Olson First Impressions, RMMGA 2000

12 Messages in 4 Threads:

My Olson arrives tomorrow [3]

From: <nighguy@usa...>
Subject: My Olson arrives tomorrow
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 21:06:59 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

Hi everyone,
I've been mainly a lurker for the last two years and I've posted only
occasionally but I have greatly appreciated all the guitar information
and humor from you all. This is a really funny newsgroup.

I just wanted to share my excitement. My Olson, which I ordered back in
December 1998 is arriving tomorrow!

Here's what I'm getting:

   SJ with cutaway
   Indian rosewood sides and back
   Sitka spruce top
   Curly koa binding
   Abalone dove fret markers
   Abalone "O" in the headstock
   Abalone rosette
   L.R. Baggs pickup
   Calton case
I plan to get into work early and get home ASAP!

I'll try and write a review sometime in the future. Unfortunately I'm
not really good at doing that sort of thing especially since I consider
many of the reviews by other rmmga'ers to have been really outstanding.

Pete (can I stop holding my breath now?) Ngai

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From: M NOMURA <mnomura@aol...>
Subject: Re: My Olson arrives tomorrow
Date: 20 Oct 2000 02:28:19 GMT
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

<< Here's what I'm getting:

   SJ with cutaway
   Indian rosewood sides and back
   Sitka spruce top
   Curly koa binding
   Abalone dove fret markers
   Abalone "O" in the headstock
   Abalone rosette
   L.R. Baggs pickup
   Calton case >>

Pete,

The description of your guitar sounds very familiar to me as I was just over at
Jim's shop a few days ago to try and figure what kind of spruce to use on my
future guitar. I had the incredible good fortune to be there when he had about
a half-dozen SJ's almost ready to be shipped, most of them spruce-topped. If
yours is the one I'm thinking of, you are one lucky guy!

Regarding the guitars, there was basically spruce of every species to
sample--Sitka, Italian, German, Englemann and Adirondack--and with a number of
different body woods, including Brazilian, Koa, Mahogany and Indian (sorry, but
I don't remember the exact combinations). Although each spruce had its unique
voice, I honestly cannot say that one sounded significantly "better" than
another. They all sounded wonderful. I came to the conclusion (as many others
have) that it's really the builder that matters. In Jim Olson's hands, any
species of spruce will be brought to its full potential and will sound superb.
I know this will sound like sacrilege to some, but when I walked in Jim's door,
I was thinking Adirondack, when I left I was thinking Sitka. Again, I don't
think any one tonewood is "better" than another, they are simply "different."

Mark


From: <nighguy@usa...>
Subject: Re: My Olson arrives tomorrow
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 04:36:42 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

In article <<20001019222819.10555.00000352@ng-fh1...>>,

  mnomura@aol.com (M NOMURA) wrote:
> If yours is the one I'm thinking of, you are one lucky guy!
>

Great! I just talked to Jim on the phone today and he said that a
customer had come and tried out my guitar and liked it. That must have
been you!

> Although each spruce had its unique
> voice, I honestly cannot say that one sounded significantly "better"
than
> another. They all sounded wonderful.

I'm so glad to hear that. I tossed around different wood combinations
at least a dozen times. It was a really tough decision.

I stopped by Jim's shop over a year ago and I loved it! It was amazing
to see all the guitars in various stages of being built. I only got to
play his wife's cedar top SJ and a sitka dreadnaught though. It was a
great experience!

Good luck with your wait. It seems a lot longer once you've been to his
shop.

Pete (only a few more hours until tomorrow) Ngai

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Olson SJ Dittos [6]

From: Malcolm Marion <mmarion@cetlink...>
Subject: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 15:52:36 -0400

Hi,

I saw Pete Ngai's note regarding his Olson SJ and its arrival on Friday
October 20. Well mine is a littermate and arrived (after the usual breath
holding and nail biting) the same day.

Mine may be the non spruce top of the bunch and is beautiful. I had played
Rich Cook's SJ last year so I was one of the lucky ones who actually held
one before receiving mine. However, absence does make the heart grow fonder
and it was better than I remembered.

The clarity of the notes and balance are beautiful. The neck is unlike
other guitars I have played (except Rich's) and much easier for me to fret
and barre chords.

