Sep 152017

Man, the last couple of weeks have been rough. A kidney stone that seems to think that playing hide and seek with me is a fun thing to do has been keeping me under the weather a bit, and as a result I haven’t got nearly as much written as I like to.

No worries though, as the urologists like to say, “This too shall pass.” Such is the cycle of life.

Collings Waterloo WL-14L (left) and Gibson Advanced Jumbo (right).

As I mentioned some posts back, after a number of years hiatus from the guitar, so I could take care of my Mom and Dad when they were going through a rough time health-wise, I’ve picked back up my guitars and started playing again.

To celebrate my return to the guitar, I decided I wanted a smaller, comfortable guitar to play as I was getting back up to speed, and I picked out a Collings Waterloo WL-14L which arrived yesterday courtesy of Rainbow Guitars in Tucson, Arizona.

As I posted a day ago on Facebook:

“On the left is my very basic Collings Waterloo WL-14L, and on the right is my snazzy Gibson Advanced Jumbo in Brazilian Rosewood / Adirondack Spruce (above).

Originally I was looking for a nice old vintage Gibson LG-2 3/4 like Woody Guthrie gave his son Arlo to play, thinking it would be a nice small body guitar that would be a comfortable guitar to play when I’m sitting around on the couch relaxing.

Public domain photo of Woody Guthrie in 1943 with his Gibson LG-2 (I think it’s the LG-2).

I couldn’t find an LG-2 so I started thinking about alternatives. Then I heard about Collings’ Waterloo WL-14L and got intrigued. The WL-14L is similar in concept to an LG-2, a nice small mahogany / spruce body, and 14 frets to the body, which makes it more playable for jazz, as well as the blues, rock, and folk that it is an obvious good fit for.

Collings makes beautiful guitars, and I really like my OM2C, which is a very finely crafted guitar. But they’re expensive.

The WL-14L is Collings’ version of a minimalist vintage-style guitar kind of like the LG-2, and is relatively inexpensive as Collings go, being only a couple thousand.

The WL-14L is nicely finished with a nitrocellulose lacquer, but is not ornate, and is in fact a bit ‘rustic’. Instead of the Waverly tuners that I prefer, the WL-14L has simple but serviceable tuners. It has a bone nut & saddle, ebony bridge pins, and I chose vintage-style L-bracing and a carbon fiber T-bar instead of an adjustable truss rod.

The WL-14L is very lightly built, the build quality is all Collings, and with just a carbon fiber T-bar, it feels light as a feather in your hands.

It came setup perfectly, plays great, is super comfortable to play, is responsive, and is absolutely effervescent with life and great tone. Collings really hit a home run with the WL-14L!”

Gibson Advanced Jumbo (left), Collings OM2C (middle), and Collings Waterloo WL-14L (right).

I’ve picked back up my guitars, re-memorized the notes on the fretboard, refreshed my memory on the movable Major scale forms at every position on the neck, and have started committing all the movable jazz chord forms back into memory, which is a daunting task, albeit slightly less daunting than I was expecting.

I’ve also been working on technique a bit with Travis picking, jazz chord melody, etc., and just generally trying to get my brain and hands working again. It’s fun!

Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer for moving coil phonograph cartridges.

I’m writing again this weekend on my review of the Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer for Positive Feedback and hoping to make some progress on that front.

Duelund DCA26GA IC’s with Switchcraft RCA’s.

Last weekend I started building a shielded version of the Duelund DCA26GA IC’s to try for a SUT to preamp connection and bungled it. I was just a bit too under the weather to focus, so I’ll try again this weekend.

Audio Musikraft hot-rodded Denon DL-103 moving coil cartridge.

I’ve also really been wanting to get some more time in on Guy’s Audio Musikraft cartridge, but other than just some general listening (sounds great!) I haven’t had a chance to experiment with it’s voicing options, which I’m really eager to do.

Artisan Fidelity long-base plinth for the Thorens TD124.

Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 long-base plinth in progress.

My Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable is taking longer to get finished up than I and Christopher anticipated, so I’m moving Guy’s Audio Musikraft phono cartridge up in my review queue to right after the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT.

Christopher sent me a couple of photos of the plinth that you can see above, and said, “Your plinth is nearly finished with the last of the labor intensive final clear coat buffing process. Part of the delay is a result of recently implementing a high tech, state-of-the-art European acrylic urethane clear coat spray finish which requires some special application and handling techniques in order to achieve long term stability and to extrapolate the most durability and beauty from the Cocobolo’s breathtakingly beautiful wood grain finish.  After seeing the initial results with my own eyes, I wanted to implement this amazing, crystal clear, shimmering finish on your personal plinth, which although took a little longer than expected to cure, I am absolutely confident will be well worth the wait.”

I’ve got an exciting review coming, probably early 2018, of something very cool and new from Nelson Pass’s First Watt.

I’ve mentioned in a couple comments how great the trend is to see ultra-high performance products at affordable prices, like with Duelund DCA tinned-copper wire, Collings Waterloo WL-14L guitars, and Nelson Pass’s First Watt amplifiers.

I’m pretty excited about my upcoming First Watt adventure, as I’ve always enjoyed the combination of musicality and sonic prowess that Nelson’s designs achieve. I’m pledged to secrecy at the moment, but when I can I’ll tell you more.

Ok, that’s it for now.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 11:07 am

  5 Responses to “Jeff checking in: Guitars, Duelund, Thorens, Arai Lab MT-1, Audio MusiKraft, and more!”

  1. Hi Jeff, All the best with that stone. Had them myself. Don’t think they will kill you, only make you wish they would. All the best.
    Jeff Aylen

    • Hey Jeff,

      I think the little bugger is finally gone. 🙂 In the last 15 years or so I’ve had a number of them, I think this one was number 4. No fun!



  2. Great looking Sunburst!

    All the best with your playing !
    with sonorous regards,

  3. Very nice acoustics I haven’t owned one in years. I been thinking about purchasing one as my next guitar if I don’t get side tracked as i’m usually electric guitar guy.

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