Monday, December 7, 2009

Got a thing for Sunbursts?

It sure is tough to beat a nice acoustic guitar - really building something attractive and functional is an art unto itself - but a nice guitar done up in a top-notch sunburst finish is truly one of the most beautiful things in the world.
So we thought we'd show you a few of the ones we've got in stock right now.

-On the left is a Taylor 612ce in a cherry sunburst. This small body Maple guitar is a Porsche in a world of Cadillacs - sweet, small and made for speed.
-In the middle is a Custom Breedlove OM-M Deluxe. This sweet thing boasts Honduran Mahogany back and sides, an Adirondack Spruce top with matching bracing, an LR Baggs pickup, bone nut and saddle and the incredible look you see before you.
-On the right it a Taylor 814ce in Tobacco Sunburst. This guitar is consistently one of our most popular guitars - the shape is a great balance between tone and comfort. And the Maple Binding is breath taking in contrast tot he dark edges of the burst.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview with Violin/Viola Instructor Kathie Raymond

If you’ve been around the shop, you’ve probably seen Kathie Raymond, she’s the sweet lady teaching violin who’s usually accompanied by her faithful companion, the puppy-dog Prima-Donna. You may or may not realize that Kathie is a world-class performer and a dedicated and energetic teacher. Ask her students- they love her! Recently I sat down with her to discuss her outlook and musical history. Music runs deep in her family – all of her siblings have been professional musicians and her father was a performer and music instructor as well.

Mick: All right Kathie, just how long have you been playing violin?

Kathie: I’ve been playing violin since I was 8.

M: and you’re 56 now?

K: um no, I’m 54.

M: Oh, whoops.

K: You’re in trouble now.

M: Sorry, I should know better. Let’s talk about some of you’re musical history.

K: Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from San Diego State University and I’ve been teaching since I was 18 years old.

M: And as for your time here- you’ve been teaching at Steilberg String Instruments since you moved to Louisville nearly 4 years ago, but in addition to teaching a full schedule, you’re a busy freelance musician too, right?

K: Yes, here in Louisville I perform with Bourbon Baroque (a period ensemble using original Baroque-style instruments), I am the Concert Master for Music Theatre of Louisville, I play weddings and such with the Highland Chamber Players, and have done adjunct work with both the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Bach Society.

M: What about before you moved to Louisville?

K: While in Ocala, Florida I had a large studio of private students at a school of music and was a string instructor at Central Florida Community College. I also freelanced with many groups, including the Central Florida Symphony Orchestra. Before that, while in Bradenton, I was a member of the Florida West Coast Symphony and the Sarasota Opera Company. Prior to Florida, I was born and raised in San Diego, California – some of the groups I free-lanced with there include the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra and the Opera as well.

M: In the violin world, education holds great importance. Who were your key teachers?

K: I had two important teachers in my life. The first one was from age 8 to 18 and he was very influential on me. His name was Nick Stamon and he was a very thoughtful teacher who had everything very well organized. He had a method worked out where besides just music, he would also use visual aids, and taught me things (like scales) both by music notation and by rote – which was pretty unusual at the time. I still use a lot of his teaching techniques, and his dedicated interactions with the parents, as well as students, influence my teaching today.

Then when I was 18, I went to San Diego State University where I studied with Howard Hill, who was a much different type of teacher. He was a great player, whose teaching style was come to your lesson, play though your scales, your etude, your solo and any orchestral piece you were working on – and that’s it. Students were pretty much on their own – which was okay for being at that higher level. He was a student of Ivan Galamian at Julliard, so I have learned a lot of the Galamian-style through Howard Hill. Unfortunately, Mr. Hill is no longer with us, but he was a big influence and I do think of him often.

M: Some people may be surprised, though most will not, to find out that you still practice regularly. You do right?

K: Ha! Oh yes, I still practice.

M: So you mean you don’t reach a point where you don’t have to practice?

K: No, you’re never done practicing. There’s always something that you’ll suddenly have to play, and people may think that once you’re really good you can just play anything, but that’s not true. What’s important is truly learning your instrument, so when you’re given something new to play, you can learn it quickly - you only need to focus on the music – not the technique. That’s why technique practice is so important. So I still practice all of my scales, various etudes. I am also reworking old pieces and learning new ones as well.

M: Who are some of the noted musicians you’ve played with?

K: Well, I think one that’s notable for who I’m surrounded by here at Steilberg’s would be (Classical Guitarist and Conductor) Angel Romero and his brother Pepe, who both did work though San Diego State University. I’ve also played with the violinist Jamie Laredo and his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, and with the former principal flautist for the New York Philharmonic, Julius Baker.

M:…and Johnny Mathis!

K: Right, we can’t forget Johnny Mathis!

M: What are some of your records and/or favorite pieces of music of all time?

K: One that comes to mind as a longtime favorite is Isaac Stern playing The Baal Shem by Ernest Bloch.

M: Cool. I’ve not heard it – I guess I should! Are there any other musicians who stand out as inspirations to you?

K: Well, the most recent one is Joshua Bell, who I just heard playing with the Louisville Orchestra and I’d say he’s inspired the second half of my life playing the violin!

M: Wow, that’s a strong statement. It’s awesome that as fine of a player as you are, and as far as you’ve traveled down the road of learning your instrument, you can still be moved so deeply by someone’s playing! That, in itself, is inspiring!

