything because of failure. So, I am not done yet with the HJS18..



    This is exactly one of the things me and Steve talked about last night. I might try some different strings too.
    But frankly, the sound of this guitar is brilliant with regular old TI12's. Thanks buddy.


  46. #45

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    Wonderful playing, Joe; lovely to listen to on a balmy November day in Boston.

    I always love the stories of fraternity on this board, and I have benefited from the wisdom, kindness, and patience of many longtime members.

    Thanks for the smile today

    -Chris

  47. #46

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    Having read this entire thread, including the two posts after mine, I'm afraid I may have been completely misunderstood, so I'll set it straight right here. Other than the sentence reading: "Beautiful playing as always," eveything else about the guitar was tongue in cheek, thus meaning the exact opposite of what I wrote. I guess the winky emoticon wasn't winky enough.

  48. #47

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    2b would be proud of your pics bro.

  49. #48

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    Those gold evo frets look sweet !

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    I have a horse like that. It actually took me about 2 years to bond with this horse. I had to learn his ways, learn how to partner with him. But when I did, it became a true journey together. Still have this horse though both he and I are showing some age.

    Some guitars I imagine are like that.
    I had to laugh, I wonder how many of us ride. My friend and I grew up together, he went to the great pastures of the sky over a dozen years ago and I haven't been in the right place in life to start again but I miss riding. Mine was a Houdini, unhooking latches with his halter, rolling under fences to escape. Laughing when he dropped me on logs instead of jumping...

    Measuring horses is done in hands, guitars in inches. Like Joe's Heritage 18 hands is a pretty big animal.

  51. #50

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    Brother Joe,

    That guitar is a keeper. You sound great on it and she will grow with you. Not all of the ponies in the stable were meant to be racehorses. A rose by any other name......
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass