What am I doing here?!

As a working musician, or anyone whose work is also their passion, it’s easy to forget why the hell you’re doing what you’re doing.  Creating art and performing can become “commoditized” and become arduous or even *gasp* feel like a job.  I feel it’s important to change things up, play around with new things just for fun.  Take time to play or write for zero reason, with no inward or outward pressure.  Keeping the “love” when involved in a “labor of love” is key to keeping the fire alive, maintaining growth, and creating meaningful work.

Tuning and Tone Are NOT Just “nice-to-haves”

Ok look, this is probably just as much for me as it is for you.  The “2 T’s” as I’ve always called them (literally just made that up upon this writing…).  I’ve seen way too many acts bands/solo/open mic’ers perform reasonably well but throw me completely off because of TUNING!!  It’s important, it’s not optional, and also something many do a haphazard job of and take their tuner’s word for it.  The biggest, most overlooked thing when tuning, is your ear.  Use. Your. Ear. When. Tuning…..a tuner is a tool, not a replacement.  Make sure you really get to know your instrument and develop your ear by truly listening.  How fast does it go out if tune if at all?  Feel out the turns and how it sounds when you really lock in on the note as you’re cranking the tuning machine.  Play a few chords, a BUNCH of chords in both open and barred positions to hear where there might be problems.  Get tuned up to your tuner, then play a bunch of licks and chords, tweak your tuning tiny bits as needed until it all sounds perfect.  Then go back to your tuner and make sure your base tune hasn’t drifted from 440hz, or whatever you started from.

Tone is the other subject.  Once you’re in tune, actually listen to and play with your tone.  Too many times have I heard the peaked out bass/treble and near non-existent midrange that has made a performance nearly unbearable to listen to.  Your guitar lives in the 400Hz range…typically that’s “midrange” for a guitar.  Don’t “suck” that out thinking you’re Dimebag Darrell of Pantera (RIP) and think you can get away with it…done wrong, it sounds awful and uncomfortable to listen to even for someone who’s 100% musically un-inclined.

I feel a video tutorial coming in the future on this to dive further into this subject.  Tuning and tone are absolute musts as failing at either, or worse, both, will set you up for failure before you even play your first note whether on the stage or in the studio.  No matter how great your performance, act, presence, etc…poor tuning and/or tone, will yield a less than your best result.

All the best,

Mark