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  1. #1

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    For the folks who want to get into nylon string guitars with a more modern approach, Eastman in a relationship with John Buscarino is producing a Cabaret model based on JB's own Cabaret model. If I didn't already have on order a custom nylon guitar, I'd be tempted to check this one out. I have no affiliation with Eastman guitars, other than owning two ElRey4s.

    Summer NAMM 2019: Eastman unveils Romeo thinline, Cabaret acoustic



    Cabaret-JB - Eastman Guitars

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    As a classical-guitar player, I have to say I haven't heard a crossover that satisfies in any degree, but I'm a purist in these things, I admit.

    As for double top guitars with nomex, I have quite a bit of experience with them, again on classical guitars, and really do NOT like them at all. This guy claims they make you 30% louder, what he doesn't mention is that they change your tone. If you care much about moulding your sound through touch, then you might be dissapointed, as the sound leaps out really fast without you having much control at all. No matter how I tried to change the sound, it always sounded the same. The pursuit of volume over tone is folly, I think, but my comments are from the standpoint as a classical player. When I put my jazz or steel-string acoustic head on, I might think otherwise.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    For the folks who want to get into nylon string guitars with a more modern approach, Eastman in a relationship with John Buscarino is producing a Cabaret model based on JB's own Cabaret model. If I didn't already have on order a custom nylon guitar, I'd be tempted to check this one out. I have no affiliation with Eastman guitars, other than owning two ElRey4s.
    Thanks for posting this, Rob Taft. I have been on the hunt for an affordable (relatively speaking) used Buscarino Cabaret for awhile, and this may prove a more realistic alternative. (The 'real' Buscarino Cabarets have a base price of $8,500 new and a long wait time.) It would be nice if Eastman offered a version with rosewood back and sides, and perhaps a more traditional scale length (650mm vs. 634mm), but this may get me there. As to the nomex double-top guitars, I think those are limited to several of their steel string acoustics, although I believe Buscarino does offer a double top Cabaret.

    Rob MacKillop: given your experience with classical guitars, I'm curious if you've played lattice braced (versus fan braced) classical guitars and whether you have similar views regarding the 'loudness vs. sweetness' costs/benefits of the lattice braced system?

  5. #4

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    I have played one of John's original grand cabarets for decades now, especially at church. (Mine was 1 of 2 made for Gene Bertoncini. ) I agree with rob that on its best day it is still not what a true classical player seeks and I am not such a player. Perhaps like many on here I tried out various godin guitars, sand and turner,And even the Gibson chet chambered models, and the buscarino has been the most satisfying. I am always impressed with what Eastman does for the money so I suspect This model will sound great in the right hands.
    Gene would get his wonderful tone thru a polytone. I use an aer, And feel I get richer basses then I would with the other mentioned guitars.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmw2002

    Rob MacKillop: given your experience with classical guitars, I'm curious if you've played lattice braced (versus fan braced) classical guitars and whether you have similar views regarding the 'loudness vs. sweetness' costs/benefits of the lattice braced system?
    Yes, my last classical was a lattice, the "Luthier" model by Juan Hernandez. You can hear me play it here:



    It is a magnificent guitar, loud and clear, so why did I sell it? Well, I play without nails, usually on gut strings, opting for a softer attack, more Romantic, and this guitar - as with nomex, but maybe to a slightly lesser degree - did not allow me to shape the sound before it popped out. It is also a very heavy guitar. I prefer light classical, and now actually play a flamenco negra (Camps Amazon) with gut trebles and silk basses.

    So, I've nothing really against lattice guitars, other than saying they don't suit the way I prefer to play.

    By the way, that Django "improv" sounds very much at home on a classical, don't you think?

    Sorry to divert the thread a little, Rob Taft!

  7. #6

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    I speak with John fairly regularly and knew about this collaboration with Eastman. It is a great option for someone looking for a more a great playing, affordable hybrid nylon stringed guitar for amplified gigging. His collaboration with Eastman is very much like Ruan Thorell's collaboration with them on his Frank Vignola model.

    That said, I don't expect them to be the "same" as one of John's Cabaret models. The quality of the materials, construction, some design details differ beyond not being built by John. The woods that John used in my guitar had been in his shop for decades. I don't think that Eastman could price the guitar in East Indian Rosewood for the same price. John has quartersawn billets of EIR that he purchased back in the 1990s when it was both more available and affordable. I have owned a Cabaret for about 4 years now. Mine has a Carpathian Spruce (not a double top) and Honduran Rosewood back and sides.

