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randyc

Lengthy Intro, Some J-45 Notes, Guitar Porn

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Hello,

 

I’m a retired engineer and former jazz guitarist but haven’t played with regularity since I relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area fifteen years ago. I was formerly active on several jazz guitar forums (with the same user name as in this forum) but not in recent years. My lack of participation coincided with a general loss of interest in playing.

 

I started playing guitar in 1961 and since then I’ve let many, many wonderful instruments slip through my hands (worse still, sold them at ridiculous prices). Finally, some thirty years ago I made the decision never to sell another guitar (although I’ve given five or six of them to relatives and friends). Over time, this resulted in what you see in the photos below. The focus of this forum is acoustic guitars and I don’t have very many of them, unhappily.

 

I’ve always thought of the acoustic guitar as a different instrument than an electric guitar and that is reflected in my playing, LOL. I don’t play acoustic guitar well for a variety of reasons. That’s not been particularly troubling since my interests generally lie in amplified guitar. Recently that has changed - specifically with the purchase of a 2015 J-45 Standard.

 

I’ve owned a 1979 Ovation Custom Legend, since I bought it new in that year. It was the top of the Ovation line at that time as I recall. I’ve used the guitar occasionally in both un-amplified and amplified venues and the tone has always been adequate. AND it plays easier than any acoustic guitar that I’ve ever handled which was important for one with limited acoustic experience.

 

But for twenty years or more, I've wanted a J-45 for that unique punchy sound and why I never obtained one is a mystery. I’ve purchased many, many guitars that were WAY more expensive than a J-45 Standard so financial stress never drove the issue. Finally, at a recent twenty year re-union of the trio with which I played longest, I just decided to scratch that longtime itch and bought a new Standard.

 

Because I haven’t played in many years, I have no calluses (and very little finger strength or agility). I limit my playing time to ten minute sessions, three or four times a night for now. I play the J-45 in my kitchen because I love the slap-back reverb in that room.

 

I don’t want to sound like a complete fanboy, although it can be noted from my photos that I do love Gibson guitars. I have an issue with the guitar: the action is not at all to my liking. Of course how could a guy formerly accustomed to playing an L-5CES transition to a J-45 without problems - that’s just not going to happen.

 

I have many years experience setting up my own guitars, albeit mostly electric instruments. I added a chapter regarding my methods to my book “Designing Vacuum Tube Amplifiers and Related Topics”. (It’s a free e-book, by the way and I’ll reference the link – be aware that it’s around 400 pages long and takes a l-o-n-g time to download.)

 

The old Ovation has always played remarkably since I picked it up from the dealer and my ’76 J-55 was quickly adjustable to a much lower action without sacrificing tone (although the tone was never at J-45 standards). My Taylor similarly took very little time to optimize.

 

(BTW, that a guitar as expensive as a Taylor 912C ($4,000 - $5,000) should play so poorly out of the box is darned near shameful. I expected this thing to play at least as well as the J-55 and it didn’t. The only reason that I kept the guitar was confidence in being able to set it up to my own standard. It doesn’t sound all that good to me, either.)

 

I’ve never “met” an acoustic guitar with a well-adjusted nut from the factory, it simply doesn’t seem to happen. And for an acoustic guitar, we know that is very important. Well, this Bozeman product was an outstanding exception to the rule ! I could have spent a couple of hours, loosening a string and moving it out of the way, filing or sawing the slot a bit, replacing, re-tightening, tuning the string and playing it all the way up the neck. Repeat as needed for all six strings. The J-45 came from the factory almost as if someone had done exactly that !

 

But the bridge saddle was not as nicely adjusted as the nut and I spent a lot of time trying to find a reasonable compromise between playability and tone, shaving the saddle and re-adjusting the truss rod where necessary. At one point I removed too much material from the underside of the saddle. I made a brass spacer to the dimensions of the amount of material I’d last removed from the saddle and inserted the spacer under the Tusq saddle before re-installing the strings. (I have a blank bone saddle and one of these days I may machine it to the dimensions of the existing saddle + spacer and install in the J-45 for a test drive.)

 

The current string set is Elixer nanoweb, .013 - .056. They sound fine but I’ve purchased three different sets of inexpensive strings of approximately the same diameters. I’d like to compare them with the more costly Elixer. (FWIW, I replaced a set of Martins, .013 - .056, that were on the J-55 this afternoon with D’Addario EJ11’s, a lighter set. I am not happy with the results but a little aging will likely mellow them.)

