Sunday, July 20, 2003

Lenny Breau eat your heart out
I'm not a very modest person, so I don't mind telling you I'm pretty damn good at guitar. What always puzzled me though is that, while other guitar greats I've heard of like Lenny Breau and Jimi Hendrix seemed to start at a very young age (well, I'm not sure when Hendrix started playing) and they were apparently obsessed with guitar, playing 16 hours a day and other such nonesense, I didn't start until I was 12 years old, and I, for the most part, rarely practice, and yet I'm clearly pretty good at it. I always thought to myself, "man, if only I was as devoted as Lenny." Well all that has changed now.

Today all I did was play guitar. Even more than 16 hours, try 20 hours (although I didn't count.) I woke up, grabbed the guitar, and played in bed. I went downstairs and played while watching TV (I distinctly remember playing along to a Star Wars-like march during a comedy routine on The Comedy Network at one point.) When I had to go out to buy cigarettes, I considered bringing the guitar along, but thought better of it when I noticed it was raining out, not to mention that playing a classical guitar while walking is rather ludicrous. But nonetheless, I raced home and played it some more! I absolutely love this guitar. I read the "owner's manual" and found out it is handmade, even though it doesn't say so on the sound-hole sticker. All Takamine guitars are handmade apparently. That's awesome. I love how the wood has imperfections in it too. My own personal "echo effect"* sounds incredible on it, too. I wrote a great intro to a song using the "echo" to full potential.

It's not a perfect guitar though. The frets are higher off the fretboard then I'm used to, so the low (wound) strings make a scraping sound when I do vibrato. This isn't a huge problem considering I'll be using it through amplifiers and stuff alot, and also I don't generally do alot of vibrato on the low strings. (It is an absolute rule for me to do vibrato on the high strings though. It's something I learned you should always do years ago and it's burned itself into my mind.) I had a guitar once (that I only kept for a week or so) that had this scraping problem even on the high strings. I couldn't possibly keep it. Another problem is that sometimes when you hit alot of strings too hard at the same time, there's a little ringy sound coming from the bridge. I strongly suspect this problem to be the ends of the strings rubbing against something, although I've been too lazy and the problem too insevere to actually fix it.

All in all, it's a great instrument.

*The "echo effect" is a weird technique that was a mystery to me for years. I remember this from the first song I ever wrote, it was just there. A weird "echo" would occur on certain notes I'd hit, only when I'd hit them with a certain "passion". People (myself included) could only explain it by saying I had a "special touch". It wasn't until a year or so ago that I actually found out what the hell was going on. It turns out that, when the guitar is perfectly in tune, if I hit such notes that have particularly prominent harmonic brothers (like E, A, D, G, B), the resonating of the note would somehow trigger its harmonic compatriots on other strings. After deducting this, I began to write some crazy echo stuff with my new-found powers. Anyway, so that's the "echo effect". Now everyone reading this will know my secret and realise I'm not a magician when they hear it for themselves.