Friday, November 9, 2018

Damn . . . I broke my Martin D-18

I was walking from my office into the Fellowship Hall to help lead and sing "On Top of Sphaghetti" with our Cub Scout Pack last night.

I was carrying my Martin D-18.  I had the strap around my shoulders.  As I reached for the door, the strap connected to the end pin gave way . . . and before I could grab the guitar, it bounced off the floor once on it's side and then flat on it's top.

I can't remember a time when my gut got that sick so quickly.

I picked it up . . . gave it a once over . . . and thought . . . "Wow, it's ok!"

Then I checked the top . . . yep, just above the end pin area, the top of the guitar has separted (about 2-3 inches) from the tortoise shell binding.  There is a 2 inch crack in the finish and wood from the edge going in the direction of the bridge.

I'm getting sick again just writing about it.

I still played the D-18 for the Cub Scouts.  The neck was fine. 

I guess I'm heading over to the approved Martin repair luthier in Fort Worth to get a quote on repairs.  Poor thing.  Time to invest in better straps and quality strap pins.

Funny thing, I've been carefully considering all of my guitars. I have written before that I am considering trading in my Taylors and Guilds and acquiring a couple of Rainsong graphite guitars, which I believe are better suited for what I do.  The D-18 was number 1 on my list was the Martin D-18.  Yep, the Martin J-40 was not number 1  . . . it was the D-18.

Well, damage or not, it's a keeper . . . and I am sure it can be repaired easily enough by a compentant luthier.  Updates soon.

Time for some self reflection . . .

Time for some self reflection.

OK . . . to begin with, let's deal with some reality here.

I am a 61 year old pastor of a local church who is also a certified therapeutic music entertainer.   In the church I previously served (for 10 years), I was the senior associate pastor.  I was in charge of a lot of things, but I wasn't the one making most of the big decisions that senior pastor's get called on and paid to make.  My main focus was providing the best pastoral care I could to members of the church and to the community.  Singing was one of the ways I did that.

I would sing at every nursing home and rehab center that had one of my church members as a resident.  Word got around . . . "he's pretty good, and doesn't charge for doing what he does!"
Prior to my leaving and moving to my current appointment, I was singing at 12 - 15 "venues" a month, and at several more if the little band I was part of had gigs.

Now, I'm the only pastor at my church.  My weekly focus is on writing the best sermon I can for worship each week, and providing pastoral care, leadership and making administrative decisions.  I sing at only two venues a month: out local senior center and at an area nursing home / rehabilitation center.  I serve a smaller community than previously . . . so the opportunities have been fewer.  I also play guitar for our informal service on Sunday mornings, but its just rhythm
support as our pianist plays lead (and she is GOOD at what she does!)

To tell you the truth . . . not singing and playing as often as I did in the past is eating at my soul.   But, life is what it is, and my professional and spiritual calling is to pastor a church.  Figuring how to balance that with my life calling, which is making a joyful noise, is a challenge.

It's been said, "to sing or not to sing, that is the question."   Not for me . . . there is no question.  I have to sing, or I am not being true to who I am.

What I have come to decide is this . . . playing guitar and singing even once-a-month is better than not at all!  Singing is my best form of self-expression. Actually, singing is only way I truly know how to express my soul.

How is your soul best expressed?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again . . .

Our recent Philmont Scout Ranch/Training Center experience and travels in New Mexico was a complete and total breath of fresh air!   The Golden Aspens were beginning to turn.  We heard elk bugling in the back country.  Flowers were everywhere.  We had some rain, but not the kind to dampen any of our spirits.

It was good to visit "God's Country" again after a 5 year absence

More articles and comments about music in the coming days!

Rick ><>

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Back to Philmont

I will be leaving next week for the Philmont Training Center in Cimmaron, NM where I will have the honor of serving as chaplain at their Fall Leadership Conference.  I will get to play guitar and sing at several outside services this year.  Looking forward to being in "God's Country" once again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rainsong Black Ice Jumbo guitar . . .

(UPDATE 9/5/18 - The deal fell through.  Trade-in was good, but not quite good enough. Another day ...) 

A couple of years ago, my lovely (and very patient) wife kindly accompanied me to the Guitar Sanctuary store located in McKinney, TX.  Guitar Sanctuary is a really great guitar store, with a very eclectic feel.  The reason we went was that I wanted to play a Rainsong Black Ice Jumbo electric/acoustic guitar.  They were the only dealer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that had one at that time.

Yep, a Rainsong Jumbo. 100% carbon fiber.  No wood. Light and loud.  Very loud.

