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.
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location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: human nature, @musings info

A moment of Zen

The other night I went through one of my periodic rituals in which I set up and use all of my gear, even that which I haven't used in a while. For quite a while, I've been playing one guitar through one amp - no effects. I arrived at that point through a long process of trial-and-error in a search for "my sound".

The other guitars have their own voices. They all feel and respond differently. Some are more comfortable than others, and there's enough overlap that I could probably do without two or three of them. But none of them really interfered with "my sound". Still, if I had to live with just one guitar, I could.

The amps are a bit different. Their sounds and behaviors are very distinctive. One of them nails "my sound", the others get close. I keep the others around because they have their own positive attributes: one hits the sweet spot at a lower volume, another has a low carry weight.

Then the effects pedals came out. I go through pretty much the same thing every time I haul out the pedals. I hook them up and am amazed by the great new sounds that I simply can't get without pedals. After I play for a while, I notice that the pedals don't so much enhance a sound as dictate it. Distortion and compressor pedals kill dynamics, modulation pedals have a predictable swoosh, and delay units tend to suggest certain tempos. After a while, I unplug the pedals and revel in the freedom of connecting directly with the strings, amp and speakers without all the intermediate "modifications".

As I was putting all of the "extra" gear back into the closet, I had my moment of Zen: You know your rig is complete when there's nothing you can remove and still get your own sound.

August 03 2004 03:34:05 GMT