Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

I am a bad guitar owner. I need to be punished

A tale of a downward sprial…

For years, I played fingerstyle. I could play a guitar and it would look almost the same after years of heavy regular use as when it was new. I have always tried to take great care of my guitars. I had a brief visit into classical and flamenco. I freaked out when I left minor dimples on one of my guitar’s top from playing flamenco. Years passed, I started flat picking. My guitars started to show the dings of playing with others and handing my guitars around. No big deal… they were “love” marks. I noticed I was starting to wear frets down much quicker with the repetitive practice with a firm attack. No big deal… it’s a fair trade to be pulling the tone out of it. I started playing at the church more regularly. My pinkie dragging on cowboy chords was starting to leave a mark. It irked me, but between playing and singing, I couldn’t concentrate on keeping my pinkie up. Last May, our music minister left. I offered to step in “until they found a replacement” (I don’t really think they are looking, but what do I know). Some of the songs involve fast strumming (think Mumford & Sons). I broke a pick on such a song. I hadn’t broken a pick in decades. About 4 months ago, I broke a G string (on my GPC guitar). I hadn’t broken a string since I can remember. I figured it was a bad string. A few weeks later, another G string broke. When I stripped off the strings to replace them, I noticed the saddle was notched. Problem solved! I sanded and buffed the saddle. I also noticed I was missing some finish around the soundhole… odd. Must have been a thin finish. I also noticed I needed to level and re-crown not too long after addressing the frets, so I did a “light” level and crown. This whole guitar seemed to be wearing at an alarming rate. I noticed the pick I used with it (I used a 1.0 Wegen for a little flex) had a scallop worn. I hit Dr. Google for reports of a worn pick causing accelerated wear on a guitar (nothing). I wrote Martin to ask if their fret material had changed (it hadn’t to the best of their knowledge). In the mean time, I was setting up my OM to be a stage guitar. I put a K&K pickup in it. I had a local luthier put some stainless frets on it. I got an Orchid muting DI box. Last Sunday, I popped another G string on the GPC, and the slots were already re-worn into the saddle! I figured this week I’d swap out and use the OM until I figured out what was going on with the GPC… why was it wearing so fast?!? I still suspected my worn Wegen might have something to do with it, so I shaped a new Ultex 1.14 to use. Tonight I went to practice with my new rig. It sounded and played great. I got done, and as I was putting the guitar on it’s case, I noticed a white powder on the pick guard. I looked at my pick and it had some nice chunky shavings taken out of the previously brand spanking new bevel.

Then it dawned on me, actually it hit me square between the eyes in a momentary flash of clarity. There was nothing wrong with the GPC, the pick, the strings, the saddle material or the frets. Apparently, as any idiot could tell you, I am beating the crap out of my stage guitar. I need an intervention or something.

Moral: firm attack + alot of strumming = surprisingly rapid depletion of all wearable parts of a guitar.

On the bright side… if anyone wants some “mojo” put into their guitars… I guess I am the guy to do it! (But don’t worry if you meet me. I am always very gentle with other people’s instruments)

I guess I am Mr. lite , I can’t remember ever breaking a string other then when I was younger I was going the wrong way tuning and the b string snapped . something I do not do is break strings with that said it all depends on how one plays, attack what ever you want to call it, I call it style . A cure I don’t have other than backing off a tad. I do suggest a small Roland amp called the cube it really has modeling amps and has an acoustic one. It really stops the need for extremely picking hard . 6 double A’s and you are good for 20 hours of picking fun . and it has a tuner and effects .Sorry to hear about your guitar. You have a CPA Martin ? Wow that is good . but if it is a electric one you should be able to get all the sound you want through that Roland cube amp and it is so small and packs a punch . I have had the cube for about three years and it is still going strong . I used to play the Fender Strat through it . I may post a pic of the Strat

Thanks welder. I am running through an amp and a PA and I am still just playing too hard. It will take me some time to learn to back off without thinking about it.

Hey Mike, I understand your dilemma all too well. I too was a more gentle player before working on getting a more powerful bluegrass tone. I have a Martin M38 that is 16 years old and looks like it is brand new. However, my bluegrass guitar (a Recording King RD-316) is only 2 years old and looks like it has been through two wars and dragged behind a pickup truck for an hour or two.

I am also working to figure out the balance between a powerful tone/sound/volume and a more gentle hand. Possibly practicing left hand finger muting of notes (touch technique) might help slow the wear of the frets. And maybe setting the action a little lower so that I would have to play easier to avoid any buzzing sounds might help me be more aware of my heavy pick stroke.

My arms never ached before I took up bluegrass. Now, even my hands ache sometimes. :confused:

It is definitely a balancing act to get a powerful tone and to play the guitar with restraint.

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Possibly practicing left hand finger muting of notes (touch technique) might help slow the wear of the frets. And maybe setting the action a little lower so that I would have to play easier to avoid any buzzing sounds might help me be more aware of my heavy pick stroke.

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Thanks Doc, good thoughts! I did do that touch technique practice a while back when you suggested it and it is a very good drill. The GPC was already set up pretty low (about 5/64 low E before I put mediums on it)… I guess through amps and such I don’t hear the buzzing going on.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to practice the way I play. I play with a fair amount of dynamics and it’s kind of an auto-adjustment when playing with others. I think I’ll have to pay more attention.

I think just recognizing I am over-playing is the first step. I might need to start doing my solo practicing amplified as well. I probably play much different when my voice is amplified. Along the lines of what Welder was saying, when with the group I think I am going to increase the guitar levels in the monitor… kind of trick my ear into thinking I need less volume.

I made the post in case someone else was staring in horror at the wear on their guitar. My case might be a bit extreme, but I am glad to hear I am not the only one. I thought it was hilarious when I recognized the simple answer to my guitar wear. It was a real “Doh!” moment.

I guess for me it is different as I don’t play out much at all I am a home body and play when I practice and for a few friends and relatives . Big difference in wear I would think. any way keep playing and enjoy the music, they make new guitars every day . Of course the money they make every day QE but it is getting sort of worthless. MMMM its practice time again Bye ! mmmm maybe I could trade this here hide fer a set of strings.

When I got my current guitar it was 7 years old and looked like it had barely been played. I’ve put more wear on it in the year and a half I’ve had it than was on it when I bought it. I do think it sounds better now, though, so I can deal with a few blemishes.

I just thought of a good punishment. Since you are hard on your guitars, you need a guitar that can take the abuse. I have found that Martin D35s are the closest thing to a guitar tank made. As your punishment, you need to get a Martin D35!

Bad boy!

— Begin quote from "drguitar"

As your punishment, you need to get a Martin D35!

Bad boy!

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Thank you!