    It is a different guitar to play than a classical guitar (I also own a Western Red Cedar/Black Cherry classical guitar by luthier Peter Oberg shown below). The nut on my Cabaret narrower (49.2 mm on mine), the scale is 648 mm and it of course has a Venetian cutaway. John also has a great 12 hole bridge design that allows you to vary the down pressure on the strings. It's timbre to my ear differs in how fast the sound develops (attack) and it really is well suited to jazz chord melody play. I think this has to do with how the top and carved back interact. My classical is more responsive to touch (actually more than what my right hand is skilled to play) and capable of producing more timbral "colors". Despite that, I play the Buscarino 3-4 times more than my classical because it is more FUN to play. I find it more suitable for someone not trained classically that moves between archtop and a nylon string guitar.



    My Buscarino is lattice braced (John originally fan braced these guitars but moved to lattice bracing across the years)



    My Oberg is fan braced but has some lattice braced aspects to it.


  8. #7

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    Elferink makes a Nylon Cutaway type of Archtop guitar ,which I would love to try.
    I believe there are pics on website under Custom Builds.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    I speak with John fairly regularly and knew about this collaboration with Eastman. It is a great option for someone looking for a more a great playing, affordable hybrid nylon stringed guitar for amplified gigging. His collaboration with Eastman is very much like Ruan Thorell's collaboration with them on his Frank Vignola model.

    That said, I don't expect them to be the "same" as one of John's Cabaret models. The quality of the materials, construction, some design details differ beyond not being built by John. The woods that John used in my guitar had been in his shop for decades. I don't think that Eastman could price the guitar in East Indian Rosewood for the same price. John has quartersawn billets of EIR that he purchased back in the 1990s when it was both more available and affordable. I have owned a Cabaret for about 4 years now. Mine has a Carpathian Spruce (not a double top) and Honduran Rosewood back and sides.
    iim7V7IM7: Your NGD posting from several years ago is what inspired me to begin the search for a Cabaret of my own. Yours is a gorgeous guitar and no doubt sounds fantastic.

    Not to derail the topic any further, but has anyone played any other nylon string crossovers that they would recommend adding to the search? I'm particularly curious about the Lowden Jazz series from Ireland, and the Goodall crossovers look terrific as well. guitar-range-jazz

  10. #9

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    FYI, John soon list these guitars on his website and will be an Eastman dealer for these and will offer some upgrades in pickup system and will fine tune setups.

    Stay tuned...

  11. #10

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    I'm a trained classical guitar player with a conservatory diplom.

    Even though I've tried every single nylon guitar out there with a narrower nut and a body/neck joint at the 14th fret, I wasn't able to bond with any of those, when I'm completely feeling at home with almost any 52mm nut, 12th fret neck/body joint. Only the cutaway was a feature I could live with.

    I guess I'm just the victim of over 50 years of muscular memory?

  12. #11

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    Rob, such gorgeous playing! And the articulation with sensitivity made it most revealing about what a fine classical guitar does in the hands of a pro.
    I was thinking that some of us might view a classical hybrid more in terms of its tonal alternative to the archtop we are used to playing, rather than its alternative to a true classical. (perhaps some of us came from more of a steel string background and have played classical guitars little) I think I would prefer to hear you play the Django piece on your guitar rather than my Buscarino. But if I heard you play my Buscarino after I had heard you play an archtop for a while, perhaps the context would make me think differently. Just some musings, but in any case, yes, that Django tune sounds wonderful on classical, especially in your treatment of it! Tnx for posting it.

  13. #12

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    I agree with rob. The double top classicals I tried were all fine instruments and pretty loud, but to me, especially the attack was very different on all of them and not to my liking...
    It reminds me a bit of my (short) experience with carbon fibre guitars, these also all had a very different attack that I didn't like.
    (And the loudest classical that I ever played wasn't a double top guitar BTW).

  14. #13
    My intent of posting was not to draw a comparison between conventional classical guitars and the associated repertoire but simply to make folks aware of the teaming arrangement between Eastman and John Buscarino. I own two high end classical/flamenco guitars and I would agree with Rob Mc that I haven't played a amplified crossover that compares with those guitars when it comes to nuance and un-amplified pure tone. That said, I don't play a whole lot of strictly classical pieces and mostly use my nylon strings for tonal variation and my own desire to mix it up technique and sound wise.

    I would agree with Bob (to many Roberts in this thread) that I don't expect Eastman to rival John Buscarino's workmanship or wood selections. But for folks who don't have 8K to spend this many get them closer.