For the record, since we are passing around baby photos, mine is: a Red
Cedar top SJ with abalone sound hole and top edging, bound fingerboard with
purfling, dove fingerboard markers, gold Schaller tuners with ebony buttons,
tortoise pickguard, Baggs pickup, and Ameritage case.

I am still on cloud nine! Many thanks to Tome Loredo who kindly furnished
information about the SJ in December of 1998 and to Rich Cook and his family
who allowed me to disrupt a Saturday in September of 1999 as I played his
SJ.

Malcolm Marion


From: <nighguy@usa...>
Subject: Re: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 09:50:27 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

In article <armI5.15$<f02.192594@news1...>>,

  "Malcolm Marion" <mmarion@cetlink.net> wrote:
> Hi,
>
> Well mine is a littermate and arrived (after the usual
breath
> holding and nail biting) the same day.
>

Congratulations Malcolm! I guess that means we're in-laws or something!

I've had a couple of days to play and drool over my SJ and it's
magnificent!

I have looked at it so carefully and everything is perfect. The inlays
are perfectly cut, the neck is thin and easy to play up the whole
fretboard. The string spacing is meticulous. The rosewood Jim picked
for my guitar is a little reddish and it contrasts the curly koa binding
beautifully. The sitka spruce is beautifully silked. Visually, it's
like a work of art. I am just stunned!

The tone is beautiful. I have a 17 year old Martin HD-28 that hit some
magical point about a year and 1/2 ago and ever since it has sounded so
full and sweet. I compared the two head to head and this is what I
found:

   The HD28 (dreadnaught) is naturally more bassy but the SJ has a
really full bass.
   The SJ is much more balanced across the spectrum.
   The SJ is not as rich sounding as the HD28 yet, but it sounds so good
and it's showing LOTS of promise for what is to come when it does open
up.
   The HD28 is a cannon and is really loud.  The SJ is not as loud but
when I push it, it can put out some volume.

Comparing the two guitars is not really apples to apples but I hope that
helps somewhat.

What can I say? I'm am thrilled and very pleased!

Pete

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From: <amygk@my-deja...>
Subject: Re: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 18:10:39 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

In article <8sud92$n9d$<1@nnrp1...>>,

  nighguy@usa.net wrote:
> In article <armI5.15$<f02.192594@news1...>>,
> "Malcolm Marion" <<mmarion@cetlink...>> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Well mine is a littermate and arrived (after the usual
> breath
> > holding and nail biting) the same day.
> >
>
> Congratulations Malcolm! I guess that means we're in-laws or
something!

Hi,

Congratulations to you both! Add me to the family tree. My Olson SJ is
due to arrive tomorrow morning! I wonder if I'll be getting any sleep
tonight.

Amy

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From: <nighguy@usa...>
Subject: Re: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 20:02:32 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

Congratulations!

You'll love it! I am in such awe of what Jim's done. Every detail is
just perfect.

Today my fingers are so sore from playing my SJ all weekend.

Please let us know what you think!

Pete
-------
In article <8t1uuo$brp$<1@nnrp1...>>,

  amygk@my-deja.com wrote:
> In article <8sud92$n9d$<1@nnrp1...>>,
> <nighguy@usa...> wrote:
> > In article <armI5.15$<f02.192594@news1...>>,
> > "Malcolm Marion" <<mmarion@cetlink...>> wrote:
> > > Hi,
> > >
> > > Well mine is a littermate and arrived (after the usual
> > breath
> > > holding and nail biting) the same day.
> > >
> >
> > Congratulations Malcolm! I guess that means we're in-laws or
> something!
>
> Hi,
>
> Congratulations to you both! Add me to the family tree. My Olson SJ is
> due to arrive tomorrow morning! I wonder if I'll be getting any sleep
> tonight.
>
> Amy
>
> Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
> Before you buy.
>

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From: Malcolm Marion <mmarion@cetlink...>
Subject: Re: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 20:36:01 -0400

Hi Amy,

I have really enjoyed my SJ. I have a Martin D-41 and a Collings D3-41.
Both are beautiful instruments, but the SJ is the most easy instrument to
play. I find myself having to tone down my finger picking, i.e., it doesn't
take much to get the sound out.

Let us know about your guitar. The uncles want to know!

