Smashed guitar

23-01-2023 – Guitar Tech Let Down

Mornin all!

Well, gigging for 2023 is now officially underway, and as joyous and chaotic as anybody could wish for!

We rolled up at the Crown in Staple Hill at the allotted hour and were pleasantly surprised to find the pub was jam-packed full already.

Ah, the footy is on, that explains it. Fortunately, the delightful bar staff have made sure that the corner where we’re to set up has been kept suitably clear of customers, so once we’ve shimmied all the kit in, we can get ourselves organized, punctuated by the occasional burst of shouting as somebody on telly scores a bullseye, or whatever it is they do.

The match finishes just as we’re ready – so, no time for a soundcheck, or even to wonder if we can remember the songs after 6 weeks, it’s off we go!

As it turns out, most of us can remember most of the songs, mostly, so that’s something of a relief. In fact, enthusiasm reaches such a fervour that after five or six tunes, ham-fisted Alan is excitable enough to break a string.

For those of you not familiar with the intricacies of the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system – a technically sophisticated and generally most satisfactory piece of engineering – it has one major disadvantage, which is that if a string breaks, the consequent reduction in tension on the springs causes all the other strings to lurch violently out of tune, rendering the guitar instantly and utterly unplayable.

Luckily we’re at the end of that song, so all that is required is a quick dash to the back to retrieve the spare axe.  

I hurriedly flip open the case, to find – not the guitar I was expecting, but a different one; one which, in a fit of scientific curiosity, I built last year with different scale lengths for each string. (This is theoretically supposed to improve the balance of string tension, but I have to say the only difference I could tell was that, because the frets are all at staggered angles, the notes aren’t quite where you expect them to be).

Oh well, I’ll just have to mentally adjust my playing and hope for the best.

As I strap it on and plug it in, I silently resolve to

  • Always in future double check what’s in the guitar case before setting off, and
  • Never to tell Dem about this, which she will take as vindication of her utterly unfounded theory that I have “too many guitars” – whatever that may mean…

After just a couple of jazz-tinged moments, I’ve persuaded my fingers to go where I need them, and the rest of the gig goes without technical hitches – until my amp suddenly goes very quiet. That’s not what I bought it for…

The usual prodding of leads, connectors, etc. bears no fruit, but bizarrely, turning it off and on again fixes the problem. For nearly ten minutes, until it suddenly happens again – but this time I’m wise to it and recover full power within a few seconds – and thus we lurch to the end of the set without further mishap.

Technical snags aside, it was huge fun, I was particularly delighted to see my brother and also my dear wonderful old pal Mad Carol, who’d come along all the way from Welsh Wales just to see us. Bless.

So, I have a few evenings to try and sort out my errant equipment, before we do it all over again on Friday…

Friday 27th – The Crab Apple, Clevedon

We’ve not played here for a few years, but as I recall it’s a rather jolly place. Even though it’s in Clevedon. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the most important piece of information about the venue – which is whether or not they offer free beer to musicians…

Square on

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