There is something completely lulling about the tone of a nylon string guitar softly plucked with just your fingers. To the untrained ear a guitar is a guitar, steel string or nylon.  It’s just 6 strings on a funny shaped box. But take it from me, if you have the chance to listen to a slow tasteful passage played on a nylon string guitar by someone who cares, you will be transfixed and caressed in equal measure. In a live setting this isn’t always easy to do, amplifying an acoustic instrument and recreating it’s tone is somewhat of a dark art, but luckily we have companies such as Fishman and Shadow that are designing and innovating the ways that you can recreate authentic acoustic tone in the amplified realm.

An artist that is mining this highly dynamic nylon string sound is a local artist by the name of Aldous Harding. A South Island native that was welcomed into and cherished by the Lyttleton country/folk scene which at the time was being made popular by artist like The Eastern, Delaney Davidson and The Unfaithful Ways. All of these artists were recorded under the watchful eye of Ben Edwards at his Sitting Room studio, always with cameo performances from each other which added to the rootsy, campfire collaborative feel of the whole scene. 

Aldous has since recorded and released a self-titled album (in fact it’s about two years old), toured NZ and Australia numerous times, relocated to Melbourne and has written another album, which I hear is to be produced by an highly revered international name around mid 2016. This more watchful approach in releasing new material hasn’t stopped listeners from taking every available chance to see her perform the “old stuff”, as recent sold out tour of NZ would attest.  

I had the chance to see a day time show at Auckland’s Silo Park Markets. A hot day was on hand but the setting under the Silo was cool with a breeze blowing through the open sides. Sitting cross legged atop a high stool, Aldous hugged her nylon string electric/acoustic guitar and gently stroked it’s brow as if it were a frail love in the midst of some strange dream. Her guitar voicings may be rudimentary yet the compassion she shows her playing and the expression she conjurors from these chords are nothing short of spellbinding. From sustained legato to frantic country style finger picking each note rang out in the echo-y enclave of the silo. A nylon string played with your fingers really is like a warm, deep settee that engulfs your tired bones and in the hands of a gifted performer, you can be transported to another realm. 

You can check out a range of nylon string acoustics and acoustic/electrics in store at Lewis Eady or online  I’ve got Spanish made Solid Top Guitars starting out at $475.00 and acoustic/electrics from $499.00.

Do come in for a chat.
Edward Castelow