Oooh! Sunburst...

Dec 10, 2020

I do not, as general rule, have the guitar jones. I have had it for a specific instrument now and again, but overall, I've got some good tools, and they do what I like, so for the most part, it's about trying to make the most of what I have on hand. Now, it's true I went through a serious samples-accumulation problem over the past several years, but I finally realized, no, another orchestral string library isn't going to make me a better composer. Studying scores and practicing counterpoint might, but another library? Probably not.

But as I mentioned a few weeks back, I've been obsessed with the music of Charlie Hunter lately. And there's something about it that seems vaguely familiar, albeit in an intergalactic, "you're not from around here, are you" kind of way. I mean, it's not totally unrelated to playing fingerstyle guitar. It's just a degree of thumb and finger independence that seems somewhat four-dimensional. So on a whim, I Googled "how do I buy a guitar like Charlie Hunter's," assuming I'd come up empty-handed. Hoping I would, actually, because I know playing the same guitar as someone else doesn't make you play like them. But it turns out, you can buy a guitar like Charlie Hunter's, because he's co-owner in a company that makes 6-, 7- and 8-string guitars with the fan frets and the stereo output and the three bass strings on the bottom and the whole shebang.

Uh oh.

Now on the one hand, I know this is a ridiculous proposition. The dude has spent thirty years working out the most absurdly satisfying technique imaginable, on an instrument of his own invention. I should know enough to stay in my lane. I've spent the past five years learning counterpoint and harmony, and it's been magnificent fun, but I've used it to write maybe sixteen consecutive measures of music in that time. Which is all well and good, because a guy's gotta have a hobby, but it doesn't mean John Williams will be eating my dust anytime soon.

So the 7-string guitar would definitely be a moonlighting affair, not any kind of actual change in direction. More just a satisfaction of the curiosity: can it be done? I have had the satisfaction of discovering one can learn to write counterpoint, decades after leaving academia. So perhaps a new instrument is not a completely absurd proposition. In fact, I know it's not, because the last time I had this unquenchable need to change gears, I was twenty-three, and put a 1970s single-neck Emmons push-pull pedal steel in the middle of my Brooklyn apartment, determined to play honky-tonk in public within the year or collapse trying. Somehow, a decade or two of gigs and sessions later, that desire just...evaporated. Not overnight, but certainly over time. Now, sitting down to pick a few bars is like hearing someone mention an old girlfriend's name – "oh, yeah, that happened, once upon a time. Boy, that was a long time ago..."

So I don't know. Just listening to new (to me) music has got me trying different things on acoustic guitar, and I can't remember the last time I worked on technique quite so consciously, trying to get a specific groove or feeling to come out of the instrument. So that's pretty cool, to feel inspired like that, and even if I forget all about this 7-string idea by tomorrow, I'll still have a whole bunch of things I'm interested in working on. But the idea of playing real bass notes while grooving and improvising is a pretty sticky one. And it doesn't help that the 7-string comes in sunburst.


Well. In other news, I've got a new video posted on Youtube today, a short improvisation lesson about two different ways to resolve the b3 in A. You can find it here:

One Thing About...Resolving The b3 In A

If you don't have the PDF yet, you can can download the tab for the entire Youtube series here. I mistakenly put the wrong link in Tuesday's email, so I apologize if you found yourself re-entering your email to get the download. This is the correct link, where you can download the PDF straightaway without using your email address:

One Thing About Fingerstyle Blues TAB

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I'm offering a live-online Improvisation workshop this Saturday. For a lot of people, creating improvised solos is a bit of a mystery, and even more of challenge when playing fingerstyle. This workshop, called "How To Create Great Solos From Scratch," will take you through a three-step process for improvising on the blues in E. You can read all about it, watch my video description, and register for the class at the link below. The workshop includes an advance PDF of the material we'll be covering, and three months' access to the video replay afterwards:

Improvisation: How To Create Great Solos From Scratch