FREQUENTLY AXE QUESTIONS & TECH STUFF
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Q: Do guitars cost a lot of money, huh? Well...do they, huh?
A: Guitar prices (both acoustic & electric) can range from as little as $100 to $10,000 or more. Some "Custom, Vintage & Collector grade" guitars can cost as much as $100,000 or more. The appreciation value of certain guitars has actually outperformed the stock market! Musical instruments (like so many other things) are now a serious part of music history so their value reflects this fascination.
Q: What style of playing is good to study in order to learn more advanced solo guitar techniques?
A: Fingerstyle & traditional classical is the way to go. These styles are more comprehensive in that they feature the use of all fingers & all the strings being used in a wider variety of combinations. The interplay of bass line, melody line, phrasing, timing & the emphasis on particular parts of a composition are all very important factors. The overall dynamics of expression are given attention. So, there's a lot a stuff happening in the solo fingerstyle area & there is some very serious discipline required to learn it ... but the results are certainly well worth it.
Q: Hey Dave, I've been practicing & practicing & practicing & I just can't seem to get anywhere! What should I do?
A: Keep practicing.
Q: But Dave, I bought all these instructional videos & this "Peter Frampton eezzee guitar method CD" for my computer & I still can't get it to sound right !@#$%&! :-(
A: Keep practicing.
A: Keep practicing.
Q: What about composition skills?
A: Composing is not easy and you just can't buy "creativity" on Ebay. For some musicians it's quite natural and others it takes a lot of work. Gaining proficiency on the guitar will ultimately help in expressing an original musical idea when an idea eventually happens along. The more tools you got, the more stuff you can make.
Q: Should I use a "flatpick", a "thumbpick" or "no pick" ? What do you recommend?
A: You should try them all but just not at the same time :-) If you experiment a little with each one they will gradually start to feel natural & playing will become easier. After spending some quality time (10-20 years) you will find that each has it's own unique advantages when playing various styles. The thumbpick will be the most difficult to master because of the coordination that is required. It does take a lot of practice to achieve speed & accuracy but it opens up the possibilities for variety and expression.
Q: Do you collect guitars?
A: No. Although I do own several guitars, they are not collectable instruments due to all the modifications that have been done to them.
Q: What is the maximum number of guitars that a player should own? Can a person have too many guitars?
A: These important questions have been hotly debated for several decades and there is still no firm answer or consensus on the matter. Until some acceptable "standard quantity" can be determined & generally agreed upon, it would probably be a wise decision to continue to acquire more guitars.
Q: What do you recommend for acoustic guitar sound reproduction?
A: A real good microphone is my favorite choice. I've heard the RMC system & the Seymour Duncan Mag-Mic used by a few artists and they sound good. The Highlander IP2 coax-transducer / internal mic system is good & I have this system installed in one of my guitars. I've also just recently learned about the LR Baggs M1 pickup & listened to a good audio sample & I'm really impressed. The M1 picks up both the strings & the vibration of the top which produces a very nice acoustic image. There is a lot of R&D activity happening lately in the acoustic pickup world so keep your ears open.
Q: What about all these new custom acoustic guitars coming out lately?
A: The deal is... players are always looking to obtain a guitar that possesses a combination of the very best of their favorite features, namely great tone, playability and looks. At first glance it may not seem like such a difficult task to score one of these gems but actually, it is :-( So now, with the growing number of serious guitarists seeking to advance their art form with a truly great guitar that meets all expectations without any compromise, the Custom Guitar Builders have stepped forward to meet this demand. And it's not just a matter of some market-savvy-guitar-makers scrambling to make some quick cash by gluing some exotic woods together & pawning them off as instruments ... by no means. This new generation of craftsmen are truly themselves artists of the highest degree & take great pride in building the finest custom-made guitars ever made to this day.
Q: What about premium tone woods?
A: It's all up to you as far as what particular sound & look is desired & the price you're willing to pay for it. I've always heard it said that "Money doesn't grow on trees". Yes that's true... however, WOOD does.
Q: What about sustain for acoustic guitars?
A: Sustain is a very important factor for both electric & acoustic guitars. With respect to acoustics, there is no escape from physics... immediately after the guitar's strings have been plucked & settle into their wave pattern, the instrument's ability to sustain that vibration will effect more than just the basic volume. The instrument's characteristic tone will also be heard to a greater degree if the strings are able to transfer as much of their energy efficiently to the bridge and ultimately to the guitar top. The instrument's volume as well as the tone are completely dependent on vibration ... this is SCIENCE! And yes, it's true that the various woods used in making the instrument are significant, howbeit the tone is only audible when the strings are in motion & that's that. Providing that the bracing is properly tuned, the points of contact where "string-meets-guitar" are important in that the more solid-stable those contact points underneath the strings are, the better the sustain of the string's wave pattern. Thus, over the years guitar builders have sought out nut & saddle materials that possess the combined properties of high-density, uniformity of mass, low-weight & the ability to be shaped with relative ease. And now with all this said...yes, I do have a recommendation for those of you who are looking to retrofit/improve your guitar. Myself, after having tried saddle/nut materials such as natural bone, plastic-synthetics, metal alloys, Mil-spec composites, surplus UFO parts etc... I can recommend a Graph-Tech product called "TUSQ". I found that it has all the above mentioned properties, is reasonably priced & is easy to work with.
Q: What about intonation?
A: Electric guitars are usually pretty good, however... on acoustic guitars, good intonation is something that has been hit-n-miss for a long time. Personally speaking from an electric guitar background, I understand the importance of having 100% perfect intonation from having to play stuff anywhere from the 14th to the 21st fret while playing complimentary notes (fretted or open) underneath. Anyway... my acoustic guitars have the saddles contoured (compensated) for correct intonation. Regarding the actual saddle blade ... the string-contact-points on the saddle will vary slightly with the gage of strings that are used so be aware that this adjustment is affected by the particular string set that you use. This work should only be done by a qualified experienced repair tech. I have done these modifications many times but would not recommend it unless you have a properly equipped shop.
Q: What are some other areas of interest?
A: Fretboard radius variants, fretwire selection, neck contour and string spacing. A lot of this stuff is based on personal preference and over time will become more focused as the player dials-in his setup.
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Copyright 2003-2011 by Dave Wodnicki
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