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Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Audio System




... after sparingly listening to my system, it's simply wonderful turning it ON and having some music... and aural memory clicks from this...





... to this...





... it's like listening to a brand-new system, not my own... which I'd so gladly buy again and again...

A lover affaire.








Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ears and hearing - The ear and perception of sound






The study of the structure of the ear is a study in physiology. The study of human perception of sound comes under the general heading of psychology.


Psychoacoustics is an inclusive term embracing the physical structure of the ear, the sound pathways, the perception of sound, and their interrelationships. Psychoacoustics, quite a recent term, is especially pertinent to this study because it emphasizes both structure and function of the human ear.

The stimulus sound wave striking the ear sets in motion mechanical movements that result in neuron discharges that find their way to the brain and create a sensation. Then comes the question,

How are these sounds recognized and interpreted ?





In spite of vigorous research activities on all aspects of human hearing, our knowledge is still woefully incomplete.

Sensitivity of the Ear

The delicate and sensitive nature of our hearing can be underscored dramatically by a little experiment. A bulky door of an anechoic chamber is slowly opened, revealing extremely thick walls, and three-foot wedges of glass fiber, points inward, lining all walls, ceiling, and what could be called the floor, except that you walk on an open steel grill work. A chair is brought in, and you sit down. This experiment takes time, and as a result of prior briefing, you lean back, patiently counting.

The Ear and the Perception of Sound - Alton Everest (from The Master Handbook Of Acoustics): http://wiki.dxarts.washington.edu/sandbox/groups/general/wiki/9e11b/attachments/012ef/The%20ear%20and%20the%20perception%20of%20sound%20-%20Alton%20Everest%20%28from%20The%20Master%20Handbook%20Of%20Acoustics%29.pdf?sessionID=a4ebd3f43afa7fffb5c21749aed42be63973d1df







Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Grateful Dead - The Ultimate Dark Star




Listening to The Grateful Dead's "The Ultimate Dark Star" 3-LPs - a loop-like experience, 6 sides long, 100+ different live performances of seminal Dark Star from 1969 to 1993 and layered and edited by John Oswald, with Dick Latvala's and Bob Weir's blessing and support ... WOW! 

Feel "Grayfolded"

http://www.hottracksmusicstore.com/products/gratefuldead-johnoswald-grayfolded3lp180gram-theultimateextendeddarkstar-gatefold








It's such a sonic and musical experience...



The MooreSpeed R 100 GS




Wow...





... and yeah!






Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lenkong B-55 - the Noshid platter




... at last, after some weeks lost at the paint workshop, here is the definitive Lenkong platter!

It's 5.5 kilos aluminium alloy with bronze bearing/spindle hole and it's 32 cm diameter, like the cool Shindo platter and with its recessed top, it accepts both original sought-after, expensive BUT superb Shindo mat and OEM cork mats or whatever you wish to use.

The finish is also reminding Shindo's - only wise and cool difference: the platter underside isn't painted (sic...) so the idler-wheel is spinning on a friendly, even surface.




As the late Ken Shindo never did a Lenco dedicated platter, I respectfully named my platter with a Middle-Eastern hinting anagram - i.e. Noshid.

I'm sure Ken would forgive me - from the audio mavens heaven - as I've been a scholar and admired his work as a fan most of my life, always in debt for his teachings.

The sound... more to come... just stay tuned... first spinning and careful stethoscope tasting with the dedicated, bespoke, oversized bearing says "OK!", definitely.

The improved lathing precision and increased thickness on top plus the added peripheral mass, all these details... well, will make Lenkong a Lenco statement, hopefully.

Now waiting for the plinth and in few weeks the duckling will be a swan...







... aehm, a swan:-)





Friday, September 19, 2014

Kenny Wheeler passed away yesterday, September 18th, 2014




A sad, sad world it is, folks... now Kenny and his flugelhorn will really be singing for angels.




R.I.P. sincerely and thanks for being.




...






Great Studios' Dept. - Stefano Amerio's ArteSuono, in Cavalicco, near Tavagnacco, Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy




Yes, pals... jokingly, I fussily specified where Stefano's studio is... a small, tidy and tiny town, near a mid-sized city in Northern Italy, only few dozens miles from Slovenia and Austria's borders.

