What they play - taken from Acoustic Guitar
By Ben Elder
Gordon Lightfoot plays a pair of 12-string Gibson B-45-12s from the 1960s /see Great Acoustics, page 114). He uses two of them on stage: one on standard tuning, the other capoed at the third fret with the lowest pair of strings dropped to D. The instruments appear on Lightfoot album covers stretching back the '60s, although the guitar seen on the Sundown cover was lost on the road many years ago. The cover of Lightfoot's earliest LP, Lightfoot, shows a Martin D-28 that was
subsequently stolen. He acquired a later model D-28m which he keeps at home along with an ornate custom Brazilian rosewood dreadnought (seen on the cover of Dream Street Rose) by Ed McGlincy, who has retired from guitar making for health reasons. On stage, Lightfoot also plays A Martin D-18 from the '30s or '40s.
In the last decade or so, Lightfoot added pickups to his acoustic guitars, a change from the miconly stage setup he described in 1985 Frets magazine interview. His pickup of choice is a Fishman Acoustic Matrix II, which he mixes with a Shure SM-57 microphone and feeds into a direct box and then into the mixing board and a Fender Twin Reverb amp he uses as a stage monitor. Lightfoot's preferred flatpich is a Yamaha ("an older model you can't get anymore") that's a little thinner than Terry Clements' D'Andrea medium, and his capo is a Shubb Deluxe. He uses Ernie Ball Earthwood Bronze strings but substitutes a D'Addario .053 11th on the "straight" 12-string, "because [Ernie Ball] doesn't make the odd .053,"The other 12-string takes the same configuration but with an .054 on the dropped 11th string. He also substitutes a phosphor-bronze low G (fifth) on the 12-strings because "it makes it easier to hear." For his Martin, "the medium-light Ernie Ball set really gives a lot of snap," says Lightfoot. "I raised ma gauges on the low end a little bit and I found that it helped."
Although he was at the Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan committed his legendary plugged-in heresy, Lightfoot also keeps a couple of electrics: an old Fender Telecaster ("My 17-year-old son learned to play guitar on that one") and a Gibson SG seen on the back of the 1983 Salute album.
Terry Clements relies on two 1964 Martin D-18s and two Gretsch electrics ( a 1964 Tennessean and a 1976 Country Gentleman, the latter his primary stage ax) that have infused themselves in to the Lightfoot sound. The Gretsches have a warm bass sound and sparkly treble that work especially well with folk music, but with chorus and distortion they can also sound the Edmund Fitzgerald klaxon/siren wail.
On stage, Clements uses a Roland JC-120 amplifier for the electric and a Fender Deluxe Reverb for the acoustic. He uses a Boss paddleboard for both the Martin (chorus and a Boss TU-12 tuner) and Gretsch (dely, chorus, fuzz, tuner), and his Martins are fitted with Fishman Acoustic Matrix II pickups.
Like Lightfoot, Clements favours Ernie Ball strings. "They're great strings," he says. "In my many years, very few times have I ever come up with a lemon. They hang right in their, too." He favours gauges .050, .040, .030, .022, .015, and .010, very light for something like a Martin D-18, but, he says, "I have to use a lighter set because I do a lot of bends." Clements uses nickel-wound electric stings on the Gretsches. "The Country Gentleman's neck is so long," he says, "that I can't use a .017 unwound. Instead I use a .020 wound, which is fairly heavy for an electric." His capo is a Hamilton, which he describes as an "orthopaedic device" compared to the sleek modern designs.
Clements has a 000-size McGlincy that is identical in appointments to Lightfoot's dreadnought. He also keeps a Martin 0-18 strung in Nashville tuning - with the bottom four strings on octave higher than standard - and a couple of gut-string guitars I his studio, complemented on the electric side by a '60s Rickenbacker 360-12 (as played by Roger McGuinn), a '59 Stratocaster, a '79 Telecaster, a Fender bass, and a Gibson Les Paul.
(typed by Gerhard Menzel)