 

Although the J-45, as I now have it set up, is not exactly what I’d like, it’s playable to the 12th fret which is as far as I can comfortably reach and – more importantly – sounds GREAT all the way up the neck. I attribute a great deal of my luke-warm satisfaction to my lack of finger strength (exercise required) and lack of acoustic guitar experience. When I was required to play an acoustic guitar in past years, it was with the Ovation, which has a neck arguably as good as any of my Gibson electrics except the L-5.

 

Before acute reader boredom sets in, here are some photos.

 

Electric guitars:

 

P1040414_zpsbc2d00df.jpg

 

From front to rear: ’05 Fender Telecaster, ’73 Fender Stratocaster, ’94 Fender Jazz Bass, ’79 Carvin DC-150, ’65 Gibson SG, ’97 L4-CES, ’97 Guild SF III, ’02 Gibson ES-135, ’64 Gibson ES-330, ’06 Heritage H-575

 

The same instruments photographed from the other end of the hall:

 

P1040417_zpsc3a6a64f.jpg

 

Acoustic instruments:

 

P1050301_zpsipuxqauw.jpg

 

From left to right (bottom row): Sitar (mfr unknown), ’76 Gibson J-55, ’76 Ovation Custom Legend, ’15 Gibson J-45 Standard, ’97 Taylor 912C, ’98 Gibson L-5CES WesMo

 

(I know, I know, the WesMo doesn’t belong with these but I like it close to me in my living room and it actually sounds pretty decent acoustically.)

 

From left to right (hanging):

 

’02 Martin Backpacker (strung and tuned only for bottleneck), classical guitar (mfr and date unknown), ¾ size fiddle (mfr and date unknown), ’61 Dolmetsch soprano recorder (ivory and rosewood), dulcimer (mfr and date unknown), *1920s Weissenborne lap steel guitar (Dobro, National predecessor), ’47 Kay mandolin (I’ve removed the bridge, waiting for strings)

 

It’s probably unnecessary to mention that the J-45 is the Big Dog in this small pack !

 

If anyone has an interest in the book “Designing Vacuum Tube Amplifiers and Related Topics” it can be freely downloaded – although NOT for commercial purposes – at the link below. Be advised, as previously noted, that the book is a long one and takes a while to download. The section on guitar set-up is in Chapter 34.0 beginning on page 361.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sutb3baaajypfzp/5jAs6MErWU

 

Cheers, I hope to participate usefully here :)

randyc

 

 

* The Weissenborne is a unique guitar that belonged to my step-father’s dad who was the original purchaser and who died in a 1949 auto accident. I have the original (canvas) case and a steel slide. The guitar remained in that case, with one or two withdrawals, for almost sixty years. This is what I know of it:

 

Weissenborn or H. Weissenborn is a brand of slide guitar manufactured by Hermann Weissenborn in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s. These instruments are now highly sought after, and form the base for most non-resonator acoustic lap steel guitars currently produced. It is estimated that fewer than 5,000 original instruments were produced, and it is unknown how many now survive. The signature feature of Weissenborn guitars is the hollow neck, effectively a highly adapted body chamber that runs the entire length of the body, making conventional playing completely impossible.

 

The name Weissenborn is now commonly used to describe this style of instrument in general, with H. Weissenborn and modern factory or luthier reproductions being referred to as Weissenborn or Weissenborn-style guitars.

 

If anyone has additional or differing information, please PM me - it would be of much interest.

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Welcome!

 

That's an interesting selection of instruments you have, to say the least.

 

The Weissenborn looks like a cool guitar. I've only seen one like it before, and I don't know if it was the real thing or a copy.

 

There are a lot of us here who of a certain age, and who have come back to playing later in life after various amounts of time off. Things like finger strength and manual dexterity can be regained to some extent, but I'm never going to be 20 (or 30, 40, 50, or 60) again, so I have to limit my expectations. Right now, I'm going through some right hand problems that limit my playing to no more than a half hour at a time, but I'm not giving up, and am working around it the best I can.

 

You are using moderately heavy strings on your J-45, maybe the result of years of playing jazz archtops. With the relatively higher action of an acoustic like the J-45, that could be a bit tough on your left hand.

 

You can't go wrong with a J-45. For a lot of us, it would be the one guitar we'd keep if forced to get along with a single instrument. It's a versatile and friendly guitar, capable of both growling and singing.

 

Welcome back to playing, and welcome to the Gibson Acoustic forum.

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This will be very hard for you. And I have to break the news.

First of all light strings.

