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Musical Resources
THE Reason to Shop for Wooden Instruments Locally

In the concert film that also works as a documentary about the Rolling Stones, Shine a Light, Keith Richards talks a lot about guitars. Typical of that guy, am I right? Hasn't he got anything to talk about aside from work?

 

I always figured that these dudes who were dinosaurs of the industry even before I was born probably had rooms full of instruments. I figured they're like my grandma. The mere fact of being alive that long means they just sort of attract stuff. Stuff builds up around them like the echoes of their personality in the debris that piles up around them. Like anyone else, you might be able to tell a thing or two about Keith by the stuff that ended up accumulating around him. Thus the idea that the Grandpa of Rock and Roll guitarists probably had rooms--houses--full of guitars.

It turns out no. Not all of them anyway. Or that's what Keith claimed. In Shine a Light, he said that he doesn't get all these cats who have whole trucks full of guitars. He only has a few guitars and doesn't get a new one very often. He prefers, he said, getting his older ones repaired. There's a reason he likes these guitars. Probably lots of reasons, and the reasons are his own. The reasons are because he likes them. These are his guitars. He knows how they feel, and he likes how they feel. He's not going to constantly shop for new ones.

It made me respect Keith a little bit more.

I've always liked him as a Rolling Stone, but that's when I started to like him as a craftsman. There are many approaches to caring for your tools, and I appreciate Keith's approach. He has just a few guitars--"Not that many guitars," as he puts it. He takes care of those ones because those are his tools.

Can you imagine how valuable those things will be when (if, let's be honest) he finally dies? That's nuts.

The moral of the story is Keith Richards might be one of the biggest rock stars in the world. He fills stadiums with his buddies and plays concerts for world leaders. He may be all that now in his day job. He may be that.

He's still just some dude messing around on the guitar.

The dude's really still just a guitar player. I bet that when he was a teen or a twenty-something he'd wander into pawn shops. He'd ogle the NICE Fenders, then settle for the cheaper one, but the one that played_,_ but he really wanted the nice one. He probably shopped for hours, picking guitars up and trying them out till he found the one that rocked. He picked it because it felt right. I bet that if you took him guitar shopping tomorrow he'd fuss around with the Fenders for hours. Eventually he'd find that one he liked the feel of, but he'd need to handle them all.

Because that's how it is, isn't it? A musical instrument is a relationship for life, if you're doing it right. And it's a relationship. It's possible, I suppose, to just look up the kind of guitar that your favorite musicians play. I mean, Herman Li plays an Ibanez.   Jimmy Page plays a Gibson.  Santana plays Santanas, because they made a guitar for him. You can always just order the same kind of guitar that your musical idols plays. That's an approach. I hear that a lot of the kids were doing that back in the '90s with their Air Jordans. And maybe that guitar is the one you need.

It might not be the guitar for you, though. There might be something uncomfortable about the neck, or the height of the frets, or the way the body rests on your leg. You don't know until you go pick it up and start messing around.

Because you're not shopping for just some guitar.

You're shopping for your guitar.

The thing's got to feel right. You need to go and feel it.

Now, go back over this story about electric guitars and replace all the references to guitarists and guitars with references to your instrument. Not everyone is guitar. I play keyboard myself. But the story applies across the orchestra. You can't just buy the "best" on, or the "coolest" one and expect it's the best or coolest when you haven't handled it yet. It might not be the best or coolest one for you. An instrument falls in the category of things that you need to live with. Things like cars or jackets or recipes for Borscht.

In addition to that, a musical instrument is a conduit for emotion. And, I don't know, maybe you want "this isn't the most comfortable instrument to play" to be part of the emotion you convey. That's an angle too. Jack White did that, and look where it got him. It's not a bad idea, I suppose. I don't think it sounds very comfortable.

 

The lesson's the same from Jack, though. He didn't just use his connections and find an uncomfortable, red guitar that didn't work very well. He shopped around for a guitar that he "liked," the dislike of it was a feature and not an accident. He had to shop to find it. He had to play guitars in pawn shops and thrift shops and music stores. He had to pick them up and mess around in order to decide that this is his guitar. Because he needed a red guitar, back when he was in White Stripes. The internet was right there. Not quite as ingrained as it's become now, but it was still right there. But he decided he wanted to take his hands and his ears to the shops with guitars. He decided it was important to pick them up and play them, because he knew what Keith knew. He knew what Santana knows and Jimmy Page knows and Herman Li knows.

