Maple or Walnut? Choosing the Right Wood for the Neck of Your Country Music Acoustic Guitar

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As a country music enthusiast, you understand the importance of a great acoustic guitar. When it comes to choosing the right wood for the neck of your guitar, it can be a daunting task. Should you choose maple or walnut? Both woods have their unique properties that can affect the sound and overall feel of the instrument. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two woods, compare their sound qualities, consider other characteristics to think about, and provide tips on choosing and maintaining your guitar. So grab your pick, tune your strings, and let’s dive into the world of maple and walnut neck guitars.

Overview of Maple and Walnut Woods

Overview Of Maple And Walnut Woods
When it comes to selecting the perfect wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, you have plenty of options to consider, but two popular choices are maple and walnut. Both woods have unique characteristics and properties that can impact the guitar’s sound, playability, and overall look. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of maple and walnut, highlighting their distinct features and qualities, so you can make an informed decision about which wood is right for you. If you’re interested in learning about other woods commonly used in country music guitars, including rosewood, koa, Sitka spruce, and more, be sure to check out our related articles and resources.

Maple Wood

Maple wood is commonly used for guitar necks because of its strength, stability and bright tone. Here are some key characteristics of maple wood that make it a popular choice for guitar necks:

  • Density: Maple is a dense hardwood which gives it strength and durability. It has a tight, uniform grain structure which contributes to its stability.
  • Tone: Maple has a bright, punchy sound that emphasizes the upper-midrange and high frequencies. This makes it a good choice for guitarists who need their notes to cut through a mix.
  • Aesthetics: Maple’s light color and attractive figuring (such as bird’s-eye or curly figuring) make it a popular choice for guitar necks. It is also frequently used for fretboards.
  • Stability: Due to its density and uniform grain structure, maple is less prone to warping and twisting than other types of wood. This makes it a reliable choice for guitar necks, which need to maintain their shape and playability over time.

Maple is a versatile and reliable choice for guitar necks, especially in the country music genre, where clarity and brightness are often desired. If you’re looking for a guitar with a maple neck, check out reputable guitar brands that use this tonewood for their instruments. For further information and tips about different types of wood used in country music guitars, check out this article on tonewoods for country music guitars.

Walnut Wood

Walnut wood is often used as a neck wood for country music acoustic guitars due to its unique characteristics that create a warm and deep tone. Here are some features of walnut wood that make it a popular choice among guitar makers:

  • Color and Appearance: Walnut wood’s color ranges from light brown to dark chocolate brown with streaks of darker brown or black. The wood has a straight grain that is generally open and can appear wavy or curly. The unique color and exquisite patterns of the wood make it an aesthetically pleasing material to work with, and many guitar players adore the look of walnut necks.
  • Density: Walnut wood is a relatively hard and dense wood that makes it a durable and long-lasting choice for guitar necks. The density of the wood contributes to the sustain and resonance of the guitar, which affects its sound.
  • Stability: Walnut wood is a very stable wood that is less prone to warping than other woods. This stability makes it ideal for use as a neck wood as it withstands changes in temperature and humidity over time.
  • Tone: Walnuts wood is known for producing a warm tone with a lot of midrange and bass frequencies. This tone suits country music well, making walnut neck acoustic guitars a favorite among many country musicians. Walnut wood is often compared to mahogany wood, but walnut wood has more low-end richness, while mahogany wood sounds brighter and somewhat snappier.

Walnut wood is an excellent choice for a neck wood for country music acoustic guitars. Its unique appearance, stable nature, and rich tone make it an ideal wood for the neck. If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar with a walnut neck, there are many options available on the market or you can have one custom made. Some popular guitar brands that offer walnut wood necks include Taylor, Martin, and Gibson.

Comparing Maple and Walnut Neck Guitar Sound Qualities

Comparing Maple And Walnut Neck Guitar Sound Qualities
As a guitar player, you understand that one of the most important features of your acoustic guitar is its tonal quality. The wood used to construct a guitar’s neck can play a significant role in the overall sound of the instrument. In this section, we’ll compare the sound qualities of two popular woods used in guitar neck construction: Maple and Walnut. By understanding the unique sound characteristics of each type of wood, you can select the best option for your playing style and preferred music genre.

