About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Three Little Things

Like many guitar players, I drool over guitar porn: the music store catalogs I receive in the mail. I like to see the latest guitars and gadgets, and I think about the killer rig I could assemble if I only had $5,000-10,000 to spare. To be honest, though, I really have everything I need. (Okay, maybe I'm still looking for just the right nylon string guitar.) As a straight ahead jazz player, I'm a fan of a clean guitar sound, so I don't need a huge pedal board or a Marshall stack.

As much as I enjoy looking at all the shiny equipment, it turns out that there are three small, simple items that make life a lot easier: string locks, an amp with a built in tuner, and a Peak music stand.

My Godin XTSA came with string locks, which makes it much easier to change strings. You just loosen the cap, thread a string through and pull it tight, tighten the cap, and tune. Simple!

I use a Roland 80XL for gigs. Its little brother, the 40XL, sits at home as a practice amp. Both of these amps offer up a great clean sound and have some nice built-in effects. Other than the tone, the best feature is the built in tuner. It's quite accurate. You just hit the tuner button, which is in the center left of the controls, and tune up. As an added bonus, the tuner automatically mutes the amp, so no one else has to listen to you tune…very handy when you're a church musician and you want to check the tuning during the sermon. I used to use a digital tuner pedal, the Boss TU2, which works quite well, but when your amp has a built-in tuner, you have one less piece of equipment to pack.

Finally, my favorite piece of equipment: the Peak music stand. It's made of highly durable plastic, folds in on itself, and fits nicely into a bag that ships with the stand. It's about $30, and it is light and solid. It's nearly as light as a cheap wire stand, and nearly as durable as a heavy metal stand. I've turned a number of my musician friends onto this stand. I've lost track of the number of times I've taken this stand out, only to hear another musician or audience member comment on it. You can click here for a video demo.

All three of these items or features are small things, but they've made a big difference by simplifying my gigging life.

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