Am I a guitar heretic?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by olliethecat, Jul 23, 2021.

  1. NJDevil

    NJDevil Synchromatic

    Jul 9, 2014
    Commack, NY
    Excellent thread Ollie as I love how discovery of being able to dial-in different tones has "resurrected" a pro like yourself to a new stage in playing. It is completely fresh and inspiring. It is also cool to hear how others use their Gretsch in different ways because of the exploration of tone.

    For me? My Black Phoenix is used for Rockabilly of course but also great overdrive nails some great '80s ZZ Top and some other dynamic hard rock. I will venture into some Texas Blues because I love what the different dynamic brings to the song.

    My 5126 is used for most of my Texas boogie/swing blues soloing and actually play some David Gilmour inspired creations with some reverb and my Catalinbread Echorec. I also recently "rediscovered" a Vox looper pedal that has multiple effects on it and have started using that as well.........the different tones brings different inspiration.
    JeffreyLeePierre and olliethecat like this.
  2. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    Sometimes it's the little things that make life so much more rewarding and exciting. No matter whether an amateur or professional musician, enthusiasm and enjoying what you do is the driving force in getting to the next level.

    When I retired from music, I was I suppose at my peak in terms of what I wanted to achieve from my music but at the same time I was also fed up of living out of a suitcase for up to 40 weeks a year on tour, plus I had a stunning wife and two young children who I missed terribly. I wasn't seeing my kids grow up so when the youngest was about 4 years old, I said that's it and set about ending my touring. I couldn't complain as by that time I had bought my homes outright so I'd got most of what I wanted out of the business

    The hardest thing for me was that I loved doing what I did but really it was a life more suited to a single guy and my wife had been very patient and supportive up to then by staying home raising the kids while I was on tour so what I did when I retired, in order not to be tempted to go back onto the road which I might well have done if I'd continued in a part time capacity, I gave up playing guitar and gigging completely and it remained that way for 30 years or more.

    I won't say the temptation didn't cross my mind numerous times over the early years as it really did and I can perhaps understand how hard it is for a recovering addict of drink or drugs to be tempted to go back to their old weaknesses but I managed not to be drawn back to playing on the road again even if I missed it terribly. The one thing I didn't miss was the loneliness that came with touring as a solo entertainer and I loved the fact that I could sleep in my own bed each night.
    That was the right decision for me at the time but in retrospect I perhaps wish I'd at least have kept up my guitar playing.

    I was very ill about six years ago and not expected to survive but I managed to avoid the grim reaper and when I'd recovered sufficiently, I dug my old guitar out of the loft one day and started to play again. Later I bought a couple of Line 6 amps and added a few more guitars to my growing equipment collection and now I have most of the music and recording gear I'll ever need plus I'm experimenting far more these days than I ever did when on the road as I don't have to perform professionally any more and it's great fun just to be able to play the sort of music that stretches me and takes me out of my playing comfort zone without having to be perfect at it.

    Adding the Boss ME-25 to my equipment has actually given me what my playing was perhaps lacking...adventure!
    I could recreate most of the sounds I wanted right enough with my existing amps but with the Boss pedal, it brings everything I need under one roof so to speak and with thoughtful adjustments, I can switch seamlessly from one playing style and sound to another and without swapping guitars and amps most of the time.

    The Boss pedal has certainly added a whole new dimension to my Gretsch and I suppose a whole new dimension to my playing and even after the short time I've owned it, it has certainly enthused me enough to encourage further experimentation as well as helping me toward achieving higher standards of playing. It's definitely stopped my playing from becoming stale or stagnating, something which often happens to most musicians at one point or another.

    I used to get the same enthused feeling that I'm getting now when I used to add new numbers to my repertoire and perform them live on stage during my act.
    It was those times which gave me the buzz, enthusiasm and reward that only live performances can give. :)
  3. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    Interesting stuff, Ollie.

    in my early 20s, I was basically a full-time musician, but I also did some teaching, which essentially makes travel very limited. In my case, after a few years, I just felt like the pro-player life was not for me. I had been a night person, but was becoming a day person and I pursued an occupation which left me time to play, was easy on the hands and kept me fit. I actually grew greatly as a player in those years and was backing my way into the Jazz scene as a weekend player, when I got married and put music aside for a while.

    These days I’m back playing a lot, and find that playing is the perfect counter-stress to my day job, which is challenging, but stressful. The band has had two rehearsals in the last few weeks, our first since March of 2020 and the lockdown. The first song was pretty cheesy, but by the second tune I was getting that old feeling back and by the end of the first hour we sounded pretty decent. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of playing an introduction to a song and then stepping up to the mic’ to sing. It reminds me of flying an airplane or driving a sports car on a winding road; both of which are activities which take me into a realm of what I call unconscious concentration, where I am so focused that I am not thinking verbally. Every action is coming from somewhere deep in the psyche and seems natural. Let’s put it this way; for slightly less than $1,000,000, I can buy a Beech Bonanza and get that feeling, or for perhaps $40,000, I can buy a sports car and get that feeling, but a decent guitar and amp can be had for a lot less than that and a Shure SM-58 is not all that expensive, so the vocals won’t break the bank.

