Monday 6 June 2011

What's happening June 2011

Poll 3 results are in, I'm quite enjoying these polls. The thing about polls is that people like to vote on them - they are quick, easy, and kinda fun. The site is getting around 500 hits per day, which is largely due to YouTube people coming for tabs, but nonetheless the stats show me that around 1 in 40 visitors still vote on a poll.

This poll was "How many times a week do you play guitar?", the results from 184 voters show me that you are pretty serious with your playing!

89 (48%) : Every single day 
65 (35%) : Almost every single day 
20 (10%) : 2 or 3 times a week 
6 (3%)   : Once a week 
4 (2%)   : Less than once a week 

I've been getting a bit more playing in than normal myself, and, not surprisingly, the more I play the better I play. Last week I felt like I was playing great! Just my usual repertoire; but everything was flowing and it felt really good. The beauty of being "in the zone" is that you start to get more emotion and feeling into your playing. Which makes it even more enjoyable. Basically it goes something along the lines of: learn how to play the guitar; learn how to play a song; learn how to play the guitar well; learn how to play the song well; be able to pour emotion, love, heart into the song! Okay, maybe a tad oversimplified.

I even dragged the amp out into the backyard, cranked it, and went through some songs I was enjoying playing. Wifey was not all that pleased: "Why do you have to play so loud? I think that is rude to do that to the neighbours." But, in my defence, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and it was the first time this year I have played plugged in. Playing acoustic unplugged and plugged is different; I usually only play unplugged. If I ever get around to lining up some gigs (I'll save that for another blog) I need to be able to play plugged in. I need the speaker loud enough that I can't hear the guitar I'm holding, just the sound that is being amplified to me. And then, I play off that sound.

I put my phone down in front of the amp in record mode, sadly, it recorded 45mins of auto-gained distortion. I'm quite sure nobody would want to listen to a recording of me play for 45mins, but there *might* be somebody, so I'll tweak some settings on the phone and record again next time. Promise.

Speaking of recording, I watched a YouTube clip of kjjmusic play "Air on G string" last night. Beautifully played, but what really captured my attention was the superb audio recording. He'd used a Zoom Handy H1. Up until that moment, I thought my plugged in recording was pretty good. The H1 took digital recording up another notch. NOOO!!! Now I want one! :)

Changing subject; apparently, some of my mates like to know when I'm going to next put out a video. Well, I'm in a strange place where I have "Take me Back" done but I'm not happy enough with it yet. Also, I'm past the honeymoon period, and I've stopped enjoying playing it. Usually I have recorded a video before I've stopped enjoying it. (And in 6-12 months, I will probably start enjoying playing it again. Circles and cycles :)). "Howzat" is great, but I need to create the bridge. Which requires time and effort. I don't think I can let that one out the door without the signature key-change/bridge. So, on hold. And finally, my AC/DC medley which consists of "You shook me all night long", "Who made who", and...well there's the problem. I've got the first two ready to go, but I don't know what to do with the third. Yes; it needs a third. I wanted to go with "Back in Black" but I haven't been able to arrange anything cool/playable enough for it. Toying with "TNT", which would be simple enough, and probably quite effective, but again, time and effort. I'm enjoying just playing too much at the moment!

Meanwhile, I was going to say something about my guitaristy. Wasn't going to, was going to...well, maybe let me skirt around it a bit.

I follow blogs of other musicians, and guitar teachers, and well, they are great. Consummate professionals, all class, great people to boot. Passionate about music. Live it, breathe it, want to share it with you. Now I haven't self deprecated for a while, but just to clear up any misconceptions with my mates - I'm not a musician, far from it. I play the guitar pretty well but that's it - so long as you aren't looking for perfection, I strive for "good" not "excellent". Because playing the guitar represents only a small (but important) part of my life. Additionally guitar for me is at least 50% "a physical challenge" as it is music, and I'm a persistent bugger when it comes to challenges; I don't stop. I describe myself as a "programmable guitar playing robot". And I like to talk. And I like to share.

