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Tuning Up

Ted’s D25C has lived a long and creative life, and has the scars to prove it.

How a used Guild D25C became the keys to the cosmos—and a better life in music.

I should probably name my acoustic guitar. After all, my dog Dolly has a name, and while she’s an old pup, I’ve known that guitar much longer. And like Dolly, that Guild D25C I got in the mid-’90s has given me many gifts.

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Now the world’s best-known 6-string duo, Gabriela Quintero and Rodrigo Sánchez have long-reaching roots that extend from metal to Irish folk music and distill into their unique take on nylon-string-acoustic-guitar music.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On their new album, In Between Thoughts… A New World, the acoustic duo goes half-electric, plumbs programmed beats, adds slide guitar, and explores nondualism—following a creative path that opened due to the Covid shutdown.

Grammy Award-winning guitar virtuosi Rodrigo y Gabriela started recording what would become their latest album, In Between Thoughts… A New World, in February 2021. At the time, crafting a new album wasn’t the catalyst for making new music. They really just wanted to write, jam, and record without an agenda while locked down during the pandemic.

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Photo by Leo Cackett

Small acts of kindness can go a long way. Embrace them. Perform them.

This is a story about a small act of kindness. It occurred in 1995 at a club gig, but the tale is rooted a dozen years earlier, when I started to develop my guitar playing in earnest. My bookend idols then were Roy Buchanan and Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill—a roots and blues icon and a conflagrant punk-rock innovator. It might seem they had nothing in common, but listening reveals a shared love of taking risks, unpredictable turns in their playing, and a determination to push the envelopes of angularity and tone. Roy played a Tele and Andy had a Stratocaster, and when I initially took to stages, I had one of each.

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Support your local independent venues. They are citadels of community and creativity. And they need your help.

An important part of my music education started when I began sneaking into clubs when I was 16. I was a tall kid, and usually had no trouble walking in. It’s not surprising these venues were lax about checking IDs, since back then more than a few tolerated weed-smoking and other shenanigans. But I was there for the music, where it was raw and unproven and just a few feet away, and I quickly learned you didn’t have to be on TV or play arenas to be great. Connecticut-area outfits from the Scratch Band (featuring a pre-fame G.E. Smith) to the Simms Brothers Band to Saucers became my new heroes.

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Ted D. at an early gig, circa 1988.

Photo by Eric H. Antoniou

For affirmation, education, and socialization, there may be nothing better than performing live.

Play a gig! That’s my advice on how to become a better player, and maybe even a happier and better human. Sure, plenty of us have played plenty of gigs, but I know a lot of people with a room full of gear who have never taken any of it out of the house, save for maybe the beach or around a fire. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that, but why deny yourself the experiences that come with performing live in front of strangers through a PA? Take your acoustic to an open mic in a basement or local watering hole, or sit in with a friend’s cover band for a few songs. Maybe even sing, too. Just take any opportunity to get on any stage that you can, and let it rip.

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