Miscellaneous Rumbles

Do you have a practice “ritual”? (not what you play, but how/when y…

1

Just curious... note I did not say "routine"... not interested in WHAT you practice, but HOW you practice....

-do you get up with your coffee first thing, and sit down with it and the guitar every morning?
-do you usually not have time until very late at night, right before bed, and it helps you "wind down" from your day?
-do you prefer "afternoon delights" LOL (this would really only apply to retirees, I'd think... the rest of us are still working lol)

That kind of thing.

For me, I do NOT have a ritual yet. But I think about it constantly. I love the thought of sitting down with my coffee and switching on an amp... but 1) it's pretty early for that kind of volume, for my wife (if I were single, this would definitely be a ritual), and 2) sitting with my wife every morning is OUR ritual, since we don't see each other all day.

I'm also drawn towards practicing in the sunny afternoons, since my music space is right buy our patio doors, lots of great natural light. But I'm either working or checking things off the "to-do" list.

Last thing before bed would also be a great way to wind down, but again- that time of night, too much volume for the wife. Altho, if she is still awake, reading in bed, I CAN (and do) occasionally play right before bed, when I'm especially bothered by something (life troubles, etc.)

I USED TO have a daily ritual, before COVID- because my wife is corporate, and commuted, and I am a contractor, I usually got home before 5pm, and she, between work+commute+after-work classes (like yoga), wouldn't get home many nights until 7-7:30pm. So I had 2-2.5 hours to walk the dogs, pour a glass of wine, play a little, then start dinner. It was a great ritual. I miss it. She works 100% from home now, so that's all gone.

2

Usually after supper, I go in and play for about an hour, its a good work out gets the fingers loosened up,

Karl
3

I can play pretty much anytime, since I use amp models on my virtual studio with headphones. My preference is late evening after the wife goes to bed. TV's off, no background noise, everything is so much quieter. Makes it so much easier to focus.

4

I don't have a scheduled playing time. Normally at home I mostly play acoustic. I pick it up for a few minutes here and there. More-so when the grandkids are over. They enjoy hearing Papaw play and I'd love to inspire the love of music in them. I do have a 5w little Gretsch amp and I do occasionally fire it up on the weekends when everyone else is busy doing something where it wont interfere with their audio experience i.e. TV or whatever. My music spot at home is a corner in the living room with a Gretsch stool and my little amp and a guitar hanging on the wall. When I want real privacy and don't want to disturb those that are trying to sleep I retreat to the farthest room in the house and plug in my little Vox headphone amp into my BST or just play the BST unplugged. My playing time at home never gets more than an hour or two a month. Sometime in the summer while Karolyn naps on the weekends, I'll go outside by the fire pit and play an acoustic.

I wish I had more time to work through some of the song ideas I've recorded on my phone.

5

"I wish I had more time to work through some of the song ideas I've recorded on my phone."

Boy ain't that the truth... I have become resigned to the very likely fact that that won't be possible until I retire. Unfortunately. I'd love to record an album, just for me , but I simply don't have the time required to focus on a project so big. I'm in a cover band, and it's been a lot of work, but... it's covers. They're easy to learn. CREATING music is a whole 'nuther ballgame.

7

I'm very ritualistic about many things, including my guitar practicing. Each guitar has its own strap, and pick. The pick stays with its guitar until it either wears out, or is lost (I know it's weird). I don't like new picks, I use Fender celluloid 351 mediums, and I like how they conform to my fingers when they are broken in. Of course I can use a brand new pick, this is just my preference.

Because of numerous orthopedic problems, I mostly play sitting down. I always use a strap, and I rest the guitar on my left thigh/knee. I began playing classical guitar at a very young age, and the classical stance stuck with me. I can't play with it on the right leg at all.

I use the old school "amp volume up, guitar volume down" method. It's how I learned to play the electric guitar, and I don't vary from it. There is a tremendous amount of tonal variation in the the guitars volume. Dial down for clean tones, and roll it up for overdrive. Once you get the hang of it, it's second nature, and you do it without much thought. I've been known to use pedals for distortion and overdrive, but always within the confines of amp up, guitar down.

8

I try to practice every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes but I don’t have a ritual as such.

Sometimes I’ll sit down and run through a few transcriptions or something and I’m done after ten minutes. This evening I sat down and plugged in before dinner and an hour passed without me even noticing.

9

No practice ritual other than I rarely feel like playing music first thing in the morning. It's always felt like an afternoon evening/middle of the night thing for me but that's probably a holdover from the days when I gigged full time.

At actual rehearsals at rehearsal spaces I use to love to have a cigarette on breaks, bummed from my drummer, the only time I wanted to smoke(except for gigs). Then I got a hole in my lung and that drummer broke both his forearms badly and there was a pandemic....no rehearsals. Probably a daily practice routine would be good as music is often more therapeutic than one realizes, even goofing around, or rather especially goofing around.

