Monday, December 6, 2010

The Blues and a Guitar that Quacks Like A Duck!

First an odd disclaimer: to someone that might be reading this that I promised a guitar to for Christmas… (*NO* this one is not your gift, and you can’t have it… this is a different guitar! Yours is a deep red classical, and of a quite higher pedigree)

OK, Back to the blog post:

Well, I’m almost back to functional here. But the tosses and turns have somehow left me spun around and like 40 pounds heavier in about 3 months… insane, I know. after all the hard work, all that damage… I blame that wild medication reaction some, but I also have take full responsibility for me eating waaay too much and not doing gym, volleyball, or riding the bicycle… What can I say other than I just don’t feel well…

With all this bizarre stuff going on I got into a funk, I’m still in a funk…

Naturally I should start learning the guitar and play the Blues, right !?!

So let me share a story about my new hobby and not giving up…

Foolsfitness would like to tell you a story about a guitar. This is not just any ole guitar, but the kind that is destined for legend… or at the least it just has a bit of the blues injected into it through it’s tough times. I can see writing up several blues songs just about this guitar I call “Mouse” that I have starting out walking on the blues road with.

I’m talking about an old Harmony ¾ folk steel string acoustic guitar, near as I can tell circa 1984. How the little guy started out I wonder… maybe like most of his other little siblings in some hard life stuck with an abusive relationship with a kid who didn’t know any better or much care about how he treated some whim Christmas present.

Of its past I know it was bought at a yard sale, and *then* stored in a barn for years. A lady who is a friend of mine, her mother gave it to me. While it was in kindness, that I appreciate, I think she appreciated to be free of the clutter too. The mother’s husband put on a high E string as the old one had long since seen string heaven.

So I get the guitar and turn it over looking at the sunburst color on the front and deep wood grain on the back. It was proudly showing off it’s “steel reinforced neck” sticker that was peeling up and I heard something loose rattling about as I turned the guitar around. Apparently in it’s life it had also had some side work as a mouse shack. I removed a bit of fuzz and a little kernel of something I couldn’t quite reckon what it was from inside the sound hole after a *whole lot of shaking going on*…(Couldn’t resist the song pun)

These strings, or the five that hadn’t been replaced were rusted. I take it to a pal who tunes it by ear the best he can, He’s old and hard of hearing, but I’m tone deaf and can’t play a chord to sound right anyway, so I don’t much care. I figure close is just fine.

Over the next week I broke another string and while tuning it after replacement broke a third. Then broke one of other the *new* ones I just put on… maybe some bad mojo for running away with some mouse’s pad, or just ignorance on my part being new and over tuning it?

So I cut off *all* the strings and spend a night just cleaning the whole thing. I bring it to a local guitar shop who says it won’t stay in tune because the bridge was lifting, wants to charge me 25 bucks to put strings on it with also the warning that he could snap off the bridge in the process too… on a guitar that bought at J C Penny that cost that much new, and street value now is about 20 bucks! Let’s just say between two sets of strings I have invested more than what I could likely buy another whole guitar just like it for.

So I take my frustration and a new set of soft steel strings (2nd set of strings) away from that shop and hunt down *another* friend. This one a bit younger and still has that youthful “can do” enthusiasm. She takes the guitar and lets just say the old thing needed a woman’s touch. However sure enough the bridge starts prying up and she can’t keep it in tune. But she explains to me that it’s still a good starter guitar and it’s reasonably close to in tune.

I squirted a whole tube of super glue gel under the bridge to keep it from popping off and it seemed to harden enough to keep a bit better tune for a couple of weeks. I’ve become Ahab and this is my whale obsession. Yet there is something freeing about the whole thing here. I have it leaned against my bookcase and maybe because it didn’t cost a lot it’s less intimidating somehow and I seem to pick it up frequently to practice a few chords while dinner is cooking, and also I’m not afraid of leaving it out around the cat. She has NOT decided it is a scratching post (Yet?)… even though I’ve decided to call my new (er old) guitar “Mouse“.

The superglue turned some of the bridge wood and surrounding area white. So naturally I took a trusty sharpie marker and went to work on my guitar's shoe shine, as well as touched a few chipped color areas too. Superglue, permanent marker… hey, no duck tape yet.

As I'm starting to learn more I'm exploring the neck of the guitar a bit in playing beyond open chords... I've got a few high spots that buzz a couple of notes here and there that I know after looking very careful is not my finger position. Perhaps this will make me learn alternate fingering of notes as I'm going to have to work playing around them.

Yet in the “Blues Beggar style” (Do I even have a style yet?) I think I have developed a signature note. You could look at the guitars warped neck as irritating, and I do to some extent... but I found playing a version of the four note “I am a man” or Hoochie lick (Low E fret 3-0-3-5) the last note gives me an odd buzz. So I've been working on a pop of the string and a twisting lift off bend that makes the note "Quack" So it doesn’t have duck tape yet, but it can quack!

So in the future when you think of Quackery (or is it tom foolery?), you may just think of “The Blues Beggar“!
aka Foolsfitness
or Alan…
aka the artist formally known as any of the above and just likes to refer to himself in third person.

So the “Mouse” and I are both playing a little out of tune just fine together. It’s not as tasty as Chinese Food, but I can practice my “licks”… actually so far it seems like a bit of good therapy. -Alan