D’Addario has busy releasing a bevy of cool accessories for acoustic players throughout the year, and I found these items particularly intriguing. The company teamed up with the former Black Crowes and current Magpie Salute guitarist to create the Rich Robinson Signature Brass Slide ($19.99 street). IN GP’s June cover story on the Magpie Salute, Robinson explained how his slide facilitates a wide vibrato: “It’s the weight of the brass. I learned that from Lowell George. He believed the slide’s density gives it a particular sound. For example, Derek Trucks uses glass or Pyrex, and it’s effortless. You can do a lot when you don’t have much weight. When you use a heavy slide like mine, you let the slide do the work, and it becomes more natural.”
Having mostly used mostly Pyrex or small metal slides, I was eager to give Robinson’s signature slide a try on an acoustic, as heavier strings pair well with heavier slides. I used a Taylor 514ce Grand Auditorium strung with D’Addario EJ17s gauged .013-.054. Robinson’s stylish brass slide arrived in a classy little box housing it firmly inside like a fancy ring from a jewelry store. The slide had a nice shine, and Robinson’s logo—his initials with a feather in between—was emblazoned at the bottom. It appeared hipper than a chromed brass slide to my eyes. The Robinson slide at size 13 was slightly larger than the high school graduation ring on my ring finger, but it tapered in significantly upwards until fitting snugly at the top, which wound up being about halfway up the last notch on that particular digit. The slide indeed felt weighty, but, thanks to the taper, not clunky.
As it glided smoothly over the Taylor’s strings tuned to open G and open E, I realized the wisdom in Robinson’s words. The brass slide really did seem to do a lot of the work, and it facilitated a lovely wide vibrato that has often eluded me in the past. Its length and weight worked perfectly in concert. It was long enough (57.15mm) to cover the entire width of the fretboard, making it particularly handy for playing bar chords on the open-tuned acoustic, yet the tapered grip allowed me to hone in on a particular region to play accurate double-stops or single-note runs. Placing it on my second finger facilitated even more accuracy because my hands are slightly smaller than average. Robinson must have rather large hands to wear it on his pinky the way he does. Whatever finger is chosen, I expect most players will find the Rich Robinson Brass Slide quite accommodating, and a natural boon to tastier slide licks.
Acoustic Cinch Fit Jack Lock PW-AJL-01
This product is designed as a simple solution to a problem that’s haunted acoustic guitar players forever: The output jack on an acoustic-electric instrument that doubles as an endpin to which the guitar strap fastens. Often they are less than ideal endpins, so players have to make modifications to the strap, such as cutting a wider hole. The Acoustic Cinch Fit Jack Lock ($14.99 street) consists of two molded plastic pieces threaded with a little woven ribbon that loops around the guitar strap at one end, and ingeniously uses the guitar’s own weight to pull the plastic pieces together around the endpin at the other. Small magnets help keep it locked down., and rubber footers prevent damage to the wood near the endpin.
On the Taylor 514ce, which features Fishman Prefix electronics, Acoustic Cinch Fit worked like a charm. I was able to set it and forget it. I’d say that every acoustic player should get one, except that Acoustic Cinch Fit is designed to work with Fishman and Switchcraft style endpin jacks. Product literature reads, “We cannot guarantee that the unit will work with all brands and styles of endpin jacks.” I could not get the Acoustic Cinch Fit to work on either of the Taylor 800 DLX instruments reviewed in the October issue because the Taylor Expression System 2 endpin jacks were too shallow to accommodate Acoustic Cinch Fit. The bottom line here appears clear. If you don’t have a Fishman or Switchcraft style endpin jack—keep your current system. If you do, then D’Addario’s Acoustic Cinch Fit is an ingenious solution to your output jack endpin woes.
Titanium Bridge Pins PWPS-13
The latest addition to D’Addario’s premium hardware line, Titanium Bridge Pins ($69.99 street) are designed as a replacement upgrade for any acoustic guitar as a means to enhance tone and appearance. Starting with the latter, I was stoked to try replacing the Taylor 514’s wooden bridge pins because I dig flashy stuff. Titanium Bridge Pins sure did add significant bling factor, and I thought they looked fabulous in the ebony bridge sitting upon a reddish cedar top. That said, I could see how a player with a more conservative sense of fashion or a particularly conservative-looking guitar would disagree.
I expected quite a bright tone from the Titaniums simply because of appearance, but they actually delivered a somewhat sweeter sound, with singing sustain and overall added strength. I appreciated the tonal enhancement on a Taylor 814ce DLX strung with Elixir Phosphor Bronze Lights because the Titaniums brought out even more glorious nuances from that high-definition instrument. On the old 514, they delivered more pronounced harmonics and increased overall resonance. That made sense upon close scrutiny of the old bridge pins, which were withering away around the edges along the pin bodies. The whole experiment underscored the fact that having new bridge pins is a great idea whether you’re willing to spring for premium Titanium ones or not. I strongly encourage every reader to carry extra bridge pins on all gigs and trips. If you happen to lose or break one or a few anywhere not near an open music store, you’ll feel very silly playing your 3-, 4-, or 5-string onstage or around the campfire.
Tour Grade 9V Battery Pack PW-9V-02
Designed specifically for high-power devices, this pair of “tour-grade” alkaline batteries ($7.99 street) brings stompboxes to mind, but what’s more important than getting a robust, long-lasting signal from the preamp in your acoustic-electric guitar? I’ve become addicted to the ToneWoodAmp acoustic guitar effects processor lately, so it’s almost always attached to the back of my guitar, meaning I draw power from the preamp even during backyard practice. Reviewing a battery is a challenge, but I will say that I dropped a D’Addario 9-volt in the Taylor 514ce before heading to the Guitarfish Music Festival, and just knowing I had a powerful battery in the Taylor made me feel confident that there was one less gear item to worry about in a hectic situation. Over the course of a week there, I played acoustic with the ToneWoodAmp attached regularly, and did three acoustic sets onstage. Power was consistently strong, and I’ve been back home for two weeks now and still haven’t had to change the battery.