Lessons about Performing #blahblahblah: Set lists!

‘Snot that I’ve really stopped my lessons for performing musicians so much as I’ve just kinda mashed ’em into a pile of gibberish and stopped numbering them or even organizing them into a remotely usable fashion!

You’re welcome!

Today’s article really belongs under that heading and I’ve been meaning to write this for quite a while.

Yup… I’ve mulled this over countless times.

Unfortunately, one word for you. Weed.

Well, two words. Weed and time management. I told someone that I’d been planning on writing this one and that I’d try to get to it. So, today’s that day. ‘Snot gonna be good, coherent, or even useful – but it might be fun!

Yup. I’m pretty sure that’s all the intro this needs!
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Keep your equipment clean, seriously…

Yesterday, I told you about Paul. That was fun.

Today, I will tell you about Mike. Mike might be more likely to set your house on fire than Paul. He’s pretty awesome.

Mike is not his real name, but I’m using the story with permission.

On Saturday, I had people visit and one of them was Mike. I think Mike can be best summed up as being in his late 40s and still playing small bar gigs. Mike is very much the stereotypical small bar guitar player. I’m pretty sure that Mike said this when I first met him. “My name is Mike, and I live off the women I meet.” Mike’s pretty honest.

This might sound like a terrible job, but Mike doesn’t actually even have to be a very good guitar player. Mike doesn’t have to give two shits about his wardrobe. I am not sure if Mike even pays for the copious illicit substances he imbibes. If he does, I don’t know how. Mike has no money.

Mike isn’t in it for the money. No, Mike is in it for the lifestyle – which is more accurately stated that Mike probably isn’t able to be gainfully employed in an alternative industry. I like Mike, but I’m pretty sure he’d get fired on the first day as a fry cook.

Mike does have to worry about reliable transportation and reliable/affordable equipment. His transportation and equipment are about as reliable as a meth addict.

If Mike has ever had a new guitar, he probably stole it. Or conned a girlfriend into buying it for him. Seriously… If someone says they play guitar, they’re a walking example of a series of bad life choices.

I don’t think Mike actually has a driver’s license. I’ve seen his name in the paper! It distinctly tells me that they arrested him for exactly that reason. Mike drives – everywhere. I have ridden with Mike. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Mike is distinctly not allowed to drive anything I own. Mike is never even a little sober. He’s a fucking mess!

Which is to say, Mike is one of my favorite people! I fucking love hanging out with Mike. There’s pretty much no point in time when Mike is doing something that isn’t interesting.

Mike brings me treasures – often hoping that I’ll buy them.

On Saturday, Mike brought me a treasure – except he was very confident that he didn’t want to sell it. (That’s a good thing.)

Mike brought me a 1991 Fender Strat. He loves Strats.

When he finally conned me into letting him bring it into the house, my first words were. “Holy shit, Mike. That’s fucking disgusting.”

It’s 27 years old. It’s probably seen zero maintenance and I’m pretty sure it’s never been cleaned. None cleaning. None.

‘Snot even the least bit unusual. It’s definitely not even the least bit unusual for Mike. Mike knows they’re disgusting. He calls it patina. That’s probably an old French word that means ‘too lazy to clean my shit.’

‘Snot like Mike’s going to keep this guitar. No, this guitar will last him maybe a year – and he’ll be on to his next treasure. This isn’t a collector piece. I’ll give him $200 for it. $250, if he fucking cleans it.

It’s in terrible shape. He loves it. Mike doesn’t care one bit about things like intonation. Mike does not make faithful replications. Mike does make (some of) his own music. He once made me feel so bad I bought one of his CDs!

Mike gave up selling CDs pretty quickly. He now informs me that my CD is a collector’s item. He even signed it. Thank you, Mike. It’s a treasure!

Mike can’t actually sell merchandise. Mike doesn’t have his shit together well enough to do that. He’s tried – and it always gets stolen or given away.

He might actually have more stories than I have. Ain’t no way Mike is ever gonna write them down. I’d consider writing Mike’s story, but I’d be really hard pressed to fool people into thinking Mike plays guitar better than Hendrix.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think Mike is in it for the music. That might actually be a brilliant idea. I think he just likes the attention and lifestyle – which includes vast amounts of time spent inebriated and picking up ladies from the bar. He does have a fascination with the equipment used, but that’s probably developed from constantly needing to replace and repair it.

