Patty Larkin's main guitar is a 1993 Olson SJ Cutaway (Olson Guitars, 11840 Sunset Ave NE, Circle Pines MN 55014; (612) 780-5301) It has an Engelmann spruce top and rosewood back and sides. The neck is a five-piece construction of rosewood, maple and mahogany, and features an ebony fingerboard with a 25 11/32-inch scale length. Larkin says, "I first learned of Jim Olson's guitars from David Wilcox. I was looking for a new guitar that had a faster neck, a cutaway and enough bass. The Olson has these features, and the five-piece neck really helps when the guitar is put into different tunings. The neck holds up to the low notes and doesn't move around. Because of my addiction to my D-18, Jim custom designed the neck according to Martin specs in width and length, but the depth is thinner. Jim also built the guitar top with spruce rather than his usual cedar, to give me more of the punch I'm looking for. It's a beautiful instrument."
On tour, Larkin runs the Olson through a Pendulum HZ-10SE pre-amp, using a combination of pickup and AKG 480 condenser mic. Larkin says, "In performance, I run the Dual Source through the Pendulum preamp in order to warm up the sound and get a fat bass sound that the microphone will not allow. The Pendulum is a very flexible piece of equipment that has power from here to eternity."
The Olson is rigged with a Baggs LB6 pickup that replaces the saddle. "The Biggs pickup on the Olson gives the instrument a very warm sound, and the Pendulum preamp can handle the lower frequencies of the detuned strings," Larkin says.
Larkin's blue Fender Strat is a 1957 reissue made in the late 1980s. She plays it through either a black-faced Fender Princeton Reverb or a Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb Amp-Reissue. She uses the Boss RC-20XL Boss Loop Station
for looping the electric live through a Boss dDgital Delay pedal and a TreModillo vibrato pedal.
Larkin strings her acoustic guitars with John Pearse Phosphor Bronze wound New Medium, and she uses Kyser capos.
Guitarbox summary written by Julie Bergman, Acoustic Guitar, January 1998. Updated for the website, February 2008.
The Guitar of Patty Larkin
Creating Powerful Arrangements
taught by Patty Larkin
available through Homespun Tapes
Patty Larkin is widely known for her compelling, emotionally charged songs and powerful guitar techniques. On this lesson , she explores her guitar style in precise detail, demonstrating her unique tunings, fingerpicking style, rhythms, chord ideas, and just a touch of slide guitar. She teaches you how to play some of her most popular songs, including "Tango," "Booth of Glass," "Dear Diary," "Open Hand" and the funky new hit, "Wolf at the Door."
Patty breaks each song into distinct sections, carefully demonstrating how she gets the most out of each chord and each technique. With elements of jazz, funk, Celtic music and rock infusing her songs, Patty Larkin is the ideal teacher for those who want to add spice and color to their music. Her ideas are certain to spark your creative powers and help make you a better player and composer.