My Emperador Dove acoustic

My acoustic guitar. Old, cheap & awesome.

Up until now, guitarnerd has been pretty much just electric guitars. It’s not that I don’t like a good acoustic guitar, it’s just that they don’t enthrall me as much as a good classic electric does. This is probably down the the fact the most acoustics look exactly the same… a Martin dreadnaught ripoff. I like a bit of variety… I don’t really like playing something that everyone else has got.

When I first moved to Brisbane, I joined a band called Tongue who played 3 sets every Friday & Saturday night at the Indie Temple club, which was on the second floor of the old Embassy Hotel in Brisbane. 2 acoustic sets and one electric set. Up until then, my acoustic was a fantastic little Ibanez ArtWood Martin O Series copy, with a solid top. It was a lovely little guitar, but the small body combined with the fact it had no pickup made it a bit unsuitable.

I bought one of those Dean Markley wooden pickups that slide into the sound hole, but it sounded pretty thin. I was getting drowned out by everyone else and the fact I couldn’t EQ the sound meant I was stuck with what ever setting the mixer gave me. Well, this meant one thing… time to buy a new guitar.

I traded in my beloved 1993 black Les Paul Standard (Looking back now, I have no idea why I did that. I loved that guitar and wish I had it back.) on an equally beautiful violin burst 1996 Gibson Blues King Acoustic. This was an absolutely stunning guitar with a shallow V profile neck that felt like the best ’62 Gibson SG you’d ever played. The back & sides were all flame maple. Plus it had a cutaway so I could do some guitar solos here and there. Oh and the most monstrous acoustic pickup system I’d ever heard. It was like they shoved a PAF humbucker in there somewhere. I probably had the volume on 2 the whole time I owned her.

I played the Blues King every night for about 13 months… enjoying how it played and sounded. The thing I didn’t enjoy was seeing how many little knocks and dents she was accumulating from the shows. I rarely buy brand new guitars for this reason alone. Every new dent was like a knife in my gut. One time a guy came up and wanted to borrow my guitar to play a few songs to his mates. We were playing at his birthday party and he was a bit drunk, so thought it’d be great to play some Cold Chisel covers. I flat out said no. One, I didn’t know the guy. Two, my acoustic was worth 4 grand. And three, he was drunk. He got pretty offended at that but screw him. That’s all I needed, some drunk dude mashing out barre chords on my pride and joy.

After I finished up with Tongue, I didn’t play my Blues King very often. I loaned it to a friend of mine to record but that was about it. I intended to have this guitar for the rest of my life and had an image of me in my 70’s… playing simple blues songs on a porch somewhere with a bottle of whiskey next to me, my gnarled fingers only able to pluck out a few licks here and there. But I knew that there’d always be this thing in the back of my head of “Don’t scratch her.” So I needed a guitar to play that I didn’t care about scratching… one that I could just leave next to the couch without worrying if the cat would knock it over.

So I started trawling through the various pawn shops near my area. After a few weeks, I found this for 200 bucks.

It was an old Gibson Dove copy by Emperador, who is basically Ibanez.This was part of their lawsuit series, and the headstock is VERY close to the real thing…

It came with some pretty crappy tuners, so I fitted some Klusons which I’d taken off my SG. They certainly looked the part. One has recently decided to fall apart, so I’ll have to fix that soon.

I loved that it was beaten up, I loved the fact it had the same inlays as my Blues King and best of all I loved the way it played. The neck was a little narrow, deep and with a slight V. And the action was the lowest I’d seen on a acoustic. It had a few issues, but nothing that I couldn’t live with. The biggest was that the bridge had been reset rather sloppily. It still played and sounded fine, but whew… what a mess.

I loved the scratch plate. It looked like melted toffee and suited the country and western vibe of the guitar. The paint detail around the Dove had been long worn off, but who cares. It looked great.

The back of the guitar was suitably cool. A cherry red with light flame and some nice inlayed details. The Coop sticker was my added touch.

Another added touch were some vintage water transfers that I’d found in a little shop in Toulouse, France. I thought they’d look perfect on her… and they do. They’re mini works of art. I only wish I’d thought about their locations more. In my excitement to put them on, I didn’t really think about it. Oh well, too late now. I have one left of a beach pinup girl, which I’m saving for whenever I get a Gretsch White Falcon.

The last bit of customisation came by accident. One day, I was reaching for something on a high shelf and knocked off a vintage radio, which luckily had it’s fall broken… by my Emperdor. A nice 20 cent sized hole in it’s side was the result. (The radio is fine.) If this had been my Blues King, I would probably have cried for a week. Being that this was my Emperador, I looked around my room for something to fix it with. In my younger days, I collected car badges from cars that I found abandoned under trees on my friends farms. I happened to have a compliance plate from a 1957 Ford Mainline Ute which I thought might do the trick. I smothered it in glue and there you go. Instant fix and some more added coolness. Win win.

So, for the last 13 years, this has been my main acoustic. My Blues King is long gone. The dreams of playing her on a porch have been updated with me playing this guitar instead. Maybe one day I’ll get an old Maton acoustic as well…