Custom Search

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When life just gets in the way..

Music is a hobby for most, and unfortunately, unless you make it a priority, you will constantly find more important things to do than practice playing. 
Furthermore, when you do get a chance to set aside some time to play, generally you'll gravitate to what you do well as opposed to drilling your weak areas. There's a reason I'm much better at playing in open G than any other tuning!
Sometimes, you need to hit the reset button, get back to the basics, and work on your foundation.

Oh..And when you figure out how to do this reliably, tell me how you did it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A word on bridge material...

What the post title is referring to is what material you use for the bridge of your guitar. The material used for the bridge is frequently a synthetic for most guitars, but also can also be maple, or ebony, or else bone.
I recently decided to change my material and secured some bone material and secured it to the spider with an industrial-strength resin. If you don't already know, sanding or filing down a dense wood like ebony, or an even denser material like bond is time consuming.
What I will tell you is that the bone definitely kicked up the volume by a notch or two and also helped with the sustain.
Shaping of the bridge is important as well, since you can unintentionally mute the sound or create a harsh buzzing sound if you do it incorrectly.(More on this later)
If you're looking for a brighter sound aim for a denser material.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Re: Thumb injury

Well, I'm happy to say that my thumb is back to being fully usable. Now I can go back to my slide practice.
I know it sounds pathetic, but not practicing for this long bums me out and makes me wish I had a 5-star healing factor. I've been listening to a fair bit of Harry Manx recently.
You should really check out the way this guy plays. I personally recommend "Live at the Glenn Gould Studio" and "Wise and Otherwise" as go-to albums. Also, if you don't already know about this guy, check out Ry Cooder. In particular, check out the theme song to a movie called "Paris Texas", which is very foreboding and atmospheric.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Protect your thumb!

Every once in a great while, you forget every scrap of common sense and you do something that hindsight screams you shouldn't have.
In my case, it was a matter of a little whittling gone horribly awry.
I did my college best to excavate a chunk of meat from the pad of my thumb with my too-sharp general-purpose knife. As soon as the shock wore off, and I'd mummified my thumb so thoroughly that I looked like the Elastoplast(tm) poster-boy, I realized just how important my right thumb was to my particular style of guitar playing.
In less specific instances, however, it occurs to me that arthritis can be just as debilitating to a player. For this reason, I'd suggest that if you're performing household or workplace jobs, use the best tool for the job, and avoid overuse of your thumbs.
They need to last you a lifetime.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tunings, tunings & more tunings...

If you hadn't heard it before, I will inform you now:

To be familiar with playing slide guitar is to be intimately familiar with alternate tunings.
Most of these tunings are open tunings in a particular key. Open G is extremely prevalent, as are open D, open C, open A & open E. Open tunings, are, quite simply, tuning the strings of the guitar so that strumming all of the strings will produce a single coherent chord. That chord is frequently a major chord, but I also use minor tunings to produce a more ominus atmosphere to some of my compositions.

Because of the use of open tunings, it becomes easier to focus your attention on right hand fingerstyle techniques and picking patterns, , alternating & monotonic basslines, banjo-rolls, etc....

All of this is not to say that it is impossible to play slide blues with standard tuning (EADGBE), but it is trickier to successfully accomplish, since the chances of gliding along 2 or more discordant strings is significantly greater. When in an open tuning, everything you play generally sounds harmonious. If you DO decide to play slide blues in a standard tuning, be sure to do your homework on how to properly dampen the strings that you do not intend to play at any given time, or the results will be ugly!