Huh… I’d ask Mike if he even likes music, but I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping and I doubt it’s in his own bed. I assume he has a bed, but I’ve never seen it. I’m not sure that’s fair. Mike has slept at my house and seen my beds. Then again, I’m never sleeping at Mike’s house – ever.

Either way, I’ve touched on some of these subjects before, but I feel like writing about ’em today and, well… ‘Snot like you can fire me…
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The difference between a classical and a flamenco guitar.

This is an older piece that I’ve decided to edit up and post here on the blog, as it’s never been seen here before. I figure I’ll throw it in the queue and use it when it’s needed.

If you’re seeing this – it means I’ve otherwise spent my time. It also means I need a new spare article!

Someone was mentioning that they liked flamenco and another person had mentioned wanting to hear some too. Thus, I figured I’d sit down and work on that. It’s really, really hard to change styles of music rapidly. I hadn’t been playing much flamenco lately – as in not in years.

I dug out my favorite flamenco guitar last night and threw new strings on it. Only, today, I realized that the action is much too high and the intonation is out. Rather than adjust the truss rod myself, I’m going to send it out to have it done. Can I do it myself? Absolutely. However, he can do it much faster and much better than I can. I’ve already called, I’m going to bring it down this weekend and I’ll have it back in just a few days.

So, I sat here and practiced a bit on a classical guitar and I’m really, really not happy with the tone.

But, Buddha, aren’t they all the same? The headstock looks the same, they’re both strung with nylon, and they’re both acoustic and made of wood!

Alas, no… Can I play flamenco on a classical? Yeah, pretty much. It doesn’t sound right and, by now, you’ve probably noticed that I aim for perfection in my playing. My art is faithful reproduction and I do try to be as faithful as is humanly possible.

So, what’s the difference?
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Resonating Sound and the Voice – Part Deux

(Ed. Note: This is submitted by Nadeshda. Be sure to give her a rousing round of applause and express your gratitude! It’s much better than the article you were gonna get today!)

SO here we are again, singing and chilling like we mean it , well you better be. Get your favorite beverage, take a couple of sips and let us start talking about this singing business again.

You may wonder how I got involved in all of this, it was through a regular Friday night meet-up discussion about instruments and all things musical. One day I bravely shared some of my vocals and people enjoyed it. This started my involvement with sharing, teaching and learning about ‘How to Sing’ on playguitar. Also, theBuddha asked me too and he is very inspiring and good at getting people busy with all sorts of fun stuff while being excellent at what he does ! (Ed. Note: Damned right!)

Let me get another cup of coffee and while I do that listen to a song I wrote and shared with some of my friends. Shhh, I didn’t warm-up properly for the song but still managed some good tone, I wonder why?

Another Day by Nadeshda

So this phone recording came out okay and I think that years of proper training and proper breathing allowed me to do the sneaky recordings. I shouldn’t but some of these things we will be working through will become second nature to you and sometimes when you are caught in a last minute affair you will sound okay but let’s learn the basics first before cutting any corners, m’kay.

I have sung  in choirs since being a wee lass and swimming since I have been three years old, so breathing properly has always been drilled into me somehow and singing lessons to wazoo has filled my brain with endless information that honestly, sometimes I forget.

I am hoping this series helps me to remember and blesses you in the process.
We really shouldn’t sing without warming up our voices correctly so let’s get on with the lesson.
So without further waffling let us look at:


What is it and how can I get it to sound good? This is the question today.

We know it when we hear it and sometimes we feel it on the inside but what is it really ?
I can safely say that it is volume of sound, easy listening and it lingers. We find it in ALL instruments.

What part of our body does the resonating? 

The Vocal Tract which is a container of air and has an opening called the mouth. We know the power source of singing is the ribs, diaphragm and the lungs which in turn push the air through the vocal fold into the Vocal Tract to form sweet, sweet sounds when all things are working together beautifully.

SILLY FACT: The average length of a vocal tract for males is about 17 cm and 14 cm for females.

The shape of the tract helps to solidly the sound and tone and the following video illustrates it perfectly while synthesizing vowels on a 3D MRI. The stereolithography (Rapid Prototyping) produces glottal waves using a Rosenberg-Klatt waveform with 1/f fluctuation of its cycle. Male and female models were used to produce the vowels.

