The mandolin and the choice of picks

The last few days I’ve been playing a lot, and I’m making some progress with the guitar. I can actually play some nice simple breaks, and some c runs too. :)

I’ve picked up the mandolin again. It’s nice to see how a serious break from it can trigger the inspiration.
Now after not playing the mandolin for a long time, I’m not at all happy with the tone. I need to play much smoother, and with better flow. I think I need to pick up my old scale exercises again, I remember they were very efficient with developing smoothness and flexibility of the fingers.
Also, I’m looking at what pick to use. Most better mandolin players use very thick picks such as the Blue Chip or Wegen picks. I’ve never been able go play with very thick picks, I think they kind of kill the sound. But it must be something with the technique, since “everybody” else uses them? I’m planning to go to Göteborg on Thursday, bring the mandolin, visit music shops and test picks. Now with thinner picks (1.0 and the likes) I think they give too much pick noise (the sound of the pick hitting the string), so I’m willing to try the extra heavy picks a chance. I don’t think anyone sells the Blue Chip over here, but maybe at least some of the other ones.

There is a bluegrass festival coming up in a few weeks and I can’t wait! When I go there I always realize how much I suck at playing (probably even more this year), but I love being there and it always inspires me. We also have good friends there, that we meet only at this particular festival, and that we enhoy jamming with.

Music in the garden

I started working this week, and it’s been a week beyond terrible. On Tuesday my thought was that I give up and I’m going to attend that graphic design programme. But well, I normally love my job, it’s just that now it’s summer, and summer working conditions, our ward has moved to another ward, because that’s the only way to cut down the number of admitted patients, otherwise the nurses can’t have any summer holidays (which everyone is entitled to according to Swedish law). In the end of August we’ll be back at the 14th floor again, thank goodness, it’s awful where we are now.

However, I’m making good progress with the guitar!! Today I’ve played Blue ridge cabin home with breaks and all, and I’m learning the bluegrass C run. Whiskey before breakfast is getting there, and so is Soldier’s joy. And you know what? Today I got back the urge to play the mandolin! Not that it will replace the guitar, but because it’s a cool instrument, I’m not too bad at playing it, and it’s…nice. I’m going to play both, and when I play my mandolin I just realize how much I’m in love with it.

The weather here is fabulous and I’ve been making music in the garden for two days. Life is good after all.

Two tunes to work on

This weekend is the last of this year’s summer holidays, and although it’s a bit sad, this weekend is all about guitar inspiration.
I got myself a new iPhone yesterday, and decided I wanted another ringtone, and what is better than a guitar lick by Norman Blake? You can create your own ringtones easily with a Mac, Garage Band and iTunes, and I looked up my big Norman Blake mp3 library, and started looking for good tunes or songs to use. I had forgotten about so many of those tunes and songs!!!! It was a huge inspiration boost just skimming through the tune lists. I eventually picked a few nice ones for ringtones (I think I’m using a little bit of Black mountain rag as a ringtone now).

Today we started playing some, finally, I was supposed to sing in church tomorrow, and needed to see if it would work out (remember the cold I had in Italy). Sadly it didn’t, but the good thing was that then we skipped the hymns and I’ll fly away (nothing bad with that though), and instead started playing some instrumentals. First Daniel played some on the mandolin and I played chords and tried some runs, but then he also picked up the guitar, and we started testing some new stuff on old tunes, specifically Soldier’s joy. We improvised a nice little version with parts of the B part on the lower strings. Nice indeed!

Later, I sat down and looked up some Norman Blake videos, and watched the one from his DVD where he teaches Whiskey before breakfast. I didn’t expect so much from it because what can be so awesome about that old tune that everyone has heard a million times? But he had some nice little things in it that I haven’t heard before, and I ended up creating a lovely version that I’m now learning, bits of ideas from Norman Blake, and bits of my own ideas. So I have two very nice tunes to work on now, while my throat and nose recover from the cold and possible sinusitis.

And well, NO, no video right now.. but I promise to record something as soon as I can play any of them without too much stumbling.

This will hopefully be my next to-learn project:

Or possibly this one:

Guitar talk

A friend of mine wants to learn to play guitar. She’s a super cool girl with all sorts of interesting hobbies, she’s a reseller for Tupperware and Partylite, she’s just simply one of the coolest people I know and she rocks as a nursing assistant. We got to know each other because we worked together in the respiratory ward, and see each other sometimes. So now she wants to learn to play the guitar, which is lovely of course. I’m just sad that I’m not competent to teach her.
Today we went to the “big city” which is Göteborg, to buy new tuners and strings. She has an old nylon stringed guitar, one of those that you’ll spend an eternity to get in tune and then it will be out of tune again after ten minutes. However, it’s better than no guitar at all.

I also bought some strings, picks and humidipaks for my guitar. I didn’t remember what size I had the last time, and got a 012 set of Elixir. The last time I replaced the strings it took forever to get rid of that weird clatchy sound of new strings, and the aha moment of the day today was that since Elixirs last longer than other strings, the sound of new strings will also remain longer. The other aha moment was realising that it’s not the strings that are particularly long, it’s my guitar that is particularly small. High level of thinking today, lol. :D

I played some after replacing the strings, and it sounded different, so probably I had heavier strings before. But it sounded lovely, and no “new-string sound”. I do like the punch it had in the sound before though, so the next time I’ll get 013 strings, and maybe something else than Elixir, to see what difference it’ll make.

I love my guitar though. :)
But I need to find out what to study to continue developing my picking. Today I played the C run up and down, some bass runs and Cherokee shuffle. Good stuff. I wish I had time to take lessons. The (in my opinion) best guitar player of Sweden lives in Göteborg.

And of course I’m excited to see if my friend starts learning. I told her to learn the G, C and D chords. That way we can play some simple tunes together.