Maple Neck Tone

Maple is known for producing a bright and articulate tone, making it a popular choice for country guitar players who prefer a crisp and clear sound. The tone produced by a maple neck guitar is characterized by a strong attack and sustain, which creates a defined and punchy sound. Maple neck guitars also tend to deliver excellent note separation, making it easy for players to distinguish individual notes even when playing complex chords.

One of the reasons that maple shines as a tonewood is that it has high density and stiffness, which translates to increased sustain and a brighter sound. However, some players might find that the brightness of maple can be overwhelming, and that it lacks warmth in comparison to other woods. This is why it is important to choose the right wood combination for the type of country music that a player wants to play.

The tone of maple neck guitars is versatile and dynamic, making them a great choice for many kinds of country music, from classic western swing to modern country rock. Yet, it is important to keep in mind the other characteristics of maple necks such as its density and stability when choosing a guitar.

It is also worth noting that some guitar manufacturers offer different types of maple necks, such as roasted or flame maple, which can enhance the tonal qualities of the wood. For players who want to experiment with different maple neck variations, there are many options available in the market.

The tone of a maple neck guitar is characterized by its brightness, clarity, and note separation. It is a versatile choice for country players who prefer a defined and punchy sound. However, it is important to consider other factors such as density and stability when choosing a guitar. For more information on other tonewoods and wood combinations, check out best wood combinations for country guitars or the sustainability of wood in country guitars in farm-to-guitar sustainability.

Walnut Neck Tone

When it comes to the tone of a guitar neck made from Walnut wood, there are a few distinct qualities that set it apart from other types of wood commonly used for guitar necks. Here are some of the key characteristics to consider:

  • Warmth: One of the most notable aspects of the Walnut neck tone is its warmth. This tone quality is often described as rich, mellow, and even slightly dark. It can work well for a variety of musical styles, including country music, blues, and jazz.
  • Sustain: Walnut also tends to offer good sustain, which means that notes and chords played on a Walnut neck guitar will ring out clearly and for a decent amount of time. This can be especially beneficial for solos and leads, where it’s important to let notes breathe and sustain for maximum effect.
  • Clarity: Despite its warm and mellow qualities, a Walnut neck can still provide good clarity and note separation. This is important for intricate fingerpicking patterns and chord progressions where each note needs to be heard clearly.
  • Mids: Walnut necks often emphasize the midrange frequencies of a guitar’s tone, making them a popular choice for players who want a slightly more pronounced midrange sound.
  • Less Bright: Compared to Maple, Walnut is generally less bright and has a more subdued top-end. This can work well for players who find Maple too bright or want a more understated tone.

If you’re looking for a warm, rich, and slightly dark tone for your country music guitar, a Walnut neck might be the right choice for you. Keep in mind, however, that tonewoods are just one factor that contributes to a guitar’s sound. Other factors include body shape and construction, string gauge, and more.

If you’re interested in exploring other tonewoods commonly used for country music guitars, you might want to read more about the significance of Ebony in country guitars.

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Other Maple and Walnut Neck Characteristics to Consider

Other Maple And Walnut Neck Characteristics To Consider
As you consider the right wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, it’s important to consider additional characteristics that can impact sound and playability. In particular, density, stability, and aesthetics are important factors to keep in mind. Choosing between maple and walnut neck guitars can come down to these unique features. However, these characteristics may not outweigh other factors such as the genre of music you plan to play or your personal preferences as a guitar player. To learn more about other desirable woods for country music guitars, you can check out our guide to woods for country music guitars, which includes information on rosewood, koa, Sitka spruce, ebony, and ADK spruce.

Density

When choosing the right wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, density is a characteristic that should not be overlooked. Density plays an important part in determining the tone and overall quality of the guitar. Both maple and walnut woods have different densities, which can impact their sound and feel.

Maple Wood Density: Maple wood is a dense, hard wood that is known for its strength and durability. Its density makes it a popular choice for guitar necks as it helps to provide support and stability to the strings. Maple neck guitars are known to produce a bright and punchy sound, making it a popular choice for country music. Additionally, the dense nature of maple wood makes it resistant to warping, which is a common issue among guitars with softer woods.

