May 2011 Mass St Music Staff Picks!!!

Oh joy! It’s finally Spring! And that means a fresh crop of gear we’re tending in our guitar garden. Here’s what we’ve been ogling lately at Mass St Music:

John FlynnAnderson Classic

Great pure “quiet” strat tone in a guitar that plays and looks phenomenal. I love the VA Booster which takes the guitar from Vintage 50s into the 60s with ease.

Anderson Classic Electric Guitar

John's #1 this month, Anderson's 'Mellow Yellow' Classic

Jim Baggett –  Collings D2H Custom Vintage Now 1 3/4″

We just received three wonderful Collings D2Hs.  All three are great  Sitka Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides guitars as one would expect.  All are also our Custom Collings we’ve been ordering with no tongue brace, plus Adirondack Spruce bracing for increased resonance. The difference between these is the necks.  The ‘regular’ D2H Custom has 1-11/16 nut width, the second has a 1-3/4 nutwidth and the third has the Vintage now neck which is 1-3/4 ” at the nut but slightly wider at the bridge.  I was starting to feel like Goldilocks, but after trying them all, my “Just Right” D2H, for me, was the Vintage Now.  Having gotten used to bigger necks over the years, this one gives me the room for hammer ons  and pull offs without bumping into the adjacent strings. All three necks are valid and have their own fan club. This one just works best for me.


Collings D2H Custom

Jim's favorite of the three Collings Custom D2H guitars: The D2H VN

Tim NelsonEastman E10D

This is a tremendous value for anyone looking for an Adirondack topped traditional dread.  It sounds like a dread should, with a big, powerful voice and excellent bass response. Great solid value.

Eastman E10D Acoustic Guitar

Tim's favorite is one of the store's best deals

Matthew KhomsiYamaha MM8

I love this keyboard.  It has SO many amazing sounds – I couldn’t believe it!  The keys are weighted in a very comfortable way and it’s super light weight.  What more could you ask for?

Yamaha MM8 Keyboard

Matthew's pick is the super versatile Yamaha MM8 Keyboard

Alek NelsonEastman AC712CE

Eastman guitars, for the money are the absolute best buy. This guitar is handcrafted with a solid Englemann Spruce top,  and solid Rosewood back and sides. The top is individually-voiced with scalloped X-bracing. The neck is hand-fitted to the body with a dovetail joint. Each guitar is finished with a Rosewood headstock overlay, Ebony fingerboard, bridge and bridge pins, and a hand-rubbed nitro-cellulose gloss lacquer finish. I can’t say enough good things about these guitars. I like them so much in fact, that I just bought one for my self!

Eastman AC712CE Acoustic Guitar

Alek liked this one so much he bought one himself!

Repair ShopJosh BaldridgeK&K Pickups

K&K Pickups have grown in popularity over the past three years and won over the guys in the shop.  They are a passive (i.e. no battery) soundboard transducer with a line signal as strong as most active options. I’ve picked two because they’re both great for their purpose.

K&K Pure Mini
The K&K Pure Mini is their guitar model and it does the job really well.  Compared to a bright and quacky piezo system, the warm and woody tone of the Pure Mini represents your specific instrument more accurately.  I recommend this pickup for customers who need to plug in for solo acoustic or string band applications, not for full band situations where you need the headroom of a Fishman Infinity in order to avoid feedback problems.  Installation by our shop for this pickup is $80.

K&K Mandolin Twin Internal
The K&K Mandolin Twin Internal is the mandolin pickup right now.  It works amazingly well in every situation and sounds better than others that we have carried in the past.  All of our customers have loved the rich tone and ease of use the Mando Twin provides.  Installation is tricky, but we have really fine tuned the placement and procedure since we started carrying these a few years ago.  Installation by our shop for this pickup is $85-$100.

K & K Pure Mini Pickup

One of Josh's pickup picks - the K & K Pure Mini

Repair ShopMatt HarmonFralin Pure PAF 8k & Fralin Tele Blues Special Strat Polarity Bridge Pickups

Lately Josh and I in the Repair Shop have been focusing a lot on pickups, so this month I thought I would share my own current Tele pickup setup. I’ve always loved the look of telecasters with a humbucker in the neck, but as I found out after installing it, getting a good sound was more than just an easy solder joint away.  Some of the biggest obstacles ahead of me were matching potentiometers and capacitors with their matching pickups and making sure the polarity in the pickups matched. I chose Fralin pickups for my project because Lindy makes great pickups and has the largest variety that we carry in the store. I ended up installing the Fralin 8k Humbucker in the neck but for this article I’m going to pick the Fralin Pure PAF 8k instead because it’s a great pickup and we only have one left in stock!

For the bridge I chose the  Fralin Tele Blues Special Strat Polarity Bridge Pickup.  I chose this because normal Tele pickups are a different polarity than other single coils or humbuckers and if you plan on having a usable middle pickup sound with a pickup other than a normal tele pickup, then you really need this one.  NOTE: Look for Matt’s follow up posting soon with pictures showing how he wired all the pickups together. Email us at if you’re interested in changing out your pickups.

Jesse RobertsDeering Maple Blossom

This banjo just feels good. It plays so smooth and easy, it’s hard to put down. It has great volume, especially for an open back, and a surprisingly rich response that still sounds focused. The curly maple, stained dark walnut looks great. An all around beauty.

Deering Maple Blossom Banjo

Jesse's pick is 'smooth and easy' to play

Isaac FlynnGretsch 6121 Roundup

The second I saw this guitar, I wanted to buy it. This guitar has tons of vibe, and it has an incredibly full tone. The bass is very present, but I enjoy electrics that pack some low end. I also saw Jack White playing a Roundup on Conan, which makes this guitar even cooler.

Gretsch Round Up Electric Guitar

Isaac's pick 'o the month! Yee-haw!

Anne TangemanSnark Tuners

Seems every year there is a new tuner that is better or more accurate than the last and here is that one for this year – and yes, it really is better! Whether you’re into a clip on, or a more traditional style, you’ll find the Snark to be a real improvement. This is super responsive, deadly accurate and the price is good too.

Snark Clip On Tuner

The Snark Tuner - better? You bet.

ChuchoDunlop D65 Guitar Polish

Chucho has a tough time working the pump on this bottle, but he’s a dog, so we cut him a little slack. He’s here so much we thought we’d put him to work polishing up guitars around the place. He’s proven again the reliability of this old standby that our own repair shop uses to keep guitars clean. Essential!

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