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Fiddle Debris vs. Guitar Debris

Posted by janepaints on Thursday, February 21, 2008

There are many lovely things about playing fiddle. Among them is the low level of residual debris required, spawned, foistered or obtainable. You get a fiddle, a bow, some rosin, a mute, some peg-tightener, some peg-detightener and a case to hold everything. Oh, after a while you might get a stand or a humidifier. Or a tuner--if you prefer your Life As We Know It notarized.

Now consider guitar. You get a guitar--an acoustic guitar. Along with it you get a gig bag, some picks, a capo and a tuner. Then you see a magazine. 'Acoustic Guitar Downhome Get Back To Nature Fingerpicking Organic Monthly.' It's a great magazine. There are three feature articles:

1. Editor's Choice: Top 10 Entry-Level Acoustic Guitars For Under $5,000 But More Than $3,278.

2. Interview with Django Clapton: Rehab Stunk But I'm Gonna Sing The Truth Anyhow And You Can Buy My Latest CD And Hear Me Do Just That, Durn It, Plus CF Martini Just Named A Guitar After Me, So There.

3. Exclusive tablature: Learn to play the guitar solo in Honeycomb's 'Have I The Right'

Besides those informative texts, the magazine has 458 pages of advertisements, and they're fascinating. So many devices to make your guitaring gleam! You never guessed that there were so many products which could make you play Louder Faster & Better More Easily Or So-Instantly That What You Played Last Week Will Sound Better Retrospectively Once You Buy This Gizmo. You mentally bookmark the most appealing gizmos and go visit Guitar Central, the giant music store down at the highway strip mall, between Horders Books & Music and Paper-Clips-R-Us.

What a great store. Besides the amazing selection of 800 different identical Splatocasters, there are over 6 million Neccessities For Guitarists. Picks. Pickholders. Pick polishers. Pick Polisher Remover. Distortion straps. Wah-wah sunglasses. Saddles and nuts made from moon rock, lichen, dental plaque, whale blubber and Space Age Composite. Digital Emulators which allow your acoustic guitar to sound exactly like an acoustic guitar if it were an electric guitar trying to sound like an acoustic guitar.

Pickups and Acoustic Amps so folks can hear exactly how your Unplugged Front Porch Musings sound several counties distant. There's even Guitar Furniture! Boutique-quality Picking Chairs, specially designed for the discerning guitarist who can't find armless chairs anywhere else in God's universe. You purchase an item or two, and resolve to return weekly to this Musical treasuretrove until you're strumming as good as your guitar heroes.

A few years down the line you own 362 guitars and 8,893 devices which make your guitars and guitaring even better. You've gone through 875 sets of strings. Good thing you only buy the ones guaranteed to never break or go out of tune. Every outlet in your home is clogged with wallwarts and powerstrips, to power all your Acoustic Guitar Electric Accessories so you can get that perfect Organic Downhome Vibe. Besides your Boutique Picking Chair, you've got a Strumming Sofa, a Bottleneck Recliner and an Alternate Tuning Chandelier or two.

But your friend who took up fiddle? She's still got only that initial outfit, tho she did change her strings a couple of times. You accompanied her to the violin shop once but held your tongue. She decided to try a wound high-E string. FIVE BUCKS FOR A HIGH-E STRING? Good thing you play guitar. You've bought hundreds of high-E strings and not one of them cost more than a buck. She's being snookered. Some violin shop! There was hardly anything there! Twenty fiddles, twelve bows and a display of strings. A bunch of sheet music. There wasn't even any violinistic furniture. It wasn't even at the highway mall.

Some people can be deprived and not even realize it. You haven't the heart to tell her. Some people just don't take musicmaking seriously



7 comments on “Fiddle Debris vs. Guitar Debris”

John Gent Says:
Thursday, February 21, 2008 @1:52:32 AM

Well Jane, you mentioned strings, I'm surprised you didn't mention the fact that the guitarist also has two more strings than they really need. (8 if it's a 12 string!)

Funny stuff, that there is.

- John

janepaints Says:
Thursday, February 21, 2008 @2:27:46 AM

John, your response brought to mind something related: My busking experiences got me wondering why fiddling can be so gratifying; can feel so 'musically complete' (even playing solo) despite the fact that only two notes (sometimes three, if I'm lucky) can be sounded at any one time. Two notes can't form a bonafide chord--only a duad, an interval, something which can SUGGEST a chord, but not actually be a chord. Two teensy little notes at a time, often only one note. And rhytmn. And a melody. Sometimes not even much of a melody--there's plenty of fun to be had just finding a good chug of a rhythm someplace where bow meets strings and letting it flow......my Working Theory isn't anything new or original: it's basics and simplicity. Fiddle reduces music to essentials: melody, groove, tone, 2-note harmony and hints of chordal structure....with less options there's less chance to dilly-dally, lollygag and turn up the dials to 12....so ACTUALLY, all that's really needed is TWO strings, but then most of us wanna Get Fancy and show the world our knack at variationitis, festoonery & rhinestone embroidery. So, we yield to our Show-Off tendencies and flaunt FOUR--COUNT 'EM strung fiddles............Aside: I can't wait to get one of them new Electra Bows with built in Digital Echoflange Pitch Correction. That'll show 'em. It's only three easy installments of $456.93 plus tax & shipping charges of $51 every other half-fortnight. Inside the bowshaft is a clever battery compartment holding the 8 D-cell batteries required. To compensate for the added weight they've replaced the traditional frog with a tadpole and the bow is strung with just two strands of Miracle Fibre Hairlon, gotten from only the finest mechanically-bred horses in Texas' most reputable honky tonks. It's unbreakable or My Money Back. (if still in original packaging, unopened.) How can I lose?

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