    What I do like is Eastman continuing to team with renowned builders such has Ryan Thorell, John Bucarino and Otto D'Ambrosio (Yes, I know Otto works for Eastman). I like that Eastman is willing to partner with these builders to sell Eastman guitars out of the individual luthier's shops. The more the merrier, perhaps a Eastman John Monteleone Quattroporte in the future. At least Eastman is providing another revenue stream for these very talented builders.

    Bob, A question: Since you talk to Mr Buscarino, can you tell me why he moved away from the Barbera pickup for his Cabaret model. I ask because I'm having a headless nylon Orion with the TT fret system built for me by Chris Forshage and I requested a Barbera pickup based on all the positive feedback. I haven't heard one in person (Barbera) so I'm curious as to why John went in a different direction. rob

  15. #14

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    Sorry, Rob, for introducing the thread drift so early on. What you say about the collaboration between Eastman and Buscarino is very interesting. I'd like to try one out some day.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmw2002
    ...Not to derail the topic any further, but has anyone played any other nylon string crossovers that they would recommend adding to the search? I'm particularly curious about the Lowden Jazz series from Ireland, and the Goodall crossovers look terrific as well. guitar-range-jazz
    (Don't mean to derail Rob Taft's thread.)

    Kirk Sand guitars. Love them. Richard Prenkert, great guitars. Steve Holst makes them, too. And Paul McGill.

    For those who wish to spend below $2000, Tom Prisloe's Pavan with a good pickup-my choice is Rich Barbera's Soloist transducer-and preamp does the job. Jokes aside, even the Yamaha Silent Guitar Nylon sounds great amplified; you just do not get much pleasure from handling it as the fretboard and neck feels cheap because it is but soundwise I have no complaints. Rick Turner's Renaissance Nylon or the MiKorea Michael Kelly LN6 are worth exploring. Francisco Navarro guitars out of Paracho, Mexico are worth considering.

    The Eastman Cabarêt looks promising down to the oval soundhole and rope rosette-$850 option offered by John Buscarino if you ordered one from him. John Buscarino has made them with a 25" scale length of late. So, the Eastman offering reflects John's own thoughts on scale length for his Cabarêt modele. The choice of maple is good; I don't see a need for rosewood in a crossover amplified nylon string guitar. Flamenco Blanca guitars are made of funereal cypress and they sound great, too.

    Eastman makes the Cabarêt modele accessible and that is a good thing. (I have been working on that one, of Madagascar RW, out of San Francisco for the last 3 years but the seller is proving hard for me to work with.)

    PS I have a Paul McGill drop-shoulder nylon string. Bought it with a cracked headstock that was badly repaired; it buzzed on certain notes. Paul gave it a new neck, reusing the ebony fretboard and Sloane tuning machines. I paid $2000 for the new neck and I feel it is worth rescuing.

    PPS Flamenco Blanca guitars make good crossover guitars. The action is fast and low, the sustain is crisp and short. The crossover genre has a lot of flamenco and brazilian choro influence in it. I recall those days when Ottmar Liebert and the Assad brothers and sister were all the rage.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 07-28-2019 at 05:12 AM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft

    Bob, A question: Since you talk to Mr Buscarino, can you tell me why he moved away from the Barbera pickup for his Cabaret model. I ask because I'm having a headless nylon Orion with the TT fret system built for me by Chris Forshage and I requested a Barbera pickup based on all the positive feedback. I haven't heard one in person (Barbera) so I'm curious as to why John went in a different direction. rob
    John still uses and offers the Barbera pickup in some of his guitars (which is an excellent pickup). He did however find for his purposes, it was somewhat limiting in regards to setup and intonation. Due to the construction of the Barbera he cannot adjust the saddle dimensions with regard to radius, intonation and angle (height between the high and low E strings). There is also an aesthetic look many of his customers also prefer to having a bone saddle vs. the black colored Barbera. The Barbera has superior string separation, balance and power to any pickup he has ever tried. It also almost totally eliminates string squeak and noise. As a custom guitar builder, John still offers many different pickups based on the players needs and have used several brand and types of pickups.

    Additionally, a Barbera Soloist costs > 2x the Baggs LB6 so there is an economic component to Eastman’s choice of pickup for this model.
    Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 07-28-2019 at 09:42 AM.

  18. #17

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    The specs for the Eastman Cabaret reference a fingerboard radius of 30 inches. Can anyone comment on whether that's particularly noticeable vis-a-vis a more traditional "flat" classical fretboard or other crossover guitar(s) they've played? (I was unable to find a reference to fingerboard radius on the Buscarino Cabaret website, so assume they are either flat or very slightly radiused.)

