Over the last few years I’ve been noticing a trend. Traditional acoustic instruments have been popping up, well, all over the place. When I saw them earlier this year in San Francisco, alternative rockers Thao and the Get Down Stay Down grabbed a mandolin, a banjo, and if I it remember right, one or two other “traditional” instruments, to add to their punky edge. It blew me away.
In this post we’ll look at EQ - the history of its development as a sound modifier and its use in an acoustic guitar context. Originally, equalizers were designed to smooth out frequency response anomalies anywhere in an audio chain, whether it be a microphone (or pickup), a recording device like a vinyl disc-cutting machine or tape recorder, or a loudspeaker system. Other simple types of EQ are still being used as “tone controls,” the most common being the passive treble cut tone control found in guitars and tube amps.
If you’re a performing songwriter like me, or just a performer, you might find yourself feeling stagnant and falling into the same patterns of playing or writing, using the same chord progressions. Here’s an easy way to breathe some fresh life into your playing: Capo up!! I don’t mean just changing the key of what you’re playing already. I mean, explore the possibilities created by using a partial capo. These devices change the tuning of the guitar itself with just the squeeze of a spring, or the snap of a locking clip.
The first thing you have to realize when amplifying an acoustic guitar is that in doing so you’ve gone interactive, which sounds very nice except that it happens to work against you in this situation. What do I mean by “interactive?” Just that your acoustic guitar interacts with its sonic environment, and when that environment gets loud, acoustic guitars get weird.
In 2010, Matthew Kohnle and Jason Socci (previously of DAYBED) secluded themselves in a cabin outside of Asheville, NC. With acoustic guitars in hand, they gave themselves a single mission: write and record. Three years later we can enjoy the fruits of their labor, Cabin Music; the duo’s first LP under the moniker of Brundlefly and the Swede.
The life of a musician can be tough, and as an artist, I'm always looking for new ways to keep the juices flowing. Here are my favorite sources of support and inspiration for your journey as a singer-songwriter.