Second of all... Forget the Jazz chords. Learn G, C, and D. Maybe pepper in an F.

Third, you know the difference between jazz and country? Country is 3 chords played to 1000 people...

Finally, welcome! Serious collection... I lust for your tele.

 

 

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.

Welcome.

 

That's a varied and interesting collection you have.

 

The J-45 is well regarded here. You might try the lighter 12-53 gauge strings until your hand and finger strength comes up a bit. Hopefully that won't necessitate a relief adjustment, but if so it shouldn't be much of a turn.

 

 

.

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This will be very hard for you. And I have to break the news.

First of all light strings.

Second of all... Forget the Jazz chords. Learn G, C, and D. Maybe pepper in an F.

Third, you know the difference between jazz and country? Country is 3 chords played to 1000 people...

Finally, welcome! Serious collection... I lust for your tele.

 

Sal! Listen to some western swing, or hell, even some Willie Nelson and you'll be soon playing Gmaj7, C6, and D7 with a few F9add13 chords thrown in there!

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1448505147[/url]' post='1715262']

Sal! Listen to some western swing, or hell, even some Willie Nelson and you'll be soon playing Gmaj7, C6, and D7 with a few F9add13 chords thrown in there!

 

Will do. I love Lyle Lovett... And I have a feeling I need to get into the genre more. Thanks!

Now please show me an F9add13 chord picture? Preferable of a human hand playing it?

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I enjoyed reading your musical history/background. Your collection of instruments is impressive and very interesting. You're certainly a more accomplished guitar player than I am......Your choice of a J45 was an excellent one. Until your fingers get stronger and you build-up some callouses, definitely try some lite strings. Perhaps even some lite silk ones or extra lites. Glad you've joined us here. Welcome!

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…….You are using moderately heavy strings on your J-45, maybe the result of years of playing jazz archtops. With the relatively higher action of an acoustic like the J-45, that could be a bit tough on your left hand…..

 

 

Observation noted and thank you.

 

 

……This will be very hard for you. And I have to break the news.

First of all light strings.

 

Second of all... Forget the Jazz chords. Learn G, C, and D. Maybe pepper in an F…..

 

 

I can’t omit the jazz chords but they can be played with fewer notes and in different positions to ease the pressure on my 71 year old fingers  Major and minor sevenths can be played with just four strings, diminished and augmented passing chords, ditto.

 

More complex chords can sometimes be replaced/faked with simpler chords or eliminating some notes (maybe omit a third or a fifth when a ninth is required). Played on the top strings, these don’t stress me too much and often I can get a thumb on the sixth string to obtain a root for the chord.

 

Old timers like Freddie Green (Basie’s guitarist) often used only three-string chords to approximate higher-order chords because they couldn’t exert enough pressure to obtain a full chord without muffling a string or two. Of course one must know the RIGHT three strings, LOL.

 

I love to play Brazilian music and a steel-string guitar can work (with fingers, no pick) although a classical guitar always sounds sweeter. I faked this for years in jazz venues using the Custom Legend, sometimes even an archtop. It’s not possible for me to approximate those Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto tunes without using those pesky jazz chords.

 

Replacing F with a Dmin7 played on the first two frets, top three strings is easier on my fingers and adds an open string to make it ring, LOL. This doesn’t work with all progressions but maybe 75% of the time.

 

Thank you for the good advice, it is duly noted and will likely be duly implemented. I see the trend here and will definitely defer to those who have been doing this for a l-o-n-g time. I’m competent (or used to be) with a big archtop in my arms but definitely a hack on the J-45. But I sure LOVE it !!!

 

.

 

….The J-45 is well regarded here. You might try the lighter 12-53 gauge strings until your hand and finger strength comes up a bit…

 

.

 

Your comments also received with gratitude. I found a forum thread the other night that discussed tonal/amplitude qualities versus string diameters. With astonishment, I read that many felt that they obtained a better sound with lighter strings.

 

This opposes what I’ve always thought. Remember that I come from a jazz background but historically the banjo was replaced by the guitar only when Gibson engineer, Lloyd Loar, designed a huge f-hole archtop strung with telephone lines, LOL. Only then did a guitar have sufficient volume to be useful.

 

But as I said in my original post, I’ve always thought of acoustic guitars as being different instruments than electric archtops. So my “conventional wisdom” could easily be out of whack with reality.

 

At any rate, there’s no problem trying the differing diameters. When I make experiments like this, I just leave the truss rod cover off so that I can easily adjust relief depending on string tension. (If I find a string combination that seems particularly desirable, then I might also start working on the saddle.)

