I was recently interviewed by Michael Bashkin for Fretboard Journal’s podcast. We talked about guitars, guitar players, guitar building and a bunch of other things. The interview took place in my shop a month or so ago and we had a great time. Michael conducted a fantastic interview and got me talking about my background, my journey and guitar building beginnings. You can listen to the interview below or check it out at https://www.fretboardjournal.com/podcast/luthier-on-luthier-podcast-john-bogdanovich/. The podcast is also available on iTunes on the Luthier on Luthier Podcast with Michael Bashkin.
Michael Bashkin is a great builder and I have known him for quite a few years. A few years ago he supplied me with tons of information on building a steel string guitar including photographs of his building process. At the same time Michael wanted to make classical guitar and I provided him plans and acetates for the guitar in my book. We exchanged information throughout the process helping each other along the way. It was a great learning experience for both of us.
Fretboard Journal Interview with John Bogdanovich
The interview really picks up steam as it goes. Be sure to listen all the way through.
Clarification of Sound Description
The interview starts with Michael asking me about what kind of sound I am looking for and that type of thing. I use some adjectives that probably don’t mean much to other people. The problem is not with my description, its with the fact that describing sound is difficult at best. It is a problem that will not likely be solved any time soon. First realize that sound itself is subjective. It depends upon the listener to some degree. And language does not help. It is also subjective.
The Language of Describing a Guitar’s Sound
Almost 20 years ago I took a seminar with renown classical guitar builder Jeff Elliott. Jeff was inspiring. I walked away from that seminar ready to try new things and get serious about guitar building. I mention him and that seminar a few times during the interview. One thing that I did not mention in the interview was the first thing Jeff covered in his talk which was about the language of describing a guitar’s sound. Until that moment in time I had not given any of it much thought. But I have been continually conscious of it ever since. And if you are going to build guitars you should be too.
The Complexity of Describing Sound with Words
The effects sound has on a listener differ from person to person. Sound is subjective. Some people will be soothed by certain types of sound while others experience quite a different feeling. Simply put people use different words to describe the same things. The opposite is also true. Some people use the same words to describe different things. Language is also subjective.
Some people will say that guitar sounds punchy, some will say it has a hallow sound. Some may say that has a fat sound while others may describe the same guitar as having a Spanish sound. Everyone can be right, they are just using different words to describe the same thing. Again, this is not a problem that can be solved. The best you can do is understand the problem and take things with a grain of salt.
Its What you Like that Matters
Michael and I allude to this in the interview, in the end its what makes you happy that is important. If you are writing the check you should be getting what you want and not your teacher, friend, or another player. Everyone is different and there are many different sounding guitars. You need to find one that suits you and the way you play. Yes, there are bad sounding guitars out there. It is your responsibility to be able to discern. If you are unsure go out and play as many guitars as you can get your hands on. eventually you will know what you like, what is good and what is not. Only then should you write a check.