September 22, 2004
I put new strings on my old Martin guitar while Recondo 32 and Georgia were still here last Sunday. Georgia took a picture of me doing it, and I will post that picture eventually... just don't hold your breath.
I'm getting in shape for Blogtoberfest. My hands aren't what they once were (too many days and nights turning valves in a chemical plant for too many years) but I'm still not bad. I want to back up my brag about my guitar playing, so I've been practicing at least an hour every day since Sunday. I gotta get some callouses on my fingers if nothing else.
Plus, I don't like to play in front of people with brand new strings on my guitar. I like to break the strings in for a while until they stretch and get right with their inner selves. That way, you can tune your guitar and expect it to stay in tune. New strings are froggy.
I don't know if I blogged about this before, but I learned how to make month-old strings sound brand-new on a guitar from Harry Chapin, sometime around 1970 or '71. Harry played a noon concert at Armstrong State College and about twelve people showed up to see him. He was extremely gracious, although he had to be disappointed by the turnout. He said, "Hell, I don't need this," and abandoned the sound system to sit on the edge of the stage and invite everybody to come down front and listen.
I did. It was one of the best concerts I ever heard. I was an arm's length away from Harry Chapin and he was singing by himself, with his guitar. He was GREAT! He chatted with everybody, shot the shit between songs and told the stories behind what he wrote. I was enchanted. I cut my next class to hang around and talk with him.
That's when he told me the trick about making old guitar strings sound new. He played an old Martin that rang like a bell. I asked him how often he changed strings. When he told me the strings on his guitar were four months old, I called bullshit. I was running through two sets of strings a week at the time. That's when he told me the trick. I tried it, and it works.
I'll share that secret with any guitar player who comes to Blogtoberfest.
I'm bringing my best guitar, I'll have the strings broken in the way I like them, and I'll be ready to play. I intend to dazzle the audience with a few original songs, too. I've written almost 100 songs, about 25 of which I still remember how to play. But I WILL play THESE:
Justice Laid Me Low
Maybe a few others, too.
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