Vocal Tract Model Synthesis Video

So how do I get better Resonance?

I am so glad you ask these wonderful questions as I am going to give you some homework and you will enjoy the results.

Let’s wake up that sweet, sweet sound!

Try the following exercise and repeat until you notice a difference. When you are done, sing a song you are comfortable with.

  • Open your mouth and take a breath through your nose and with a basic speaking volume, sustain a comfortable mid-range pitch, through an “NG” tongue position.

To help you find this tongue position, say the word “Sing” and maintain the tongue position of the “NG”. The back of your tongue will lightly close with your soft palate. Keep the tip of your tongue resting against the back of your bottom teeth. Feel the sound vibration vibrate along the roof of your mouth and under your nose.

2) Do this a couple of times using medium volume and try producing different sounds after your beautiful “NG” sound. Here we go…!

  1. NG-EE (Mean)
  2. NG-EH (Hen)
  3. NG-UH (The)
  4. NG-I (Him)
  5. NG-A (Same)
  6. NG-AA (Apple)During the last two vowels (below), DO NOT shape your lips for the sound. Your mouth should only move a wee bit, just let it flow and let the sound naturally resonate in your mouth. Try these too…
  • NG-OH (Moan)
  • NG-Ooo (Moon)

You are doing great! Congratulations you have completed your second singing lesson; now shut up and go sing me a song!

Comment if you notice a difference in resonance, tone and sound.

Happy Singing!

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TheBuddha Approves #3: How do Guitar Pickups Work?

For reasons, I’m very busy today. I’m not just busy, I’m super-busy.

I did take the time to send out a detailed (and long) email to a wonderful online-friend. I’m half-tempted to turn that email into this article, but it contains a significant amount of personal information that doesn’t really belong to me – and putting it out there in public may be something that isn’t appreciated.

So, it’d take some time to whittle it down to article length and then remove the personal bits. While I’ve described the situation to a number of people, today’s missive was both long and detailed.

It’d also be difficult to edit it to ensure that it didn’t come off entirely creepy or as a braggart. I do think, after some thought, that it could be wedged into an article, though I’m unsure of the type of appeal it’d have or if I’d be subjected to negative responses. As it involves someone other than myself, and they’d be likely to read the responses, I’ve decided to not write that article and subject them to the potential negative feedback.

I do want to distill it and share a piece with you.

I also want you to know that I’ve chosen the following words with care. Some of what I’m about to say can be seen as an endorsement and, indeed, it is. However, this endorsement has not been purchased, but is based on a pattern of behavior, lots of observation, and my own personal experiences.

Yes, it’s true that I spoil the eldest hoodlum. Yes, she gets a great deal of attention. Yes, she gets expensive things.

I don’t need to justify that to anyone and I’m not asking for opinions on the matter. If the circumstances were fully understood and disclosed, it’d help explain it a great deal better. Those stories are hers to tell and she’s well and truly equipped to come on here and write her own damned articles if she wants to tell you about ’em!

In fact, she’s very much invited to write articles for the site – just as you are. I ain’t scared! Y’all can write about all sorts of music related things and I’m happy to facilitate that.

Now that we have that out the way…

She got some lovely gifts and is very happy with her new guitar and all the sundry equipment that came with it.

These gifts were purchased from a company known as ‘Sweetwater.’

These gifts were relatively expensive, because I got her professional equipment that should, with proper care, both serve her well and last her the rest of her life.

I do not know if they’re aware of this site.

I do know that they’re familiar with me. I do know that I’ve had numerous interactions with them in the past. I do have reason to expect they know that we musicians tend to speak out about exceptional service, deals, or things like informative sales and service staff.

The representative knows me by name and I have done business with them in the past. They also knew the reasons for my purchases.

They did not give me a discount on my purchases.

They did not ask for me to mention them on this site.

They did not ask for, or indicate they wanted, an endorsement. They did not ask me to link to them. They did not ask for a favorable review. We did not discuss this site, my opinions of their service and support, or anything of that nature.

What they did do was go out of their way, and at their expense, make her gift reception a better experience. Specifically, they included gifts of their own. They spent their money to include extras that were not ordered and this incurred no additional fees at my end.

