Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Time to change

I have been playing a Martin DCPA4 ever since I have been here almost but I think I am getting to the point I may have to go back to my Fender Strat , it has always been a very good and playable guitar . I will keep playing blue grass with it . yeah I know sacrilege but it does a good job on anything I play better than I am a player LOL. My hands are are about shot age and artheritis (spelling) I just find it increasingly harder to play the Martin . They are all notes and they sound a bit different but I can relate to it .

Play on whatever instrument makes YOU happy. That should always be the case.

With that said, I’d think you could drop the action on the acoustic and put lighter strings as well to make it play easier.

Find a way that you enjoy and keep playing!

Thanks for the encouragement. I will stop playing when my hands stop moving. I must say though in this time of my life being old and also with the problems with my health it is not as much fun as it used to be . I still enjoy the sound of the music and also feel really good when I learn a difficult phrase . I have really enjoyed learning things from the people on the forum also . I intend to keep learning. Again thanks for the encouragement.

Well we enjoy seeing your posts on the forum Ken. Hate to hear about your hands bothering you so much. Before you put that Martin away maybe you could try what Mike suggested if you haven’t already and get that action as low as you can with some light or extra light strings. Of course if it’s the neck shape that’s causing the problem that may not do much good. Otherwise, blow the dust off of that Strat and keep on playing as long as you can!

They make 11s for acoustic also silk and steel…I’ve used Martin Silk and Steel strings from time to time. The regular ones. I’ve tried others but still think the Martins are the best. Don’t last as long as regular strings but still have a pretty good sound.

I have a Squire strat that I bought for silent playing…You know I had it in the closet for about a year without playing and it was in tune when I took it out one day…just 1/2 tone below standard…but on all strings Ha.

They make some neat nylon string guitars now with thinner nuts that may be easier to fret. You can still use a plectrum on it…think Willie Nelson.

I’ll expect to hear some chicken’ pickin’ on the strat…

Peace and blessings,


That might turn out to be chicken something else, LOL But thank all of you for the suggestions they all would work and I might try a lighter gauge string its just I got so used to med;s that I hate to change but hey if I can still play who cares . it has been a real blast to learn here and more than that it has been a blast to make new friends on the forum. I might wake up whole someday I have many who are praying for my health. I do have days that are better then others for sure and I thank the Good Lord for that . I have a couple a sets of the silk and steel they do work out fairly well .

I forgot but my daughter has a Big Baby Taylor and I grabbed that and it is perfect for me . wow I can play easy now . it also has the silk and steel strings and they are great .

Excellent. Those are fun guitars!

I am going to chime in with a observation here as I also have issues related to joint problems in my hands and wrist but still play 4 hours a day minimum and festivals etc.
I have a Martin OO18V that I use most of the time and it was purchased because I have found the smaller size combined with shorter scale creates much less stress all around sitting or standing.
I played Dreadnoughts for many years and now my back and shoulders won’t let me, not to mention neck surgery a year ago. My other main guitar is a Santa Cruz Eric Skye OO 12 fret with short scale and 13/16" nut, talk about sweet!!! Both have 2 1/4" string spacing which I find perfect for flat picking.
Now having said all that,this has been a tough year on my traveling to festivals and outdoor events due to my wooden guitars in the RV traveling from one extreme to the other. In Eastern Oregon I ran into 2% humidity at a four day festival, I was so paranoid about my Martin I missed 3 days of playing, kept it in the case, long way to travel for nothing.
Then last week ran into 88% humidity on the Northern Coast, played but guitar became muddy sounding and I cut two days off the schedule once again.
Also the action is affected and I need to adjust more often.
Now what guitar can go from 0 to 100% humidity and never be affected by temperature? Carbon Fiber!
The reason it relates to this OP’s topic is Playability and comfort while playing thus removing some of the offending issues related to arthritis and physical limitations which allows you to play longer and with less pain.
The guitar can be set to an Extremely low action with No buzz issues as it is structurally perfect and once set up Never changes. No neck sets, no truss rod adjustment, and the guitar can weight as little as 3 pounds.
First complaint will be but it doesn’t sound good…Oh yes it does, blind tests on albums by Al Petteway and several others have proven people can’t distinguish between the wood and fiber.
The APSE by Rainsong is a OOO size 12 fret short scale guitar that is great for flat picking or finger style and has built in electronics if so desired. The guitar can travel anywhere in any temp and humidity and sounds fantastic, weighs in at under four pounds. There are also many others smaller and lighter and all have the same characteristics, No More Worry when traveling about a top cracking or action and tone changes.
So even with restricted mobility the easy play and small size in conjunction with less reach and more compact sitting position and practically no weight on the strap, :mrgreen: can make a huge difference. Worth consideration IMO…

I don’t doubt you about Al’s recording, but I have only played one CF Rainsong and it flat didn’t cut it for me. It wasn’t even marginal, it was not pleasing. Maybe I had a bad example (bad strings, bad setup, bad model, something wrong with it… who knows). I won’t trash all of them based on a sample of one though. I’ll try another one when I get the chance. Do you have one?