 

On several of my archtops, individual strings have been replaced by singles of a different diameter. This just sounds/plays better (for me) than using a generically selected set of strings. Usually it’s the top string and the third string (heavier).

 

There’s no reason not to do this on an acoustic guitar – why use a set that a manufacturer chooses as optimum for any guitar and any guitarist ? I have replaced the third string on the J-45 with a larger diameter and I like the sound. Given the universal suggestions here, I may replace one or two strings at a time with lighter ones to evaluate ease of playing and tonal/volume qualities.

 

If I can come up with a combination that feels and sounds right, then I can search for a set that is similar. If I can’t find a set that is satisfactory, then replacing a string or two from a set is certainly not a problem.

 

......Your choice of a J45 was an excellent one. Until your fingers get stronger and you build-up some callouses, definitely try some lite strings. Perhaps even some lite silk ones or extra lites…

 

Thank you, another useful contribution to the developing trend !

 

Guys, I’ve been lurking here for a week or so and I appreciate all of your comments AND your experience/abilities. Muchas gracias to all !

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Incidentally, some engagements for this quartet were wholly acoustic (except for bass). I’m on the right with the Custom Legend and the accompanying guitarist also played the Custom Legend. We were quite happy with the sound of these high-end Ovations as amplified by a Peavey P.A. system, Altec speakers and with some slight help from a Maestro (Gibson) Echoplex.

 

quartet_zpsn6gtiqyp.jpg

 

I doubt that this is necessary but these photos are from the late ‘seventies.

 

Occasionally only the comp guitarist/lead singer and I would take a gig (often because the pay was inadequate for the whole band – which incidentally eventually added a pianist and became a quintet).

 

Because we had no backup, I usually brought multiple guitars for a varied sound. In this photo, I’m playing the ’64 Gibson ES-330 while the Custom Legend and a natural-finish Gibson Les Paul Deluxe can be seen in the background. My compadre is playing his old Gibson J-55 before it was stolen from his VW van. It was replaced by the Ovation in the above photo/

 

Note the use of a 1962 Ampeg Reverberocket amplifier as stage monitor. I still have and use this amp and it produces a delightful sound, especially with the Telecaster, LOL.

 

es330_zpsqadpjbx4.jpg

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Helo - Understandable, but also a bit incredible the Standard brought back the inspiration.

They are very well sounding/projecting guitars and you should be able to get the action right.

 

Regarding the bone saddle, why not get it carved for then to present an A/B tusq/bone video or SoundCloud thing here.

The whole Board would listen like kittens licks vanilla cream.

 

 

You'll enjoy your time among this crowd.

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Welcome there RC!

 

By the look of your existing collection, this MAY not be the place to be..... [biggrin]

 

Do you have another room to fill the walls with J45, J50, L00, Hummingbird, Dove, J200, LG2 etc, etc...? And then discovery of some vintage tone Gibs.... [mellow]

 

With the old fingers and the J45, here is the big tip from me - Elixir PB 12 tuned down 2 frets D to D to get you back swinging! Ligtnin' Hopkins liked the detuned string sound so much, he did it all the time. And horror of horror to jazzers, buy a nice Shubb Deluxe capo. Put it on 2nd fret so you can still play with your mates in Standard Tuning....

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Welcome there RC!

 

By the look of your existing collection, this MAY not be the place to be..... [biggrin]

 

Do you have another room to fill the walls with J45, J50, L00, Hummingbird, Dove, J200, LG2 etc, etc...? And then discovery of some vintage tone Gibs.... [mellow]

 

With the old fingers and the J45, here is the big tip from me - Elixir PB 12 tuned down 2 frets D to D to get you back swinging! Ligtnin' Hopkins liked the detuned string sound so much, he did it all the time. And horror of horror to jazzers, buy a nice Shubb Deluxe capo. Put it on 2nd fret so you can still play with your mates in Standard Tuning....

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

 

Sorry for interrupting your thread , welcome to the forum.

 

But , BK ,

Detuned two steps ?flabby strings ? Do you get the guitar setup for that ? And if so , what happens when you tube back up to concert pitch ?

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Sorry for interrupting your thread , welcome to the forum.

 

But , BK ,

Detuned two steps ?flabby strings ? Do you get the guitar setup for that ? And if so , what happens when you tube back up to concert pitch ?

 

 

Well you can't always get what you want!

 

 

Hey, that's a song.