    Also, does anyone have an idea what an "open pore" finish is like? (One of my classical guitars has the traditional French Polish, the other a light lacquer .... but I've never heard of "open pore.")

  19. #18
    I can't speak to Eastman's term "open pore" finish as it is mostly a marketing type term used by several mfgs not just Eastman. Basically it means that the wood was filled or not filled prior to application of lacquer. For the closed pore types of wood e.g. spuce, this doesn't mean much but I expect they are mostly talking about the back and sides. I guess unfilled and filled don't sound as great marketing wise. The Eastman guitars that I have seen don't suffer from thick finishes.

    As far as the radius go. 30 inches is pretty close to dead flat. A slight camber that may or may not be noticeable. Certainly not the noticeable difference one might get from a Kenny Hill Crossover or Godin at 16". Eastman's guitars are primarily built by hand so it is possible one might see slight variations in radius.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7
    John still uses and offers the Barbera pickup in some of his guitars (which is an excellent pickup). He did however find for his purposes, it was somewhat limiting in regards to setup and intonation. Due to the construction of the Barbera he cannot adjust the saddle dimensions with regard to radius, intonation and angle (height between the high and low E strings). There is also an aesthetic look many of his customers also prefer to having a bone saddle vs. the black colored Barbera. The Barbera has superior string separation, balance and power to any pickup he has ever tried. It also almost totally eliminates string squeak and noise. As a custom guitar builder, John still offers many different pickups based on the players needs and have used several brand and types of pickups.

    Additionally, a Barbera Soloist costs > 2x the Baggs LB6 so there is an economic component to Eastman’s choice of pickup for this model.


    Bob, Thanks for your reply and yes I was referring to his guitars not the Eastman model as I understand why they would use something less expensive. I noticed that he started using the James May UltraTonic pickup on the newest Cabarets and I guess that is for the reasons you provided.

    And like Jabberwocky, I also found it interesting regarding the scale length. Every Cabaret I've seen has been at 650mm and since I drooled over this model for quite a while, I've seen a bunch. For my Forshage I opted for the 25.5 due to the TT fret slot requirements.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Sorry, Rob, for introducing the thread drift so early on. What you say about the collaboration between Eastman and Buscarino is very interesting. I'd like to try one out some day.
    Rob, No need to apologize, I always appreciate your thoughts on matters of this type. I also agree with your comment about the thinner bodied crossover type vs full box classical but at nearly 70, I'm tending to opt more for comfort and ease of playing. That and I play mostly solo jazz arrangements.

  22. #21

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    My pleasure Rob. John is always interested in cutting edge technology and yes he has been using that pick up from James May. If you’re interested in the Eastman version of the guitar, why not buy one from John once they become available. He will set it up and put the pickup that best suits YOUR playing needs. Why not give him a call?

    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft

    Bob, Thanks for your reply and yes I was referring to his guitars not the Eastman model as I understand why they would use something less expensive. I noticed that he started using the James May UltraTonic pickup on the newest Cabarets and I guess that is for the reasons you provided.

    And like Jabberwocky, I also found it interesting regarding the scale length. Every Cabaret I've seen has been at 650mm and since I drooled over this model for quite a while, I've seen a bunch. For my Forshage I opted for the 25.5 due to the TT fret slot requirements.

  23. #22

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    Rob, John told me that he did not feel that the UltraTonic worked as well in the Cabaret so he’s back to the LB-6 with bone saddle or the Barbera Soloist these days. It's always a bit of “pick your poison" when it comes to pickup choices on a nylon stringed guitar. For maximum volume and clarity the Barbera is still the best. The LB-6 is similar and sounds better acoustically to John’s ears plus all the other advantages with setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft

    Bob, Thanks for your reply and yes I was referring to his guitars not the Eastman model as I understand why they would use something less expensive. I noticed that he started using the James May UltraTonic pickup on the newest Cabarets and I guess that is for the reasons you provided.

    And like Jabberwocky, I also found it interesting regarding the scale length. Every Cabaret I've seen has been at 650mm and since I drooled over this model for quite a while, I've seen a bunch. For my Forshage I opted for the 25.5 due to the TT fret slot requirements.

  24. #23

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    Here’s a video...


