David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
LCW on Bandcamp
location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: human nature, motivation, philosophy, @musings info

Gear advice

Here's advice I would have given myself some time ago had I known then what I know now:

  1. Pssst: It's not the gear. Once you get beyond finding a comfortable instrument the rest is what's in your head, heart and fingers. Remember the story about Chet Atkins who, when a fan complimented the way his guitar sounded, put it on a stand and asked "How does it sound now?".
  2. Don't spend money on gear for the sake of variety. Get one or two good instruments and play the heck out of them.
  3. Play with a clean sound as much as possible. You may miss the effects at first, but you'll learn to compensate with more interesting technique and composition.
  4. Don't buy anything that you're not going to want to carry (without a cart) for a distance of a few blocks. I don't care how good you think that seventy-pound amp sounds: if you won't carry it it's not going to get used outside of your music room.
  5. You most certainly can get a good guitar sound without tubes. Don't feel that you must follow the herd. (See #1, #3 and #4.)
  6. Avoid impulse purchases. When you get the urge to buy something, pick up your instrument and practice. Compose a new piece. Record something. If you still want the gear after all that, then perhaps the purchase will have some lasting merit.
  7. No regrets. If a piece of gear doesn't work out, sell it. Give it a year if it was a well-considered purchase. If it was an impulse buy (see #6), correct your mistake as soon as possible. Remember: keeping gear for the sake of having options is nothing but a distraction from actually making music. (See #2.)
  8. Find a guitar that sounds good straight into a flat, clean amp and the rest will take care of itself. Vibrating strings need wood and air to sound their best, so stick with a semi-hollow or hollow-body instrument. (See #3.)
  9. Learn to get a good sound at conversational volumes. The guitar is a midrange instrument. Don't be afraid to use plenty of mids. And don't push the bass: it kills articulation. You'll have a lot more options for playing with and in front of other people if you don't assault them with high SPLs.
  10. Keep it simple. You know your rig is complete when you can't remove anything else.
September 19 2008 17:37:07 GMT