Malcolm
Malcolm Marion
>Hi,
>
>Congratulations to you both! Add me to the family tree. My Olson SJ is
>due to arrive tomorrow morning! I wonder if I'll be getting any sleep
>tonight.
>
>Amy
>
>
>Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
>Before you buy.


From: Malcolm Marion <mmarion@cetlink...>
Subject: Re: Olson SJ Dittos
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 20:51:57 -0400

Hi Amy, Pete, Rich, et al.,

It has been great to read your emails about our collective new SJ's. Amy
and Pete, I enjoyed your discourses on the "first day" with the SJ so I
thought I would write mine.

After 22 months of anticipation (having a thought about that new instrument
almost every day) that Friday October 20 was a momentous day. All my
partners and office staff had been prepped over the last two years regarding
my choice of instruments, the wood, options, etc. So when Jim called to
announce its birth and arrival date, I had a captive audience and was told I
had to perform.

However, as is turned out, I was on call the night before and in my haste to
meet someone at the hospital, left the house at 5:30 AM without thumbpick or
capo. I remembered the oversight when I got to the office but couldn't go
back right then. I started seeing patients at 8 AM and anxiously watched
the clock between each one. By 9:30 AM I was beginning to worry a little
that UPS might have made a mistake. I came out of an exam room and was
greeted by my nurse who announced "blessed the delivery" had occurred. I
tried maintain composure as I went to the front office and lugged the box
down the hall.

I hastily inspected the exterior of the box for damage and seeing none
opened it and then the case. I had pre-visualized that moment many times
over the last two years, but still was surprised by the beauty of the
workmanship. I had to play a little bit sans thumbpick and capo and was
surprised to find the guitar had made it all the way from St. Paul in
perfect tune! Too soon, I had to put it back in the case as duty called. I
was able to glide on clouds for the rest of the morning and was able to run
home after the last patient getting my forgotten accessories. At that time
I was then able to fully savor the moment as I glided trough several James
Taylor and Gordon Lightfoot songs. Those there agreed this guitar was
special. I had that afternoon off, but couldn't play for long as I drove an
hour away to pick up my daughter at college. However, the SJ made the trip
with me riding in the back seat. The guitar was given a test drive for her
to hear.

What an instrument! The SJ is so easy to play. The combination of the the
thin profile neck and low action make for very quick and accurate
fingering. After some deliberation, and later providential intervention, my
SJ has the 1 11/16" width neck at the nut. I was a little unsure about this
combination after getting the expertise from those in this group favoring
the 1 3/4". However, this has turned out to be perfect for me as I have
smaller hands.

The tone, sustain, and clarity of the SJ are hard to express. I am still
amazed each day I play it. I am fortunate to have a Collings D3-41 and a
Martin D-41. The Martin is an older and more heavily braced guitar, taking
much more effort to play. The Collings is light, loud, and clear. However,
the cedar topped Olson SJ compliments both in its own way. Pete, I too
noted the ease to make a loud sound on the SJ. You really don't think such
volume can come from such a small instrument. I am used to "leaning into" a
guitar and am now having to rethink my style as I soften my right hand
technique. I fingerpick, but am not as accomplished as many of you. My
style is more like James Taylor and I use my instruments to accompany my
voice with embellishments provided by the guitar. The SJ sound is just
right.

We are indeed fortunate to have had Jim Olson make these masterpieces for
us. I feel as if I own a modern Stradivari!

Rich, My SJ is a clone of yours without the cutaway and with the neck a
little less wide.

My next decision will be experimentation with strings and would be
interested in each of your preferences over the next few months.

Malcolm
Malcolm Marion

Olson First impressions, Long post. (Was Re: Olson SJ Dittos) [2]

From: <amygk@my-deja...>
Subject: Olson First impressions, Long post. (Was Re: Olson SJ Dittos)
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 15:52:05 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

In article <RM4J5.27$<aX4.328906@news1...>>,

  "Malcolm Marion" <mmarion@cetlink.net> wrote:
<...snipped>
>
> Let us know about your guitar. The uncles want to know!
>

Here are my first impressions of my new Olson SJ (Cedar top).

Executive summary: my new Olson exceeds all my expectations and was
definitely worth the wait!

