Monday, January 28, 2008

how dumb are guitarists

How dumb are guitarists (at least according to marketing)? Apparently very, very, very (perhaps up to 11+ on the dumb-o-meter).

“Re-issue”, “classic”, “special re-creation”, “original… formula”, “celebrates a return”, “vintage tones”. (Not bad for a 130 word press release).
But seriously, ladies and gentlemen: strings that are “hand-wound slowly”? “vibrate completely”? with “maximum sustain”? and “warm”?

Give me a break.

Monday, January 21, 2008

the three ages of jazz pt. 1b: the nursery

Continued from pt. 1a…

the early bird (continued)

We’re joking about jumping up on stage and playing free jazz for this extremely hip ’bop club audience.

   …At least, I assume we’re joking.

Yet another conservatory band later, MH comes and shouts something into BC’s ear. It’s loud in the club so I don’t catch the conversation, but as MH struts towards the stage, BC, while opening the sax case, turns to me and says, “I think we’re on.”
I barely have time to parse what BC’s just told me. Before I can ask for confirmation, BC’s picked-up the soprano and headed for the stage.

   …Like I said, we’re running on pure adrenaline.

I fumble with my guitar, throw the case onto a crowded table, realize I don’t have a strap (I’ve been a sit-down player), hope there’s a chair I can use on stage, almost collide with TL and the bass, stare blankly at a wall of amplifiers that (apparently) every band has contributed to. I plug into one amp, can’t figure out the controls (goddamn high-tech, German engineering), try another… TL launches into the bassline for ‘Lonely Woman’, I stagger from the amp wall, hoping that the level ain’t too high or low, and realize I’m sans volume pedal. Oops.
We don’t stick with ‘Lonely Woman’ long; BC half-heartedly blows the first A of the head, but gives up for some post-Coltrane ‘free blowing’ (I realize later that I’ve never heard BC be so straight). I’m far, far, faaar too loud.
And I have no idea what I’m doing…

   …at all.

We’re done, the audience, to my surprise, cheer. BC turns ’round with the biggest smile you’ve seen in your life.

At Free Jazz Central, I kept asking TL if my volume level was too high, and now I’m apologizing again to the bass player for being waaaay too loud. TL says “not at all”, but I’m unconvinced, and BC laughs that I’m the only guitarist they know who worries about being too loud. I make a mental note: try and be a little less concerned about my volume level in the future. (I’ll be reminded of this many days later when some of my less capable students demonstrate a inflexible sense of volume. But that’s another story….)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

the vertical guitar(ist)

Well, in the guitar / guitarist / luthier sphere there’s that never ending quest to finally reengineer the posture. Considering how old the problem is, there’s surprisingly little in way of lateral thinking solutions.I’ll admit I’ve managed to be ignorant of Paul Galbraith until a few minutes ago, but he does seem to have an interesting solution.