My Songwriting Tools

What you see in the picture are a few of my favorite things. My acoustic guitars on which I write songs. My bed. And the western sun shining on them. Minnesota is a cold place, so sunshine is precious. And I like it that way.

The smaller guitar is my 2019 Taylor GS Mini-e. The first new guitar I bought off-shelf since the very first guitars I owned. The thing I love about Taylors is their modern brightness and dynamics. I’m a hard strummer and I want my acoustic guitar to keep giving the harder strum, and this remarkable small instrument does. It is LOUD. It quickly became my go-to songwriting instrument, because it’s small and easy to play, which is important. I tend not to write on electric guitar because that instrument has too many options. When I’m writing I need the simplest and easiest thing so the instrument doesn’t distract me.

The bigger guitar is my 1989 Martin D-16M. I bought that guitar some time in early 2000s. It is a bright and bold guitar also and I wrote many many songs on it, though compared to Taylor it sounds a bit traditional for my taste. That guitar was owned by Eliza Gilkyson, an Austin, Texas based professional songwriter, and it spent many years on the road. I’m not a huge fan but I respect her and I like the mojo and vibe of owning a road-worn instrument. In my tenure I got it even more worn (I’ll tell you about a huge hole I made on its side another day) but it’s still my work horse.

I put Elixir strings on them which don’t need changing often. I recently put a new set on the Martin but I moved them to Taylor and am trying a new lighter set on the Martin.

I’m a huge gear head, guitar gear is my fascination. The other day my daughter asked me why I have so many, but I imagine it’s like having a few different paintbrushes. You can do a lot with one but having an arsenal gives me more range. I also believe in limiting one’s options and not owning what I don’t need. But with my guitars I see myself continuing to expand.

What tools are your favorite? What do they mean to you? Let me know in comments.

My acoustic guitars