New strings

OK, I last changed strings on the 1st of September 2016, more than 200 hours of playing ago! So much for my commitment to change them more often. Anyway, last night I changed them again.

I liked the mellow tone the old bass strings had. The new ones sound raspy to my ear, but I suppose I’ll get used to them soon enough. They certainly can’t be accused of being dull.

My motivation for changing strings this time was that some pieces called for harmonics, something that doesn’t work well with lifeless strings. I can hear the harmonics ring out much clearer with the new strings.

They seem to have settled in much quicker this time. They were barely out of tune when I picked up the guitar today. Maybe I’m getting better at fitting them, though I don’t know why I should be because I’ve had no practice.



I haven’t updated this blog in a few weeks. So here’s a brief summary of a few things I’ve been doing lately. I’ll expand on them later.

  1. I have half a dozen practice pieces ready to record. As I practise in half hour slots, I find that setting up the recording takes away too much time from actual practice. I should just devote one session to it and get rid of the backlog. I know it would help me to hear more objectively what I’m playing too.
  2. I finished Sor’s 120 studies for the right hand. I mostly managed two or three a day and they were fairly straightforward up until the 90s. Some of the 100s took a day or two each, and the fingering in number 114 still eludes me.
  3. As soon as I finished Sor’s study I started Sagreras’ lessons and quickly progressed through the first book. He makes extensive use of the rest stroke, or apoyando, something I haven’t seriously looked at yet, so this is good practice for me.
  4. I’m working my way through Tom Service’s series on the 50 greatest symphonies. I don’t expect to hear much guitar – it would be drowned out by the rest of the orchestra – but I think it’s helping me to listen more carefully, critically, to music in general.
  5. As a sort of companion to the last point, I’m reading Norman Del Mar’s Anatomy of the Orchestra, which I picked up for a bargain sum. Again, not much about the guitar, but it’s all music.

Bianca Fiore by Negri

I’ve started the third volume in Eythor Thorlaksson’s free collection, Guitar Moment III. I started it a couple of weeks ago. I’m slightly behind in updating the blog. Anyway, here’s the first piece, Bianca Fiore by Cesare Negri (1535-1605). It was fairly simple except for the last line. The second bar of that line took a while to get right. But I think I’m getting more into the habit now of seeking out the more difficult parts and concentrating on getting them right instead of mindlessly playing through the entire piece again and again.

Spanish Romance

It had to happen sooner or later. After more than a year of serious practice, here is my rendition of a piece called, among other names, Spanish Romance. Who composed it is uncertain, but it’s tremendously popular among novice and advanced guitarists alike. It’s often one of the first pieces a guitarist learns, and I admit I was no exception, having spent hour upon hour trying to improve my own playing of it.

It’s not without difficulties for a beginner, especially for the fretting hand. Eythor Thorlaksson’s arrangement is given a grade four, well beyond my current level, though I somehow muddled through it from sheer persistence. There are a few shifts of position, some of them quite awkward, right up to the twelfth fret, and shifts into barres as well. The right hand is straightforward though: a descending arpeggio repeated for the duration, accompanied by a simple bass line. It’s necessary to bring out the melody with the ring finger though, while making sure the arpeggio doesn’t overshadow it.

For my first recording, I’m happy with this. There was some buzzing in the middle section, and the tempo wasn’t entirely steady: listening to it on repeat I can hear that the start was much faster than the finish (more work with the metronome required!). But it’s without doubt my most musical recording yet – and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?