Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Four String Plague (to obtain more productive distractions)

[composed while watching The Stand; thinking about plagues and strumming on a ukelele]

In a perfect world, I suppose I could just call them hobbies. In a perfect world, I suppose they would be equally legitimate pursuits and I would be a renaissance man and not a dabbler. Sure they keep me from writing, but with a toddler around, there are a lot of times when simply can't be writing. Today I'll be a bricoleur.

"I've got blisters on me fingers."

I bought the uke a while back, something about the four strings. I didn't quite realize it wasn't tuned in fourths like my bass, though. I still need to look up how to tune the stings. Fifths and re-entrant and all that. Initially, I had thought to use it as an odd and tiny acoustic bass. Not quite. But I've gotten into it. Learned a few chords, and when I get around to changing the strings (lousy factory strings) and getting a clip-on tuner so that I don't have to be continually assaulted by the jarring not quite right notes, it might actually sound ok.

Finn loves to play bass with me. Or, rather he is far more interested in fucking around with the electric tuner while I muddle through. So much so that he throws fits if I don't let him whether I am interested in playing or not. Or I have to spend the whole time keeping him from smacking the guitar with his blocks or toys or whatever. Bad enough that he broke my practice amp the other day. Turns out one should not smack all the buttons and turn it off and on in rapid succession. I think he just caused a connection to break or fray in there somewhere but I haven't opened it up to take a look (it's not worth it to take it in to get fixed, I'll tell you that). Got me thinking I should get myself an acoustic bass. Won't need a cheapo amp to hear it; less breakable parts, less wires. I was thinking of going fretless.

I was also considering a mandolin. Something about those four stringers (in this case they're doubled, but same dif). It would be considerable smaller than an acoustic bass, the unwieldy bastard. And size is a big deal when you have a toddler that wants to mess around with every not white childproofed thing in the house. Not to mention that buying a hardcase or mounting the bass on the wall out of reach costs almost as much as the guitar itself.

See, I'm sorta looking to make this degenerate four string electric blues sound. I feel like playing the uke through a harmonica mic would be a solid component o' that sound. No idea where that thought came from, don't think anyone's bothered to try that one yet. Be a while before I do, though: too much money, too many wires. Add in a hollow body bass with a slide, a four string banjo, and maybe Finn can drop in on Einstein's electric violin (fiddle of gold against your soul...). Fourth String. Hmm, makes you think...

"No gigs yet... Just got together... Is Tuesday night cool for you? ... We'll just, you know, jam."

So that's another reason agains the acoustic bass - it's not really part of the sound, of the idea of the music I think about hearing in my head. Not being able to afford the one's I really want (or imagine I desire), I feel like I should get something that furthers me down the road. Ideally something that teaches me chords for a GDAE axe. (I've considered retuning the uke, it doesn't seem to be recommended). It'd be nice to play bass chords. There is that.

Because I'm not exactly a musician. Not anymore. Not since I left Montana and the last good band teacher. Maybe not since I got the braces and fucked my horn playing royally. And since then (despite another five years of active band participation) I've mostly been a dabbler, getting by on what I could fake (and back in the day I could fake a lot on the trumpet). But I, like almost everybody else, like the idea of playing music, like playing music, and certainly love an adoring crowd lavishing the praise (I can hear those yaks already). It is a much more immediate gratification that writing can provide, and a live show is a lot more verifiable than an hit counter on the blog, an easier energy to feed off, feedback on. Maybe someday. Keep building the callouses.

Location:Anchorage Dr,North Palm Beach,United States

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