Sunday, 20 March 2011

pick and mix

A few weeks ago I wrote about knife sharpeners (here) and how wonderful it is to finally find one that works.  Evidently, more accidents happen with blunt knives (so the spin goes) than sharp ones.  Well, I beg to differ . . .

Anyway, as a guitarist, I tend to prefer finger-picking to using a plectrum (the more astute amongst you can see where this is heading).  After cooking last week, I still had to do the washing up (dishwashers aren't an answer) and for some reason thought that washing two knives at the same time would save me time.  Maybe it was the wine . . .  but not quite noticing that one of the knives - yes, the recently sharpened one in "the world's best sharpener" (sic) - actually had the blade facing upwards, I happily continued washing said object.

"Hmm," I thought, "red washing up water."  My right hand thumb was now lacerated.

You may not quite see the rather deep cut into my thumb from the photo (a good centimetre long), but I have found it rather irritating to play guitar, write, wash my hands etc, et al this week due to  the wound. This has meant that I have had to attempt to adapt my usual finely honed style (!) to relying on picks. Now, I've grown up (hang on, I haven't finished the sentence, yet) using either naked finger-picking or what is known in the music business as a "hybrid picking style".  This means that I will use a plectrum between thumb and forefinger and pick with my index and middle fingers to pick other strings.  "What about the other two fingers?" you ask.  Well, I'm not bloody Segovia - more Django Reinhardt just after the accident. Luckily enough, my hands tend to heal quickly - I cut them a lot.

Anyway, where does this leave me?  Well, I attempted to use my unusual thumb-pick - as pictured - which is quite good if you want to swap from picking to flat-picking - but found it too stiff to play in any form of flowing manner.  It's also too loud, accentuating the bass notes. And generally, the thin copper plectrum I favour for electric guitar was far too thin for acoustic guitar. This is all a shame as I've just started playing a bit more seriously recently.  To be perfectly honest - I know this may sound affected - I really find any other type of plectrum anathema to use.

My very good friend Dave Acres introduced me to copper plectrums some 23 years ago and I rarely use anything else.  I think they're called Hotlicks (Hotpicks?) and he brought them back from the States with him all those years ago.  He'd met Lynyrd Skynyrd and they introduced him to them and, as I say, I use them a lot.  I'm forever grateful; long may he rest in peace.  I still have all three from the pack he gave me - they last forever!

The other item in the photo is the unusually shaped brass slide, which is concave, I think (I'm no mathematician) and is able to slide much better across a guitar neck than most straight ones.  Wonderful design.

Well, I was going to write about cooking but seem to have lost my way.  Oh yes, a dinner guest last night brought up the subject of gastric bands as a form of slimming aid (or, at least, regulating food intake).  I couldn't resist re-writing that lovely old Irish song, The Black Velvet Band:

She ate pies and chocolate trifles
Her cheeks were so tightly crammed
Her stomach hung over her trousers
all tied up by a slack gastric band*

Thank you.  Good Night.

* based on someone we know

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