It's out of the fast highways of music industry, like Paris, Milan, Berlin, London or NYC... one of the reasons of ArteSuono studio's successes and awards, but not the main one...



I arranged to visit Stefano Amerio's studio, early this week and we timely met at his place for an informal chatting which I planned in ten minutes, as I well knew how to approach, out of my own and my readers curiosity, the matter.

Sometimes a sound engineer suffers of youth average music-playing and relative stresses... i.e. - not being a musicians but loving music, got a studio... sure not Stefano's case.

He got formal classical music education and played piano most of his life... but as a young, he also got intrigued by rock and jazz, and - most of all - by live music, attending, still in his teens, to gigs at a local place called "Cadillac", where he met top musicians like Glauco Venier, Giovanni Maier, U.T. Gandhi and others which are still good, best friends since then.

While chatting with Stefano, what was more than apparent was the friendships bonding in music, good food and good time and... humbleness and no-frills overall-approach to life.

This 47 years old professional, who recorded 1.500+ disks, 40+ for ECM, but also for ACT,  Label Bleu and... have a look here below for an impressive list, candidly told me and remembered when he got a loan from his dad to buy some car-worth costing studio equipments, namely Tascam's gears,with a promise - i.e. if you will not be able to make your living on these gears after one year, you'll find a job, or something...

A job vs. a mission... something which is hard work, looooong hours of attention to details, patience, but, also a skill which is more of an artisan than a technician or an electronic clerk of some sort.




ArteSuono... all is in these words, the name of Stefano's own studio and record label... Arte, art of course, which is music and good taste, a broad sense of aesthetic, from what sounds good to a listener ears to the pleasure of handling a nice disk jewel box and Suono, sound... because music played in an anechoic room doesn't contain all its information, harmonics, decay and infinite fractalities which can make also a glass crashing on the floor a musical event... when properly captured on a proper storage media.

Chatting in front of the huge OTARI Elite Plus 78 channels (39 stereo) analog mixer, with large Genelec speakers and a screen monitor for Pro-Tool, was such a pleasure, as mr. Amerio is a nice conversator and his memory lane is so full of interesting and amusing short tales and stories: the first time that Enrico Rava entered the studio door... bemused by the place - a small studio, as it was a few years ago - before expanding to the actual three large rooms.

Yet, Rava, in his Electric Five period, introduced by Glauco Venier to Stefano,  gave a chance to the young Tonmeister; Stefano still vividly remember when Enrico himself, while soloing on his horn in the studio and getting the monitor sound at his earspeakers, loudly esclamed his sincere appreciation with his very own, unique voice... for the premium monitoring he was getting.

From this first sessions, ArteSuono studio got more and more into jazz and related territories - Stefano's very first jazz recording was Glauco Venier's "L'Insium" (the dream) - without forgetting classical works... untired and always enthusiast,  Stefano Amerio,  a renowned pro since 1990, recorded and recorded and recorded and mastered and mixed and...

He travelled to Capodistria to record on a Steinway piano, years ago not so common... now he has a Fazioli F 278 grand piano in his studio...




A superb, vintage Neumann SM 69 stereo mike and the Fazioli F 278, open lid... 


When he began to record, he had a AKG 414, then a Neumann U 87... now he owns and uses the very best mikes... Stefano, who call himself "crazy for mikes", loves B & K and DPA 4006 and 4011's, but also SM and USM-69 by Neumann's... and Schoeps'... never without'em, he told me... just look over the Fazioli's!



The suspended, hanging "thing" is a laser to tune the right positioning of the Shoeps' mikes on Fazioli's soundboard...


He still looks for good mikes on Ebay, like myself and many others... what - as a pro - he gets more than the average amateur recordist is premiuim capsules matching at Neumann's or DPA or AKG, where he also got some original C-12 sputtered-gold diaphragms for his The Tube's mikes... jealous!


... a cool CAD-E100 for bass drum kit...



... and Manley's and... and...



Visiting the studio, Stefano was humbly saying that it's like a garage for cars... where cars are fixed or tuned to better perform... ArteSuono is not a stardom place, yet, you can find Manfred Eicher or Steve Lake producing this or that ECM's musician... but Anouar Brahem, Enrico Rava, Stefano Bollani, Paolo Fresu, Ralph Towner, Bobo Stenson, Norma Winstone, Evan Parker and many, many, many more are - simply and totally - after music, like Stefano Amerio is.

