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My Own Private Santa Cruz

May 13th, 2006

After twenty-two years I finally procured a great guitar. Sure I’m about due for a new car but who cares. I’m not getting any younger and the opportunity presented itself so I jumped on it.

The latest addition to the household is an ’04 Santa Cruz Tony Rice model and to say it’s dead mint would not be an exaggeration. I was pretty happy with my ’86 Yairi DY75 until my brother bought an ’03 Santa Cruz H13 and left it at my house for me to “break in” a bit. Since that day sometime last fall the Yairi has only made its way out of the case once and that was only so I could take some pictures of it to post in the for sale ad on Craigslist. Madison’s Craigslist is a little slow so I still have it. I’ve been toying with the idea of keeping the Yairi on as a “camping guitar” but in reality I don’t camp that much and would probably take the Tony anyway. So keep an eye on Madison’s Craigslist if you’re in the market for a nice Japanese Dread.

By the pictures you can see this Tony Rice looks like most. I’m especially fond of the blank headstock and fingerboard with nothing on it but that little squiggly logo at the 12th fret. I’ve wanted one of these guitars for over a decade but was briefly sidetracked from the urge concerned that everybody else plays them and not wanting to be a sheep I figured I would get something different. As you can see I got over that brief foolishness.

I started investigating guitars more closely a few months back and decided I wanted a traditional style guitar which quickly narrowed my search down to five builders; Martin, Santa Cruz, Collings, Bourgeois and Huss & Dalton. After playing many guitars I started assembling a list of specs I really wanted. This may sound strange but I’m a stickler for a volute (dart) and decided, unless I found a screaming deal on a D18 Golden Era, I couldn’t live without this seemingly insignificant accoutrement. The next item on the list was a dovetail joint which, much to my dismay, quickly widdled my list of five makers down to two. Martin or Santa Cruz were my only options if I wanted to avoid a mortise and tenon neck joint which essentially is a bolt-on neck. I’m not saying this is an inferior design in any way but the purest in me just couldn’t come to terms with having a bolt in my $3000 guitar’s neck block. Again let me assure you I’ve played some pretty happening Collings, Bourgeois and one Huss & Dalton that was the loudest guitar I have played to date. I imagine there were a few people that turned their noses up to the concept of a truss rod so perhaps some day I will own a guitar with a bolt in the neck and the neck block. The other features I was hoping to get were neck binding, a zig-zag backstipe and a chunkier neck. The H13 I’ve been playing has a 1 3/4 neck that feels perfect so I’ve kind of gotten used to that.
To sum it all up the Tony has all of the features I wanted except for the neck width. Oh well I can certainly live with 1 11/16ths.

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