Sunday, 23 January 2011

My taste in guitars

Why do all guitars have to look like this...
Why do all guitars have to look like this...
As a guitarist I think I’m fairly unusual in that I tend to find expensive guitars incomprehensibly unexciting. What excites me is the quirky, cheap and unusual. My dream is not of one day affording a 1962 Stratocaster in mint condition, but rather of unearthing something unique and bizarre sounding in a pawn shop.
Alas the way in which guitars are manufactured and designed in the modern age means that this is probably just as unlikely as that ’62 Strat falling into my lap. The revolution in Far eastern manufacturing means that, by and large, cheap guitars look and sound very much like the expensive ones. This is a mixed blessing in many ways. There’s no doubt that compared to picking up a bottom of the market guitar 30 years ago, the difference in playability is astounding. My father tells tales of guitars with two inches of string clearance that may as well have been strung with barbed wire. But in those days cheap electric guitars were built to whatever shape and design floated the manufacturer’s boat. These days they’re effectively built to two designs, The Stratocaster or the Les Paul, and to my mind the world is poorer for that.

...when they used to look like this?

...when they used to look like this?

I guess my love of resonators come from that desire for the ‘different’ in guitars. What could be more different than a guitar that sounds like a tin dustbin? My main gigging axe was £160 new on EBay. It’s made of cheap Chinese plywood and when you look at it closely the f-holes aren’t exactly the same size. It’s been glued back together with epoxy after the guitar strap came off and sent it crashing into a drum kit. It's missing a volume knob these days as well. I changed the main pickup myself after that developed a loose connection that caused it to only work intermittently, and I love the beast all the more for that, because it doesn’t look or sound like all the other guitars out there.

My trusty resonator, in a rejected shot from the album cover shoot
My trusty resonator, in a shot from the album cover shoot

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Marketing strategies....

OK, so maybe I bought into the whole 'don't need a record label' idea a little bit too whole-heartedly. The net is full of articles about how easy it is to put out a CD yourself, and they're all true. It was very easy. However, I find myself with a spare bedroom full of albums and realise I'd only thought this one through so far. The whole process of making a record was great fun, and I was happily swept along by it all. Recording it ourselves without anyone looking over our shoulder, getting it professionally mastered, seeing and hearing the finished product is all a dream come true and I'm tremendously proud of what we've done. Yet it suddenly dawns on me this CD isn't going to sell itself.

For a signed artist this is where the label would swing into action and their massive advertising budget and finely honed PR team would make the whole world believe they need our record now. I've got a book called "DIY PR" out of the library and two days off from the day job a week to try and do the same! Meanwhile, the 5 CDs I sent to CD Baby in order for them to get the album onto Amazon and iTunes seem to be in the ether somewhere mid-Atlantic and I'm fidgeting nervously and putting 'available to download soon' on press releases. For all my confidence in what I do, I suppose this is the first time I've had money over and above the price of a tank of petrol invested in my own music career & I'm actually feeling a little out of my depth.

But hey why not download some free songs from soundcloud and if you like those, plod over to and order the album! /shameless plug :)