Here are some names, artists and labels, Stefano worked with:


ECM / DREYFUS / VERVE / UNIVERSAL / CAMJAZZ / BMG / EMI / LABEL BLEU / BLUE NOTE / ACT / Skip Records / El Gallo Rojo Records / Splasc(h) / Auand / Caligola / Abeat / Enrico Rava / Aldo Romano / Joe La Barbera / Doug Yowell / Paolo Fresu / Omar Sosa / Rosario Giuliani / Francesco Cafiso / Kenny Wheeler / Fred Hersch / Ralph Towner / Jonh Taylor / Bobo Stenson / Vigleik Storaas / Fontaine Burnett / Kevin Bents / Martin Tingvall / Edward Simon / Amina Alaoui / Iva Bittova / Carla Bley / Norma Winstone / Lee Konitz / Mark Copeland / Huw Warren / Sam Most / Mark Helias / John Zorn / Evan Parker / Luca Aquino / Tomasz Stanko / Tor Yttredal / Roscoe Mitchell / Joey Barron / Han Bennik / Steve Swallow / Miroslav Vitous / Raffaello Pareti / Furio Di Castri / Jormin Anders / Marc Ribot / Paul McCandless / Marilyn Crispell / John Parricelli / Phil Markowitz / Stan Sulzmann / Nikki Iles / Thomas Morgan / Kevin Bents / Fontaine Burnett / Ari Hest /Misha Alperin / Anouar Brahem / Dominique Pifarély / Dino Saluzzi / Anja Lechner / Susanna Wallumrod / Giovanna Pessi / Yang Jing / Pierre Favre / Gianluigi Trovesi / Rudy Valente / Elisabetta Antonini / Maria Pia De Vito / Eivind Aarset / Jason Rebello / John Abercrombie / Jonathan Gee / Frank Harrison / Louis Stewart / Peter King / Jeremy Brown / Anke Helfrich / Stephen Keogh / Eric Vloeimans / Christian Muthspiel / Martin France / Michael Godard / Swinger Singers / John Law / David Shea / Tamara Obrovac / Benedikt Janel / Antonio Miguel / Owen Howard/ Emanuel Bex / Johnny Neel / Klaus Gesing / Danilo Gallo / Francesco Bearzatti / Giovanni Mazzarino / Nico Morelli / Paolino Dalla Porta / Eugenio Macchia / U.T. Gandhi / Giovanni Maier / Roberto Gatto / Michele Rabbia / Zeno De Rossi / Gianlivio Liberti / Michele Salgarello / Stefano Bagnoli / Gianluca Petrella / Dado Moroni / Daniele Di Bonaventura / Furio Di Castri / Enzo Favata / Xavier Girotto / Giovanni Guidi / Giovanni Mazzarino / Andrea Pozza / Paolo Birro / Umberto Petrin / Fabrizio Puglisi / Stefano Battaglia / Stefano Bollani / Glauco Venier / Rosario Bonaccorso / Marco Tamburini / Simone Guiducci / Ettore Fioravanti / Achille Succi / David Boato / Marcello Allulli / Giorgio Pacorig / Gaetano Valli / Nevio Zaninotto / Daniele D'Agaro / Domenico Caliri / Roberto Cecchetto / Pietro e Marcello Tonolo / Danilo Rea / Maurizio Giammarco / Piero Leveratto / Ares Tavolazzi / Fabrizio Sferra / Saverio Tasca / Vinicio Capossela / EVA / Elisa / Bruno Lauzi / Sergio Endrigo / Rossana Casale / Simply Red / Pooh / Milva / Antonella Ruggiero / Adriano Celentano / 883 / Ultranaté / 99 Posse / Roy Paci / Robert Miles / Tenores di Bitti / Clobeda's / Nosisà / Zuf de Zur / Gigi Maieron / Strepitz / Furclap / Dario Zampa / FLK / Lino Straulino / Aldo Giavitto / BTK / Crash / W.i.n.d. / Link / Bandelia / Cuinon / Arbe Garbe / Remo Anzovino and more...

Impressive list, doesn't it?