    Today, I felt lousy. The weather has been miserable and my sinuses have been letting me know about it. I spent most of the day taking it easy, but I probably spent 2 hours with my Tennie, plugged into a decent amp, and that lifted my spirits more than anything else I could think of.

    in my case, BTW, the effects were an MXR Sugar Drive, set to very light breakup and an EarthQuaker Devices Dispatch Master Reverb/Delay, in this case, plugged into the front of a ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb, Custom channel.
  4. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    I always wanted to fly...hell, I'd probably settle for a Piper Cub, even if the heart really wants a demiled MiG. (OK, it doesn't HAVE to be demiled...)

    hcsterg likes this.
  5. Rusty Silver

    Rusty Silver Synchromatic

    I like play blues with my Telecaster and Country rock witl my Les Paul
    olliethecat likes this.
  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    Nothing wrong with a Cub and the Carbon Crafter’s with the big mill is a real machine, but these days I’d prefer more comfort, quiet, speed and carrying capacity. I’ve been a Beech guy from before my first solo flight and will probably always love the brand, so a Bonanza it is.
    mr coffee likes this.
  7. DasherF

    DasherF Gretschie

    Aug 28, 2020
    Minneapolis, Mn
    First of all...problem? What problem? 9 guitars is no problem...
    All my guitars push boundaries when it comes to styles...let's put it that way...
    It's good to hear you're still enthusiastic about music again.
    I knew a drummer who sat in his easy chair at 31 saying he was "too old to play anymore" (whether it was health issues, I don't think so...dunno...single, looked healthy...).
    Good for you to take a guitar with you on vacation.!
    olliethecat likes this.
  8. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    Great stuff indeed and a very encouraging post for me too.
    Sometimes I think it only takes the addition of one piece of equipment or even just a change in how we look at the equipment we already have in order to completely revitalise the way we look at things, how we play and the sounds we produce.
    Very often what we are looking for is right there in front of our noses but something prevents us from experimenting or something small is missing. I've been as guilty of this as much as the next person since returning back to playing. Maybe it's complacency?

    You're right the Boss pedal has certainly relit my interest and it's definitely having the desired effect by encouraging me to experiment more which is opening up new challenges.

    When I was on the road it was a different story. Back then the aim was absolute consistency night after night. It was no good sounding great in one venue and then sounding mediocre the next night. Each night had to sound the same as the night before with maybe only the repertoire changing.

    The gear I used was excellent and all that I needed to produce the sounds I wished to create to satisfy the audiences I entertained. It was a case of if it aint broke then you don't fix it and it gave me my own predictable but arguably consistent tried and tested sound which I suppose was my own audible trademark.
    By trying not to mess with something that was working well, as a result I felt much more confident when I walked out onto that stage to deliver my performance, knowing that I could reproduce the same sounds tonight as I did last night.
    What gave me the consistency and confidence was using the same amps, mic/tape echo and guitar night after night, year after year. You get to know their nuances which certainly helps.

    These days it's a different story entirely. I have no need to be consistent as I had to be when on the road and the music I now play is much more just for me and far more diverse and therefore I can experiment with new gear be it an amp or guitar or even a pedal where the intention is to see how far I can take it with regard to sound diversity.

    Looking back at my time on the road, one thing above all else that kept me going was without doubt consistency of reproducing my on-stage sounds. Even now, although I'm much more fluid and eclectic in the music I play due to not having to perform night after night, I still can recognise some of the remnants of my past though if anything I'm probably a more versatile player than I was back then.
    NJDevil and Rmccamey like this.
  9. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I don't think one is ever too old to play music. I still enjoy playing as much as I've always done in the past.
    When I first picked up the guitar again after over 30 years break, I really couldn't get my fingers to work and began to think I'd never play again. It was as if I'd borrowed the fingers from someone and they didn't fit properly but slowly they began to be more flexible again and now they're working probably better than they did in my early years and I'm probably more enthusiastic about learning new stuff now than when I was on the road.

    I used to play in odd, non-usual guitar keys which were chosen to suit my vocal range rather than my playing ability of the guitar and two songs I remember were in the key of C#/Db which I used to play using the barred C-chord but I'm still finding that chord a bit of a stretch though I'm getting there. At least a barred C-shape Eb chord is easy to play again so things are looking up.

    I could have used a Capo on stage but I just didn't think it looked pro enough for me personally to start clipping one on on-stage so I learned to play such chords barred when required. I did try using one early on but I have a sensitive ear and found the tuning was sometimes compromised by their use if not precisely positioned and it interrupted the flow of the act if I had to start re-tuning so I carried one with me but never used it.

