Fretted Music

Does playing a musical instrument excite you? Does it move you in ways that nothing else quite can? Then you are probably going to enjoy this site which is all about playing and enjoying music in its many different forms!

As you may have already gleaned from the title, the site's main focus is on the guitar and other fretted instruments, such as the bass guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin and other forms that produce their sound through plucking or strumming strings and forming notes on a fretted board (or fret board).

So how about a short introduction to the musical instrument that I have had a long term love affair with for most of my life.

Let's Talk About Guitar Playing

my 1970s gibson melody makerThere's something about the sound and tonality of a nice acoustic guitar that makes it more attractive to me than just about any other instrument. There's no need to have to plug it into an amplifier to get a sound, no need for effects pedals or processors to tinker with its sound and no need to worry too much that you're going to annoy the neighbours unless you're very unlucky.

I have a very nice electro acoustic that I can play to myself when I'm at home or take it to a gig and plug it in if needs be to get a performance across to a crowd of appreciative people. It gives me the best of both worlds in one single instrument, although it's no good for doing some of the crazy acrobatics that I also like to mess with on my 1990s HM Strat and its cool Kahler Spyder whammy bar!

Here is an amazing feature of this particular instrument in that its two incarnations (electrified and acoustic) allow it to be two totally different forms of the same thing.

Let's Talk About Playing Bass

The other side of the fence for many musicians who like to play fretted animals is the bass guitar. While it can be fun to get to grips with, there is a huge difference between the heavy stringed and often heavier bodied axe and its six-string cousin.

I think you have to have played both in a live environment to appreciate the difference and to make up your mind which you prefer to play. Personally, I prefer the guitar although bass has been a mainstay of my live performing over the years simply because it meant I could get more gigs as a bassist than I ever could as a guitarist.

Why should this be, since I'm a very accomplished musician of both instruments? Easy. Everybody who picks up a musical instrument wants to play guitar like their heroes. Guitar gods of the early days like Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Alvin Lee etc played in front of millions and made it all look so easy while at the same time setting the bar really high for wannabes. But the attraction overcame any difficulty.

Their success meant you could aspire to be a super-player and be better than your peers. And some achieved it, such as the likes of Van Halen, Vai, Malmsteen, Moore, Satriani etc.

The upshot of this is that for every accomplished bass player looking to join a working band, there are probably hundreds of accomplished guitarists. It doesn't take a very brainy person to figure out that if you want to join a working band and start gigging, you have a better than 100:1 chance of securing a place as a bassist than as a guitarist!

The Bass and Creativity... Really?

The only problem for me is I like to be creative with my playing and the guitar allows me to explore lots of creative avenues. However, the bass is generally viewed as a backline instrument meant to keep the rhythm section (bass and drums) going while the axmen out front have all the fun!

Sure, there are a few front-line bassists of note, Stanley Clark, Steve Harris, Mark King, Billy Sheehan etc that can really make their instruments come alive and do some amazing stuff on them, but these guys are few and far between. Most bassists stay at the back and go mostly unnoticed. Often the only time you are aware of the bass being played in a song is when the bass stops!

Add to that I tend to sing lead vocals and play bass together and you rely don't find too many bassists that do both. Mark King, Geddy Lee, Jack Bruce, JJ Burnell (had to mention the master of the angry bass) all sing and play bass, but again, this kind of bassist is rare.

Playing Live

OK, I don't want to make this home page too long with my ramblings, which is something I intent to reserve for the articles published inside. Suffice it to say, I've been playing in live bands for several decades and I know a thing or several which I want to pass on to readers that might be looking for some inspiration, ideas of just an entertaining read.

I have to say, its here and its now and its all good stuff!