Yet, no sexy, tall ladies named Philippa or Portia to welcome and open the door or make a coffee as I found in some London's studio... Stefano's mom tried to put a phone call through while Stefano and myself were chatting... his dad was mowing the lawn, in the nearby garden of the Amerio's family house.

Easy: normal people making extraordinaire things.

I'm sure NOT downsizing the studio facility describing it as "normal"... yet, it's so normal with its out-board gears and monitors, and mikes and sliding glass doors, as a studio isn't a temple without its priest... aehm, the Tonmeister, Stefano Amerio, was able to tailor with his quiet and no-frills approach, both a technical and human place where, strange enough, there is not the usual glass window which makes playing and recording musicians to see and look at the sound engineer and vice-versa.

Musicians are sure able to see each others, of course... this alone, in my opinion, makes ArteSuono studio someway and more a one-of-a-kind studio.



No intimidating people looking at knobs while playing and recording.

Cool.

ECM... mmmhhh... beside already being a successful studio owner, Stefano admits he had goose-bumps when, via Enrico Rava and Glauco Venier and Anouar Brahem, Manfred Eicher entered the studio... and he realized something was changing for him... in better, of course.

They got more and more reciprocal confidence, made of empathy and serious, hard work, recording both in Cavalicco and at RSI - Radio Svizzera Italiana studio in Lugano with its superb Studer Vista 8 digital mixer and then remixing the audio files at ArteSuono and some tales where told to yours truly on the matter by mr. Amerio, during our chatting.

Life and music, music and life... and dedication and commitment to the final result.

Humbly...

Further, a few silly questions were answered by a patient, always smart, smiling and gentle Stefano, here in random order: miking patterns used are... XY, ORTF, Blumlein, multi... everything needed and depending on the mood and necessity, without strongly advocating this or that; some Lexicon's reverberation is used, no EMT "gold leaf", but also natural reverberation is nicely used in studio.

Stefano's desert island disc? Dark Side of the Moon, which changed his life... a disk copy on Original Master Recordings was on mixer, by chance, and an autographed vinyl cover - by Pink Floyd full original members - of this seminal masterpiece is cherished by Stefano, as well.

His sound engineer of choice, his master? James Farber and his Avatar studios in NYC.

The recording he's prouder... not a sharp, single reply... yet, he's very, VERY proud of final, overall result about Giovanna Pessi's "If Grief Could Wait" on ECM 2226.




Italian province, narrow country roads, where slow driving is a must... nearby hills, where also Fazioli grand pianos are hand made, three per month, not hurrying up... in Sacile, only few miles from Amerio's place.

Quality, human-sized and managed activities... food, wine, music... this is Friuli, the italian province where Art and Sound blends with Nature... and Music blossoms from Stefano Amerio's hands.

Simply... like being compared to Jan Erik Kongshaug, Martin Wieland and James Farber.

Naturally.


Thanking Stefano Amerio for his time, hosting and patience and for making our three hours long meeting like a ten minutes chat.



I sincerely wish to him all the success he deserves.








Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday's Disk - Krakatau - Matinale (ECM 1529)




A great overlooked disk, pals... found it for a coffee at the local flea market, this morning... what a disk!

Seldom heard textures from Finland.


Better reading Tyran's always great review about the disk, instead having a lesser me just saying wow and cool and...




Worth listening to this... and, as a plus, a superb quality recording by Martin Wieland in glorious AAD!





Saturday, September 13, 2014

Missing Frank Zappa dearly













Let's support Kenny Wheeler!





He's the flugelhorn poet we all know and NOW, after decades of music and AWESOME recordings and concerts, he's needing everybody support, folks.





Let's demonstrate Kenny and his wife that music is love!






Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beauty... ahem Beaute' Dept. - Chateau de Champ de Bataille



Yes, folks... this very place is like a dream... XXI's century Versailles... Jetson's boxwood hedges, weird fountains and an atmosphere which is both wrong (in the best, provoking sense of it...) and supremely right.

Jacques Garcia's masterpiece... 



Enjoyed it immensely, indeed.

Also have a look here for more and more about this wonderful place.



Thanking Monty Dons for suggesting this seldom seen beaute'.