10

My one "must" is that I have to have a ring on my right-hand ring finger. It doesn't matter what the ring is, I just need it.

Also, I do everything I can to NOT play with the guitar sitting on my knee. I want it to hang at my gut as if I'm doing a show.

When I do sit, I turn sideways so that my right knee is straight down, therefore, the guitar can hang down at my gut/waist.

Playing with the guitar on your knee, crouched over, is bad for the back, and it makes players tend to have the guitar strap "high" when they play live. I've always hated, HATED seeing guitar players play live with the guitar up in their armpits. It's makes my skin crawl!

Addendum: I'm a huge TNugent fan, but I'm so glad he quit holding the guitar like this early photo.

...------

11

that drummer broke both his forearms badly

Man, you can't just drop that and let it lie there. Do tell.


For all but a couple of waking hours every day, I'm never more than two feet from a guitar - and usually several guitars, out of their cases, ready to pick up. At the desk in the studioffice, four are currently within arm's reach. (The exact complement of guitars changes gradually over time with whim and obsession.)

A Mooer GE-300 modeler/fx sits on the dekstop an arm's-length away, and at least a few pedals are hooked up, sitting in a chair adjacent to it. My Roland portable recorder is connected to its main outs, and can be record-enabled in seconds. Most of my daily audio life is lived inside Sennheiser HD-600 'phones - which are so natural in reproduction and so comfortable they can be worn all day without either interior or exterior ear fatigue.

For several hours, pretty much every day, I have a guitar - either unplugged or through the Mooer - on my lap as I work at the laptop. I can't type and play at the same time, but I do a lot of reading at the computer, and I'll noodle as I read. Keeps my fingers limber, lets me work on automatic familiarity with scales, licks, chord progressions. I'm almost always "working" on some musical bit - never anyone else's music - which generally challenge me, both to develop them musically and to execute cleanly and more smoothly. In a way, I get deeper into my own rut, but I do get better in it, and gradually progress.

I suppose I start this routine with "breakfast" (or just post-breakfast), in quotations because that's generally around 1 pm. Then work with clients remotely, tend to Tru-Arc (emails and pack for shipping), check GDP and Reverb, news sources, online research and reading - all intermitted with playing guitar - till a late afternoon trip to the PO, then cooking supper with Cheryl and a movie or series binge-watch. By 8 or 9, back to the desk and the information processing and guitars. Generally a couple hours of more dedicated guitar (without multi-tasking), pedal adventures, working up parts, honing tone, playing through songs.

Still noting incoming email or doing tech tasks I've procrastinated against. Usually focused and dedicated guitar time for an hour or more before bed (because I'm mentally sharpest between after 10 pm or so)...which could be anytime from 1 to 4 in the A of M.

I can't conceive of life without a guitar on my lap and in my hands. I suppose all told, most days I play 5-6 hours. I think I've been technically plateau'd for years, or rather make very slow progress toward foothills (as I try to drag along the existing bag of tricks).

But in the end it may be more about the melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres, and textures calibrating and fine-tuning my brain than the music itself.

(And I should say that this comfortable and personally rewarding routine is broken up when I'm in the midst of rejiggering the fleet of pedalboards, which can takes hours over days and weeks, as I have the drive and stamina to deal with it. I'm procrastinating against another round of that right now.)

12

Alright! I was hoping you'd chime in Prot!

Details please!

"My Roland portable recorder"

Do tell more! I currently use my iPhone (iRig Recorder), but I rarely go back and listen to develop those ideas... what is this Roland you speak of?

"Sennheiser HD-600 phones"

OK, I'll look into these... I have a wonderful BUT OLD pair of Sony MDR-V150s, they're great, I've loved them for years, but you know... always looking for "greener grass" (without selling a kidney LOL)

And, BTW... you have a guitar in your hands (it sounds like) more than anyone on this forum, likely, and more than anyone except session players! Wow! Even retired, I don't think I'd have a guitar in my hands that many hours, every day.

13

Kudos Tim for being able to play that much.

I want to hear the story about the drummer with the broken arms too. You can't leave us hanging on that one.

14

This is the Roland: https://proav.roland.com/gl...

I think it's been discontinued; I've had it for several years. It's actually my third Roland .wav recorder. I wore the other two out mostly on GDP duty covering events. This is by far the most sophisticated and versatile of the bunch, and the most rugged as well. Kinda big, though. There are many recorders in this market segment, and I'm sure all of them do a good job. While it could be used for master-quality recording, I use it just to capture stuff on the fly.

