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Every guitarist remembers their first guitar. Often it was one of those piece-of-shit Harmonies, Silvertones, Oahues...pawnshop guitars originally sold by Sears in the sixties. The action was as high as the Washington Monument, causing hand cramps making chords in the open position. An instrumentalist’s purgatory, you think? No, these are precisely the instruments über -guitarist Ed Gerhard sought out to record is latest masterpiece, House of Guitars.
Originally form Philadelphia, Ed Gerhard began playing guitar after seeing maestro Andrés Segovia on the television. The late John Fahey pointed Mr. Gerhard in the direction of open tunings, which was followed by slide guitar, lap steel, and slack-key. Now living in Boston, Gerhard has recorded seven discs as principal artist, two of which are well-received holiday collections, plus appearances on Windham Hill and Narada guitar collections. The music betrays the New Age connection, but certainly not in a bad way. Mr. Gerhard has as unique an approach as the late Michael Hedges while these approaches are polar opposites. Mr. Gerhard is all about tone, shadow, and nuance. Hedges was about percussion and rhythm.
Ed Gerhard is joined by other musicians, a rhythm section, on only a single selection of House of Guitars. The remainder is himself doubled on several guitars. The guitars he uses are all cheap pawnshop instruments with the original strings. Gerhard is known for playing high-end instruments, but he opts for low-fi here because of the wonderful warm sound the alternative can produce. No better is this heard that on "Poor Wayfarin’ Stranger" and Paul McCartney’s pensive "Junk." His slide and lap-steel work are revelatory without being flashy or overwhelming. A splendid instrumental recording.