Speak Now: Taylor Swift Goes “Solo”

On October 27, 2010, in News, Reviews, by Magnolia Guitar

Taylor Swift released her third album yesterday titled “Speak Now,” her first since the wildly popular “Fearless” in 2008 which featured the infectious song “You Belong With Me.”

"Speak Now" Taylor Swift

"Speak Now" Taylor Swift, Big Machine Records

There are definitely some radio-friendly hits like “Mean,” “Last Kiss,” “Mine” and “Back to December.” But some of the 14 songs on the album start to sound the same, but that’s not uncommon in pop music, be it pop-country or otherwise.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I like Taylor Swift and not just because she’s adorable and plays the guitar.

What I like most about Swift is that despite the current trend of Disney-fied teen stars to try to show off how overtly sexy they can be (yeah, I’m talking to you Miley), this rising star continues to emphasize romantic love, alienation, fairytale endings, and good ol’ heartbreak.

Not only that, but on Speak Now, Swift chose to eschew any co-writing partners to write every song herself, which is definitely not the norm in Nashville. She also co-produces the album.

In a culture where fame for its own sake has become an entitlement, Swift is almost a throw-back to an earlier era. Despite the polish, she’s a songwriter who wears her heart on her sleeve (and in her songs), who plays several instruments, and like ground-breaking comedic actress Lucille Ball, isn’t afraid to don a ridiculous outfit in a video to prove a point. The point is that she’s just like you, the girl (or boy) on the other end of the stereo who feels and loves and hurts and just wants to express themselves.

That’s what I love about Taylor Swift. And her songs are pretty catchy too.

Website: www.taylorswift.com

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Taylor Swift & Yahoo Answers

On October 12, 2010, in Advice, by Magnolia Guitar

Inspired by Joe the “Strat-O-blogster,” whose guitar blog is daily fixture in my Google Reader, I began answering questions on Yahoo! Answers.

Maybe on some level it’s also partly to boost the traffic to Yahoo! and therefore try to recover the lost value in my Y! stock. But I think it’s because there are a lot of guitar related questions that could use a thoughtful, considerate answer. Because, y’know the interwebs has consideration in abundance.

For example, I came across a question about Taylor Swift. At face value, it was a simple question, but it was also intriguing. And in my research, I found the answer to be far more complicated and rewarding than I imagined. As a bonus, the girl asking the question, who was getting frustrated by some of the answers, chose my answer as the best. Read and decide for yourself.

Taylor Swift & her "Sparkle Guitar" via LA Times

Question: Where can I get Taylor Swift’s sparkly guitar?

First off, I know it’s a Taylor guitar, but I don’t know exactly which one, so if someone could tell me that would be great. Second, I know the sparkles are custom, but if I contacted Taylor Guitars, do you think they would do it for me? and How much? If they didn’t, who could I contact to do a decent job on it? Also, how much would the guitar be plus fee of sparkles? Thanks 🙂

My Answer: According to rumor, Taylor Swift’s sparkle guitar is a Taylor GS-8 that was painted black at the factory and then shipped to Trey Fanjoy who directed the “Our Song” music video in which it was featured.

The top of the guitar is covered in roughly 5,400 Swarovski Lead Crystal AB (Aurora Borealis) Rhinestones. They are size 30ss rhinestones (roughly the size of a hole punch). They are attached with silicone epoxy.

The rhinestones were applied by a production tech on the video and the teenage daughter of the president of Swift’s record company, Big Machine Records.

Now, I can’t say for certain, but lead crystal is fairly heavy. Even though each of the rhinestones are only the size of a hole punch, you’ve got to imagine that 5,400 of them add up to some considerable weight. But beware, cheaper rhinestones might weigh less, but might not have the same sparkle either.

I would think that while the top of the guitar is probably structurally sound, the end result might be a bit of a muffled sound when played acoustically and unplugged.

Although Taylor guitars are notoriously bright sounding, maybe in the end it all balances itself out. Considering that Swift probably uses the built-in Taylor ES pickup system, probably an acoustic DI and a host of other effects, it’s likely that the sound engineers can get around any negatives from the added crystals.

For the rest of us who don’t have all that going for us, it might look better than it sounds.

I’m actually quite pleased that when given the chance by Taylor Guitars to create a signature guitar, Swift chose an entry-level Baby Taylor so that every girl (or boy even) who wanted to follow their dream of making music could do so without breaking the bank. Good for her. And good for all those future Taylor Swifts to be.

As a post-script to this, well… uhm, post… Yahoo! just informed me that another of my answers was chosen as Best Answer. This time about how to read Tablature.

You should check out Yahoo! Answers. At first, I wasn’t sure what the point was considering you could just look stuff up yourself, but given the right number of people answering, you stand a good chance of getting a very good answer without the guesswork. If you see me at Yahoo! Answers, vote for me! Or not vote me, especially if my answer sucks. Keeps me honest! Cheers.

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