"I've been traveling with RainSongs for quite a few years now and I've always loved the feel and stability of the instruments. The beauty of the carbon/graphite neck is that I can put the guitars in a lower tuning without the neck relaxing, which means the action stays the same, no matter where it's tuned. Since my standard tuning has become DADGAD over the years, I can count on the guitar responding the way I want it to, whether I use medium or light gauge strings.
For the APLE, I chose the OM size body since it is really the perfect size for solo fingerstyle players. The frequency response is more evenly balanced across the strings and the high strings have a sweetness that doesn't happen with a bigger guitar. It's much easier to mix in an ensemble or duet setting as well. Since I play with my wife Amy White much of the time, we like to set up her guitar to produce the big bass bottom while I fill in more of the mids and highs. It makes for a much cleaner sound.
I like 12-fret necks for a number of reasons. Moving the neck forward by two frets also moves the bridge more into the center of the top, which, to my ear, gives the guitar a bit more sweetness and warmth. Physically, I find it easier to play since I don't have to extend my left arm away from my body as far to get to the lowest frets. In recent years, I've had to deal with arthritis and tendonitis issues in my left shoulder, so a shorter neck really helps me play with less pain
The development of the unidirectional soundboard by RainSong seems to have solved one of the issues that most people have with carbon graphite guitars. By replicating the grain that happens naturally in a piece of wood, this top seems to vibrate more like a wood top, resulting in a bit more of a natural response in the lower frequencies without messing up the balance in the mids and highs. It makes it extremely easy to mic the guitar for live performance or in the recording studio since EQ is not necessary to take any "boom" or "mud" out or to add highs in.
The all-carbon body construction, the OM body shape and the 12-fret neck working together with the unidirectional top produces a clarity that is truly spectacular. This combination has never been available in this size guitar before and I am very excited about it. The Gotoh SGV510Z tuners are amazing and they make possible a degree of precision tuning that professional and amateur fingerstyle guitarists alike will really appreciate, especially if they use a variety of altered tunings like I do.
The Fishman Prefix system by itself is one of the best sounding under saddle pickups I've ever tried, but I've always felt that amplifying an acoustic guitar in that way alone can't reproduce the sounds we hear acoustically as the result of sound waves moving through the body and out of the sound hole. With the addition of a microphone in the Premium Blend system, you can blend in just enough of the microphone to make it sound and feel more natural. It's also set up so that you can send either a premixed mono signal from the guitar or send the mic and pickup out separately in stereo so that they can each be EQ'd and adjusted independently to sound their best. Many sound engineers prefer two signals because they can send a different mix to the house and monitors if feedback from the mic is an issue. I prefer to blend the two sources on the guitar and send out a mono signal.
I prefer simple decoration on my guitars and always have. I'm also somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to design. I've wanted RainSong to make a plain fingerboard for many years and I also felt that if they could make it look more like a wooden guitar, it might appeal to more people in the world of fingerstyle guitar. With this new APLE model I got my wishes. The plain fingerboard and simple pinstripe sound hole rosette in place of sharks and fancy abalone seem to be more fitting on a guitar being used in an acoustic setting. And to top it off they've come up with a beautiful tobacco sunburst finish instead of the standard jet black. This guitar looks like a vintage instrument from the audience and I even think that the finish they use to create the sunburst contributes to the tone by making it "rounder" sounding. Of course, that may just be in my head, but I feel like I can hear a difference. I love it when folks come up after a show and say "that guitar sounds great, what kind is it?"-Al Petteway
The RainSong Al Petteway Signature Model (APLE) is built in limited numbers and includes the deluxe hardshell case.