Walnut Wood Density: Walnut wood is a medium-density wood that is known for its rich, warm tones. Its density allows for a good balance between sustain and responsiveness, creating a well-rounded sound with a strong mid-range. Walnut neck guitars are great for producing a dynamic playing experience, making it a popular choice for guitarists who like to experiment with different tones.

It is important to note that density is not the only factor to consider when choosing between maple and walnut neck guitars, but it can certainly impact the overall sound and feel of the instrument. Other factors to consider include stability, aesthetics, and genre considerations.

If you want to learn more about the significance of various types of woods in country music guitars, you can check our article on Rosewood Country Music Guitars. Alternatively, if you want to know pros and cons of using Koa in acoustic guitars, you can check our article on Pros and Cons of Koa Acoustic Guitars. Another popular wood for country music guitars is Sitka Spruce, you can read about it in our article on Sound of Sitka Spruce in Country Guitars.

Stability

When it comes to choosing the right wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, stability is an important factor to consider. A stable neck means that it is less likely to warp or twist, and will maintain its shape over time. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Maple: Maple wood is known for its stability and durability, making it a popular choice for guitar necks. Its tightly packed grain and dense nature help to prevent warping, twisting or other changes in shape that can affect the sound quality of your guitar over time.
  • Walnut: Walnut wood is slightly less dense than Maple, which can make it more prone to shifting or warping over time. However, with proper construction and treatment, a walnut neck can still provide great stability and sound quality.

Factors like humidity, temperature, and overall care can impact the stability of your guitar neck regardless of the wood type. That being said, both Maple and Walnut necks are popular choices for country music acoustic guitars due to their stability, making them solid options for any musician.

If you’re looking to learn more about the different types of woods used in country guitar-making, consider checking out our article on the significance of ebony in country guitars, or read up on the benefits of ADK spruce for guitars as well.

Aesthetics

When it comes to choosing the right wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, one important factor to consider is aesthetics. Both maple and walnut have unique characteristics that make them visually stunning.

Maple neck guitars:

  • Light-colored wood with a fine, even grain pattern.
  • May have a quilted, flame or birdseye pattern that adds depth and dimension.
  • Often used for guitars with a vintage or classic look and feel.
  • Can be stained in a variety of colors to match the guitar’s body or create a custom look.

Walnut neck guitars:

  • Dark, rich-brown color with a visibly pronounced grain pattern.
  • May exhibit streaks of lighter or darker shades that contrast beautifully with the main color.
  • Used for modern, sleek-looking guitars that emphasize the wood’s natural texture and character.
  • Often paired with lighter-colored bodies, such as ash or alder, for a stunning visual contrast.

Ultimately, the choice between maple and walnut necks will depend on your personal taste and the style of guitar you want to create. However, by considering aesthetics along with other factors such as density and stability, you can make an informed decision that results in a guitar neck that looks as good as it sounds.

Choosing Between Maple and Walnut Neck Guitars

Choosing Between Maple And Walnut Neck Guitars
When it comes to selecting the perfect wood for the neck of your country music acoustic guitar, the decision can be overwhelming. Both maple and walnut woods boast their unique strengths, from tonal qualities to density and aesthetics. But how do you decide which wood is right for you? Let’s explore the factors you should consider when choosing between maple and walnut neck guitars. It’s important to keep in mind that this decision ultimately depends on your personal preferences as a guitar player and the country music genre’s specific requirements. So, let’s dive in and see what wood is the best match for you!

