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Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar

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Album Review

It isn't every day that acoustic guitarists make their instrument sound a lot like an Indian sitar, but that is exactly what Matthew Montfort accomplishes on the instrumental Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar. What exactly is a scalloped fretboard guitar? According to, guitar maker Ervin Somogyi took an acoustic guitar back in 1978 and "carved out the wood between the frets so that the pads of Montfort's fingers touch only the strings, reducing friction while he bends them to produce ornaments more characteristic of the sitar." And while that might sound technical to those who aren't professional musicians, there is no question that the scalloped fretboard guitar that Montfort plays on this early-2009 release is very sitar-sounding. Traditional Indian music is a strong influence on instrumentals like "Purple Raga," "Gauri the Golden," and "Lilalit," which is not to say that this is a traditional Indian album in the Ravi Shankar vein. Instead, Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar is best described as world fusion; Indian music is an influence, but it isn't the disc's only influence — and Montfort also draws on everything from Spanish flamenco to blues to folk-rock. Celtic music is an influence on "Celtic Raga," which successfully combines Irish-Celtic and Indian elements. Through it all, Montfort demonstrates that even though he has considerable chops and technical prowess, he is much more interested in feeling and expression than technique. This 56-minute CD is an adventurous, consistently engaging demonstration of what Montfort can accomplish on the scalloped fretboard guitar.

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Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar, Matthew Montfort
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