Monday, September 8, 2014

Head in the clouds and feet on the ground






... usually, the above was my mode of choice... but, nonetheless, I feel much better living reversed these days, better: voiding the "ground", at all... so this pix of my foot, few hours ago, is... well, almost and humbly said, iconic and my best personal (self) wish for yours truly.




Living the dream, walking into it and calling it real.

Whatever the dream is, will be or mean...









Friday, August 29, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fiddle, fiddle, fiddling... seeking for the core



Yes... for the sake of fiddling... when you're after audio, experimenting also weirdest or worst, wrongest thing on your audio system is salt to life and passion in the passion.

Yesterday, a lazy rainy saturday afternoon, pretty right for indoor activities, I ran something I was thinking since some days: kept the whole Gotorama and Mayer's preamp(s) and Hiragas' amps OFF...

Then disconnected the Goto S-150 and SG 570DX horn/drivers from their dedicated Hiraga Le Classe amp and connected straight into the superb, sought-after, yet humble 1,7W Luca Chiomenti's Scherzo integrated amp and...




Some words about Luca Chiomenti, an incredibly talented and skilled audio artisan and illuminated italian builder and designer from Naples, Italy.

He's one of the handful people on the planet who exactly knows how to obtain this or that sound from a transformers, a coil or a tube.

His masterfully built amps are a rare breed and highly praised among the better hearing music and audio scholars, in Italy and abroad... only caveat: Luca's amps aren't made in large quantities, so it's basically a word-of-mouth, legendary legacy of people owning his gears, mostly friends and friends-of-friends.

The late Kondo-san, Kang Su Park, Serge Schmidlin and Thomas Mayer are other illuminated I'm aware of who really knows how their gears really sounds and/or how to change any given parameters, like a composer uses minor or mayor modes or a painter uses darker or brilliant colors on the canvas.

Sure I'm not saying the above mentioned audio designers are the only making musical gears... but, VERY often, good audio is commonly considered when it's the most weighty, expensive, LED-blinking with pimp-like mirror brushed faceplates.

Music and music reproducing at home, well... let me say, is something different.




I listened to amazingly nice sounding piece of gears mounted on a shitty, raw plywood slab and superbly crafted and polished, sexy boxes so embarrassingly badly sounding...

Sometimes, same prototype, when made sexier, swapped from wood-mount to alu box, with binding posts instead of screws and best RCAs' on the market vs. hard-wired to the circuit... well, shit happens and all the effort to make a given amp or preamp better looking, makes it so, but lesser sounding.

See also here, Charles Altmann's BYOB... illuminating, as well.

Look at Audio Consulting's room... it seems and reminds a mad scientist's laboratory... but, hey, what you hear at Serge's isn't sound, anymore... it's music... MUSIC... M U S I C.

Are Serge or Luca lunatics who simply hate alu boxes and only praise for wood-only boxes?

... or do they hear and know how to listen to music... do they know when sound transforms into music?

How this happens?

Dunno... but it happens: if you're after listening to music, you should leave your ears and soul in open-mode, child-like attention... you've not to lie to yourself.

There is no need to lie, when you're ON and open.

Only this way your path, a music and knowledge path worth a life of dedication and satisfaction for also the tiniest advancement, is the path to be walked, in awe and supreme enjoyment.

You sure cannot measure listening pleasure but we all recognize it... and not every - let's call it - distortion is measured, but sure as hell... you can detect and hear it.

Shit happens...

The above reminds me when a new abyss creature or a butterfly or monkey or bird is discovered somewhere... usually the news are given with apparent surprise, almost an humankind offended surprise - i.e. hey, we have iPad/iPhone/Facebook, so we have technology and science... how, HOW dare Nature to hide something to us?!?!

Nature, Man and senses are supremely fractal... so, undigital and unclustered and free and wild and always surprising... fucking any caging and category and expertise.

The trick is to let ears to listen to.

Like Man likes freedom, He likes uniqueness... beautiful defects which becomes uniqueness... my wife beautiful nose, Uma Thurmann's beauty, not a surgery-nightmare created inflated lips or tits... unnatural, OMG homogenized perfection.

... and...

