Does function follow form?

Discussion in 'General Music' started by Biddlin, Jun 11, 2019 at 12:01 PM.

  1. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Does the color, shape, or other cosmetic quality of your guitar influence the way you play it? Something I never thought about before I had so many guitars. I acquired them in inverse relation to their professional use. I gigged for 30+ years with just one or two guitars on hand, but I noticed a few years ago that certain guitars evoke certain feelings and responses from me. These are the guitars most likely to be in my hand:
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    I have a bunch of Les Pauls but this one is a good example of the guitar I'm likely to take to the blues gig. I play this one all out, getting all of the gut punching bass and midrange and sizzling highs into every lead.
    DSCN1282.JPG
    When I get a call for a gig from my salsa singer friend, this is my weapon of choice. It is clear and bright, the fingerboard is just a little more comfortable for some nice chords and it looks good with my black formal or white linen suit. It also goes to most of my smooth jazz gigs. The fact is, the look makes me want to wail like Gene Vincent, so I purposely am restrained when playing other forms like jazz or pop and look like a much better guitarist than I really am.
    biddlinfive moons.jpg
    My SG faded Special is the axe I carry to "show off" my melodic skills. The 490 pick ups do it all and the neck and fretboard are intuitive to me. I am pretty much unrestrained when playing this one.
    All this brings me to my newest guitar:
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    I love this guitar's warmth and clarity. I find myself stopping in the middle of a passage just to listen to the perfection of the note or chord I'm playing. My son noted that he has never heard me play so many 1950s hit parade tunes as I have in the last few days. I have played some Zeppelin and Jeff Beck on it, but I think this one one is more of a Wes Montgomery style axe.
    Do you have guitars that influence your style by their looks?
     
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  2. rotorhead

    rotorhead Well-Known Member

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    To some degree its true for me, too.

    As well, there's some guitars have surprised me in terms of me trying to force a certain style out of them but they wouldn't cooperate. I'd then be pleasantly surprised to hear things out of them I didn't expect.
     
  3. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    True for me. I'd be hard pressed to identify what guitar goes with what music while thinking about it, but muscle memory seems to take me to different guitars for different music.
     
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  4. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    At least I think I play slightly differently depending on what guitar I play. When I pick up my Les Paul, I always feel like playing some Peter Green-ish stuff. With my Derek Trucks SG I play more varied stuff, although I mostly play very bluesy, no matter what. My first thoughts are usually of Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor. When I pick up the firebird I, I invariably play notes from "Sitting on Top of the World". I tend to play more hard rock stuff when I play my SG Junior. My 2018 SG Standard is always tuned to open E, and I'm always inspired by Duane Allman when I play slide.

    But in the end, I think I sound like me no matter what I play...
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 2:47 AM
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  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I'm really glad you wrote that last sentence. That makes you a complete guitarist.
     
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  6. HackeIommi

    HackeIommi Member

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    My guitars influenced me by their tonalities and playabilities first. But I have to admit, there is a little bit form fetish too. The shape of my Iommi is tempting me. Doesn't matter if I play blues, rock or metal, often my eyes are rolling down to Iommi and my hands are grabbing it. A real black devil with black horns!

    It is the same for my Nighthawk too. Seems simple but elegance to my eyes. I cannot GAS, look for strats or teles. Their wood, grain, finish, hardware, etc doesn't matter. NH is the other black devil at home. Most important is, my fingers can talk when I play them.
     
  7. HackeIommi

    HackeIommi Member

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    Edit: Uuups! Double message! Sorry!
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I play acoustic, electric and bass... so yes. These instruments all have their place
    in my music, and my music seems to adjust to what's in my hands.

    I believe I'm most at home with my acoustics... I've been playing mainly acoustic
    for literally decades, and the acoustic seems like home to me, and it's easier to
    forget about the instrument and perform.

    I only bought my first electric in 2008, and then I had to teach myself how to
    play all over again, because of bad habits I'd developed over years of chunka
    chunka chunka style guitar work, on badly set up acoustics.

    I learned how to play with a lighter touch and a relaxed left hand while playing
    electrics, and this has made me a much better acoustic player also.

    How about this? Does this answer the OP's question?
    Now when I play electric, the great sounds of the '57 classic and classic plus
    pickups in an SG are drop dead beautiful... and every time I put that instrument
    down, it's with the spoken or unspoken comment: "What a great guitar."

    When I play electric, I tend to turn the amp up if possible, and I play a more
    rock oriented style. Especially with the P-90s on my Epiphone ES-339.
    The neck P-90 has a round and warm, woody tone that's very jazzy to my
    ear, but also works fine for the folkie styles I prefer. The bridge P-90 is pure
    rock an roll, and that inspires me... but being who I am, I like to mix the
    two. The middle position silences my P-90s, so that's my favorite.

    I've sold off two of my basses, (the fretted ones)
    making a conscious choice to go fretless for the future (if any).
    So I'm going to try and play all my styles on this one bass, without missing
    the others that are gone now.

    The fretless bass was a challenge I set myself to about ten years ago.
    I'm comfortable enough on it now to let this be my only bass, and the
    necessities of my new career as care giver have dictated the need to
    sell off instruments, amps, guns, tools, books, lures, rods, drums,
    my bike, my canoe, bows, arrows, furniture... all the accumulated
    bits and boxes from a life well lived.

    As basses go, I found myself playing the fretted bass with some of the
    same glissando that I use on the fretless... as much as the fretted instruments
    were capable of. (which because they are Fenders... was a lot).
    So learning the Fretless seems to have improved my fretted bass playing
    as well, and given me the confidence to face the future with only one.
    So I believe I can play all types of music on the one bass. I KNOW this is
    true of the fretted Jazz Bass.
     
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  9. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Different colors have a psychological influence on me. Some colors make me feel more calm and relaxed while others make me feel anxious.

    This applies to living spaces, furniture, work spaces, automobiles, clothes, guitars, etc.

    The shape of the guitar and type of pickups has never stopped me from playing a certain style of music before. I consider guitars as tools, but having them be a certain color does influence my mood while playing for some reason.
     
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  10. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    Colours do things for me too. I have very slight synaesthesia and in the dark music is just a little bit visible. Those colours influence my choices. Funny thing though, I really can't describe them in detail.
     
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