Before I bought the Sennheisers, I researched the market. I was willing to spend at least bigish on phones, because I knew I'd be wearing them for hours at a time, and I was tired of all the cheapies I had - which kinda sounded OK, but were uncomfortable. The HD-600s have apparently been industry standards for over a decade, and while Sennheiser has several newer cans in their family, the 600s just seemed like the choice to me. They're over-ear, with nice padded velour cups, and they're open-frame, so they aren't acoustically isolating (or sonically claustrophobia). They aren't the sexiest-looking option, but they're loaded with thoughtful and practical features - like a long-enough cord which is fastened to the phones with mini-plugs, making it easy to replace it if necessary, but also protecting itself by pulling out of the headset if you happen to step on the cord. They sound spacious, and after a short break-in period for the spring in the headband to loosen up, they're ain't-wearin'-nothin' comfortable. Several times I've gotten up to walk away, forgetting I had them on - and that's when the unpluggable cable comes in.

They weren't the cheapest I looked at, but far from the most expensive, and I couldn't be pleaseder.

15

No real ritual. I sporadically play as time and mood allow. The guitar room is a small bedroom between the kids’ rooms. With them home from school because of Covid-19, the time has been reduced so as to not interfere with their virtual classes and homework. When playing, I generally play more than one guitar as I like to keep them in tune. Sometimes I just get 5-10 minutes in unplugged before going to bed. That’s okay because sometimes it’s all the time I want. Other times I may get 1-2 hours in. Rarely more than that.

Let’s hear about that drummer.

16

I'd surmise mine are not rituals, but "quirks."

...------

17

Kudos Tim for being able to play that much.

I want to hear the story about the drummer with the broken arms too. You can't leave us hanging on that one.

– Suprdave

Bicycle accident, an unlit chain across a path, bike disintegrated and the both arms were bent at 45% angles, multiple fracture in both arms, steel plates, crushed right thumb tendon, bad stuff, basically no drumming for 6 months to a year. This is the drummer in my rock/pop band the Luckless, Here's a couple songs we managed to record before all the ^%$%^ hit the fan. We had just played our first live show with our new singer before the pandemic hit. https://soundcloud.com/user...

Regarding playing a guitar higher up, it's always been my understanding that that is the easiest and functionally most practical way to play guitar. Hanging it down around your belt buckle certainly looks cooler but it's always seemed far more difficult. Hanging it anywhere past your belt buckle where you actually have to hunch over to play seems a little ridiculous. People have always told me I look like I should be in the Beatles or theYardbirds. It was never a conscious decision, it just made practical ergonomic sense.

18

This is the drummer in my rock/pop band the Luckless

Maybe, in retrospect, not the best name for a band?

Youch. Bicycle. Let that me a caution to me.

19

This is the drummer in my rock/pop band the Luckless

Maybe, in retrospect, not the best name for a band?

Youch. Bicycle. Let that me a caution to me.

– Proteus

To be fair we weren't all with him when he had his spill, nor did we cause the pandemic so I think the name likely isn't responsible. The name is from a strange latin spaghetti western instrumental I wrote that became a song with lyrics. The name predated the lyrics.

20

The female singer in my band broke both her wrists last summer in a bicycling accident. Family was on vacation, somehow her son managed to wreck right in front of her, which sent her over the bars, she naturally put her hands out, and broke both wrists. One had nerve damage and required surgery. Now, 6 months later, it still has nerve damage. Nerve damage is tricky- I also had some from a broken wrist at 15 years old. The feelings may never come back, may come back partially, or fully. Mine didn't come back at all until about 6 months later. At a year I had probably 90% nerve function back. It took another 5 years to get the last 10%.

21

Before being a consultant/pre-2016: 30 minutes to 2 hours every weeknight. After the gym on workout nights. Then whenever I had the most inspiration to dive into it on Saturdays and Sundays and usually played either 1 session for 3 to 4 hours/day or a few sessions each day.

Consulting days? All over the place.......almost 6 months of no playing at all when I was in Nashville on a contract in 2017 and all of 2019 worked in NJ (half Jersey City and another contract from July to February 2020 in Montvale in Bergen County) so only played weekends when I got home. Worked in NYC all of 2019 but long days and long commute meant only weekends and that totaled 4 hours at best.

Recently back in the swing....... At least 1 hour in the evening. Weekends am working it back up to what I once did. Learning really new material so the method has changed....it is way more meticulous.

How? I am 1/2 acoustic and the other half electric.....not always broken-out even like that per session but the average for the week pretty much comes to that. My electric is part playing to songs, part soloing to backing tracks, part playing simple chords to the Digitech Trio and coming up with my own creations......many time to melodies that just "get created", and sometimes just playing. There is no method but I let the feeling take me and so goes the direction. Sometimes I can spend an hour or more working just 1 solo different ways. Other times I just play and realize I just spent time working on technique.