I find myself a bit intoxicated by this whole experience and hope you
will enjoy reading my semi coherent ramblings. If you're not into "new
guitar love stories" you can stop reading now. :-)

For the record, since we are passing around "baby photos", mine is: a
Red Cedar top SJ with abalone sound hole, snowflake fingerboard inlay,
chrome Schaller tuners, clear pick guard, B-Band pickup w/mike, and
Cedar Creek case.

I heard the sliding door clunk at the top of the truck before the UPS
man even had a chance to ring the doorbell. I went running to the front
door and opened it, before he even walked up the walkway. I said hello
and thank you and lugged the box into the house. I carefully brought it
into the family room and got an implement to open the box, along with my
new box of goodies from FQMS (capos, dampit, etc.) I was strangely
calm as I opened the box and slid the cloth covered tweed case gently
out onto the floor. I took a quick look in the box to see if there was
any paperwork (not there but I soon found it) and set the box aside. I
had waited over 22 months for this day, and read several other RMMGA
stories about new Olson guitars in that time. Mine was finally here!

I opened the case. Wow! The brown crushed velvet was quite nice. The
guitar is quite snugly cradled in there, a perfect fit. Jim has the
cases made to the exact specifications for his guitars. I left it in the
case and turned up our track lights to have a good look. Shiny,
spotless, and immaculate in every detail. I lifted the guitar
slightly looking in the "pick case" under the neck for the receipt, but
only found papers on the B-Band. Heavens, I hope Jim didn't forget to
send my receipt! He didn't. I found it a few moments later after I
gingerly lifted the guitar out of the case.

I spent several minutes just looking at it. The fret ends smooth against
the neck, the snowflake inlay, the tuners, the 5 piece neck, the uniform
narrow grain lines in the cedar and the rosewood. Then into the sound
hole to check out the electronics (I don't have any in my other guitar).
I noticed Jim's stamp on the back center brace and smelled the wood.
Mmmmmm. Then I finally started playing.

After the first few hours with my new Olson, my first thought is that I
whole-heartedly agree with David Wilcox' statement that "Olson guitars
have more songs in them." I've already started writing something. I was
just noodling around, my first time playing the Olson after taking it
out of the shipping box and case. I started off by playing a few minutes
in standard tuning to see what it sounded like, then I tuned it to open
C to try out some of my favorite Wilcox tunes. About 10 minutes later I
was playing something I had never played before. I hope I haven't heard
it before either :-). When I realized what was happening I went to get a
mike for my computer and dug around for my recording software (both
unused in quite a while). I recorded the new tune and sent it to my
husband to let him hear how great the guitar sounded. This was
particularly appropriate since the Olson is my 10th anniversary gift.

Later that evening, my husband checked out the guitar. He doesn't know
how to play but he looked it over, strummed the open strings and
listened to all the resonance and sustain. He asked questions about
guitar construction and compensated saddles that I could only give brief
answers to (I didn't realize there was going to be a quiz) but he was
quite happy with the guitar. Then he told me he listened to that mp3
file over and over for about half an hour after he got it. I couldn't
believe he was that impressed, but I am pleased that he is about as
delighted with my new guitar as a non player could get. I know I'm lucky
to have such a great guy!

Today I showed the Olson to a colleague, who also happens to be a very
good guitar player. He's known about this since I ordered it, and since
he had never played or even heard an Olson before I don't think he fully
realized what was coming. His response was overwhelming to me, and so
much fun to watch. He held it up to the light and inspected the
impeccable workmanship. His first comment was, "these are the prettiest
snowflakes I've ever seen." For the first few minutes, after each few
things he played he could only sigh "oh geez." Then he plugged it in to
his Carvin amp so I could hear the electronics (B-Band core w/mike). We
didn't have the Y cable so we played it mostly through the undersaddle
pickup (we did play with the cable and get the mike only for a few
minutes, but went back to the pickup later). It was great. He played in
several different styles and said "everything I try sounds good. I can't
make anything sound bad with this." Believe me that was the truth! He
also said, "notes just keep popping out that I've never heard before."
After he played it for about an hour(!), he said, "I never thought a
guitar could sound this good." That is an incredible complement coming
from him, since he has played many guitars over the years in addition to
the five he owns currently (three Taylors, a Bourgeois and a Godin).

This experience has definitely sparked a GAS attack in him. Ten minutes
after I left his office he knocked at my office door. He told me he's
going to put a B-Band in the Bourgeois very soon. He knows he has to
wait if he decides he wants an Olson, but he sure is thinking about it.
I could see those wheels spinning!