I played that guitar for about an hour.  Honestly, I wanted it, pretty badly. However, I knew that I didn't have the funds and at that time I didn't want to part with any of my guitars.  So, I left the store sad, but at least I wasn't whining.  I did put it in the back of my mind that one day I would try and get one.

I will admit that I am drawn to the concept of carbon fiber guitars.  I've had the opportunity to play a Rainsong Jumbo as well as a RainsongWS model.  I was blown away by their tone and volume.  Admittedly, I am not a purest when it comes to guitars.  I am brand loyal to Guild and Martin because their guitars have served me well the past 15 years.  I don't have any kind of real relationship with any of my guitars.  They are tools.  Each one works better in certain situations.

A carbon fiber guitar makes sense because I play in mostly walk-in venues like nursing homes, rehab centers and senior activity centers. There are times when I get to play outside, such as the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, as well as outdoor settings here at the church (Vacation Bible Camp).  A carbon fiber guitar is supposedly impervious to heat, cold and humidity.

All guitar players know how humidity affects a guitar. My Guide F50R (my Philmont Scout Ranch guitar) has to have at least two Humidi-Paks inside the case when I travel to New Mexico just to survive the up and down humidity levels. Dry in the morning and damp in the evening.  My Guild F50R has fret buzz like crazy in low humidity.  I wouldn't dream of subjecting my Martin's to that kind of weather and environmental conditions.  And my Guild 12-string . . . nope, wouldn't even consider it.

To be honest, I wouldn't be thinking about a Rainsong Jumbo until sometime next year.  And then a few things fell into place, and I might have a opportunity to acquire one of these guitars in the next week or so.  A few "boxes" still have to be checked first, but a Rainsong could be in my hands by next week if I decide, and if I'm able, to pull the trigger.

It all boils down to making a decision that I can live with.  Trade-in value these days are only about 60-65% of what a guitar is being sold for on e-Bay.   The old saying, when trading in a guitar, is "walk in with two and walk out with one."  I would be able to get the Rainsong and walk out with a pretty nice check.  But I would be trading in two guitars.

As usual . . . we shall see.   It may happen, and it may not. A lot of things have to fall into place.  It's a process, and the process builds patience.

Oh, the Martin M-36 I wrote about earlier didn't pan out.  I just couldn't find one to play.  I know I would have loved it . . . but it's just a thinner Martin J-40, and I already have a J-40. 

Funny, I really haven't shopped for a new guitar in over five years, and until two days ago, hadn't gone into a Guitar Center in almost two years.  And now this opportunity drops into my lap. 

Rick ><>

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fred Kelly "Slick Pick"

A couple of years ago, I wrote about finding some Fred Kelly Slick Pick thumbpicks at Craig's Music store in Weatherford, TX.    I bought some yellow Delrin, large sized, in light guage as well as some Poly large sized in medium guage.

This style of thumbpick is more comfortable for me than National and Dunlop brands.  And, they are my favorite thumbpick for strumming, especially in a band situation when I am not the main rhythm guitarist.

Interesting thing, the body of the pick is thick, but the tip tapers down and has a slick edge.  It's been fun to play.   It's not my main pick (Dunlop Nylon .73mm or Dunlop Tortoise in medium gauge can always be found in the pick pouch on my key chain).  When playing through my amp or PA, the yellow Delrin in Large light guage are often my first choice.  For old fashioned camp fire boom-chucking, I will stick with Dunlop Nylons.

How about you?  What is your favorite pick and why?   Let me know!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Martin M-36

I've become interested in trying out a Martin M-36.  May be difficult to do. According the Martin Guitar Customer Service folks, there haven't been any delievered to dealers in Texas this year.


Martin Customer Service helped me locate one in Nashville; however, I wasn't able to make it to the music store there on a recent vacation to Tennessee. 

The Martin M-36 is a 0000 sized guitar, pretty much the same as my J-40, but not as deep from front to back.  The other difference is that it has a 1 and 3/4" nut width.  My J-40 is 1 and 11/16th nut width.   I have found the wider nut width a little easier to play, especially on hands that are getting older each day.  My Taylor GS has similar specs and the same nut width.  However, I'm still a Martin guy at heart. 

Like a J-40, the M-36 is touted as being a great balanced instrument for strummers like me, and for fingerpickers.  It's a good all around guitar that can handle different venues, whether plugged into an amp or not.  Acoustically, I wonder if it will be as loud as my J-40, which is still one of the best camp fire guitars I have ever owned.

The journey to find one begins!   Will I get one?  Who knows.  It seems I find more joy in the journey finding something than I do buying it.

Rick ><>

Damn . . . I broke my Martin D-18