Country Music Genre Considerations

When considering whether to choose a maple or walnut neck guitar for your country music style, it’s important to take your genre into consideration. Each type of wood offers its own unique sound qualities that may be more appropriate for certain genres of music. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Sound: If you’re looking for a brighter and snappier sound with plenty of definition, then you could opt for a maple neck guitar. On the other hand, if you want to achieve a warmer and darker tone with a lot of sustain, then a walnut neck guitar might be the better choice.
  • Tradition: If you prefer to stick to the traditional sound of country music, then a maple neck guitar might be more appropriate. Maple is typically the more traditional and popular choice for country music players, with many classic guitars featuring this type of wood.
  • Experimentation: If you’re interested in experimenting with new sounds and styles, then a walnut neck guitar could be a great option. Walnut is still relatively uncommon in the world of country music, so it could offer a unique and distinctive tone that sets you apart from other players.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and the specific sound you’re looking to achieve. Country music is known for its twang and rich tonal palette. While maple neck guitars are the more traditional and popular option, a walnut neck guitar could offer a unique twist on the genre that helps you stand out from the crowd. Consider experimenting with different woods to find the perfect tone for your country music style.

Guitar Player Personal Preferences

Every guitar player has their unique preferences, which can strongly influence their choice between a maple or walnut neck guitar. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Comfort: The feel of the neck is just as important as its tonal qualities. Some players may prefer the smoother, slicker feel of a maple neck, while others may prefer the slightly rougher texture of a walnut neck. It’s important to try both types of necks to see which feels more comfortable to play.
  • Look and Style: The appearance of a guitar is always a consideration for many guitar players. Maple and walnut have their unique aesthetics that can better highlight the design of a particular acoustic guitar model. Some people might prefer the lighter, brighter look of maple, while others may prefer the darker and more subdued look of walnut.
  • Playing Style: Your playing style can also determine which neck is best for you. For instance, if you have a lighter touch and a more intricate playing style, a maple neck may be better for you as it has less sustain than a walnut neck. However, if you like to strum more aggressively and sustain notes for longer periods, then a walnut neck is the way to go.
  • Budget: Although both types of necks can be comparable in price, some guitar players may have a budget in mind. Maple necks may be more affordable, while a walnut neck guitar may be more expensive due to the scarcity of the wood.
  • Past Experience: If a guitar player has a preference because of experience playing one type of neck over the other, then that can influence their decision in choosing a maple or walnut neck guitar. It’s always a good idea to stick to what works for you.

Ultimately, the final decision will come down to personal preferences. Whether you want a sleek maple neck or a more rustic-looking walnut neck, make sure you try out both before making your final decision. It’s also worth consulting with your local guitar store or luthier as they can offer valuable advice based on your playing style, budget, and genre of music.

Where to Find Maple and Walnut Neck Guitars

Where To Find Maple And Walnut Neck Guitars
Once you have decided whether a maple or walnut neck guitar is the right choice for you, the next step is to find where to purchase one. Luckily, there are many different options available for buying these types of guitars.

Music Stores

One of the most obvious places to find maple and walnut neck guitars is at music stores. Guitar Center and Sam Ash are two major retailers that often carry a wide selection of acoustic guitars, including those with maple and walnut necks. Visiting these stores in person can be helpful, as you can try out different guitars to see how they feel and sound. Employees can offer guidance and advice on choosing the best guitar for your needs.

Online Retailers

In today’s digital age, many people prefer to shop for guitars online. Online retailers such as Amazon and Sweetwater offer a wide selection of maple and walnut neck guitars at competitive prices. These sites also allow you to read reviews from other buyers, which can help you make an informed decision.

Luthiers and Custom Builders

If you are looking for a truly unique guitar, you may want to consider working with a luthier or custom builder. These professionals can create a completely custom guitar that meets all of your specifications, including a maple or walnut neck. While this option can be more expensive than purchasing a mass-produced guitar, it allows you to have a one-of-a-kind instrument that feels like it was made just for you.

Used Guitars

Finally, if you are on a budget, you may want to consider purchasing a used guitar. You can often find used maple and walnut neck guitars at pawn shops, guitar shops, or on sites like Reverb. While there is always a risk when buying a used guitar, you may be able to find a high-quality instrument at a fraction of the cost of a new one.

No matter where you choose to purchase your maple or walnut neck guitar, it is important to do your research and ensure that you are buying from a reputable seller. This will help you avoid scams and ensure that you are getting a high-quality instrument that will provide you with years of enjoyment.