Choosing an instrument is committing to a relationship. It might not be the most important relationship of your life. But it might be. The best way to discover that is by picking up a guitar and messing around with it.

Or a violin.

Or a ukulele.

Or a bass.

Or a harmonica.

And so on. And so forth. Into the future.

Humidity, Temperature and Storage for Guitars (or any wood instrument)
Wood is easily affected by temperature and humidity changes, therefore taking care of the surroundings of your guitar is very important in order to keep the instrument in a proper way. Gradual changes won’t generally do permanent damage but sudden ones do. For this reason it is important to avoid them and assure that the guitar acclimate to its environment.

As humidity increases, moisture content of wood goes up fast, causing it to expand and swell. When high humidity is combined with high temperature, glue joints could possibly become weakened and may even open slightly. Then, for example the glue under the bridge could weaken causing the bridge to pull off. On the contrary, if the moisture content of wood is forced down in a hurry, portions of it shrink faster than others, causing cracks and open joints. For all these reasons, rapid changes in local humidity are what you want to guard your guitar against. In view of that, you can follow the below recommendations:

  • Don't let the guitar next to a source of dry heat. (e.g. radiators, heater) since they raise the temperature and drop down the humidity of the surroundings.
  • Don't let the guitar exposed to freezing or blistering temperature for a long time, for instance inside a car park outside.
  • Avoid hanging your guitar on an outside wall during winter months. The wall will be cooler than the inside air. The result is a conflict between the temperature of the top and back, with potential damage as a result.
  • Store your guitar in its case when not in use. Humidity is easier to control in a smaller space. This allows the guitar to acclimate to room temperature more slowly, decreasing the possibility of wood and finish cracks.
Spanish Guitars - Jordi and Javier Camps - Now At Golden Music!
Camps Guitars was founded in 1945 with the aim of making an instrument adapted to the specific needs of every musician. The founder Juan Camps decided to enroll in guitar manufacturing because of his enthusiasm for music, especially guitars, and wood craftsmanship. Nowadays, his sons Jordi and Javier Camps, who at a very early age already showed great interest for the handcrafted trade working and learning from their father at the firm, manage the firm. Over more than 70 years of experience guarantee our commitment for the craftsmanship and quality of their products. In order to keep the quality and craftsmanship standards, all our products are produced in our workshop located in Girona (Spain) and according to traditional methods used for centuries by important Spanish luthiers like Antonio Torres.
Golden Music Announces the Raimundo Guitar Series

In 1968, Manuel Raimundo started his own Spanish guitar workshop.  His instruments became known throughout Spain and by 1974 began offering his guitars internationally.  By 1980, Raimundo had grown to 20 craftsmen and was producing 8,000 instruments a year sold throughout Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.  His guitars came to the USA and Latin America in 1984.  His guitars have received many reward.  In 1998, Victor's son, Manuel joined the company and runs the day to day operations.

 

As of today, Raimundo Guitars has a staff of 29 craftsmen, many of whom have worked with Manuel for over 30 years. More than 12,000 instruments a year, of which 85% are exported all over the world, are produced and a US subsidiary has been established to distribute their guitars directly to the American market from a local facility.

         "We are very proud to say that all our guitars are and will continue to be

         made by hand, using traditional methods and following the traditional

         Spanish system inherited from a tradition that is lost in time and we

         are proud to continue to preserve.

         We like to think we’ve never done two identical instruments; each

         guitar is different from the previous one. This is our main feature:

         WE ARE ARTISANS."

 

Zen Masters, Famous Guitarists, and You

 

And now breathe in this thought as if for the first time . . . I am great . . . Just let that thought swim around in your head. I am a master. I am great. ~Kenny Werner

All you have to do to become a master guitar player is to kill yourself practicing, right? Wrong, at least according to a sizeable pantheon of Zen masters and guitar virtuosos.

Becoming a guitar master is not, as we often assume, reducible to the simple formula of blood, sweat, and tears. Sure, hard work is in order, but sometimes success comes at the end of other less tangible characteristics of the learning process.

