• Paul's Gear

    Acoustic Guitar

    Posted on August 9, 2011 by Paul | 0 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Paul playing McPherson

    Like every guitar enthusiast, I’ve played, bought, and sold countless guitars through the years.  For a long time, my favorite guitar was an Olson with its amazingly balanced tone. I used it a lot for studio work and still do regularly.  Because Olson’s have become difficult to replace, I’ve shied away from taking it on the road.

    About 5 years ago, I was introduced to a McPherson guitar by my friend and fellow worship leader Lenny Leblanc.  I was so amazed by it’s design, craftsmanship, and tone that I began playing one as well.  From the moment I took it on the road I’ve not looked back.  The acoustic resonance combined with LRBaggs electronics blend perfectly and, when playing with a band, cut through the mix exactly where you’d want it too.

    Specs :

    MG 3.5 with Engelmann Spruce top and Indian Rosewood sides and back

    LR Baggs transducer pick-up

    Thoughts on buying a guitar:

    There are many variables that come into play when selecting a guitar.  This makes it impossible to recommend a particular model to anyone.  Here are some general recommendations when it comes to shopping for your next guitar:

    • Save as much money as you can and be prepared to spend a significant sum on an excellent instrument.
    • Visit a guitar store with a large selection of brand name guitars (Martin, Taylor, Epiphone, Gibson, etc.) such as Guitar Center or a well stocked music store in your area.  Plan on spending at least a couple of hours there (more like an afternoon), and try several different models.  Compare as many models and styles as you can.
    • Important: bring a friend along who has a “good ear”, a music teacher or professional musician, someone who can give you an objective and intelligent opinion during your selection process.  They may hear nuances that you won’t hear until weeks after you have made your purchase. Listen to their advice.
    • It may be good to go home, think about the different guitars you tried, and return a second time to go through a comparison again. This time, try only the models you have narrowed your search to.  Then make your purchase.

    Hope this helps.

    PS: If you happen to be in the New York City area, consider visiting the Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island.  Ask for Stan.  Legendary store and an amazing selection, including many McPherson models.

    Paul at Mandolin Brothers with Stan


    Posted on March 18, 2010 by Paul | 3 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Randy photo

    No matter how precise you try to be, tuning a guitar is always an imperfect compromise.  You can tune the open strings of an “off the rack” guitar perfectly, but when you begin playing chords, certain strings will sound sharp. If you’re interested, you can read hundreds of pages of very interesting mathematical explanations on the internet of why this occurs.

    You can get much closer to a “perfect” tuning by replacing the standard straight nut on an acoustic guitar with a “compensated nut”.  I’ve had a compensated nut, designed and patented by my friend Steve Merkel, installed on most of my guitars.

    To get a compensated nut installed on most guitar models, consider contacting Randy Hughes. Randy is a brilliant craftsman who can install a a compensated nut on your guitar, significantly improving the tuning.

    Steve Merkel image blog

    In-ear monitors

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 3 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Westone blog

    Crucial for any musician during a live performance is having the best monitor mix possible at the correct volume.  It will keep you relaxed while singing, make it easier to control your pitch, and protect your hearing.

    On some stages, floor wedges will work fine, and I often prefer them if the stage volume is not too overpowering.  On smaller stages, or at large events with lots of stage volume, in-ear monitors are often essential.

    The ES3X Musician’s Monitors are amazing.  These custom monitors require you to get ear impressions made by an audiologist.  The impressions are sent to Westone who will use them to manufacture  your personalized in-ear monitors.

    Studio microphone

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 0 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Paul with NTK studio

    On my last two albums, I’ve used the Rode NTK tube microphone for studio vocals.  The signal goes through an Avalon VT-737 sp preamp and then into the board.

    Live vocal microphone

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 2 Comments | Leave a Comment

    When choosing a microphone, you should choose one that will suit your unique voice.  You will also need to consider the set-up on your stage and whether your mic will pick up sounds from instruments behind you, etc.  Try to get assistance from a sound technician with a good ear and an understanding of stage acoustics.

    Having said that, I have tried numerous microphones over the years but invariably return to a Shure SM-58.  They have been around since the 60’s and I’ve not found a microphone that sounds as great and works as well as this model.  I’ve been at many venues where other microphones are used and when issues arise during sound check, I generally ask if they have an old 58 lying around.  Substituting that mic always solves the problem, no exceptions.

    Shure SM-58 microphone

    Songwriting software

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 2 Comments | Leave a Comment


    If you’re a songwriter, you’ve undoubtedly had unplanned times of singing at a friend’s house, a hotel room, or alone in your car. Moments void of time constraints, expectations from others, or life’s constant demands . . . moments ripe for inspiration.

    Many times the pleasure of singing new songs or melodies has been frustrated by the inability to capture that phrase, that simple chorus or a melody line that was birthed in spontaneity. Behind me is a 20 year trail of little handheld recorders that invariably broke or got lost, tunes sung into my home answering machine, and audio cassettes recorded at church that ended up being mislabeled or misplaced. Lyric ideas jotted down on napkins, the back of airline tickets or receipts, somehow never made it to my home where I really needed them.

    About 5 years ago I began using the software program MasterWriter.  This program runs on just about any modern laptop and has become my ultimate tool for recording both audio and lyric ideas.  Since it’s installed on my laptop,  I always have it with me and I have successfully saved hundreds of lyric ideas and melodies.

    Besides recording your ideas, it can play simple drum loops to play along with, has an innovative rhyming dictionary with perfect and imperfect rhymes, alliterations, thesaurus, and other practical tools. MasterWriter has transformed the way I capture and work on my song ideas.  I’ve used it for every song on my last 3 worship projects.

    grey line for blog

    Though we do not sell this software through our store, we’ve negotiated a $20.00 discount for visitors.  When you order MasterWriter, use Discount Coupon number 2083.  You will only pay $179.00 instead of $199.00.

    Guitar Tuner

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 1 Comment | Leave a Comment

    Boss TU-2 Tuner reflectionThe Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner (stompbox) is a “must have” for every guitar player.  I tune several times during a set and the ability to isolate the guitar from the sound system instantly, visually tune the guitar, and switch back is critically important.

    In a pinch, when not on stage, I’ll use a guitar tuning app on my iPhone, such as the “cleartune” app, which is surprisingly accurate.

    Note: the manufacturer is in the process of discontinuing the TU-2 tuner and updating it with the TU-3.  I don’t own a TU-3 yet but when the time comes, that will be the one I’ll get to replace my trusty TU-2.

    Boss TU-3 Tuner


    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 0 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Kyser Capo

    The Kyser capo has been a favorite of professional guitar players for years.  I don’t even remember when I bought my first one.  Very quick positioning and just the right tension . . . you can’t go wrong with this one.


    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 5 Comments | Leave a Comment

    Elixir Acoustic Strings

    Elixir strings come standard on the McPherson guitar and they’re also my strings of choice.  I’ve been happy with the Medium Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar strings, 80/20 bronze.  String gauges:

    E     0.013

    B     0.017

    G    0.026

    D    0.035

    A    0.045

    E    0.056

    Direct Box

    Posted on March 17, 2010 by Paul | 3 Comments | Leave a Comment

    LR Baggs Para DI

    I’ve tried a number of D.I.’s over the years with varying degrees of success.  It’s probably best to A-B different models to see which one suits your particular guitar best.

    I currently use the LR Baggs Para D.I. Together with the LR Baggs pick-up system in my McPherson guitar, it seems to be the perfect fit and gets the best possible sound reproduction.