Thursday, 23 April 2009

What's happening April 2009

I haven't put in much guitar playing recently, again it's all work work work, family commitments and a two week holiday in my country retreat (okay, I've got a guitar there, but I don't play it much).  Generally it's a bit of a low spot in my life for guitar playing, which is a shame but reality, guitar playing is just a hobby.  As I've always said "working sure takes a big chunk out of your day".

I'm practising "Head over Feet" every now and then when I get a guitar in my hands; it's finished and memorised, but I struggle to play the solo cleanly.  I've really created something difficult for myself there, how very Bohemian of me ;)

I'm still building my battery powered amp, and it is nearly finished.  I've actually played through it and it's not bad.  Coming off a battery it is absolutely noise-free, I found it a bit boomy in the bass, I was hoping for a very flat frequency response.  I specifically built it "funny shaped" to try to address resonant frequency issues, but I've built it light weight with thin walled material so that is probably where resonances are coming from.  However, it didn't have a back panel on it at the time, I plan on making it an infinite baffle enclosure and stuff it with wadding so that should flatten things out.  Already though, it is looking to be a good amp.  Very powerful as well, and yet, not very hungry on the juice.  I was measuring a peak of about 1.5Amps (at 12VDC) for a very acceptable loudness in my shed, ie, I couldn't hear the sound of the guitar in my hands, only the amplified sound.  On the 7.2Ahr battery that means the battery will last much longer than I could play for!

I'm going to have to confess something here however, I'm in a mode of denial, escapism and fear.  I've wanted to start playing publically for well over a year now, and I'm sure that I am good enough for it.  But fear has caused me to be constantly finding excuses.  At first it was because I couldn't get a good sound out of my guitar.  So I bought a new guitar.  Then it was that I couldn't get a good plugged in sound, so I shopped around for amps, and found quite a few that were nice.  Then I said "but it has to be battery powered for the street", which none were.  Since I had previously built battery powered amps in the past, I took to making my own.  And I have dragged it on and on and on.  It is very close to finished, there is no reason why it couldn't be operational next week.  But see, that means that I have to start performing ;)

Once I am performing, I know I am going to love it.  That is a double edged sword, because I will want to do it more, and practise more, and all that other stuff which takes away from my family and work.  That scares me a bit as well.

But fear is not a good reason to not do something, and a bit of self control to avoid getting obsessed is good for the soul. day, soon, okay? ;)

Talent versus Persistence

It has become apparent to me, and it might even be true - no matter how much you practise and try, you cannot make up for a lack of talent.  You can come close, but you'll never achieve what you weren't born with.  Before we all hang our guitars on the wall to gather dust, or start flaming me for outrageously negative statements, let me explain:

First of all, you don't believe me?  If it weren't the case, then all you need to do is keep practising and you could be a Tommy Emmanuel/Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods/any leader of their skill.  Take Sungha Jung, he's what, 13?  I have probably played the guitar for at least twice as many hours as he has in his life - probably a lot more - yet he is superior player to me.

There is that edge, something different happening in the brain, in talented people.  Something that isn't learnt, it just is - like being born with the genetics to be two metres tall rather than one metre fifty.  But unlike being tall, or short, which is something obvious we can see (and we're happy there is nothing we can do about it), we can't see what is happening inside a brain, and whatsmore we can get pretty close to what those talented people are why can't we push on a little further to achieve the same?

Fortunately talent isn't everything; I won't try to put a number against it, but I'm sure that an un-talented person (such as myself) who has put in a lifetime of persistence is going to do better than a talented person who hasn't.  The hard slog will pay off in the end, thank goodness - otherwise nobody would bother - but watch out, when those with talent start putting the hard slog in too, well, it's lucky we have day jobs, and we're primarily playing the guitar for our personal enjoyment ;)