Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First impression of Monel stings was good . . . now not so much

I wrote earlier of my wanting to try the new Tony Rice Signature series Monel strings by Martin on my D-18.  I was initially pleased when I put them on.  Plugged-in they sound pretty good, an almost "woody" tone.  In  the sanctuary playing with our little praise band, they did just fine with the guitar plugged into my acoustic amp.

This past Monday, I played at a nursing home with a very open-formal-living-area type of room.  And, it was carpeted.  I dont plug into an amp in senior venues because of all the people wearing hearing aids.  In the process of performance, I became somewhat frustreated because I  could not hear the D-18 very well l . . . and I couldnt keep it in tune because I was strumming it hard in a effort to hear it better.

The experience upset me in a very strange way.  Walking back to my car, I pledged to sell all my guitars and spend the money on a new hobby like a sharp knife collection.

That's not me.  That doesn't sound like me at all.   But I did go home sick that afternoon and slept for 13 hours . . . that could have had something to do with it.

For playing acoustically in a larger room . . . these strings are probably not going to cut it.  They sound great, but they aren't bright enough for a larger room unless you plug it in to amp.    I am sad about this because I have two unopened sets of Monel strings.  Before I take them off the D-18, I am going to take my Guild Jumbo F-50R to play there next month.  It has phosphor-bronze strings on it.  I'm pretty sure the problem is the strings . . . but I need to make sure that it's not the room, or how I was feeling at the time.  I've used the D-18 in every senior venue I've played at for the past two years with out any kind of failure.  All those times though, I had phosphor-bronze strings on it.

Plugged in, Monel strings sound good, but you have to raise the treble a bit more than normal, and lower the bass just a bit.  I LOVE the feel of them.  I absolutely LOVE the feel of them. They feel great on the fingers, and picks just slide off the strings in this naturally smooth sort of way.   But hearing my guitar clearly when I play, especially in a larger room, is essential to how well I sing.  

We will see how it goes.  There are some things still to check.  IHowever, in the meantime, I will not be putting Monel's on any of my other guitars, until I get some answers, be it the truth or what I hope to hear.  I guess there is a possible difference there.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

And the winner is a long-time old friend . . .


 
The pick search was quick and ended up not costing me much money or time in the process.  The clear winner of all the picks I have tried are the Dunlop Nylon .73's, .88's, and 1.0's.
 
The criteria was simple . . .
 
1)  I only used MY guitars with Monel or Phosphor-Bronze strings.
     -Martin D-18 retro
     -Martin J-40
     -Taylor GS (BTO)
     -Guild F-50R
     -Guild F-512
 
2)  Although I sought the advise of others, in the end I depended on what my ear was hearing, and if I liked it.
 
3)  I was looking for a low amount of plastic pick noise (clicking), and the pick had to be comfortable to hold.  For a folk "boom-chucker" like me . . . that's important.
 
The clear winner (once again) . . . and old friend I've been using for a long time . . . Dunlop Nylon's.  The sound of each guitar was great.  The picks were easy to hold and play with.  The pick sound was greatly reduced.
 
I'm actually happy about this, and here is why . . . I probably have at least 3 dozen of the .73's in my pick jar right now!   Several years ago, when I was in my Therapeutic Music Entertainer certification training, I was using these picks.  They are very easy to hold, and the sound of the pick on the strings is much less than other pick materials I tried. I probably bought 5 packs of them.
 
I mostly use the .73's when plugged in, especially on the Taylor GS.  But my Martin D-18 seems to respond better to the .88's  I will use the .73's or the .88's when I am playing acoustic, depending on the size of the room and what my ear is hearing.  It also depends if I am the only instrumentalist, or playing a rhythm beat   I use the 1.0 when I need to do more flat picking for a song, or when I need t accentuate the bass line.  The .73 works just fine with my Guild 12-string.
 
But, if all I had was some of the .73's, I would make out just fine, plugged in or acoustic.
 
 Old friends . . . they are just plain hard to beat!
 
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>
 
 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

On the road again . . .

It's really good to have a regular singing schedule again.

For those who might have passed my little blog by these past couple of months, after a 10 year ministry at the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, TX, I accepted a new appointment as the pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Crowley, TX, in the southwest Fort Worth/Tarrant County area.  My wife and I relocated to the church parsonage here in Crowley on July 1st.  It's been a very busy 3 months.

During my first 90 days, I curtailed singing in the community and instead focused on connecting with the members of the church, and to work on preaching good sermons. As time allowed, I went out and got to know some of the area Activity and Life Enrichment Directors at the hursing home, rehab, and assisted living centers, especially when I went to visit church members who were residents.  It took a while, but invitations have started coming in.  I sang two weeks ago to my largest crowd ever at the Huguley Nursing Care and Rehab Center in Burleson, off I-35 and FM 1187.  I believe I sang to over 40 people, and it was a blast.

Today, I sang at the Heritage Place Assisted Living Center, located just southwest of Huguley.  A brand new assisted living/memory care center.  I sang in the front living area.  A small crowd, but then this was really more of an audition.  The Activity Director let me know she would be calling me soon to schedule a regular time to sing.

Next Monday I will be heading to Chisholm Trail Estates in Keene, TX, just east of Cleburne, about a half-hour away from Crowley.  This is a large property retirement center.  I believe I will be singing in either the front living room area or in the dining hall.  I'm looking forward to it.

I am thinking that this will be a good singing schedule for me through December, considering I also lead the chapel service most Tuesday mornings for our preschool.  I did accept an invite to provide several songs this coming Saturday morning in Waco, TX for a  gathering of the  United Methodist Women of our annual conference.  All in all, I think this is a workable schedule, and there will be a good balance between my daily pastoral responsibilities and singing.  I can take one more gig is things work out.  We will see.

In the meantime . . . it is good to be singing again!

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