Jim Olson told me (before he installed it) that this was his first
B-Band installation. He did a perfect job. I've recently read several
posts here in RMMGA about the balance problems that some folks are
having with their B-Bands. I think the B-Band sounds great in my Olson,
certainly due in no small part to the guitar that's driving it and Jim's
careful work putting it in. He truly has a gift.

I can't believe you read this far! Now I have a question. I also
recently got an Intellitouch tuner, and I'm trying to find the ideal
spot on the Olson headstock for it. Some spots pick up the vibrations
better than others. I'm still getting used to the tuner (I've always
used a pitch fork and my ear in the past). Do any of the other RMMGA
Olson owners have the IT? Do you have a favorite spot for it (other than
in it's case)?

I hope to have digital pictures up some time next week (I need to borrow
a camera that is currently unavailable). Feel free to stop by
<http://www.geocities.com/amygk1> and check out the guitar link next
week. You can check it out this week, too, but the pictures aren't there
yet :-)

I'd love to hear how the uncles are enjoying their new Olsons. Pete?
Malcolm? And thanks again to Tom Loredo (did you get my email?), who let
me try his Olson SJ about two years ago on Thanksgiving (say, I know a
song that has that line... :-))

Amy

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From: <nighguy@usa...>
Subject: Re: Olson First impressions, Long post. (Was Re: Olson SJ Dittos)
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 22:58:13 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

In article <8t9jv2$l6l$<1@nnrp1...>>,

  amygk@my-deja.com wrote:
>
> I'd love to hear how the uncles are enjoying their new Olsons. Pete?
> Malcolm?
>

Amy, thanks for the great post! I know exactly how you feel!

Is it possible to gush too much? The guitar is so beautiful I find
myself pulling it out just to stare at it. I've shown the guitar to all
my friends and for the non guitarists I'll go through a fairly detailed
explanation of all the finer details. The first thing I'll show them is
the 5 piece neck with the volute. Beautiful! Then I'll show them the
abalone doves and the abalone O on the headstock and I'll have them look
at how precise the inlays are done. Then I'll usually explain why I
picked the woods I did for my Olson.

Then I'll play something for them. Even the non guitarists are struck
by how great it sounds! That's been a phenomena I haven't seen all that
often with other makes of guitars. When I've had on the Phil Keaggy
acoustic video, several of my friends have commented, "Now, that's a
great sounding guitar", even those who are just passing through the room
and who weren't even watching the video!

I was concerned that the sitka wouldn't sound characteristically the
same as a cedar topped one, but the same tonal characteristics are
there. It sounds like the cedar top I tried, a little brighter but the
same clarity is there, the same harp like, bell quality sound. An Olson
sounds like an Olson...and different woods will give you different
"flavors" of tone (and mom said I wasn't a rocket scientist!)

I've had it almost a week now and it's gotten louder (especially when
fingerpicking) and the sound appears to be a little richer and sweeter
(is it opening up some or is it just me getting used to the guitar? Who
knows?)

The guitar is very lively. When I play it, it vibrates like crazy.
When I fingerpick it, it's louder than my Martin. I have to put a
little more effort into the Martin to get the same volume. My
Martin responds better to hard flatpicking and the Olson seems to like a
lighter touch when strumming. What fun!

Congratulations again Amy!
Pete

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Olson First impressions

From: <amygk@my-deja...>
Subject: Re: Olson First impressions
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 14:31:20 GMT
Organization: Deja.com - Before you buy.

Pete,

Your reply was the kind of reply I was hoping to read!

> Is it possible to gush too much?

I don't think so. :-) Perhaps I'm a tad biased.

> I was concerned that the sitka wouldn't sound characteristically the
> same as a cedar topped one

I had only heard and played cedar topped Olsons and really liked that
sound. I spoke with Jim about this prior to my order, and about the
possibility of coming out to visit him to try both the cedar and spruce
topped guitars. At that time he told me that some people who come to his
shop to do just that leave more confused than when they arrived :-).
Meanwhile, I'm delighted with the choice of the cedar top and I'm looking
forward to bringing even more out of it as the guitar ages, if that's
possible.

Congratulations to you too, and I'm glad you're having as much fun with
your Olson as I'm having with mine.

Amy