No that the work life has structure again, so will my workout and guitar playing schedule.

However, I am always thinking about playing...all the time... it is always in my head.

22

Nice to hear things have "normalized" for you, Dave. The no schedule "thing" sucks. I've had it both ways: worked for someone else: same place, same time, same work, every day... and owned my own company: doing EVERYTHING from calls/estimates, materials, work, taxes, etc... I'm a one-man show, running around like a chicken with it's head cut off.

Both have their pros and cons, of course, and as I go through life, my "tastes" change.... I think at this point in my life, I'd rather have the more-scheduled, easier, "same" job everyday. Life seems to have so many variables these days (I have 2 in-laws who's houses I am the handyman for, as well as my own, plus a couple of health issues complicating doing that kind of work at all), it would be nice for my job to NOT have any variables.

BUT- yes! Learning new stuff! Learning new stuff is always what breaks me out of a rut... and gets me inspired. I love my bandmates, but I'm done learning classic rock covers... as fun as they are to play, with no gigs, and a setlist up at about 70 songs now, I'm just done. So just yesterday I printed up a bunch of old school blues/jazz type stuff to begin working on... Route 66, T-Bone Walker, OLD stuff. It's so interesting- messing around in that "world" for 30 minutes- learning new stuff, is more gratifying than playing something I already know perfectly. I'm really starting to think less about gear, and more about playing. Covid 2020 seems to have been the "year of gear" for alot of people, with no outlet playing live available.... I THOUGHT it would be my year of playing, but with the wife at home, 24-7, on video calls, it's not really been very possible. And I have a "thing" about playing electric- it MUST be plugged in. I'm not really a dry string guy... I have an acoustic for that. But when I pick up the acoustic, what and how I play changes. I don't treat it the same as the electric.

And yes- my mind is ALWAYS on music! Whether I'm playing it in my head (like a radio), or PLAYING it in my head (visualizing actually playing it).

23

i'm nowhere near organized enough to have rituals, but there are some commonalities. when i had a TV i used to practice while watching TV, which Jerry Garcia also apparently did. for some reason the extra media activity made it easier for me to focus. maybe it's an hyperactivity thing. i live by myself, so i don't have anyone else's schedule to work around. i've been working from home since last March and have had to put myself into something akin to a work schedule, i.e. sit in front of the computer for roughly 8 hours Monday through Friday. thus, my playing time really hasn't changed that much. i generally finish work by 5 or 6 PM--earlier if i wake up in the small hours and can't go back to sleep; i started at 7:15 today--and play between 8 and 10. i leave the pedalboards out, but intend to start putting them away; they get pet fur and other small bits of detritus stuck to them. sometimes i play more or less straight using more conventional sounds. hey, i listen to The Bangles, the Rolling Stones, and The Cure like everybody else. other times i loop, sometimes using that as a way of working in new pedals and finding out what they're good/bad at. that's when the weirder sounds come out, i.e. self-oscillating the Ibanez PM7 "phase modulator" so it goes WOOPWOOPWOOP and making things warbly with the Instant Lo-fi Junky. lately i've had to spend fair bits of time getting acquainted with a newly acquired guitar, or accustoming myself to a new pedal because the functions are so subtle and/or complex. i try to play every day, but it usually ends up being 3 or 4 days a week. even working from home i'm still wiped out at the end of the week. work is work no matter what chair i'm sitting in, my cat needs lap time, and i have to have time for text chats with Becky. and i can't play after 10 PM or the people in the neighboring apartments will have my head on a pike.

24

and i never use headphones except when i'm mixing something or i'm somewhere where manners demand it (office, public transit, and such) because i read an interview with Pete Townshend in the 1980s, around the time of the sort-of-Who tour comeback tour, where he blamed the majority of his hearing loss on two things: the bomb in Moon's drum kit on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and his late nights recording in his home studio on the houseboat, cranking the cans to get something like the feeling of playing live while the wife and kids slept upstairs. when i DJed rave stuff in SF at the turn of the century, my ears were often numb by the end of the night from how loud you have to push the headphones so you can hear over the amplification for beat-matching. a dB level is a dB level, no matter how it's administered. and with the diaphragm so close to your eardrum it seems to be even worse. in 30 or 40 years audiologists will start seeing new patients with their midrange blown out from life wearing earbuds.

25

"Rituals?" What "Rituals?" I don't know anything about any rituals. What do you mean: "What about that goat?" Oh, that goat. That goat cut his own throat and then drew musical notation symbols on the walls in his own blood before he died. I don't even know that goat! How'd he get in here, anyway? Silly, suicidal goat! No rituals here, no sir!

I seriously wish I had time to develop some rituals, habits, or even bad habits, that involved playing the guitar. I play when I can, which is neither as well or as often as I would like to.


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