... what I'm saying is I'm listening to a 220-3.500 hz completely wrong narrow-band horn speakers pair,  116 db efficiency with a 1,7W PCL82 integrated amp, hand-built with hand-woven irons and what I hear is the very soul of anything I'm pleased to try... ECM, female, barytone woodwinds, guitars... I listen to piano felt, spring operated guitar amps reverbs, multi tracks opening of a mixer fader, mouthwatering lips... shoes on studio floor.... everything is here.

Hic et nunc.

Something that with my Gotorama is only - sometimes almost perfectly, sometimes not - hinted, here I'm - also if so limited in bandwidth - experiencing something supreme, which opens a new level of natural listening introspection and search and fiddling to obtain 30-20.000hz same rightness... same naked beauty.

Luca Chiomenti's Scherzo isn't an audio salon kind of gears... humble, a duckling... wooden frame and alu top, two triode-connected Mullard PCL 82 tubes...  hand/hard-wired and cheaply looking... but a musical stargate.

Sure other amps which so clearly states the boundary between sound and music do exist... as always, folks, I'm sharing my findings... I'm only a limited, fragile individual, so this is my first-hand experience.

I'm not after any sale of shark-oil or the like... no teachers or pupils, no business... it's a very private and personal path, as I told you.

Sharing here as something possible... being so surprised to be speechless and righteous to the last cells.

Yes...

A very, very rewarding new window opened for yours truly: a new passive, bespoke 4 ways passive crossover, whatever...


Thanking Luca Chiomenti and Serge Schmidlin for the inspiration... and my dear pal Lo for being a lighthouse for yours truly.



... and lovingly thanking my Mom, for my ears and fractal curiosity (sic...) and humbleness and braveness.











Friday, August 22, 2014

The Audio Federation




A great idea from Boulder, CO (USA), not simply a links list, but lively, daily updates from the world of Blogging and Webzines...









... a daily window on music & audio... pure fresh air.



Blog of The Week - Bart Wreck






Superb Blog, folks... a truly cool find...





... and an impossible pix...






Rare Wax Dept. - Captain Beefheart & Ry Cooder's interviews on Warner Bros. (Mono WB PRO 447)




This is REALLY a seldom seen, sought after piece of musical history, folks...








... mmmmhhhh... 











Bert Jansch & Heather Jansch - Living with the Legend, the book





Cool book from Bert's former, ex-wife Heather Jansch, nee Heather Rosemary Sewell... she painted the watercolors for Moonshine, Rosemary Lane and Birthday Blues albums covers.







An artist and here she shares some of the letters and unpublished photos of Bert and sheet music, all handwritten by the late, great, missing Bert Jansch.





Here is a nice little introducing video, "Chambertin", with Bert's playing and Heather introducing the book.



A must for every Bert Jansch lover and scholar.



BTW... yes, you're right: Heather is crazy about horses.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Music and its tools - John Renbourn's Scarth "S" acoustic guitar




I've been a scholar and follower and player of John Renbourn's music since my youth and, forty+ years later, I always find sooo nice playing his tunes...

John has been an inspiration for cohorts of acoustic guitar players, known and unknown, around the world, from Japan to South Africa.

My first records I bought in 1972 was Pentangle's Reflection, with the FANTASTIC cover and Brian Shuel's pixes... I loose my mind looking at Bert Jansch and John  Renbourn's guitars... fabled guitars, expensive, sought after.

I was playing a nylon strings Suzuki classical guitar... shortly after I was mounting Pyramid metal strings, because nylon meant Sr and Giuliani's studies and I was completely gone with acoustic guitars!

"Omie Wise" duet on Reflection captured my musical attention... Bert's guitar was OK, but John's solos  were so... so... weird!



Later, I bought everything they made, solo and with Pentangle... and always, on John's Sampler 1 and 2, with Dorris Henderson or Bert Jansch, I was looking at a strange guitar...

John's first on Transatlantic... again this clear finish guitar...




Only a few years ago I learned it was a Scarth, an English made acoustic, a tail piece guitar, John bought in very early '60s for 5 Pounds...

The sound was punchy, responsive, unique and nasal and throaty and powerful... only Guild D55 and the Franklin OM and Ralph Bown's played more John Renbourn's:-)


Anyway... a Scarth was made in the '30s and used for jazz bands as a rhythm guitar... all English made and woods...

For me, it remains eponymous to John...























Apparently, this was John's "road/outdoor guitar"...



From "Reflection" cover...