Zen is a form of Buddhism that counsels, among other things, patience, following your gut, and effortlessness in reaching goals. Many guitarists have chosen the Zen path to enlightenment and on the way have discovered that Zen teachings have not only helped them to be happier and calmer, they’ve also assisted them in becoming better musicians.

The following are just a few of the foundation stones of painless guitar mastery.

1. Time

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Pat Metheny

There’s no rushing this: You need to give time to your playing. This means that you must play often and continuously.

To me, if jazz is anything, it’s a process, and maybe a verb, but it’s not a thing. ~Pat Metheny

In the same way that you learned your mother tongue, you just have to keep “talking guitar” until you’re fluent in it.

There are no true shortcuts, because the long way around is where the best learning happens.

2. Focus

Choose to play a few things well, as opposed to trying to learn how to do everything. Be aware of your limits and maximise your strengths; instead of getting hung up on something you think you should know how to do, spend time on the things that come naturally to you, because this is the music inside you trying to come out.

A chimpanzee could learn what I do physically, but it goes way beyond that. When you play, you play life. ~Jaco Pastorius

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Chet Atkins

Practice mindfulness. Don’t be obsessed with where you want to be as a guitarist, but rather give the best of yourself to this moment right now. Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of how much time it will take to master the guitar—just put one foot in front of the other.

Learn to listen better, both to others and to your own guitar playing. The Uberchord app is a huge help with this, keeping you on track and easing you into improving your playing. You can start by just playing one chord mindfully and then working up to more.

A long apprenticeship is the most logical way to success. The only alternative is overnight stardom, but I can’t give you a formula for that. ~ Chet Atkins

Practice simplicity. The best music is music that uses the fewest elements needed to create an effect. Too many notes per second can really dilute the impact.

Don’t overthink. You should be involving all of yourself, heart. mind, and body, not just using your intellect

It has always been my greatest joy to explore and create my own unique thing. ~Earl Klugh

3. Determination

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Victor Wooten

Determination is making a decision and sticking with it. This opens you and keeps you open to anything and everything coming at you that might be of service to your guitar learning.

Never give up.

When you get discouraged, don’t voice negative thoughts.

Persist.

But don’t try too hard!

Stay on the path but walk for distance, not speed.

It’s all about sticking with the process.

There is only one reason that you ever fail at anything…and that is because you eventually change your mind. That’s it! . . . anything and everything you have ever decided to do, you have succeeded, or will succeed, at doing.
~Victor L. Wooten

4. Expression

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Joni Mitchel

Cultivate sensitivity— sensitivity to yourself, your fellow musicians, and your audience, but especially sensitivity to the music.

Now, express yourself.

Try to make the sound of the divine spark within you.

Be sincere and authentic, and play from your heart.

As Philip Toshio Sudo said, don’t play what you want to play— play what you were meant to play.

I thrive on change. That’s probably why my chord changes are weird, because chords depict emotions. They’ll be going along on one key and I’ll drop off a cliff, and suddenly they will go into a whole other key signature. That will drive some people crazy, but that’s how my life is.

~Joni Mitchell

5. Yin and Yang

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Wes Montgomery

Embrace duality. Sound and silence, highs and lows, loud and soft, teaching and being taught . . . Remember that opposites are essential parts of the whole.

This includes right notes and wrong notes. There really are no mistakes. If you think you’ve made a flub, turn into something beautiful.

I don’t know that many chords. I’d be loaded if I knew that many. But that’s not my aim. My aim is to move from one vein to the other without any trouble. The biggest thing to me is keeping a feeling, regardless what you play. ~Wes Montgomery

6. The Groove

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
Joe Pass

This is bit hard to describe in words, even though every sincere guitarist has experienced it. It’s when you’re into the music so much that you grasp its essence. The more you’re attuned to the groove, the less things like notes, keys, and theory matter. Sure, you’re playing notes in keys according to the rules of music theory, but you’re playing them with your whole being, not just your head.

Don’t be a slave to expertise; rather embrace emptiness.

Always keep the spirit of a beginner.

Start with an empty cup again and again so that again and again you can be filled.

