My 1957 Martin 5-18 is a half-sized guitar. In THE LION, it plays the role of the little guitar that dad gave to me when I was small, and on it I play the song “When We Get Big.” I saw this guitar in Matt Umanov guitar shop some years ago, and I knew the wood! I knew that it was the same piece of wood –from the same tree– out of which my father’s 1957 Martin OO-21 had been built. It looked like somebody had put my father’s guitar in the dryer, and shrunk it. In the show, it’s tuned a half-step up from standard.
My Les Paul Goldtop Deluxe built by Gibson in 1972. This guitar represents the young rock-and-roll years in THE LION. I use it to play “Saint Rick” and “Lovin’ You Will Be Easy.” It’s a loud guitar. It can growl, cry, scream, purr. It’s very leonine. In the show, it’s tuned a half-step down from standard.
My 1929 Martin O-18 plays the roll of Dad’s Old Guitar. It’s a beautiful instrument, very light and delicate, quiet and gentle. It’s the only guitar that starts the show in standard tuning.
My Martin OM-18 is a modern copy of a 1937 model that Martin built. It’s the driest sounding acoustic guitar on stage. It’s tuned to DADGAD.
My FROGGY BOTTOM H-12 and my FROGGY BOTTOM K-14 are siblings:
I have two guitars built by the company Froggy Bottom, who are based in Vermont. The K-14 has a longer neck and a bigger bum than the H-12: so the H-12 is the boy, and the K-14 is the girl.
My FROGGY BOTTOM H-12
The first Froggy I got –a model H12– was a 30th birthday present from my brothers. The guitar’s top is Adirondack spruce; the back and sides are Madagascar rosewood. The hardware is silver-colored steel. On the neck-heel is a painted lion.
Michael Millard is the master luthier who builds these instruments. Though I’d played his instruments for years, it wasn’t until July 2015 that I met Michael. He came to a gig of mine and introduced himself afterwards. I’ve since visited his workshop. He’s a wonderful man. And he makes really good guitars.
In THE LION, I use this guitar to play “Build A Bridge,” “Invisible Cities,” and “When This Thing’s Over.” It’s the instrument with which I recorded “Cookie-tin Banjo,” and it’s on most songs on the forthcoming album “Songs from THE LION.” Oh, and I wrote lots of the show with this guitar. It starts the show tuned to drop-D.
My Froggy Bottom K-14 was built specifically for THE LION. I warm up backstage with it, walk on stage with it and play the first song of the show, Cookie-tin Banjo.” It’s also used for the songs “Dear Dad” and “The Lion.” The top is Adirondack spruce; the back and sides are walnut. The hardware is gold-colored. And like its brother the H-12, it has a painting of a lion on the neck heel.