 

My J45 is tuned like it at the mo.

 

It is on the extreme edge of a guitar setup, but we are saving old soft fingers with no callouses here, BBG. Play like this for a few months and get your riffs back, go up a half step for a few more weeks or months and then back to Standard. Truss rod may need a whisker, maybe not depending on the weather.

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Regarding the bone saddle, why not get it carved for then to present an A/B tusq/bone video or SoundCloud thing here. The whole Board would listen like kittens licks vanilla cream.

 

 

While that is a fine idea, listening to A/B sound comparisons on computer speakers doesn’t seem to work well in my personal experience. Some years ago, I acquired a Heritage Golden Eagle, a very nice single-pickup jazz archtop (there is a photo below). Members on one of the jazz forums where I was active at the time made the A/B request to compare the “Eagle with my Gibson L-5 WesMo, also a single-pickup jazz archtop.

 

I recorded ten pieces, five with each guitar (some chorded melodies and jazz leads) and arranged them randomly on a downloadable file. About six people on the forum took up the challenge of determining which was the L-5 and which the Eagle. Nobody even came close and most of the guys stated that they sounded the same.

 

The two guitars did not even remotely have similar pickups (the Eagle had a non-adjustable Bartolini, the L-5 had a '57 PAF humbucker) plus the pickup on the Eagle was a “floater” which has a very unique, brighter, less woody tone. The clearly audible differences in tone couldn’t be distinguished without using good headphones or patching the computer headphone output to a decent stereo system (or to powered studio monitors).

 

To my mind, perhaps a bigger problem in distinguishing something as subtle as changing bridge saddles would be the age of the listener – even with very fine sound reproduction equipment. A few years ago, I did a hearing response test found online using a nice pair of Sony headphones (studio monitors would have been better).

 

I can’t recall which one I used but this is an example of one such site.

 

The results were fairly shocking since the gradual degradation of high frequency response isn’t observable to most of us. I would expect the bone saddle to provide more harmonic content than tusq (i.e. more “sparkle”). While a 16 year old might readily detect the difference, it is doubtful that us old guys could.

 

(BTW, I carried this experiment on a bit further by graphing the frequency response of my ears. I then used the graphic equalizer in "Audacity" to contour a response opposite to my hearing. Playing a recorded tune through the pre-emphasized EQ was a revelation but not necessarily a good one. Either I have become accustomed to (and like) my limited hearing or perhaps the logarithmic characteristics of the ear exaggerated the effect. At any rate, I didn't care for the enhanced high frequency response - it was sort of shrill to me.)

 

 

Do you have another room to fill the walls with J45, J50, L00, Hummingbird, Dove, J200, LG2 etc, etc...? And then discovery of some vintage tone Gibs.... [mellow]

 

 

Ha-ha-ha, actually I DO have more guitars than those shown. They are currently on indefinite loan to my Uncle, the guy who got me started on this guitar path, although he taught me country licks on his (new at that time) Gibson ES-125 played through a Fender Champ. Those that are currently his possession:

 

’72 Gibson Hummingbird (BTW, this is what I look like now, LOL)

 

P1040912-001_zpsjhp04y5i.jpg

 

’61 Gibson ES-335

 

P1030370_zps238881e9.jpg

 

'78 Ovation 12-string

 

(no photo)

 

'91 Heritage Golden Eagle, #248 of 250 total (next to my L-5)

 

P1000903_zpskmbikncr.jpg

 

'05 Stratocaster (the black one posed beside my white '73)

 

P1030253_zps9f46d2c8.jpg

 

Since I have too many guitars already, I don’t mind if I don't get these back with the exception of the ‘Bird (and maybe the ‘Eagle).

 

Four more that have been given away in the past decade:

 

'59 Gibson Les Paul Jr. (to my brother)

'71 Yamaha (I think) 12-string (to my niece)

'05 Epiphone Emperor Regent (to my former bassist)

?? Alvarez flat-top set up in Nashville tuning (to my former bassist)

 

Bluesking, my Uncle uses a similar technique as the one you suggested. He tunes down 1/2 step and then capos the first fret so that his open chords are still in tune with the rest of the world.

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We seem to be a negative of you. About the same age I guess, but we gave up electrics in the 60s -- we have a few -- but we have too many acoustics. We have essentially no "new guitars" -- post 1969. We love old Gibson acoustics -- but old Matins as well. We never plug in -- so we mean actual acoustic.