These extras were not insignificant. It was not just a t-shirt. It was well beyond and above anything one might expect or demand. It was a personalized touch and something most people aren’t going to expect from a web store. These additions were incurred at their expense, and without any strings attached. (Well, no… They did include strings – but they were for a guitar.)

(One of the secrets to this sort of personalized service is to do things like place your orders by phone, but that’d be another article and for another time.)

It’s because of this, because of this personalized behavior, that I’m comfortable saying that you can add (for whatever it’s worth to you) Sweetwater to the list of companies with whom I’ve had a great series of satisfying interactions.

However, I feel it’s imperative that I at least strive to be open about such things and that I disclose any biases I may have, any gifts that have been received, and any rewards that may prejudice my  statements.

I do, after all, do some reviews and have talked a number of you through purchasing a guitar, or related equipment, as well having provided direct links to retailers which some of you have used.

It’s important, I feel, that this be aboveboard and openly disclosed.

Sweetwater did not give these gifts with any conditions, or mentions, of publicity.

It is because of these gifts that I’m mentioning them – but it is not because of them specifically. It is because they’ve continued to do things similar and have shown me a pattern of good service and support.

They did not buy my endorsement. They earned it by doing things like knowing my name, always having an answer, and working hard to keep me satisfied.

Which is a bit amusing, ’cause I usually use a competitor! I’ve used Sweetwater in the past but I’d actually tried to use a competitor and they couldn’t get me the GLP Standard in the color that she wanted. We were able to secure the last available one from Sweetwater and I chose to just place the entire order there – even though their competitor gives me a discount.

So, I’m pretty happy with them and have no problem adding them to a list of retailers that I will acknowledge as having exceeded my expectations.

Which, and weigh it as much or as little as you like, is an official endorsement from me.

There’s also room on the list of approved retailers for more than one company. Hell, it’d be a great world if every single musical instrument retailer was working hard enough for me to endorse them. That seems unlikely.

But, I feel it’s important to disclose my biases and to disclose any gifts that have been given, as opposed to things that I pay for directly. While this didn’t directly come as a gift with the intent that it be mentioned here on the site, it still seems like the ethical thing to do. This will continue to be my policy.

So, when it comes to Sweetwater, they are officially getting my seal of approval. It probably doesn’t translate to them getting a bunch of sales but, nonetheless, TheBuddha Approves!

Anyhow, let’s get on with today’s article!
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Gain is not volume.

So, it’s early in the morning and I’ve got tons of things to write about!

Unfortunately, none of those things have a damned thing to do with guitar – or they’re just so damned complicated that we’re looking at a 10,000 word article.


I spent like 30 minutes trying to figure out an excuse to talk about George Price and altruism. Man, I really, really wanted to write about him – ’cause of a conversation with that same ‘crazy_eyes’ who has been featured before.

By the way, that can be summed up as my motives aren’t altruistic. I get something from all this. I get satisfaction and happiness. I love inspiring people to find their passion, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It’s not altruism – but I can’t really wedge that into an article about Price. Damn it!

I then spent about an hour trying to figure out how to tell you how the 12 tones per octave were only a suggestion and not even strictly a convention in Western music. I really wanted to tell you about some wonderful guitar styles that you may not know about.

By “wonderful” I mean, “fucking weird.”

I’d even made it as far as typing the intro, or at least starting it. That’s when I realized that I’d pretty much have to explain music theory – and not a little bit of it, pretty much all of it!

I can do that – but it’s gonna take a whole lot of articles (with a whole bunch of words) and there are much better teachers than I am. I may very well do it, ’cause you weirdos like my writing style and it’s not like I’m doing anything better, but today is not that day. After all, I just blew about 1.5 hours trying to figure out what to write!

(This was not aided one iota by my tendency to get distracted by shiny objects.)

It’s gonna take a whole lot of discussion about ornamentation, things like slurring, a dozen different instruments, a dozen different cultures, music history, and more. All that just to get to the point where I can explain the music theory behind the various notes that aren’t actually assigned a damned letter. And, all that just so I can show you a picture of a pretty nifty guitar!

