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By the same token, I do encourage guitar players to play with their hands. In other words, play around a little bit and discover what your hands can do. There’s a beauty in the way your hands are shaped—no one else has got that, so you’re going to make a different tone, which guarantees us each if we practice, if we spend the time on it, each of us is going to bring out our own tone.
Actually, Jimmy depends on us doing that, to bring something fresh to this gig, you know what I mean? And I’m just curious in nature. I love to sing, I love to play and I love to write lyrics, too. It’s all just an expression of who I am and what I do. I’d go crazy if I just had one thing. I just don’t want to get stale, you know? Variety brings me peace. Ever since I heard the Beatles and I heard classical music and rock and roll and Bo Diddley, I’m just so jazzed by music—it’s the way I think the world keeps its sanity.
Tell me about the new acoustic that you and Dick Boak put together?
It’s incredible. First of all, Dick is incredible. He’s always been right there whether it’s for charity work, for helping us out as artists with our guitars or anything. So, thank you, Dick.
Okay, so Mac came to me and said he noticed I was playing up on my neck a lot and that it looked like I couldn’t quite get there with my regular cutaway. He had heard that there was something called a Schoenberg cutaway in the Martin books, so we went to Dick and asked him to build a couple and he did.
I understand Mac McAnally’s custom Martin didn’t fare so well.
What happened to Mac’s is, after a couple of months it was starting to open up because he was playing it a lot. That’s when it got squashed between two road cases. I tell you, there was nothing left of that thing. We’re talking toothpicks. He ordered a new one though and it’s phenomenal, as well.
What kind of pickup did you go with in your Martin?
I’ve been a Fishman guy all my life. I’ve got an Ellipse system with a mic in there right now. I’ve used the mic a little bit but I’ve got to tell you, the pickup sounds phenomenal. I’ve got an Infinity system on the way, I’m excited to try that out, too.
Last question—is there one that got away?
Oh yeah, man! I know exactly what you mean. When you said that I felt a pain right here in my back. I had a Gibson L-5. It was a beautiful blond, jazz guitar. I don’t know what year it was, but it must have been like a ’63 or ’64. It was beautiful. It had gold hardware and it just sounded incredible! I was a young pup and I didn’t know what to do with it. Pat Metheny started playing a new guitar synth so I traded that for a Roland guitar synth. Nothing against Roland, of course, because I still use their guitar synth and their VG88 system in my own band, but that was probably the dumbest trade I’ve ever made. That guitar today might be worth about 40 grand, but more importantly, it was just a beautiful soulful guitar. That’s my one that got away.