Sunday, 14 November 2010

What's happening November 2010

After at least three months of vague pain and discomfort in my left hand pinky when playing stretchy fingering passages, I finally did two things - saw a doctor and saw a physio.   Both did the same test - held their had with opposing force against my pinky, push up, down, left, right - is there any pain?  No, not really.  They also did a joint check - see if there is movement in the knuckles - I guess to check for signs of arthritis.  Doc said I'd overstretched a tendon, rub rubbing cream into it, especially before and after playing guitar, see how it comes up.  Physio said come back next week, she'll do some massage on it and a bit of acupuncture(?!)  But both said - "you need to stretch before and after playing".  You get ten points Roman, I knew you were right sometimes I'm in denial :)

Interestingly, the physio said that with the guitar there is a lot of emphasis on downwards pressure, but very little on upwards pressure so the muscle groups get out of balance.  I'll report more when I've seen her again!

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"Take me Back" is pretty much sorted, just putting the time in to get it more smoothly playable.  Not bad, good fun, won't be popular on youtube but I've taken the responsibility of getting more Australian classic rock arranged for fingerstyle...so it just needs to be done!

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Still doing saddle work on my guitar pickup.  Every time I change strings I file the saddle slightly to balance out the sound a bit more.  The string type make a difference so you can't go too silly, for example some strings might cause the G string to be really over powered, others won't.  At the moment I'm using hard tension but I think I'll go back to normal tension.  Hard tension just encourages me to play hard, whereas I should be playing with a good dynamic expression - soft in places, hard in others, in the middle for the rest.  Not hard everywhere!

But anyway, there was definite over power in the G string and bass E string.  The E bass string  was dominating the lower strings, which if you were only playing the E would be great, but when the D string is only coming through half as loud as the E when plucked the same way...well, needs adjusting.  I had filed the saddle on a slope across the top, high on the bass E and low on the treble E.  This way there is more pressure directed by the lower strings.  I simply took off some of the slope in the bass to drop down the height thus the pressure and thus the string volume.

G string is different - it's in the middle, don't want to drop that down from the top!  What I had been doing for that one is scalloping out underneath the saddle - basically so less of the string pressure is contacting on the pickup.  It was already scalloped a bit, I scalloped it a bit more.

End result - G is close, still a bit loud, E is better balanced, maybe a tad loud.  D string has dropped off a bit, maybe due to G string scalloping, maybe just the set of strings.  Plugged in sounded really nice mostly thanks to the new strings, I think next set I'll do normal tension and see how it goes without touching the saddle.  As the saying goes, if you fiddle with something long enough you are bound to stuff it up :)

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One last what's happening - over the years I've seen quite a few people play, of all things, Super Mario Theme for fingerstyle.  My oldest daughter loves her Nintendo/Mario, so I thought I'll grab the tab and learn it, she'd love it.  Watched the first one on youtube with a tab - pretty good.  Have a go at the tab.  Hmmm.  Nah, that bit isn't a good resolve.  Euw, awful positioning I'd do it down here.  Right, let's look at the next tab.  Hey, that isn't even the right note!  That bit should be played up higher.  I would put the bassnote for that part here, not there.  I'm not liking this.  I know, Iggy plays a good version, no tab, I'll get some inspiration from him.

...what I'm trying to show here is that I can no longer use tabs.  I just can't play something the way someone else has tabbed it.  No surprises there, I don't even play my own tabs exactly the way I write them out!  It's good, and it's bad.  Good because I'm doing exactly what I tell everyone else to do - take a tab, modify it, make it your own.  Bad because I just wanted to be able to play a little tune for my daughter without going to the lengths of partially re-arranging it! :)
JAW

Monday, 1 November 2010

Fingerstyle Database

Realised that there are now hundreds of great fingerstyle guitarists posting videos on youtube, but don't know how to find them? Have we got a solution for you! :)

Since a brief exchange of comments on this blog, Roman and I discussed creating a "fingerstyle database", which would contain all the fingerstyle guitarists that we have got something out of listening to, so that we could share our discoveries with others.

The criteria was simply fingerstyle guitarists actively posting videos that the average person would take something away with after listening to. That is a subjective point of contention - what I take away from listening and watching a fingerstyler won't be the same as you. Broad examples would be a fingerstyle guitarist producing their own arrangements - even if they aren't that great - because the next person might be inspired to take the work further. Someone playing a tremendous cover of someone else's arrangement, just for the pure listening enjoyment - that would also be a keeper.

However someone playing a poor video/audio/rendition cover of someone else's tab, well we'd have to say no. We want the database to be punchy, quick and full of great surprise findings - we don't want to wade through hundreds of players that although sure they can play a tune, they aren't adding value to us visiting them.

I'm sure it will be a point of contention, but I think you know what I mean, so let's see how it goes!

What does the database give us? Name, website (usually youtube because it is so prevalent, but doesn't have to be), the style of fingerstyle (on the left extreme is the nylon string classical player, on the right extreme is the percussive tappin' steel string player), whether they are an arranger, whether they have tabs, and a quick description.

What can you do? Everyone who visits can give a thumb up to a player! This way "the public can decide" who is the pick of bunch worth listening to. If you have a few players you'd love to see added, shoot Roman or me a message and we'll add them. if you are really excited by this and would love to be a part of it, email me and I will make you an administrator - with the ability to add, edit or delete players.

Features? Aside from the aforementioned "public opinion" with thumbs, and administrator access if you'd love to be a moderator...well, you can sort any column by clicking on the column heading. There'll be a "new" icon next to any players that have been added in the past 90 days, so you only have to check four times a year to keep up :)

Now I'm not really a programmer; this is all hacky perl scripts and the database itself is an imitation XML text file, so the features are limited. On the plus side, if you have some great ideas that Roman and I didn't think of, and it doesn't require too much effort, I can probably hack it in!

Without further ado, I welcome you to beta test JAWs Fingerstyle Database - feedback and bug reports appreciated!

JAW