"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."
I've made no bones about not admitting how difficult it is for me to play electric guitar. I'm an acoustic "boom-chucker" from way back. Too play louder, we just used a heavier pick and played harder.
Needless to say, my electric gutiar technique is, shall we say, "aggressive." I have really had to work to lighten up my touch.
A while back, I divested (a guitar players term for "traded in") all my electrics except for the Squire Strat that my friend Joe gave me a couple of years back. Actually, it is a Fender body, with the old Fender style neck with larger headstock. Bullet truss rod adjustment, and the old 3 screw neck to body joint.
I tried putting "9's", "10's", and "11's" on it . . . but that dad-gum non-wound G . . . I could never keep it in tune. I learned how to intonate an electric, adjust the neck, measure and change the radius. But still . . . no joy in Mudville . . . electric guitar is just a totally different approach than acoustic.
My friend Scotty (a master Tele player, man he is good) gave me a set of D'Addario EXL110W Nickle wound strings last week . . . it's a set of "10's", and the G string is wound, like a lot of jazz and old school Tele players use. It's good to have friends like Scotty. So, I put them on my Strat. Scotty said I would notice the difference.
Yeah . . . I did. Not saying I love them. I haven't had them on long enough yet to come to that conclusion . . . but at the least these strings have me interested in trying a bit harder to put it all together. My goal . . . to be a decent rhythm electric guitar player. Bar-chords and power-chords are fine with me. I have a little more intonating to do . . . then we will see where this all leads.
Yesterday evening, I was asked to sing at our monthly "Be Our Guest" Dinner here at the church. This is a monthly meal where we provide a special sit-down dinner for the people who live around our church. It is well attended, with usually 100+ people joining us for dinner. Last night was no exception.
I took my Taylor NS-74 and plugged it in to the house system . . . and the troubles, at least in my mind, began. Something was shorting out . . . and the guitar just sounded "snotty" for want of a better term. I hate fighting a guitar, especially one that has been good to me in the past. I actually felt like smashing it on the floor.
OK . . . time for some counseling maybe??
So, I ran upstairs and got my Fishman amp. Problem with the guitar solved! Then the mic connectoin went out . . . so I plugged my mic into the amp, and hit the 100 watt button. Seemed to do the job.
I made the decision last night that I need to use a monitor more often. Hoping Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works can make a suggestion to me.
So . . . I left last night thinking . . . "not the quality performance I like to provide."
Today . . . I have already received 3-4 "hey, you did a great job last night!" from various people. They seemed sincere. I guess I did better than I thought.
Most of the venues I sing at, we do not need microphones or amps. At area children's hospitals, we actually walk around, more or less as traveling minstrels, to various places we have been assigned for the day. Using electronics . . . in truth . . . I still don't have much experience, and to say that I am unsatisfied with my current set up is an understatement.
My day began with my attending one of our Iron Men Bible Study locations. We have two that meet on Thursday mornings, and a new Thursday evening group that will begin meeting tonight.
Then I went to my office at the church to grab my Guild 12-string, then off to Dallas and Children's Medical Center. My TME (theraputic music entertainment) partner, Larry Dykstra, and I sang to over 200+ children and adults in several different clinics and other locations.
Lunch with my wife followed, a wonderful mid-day respite.
Then back to my office at the church for phone calls, and reading several chapters of John Eldridge's Wild at Heart, and Rob Bell's Love Wins, then I allowed myself a few minutes on the Martin Guitar website to lust after their new jumbo baritone guitar.
I will leave here shortly for a wedding rehearsal, then home.
A busy day.
As much as I write and talk about how singing and playing guitar "fills" me with energy, I have to admit that so does reading a really good book. What is dissappointing, is that there are not that many really good books. But the two I am reading now are both worth the effort to take in every word.
Tomorrow I will be over at Grapevine Guitar Works for a couple hours of work, helping to front and merchandise the showroom. That will give me some energy because I enjoy doing something totally different on my day off.
Also, the wedding I will officiate at tomorrow . . . a great couple, with a lot of wonderful time ahead for them filled with many possibilities. Weddings fill me with energy.
Reading a Bible verse over and over . . . seeing others involved in random acts of kindness . . . risking the trust needed to develop truly deep relationships . . . all fill me with energy.
And then there are those special words and thoughts, which can only be from God. Today the word was . . . you are happy when you are busy . . . why?
A great question. I need to spend time figuring out the answer.