    Even now I still find myself playing in keys such as Ab, Eb, B-flat. I'd love to play more songs in the popular guitar keys but they just don't seem to fit with my voice. Up or down-tuning might be one solution but it's sometimes hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

    However I'd probably use a Capo now if I was really struggling as I'm not on stage but as I've said, old habits sometimes die hard.;)
    JeffreyLeePierre likes this.
  10. JeffreyLeePierre

    JeffreyLeePierre Country Gent

    About your initial question: I got a first Gretsch and a second one lately, and I've been able to play anything I used to play before. Plus they inspired me to play additional things such as Apache (typical Gretsch sound as everybody knows :D) or Somethin' Else (which is more natural). And they inspired me to try to play better, whereas I'd always been a basic rhythm guitar player before.

    About a capo: I never used one to modify tonality, I have always used barré chords instead. But I use one from time to time in order to get a specific sound that suits the song I play.
    For instance, that song plays better with a capo at 3rd fret:

    (I'm mean the rhythm guitar part, with an accoustic).
    olliethecat likes this.
  11. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    I always wanted to fly... In the LZ127 Graf Zeppelin !


    OK, I stop... :rolleyes:;)

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  12. DougWheeler74

    DougWheeler74 Gretschie

    Jul 10, 2019
    NE Wisconsin, US
    If Kieth Richards can use a capo that's pro enough for me. :D
  13. ImGoodThanks

    ImGoodThanks Electromatic

    Apr 28, 2021
    You must have a large caravan :) I have a tele and a cheap acoustic in my caravan, the lack of room is a problem. Cant be without a guitar while we are away tho :) Interesting thread.
    olliethecat likes this.
  14. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    Like you say, it doesn't have to cost a fortune to make good music that gives you a special buzz. This afternoon I hooked up the Boss pedal to the £20 Marshall amp which I bought recently and played my Les Paul copy which I also bought s/h at the same time as the Boss pedal so the whole lot all in, excluding the guitar lead only cost just £145.00 and I got some excellent sounds out the gear and it sounded even better when I plugged in my Gretsch.
    I have plenty of amps to choose from including Fender, Line 6 and Yamaha and plenty of guitars to choose from but I was quite happy just playing the LP copy and my Gretsch through the clean channel of the little Marshall. I'm planning on giving both guitars some hammer over the coming weeks recording some tracks and I'm really looking forward to that.

    I followed my dream of becoming a pro entertainer and I suppose I was lucky to find what I was looking for but to be honest I was glad to stop touring in the end as it was a time in my life, like you when I was wanting to settle down and not be living out of a suitcase any more which I'd done for getting on for 14 years.
    I met my wife when I was on the road and we married 15 months later so she knew how it was and accepted it and supported me but she couldn't travel with me as the kids were small and it was as if she was a single parent much of the time and I knew it wasn't fair so I decided to to give it up but it wasn't an easy decision at the time.

    It's all very exciting at first, traveling the length of the country on 6 week tours but as the years wore on, I kept thinking more of just being at home with my wife and young kids. By then we had a lovely home but I wasn't seeing much of it or the wife and kids.
    When it gets to that stage something has got to give and I chose family over personal interests and looked for a way out of the music business and once I'd made the decision, I set about creating a brand new life for us which was helped by me being relatively successful so we had a bit of a head start.
    The houses I'd bought were all cash buys so no mortgage to worry about which allowed me to catch up on my education a few years later when I completed a university honours degree in Geophysics but I never used the degree for employment. That was just for me to say I could complete one. I did quite well in business so everything was pretty good.

    I agree there is something magical about walking onto that stage and stepping up to the mic. You just can't explain that nervous energy and anticipation that you get and very difficult to replicate. For me it was always the first 30 seconds of my first number which counted most.
    If I got the full attention of the audience in the first minute, I could usually guarantee a really good night.

    I am pleased that I haven't stagnated after coming back to it and that I'm still getting excited at learning new techniques and genres with new equipment. I've got all the recording gear I need to put together some new tracks and I'm looking forward to laying down the tracks over coming weeks.
    Prior to getting the Boss pedal, I was creating and delivering some really decent sounds but just a bit too predictable. Now the Boss pedal sparked a whole new interest in trying out new sounds and techniques and I reckon just what the doctor ordered.:)
  15. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I'm with you there. Space can be an issue in a caravan. Mine is about 18 feet long internally with an end bedroom. There's only two of us but we take our two indoor BSH cats with us too so even less room when their large covered litter tray and feeding bowls are on the floor. I do have room to leave a small amp in the lockers under the front full length day beds and there's even enough room to leave a guitar under there too.
    I took a guitar with me last week and also the Boss pedal both of which I'd bought from the same seller but took no amp as I wanted to get to know the pedal and the thing I liked was that the pedal has a headphone jack socket and the whole thing can be played as a standalone unit which saves a heck of a lot of space. I took a set of Audio Technica M50x cans and it sounded really great and best of all it didn't disturb my OH when I played late at night.

