tuning up

Life—and playing guitar—is really about the art of storytelling.

I became infatuated with Roy Buchanan’s incendiary playing when I was a relative youngster, after finding a copy of Guitar Player with Roy on the cover. He looked more like one of dad’s disheveled friends than a star, which intrigued me enough to pick up Roy Buchanan and Second Album—the first time I heard the war between angels and demons channeled through wood and steel.

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Thoughts on the questionable origins of our supposed roots-music addiction.

Last week a PG fan emailed me: “Hey mang. Your last two editorials have been boring and seemed fake. Get back to pissing people off with political shit.” It was signed, “Sincerely, Some Dude.”

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You've tried a zillion pedals, guitars, and amps … it's time you tried flats. Just don't make the same mistake I did!

A few years back I somehow got it into my head that I should try flatwound strings. I don't remember if it was because of something I read on a forum, or because a pal/mentor here at PG suggested giving them a try. There are all sorts of theories about so-and-so playing them on old rock 'n' roll records, classic country albums, and surf-rock gems. But I wasn't chasing the sound of any particular genre or player. I'd been playing for a long while, and simply thought I might as well see what flats are all about. So I picked up a set from one of guitardom's most ubiquitous brands, slapped 'em on my Jazzmaster, and … couldn't get the sumbitches off fast enough. My guitar sounded so dead I wouldn't have been surprised to look down and see grime and gunk weighing them down like power lines after a Midwestern ice storm. Considering the brand's stellar reputation, I thought it pretty rational to conclude flatwounds simply aren't my thing.

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