I was playing music between two of my guitar heroes the other night. One of the conversations led to a discussion of instrument insurance. My friends Margie and Greg Mirken led me to a company that they have dealt with for some time. I have several instruments insured for $250 per year. They are a no hassles group that knows musical instruments (I think they use prudential ultimately). But if you step on your instrument or it is thrown from the plane or run over by your car, they will replace it at retail value. No muss, no fuss. So who are these people? Here they are:
Heritage Insurance Services, Inc.
826 Bustleton Pike, Suite 203
Feasterville, PA 19053
Phone: 1-800-289-8837, ext. 104
Most of us don't insure our instruments for their current value and we rely upon riders from our homeowners coverage to take care of it and then discover it's inadequate and they don't know the value of things like guitars and harps and banjos.
If you're one of those, check out this insurance carrier.
February 24th at 7pm, Mark Hanson and Doug Smith, Grammy winners for their contribution to Pink Guitar, are bringing their music to Orange County. Doug, is the newly crowned National Fingerpicking Champion and together with Mark bring some of the most remarkable guitar duets you'll every see/hear. Whether alone or together, these two make music to remember. It's a great evening for the whole family. Tickets are available at the door for $15/adult or $30/family (no this does not mean great aunt millie can be included on the ticket, but your kids can.) You can purchase tickets in advance at Accent On Music website, or attend Trabuco Presbyterian Church on a Sunday morning or stop in the office.
Shameless reminder. Laurence Juber, Mark Hanson, and Doug Smith are in concert at Trabuco Presbyterian Church Saturday June 4 @ 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 and available at the door. Don't miss this confluence of great guitarists.
June 4th @ 7:30pm, Grammy winners, Laurence Juber, Mark Hanson, and Doug Smith will be in concert at Trabuco Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, Orange County, CA. Go to the link above for directions. Tickets are available at Mark Hanson's website, Rancho-Canyon Music in RSM, and will be available at the door. The suggested donation is $20/person.
These three were part of a collaboration of the finest guitarists on "The Pink Guitar" cd that won the Grammy for "Best Pop Instrumental Album". Laurence Juber was the lead guitarist for Paul McCartney and Wings. He has numerous solo projects and has not only played with some of the best musicians in the world, but you hear his music regularly on television and in film. Mark is known first as a great guitar instructor and author of numerous books that help people like me learn to play. But Mark is a fine guitarist in his own right. Doug Smith is probably the lesser known of the three. Partly it is the fact that he has a fairly common sounding name. But his guitar playing ability is anything but common. Many of you have been wowed by Doug's ability. His rendition of "Stars & Stripes Forever" (with piccolo mind you) is astonishing. Together, Mark and Doug, have provided a remarkable presentation of guitar duets in their album, "The Power of Two".
This will prove to be a night you won't forget. Bring friends. It is a great gift to the people of this town to have such a remarkable collection of talent all at the same time.
On Saturday June 4th, 7:30pm I am pleased to announce a Pink Guitar Concert at Trabuco Presbyterian Church. Two of the artists from the Grammy Award winning album will be performing. Laurence Juber and Mark Hanson. We are hoping that Doug Smith will also be added to the program. Laurence Juber is one of the finest fingerstyle guitarists in the world today. A former member of the group Wings, with Paul McCartney, Juber can play it all, and plays masterfully. His arrangement and performance of "The Pink Panther Theme" is remarkable and true to Mancini's original. I've written about Mark over the months. My wife says of Mark's playing, "It's like he's got a piano in his hands!" How do these guys do it? Come and see. Tickets will be available from Mark's website or at the door. If you live in the Trabuco area, let your neighbors know. This is not a religious concert, but a gift of great talent to our community. Though I wouldn't recommend it for small children, these performers are appropriate for all ages. Gracious people, both of them. And by the way, it is Mark's habit of playing in church on Sunday, don't miss that as well on June 5th.
For you fingerstyle guitar enthusiasts, please note that the winner of the Grammy Award for top pop instrumental album was Pink Guitar (see the album under my cd listing.) This featured among others, Mark Hanson and Doug Smith from Portland, Oregon. You can go to Mark's site at the right of this column.
