Instrument Talk Levelling up with Caleb Cross - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Caleb Cross - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we see this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their musical talents to the next level!
In the spirit of levelling up your music, through this month we are also profiling the amazing staff of KBB Music. These are the incredible helpers you will meet at our stores who have also have vibrant musical backgrounds. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments they recommend to budding Kiwi musicians.
Born and raised in the Bay of Plenty in a family of musicians, Caleb Cross always knew he would lead a life filled with music. Despite his extensive musical talents, his main weapon of choice is the acoustic guitar, as well as his voice.
Although it is still early days in his singer/songwriter career, he has already performed live with Kiwi legends such as Jason Kerrison (Lead singer of Op Shop) and has recently released his new single, ‘Changing’ – check it out here!
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were your breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
My biggest breakthrough moment was actually my first ever performance.
I first picked up a guitar when I was 9 years old, as I wanted to enter a talent quest being held at ‘Parachute Music Festival’ in 2010. I learnt how to play and sing ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz, and went on to actually win the competition. This gave me the opportunity to sing in front of 20,000 people on the main stage – at 10 years old!
Since then, I’ve won multiple other singing competitions such as the Mount Maunganui Busking Festival in 2011 and the Far North Voice in 2012. I’ve been performing consistently ever since, and actually went full time as a professional musician in 2019, performing at different restaurants, bars, weddings and other private/public events.
In 2020, I decided I wanted to move away from playing covers and give the original music scene a go. This led me to move to Auckland, In which I now create/release original music and work at KBB Music.
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
The one instrument of mine that I hope to never part with, is my Takamine acoustic guitar.
I’ve had it for close to 10 years now, and I personally think it sounds much better now than it did when I first got it! It was an extremely generous gift from my Uncle and it’s definitely been through every single up and down of my career so far. It’s an instrument that I plan on keeping for as long as I live.
What instrument would you recommend to other guitar players?
Beginner – Takamine GD11MNS
If I was to recommend an acoustic guitar to a beginner, it would definitely be the Takamine GD11MNS. Not only is it a fantastic guitar at an affordable price, but it will also last someone a long time if treated well. It’s super easy to play, and the all mahogany wood creates a beautiful warm tone - perfect for singer/songwriters like myself!
Intermediate – Taylor All Koa GS Mini-E-Electric Acoustic Travel Guitar
For an intermediate level, the Takamine GD11MNS would still be great! But as you’re progressing, I’d definitely look at buying one that includes a pre-amp - allowing you to plug into a PA system and show off your skills to an audience. The GDM11MNS would be a great choice, as you are still getting that beautiful warm tone from the mahogany wood - plus it’s a guitar that’s super easy and comfortable to play!
If you are wanting something a bit nicer quality, I’m also a big fan of the Taylor GSMINI in Koa wood. It’s a smaller body which makes it feel easier/more comfortable to play, but the tone you get from it is consistently beautiful.
Professional – Taylor 214CE CW/Electric Acoustic Guitar
For a professional, you should definitely be looking at guitars that have a solid wood top. My favourite brands at this level would be Martin & Taylor.
In my opinion, at this stage in your musical journey, it’s really down to personal preference and what the player finds most comfortable – but you can never go wrong with a Taylor! The Taylor 214CE is a great option as you get a very full bright tone and its super easy/comfortable to play. I enjoy getting a sneaky play in whenever we manage to get one in store! They never seem to disappoint. But like I said, it’s all about what the player finds most comfortable.
Keen to chat further with Caleb? You can find him at the KBB Music Epsom store in Auckland where he will help you find the gear you need to level up your music