Archive for April, 2010

State of the Blog

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 April, 2010

Blogger has discontinued support for externally hosted blogs such as mine, and is requiring everyone to switch to their server. So I switched… to WordPress. It was not quite as smooth a transition as I had hoped for as I wanted the new blog to be installed into the same location as the previous one, and I also wanted all of the posts to have the same names as before, since I do a fair amount of back linking. (WordPress and Blogger use different conventions to generate Permalinks.) I believe I have that all sorted out now. Another problem is that most of the old comments did not make the transition. The importer actually stated, “60/247 comments imported”, without any explanation as to why it could not be bothered with the other 187, so I do not know what, if anything, to do about that yet. I am not totally happy with this current layout and “theme” either, but I did not want to spend all day on that.

Long time fans might recall that this is actually the THIRD implementation of this blog, and I have joined all of the posts from both prior versions into a single archive. What fun. I also started to categorize the old posts, which actually was a feature that Blogger added after I had already been blogging for awhile and I never bothered to implement. I did not get terribly far in that effort, because reading through the archives made really me want a stiff drink. And a gun. Whatever else might be said, my search for God has… not been rewarding.

I was thinking about how I have been blogging pretty much since the day I first heard the word “blog” six years ago. Most of that time I have been bothered by the feeling that I was not posting quite often enough, but I actually did the math and it averages out to about one post every ten days, which I know is hardly awarding-winning , but I am still rather impressed with myself. Not that it matters. I read not long ago about how the kids are really into the “social media” these days, but it is mostly only people over 30 who blog anymore. Which sadly, is about the only instance that I can come up with of me actually acting my age. I really do not know if “mommy blogging” is still popular, as that simply is not my scene.

In any case, here we are, with a blog rebuilt from the ground up, ready to stumble on.

Thoughts On Acoustic Guitars (Part II)

Posted by on Friday, 9 April, 2010

I started thinking about my own repertoire, and while none of my songs are particularly great, or even what one might call “good”, it occurred to me that all of my truly bottom-of-the-barrel material was written on an acoustic guitar. Later, it occurred to me that maybe the whole problem is simply that I have never had a really nice acoustic guitar. I do love my $160 Ibanez, but I think that it is largely in the same way that I love my $10 bicycle. It is not a particularly great guitar, merely a great value. If I had payed twice as much, I would probably not be nearly as happy with it. Also, the $160 is rather misleading, as I have replaced the nut, saddle, pickguard, bridge pins, and even some of the frets – pretty much everything that can be replaced other than the tuning machines. And when I say “I replaced”, I literally mean that *I* personally pulled the old part off and (in most cases) hand made a new one myself. So it is probably worth more than YOUR theoretical $160 Ibanez would be, (depending on your estimation of my skills in this regard) and obviously highly sentimental, but still, not a fantastic guitar. I have a couple of other acoustics as well, but they have issues of their own which have prevented either of them from coming out of their cases in some years.

There is a scene in the movie It Might Get Loud where U2’s The Edge is show-and-telling about the first guitar that he ever bought (which in his case was electric). One thing he said was that when he first picked it up, he knew that “there are some songs in this.” I have definitely never felt that way about any acoustic guitar that I have ever played. Although something similar happened when I bought my main electric guitar. I had done a lot of research and pretty much settled on a certain model from a well known manufacturer. I went to the guitar megastore, not even with the intention of buying that day (because that is not how I generally do things), but merely to try a few different ones out to make sure that it was what I really wanted, then go home and think about it. While there, I noticed an unusual looking guitar on clearance, and I thought to myself, “That sure is funny looking… I wonder what it sounds like?” I ended up leaving the store with it.

I was tagging along with a friend to the guitar store again last week and I realized that that was what I was looking for, a guitar that I would pick up an immediately know, “This is the one.” Which did not happen that day, and I have been to a couple of others stores since. I did find an interesting* Martin that I thought would make a nice addition to my collection, but I am not looking for merely another “addition.” I think that by now I have been playing long enough that I owe it to myself to get a quality American-made guitar, preferably from a store that cares enough about its customers to actually make sure their guitars are set up properly rather than just trying to move product. Ultimately, I am not actually in the market for a new guitar at all at this point, as I have several other large purchases further up the “to buy” list that I am also avoiding. But a boy can dream of expensive toys.

If there was a point to all of this, I can not remember what it was.

*I would like to go into more detail about exactly why I thought it was so interesting, but considering that I already cut this post in two due to length, I will refrain.

Thoughts on Acoustic Guitars (Part I)

Posted by on Monday, 5 April, 2010

A week or two ago, I put new strings on my acoustic guitar. For those keeping track, that would be the second time in its nine year life. “Serious” guitar players change their strings once a month or so, but I am, first of all, lazy; plus I really do not like the sound of fresh strings. They are so bright and twangy, go out of tune quickly, and are much more “nuanced.” That last one would be a good thing for a skilled player, but for a sloppy player, it just reveals all the mistakes that much more clearly. So I was playing my freshly strung guitar, suddenly reminded of how much I dislike acoustic guitars.

I really do not understand why anyone prefers acoustic over electric guitars. Aside from the lack of additional necessary equipment of course. Some one probably wants to say “tone” as well, but tone is highly subjective, and even the comments I have on not so subjective facts is a lengthy discussion in itself. As for me, I always feel like playing acoustic guitar is a battle that I usually lose.

First of all, the stings on an acoustic are generally under higher tension than on an electric for reasons I that will not go in to, so it is physically more difficult to play from the start. Also, “fragile” is not quite the word I am looking for, but acoustic guitars are not entirely structurally sound. Certainly less so than electrics, which are essentially a solid slab of wood. The string tension will actually bow the neck and distort the top of an acoustic guitar, making them even harder to play over time. There are adjustments that can be made to compensate for this, up to a point, but eventually it becomes necessary to actually take the neck off the guitar and reset it to reestablish the correct neck-string-body angles. For an expensive guitar, this is worth the cost and effort, for a cheap one, you probably should just get a new one.

I can not help but wonder if this is a secret that girls do not know, because it is rare to find a girl that plays electric guitar, and perhaps more of them would, and for that matter, even more might play guitar at all, if they knew that electric guitars were so much easier.