Ways to Customize Maple and Walnut Neck Guitars

Ways To Customize Maple And Walnut Neck Guitars
Whether you’re an experienced player or just starting out with your guitar, you might want to add a personal touch to your instrument. Customizing your maple or walnut neck guitar can help you stand out and make your guitar playing experience even more enjoyable. From add-ons and accessories to different wood combinations, there are several ways to add some uniqueness and flair to your guitar. Let’s explore some of these options in detail:

Add-ons and Accessories

When it comes to customizing your maple or walnut neck guitar, there are a variety of add-ons and accessories available. These add-ons and accessories can enhance the playing experience as well as the overall look of the guitar.

Table: Add-ons and Accessories for your Maple or Walnut Neck Guitar

Add-on/Accessory Description Benefits
Strap locks Securely fastens guitar strap to the guitar Prevents guitar from falling and potential damages
Pickups Electromagnetic device placed near guitar strings to capture sound Offers a range of sounds, from bright and clean to warm and mellow
Capo Clamps down on the strings to raise the pitch of the open strings Allows for easier chord transitions and new song possibilities
Tuners Helps you tune your guitar Improves overall sound quality and ensures pitch accuracy
Slide Small metal or glass tube that is worn over a finger and used to create slide sounds Provides a unique sound and can be used in a variety of playing styles
Pickguard Protective plate placed on the body near the strings and pick-ups Prevents scratches and damages from pick strums
Strings Flexible metal wires that vibrate to produce sound Can change the overall tone and playability of the guitar

By adding accessories like strap locks, pickups, and capos to your maple or walnut neck guitar, you can enhance your playing experience and create a unique sound. Additionally, add-ons like tuners and pickguards can help protect your guitar from wear and tear.

Customizing the wood combination of your guitar is another way to make it unique. For example, you can consider getting a maple neck and a walnut body or vice versa. This combination can produce a unique sound that is different from having an all-maple or all-walnut guitar.

Ultimately, the add-ons and accessories you choose for your maple or walnut neck guitar will depend on your preferences and musical style. Whether you want to enhance your sound or protect your guitar, these additions are a great way to make your instrument truly your own.

Different Wood Combinations

Customization is a great way to make your acoustic guitar stand out, both visually and sonically. One way to do this is by experimenting with different wood combinations for the neck.

Maple and Rosewood: Maple necks paired with rosewood fingerboards are a popular combination in acoustic guitars. This pairing can produce a bright and clear tone with good sustain. It’s a classic combination that can be found on many acoustic guitars.

Walnut and Ebony: Walnut and ebony create a warm sound that is full of character. Ebony is a beautiful and durable wood that complements the rich, chocolatey hue of walnut. When paired together, this combination can produce a tone that is deep and resonant with a crisp attack.

Maple and Pau Ferro: If you prefer a brighter, snappier sound, consider pairing a maple neck with a pau ferro fingerboard. Pau ferro is a dense, oily wood that is often used as a substitute for rosewood. Together, these woods produce a bright, articulate sound that is great for players who want to cut through the mix.

Walnut and Maple: Walnut and maple make a beautiful pairing that produces a well-balanced tone. Maple is a bright and punchy wood that can add snap to the low-end walnut tone. It can also enhance the sustain of the guitar. Together, it creates a classic, timeless look and feel.

Maple and Ebony: For a bright, crisp and smooth sound, maple and ebony is an excellent choice. Ebony is known to add a clear, glassy tone with exceptional sustain. The combination of maple and ebony makes the guitar sound rich and full of character.

Walnut and Mahogany: When walnut and mahogany are combined, it produces a warm and full-bodied tone. Mahogany has a warm sound and a great sustain, while the walnut adds a unique character to the tone. Together, it makes the perfect blend for a guitar that is flexible to play.

Maple and Mahogany: Finally, pairing maple and mahogany creates a distinct and vintage sound. This pairing is commonly used for country music acoustic guitars. The maple brightens up the tone and adds a brilliant range, while the mahogany produces a rich and balanced sound.

When it comes to choosing different wood combinations for your guitar, the possibilities are endless. Keep in mind that the tonal qualities may vary depending on the individual pieces of wood used. Experimentation is key to finding your perfect combination.

