One of my students is struggling with technique while finger picking. I confess that I’ve tried every trick I know to make it easier for her, with limited success. The problem, interestingly enough, may have been that she was a little TOO concerned with technique, hand and finger position being the things she’s agonized over the most. But I’m happy to report that maybe – just maybe – a solution has been found. Somewhere along the line she had determined that what finger picking is all about is “plucking” the strings. To her way of thinking that meant stiffening up her fingers and getting UNDER each string. Despite my admonitions to relax her hand the act of playing each string by plucking it almost from below meant she not only had to stiffen each finger, but even worse, she was dealing with strings one at a time, which slowed her down and was very, very tiring.
But this week when she came for her lesson she seemed to do better and I needed to know what was different. She said that she was allowing each finger to bend back just a bit at the knuckle closest to the fingertip. Ah, I said – you are “brushing” the string rather than plucking it! Imagine a paintbrush rather than a nail puller!
That made all the difference. By keeping that analogy in mind she was able to relax her hand, perhaps for the first time. The results were compelling and I’m confident she will now succeed and be a good finger-style guitarist. Sometimes a student just has to work things out on their own in spite of all the direction they get from their teacher.
On to another subject. This was a good week for me in terms of guitar sales. I moved four of my best guitars (two Martins and two Taylors) and I’m pretty confident a third Martin will sell tomorrow. What I did was painful but necessary. I lowered the prices down to what I paid for each instrument and then posted them in the buy-and-sell section of a popular guitar forum. A couple of the guitars I will truly miss as they were very special and all of them were above average in looks and sound, in close to perfect condition. But all of them had hung around for too long and I keep reminding myself not to get emotionally involved with my guitars. That is hard, damn it! The conundrum of selling guitars (and in all retail) is: why does something sell or not sell? The origina prices I had on those guitars were very fair and in fact under market value. Perhaps someday I’ll figure it out. Or not. Anyway, at least now I can begin the search for the Perfect Guitar again. You know – the one that hasn’t been built yet!
Speaking of guitars, I just bought a pretty cool electric, a limited edition reproduction Epiphone Sorrento, originally produced in 1962. Mine is number 68 of the limited run of 1962 instruments. It is a thin line hollow body with two Gibson mini humbuckers, trapeze tailpiece, in natural maple (laminate) color. It even came with a period-correct repro hardshell case. A very cool instrument and way fun to play. Yes, I do play electric guitar from time to time, mostly blues/swing and jazz. The price was quite reasonable too. They are exclusive to Musician’s Friend. Definitely worth checking out if you want to get your electric vibe on. Now I’m lusting after a nice, small tube amp…
That’s it for today. Keep on playing!
Peace & good music,