So, I figured I’d tell you about ‘blue notes.’ No, no… That’s also gonna require 10,000 words! I’m also reasonably sure it’s not actually useful to the vast majority of people – even within the small segment that reads this site. Chances are, you already play ’em and don’t even know they’re there – or why they are there. (If you do know, you should be reading better sites than this one!)

At that point, I figured I might as well try to explain something useful.

Where’s the fun in that?!? Well, I can at least try to make it fun to write and read!

Before I begin the article, I will tell you that the eldest hoodlum (‘EH’ as some people call her) got her birthday gifts yesterday. After making her wait, ’cause it’s not her birthday, I finally relented (I shan’t say she was ‘surprised’ that I relented, ’cause she knows me too well and wasn’t surprised, but was polite enough to pretend she was!) and let her open them early.

Her reasoning was impeccable and it was logic with which I could not argue. “I need to open them early, in case anything is broken! That way, you can send it back and I’ll have them replaced in time for my birthday!” I can’t really argue with that logic!

It was a wonderful and joyous occasion. If you’d like a more elaborate description of the event, feel free to email me. Sweetwater threw some extras in along with a note that indicated she got the very last example of the guitar she wanted  and a congratulatory note for having reached the ripe old age of 16. (Musician’s Friend and my local music stores didn’t have the item in stock and the local music stores were unable to have them delivered from their supplier in a timely manner.)

So, if you want to read more about that, you can PM or email me. I’ll be happy to type that up for you, but it’s really not something I can shape into an article that has a broad appeal.

Trust me, I tried to think of a way to make it into an article and I drew a blank. I mean, I find it interesting… I’m just not sure that you’d find it interesting, my dear reader! No, you probably won’t have nearly the same level of joy that we experienced in this household and probably won’t find it all that useful. But, do feel free to contact me via the usual channels and I’ll try type something up for you. (I absolutely would love to tell folks about it!)

But, back on subject…

I’ve decided to correct a common misconception and explain gain vs. volume. The two are related, but they are not the same. I’ll probably throw some additional information in, ’cause digression is what I do!
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So you want to learn how to sing?

Today is pretty much the best day ever.


Well, I woke up and did my normal things (including an obscene number of hours dedicated to practice) and then rooted around to see what I’d write for the site today.

After some confusion, I discovered I didn’t have to do a damned thing today! WOOHOO!!!

That’s right, there was an article already here by the time I got to the computer.

We have a guest! (Put your damned pants on, we have a lady present!)

And, they’ve done my work for me!

I am not a vocalist. I will do vocal work. I don’t prefer it. I much prefer making bitchin’ solos. I’m not very good at it, unless you count artist mimicry as a specific skill.

So, once again, we have an expert guest!

She’s even a lady guest! Like I said, put your pants on! She’s a nice lady and deserves our attention and respect.

If you’d like to hear the voice of an angel, click this link to hear Justify – By Nadeshda. She doesn’t yet have an album that we can promote, but you can hear that sample track and imagine what she’s capable of doing in a real studio.

So, let’s all put our hands together and give a warm PlayGuitar reception to the Lovely Miss Nadeshda! Be sure to thank her for sharing her time and expertise with us and this will, ideally, become a fairly regular thing!

Without further ado, I introduce Nadeshda and her singing lesson!
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Should I start with an acoustic or an electric?


The band strives for a minimum of four hours of practice or rehearsal, as a group, every week. We do this even if we have no performance that week. Because we all have different schedules, it can be pretty awkward.

We just finished our four hours – in one grueling session. Though, I suppose we spent about an hour of it setting up and tearing down, having coffee, and shooting the shit.

Last night was a late night, ’cause it’s the weekly guitar thread.

That means I’m exhausted. I’m too old for this shit! This is also not what retirement is supposed to look like!

For reasons, reasons too long to get into, I will be remaining with the band longer than the initial year. It has been decided. I’m going to be here anyways, and they’d really prefer it if I stuck around – and I’m having a pretty damned good time.

It’s still fun and not entirely like work. I’m going to be here and the experience can be made beneficial to other people. But, mostly it means I’m gonna get to keep making some noise and causing permanent hearing loss.

Every day that I damage your hearing is pretty much the best day ever. It’s made even better by the fact that people pay and wait in line for this.

