Back to the Blues!

After a long and fulfilling experience playing fingerstyle Jazz chord harmonies on my Jazz guitars for the past few years, I have slowly been weaning my way back to the fingerstyle Blues that started me on this new musical journey in the first place.

I’m sure the Clapton Martin acoustic and Martin D-42 had something to do with this slow circling back to the center — but I do think it’s more than just that.

There’s a whole rush of intensity and emotion for me when I play the Blues.  I immediately feel connected back to a time of suffering and empathy that I do not always have while playing Rock or Jazz or Country music.

There is a deep and longing sadness in the Blues and it is in those marks of human sacrifice and resurrection that we learn to become kinder and more prescient human beings — at least during the melancholy life of a finger plucked Mississippi Delta Blues song.

So, I’m “Back to the Blues” — but not the “Boles Blues” started in 2009 — that great blog title and content will stay embedded here forever in Boles Blogs.

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The Eric Clapton Martin Guitar 000-28EC Review

It’s been a long, long, time — over 20 years — since I’ve had a “true acoustic” guitar.  By “True Acoustic” I mean a guitar that was created not be amplified out-of-the-box and one that is made to sound right straight from the vibrating wood into your ear.

To my aesthetic, there is really only one acoustic guitar maker of merit and delight — and that is C.F. Martin & Company.  Since 1833, they’ve been building grand and beautiful works of Art that sound luscious in, and on, the ear.  My first guitar was a Martin HD-28 that I had to sell to make the rent, and I have been heartbroken ever since:

However, as time and tide crushed the standard of living the young artist’s life in NYC, years later I ended up having to sell my beloved Martin HD-28 to make the rent.  It was such a heart-rasping experience giving up that HD-28 that I refused allow the joy of a guitar back into my life for 20 years.

The lesson in selling a beloved to make rent is that there is no faster compression of time into space than the moments of the first of the month arriving twelve times a year.  You will run out of beloveds faster than you can delay the inevitable.  Confess defeat.  Preserve your joy.  Move on in your humiliation.  Your saved beloved will later heal your broken pride.  Unless, of course, you sold it — then you’re just left broken and empty and joyless.

Now, as a man of more modest means, I decided the time was finally right again to dip my toe into the acoustic Martin sea, and I knew I wanted my new guitar to be the Martin Eric Clapton acoustic — the “000-28EC” — to be absolutely specific.

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Jake Reichbart: Is She Really Going Out with Him?

In my June 10 Boles Blues Ibanez Artcore AG75 review, I first introduced you to outstanding fingerstyle Jazz guitarist Jake Reichbart:

You might wonder how I happened to come upon the Ibanez Artcore AG75.  I enjoy Jake Reichbart’s YouTube videos, and I recently learned Jake plays an AG75.  When I went to check the price of his guitar, and found out it could be had for around $300.00USD on the street, I went bonkers hankering for a chance to imitate his cool tones.

The beloved kidding about Jake Reichbart on YouTube is that while he makes his guitar sing like an angel, he looks like a guy waiting for the bus while playing — so when you watch Jake in this AG75 example, look past the faraway, inattentive, look in his eye, and try to not stare at the blue duct tape on his bridge pickup — just close your eyes and enjoy the sound.

Jake has always been an awesome YouTube inspiration for me.  His style is engaging and direct and he really teaches you how to play a song just from purely observing him in action.

Jake has a new album out now called — Is She Really Going Out With Him? — and it is a total winner.  Jake’s percussive Jazz style and precocious melodies are infamous and purely delightful and you need to grab a listen to the world between his fingers.

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Picking the Right Strings for Fingerstyle Plucking

As you know, I’ve been working on using only my fingers while playing my electric guitars and the experiment has been both delightful and slightly disappointing.

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Playing with your Fingers on an Electric Guitar

There’s nothing quite like playing the Blues guitar using your fingers.  It can be another matter entirely when you toss away your pick and play with only your fingers on an electric guitar.  Mark Knopfler is probably the best known, and most successful, “fingerstyle” electric guitarist of our generation.

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Picking the Fingerstyle Blues

If you love grabbing a guitar and laying down some Blues, then sooner or later you’re going to put down your flatpick, sharpen your fingernails, and get ready to do some string plucking.  There are a bunch of fingerpicking “Learn to Play…” books, DVDs and YouTube videos.  My favorite book is “Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar.”

Continue reading → Picking the Fingerstyle Blues