K: Yes, but he’s a total phenomenon - so good that I can hardly put it into words; no one I’ve talked to really can either. He’s an amazing musician and can do ANYTHING on his instrument. Just by watching him play you learn about his total focus on playing and his total commitment. As he plays, there’s not a note that he just kind of plays. He’s into every single note. That’s what was most inspiring to me and I hope to pass that along to my students.

M: Is there an album you have and love that you think your students might be surprised to know about?

K: Ha! Yes, well, how about all of the Led Zeppelin albums? I love them; mostly because of Jimmy Page, who I think is a genius. He inspires me too!

M: That’s great. Just what I was looking for! Okay, we’ve gotta wrap this up, ‘cause you’ve got a student waiting. So, lastly, what do you think sets the music education available from the teaching staff at Steilberg String Instruments apart from most other places?

K: Well, that’s easy. I think that here you attract the type of teacher who is very serious about teaching, not just playing their instrument. We are all very fine performers here, but also our teaching is something we enjoy. We also all have some sort of serious educational background in all of our respective fields and have studied with a variety of qualified instructors – which shapes us as players and teachers. There’s also specialization in the variety of styles in which we teach – I believe each style we teach can be taken to the ultimate, or apex of that style.

The other thing that I see, is that on all the instruments we teach, classical technique is stressed – not in terms of classical music, but in terms of intelligently and systematically understanding and executing certain things on the instrument – and that’s so important!

Reading music is also important, and I think the general public thinks it’s hard to do, which is totally false – it’s very easy if approached correctly. And if that skill is one a player possesses it’s infinitely easier to learn more information quickly. People can be afraid of it, but that’s unnecessary!

M: Kathie, thank you for your time – your students are most fortunate to have such a dedicated caring teacher who can play so doggone well to boot!

K: Thank you, this was fun.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Interviews with teachers on the Way

We are under way in conducting in-depth interviews with our teachers, the first one with Mrs. Kathie Raymond will be up next week. Check back to learn more about our fantastic teaching staff!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Used Instruments and Consignment option

Many people ask us about buying used instruments. What a lot of folks don't realize is that if you sell to ANY store, they're not going to get anywhere near the real value of their instrument. Understand, we'll consider purchasing, but we don't like treating folks unfairly and hate seeing them lose money on a valuable commodity. So, often times, we highly recommend considering our consignment program. By leaving it in our shop as a consignment piece, the instrument is on display in our shop, offered to the many folks who walk through our doors looking for quality instruments. Later, when someone falls in love with the instrument and buys it, the original owner gets a check for much more than they would if it was sold outright. It's a great option for many.

That being said, we've got a lot of great stuff here on the used wall
right now! Check out the 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez - it's like an ES-335 except with a different headstock and Diamond soundholes. Cool sound, cool look! and it's only $1500! We've also got a used Hofner Verythin made in Germany - it's a steal at $1400!
Also there's a used Fender USA Deluxe Telecaster, a Heritage H150CM and even a vintage Martin Style "O" all solid Mahogany Ukulele! Come check out the fun stuff!

If you've got questions about any of these instruments for sale or are interested in consigning something you've got just give us a call at 502-491-2337. Also check out for more instruments.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

G&L Guitar Fun.......

We've been having the fine folks at G&L build us some really fantastic stuff recently!
It's great to deal with a company like this, because they are, at heart, a custom shop. There's no warehouse full of USA guitars; it's not like they've got 50 of a model in black, or red or whatever. They build each guitar as a special creation, and that's fun to take advantage of. We have lots of customers who want a specific feature, or color and we've made many special orders to get a customer's dream guitar - but we also like to get some fantastic custom instruments that we dream up ourselves.
A few of the most recent eye-grabbers are an ASAT Special in black with simple white binding on the top and back. Regal. It's a kind of Tuxedo-ed thing that also would look right at home hanging around Waylon Jennings' neck. Oh, and it sounds like a million bucks. Leo Fender's large rectangular Magnetic Field Design Pickups are boss.
Also, there's a Comanche in Baby Blue that showed up recently. It's got more tones then you can shake a stick at - the pickups are super beefy and completely noise free.
For the traditionalists, there are 3 different Legacy (with standard strat-style Alnico pickups) models is some awesome Hot Rod-ish colors.
Come pick one. And if there's something special you want, ask us about a Custom Order!
Check out more here:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A few months back we were excited to see the new Breedlove Tour Bus roll up to our shop. It's a touring coach loaded down with some of the finest Breedlove Instruments they've got to offer and piloted by two of the coolest dudes in the entire state of Oregon. At that time they were just travelling accross the country saying "hey" to top dealers, but by arrangement, we've got 'em coming back for a more hands-on event open to all.
They're coming in town to work with us at the Forecastle Festival on Louisville's Belevedere from July 10-12. They'll have the bus on display and be on hand to answer questions and meet and greet with all the guitar and mandolin lovers there. However, On Thursday July 9th they'll be here in the evening to hang out with all of our friends and customers. Come by and see some beautiful, unusual, special and available instruments. We'll be having a good time, some come by, have some refreshments and wish Mick a happy birthday.

Welcome to our string blog

We'll be using this blog to wax poetic about various items of interest - be it recaps of fun events, discussions with our teachers, showing new and noteworthy instruments of interest, making announcements about upcoming attractions, and maybe just some thoughts on music in general.

We're just regular folks around here who can think of little else besides music and instruments. We like the folks who come in our store, who call on the phone and who send us emails - so we figured another way to reach out to you all would be good. We think you'll find some stuff of interest here and see it as a valuable addition to you World Wide Web fun.