Recording King ROH-05 “Dirty Thirties” 000

  • Body: Spruce top/laminate birch back & sides
  • Neck: Mahogany / rosewood fingerboard
  • Pickups: Fishman Matrix Infinity

Recording King’s “Dirty Thirty” series are designed to evoke the legendary Montgomery Ward mail order guitars of the first half of the 20th century. Solid top, laminate back and sides, bone nut and saddle, satin sunburst finish, and Kluson tuners. I added a pickup, and Tusq bridge pins for more sustain. All in all a neat little 000 sized guitar. They make a number of different styles in this series.

I have this one set up as a high string guitar — also known as “Nashville stringing” or “Nashville tuning,” though that’s a bit of a misnomer as it’s still tuned like a regular guitar.

To do this, you replace the wound E, A, D and G strings with a lighter gauge to allow tuning an octave higher than standard (the B and E stay the same). This used to be achieved by using one string from each of the six courses of a twelve string set, using the higher string for those courses tuned in octaves, but D’Addario makes an excellent high string set (EJ38H Phosphor Bronze, High Strung/Nashville Tuning .10-.27). The gauges are (low to high:

E: .27
A: .18
D: .12
G: .09
B: .14
E: .10

Sometimes I put a .10 on the G string, though the heavier you go the more likely you are to break it tuning it up to an octave G. The sound is jangly, and sits somewhere between a mandolin and a harpsichord…you’ve heard it before, the Eagles used this on the intro of The Dude’s least favourite song, “Hotel California.” I’ve used high stringing on dozens of recordings going back to The Ghost Rockets days, and more recently the finger-picked intro to the Dixie Bee-Liners’ song “Ripe,” and several songs on The Know Escape project. One of my favourite things to do in the studio is to double-track a guitar part using high string and regular strung guitars, and then hard-pan the two tracks left and right. The effect is like a stereo 12-string, and is especially nice on arpeggiated parts.

On an additional note, do not turn up your nose at laminate (or ladder-braced) guitars, as they record exceptionally well, and are easy to fit sonically into a track with a full band, where as a D28 or similar rosewood backed dreadnoughts can be more problematic due to the nature of their deep, rich and harmonically complex tone. I recorded almost the entirety of the Dixie Bee-Liners’ first EP with a cheap little Yamaha laminate, and it kills. The exception to this rule would be a Martin D18 or similar dreadnought with mahogany back and sides, which tend to be more “punchy” in the upper mids.