    You sound like me. I simply can't go to my caravan without taking a guitar. A couple of years ago I bought a Squier Strat guitar for only £10.00 to leave up at the caravan but I found out it's an SE model which is apparently a favourite of the modders and very similar in build to a genuine Strat and it plays so well that I'm reluctant to leave it there.
    A week or more before buying the Squier Strat I'd bought another Strat copy with the intention of leaving at the caravan and after setting it up I decided it was too good to leave.
    One of these times I'll manage to make myself leave one up there for the season.:)
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
  16. NJDevil

    NJDevil Synchromatic

    Jul 9, 2014
    Commack, NY
    This really is great Ollie! Even better (for me anyway) is this thread that really lit a fire of creativity and experimenting I was not expecting and the reason I just checked back now.

    The past 4 to 5 days have been drenched with play.....thinking outside my comfort zones....playing to styles, textures and tone variations I was, without any rational reason, afraid to. I have been having a blast using both my Gretsch Black Phoenix and new Tele to music I never would've thought they were suited for.

    Mainly the material has been songs from John Hammond Jr,'s "Wicked Grin" album. What changed? My new Roland Blues Cube Artist amp with the "dirt" it produces from the gain channel paired with the right amount of compression/other goodness from a Boss Blues Driver pedal and the tremolo and reverb dialed in around 20%. It makes my Tele mean....sounds like a bandit ready to rob a train and take the loot. There's grit, dirt, perfect bits of sloppy and musicality that has injected my blues material. Take away the Boss pedal, raise the Tremolo and reverb a bit and I was playing CCR's "Run Through The Jungle"......some more changes that turned into a happy mistake and I dialed in the tone for Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up".

    Then I added the Boss pedal back, took away the dirty gain, fiddled for a minute or 2 and created some wonderful "David Gilmour-inspired" creations on my Black Phoenix! All that rockabilly and twang just thrown right out and created a new landscape.

    The most surprising/wonderful discovery? The continuous realization that there were licks and technique just busting to get out of me....stuff I new how to do but never really concentrated on. This turned into a massive creative focus......just play and let untapped skills that must have been dormant rise thru my fingers. I really was playing focused melodies that was wonderful music.....Exciting!!!! Yeah, I've played Pink Floyd material for many years but this was stuff that were taken from the pages of Gilmour's solo work......strange, atmospheric and really cool. I really was in disbelief because I had not practiced what I was creating. Then, how? The only answer I can give is that I knew the notes on the fingerboard far better than I thought I did. I wasn't noodling but rather playing that led to creations that included laying down the base melody first with the looper and then creating textured solos after.

    Now I feel the possibilities are endless and toying with the idea of buying some home recording equipment. This will be a new chapter indeed as that is an area I know nothing about.

    Happy playing!!!!
    olliethecat likes this.
  17. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    You can play most any kind of music on almost any kind of instrument.

    I've played Blues on a harpsichord and a calliope. Sky's the limit!
    olliethecat and Robbie like this.
  18. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    Getting the Boss pedal has certainly encouraged me to try out new styles of playing and I'm probably as enthusiastic about learning to play new genres now as I have been throughout my playing career.
    It's amazing how little it can take to trigger that latent talent that is in most of us and if my new found enthusiasm has played any part in rekindling your own interests in trying out new stuff too then it makes me happy.

    Earlier in the thread I was complaining that I keep buying guitars with the intention of leaving it at my caravan. Three 'caravan' guitars later and I still can't bring myself to abandon any of them at the caravan as the changes in temperature are so variable that I can't see it not being badly affected so I've resolved myself to hauling one each time we go there BUT, I do have a new use for one of them rather than it standing on the rack gathering dust and that is to learn to play slide/bottleneck guitar proficiently. It will be something completely new to me and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in.

    By having a guitar specifically to use for the purpose I can properly set up the string height/action and open tune it. That way I can pick it up and play optimally it with the slide whenever I wish without it affecting my other playing. I do understand the basics so it won't be such a huge challenge but it will make me think which is good.

    What triggered me into wanting to learn slide guitar was that while running through the myriad settings/tones on the Boss pedal, one setting jumped out at me which was almost like a country style pedal steel guitar sound which I think could be embellished with a slide so on Monday I'm going to spend an hour or so readjusting the super low action on my chosen guitar to quite a high one to ensure I don't press the strings onto the frets with the slide which is quite possible.
    I'll try it first with open D tuning and then open E tuning to see which feels the best for me to play and suita my playing style.

    The person who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks certainly got that one wrong!;)
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