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2004 Ed Claxton Guitar

Annie

by Craig Alden Dell


Annie, my one and only steel string acoustic guitar - and congruent with my collection!

As an experiment, my duet partner and I tried steel string guitars for some flamenco arrangements that we played for the Newport Guitar Festival in July, 2006. This was at the prompting of Mike Crixell of Native Creative Productions and Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He suggested that we try guitars by luthier Ed Claxton. I was reticent at first because flamenco guitar requires a lot of right hand nail attack and works very well with nylon. I wasn't wholehearted into the idea but agreed to try Ed Claxton's guitars.

One thing that got pounded into me by life along the way is to abandon "beliefs" in order to stay open for every moment's possibilities without having to judge the outcome before the experience. St. Augustine said that the message of God is always coming to us from all sources if we are able to stay open minded and discern. Staying open minded is the first challenge, and I think the more difficult for the reason that from a very early time in our human experience we are taught the way of the "BOX"... so to speak! Unlabelling the past becomes less important in time once we realize how full the present moment is, and so becoming aware enough to not label the present or the future subsequently, we can remain in present time and live our lives in an open way with sensitive and powerful antennae.

Therefore I tried the Ed Claxton guitar to my utter amazement and delight! Now when Ed asked me what I like in the structure of an instrument, I responded that for the back and sides I would like a tight grained Brazilian Rosewood # 1. For an instrument with steel strings, I opted for Spruce, although I'm sure that Red Cedar would also be a good soundboard. I like a wide neck and usually a longer fret scale and a 'flat' fingerboard if possible. I like reasonably high action, but I also realized that steel vibrates over a lesser circumference that nylon, so that would depend on playing the instrument. I also wanted the neck to join the body between the upper bouts at the 12th fret, because it's my feeling that a lot of sonority is gained that way, although I have heard and played guitars that sounded great that were joined at the 13th and 14th frets. I also wanted to have a single cutaway because although I have trained over my lifetime to play above the high register without a cutaway, I felt that it would be fun to have the ease of playing very high notes that my arrangements of many pieces called for.

Ed exclaimed that I had just described his own personal guitar that he had named after his longtime compadre, Annie, an illustrious Golden Retriever who had passed away. All of us know the agony of losing our dog of life, and because of this and many other common experiences, I came to consider Ed a close personal friend. The guitar was a present to his wife Margie, a sweet woman who I had the pleasure to meet.

Upon the long-awaited arrival of the guitar, and a guitar with the specs that AnnaMaria had requested, we sat down to play them. At first I couldn't believe that this instrument was truly a steel stringer, as it was incredibly easy on the hands and the ear, and in fact had just marvelous tonality and volume and even possessed some characteristics that I often realize in the finest classical guitars! My amazement was only topped by my gratitude for having learned to be open to new possibilities, and so we happily did play these guitars in the concert at the festival to a very warm response!

After the entire tour which was rather lengthy, I was driving home to Washington State, and I stopped by the Claxton's home for a few days and met their new dog! I told Ed that although after also trying out AnnaMaria's choice of guitar, I was certain that over time he could come up with a new guitar for me that I would appreciate, I had already fallen for Annie, and that it would feel like a travesty to have to surrender her after all this time together!

Although I would do it, because I knew the history of the instrument, and how many other fine players had begged for it, I would have to spend considerable time "alone" before considering dating another of his guitars! Ed had turned down many formidable offers for her, and was a little put off balance - (especially since I was literally a PRO at negotiating and securing guitars during my whole lifetime)... I kind of had him at a disadvantage, one that I wasn't going to easily relinquish because of my intense GAS attack - (GAS ... being the coined word for "Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) - the feeling that overwhelms us when being spoken to, where we live, by a certain instrument.

Ed agreed to sell me the guitar, and I had prepared for the moment so as not to be on shaky ground when he had "slept on the idea", and gave him cashola for both instruments on the spot! - a decision that neither I nor AnnaMaria have ever regretted!


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