January 2017

Powered Chords

With the acoustic-electric guitar, acoustic players can comfortably take their act to the world’s largest stages. Here are a few notable video selections that show acoustic-electrics in action.

The Beatles were among the first musicians to use these hybrid instruments both in the recording studio and live. During their rise to fame in the early 1960s, the band’s two guitarists, John Lennon and George Harrison, owned Gibson J-160Es, which could be played either acoustically or with amplification. Lennon’s playing his unplugged in this famous performance of “If I Fell” from the 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night.

Country legend Glen Campbell requested that the Ovation company build him an acoustic-electric guitar for live use. Here he is playing it on TV in 1984; the song is Campbell’s hit “Gentle on My Mind.” Note the trebly, sparkly sound of the piezoelectric pickup, and of course the amazing solo.

For Nirvana’s 1993 Unplugged performance on MTV, the band’s leader Kurt Cobain used a Martin D-18E acoustic-electric with a magnetic pickup, as you can see and hear in this version of “About a Girl.”