But what I found was there are other people out there - in fact probably the norm, not the exception - just like me. Guitar is a hobby that brings joy; who don't have the time or inclination to immerse themselves in all-things-music, who in fact just want to be able to play some nice fingerstyle even if they have no idea what they are doing; even if it is just programmed in like a robot. Welcome to one of the middle grounds of music. I hope I've helped out in your quest for joy. We are here (hand on heart gesture). Amen Brother, and Sister.

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Well, that was definitely true to form original JAWs Guitar Ramblings. See you again when I have something more coherent to say!


  1. HEy Jaw, I agree with you about the polls. It's nice to hear about what other people like. I especially enjoyed the "what kind of guitar you play" poll. Obviously I went for the Big Steel (its all i have) but Its very interesting to know the diverse preferences out there.
    You once mentioned that I should get a classical. Care to elaborate or is it as simple as "more room on the fretboard" I must admit after that comment I have given some serious thought to picking up a Sunday paper and heading straight to the classified ads. :) When I can afford a decent one I will surely get it.
    For now I'll make do :) Plagued by injuries, (I've separated my R shoulder yet again and my finger is being stubborn) I haven't been able to practice much of anything. I can't wait though. I look forward to learning more from your collection.

    Good Times,

  2. For me it was an easy call. I'd already played nylon for many years prior to switching to steel. I like to play on fingernails, and closer to the bridge than I should - which sounds really bright(harsh) on steel, more mellow on nylon. I've got long enough fingers that a wide neck doesn't represent a problem, in fact the wide neck helps fingering.

    You won't like a classical at first, you'll find the neck fat and restricting, the stings will feel like giant lacky bands - and yet so thick! Tuning is horrible - constantly tuning - the sun goes behind a cloud and it goes out of tune.

    And yet, the most beautiful controllable sound you can create. Such a wide range of dynamics is achievable. When I went from nylon to steel, I had to learn to "dig in" to get a good sound. Now I have to undo that, and give myself the freedom to use the dynamics that is available.

    Borrow one for a while. Or pick up a secondhand one - most beginners use nylon so there are heaps of cheap ones out there (although people don't seem to sell them, even the pawn shops don't have racks of cheapies). Make sure you get a fullsize one though! You might not like it enough to want to keep going with it, so don't spend too heavily. But definitely put a fresh set of strings on (and be amazed how long it takes for them to bed in; nylon is very stretchy. It will be at least a week before they are stable.)

    I can't see me going back to steel. Steel has a big bright bold sound, but nylon more than makes up for that with its flexibility.

  3. Yeah, I always meant to ask you about the place you play on the strings. I've seen many people do it. It almost seems that their wrist is propped on the bridge of the guitar.. kinda like you do in "Time". I have tried that and it is extremely uncomfortably. I can see how it may make the "finger flicking" easier, but I just cant seem to grasp all of the strings with my wrist planted right there. It's hard top explain but it seems like my hand is then not in my familiar angle of attack. (i usually play with my wrist suspended high in the air and my fingers standing nearly vertical over them, hanging down. This seems very different than what i see in others, but it is comfortable for me. It could be the reason I am having so much of a problem with "finger flicking" as a result of a lack of stabilization in that hand.
    anyway.. ramble ramble..

    Good to hear from you buddy,

  4. The trick is definitely to be able to play in any position. I'm normally a high in air wrist, no anchor, but quite far back towards the bridge. I think it's because the tension feels good there; you get a positive feel to the plucking. The "balance" of your arm feels a bit better there too. When I come up to the soundhole for that really smooth mellow effect, I feel out of balance and the strings very rubbery.

    But more than that, you need to be able to get your wrist really low too, for effect. Palm mute the bridge and play like that for a while. Palm muting is another great effect, but also feels awkward.

    If you can play anywhere up and down then you have yet another dynamic at your disposal - the sound is different in each spot. Even on a steel string ;)

    Rambling is pretty much all that happens here!

  5. Ryan, I could have written that myself!
    I also play with my wrist suspended and its horrible to fingerflick. Thats the main reason I don't learn JAW arrangements anymore, sadly.
    And I also want to try a classical.


  6. Ah, I feel better now :) Its hard to plant that palm on the bridge! maybe the structure of some of our hands is a bit different and leads us to desire one style or the other when we are learning on our own.
    I can DEFINITELY see its benefits, however. When I am able its gonna go on _the list_ :)

    Ryan G