It's been a while since I did a What's happening, I've been blogging specific topics of late. However I find myself in front of a computer with an hour to kill, so it's a good oppurtunity to waste yours and my time ;)
On the arrangement side of things, I've completed my cover of "Hysteria", and am quite pleased with the result. I struggle with the solo, so I'm going to sit on it for a few more weeks until I can play it adequately. My covers on youtube are all rough, because they represent me only just being able to play the song...I really need at least 6 months to "bed it in". But, when the arrangement is complete and I can play it adequately, I'm all excited about it and could never wait the six months, so I throw it out there, unpolished and all. I don't think I'm the only one like that.
Now you'd think after thousands of years of people writing stuff for the guitar, and people playing covers of it, that arrangements would be a been-there done-that sort of affair. However I am constantly impressed and amazed when I see my favourite solo instrumental fingerstyle players churn out something unique and new, and wonder how we ever got this far without doing *that*! I'd never pin my lifes dreams or earning on my Hysteria cover, but I'm still excited and a little bit pleased that I've come up with something not totally groundbreaking, but kinda cool and never been heard like that before.
The joys of solo instrumental fingerstyle guitar :)
Meanwhile, my Esteve 1GR11 is finally starting to feel good. Let me clarify - from the moment I heard it unplugged I know it was good; after a month it felt good, and now, must be more than six months later, it is just starting to sound good plugged in.
The road has been a bit arduous - the task was to find a really nice classical guitar, install a really nice pickup, and end up with a really nice plugged in sound. My mate Roman recently pointed out "why don't you just use a mic?" which sounds way too sensible; worse still, in a shop I came across an Alhambra (Naudo's choice of guitar) which I though you could not get easily in Australia, and when I played it plugged in it sounded _great_. The unplugged tone was not as nice as my Esteve, but the plugged in tone exceeded what I had come up with, at least it did through the fairly nice amp in the shop. Let's just say it was a lot cheaper than how far I'm into my Esteve to date...
But now, the Esteve plugged in tone is nearly there. I need to make a new saddle, I filed the one I'm using at the moment a little too far in places - but you do need to do that sort of thing, probably several times, before you really nail it. Call it experimentation.
I grabbed an oppurtunity Sunday afternoon to sit out the backyard where I could crank my little amp and see how it sounds. It was there I hit a wall. Another bloody wall, excuse my 'Strayun.
I'm still using my little buskers amp, which has an okay sound and an okay volume. It was up loud enough that I couldn't really hear the unplugged guitar, all the sound was coming from the amp. It was sounding nice, so I started playing some of my usual stuff.
I began to tense up. I know when I'm tensing up, because I start to play fast, and pick really hard, press too hard on the frets - generally very unrelaxed. When I start tensing up I get frustrated and tense up more. A bottle of amber muscle relaxant can usually de-tense the situation, but I was all out.
I was fighting the guitar, fighting the sound coming at me, fighting myself. I realised then I had hit yet a wall. I'm not good (yet) at playing loud and amplified. Arghh! Why on earth does that make a difference!?
Well of course it will. You play to the sound you are getting, it's not like you can put earmuffs on and play just as you would normally play. Playing the guitar is a dynamic, fluid, feedback system, you respond to the sound you are getting, and play to it. I'm used to playing unplugged, or when plugged in I can normally still "hear" the guitar the amplified sound because I keep the volume down to appease the family. I just don't spend much time playing loud, and as much as I've tried to make the amplified sound just like the unplugged sound but louder - I'm not used to it.
Yet another wall blocking my path. I'm sure there are many more to come, in fact there probably is no end to the walls. But hey, if it wasn't a challenge, why would you bother? :)