 

We play several kinds of music, from mild folk revival stuff to edger traditional folk to power bluegrass (not necessarily very well). These all demand different things in terms of power, tone, and setup.

 

We currently have a lead guitar player who started out as a power flatpicker in the late 70s but then played electric for 30 years. He is now back playing bluegrass lead with us -- he is one of the best pickers we have ever known, but his years has an electric player have left him with a skill set that is not (yet) well match to strong acoustic string band music. Getting all the necessary sound out of an acoustic can be physically hard in a way electrics are usually not.

 

You may find some similar issues -- or maybe not.

 

In any case, welcome.

 

Best,

 

-Tom

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... his years has an electric player have left him with a skill set that is not (yet) well match to strong acoustic string band music. Getting all the necessary sound out of an acoustic can be physically hard in a way electrics are usually not.

 

You may find some similar issues -- or maybe not....

 

Tom, I absolutely have the same problems, in fact probably much worse since I never played an acoustic guitar very long or very loud and therefore not very well. My abilities are probably distributed about 98% archtop electric and 2% flatpicking :(

 

I can't hang on to a pick for long when I play my acoustic guitars. Sometimes I drop the thing and often, the pick rotates in my grasp. For thirty or forty years I've not had to "dig in" and I'm having problems with my grip, even with textured picks.

 

Also, in the attempt to produce a clear, loud note, I often also hit (and muff) the next string up or the next one down because I have no precision yet when the pick is getting so much penetration into the strings.

 

For many years I've been able to fake my way around an acoustic guitar because only a song or three would ever be performed in a night. And even if I had to play a whole night, playing the Ovation was not dissimilar to playing one of my electrics. It was almost always amplified and never required a heavy touch. To play acoustic guitar competently is a whole new ball game for me and the primary reason that I'm here !

 

Thanks for the welcome !

 

(BTW, although there are many here who could offer it, the description of my shortcomings was not intended to elicit advice about my technique. or lack thereof. I think that these things will come with regular practice. I just need to stay motivated. My wife and most attentive. faithful audience died of cancer eleven months and twenty-nine days ago. I've always had a difficult time staying focused and playing at my "A" game level without an audience.)

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I can't hang on to a pick for long when I play my acoustic guitars. Sometimes I drop the thing and often, the pick rotates in my grasp. For thirty or forty years I've not had to "dig in" and I'm having problems with my grip, even with textured picks.

 

Also, in the attempt to produce a clear, loud note, I often also hit (and muff) the next string up or the next one down because I have no precision yet when the pick is getting so much penetration into the strings.

 

 

 

 

Guitar Fairies are saying it may be time to learn blues fingerpicking while you are re-aquainting!

 

Buy one of Stefan's DVDs or download one - start real easy because they are HardDDDD!

 

 

http://www.guitarvideos.com/the-learning-process

 

 

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I too played electric all my life and have experienced similar issues. To help with holding on to the pick I use Gorrila Snot. There's a few other products out there.

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I started playing around the same time you did. I have always played with my fingers, both with electric and acoustic guitars though, and to this day I still cannot handle a pick.

 

When it came to electrics I was incredibly loyal and stuck with a 1958 Tele (early one with strings through body) for decades. It was not, however, until the last 20 or so years that I was able to settle down with an acoustic. Always played the same kinds of acoustics - generally a Gibson with assorted Kay Krafts, Regals, Schmidts, maybe a Harmony Sovereign, and such - I just seemed to always be swapping them out. One was just as good as the next and I could pretty much pull what I wanted out of most of them. Seemed no matter what I played I just sounded like me. Plus I had a real curiosity about acoustics and what I could make them do that I did not have with electrics.

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....You are using moderately heavy strings on your J-45, maybe the result of years of playing jazz archtops. With the relatively higher action of an acoustic like the J-45, that could be a bit tough on your left hand....

 

You are 100% correct in your diagnosis [biggrin] As a jazz guitarist, I've used heavy flat-wound strings for years. But as you surmised, the heavy sets were used on archtop guitars with very low actions compared to a typical acoustic instrument.

 

I just concluded a brief comparison of different diameter strings on two similarly set-up guitars. The J-45 was strung with .013 - .056 and J-55 with .012 - .053. I didn't expect the relatively small difference in diameters (let's call it around 7%) would have a lot of effect.

 

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could work much higher on the neck, nearly to the 12th fret, without all of the muffed notes I'd been experiencing. Thanks to the many of you who recommended this change. (I may go back to the heavy strings later if my agility and finger strength improve with practice !)

 

Cheers,

randyc

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