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Posts Tagged ‘gig’

Taylor T5z Gig Update

It’s hard to believe that I’ve had my T5z for just over a couple of years now. Due to the pandemic lock-down, I didn’t gig with it hardly at all, except for a couple of streaming praise and worship sessions that hardly counted as real gigs. Once we were able to return to church, I’ve been splitting playing time between my Gibson J-45 Avant-Garde and the T5z, though admittedly, I’ve probably used the T5z more.

But since I got it, I hadn’t actually gigged with the T5z. Sure, I’ve played weekly at church since we were able to return in the Fall of 2020, but to be honest, that’s just 10 songs that are spread out, and I used the T5z about half the time. Doing a regular, cover band gig, I’d play 35-40 songs in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. That’s a real test of gear!

If you don’t want to read any further: The Taylor T5z is an absolute BEAST! With its 5 different modes, it can run the gamut of styles and genres. And most importantly, not compromise on tone. I’m purely amazed by this guitar and because of its versatility and great sound, I’ve moved it up to being my #1 gig guitar.

That’s saying a lot because my #1 for a couple of decades has been my Les Paul ’58 Reissue (R8). I still love that guitar, but after using the T5z and the R8 at a gig with my old band last weekend, I’m sticking mostly with the T5z and using the R8 as a backup.

I know, right! In my original review of the T5 back in 2007, I was pretty unimpressed with it. At the time, I didn’t know if Taylor could actually decide what kind of guitar it was. Was it an acoustic with electric capabilities, or was it an electric with acoustic abilities? No matter, while I thought the idea was great, and in some modes the guitar sounded good, I wasn’t at all overwhelmed by it. Then I played the T5z…

Or rather, I saw one of my favorite musicians, Eric Rachmany, playing one in a concert where I was literally no more than 20 feet away from him. I could not believe the acoustic sound he got from that guitar! And a couple of days after that concert, I went down to my local Guitar Center to see if they had one in stock so I could play it, and they had the exact model that Eric played the night before. I think I fiddled with it for about half an hour, trying to talk myself out of it, but I knew in the back of my mind that I was going to walk out of the store with it. The rest is history…

Fast-forward to this past weekend. A few weeks ago my old, old-farts classic rock band asked if I could fill in for their lead guitarist as he was going to be on a retreat and I agreed. We had a few rehearsals leading up to the gig. At most of the rehearsals I was using my R8, but at the last three rehearsals, I thought I’d try out my T5z. It was game over from that first time I used it at rehearsal.

When gig day came, while I was excited to finally play out again, I actually was even more excited to be playing my T5z! I had just reconfigured my board so I could play through my BOSS Katana Artist mostly clean and get my most of my dirt from my pedals, except when I hit it with my booster. Here’s my signal chain:

Peterson Strobostomp -> Wampler Belle -> Timmy -> T-Rex Quint -> BOSS CE-2 Chorus -> BOSS DM-2w Analog Delay -> TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb -> Pigtronix Class A Booster -> BOSS Katana Artist

As for the T5z, it was an absolute chameleon! I have to say that I loved playing in position 2 from the left. It has this insane, hollow, out-of-phase sound, similar to my R8 in its middle position (the pickups are wired out of phase). But I also used the other positions as well. In position 3, I rolled off the treble and dimed the bass to get a cool archtop sound for playing clean. I used position 4 with the EQ fairly balanced and the volume up in conjunction with my Wampler Belle to get a nice, punchy Telecaster sound. And for straight-up rock songs, I used Position 5 with the treble dimed and the bass in the middle for that Les Paul tone. As for position 1, I used it a few times when I needed a clean, acoustic tone when we were doing strummers.

For me at least, the T5z realizes Taylor’s vision of creating a truly versatile guitar. And the incredible thing about it is that unlike the original that I didn’t really like, the sound in each position isn’t a compromise. No, it doesn’t sound exactly like a Strat or a Tele or a Les Paul. But it can achieve characteristics that are reminiscent of those guitars. And quite frankly, the acoustic setting, which engages the body pickup is absolutely incredible. You’d think you were playing a big-body acoustic, it’s that good!

As for the gig, we played almost 40 songs in our 2 1/2 hour set. I switched to the R8 for a few songs, but went back to the T5z because in all honesty – and maybe because I was accustomed to it – I felt a lot more comfortable playing it.

Speaking of comfort, I have to admit that ever since I got it, I was concerned that it is strung with Elixir 11s. I usually play with 9s or 10s on my electric guitars, so I didn’t know if my fingers could take the extra tension from larger gauge strings. But while the strings feel heftier, they don’t play that way. The scale length for that guitar is 24.875″ which is close to a Les Paul scale length at 24.75″. But even at that ever so slightly longer scale length, the T5z plays like absolutely friggin’ butter! I’m able to easily get huge bends out of the strings, even at the upper bout of the guitar – it actually helps that the guitar doesn’t have a heel so it’s really easy to get high up on the fretboard.

As the gig progressed, my love for that guitar just grew and grew. It was so easy to play and it just sounded incredible to me. And if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, versatility is a huge thing for me, and I’ll just say it: The Taylor T5z is the perfect embodiment of versatility! It’s my new #1 and will be for years to come!

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Yeah, yeah, I know… My last few posts have pretty much centered around this amp, but hey! I just can’t contain my excitement about how good it sounds! This afternoon, I brought it to my weekly church gig to try it out in a live situation. I already loved it in my little home studio, but you just don’t get to really know what am amp can do until you play it live.

Today was one of the first days that I didn’t use my pedal board all that much. In fact, I only used my chorus on one soft song, and then only used my booster at the very end of last song to throw the gain over the top to finish off the service. Other than that, I just played the amp straight. Most of the songs I played were through Channel 1, and with my Strat, the VRX22 delivered gorgeous, bell-like tones that seemed to hang in the air, with so much presence that you could almost touch them – it doesn’t even have presence knob to up the mids and highs! Switching over to Channel 2 for a couple of numbers, I was rewarded with layers of open and complex overdrive that were so very smooth; none of that phasing in and out that you often get with lesser amps at high gain. It stayed nice and even. And the sustain and touch sensitivity at high gain was just to die for – all on a Strat, no less!

When I slammed the front-end with my booster pedal, I was in compression heaven! But luckily the 6V6’s don’t compress so much that they make the amp lose volume. The compression is noticeable, but the gain tone stays fairly open. It tightens up, but not too tight.

I’ve tested several Aracom amps, and they’re all very sweet sounding. But the higher wattage amps need tons of volume before they really start sounding good. The VRX22 is so versatile. With a 1 X 12 cabinet, it can be used with ease in small to medium-sized venues, like clubs and small halls. For larger venues, a bigger cab will get you the volume you need. On top of that, both the amp and cabinet are pretty light in weight, making lugging to and from a gig real easy!

All in all, I’m just tickled to death with this amp! You gotta check this amp out at the Aracom site!

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