Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Tacoma Guitars

  • 1998 1 Nov
Tacoma Guitars
by Ralph Sappington, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

At first glance, the Papoose from Tacoma Guitars might seem to be another entry in the travel guitar market, and it's small size and soft case with backpack straps reinforce that impression. But once you take it out of it's case and strum it's open strings you'll hear a amazing warm sound, rich and loud with tremendous sustain. This guitar is not built to simply survive a trip to the beach or a cross country drive; this is a serious musical instrument. First, let me tell you this is a wonderfully crafted guitar, solid Honduras mahogany back and sides and one piece mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge and a solid cedar top all finished to compliment the beautiful natural woods. The sound hole is cut in the upper bout and an expanded soundboard accounts for the powerful sound. The pin-less rosewood bridge is a real innovation, string changes are a breeze and it accommodates your favorite set of strings even though the guitar is tuned to A. Wait you say, it's tuned to A? Just think about it like you have a capo at the fifth fret, finger a G chord and you get a C chord, a C gets you a F chord and so forth. Got it?

I got my Papoose just in time for a series of on the job tests, first in the studio. I was in the middle of a producing background tracks for a local artist so I used the Papoose to double the existing rhythm guitar tracks and got a really cool "Nashville" tuning effect. I also used it to play a few fills behind the background vocals and achieved a mandolin sound in the upper register. By the way, the intonation is really solid and the guitar holds it's tuning through lots of violent strumming! Next came the real test, It was Vacation Bible School week and I was leading singing for dozens of very happy, very loud children and the Papoose cut through un-amplified and provided support for chorus after chorus of "This Is The Day," "Father Abraham," and "I've Got A River Of Life". Plus, the kids thought it was funny to see a fellow my size play a guitar this small. Test number three came when I did a concert date with an artist who had recorded a CD in my studio. I was responsible for all of the solos, fills and secondary rhythm and I wondered how the Papoose would cut in a full band with a drummer. Now the model I was using did not have the built in Fishman pickup under the bridge so I used a SM57 about four inches from the body and had the sound tech. EQ it flat with a touch of reverb and found the Papoose has a timbre above the regular acoustic guitar and projects nicely and drives the rhythm without needing tons of volume.

Now I had become really attached to this guitar (don't laugh, if you get one you'll have trouble leaving it alone also), so when I needed to make a 1200 mile Montana to California road trip the Papoose went along for the ride. With two guitarists in the car it got a real work out and yes, it is a great travel guitar. Plus, while visiting recording studios in Los Angeles the Papoose caught the eye of several session guitarists who tried to convince me to let them keep it for a while. But despite offers of cash, backstage passes, a lifetime supply of picks, and a fuzz box rumored to have once belonged to {Mark Farner} (of Grand Funk Railroad fame and now a Christian) the Papoose returned safely to Montana just in time for a Sunday morning worship service.

Is it a travel guitar? Well yes. An alternate to the standard guitar? In a way. The Papoose really is a new instrument, and it's up to you to discover how many ways you can use it's new voice to enhance your own unique voice.

The Papoose P1 model retails for $399.00 The P1E with Fishman Transducer retails for $479.00. You can contact Tacoma Guitars at 4615 E 192nd St. Tacoma, WA 98446 (253)847-6508.