Glad to hear of your success with the smaller guys. I am having a hard time not getting a CEO-7. I just love playing that guitar. Last night was the Martin Experience at a local store. Everything I gravitated towards was smaller. I like big guitars, but I already have those pretty well represented. OMs are the smallest bodies I currently have and they are long scale. There were two custom variants of the CEO-7 I liked. But the one I really loved was a 000-18 12 fret. It had VTS sitka and had a real unique and pleasing voice. Fortunately it was expensive enough for me to not be too tempted. I couldn’t figure why the price on it was so steep. It did have a bubinga fretboard and bridge, and some rope purfling, but I was still surprised by the list of over 7k.

Hey Mike, yes I have the APSE Rainsong, If your guitars are kept in a controlled setting wood is fine, where I live in Oregon the weather extremes are substantial and wood is very vulnerable. I can sit under the awning of the rv in the rain and play, or on a hot stage with 2% humidity or near a campfire with no worry whatsoever about the guitar being damaged. Come back from a trip and the action is right there and no changes.
It will never replace my Santa Cruz, but it’s Cocobolo and Adi top and was almost 7k so I am not going to risk it outside under any circumstances. Problem in my mind with these very high end guitars is you just can’t use them in certain conditions and the CF I can use anywhere anytime. The upside is the playability is better than wood. Doug Young has one as well for the same reasons.
But Carbon fiber and graphite are expensive and the labor to produce is much more than wood. Like everything else it’s not for everyone but new always takes a while and many are slow to accept. Myself included…

Good deal. I’ll give them another look when I get the chance. I too regret having guitars that “stay in jail” at home to protect them. I don’t recall ever seeing a 12 fret cutaway. I like the paint as well. I guess if you keep the paint thin it wouldn’t affect the tone much (perhaps the Hello Kitty guitar could become a reality). Al makes it sound great in the video. Most likely, the problem with the one I tried was the operator :laughing:

We are fortunate to live in a time when there are so many different choices available in instruments.

Hey Jerry! Talking about carbon fiber guitars, I came upon this one a while back. After reading your post it came to mind, so I wanted to forward this to you. This are not priced too expensively, but appear to be of a great quality. Here’s the info:

I hope this helps!

$599.00 is not to bad but still a little stiff for me as I have more guitars than Carters got little liver pills and the wife would hit the ceiling. They look and sound good from the video . they do have a wood neck but the entire body is Graphite I have four plus one that is on loan so I am covered up right now . I might sell the banjo and get one.

I’m of the same mind as Mike, in that you should play whatever instrument makes you happy, no matter the style.

I will add this though, I have never seen an acoustic guitar that could not be set up to play nearly as easily as a well set up electric guitar (as long as there were not any structural problems to be corrected first). I realize that the strings of an electric are generally going to be lighter gauge and lower tension, but such differences can be easily remedied with silk and steel strings or lighter gauge acoustic strings of nearly any composition. And as long as you do not play hard on your instrument, the action can come down to electric action height pretty easily. The biggest detriment is generally to the tone and power of the instrument. And even this can be compensated for somewhat with creating a greater string break angle behind the saddle with slots that run from the pin hole to the back of the saddle. So in reality, if you can find a really good, experienced guitar tech, they should be able to do wonders for your acoustic guitar to make it play easily and still sound good.

What you would be looking for in the way of guitar set up to make this work would be:

Full fret level and dress; to make the frets exactly the same height over the entire fingerboard
Truss Rod adjustment; to make the neck “nearly” straight for ultra low action
Saddle height/intonation set up; to get the action down to about 1.5mm on the low E and 1.25mm on the high E (measured at the 12th fret)
Nut slots cut; to make first position fretting extremely easy yet clean tone when strummed open
Bridge slotting; to give the strongest break angle behind the saddle for best tone[/ul]

All these things will make a huge difference in the way the guitar plays for you. I do this sort of work every day and folks are always stunned about how nice their guitar plays afterward.

One last thing, I understand your concern. I recently developed trigger finger in my left hand which makes playing quite painful at times and restricts my ability to stretch with my little finger (not a good thing). I actually spent some time setting up all my guitars recently (they were previously set up quite nicely by me, but this time I was serious about making them play easily), and the difference was night and day. In fact, I have to wonder, if I had done this sooner, could I have avoided my current condition? Anyway, life is what it is and we play the cards as they are being dealt the best we can. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I’ll set up your guitar for free. Take care friend.