How great it was to see the good guys win. Mark and the other artists on the album paid tribute to the music of Henri Mancini. As I wrote earlier, the album might be worth Laurence Juber's version of The Theme of the Pink Panther. Also on the album is Pat Donohue from Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion. (His Peter Gunn theme - would someone tell me how he does it?!)
What is most striking is that it was fingerstyle guitar that got noticed. It's a small slice of music skill out there that few appreciate. Let's have more of it.
For those of you who travel with guitars on planes, Mark Hanson has an excellent article at his website about getting your instrument on board with you, rather than in the hold. Go to his website at the right for information. It is under the monthly tab for June of 2004: TSA Letter for carrying your guitar on aircraft. You'll find it helpful.
Also just a couple of notes. My friends tell me that most injuries to guitars are broken necks, because cases don't support the neck. The Calton case has an extra long interior box for strings and things and it support the neck for about six to eight inches (from the heel to midway point of the neck). I hear from Jim Olson, that tuning down the strings and retuning can cause more stress on a guitar than temperature changes etc. What this says to me is when travelling, if you have good neck support for your instrument, don't tune it down. If you have a rather conventional case that gives you only one point of support for your neck, then maybe you will tune down your strings to avoid further damage if dropped or run over or ? Don't forget to humidify your instrument when flying. The air is dry and this can cause more damage than being dropped.
I recently travelled with my Baby Collings and had the bridge come partially unglued through all the travel. Advice given to me was, realease the tension on your strings and get it in to a reputable repair shop as soon as possible! In my case it was a one day glue job that took care of it.
Bottom line, if you can carry on your instrument - do it. Be nice to the airline people and they will be nicer to you.
PS - All the above advice also has human anatomical applications as well.
Included in this blog is a picture of one of four surviving guitars made my Stradivarius. It is on display at the Ashmolean museum in Oxford. It is a ten string guitar, nicely appointed with interesting detail. Note the simple rosette and the ornate sound hole insert. Many people still believe that Stradivarius didn't lower himself to the making of guitars. Here's proof he did.
About being a snob. To my knowledge the guitar has no particular nickname, whereas its cousin of violin fame in the same museum is called the Messiah. Now wouldn't that give you a complex?
A friend of mine is considering publishing a number of his songs transcribed for tablature. I received a pdf file and will spend some time evaluating the accuracy and ease of reading what has been produced for him prior to publication or posting on the internet.
Now, I don't want to be snooty, but I noticed a few things up front that I'll ask questions about. The first is that the notation at the top of the tab is the melody line from the vocals of the song. Now, as a player, I'm looking for the actual notes being played on the guitar, not the notes to the vocals. I know how the vocals go, I have the cd. One of the things that you can do with tab notation at the top is to show which fingers are playing which notes so as not to confuse the player with the numbers that represent the number of the fret you're playing on a specific string. It separates them out. So, if I am playing the 1st E string at the second fret, the tab will show it on the fretboard as a 2 on the first string. But what finger I'm using is also represented by a number. If I play with my index finger (1), I can't put that number next to the fret number in the tab it is too confusing. I'd have a one and two next to each other. The notation at the top allows me to put the finger number there for a reference. This helps in the player's preparation for the next move and chord configuration. This is especially helpful in difficult pieces where you want to anticipate and prepare for easy transitions from chord to chord, note to note.
The next thing that was absent from the tab I was sent were ties that show slides or hammers or pulloffs. Now I know my friend has them when he plays, but they are not represented in the tab itself. It is incomplete for the player who wants to reproduce the nuance of the original.
A third, and an even more picky point, is that the chord diagrams are included in the middle of the staff, above the tab and below the melodic notation. This gives a cluttered effect. It is awfully tight. Look for tab that shows only the chord names. You can figure the fingering from the information provided in the tab.
When you're getting ready to buy tab off the internet, or see it in a book or magazine, these are things you can look for at the outset, before you even try to play it. It will save some frustration.
Now I have to go play what's written and see if it gets it right. There might be more in another article.