Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reconnecting with a past friend . . . Craig's Music in Weatherford, TX

Ah, the joy of rediscovering and reconnecting with something pleasant from your past.

Glad to find out yesterday that Craig's Music in Weatherford, TX is alive and well and in their 36th year.  I used to shop there back in the late 90's when I was serving the church in Godley, TX.  

Yes, for those of you who are naturally inquisitive about such things, there is a United Methodist Church in "Godley," TX.  

If you are looking for a Martin, or want to play a Santa Cruz (they have a large selection, they are beautiful, and they cost it) then give them a call or go on by and play as long as your fingers hold out. There are signs all over the store that let you know that you can take it off the hook, plug it in, and play it as long as you want.  They have a ton of electronics and a full selection of accessories.  They cater a good number of professional players in Tarrant, Parker and Hood counties.

Their physical location is the same as it has always been:  

115 E. Spring Street 
Weatherford, TX 76086

Their phone # is 817-599-8021

They are located a block north of the town square, just turn right off of Main St on to E. Spring if you are heading north. Turn left onto E. Spring if you are heading south.  Red brick building on your left.

Their updated website is down right now, but should be up in the next week or so. The old one is up ( and has pictures, map, etc.

I've written before of my love for good, quality local guitar stores.  I miss my days shopping and helping out at Grapevine Guitar Works, and continue to miss it after Sean made the decision to close the doors several years ago.  Murphy's Music in Irving has been around for a very long time, probaly longer than Craig's.  I really have nothing against Guitar Center.  I just like the variety and uniqueness of locally owned stores.  

I hope to get to know Craig Swancy better in the near future.  Craig's will be my regular Friday day-off "hidey hole" for at least part of the day.  Tell them that Pastor Rick at First United Methodist in Crowley told you to call or go by.  Doing so will probably get you absolutely nothing, but I'd like to hear about how they reacted when you told them!!!!!!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Martin Monel Strings . . . so far so good!

Here is an initial update about a long overdue guitar string experiment.   

First . . . I have always preferred phosphor-bronze strings over bronze strings.   Guess it's because I am mainly a Martin guy, and I like to hear defined, and loud, bass notes.  I don't like "tinny" or very bright sounding strings either.

However, my complaint for some time about phosphor-bronze strings is that all my guitars on which I use these type strings (mediums on all my guitars except my DC-16 and my Guild 12-string) all end up sounding pretty much the same, except for volume/projection.  There is a difference, but really not much.

The same "stringy sound", from modern style strings . . . and to my ear, the strings are getting brighter every time I change them. I'm told younger players like this type of string sound. I'm old, so I don't!  

I don't want bright sounding strings!   I want the older Martin sound from Neil Young's "Old Man," and the early bluegrass years of Tony Rice.  I guess I am saying I like a deeper sounding guitar.  Perhaps this is why I lean toward larger bodied guitars, that and the fact I am 6'6".

Just after Christmas last year, while perusing videos on YouTube, I came across an interview with, who else, Tony Rice.  He was alking about the old strings made of Monel steel from the 60's 70's and how much he missed them, how he thought his famous Martin didn't sound like it used to. That got my attention.  

He shared that he had worked with Martin to develope a new series of strings fearturing Monel.  The light guage sets are listed as "Retro" model strings in the Martin catalog and on the website. Laurence Juber has a signature set of mixed lights and mediums, and Tony has a signaure set of mediums.  

I ordered 4 sets of the Tony Rice strings this past Spring, but in preparing to move to a new church, I never took the time to put them on.  Afer arriving here in Crowley, TX, I took the time one afternoon to put a set on my D-18.  Initially, I wasn't pleased.  They were OK, but I felt let down.  They sounded dull, like doing a 180 from how PB's sounded.  Reviews on the internet suggested to give the strings a week to set in.

I gave them two weeks . . . and in a word . . . MERCY!

Or maybe . . . "HELLO!"

Or maybe . . . "HALLELUJAH"?

Goodness, is this how my D-18e Retro model was designed to sound?   I love the sound. I would describe the sound as crisp, loud, and  . . . woody.  The sound to me is . . . Well maybe "vintage" is the best word.  These strings sound like those silver strings we bought in the individual red paper wrappers at the local department stores or at Sears when we were kids.   Tony said that when he played his Martin after putting on the Monels, he said "Welcome back old friend!"  

And yes, these are silver strings . . . or silver grey.  Sort of odd not having on bronze or copper colored strings.  Good thing that color doesn't make a damned bit of difference when playing.   I plan to put them on my J-40 next, and a set of lights on my DC-16, and will share my report later.  I may eventually put them on my Guild Jumbo after that.   My Taylor GS, I'm not so sure.  We will see.

If you would like to possibly hear what your guitiar may really sound like, then getting a set of Martin Monel's is a cheap experiement.   Sound is subjective.  If you are after a more vintage acoustic sound, you may well be pleased with the result.  And you may not, but variety is the spice of life. The rubber finally meets the road when the people we sing/play for say they like the sound of the guitar as well.  I think the folks at the nursing homes will like that these Monel strings, because to me they just don't squeak as much. They sound good.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Fred Kelly Slick Pick

I think I found a new thumb pick . . . one that I can fingerpick, and strum with.  I hope, because I spent $1.50 each for a dozen of them.

While searching the internet for interesting stuff several months ago, I can across Fred Kelly's website, where all the guitar picks he manufactures are listed.  I have heard of his "Speed Pick", which is used by a lot of famous guitar players, like Doyle Dikes and Charlie Daniels.   

I wanted to find a thumbpick that I could also use for strumming when the situation calls for it. The thumbpicks I have been using seemed to grab at the strings when strumming upward. They also had long points. When I read the reviews about the Slick Picks, I thought I had found an answer.   However, not being able to locate any locally to try out, I decided to pass on them.

Yesterday, after I attended a meeting in Weatherford, TX, I ventured just north of the city square to see if Craig's Music was still in business.  "Lo and behold," they were still there, going strong in their 36th year!   On my way out after looking around, I decided to check out their pick selection.  To my surprise and delight, I saw that they had a good selection of both the Delrin and Poly style Slick Picks.  

I found some that fit (the large ones for me), and went back to the Acoustic Room.   I tried them out on a Martin D-28, and thought to myself, "Self! These might work!"  I "picked" out some medium Poly's and a couple of light guage Delrin's.   We will see how it goes. 

I am a strummer, or "boomchucker" as we use to say around the campfire years and years and years ago.  I tend to strum hard, especially in non-amplifies settings. I can fingerpick some, (1-2-3 or 1-3-2 patterns) but my technique honestly needs a lifetime of improvement.   In strumming with a flat pick, I know that the my technique actually depends more on the wrist than the angle of the pick.   The Slick Picks are short, with a rounded edge, and they are slick, on both sides.  I think I can learn to be creative with them, if I put some work into it.  

The sound my D-18 made when I got back to the office . . . I didn't want to put it down.  Could have been the Slick Picks, it could have been the new Monel strings (more on that in my next blog.)  Or, it could have been the combination of a tuned guitar, the pick, the strings and the player.  It usually works that way.

I am curious and intrigued with these Slick Picks.  I have a gig in Waco in a couple of weeks.  I'm going to rehearse with these picks and then write about them again in October after the gig is over. Hopefully these picks will become another useful guitar tool / accessory.

God's grace, and acoustic guitars, still amazes me . . . ><>