“Please make my Golden Years more difficult, I’ll give you money! I don’t want to hear my spouse whisper sweet nothings into my ears during sexy time and I sure as hell don’t want the grandchildren to be able to talk to me without yelling.”

Oh, by the way, we old people do have sexy time. Lots and lots of sexy time. That’s a mental image you needed. You’re welcome!

I’m not actually sure if I can tie this intro into the subject of today’s article… A challenger appears!

Oh, wait! Ha!

So, other people see what we do and they think, “That looks like fun. I want to do that!” They will then frequently decide they’ll learn to play the guitar. After all, there’s no cooler instrument than the electric guitar.

They then have people tell them that they have to learn on an acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is decidedly uncool. It’s almost as uncool as the glockenspiel. They sure as shit don’t want to learn to play classical music, ’cause nobody throws panties on the stage when you do a bitchin’ rendition of Greensleeves.

The guitar is surrounded by myths, legends, misinformation, half-truths, misconceptions, mystique, and outright lies. Let’s try to clear one of them up!

(Ha! I made it topical! David 1: Keyboard 0.)
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I bet this site has more awesome readers than Rolling Stone has.

Really, it does! I’m gonna tell you why – but first I have to write this damned intro.

There are days I regret writing those intros. If I don’t do it, the front page looks horrible. Why? ‘Cause I’m pretty damned verbose, that’s why! Now, if I don’t do it, it’ll just be wrong.

First, I’ll tell you about yesterday – and that’ll be my intro.

I had very little notice before people wanted me to trek halfway across the State. Knowing that this was a foolish mission to attempt while sober, I secured myself a driver. Then, I fixed that sobriety thing. I fixed it pretty well, actually.

It was at that point that I spoke with one of the people who regularly comments and reads the site.

His name is @crazy_eyes.

He showed up yesterday, in a thread that started on Friday, and posted a track – of screaming.

This, of course, made me want to hear the story. Situations like the one I just described do not occur without also having a story.

On top of this, @crazy_eyes has been there for the start of nearly as many weekly guitar threads as I have. If not, he almost always turns up – and has from the beginning.

His story was so awesome, that I asked for permission to share it with you.

But that’s not important – for the intro. No, for the sake of this intro, that’s what prompted me to follow his shining example and used yesterday as an excuse to say, “Fuck you, I.m a rock star!”

I called my drummer back up and said I wasn’t going and that I’ll go today. I invited ’em over to get shitfaced with me. Sadly for those around us, we drunkenly found excuses to repeat that phrase, “Fuck you. I’m a rock star!”

This amused us and we discussed the future of the band long into the evening. That discussion could fill an article by itself.

I should probably also use this platform as an opportunity to apologize to the drummer’s wife. She’s a nice lady and puts up with some shit. Yes, I claimed an entire pie and should apologize.

Not gonna. Why? “Fuck you. I’m a rock star!”

Bizarre as this might seem, that actually has to do with today’s article.
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Do guitars really sound better with age?

It’s Labor Day. I guess I will have people coming to the house later, but I didn’t invite them. The missus invited ’em. She can entertain ’em. I’m pretty sure she only invited a bunch of old ladies!

When they get here, I might go out and see how many of ’em I can make swear. There’s not a whole lot funnier than swearing old ladies – and they’re used to me.

In an entirely unrelated thought, I bet at least half of ’em can play a bitchin’ solo. Seriously, they’re old. They’ve had lots of time to learn to play a bitchin’ solo. One of ’em is an organist in one church and another one plays piano when the first one is not there.

I’ll probably ask them if they want to hear my collection of dirty limericks.

One will, at that point, say, “Damn it, David!” They know me pretty well!

Secret: If you ask the right people, they never want to hear your collection of dirty limericks. I really only know maybe 3 of ’em. Anybody I really want to tell dirty limericks never lets me make it past maybe one of ’em.

See? I’m helpful!

Not even the missus wants to hear my dirty limerick collection. Trust me, I’ve asked her lots of times.

Anyhow… I was gonna write an intro, but I found a shiny object and here we are!

So, happy Labor Day. I’m pretty much refusing to do any labor today. Today’s topic is not labor, it’s fun! I’m so excited to start this that I don’t feel like writing more of an intro – and I’m not gonna, ’cause it’s Labor Day.
Continue reading “Do guitars really sound better with age?”

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