  25. #24

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    As for the Barbara pickup, I had a bad experience with the one John Buscarino installed in my 20 year-old Cabaret. I was playing for a memorial service of a departed fan in a church in Knoxville, and one of the pickups (there are six) failed and really through me for a loop as that particular string could not be heard for all practical purposes. The next week I reported what happened to JB and he told me I was not the first. He installed a new Barbara pickup at cost — and Rick Barbara repaired the bad one. Regardless, I switched back to using JB's Implant pickup which, to my ear, sounded better giving a more natural acoustic sound. It does require a preamp, for which I use a mono Pendulum preamp.

    Since then John has built me a double-top Cabaret and I have two pickups: a K&K and LR Baggs LB6. Of the two I prefer the LB6, which amazingly pickups up the natural tops vibration as well as the sting sound of the guitar. I mostly play small venues — but for larger venues I might have to deal with feedback. For now I am sold on the LB6 for my guitar — until someone develops something better. That is my experience, and l look forward to reading future posts as this is my first post as a new member. Thanks for the conversations.

  26. #25

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    BTW, I spoke with John last week. I believe the Eastman website reports the scale length in error. The model has a 648 mm scale length. The nut width is 49.2 mm (1-15/16”) and the saddle spacing is 57.2 mm (2-1/4”).

  27. #26

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    It sounds great in the above video! I'm not sure what more you could ask for,especially at that price?
    Sure if you are comparing it directly to a Bespoke high end luthier it won't be quite as good. But Eastman is doing great work at affordable prices a gigging player can afford.

  28. #27

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    Was just curious if anyone has seen/played one of these yet? After the attention generated by the NAMM announcement last summer, it seems to have gone quiet. I haven't been able to locate any for sale/trial in the US as of yet. The guitars'njazz website says they were coming in October 2019, but I've seen nothing since then.

    Just wondering ..... thanks.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    As a classical-guitar player, I have to say I haven't heard a crossover that satisfies in any degree, but I'm a purist in these things, I admit.

    As for double top guitars with nomex, I have quite a bit of experience with them, again on classical guitars, and really do NOT like them at all. This guy claims they make you 30% louder, what he doesn't mention is that they change your tone. If you care much about moulding your sound through touch, then you might be dissapointed, as the sound leaps out really fast without you having much control at all. No matter how I tried to change the sound, it always sounded the same. The pursuit of volume over tone is folly, I think, but my comments are from the standpoint as a classical player. When I put my jazz or steel-string acoustic head on, I might think otherwise.
    I don't know what you're talking about here. The Cabaret is not a double-top and no nomex is mentioned in the specs. It's a nylon string guitar with solid woods voiced for amplification with a slightly narrower than traditional nut to feel more like an electric. I don't know exactly what you're referring to here.

  30. #29

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    The thread has sufficiently derailed that I think I can legitimately post this...

    ...I've dabbled with the idea of a nylon string, although I am a steel string player and have never put serious time into nylon. The idea of a crossover is super-tempting and I've been very tempted (most recently by a Borys), but there some steel string guitars that can also fit this void. The more I play my Trenier Motif, the less I feel like I need a nylon string...plus the Trenier sounds great with a pick, not just fingers. I also note that Daniel Slaman has taken a different direction, building nylon string archtops. I guess I'm saying that the "crossover" concept is not just limited to smallish flat-top guitars with nylon strings...there are other ways to scratch the itch.

    Still, this Eastman looks interesting! Good for John B., who's a very nice guy and builds some of the best guitars out there.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolvinny
    The thread has sufficiently derailed that I think I can legitimately post this...

    ...I've dabbled with the idea of a nylon string, although I am a steel string player and have never put serious time into nylon. The idea of a crossover is super-tempting and I've been very tempted (most recently by a Borys), but there some steel string guitars that can also fit this void. The more I play my Trenier Motif, the less I feel like I need a nylon string...plus the Trenier sounds great with a pick, not just fingers. I also note that Daniel Slaman has taken a different direction, building nylon string archtops. I guess I'm saying that the "crossover" concept is not just limited to smallish flat-top guitars with nylon strings...there are other ways to scratch the itch.

    Still, this Eastman looks interesting! Good for John B., who's a very nice guy and builds some of the best guitars out there.
    BTW, John is a dealer for these for Eastman and is expecting a few soon.

  32. #31

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    So for the people who are purists and have higher standards. Where do you gig and or what studio recording paid sessions are you doing currently?

    Imnnnot trying to be Snarkey, but remember Tommy Tedesco used a $99 Yamaha Classical used guitar on many recordings we all grew up with.
    T.V. Show "Mash" comes to mind,lol!