If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterward. ~Joe Pass

7. Integrity

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Miles Davis & Robben Ford in Montreux in 1986

If you’re a sloppy thinker the six days of the week you aren’t working on your machine, what trap avoidance, what gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes together . . . The real cycle you’re working in is a cycle called yourself. ~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Stand firm in yourself, in your own values and morals, no matter who’s trying to pull you in another direction. Transcend those animal impulses. Believe in yourself, believe in your music, and try to remain faithful to what you know to be true.

I don’t find a lot of people actually saying things through music any longer. They are not trying to say anything with their music, they just want to make money with it.

I think it’s important to actually say something real, something meaningful, rather than just write some trash and try to sell it. ~Robben Ford

8. Love

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
John McLaughlin

Love your guitar. Choose it, guard it, care for it, and tune it well. When you pick it up to play, treat it as if it’s as precious as an angel’s harp. Play it with loving devotion. Use it to prepare yourself for the beautiful task of sound-making.

Love the people you play music with. Groove on their sounds and allow your guitar to respond with love.

Love your audience. Let their energy feed you and give them your energy in return. Make entertaining them an act of loving tenderness, even if you’re playing death metal.

By the end of the Sixties it was clear to me that to have an altered state of consciousness is very important . . . I didn’t want to have an altered state of consciousness by ingesting chemicals, or mushrooms, or stuff like that. This became part of my life by the end of the Sixties. ~ John McLaughlin

Love yourself. Keep yourself safe and well. Yes, tell yourself that you’re great, special, unique, and priceless, because it’s all true. But be humble.

8-zen-teachings-to-master-the-art-of-guitar
George Benson

Love your guitar, but don’t worship it. Love the music, but don’t make it your everything. Love your true self (not your selfish self) and watch your universe open up.

If you play music for the right reasons, the rest of the things will come. The right reason to play music is that you love it. ~George Benson

So get busy at becoming a master. Ditch the fear—your only obstacle is within.

So rise lightly from the earth
And try your wings
Try them now
While the darkness is invisible.
~Sun Ra

November 4, 2016 / Tagged: MUSIC INSPIRATION /

from UBERcHORDS.COM Author: 

References:

Werner, Kenny, Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within (Indiana: Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Inc., 1996)
Pirsig, Robert M., Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Harper Collins, 2009 [orig 1974])
“John McLaughlin: Zen and the Art of Guitar Playing”, interview with Michael Longley for The Independent, 2004.*
Sudo, Philip Toshio, Zen Guitar (Simon & Schuster, 2013)
Wooten, Victor L., The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music (Berkley, 2008)

Zen and the Art of Classical Guitar

In a world that isn’t going to slow down, do something special for yourself and learn how to play classical guitar. Here is a perspective on this beautiful instrument.
Zen and the guitar
The classical guitar is an instrument that takes years to master. And this mastery never truly ends because it is something that will slowly grow over the full course of your lifetime. And this long-term approach is not a liability to the instrument it is an overpowering asset.

We live in a world of instant gratification where we get our food, our movies, our news, and practically everything else almost instantaneously. We are programmed to believe that faster is better and that the instant reward is the best reward. The classical guitar goes against all of this and penetrates straight to the heart of what being a human being is all about. It is all about the slow development of a person over the course of decades.

Much like the slow and gentle music that comes from the classical guitar so will you also be changed in a slow and gentle way. Over the years the classical guitar will be there as a companion to guide you through the changes in your life and the changes in your musical taste. This is because, much like a chameleon, it is an instrument of profound depth and variety of play. It can be comfortably played as a solo instrument, as the lead instrument in an ensemble, or as a back up instument. And it crosses all of the genres of music; easily expressing itself, and yourself, in rock, blues, classical, spanish, flamenco, pop, or any other genre you wish to explore.

There are also many less philosophical benefits such as that you will improve your eye to hand coordination, your ability to hear and appreciate music, and a new language (reading music). But don’t think of these things as goals or obstacles. They are benefits that will come to you over the course of time as you explore the possibilities of the classical guitar.

I recommend you don’t run out and buy a classical guitar right away. This goes counter to the message that I am trying to convey about this instrument. I suggest you just think about it for a few days or even a few weeks. Get a classical guitar CD from the library and give it a listen. After you have let the thought of what the guitar can do for you and how it can enrich your life then go out and get one. It will be something that will bring you enormous joy for the full course of your life.

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