Basement Guitar Building

I’m back..

 

I know I have been gone for some time. I have been finishing up my last semester of school. Ever. It’s been rough. But I made it through alive. 

 

While I was gone I began a project. A project that is teaching me more about instruments and music than learning the instruments is. I didn’t bring many tips about guitar to this blog. I found it easier to talk about instruments that were new to me. But this project has shed a new light on an instrument. It makes me appreciate all the magic in the acoustic guitar. Every detail, every tiny detail, makes the instrument beautiful.

 

I know, I know. You are dying to know what I have been doing.

 

Well….

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That’s correct. I am building an acoustic guitar. And if you are wondering. Yes. This is my first time working with wood that doesn’t require nailing two-by-fours together.

 

Now, I think I would be crazy enough to try and do this with no woodworking abilities and no help, but that is not what I am doing. My pap has always worked with wood in his basement. I remember going down as a kid and watching him as he cut things and glued things and built things. I thought is was so cool that he was able to build just about anything he wanted. So I asked my pap if he would help me build a guitar.

 

“I don’t the first thing about building a guitar,” he said.

“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “We will figure it out together.”

 

Next thing I know, we are in his basement with blocks of wood and Natelson and Cumpiano’s book, “Guitarmaking. Tradition and Technology.

 

When you consider a project like this you already know it is going to be very time-consuming and difficult. I prepared myself for this. I understood that this is going to take time and that I would hit rough patches along the way. But however much detail you think goes into building this instrument, triple it. 

 

Everything you do has an effect on the sound of the instrument. How much of the wood you scrape off; how thick you make the braces; how you shape the braces; how many braces you use; the shape of the guitar; the wood you use; how you touch the wood; how you blow on the wood. I think you get the point. 

 

I just finished with bracing the soundboard. And as much of a bitch it was to do, it was incredibly rewarding. Shaping the braces was probably the most tedious thing I have ever done. Not only do the braces smoothly roll to a point, but some are also tapered. The tapered braces pull the soundboard enough to provide a slight concave.

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Even after getting this much done, I already believe I have a much better understanding of the instrument. These hand-crafted instruments are a work of beauty; and hand crafting one lets your work become the beauty. 

 

There is too much to say about this project than can fit in one post. Check back for the details of the steps up until this point as well as the details for future steps to come.

 

-CG

 

 

 

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Survive by De-stressing

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This Day In Music: December 22nd

On December 22nd, 2002, guitarist and singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer, died. An undiagnosed congenital heart defect ended this legendary artist’s life.

The Clash’s album London Calling made it to number eight on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Joe Strummer made a lasting impression on music and influenced young punks everywhere. Hearing Strummer sing “I’m all lost in the supermarket / I can no longer shop happily” would make any kid want to rebel.

The Clash’s supermarket shopping would earn them a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January of 2003.

R.I.P. Joe Strummer.

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Falling in Love in a Music Store

Walking into a music store is like stepping into a different world. It’s the Chronicles of Narnia for musicians. Hours pass and it seems like minutes.

I walked into my local music store today just to play a little piano. My keyboard is a hundred dollar piece of shit. Not only do I not have the full 88 keys but they aren’t dynamic sensitive. Now, I can’t say it didn’t do its job. I learned a lot by playing it.

But now that I took a piano class this semester I would say that I graduated to the next level. One thing I learned in that class is that I was playing the piano completely wrong before. I never took the time to learn which fingers were supposed to play which keys. I just looked at the music score and played it the way it was comfortable. DO NOT DO THIS.

You may think you are getting better, but that is just because you are learning what is comfortable and not what is correct. As soon as I learned the correct way to play I got a hell of a lot better a hell of a lot quicker.

As some of you may know, when I started this blog I knew how to play very little on the piano. Now, I am beginning to pride myself on my piano playing. I even got offered to play some piano in a friend’s band. I must say I came a long way. What was my trick? Practice and discipline.

Sure, I learned a few things to help my finger strength and independence, things that I will show you in my next blog post, but practice and discipline is the key to improving.

So, what did I learn from my trip to the music store today? I learned that I need a Gretsch hollow body. I played a Gretsch g5420T.

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I didn’t fall in love, I plummeted in love. The action was perfect. The sound was unique. The guitar felt right in my hands. I could imagine myself, onstage, playing the blues. No, not playing, but feeling the blues. This is where my loss of time in the music store went. 

The man there didn’t help my feelings at all. “I need this guitar,” I told him.

“Yea,” he said. “Hollow Body guitars have been a hot seller this year.”

I was going to buy it right then but my problem is that I didn’t have $700 to spend on a new guitar. Hell, I don’t have $700 to spend on anything. 

Playing that guitar sealed my fate, though. I will buy a Gretsch Hollow Body.

 

I would love to hear about your music store experience. Or, if you would like to share about a time when you fell in love with an instrument, please feel free.

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This Day In Music: December 6th

On December 6th, 1949, legendary blues artist Led Belly died. Many referred to him as “Leadbelly” but he preferred “Lead Belly” and that is what is engraved on his tombstone.

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He graced us with songs such as “House of the Rising Sun,” “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,”  and “Midnight Special.”

The most notable cove of Lead Belly’s songs is “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by Nirvana on their MTV Unplugged album. Nirvana closes an emotional show with with this heart-wrenching cover.

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This Day In Music: December 4th

On December 4th, 1993, Frank Zappa died at the age of 52. This singer/songwriter, musician, producer, composer, and film director had his life suddenly taken by prostate cancer. He is most notably known for his rock and jazz, but he has also composed orchestral pieces that were influenced by composers such as Edgard Varese, Igor Stravinsky, and Anton Webern.

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Nine Inch Nails Album Review-Hesitation Marks

Cunning or Crazy?

“I am just a copy of a copy of a copy/Everything I say has come before,” Trent Reznor sings on the opening lyrical track, “Copy of A,” on the new Nine Inch Nails album Hesitation Marks. This ironic concept of conforming to old patterns in ones music contradicts the sound of the album where Reznor strips down the flesh of his industrial sounds and leaves just a skeleton to rebuild.

hesitation marks

Though this album may not have the same grungy guitar and obscure, fast drum beats, it is still packed with mood-changing melodies and musical build-ups like in their previous albums. NIN proves they are still an important part of the music industry-and a sellable band despite the absence of corporate funded marketing campaigns- by resigning to a major label, a radical move by Reznor as an independent artist. With the 25th anniversary of the first NIN album-

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