Modern Fingerstyle Guitar

Phil Schappert

Composer   |   Guitarist

Guitars 'n Stuff!

Sundry Notes about Instruments & Equipment

Below you'll find miscellaneous notes about—and photos of—some of my guitars 'n performance stuff (larger photos will open in new pages).

Lowden O23c

Lowden O23c Jumbo

My ultimate dream guitar, my Lowden O23c is a '10 build of a red cedar and Claro walnut jumbo with a cutaway (useful for partial capo playing!). I bought it from an ex-Pat Brit in 2015 (after a couple of years with a red cedar and mahogany '91 Lowden O10–which went back to a previous owner—and 5 years with a '10 custom redwood and black walnut Crosby FS Elite as my main performance guitar). The O23c is always strung with EXP custom-gauge "true medium" strings tuned to Dsus4 (DADGAD).

Emerald X30 Multiscale Baritone

Emerald X30 Fan Fret Baritone

Custom-built in 2020, this carbon fibre (CF) guitar comes, like my Lowden, from Ireland, aka 'the Emerald isle'. It is a replacement for the Russel Crosby-built 2012 Jumbo Elite 26"—27.25" fan fret that I played on One Size Does Not Fit All. The X30, while also a jumbo-bodied guitar, is more stable (CF!) and has a wider 25.4"—27.1" fan. It's most often strung as a baritone with custom gauge EXP strings in Asus4 (AEADEA) tuning but can also be tuned to Dsus4 (DADGAD) or Csus4 (CGCFGC) with appropriate string choices.

Timberline T30HGc Harp Guitar

Timberline T30HGc Harp Guitar

After much humming, hawing & gnashing of teeth, I finally took the bull by the horns and bought myself a harp guitar. Harp guitars have always been very (very!) expensive but recently's Gregg Miner, and Rob Smith from Timberline Guitars, have made them affordable to the hoi polloi (ie. me!). I'm still learning, oh so s-l-o-w-l-y, how to play this beast...they are VERY different instruments!

There was just one small problem: how was I to reconcile frequent key & mode changes from using partial capos—over DADGAD no less—with the set tuning of the sub-bass strings on a harp guitar? Easy, peasy! Add sharping levers! For the blow-by-blow illustrated story of how I added the sharping levers for the sub-bass strings, see the guest post I wrote for Gregg's Blog!

Larrivée J09

Larrivee J09 Jumbo

This was my very first quality steel-string guitar, a late '90 spruce and East Indian rosewood jumbo that I bought—brand-spanking new—at Ring Music in Toronto in '91. It was also my intro to, and my subsequent opportunity to enjoy 3 years of study with, Don Ross. At our first meeting Don asked for, then briefly played, it and said, "Oh, good, you got the good one!" I had the guitar re-fretted and setup for heavy strings, again a custom set of EXPs, to suit Csus4 (CGCFGC) tuning, in Austin, TX in '05.

Rainsong 'Nashville' N-JM1100N2

Rainsong 'Nashville' Jumbo

Presumably a copy—right down to the sunburst!—of the iconic cowboy guitar, the Gibson J200 (hence 'Nashville'?), my '19 Rainsong jumbo is a CF guitar with a difference: it has Rainsong's new 'vintage' Soundboard Fusion Technology (SFT) top that fuses a very thin spruce soundboard to unidirectional carbon fibre in a single moulding step. The rest of the guitar, the back, sides and neck are all carbon fibre. Lately it has been my 'designated' Dsus2 (DADEAE) tuned guitar, using Martin Retro 'Monel' strings.

Other "Guitars," Old & New

Asturias 'Grand Solo' Custom

I also have newer, and one or two older, "guitars" that will get some play on future recordings. The new ones are another CF Emerald Multiscale, an OM sized '21 X20 with a 24.9"—26.3" fan. I ordered this with a 25"—26" fan so the 1.4" scale difference on this was a bit of a shock! Bad Emerald! But that error has led to a new CF Emerald Amicus, a short 18" scale unison-strung 6-course (12-string) guitar-ish-kinda-mandolin-like thingy...

One older "dream" guitar, a pristine cedar/mahogany '01 Tacoma ECM38c (easily equivalent to a Lowden F22c), an old Peate tenor banjo and a new new-to-me '06 Fylde 'Touchstone' octave mandola (spruce & mahogany) fill out my current tool collection. While the banjo, Fylde and Amicus are not "guitars" per se, the next CD will include some of my neo-celtic tunes so they will come in handy!

Performance Equipment

All of my guitars have Canadian-made Schatten HFN Player (passive) soundboard transducer (SBT) pickups, except the Larrivée which had a Fishman undersaddle transducer (UST) pickup with upper bout controls. I replaced the Fishman system with a new bone saddle and a custom-made Schatten HFN Artist (active) SBT wired to a pair of controls for the upper bout holes (instead of the stock soundhole wheel controls).

My small performance board has a Korg Pitchblack+ strobe tuner and A/B switch that lets me mute the board, as well as tune and switch between two guitars. The tuner outputs to a ToneDexter imaging preamp with a TC Electronic HoF (default 'Hall' patch) mini reverb and full-size TC Corona chorus pedals (tri-chorus, minimal settings) in the effects loop.

The ToneDexter output feeds a tiny but full-featured Bose T4S digital mixer which, together with a vocal mic (and other inputs as needed), outputs to a Bose L1 compact—often with a Behringer B1200D sub-woofer for that 'bit of extra thump'—and (or) a Bose S1 Pro. Secondary outputs from the T4S can also feed house systems for larger venues.


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