Maintenance Tips for Maple and Walnut Neck Guitars

Proper maintenance of your maple or walnut neck guitar is essential to keep it in top playing condition and preserve its lifespan. Here are some useful tips to help you maintain your guitar:

Clean Your Guitar Regularly: Use a soft, lint-free cloth to clean your guitar regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and sweat from accumulating on the wood. A slightly damp cloth can be used to wipe away grime and sweat stains from the neck.

Avoid Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Maple and walnut woods can easily warp and crack due to changes in temperature and humidity. Avoid exposing your guitar to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, and always store it in a cool and dry place.

Keep Your Guitar Properly Humidified: Both maple and walnut woods are susceptible to cracking in excessively dry environments. Keep your guitar properly humidified using a humidifier and a hygrometer to ensure that the humidity levels are in the appropriate range.

Regularly Check and Adjust the Neck: As a guitar ages, the neck can warp or become misaligned, affecting its playability. Regularly check and adjust the neck’s alignment, intonation, and action to ensure that it is playing correctly.

Use Appropriate Guitar Strings: The type of strings you use can also affect the lifespan of your guitar. Opt for high-quality strings that are appropriate for your guitar’s neck wood and avoid using strings that are too heavy or light for your guitar’s setup.

Get Your Guitar Professionally Serviced: If you are not comfortable performing maintenance on your guitar, take it to a professional to get it serviced regularly. A professional can perform a thorough cleaning, assess any damages or wear and tear, and make necessary repairs to keep your guitar in top condition.

By following these maintenance tips, you can help ensure that your maple or walnut neck guitar stays in top playing condition and lasts for many years to come.

Conclusion

After considering the sound qualities, density, stability, and aesthetics of both Maple and Walnut woods for guitar necks, it’s clear that both options offer unique advantages. Maple wood is known for producing bright, snappy tones, while Walnut wood produces warmer, more mellow tones. In terms of density and stability, both woods are strong and durable options for guitar necks.

Ultimately, choosing between a Maple or Walnut neck guitar will depend on personal preferences and the genre of music the guitarist plays. For those in the country music genre, the warmer tones of a Walnut neck may be preferred, while those in other genres may prefer the brighter tones of a Maple neck.

If you’re in the market for a Maple or Walnut neck guitar, there are plenty of options available from various guitar manufacturers. Additionally, there are ways to customize your guitar with add-ons, accessories, and different wood combinations to truly make it your own.

To keep your Maple or Walnut neck guitar in top condition, it’s important to properly maintain it. This includes regular cleaning, adjusting the truss rod as needed, and storing it in a safe, humidity-controlled environment when not in use.

In the end, whether you choose a Maple or Walnut neck guitar, both options offer unique characteristics and advantages that can enhance your playing experience. So consider your preferences and needs, and choose the wood that best suits you and your playing style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between maple and walnut wood?

Maple is a harder and denser wood than walnut, but walnut is slightly more stable and has a unique grain pattern.

Which wood is better for a guitar neck, maple or walnut?

It ultimately depends on personal preference and the desired sound qualities. Maple tends to provide a brighter sound, while walnut produces a warmer tone.

Do maple and walnut have different densities?

Yes, maple is denser than walnut. The density of the wood can affect the sustain and overall tone of the guitar.

Do maple and walnut have different levels of stability?

Walnut is slightly more stable than maple, which can be important in areas with varying humidity levels.

Does the grain pattern of the wood affect the sound of the guitar?

Yes, the grain pattern and density of the wood can affect the sound quality of the guitar.

Which type of wood is more aesthetically pleasing?

This is subjective, as both woods have their own unique grain patterns and can be visually appealing in different ways.

Are there any considerations for the country music genre when choosing between maple and walnut necks?

It may be worth considering that maple necks are commonly used for country music, but ultimately it depends on individual preference.

Can you customize a maple or walnut neck guitar?

Yes, there are a variety of add-ons and accessories that can be used to customize a guitar, as well as different wood combinations.

How do you maintain a maple or walnut neck guitar?

Regular cleaning and conditioning with appropriate products can help to maintain the integrity of the wood and prolong the life of the guitar.

Where can you find maple or walnut neck guitars?

You can find maple or walnut neck guitars at music stores or online retailers that specialize in acoustic guitars.

References

About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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