Bill Roper (billroper) wrote,
Bill Roper

Guitars and Learning Experiences

I took a couple of years of guitar lessons when I was in the fifth and sixth grade. Then we moved to Guam, my amp developed a short, and I didn't play much after that until my junior year of high school when another guitar player (with a working amplifier) moved in next door. My original guitar was a red solid body Gibson Melody Maker.

By the time I was in college, I decided it was time to get an acoustic guitar. Though I lusted after a 12-string, I ended up trading in the Gibson on an Epiphone six-string acoustic. A decent 12-string guitar was just too expensive. And that was the guitar that I eventually started taking to filksings when I discovered filking. I'd learned Chet Atkins style fingerpicking when taking those long-ago guitar lessons which served me in good stead on the Epiphone, but I ended up playing without a pick when I had a song to strum. If nothing else, it was easier to sing over the guitar. :)

After I moved to Chicago and graduated with my MBA, I picked up a very lightly used Guild 12-string at The Guitar Works in Evanston, a store that I highly recommend. (The Guild is a story all its own.) And it went to filks with me for many years as I pretty much stopped playing the Epiphone. I eventually bought a six-string Guild to match the 12-string, thinking that I was playing the Guild 12 because it was much nicer than the Epiphone. The Guild 6 was quite nice (and flies to conventions with me today), but the Guild 12 was just a wonderful guitar. It was what I used to record The Grim Roper, still without a pick.

The Epiphone, meanwhile, I sold to Jane Haldeman, because it was now surplus. (Yes, I know. There is no such thing as a surplus guitar.)

While I was married to Carol, I picked up a lovely Gibson Les Paul Custom, because I wanted an electric guitar. And it turned out that I apparently had no business owning a Les Paul, because when I played it, it never sounded like me. I eventually traded it for a sorely underused (by me) Godin Multiac Jazz that I lusted after having seen min0taur's. I need to play it more, but it does sound like me when I play it.

But in the meantime, I had developed Taylor lust. And after daisy_knotwise's mom died, she said I could use a bit of the money that we'd inherited to buy a nice Taylor acoustic, so I got a lovely little cedar topped model. It sounds great and still sits next to my desk in my office.

Unfortunately, it didn't record really well, so I decided a few years later to get a spruce-top Taylor with electronics so I could plug it in. And that's the guitar that travels to conventions with me by car. :)

At one point during my travels, I was in a filk circle with Sam Baardman who suggested that I should try using a pick again. I dithered for a couple of years and decided to try it. And it worked out pretty well once I redeveloped the techniques. I still don't use finger picks, because I can't find anything that fits my fingers and sounds decent, but the finger picking is generally pretty clear anyway.

There's a point to all of this. When you're writing music with your guitar, the guitar shapes the music. Every guitar has its own voice and wants to write songs its way -- depending too on whether you're using a pick, or finger picking, or finger strumming.

Most of my songs are getting written either on the Taylor next to my desk here or at a con on my traveling Taylor.

But the Guild 12 is getting lonely in the closet and daisy_knotwise would like me to pull it out.

If things slow down, maybe I will. :)
Tags: filk, guitars, home, musings

  • Swimming Upstream

    There are too many things being recalcitrant right now. Eventually, there will be a breakthrough, but this was apparently not the day for it. Let's…

  • We'll Just Keep Counting Down to Zero

    We got far less accomplished than we might have hoped this weekend. On the other hand, I think we're collectively in a better mood, so I'm going to…

  • Wiring It Up

    We are now in the final phases of the kitchen renovation. There's a small bit of trim and some spackling and touch up painting that needs to be done…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded