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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guitar Listening & Apppreciation Nite

The Guitar Listening & Appreciation Nite

Do we walk by sight or faith? Many people may find this question unnecessary because the answer is simply obvious. Sight is indeed important to us. This sense enables us to perform many important tasks in our daily undertakings. What would we do with it? Remember the last time you dined at a steak house? Anticipating eagerly for the quarter pound T-Bone to land on your table top. When the steak finally arrived, did the steak look good and taste as good too?

I have come across certain clients who were so passionately inclined towards certain guitar made, so much so that they subordinate all others. It is perfectly reasonable to fall for beauty however to be blinded and ignore other beauties, it may not be the wisest thing to do. Suffice to say that little wisdom can be found in a closed mind. All praises to my Lord, He has blessed me with adequate knowledge and skills to undertake guitar repairs. It has presented me with numerous learning opportunities to widen and deepen my understanding on guitars, the players and their relationships.

The Invitation
In the first place, buying a guitar has little practical reasons. It may be justifiable to say one wants to learn music through playing guitar, eventually becoming a professional player. Beyond that, it will be tough to give rational meanings to our guitar purchases and even harder to explain it to… wives. However I am not advocating for people to stop buying guitars but rather to learn the finer points in appreciating the priced instruments we have in our homes since they are built with many intrinsic qualities waiting to be discovered.

When it concerns one's beloved guitar, regardless if the owner is a rocket scientist or astrophysicists, very little or no rational is required. The owner has only praises for his beloved instruments from every aspect. It is even harder to convince the owner that certain qualities in the beloved guitar may be lacking. Strangely, when the owner was unable to see the guitar but only hears the sound it produces, the things said about the guitar sound changes drastically. This brings back the notion of the taste of steak, i.e. the steak usually looks good before it tastes good. The point wasn't about crushing someone's ego but to employ an uncommon way in appreciating our guitars thus discovering new pleasures from the same instruments we own, i.e. through listening instead of seeing.

In my continuous effort to share useful knowledge and facts about guitars with the local guitar community, I have organized an event called Guitar Listening and Appreciation Nite. It was arguably the first of its kind. It featured two accomplished guitar players, demonstrating acoustic and classical guitars. They are Shun Ng and Ernest Kwok respectively. Not forgetting to feed the guests with useful knowledge and information, the show also showcased Jeffrey Yong the luthier of Jeffrey Yong guitars. I took this opportunity to deliver a sharing segment as well. Jeffrey and I have shared their experiences and know-how about guitars, in specific about hand built guitars, guitar saddle materials and climate & wood.

Surrounded by beauties

In everything that we do, we need assistance from people to ensure success. Caleb and Mark rendered their precious time and effort unconditionally. A long time pal Brandon answered my call when I needed his presence to help in taking photos. My brother was on cite to help as well. Without these lovely people, I would not have done it. Herein I wish to extend my gratitude towards Jeffrey, Shun and Ernest for their sincerity and generosity in offering their expertise to make this event possible. Last but not least, I wish to thank all guests who have taken time off their hectic schedule to attend my humble show. Without their presence, there will be no show to talk about. Above all, praise the Lord for His blessings.

Mark & Caleb

The show has taken place on the 19 July 2012 at Hotel Grand Pacific. It was kicked off by Shun Ng, a prodigy who performs amazing stuff on his Jeffrey Yong guitar like no other. Very few young artists have obtained Shun's musical internalization and maturity. He is indeed a rising star to be watched. He unleashed his best within the short gig, showcasing his interpretations of several classic pop-blues numbers. The guests were overwhelmed with his soulful and unique style of playing.

Adam opening the event
Ernest Kwok, a veteran in the local classical guitar scene was no stranger to the crowd. A very sincere and obliging person; he has used four classical guitars to perform four classical tunes. It may not appear to be unusual to most people but in performance settings, switching guitar for every tune isn't something regular, especially for classical guitar performances. Again the crowd was satisfied.

After the two wonderful performances, the guests were treated with two presentations featuring,

1. Guitar Saddle Materials and Climate & Wood by me (Adam Chan)
2. Hand Built Guitars versus Commercially Made Guitars by Jeffrey Yong

Jeff playing behind the screen
Jeffrey concluded his presentation by playing 6 guitars behind an opaque screen to stimulate the auditory sense of the guests in listening to acoustic guitars. The guests were prompted to listen to harmonics range produced by each guitar. The point wasn't to determine which was the best sounding guitar but to stimulate the auditory sense thus becoming alert or sensitive to guitar tones that might lead to more acute hearing and description of guitar tones as well.

The night went on with the guests socializing whilst handling the guitars on display. It was such a pleasant scene to witness these like-minded people sharing a common topic and liking. Indeed, it was a fruitful event for me. The show has ended after 2200hrs.

The following day, Jeffrey was interviewed by Melissa Kok of ST Life. The article was published on the 28 July 2012 in ST Life section. Be sure to check it out. Here is the article in picture.

Article on Jeffrey's guitars

Here're the pictures of the wonderful event

Jeff & Ernest
Guests arrival
Shun in action
Ernest in action
Adam on Saddle Materials
Jeff on Hand-Built guitars
Blind Listening
Blind Listening
Jeff demonstrating
Crowd mingles
Test driving
Crowd mingles
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bite Size Tips 001 - Fingerboard

Dear Blog Readers,

Guitars have certainly established an important role in our society. Fundamentally, guitar is merely a musical instrument. From a technical standpoint, it is a tool made for a skilled person to perform his tasks, in this case to produce music from the instruments. A hammer is a tool as well. It enables a handyman to perform a variety of work. However, the value attached to a guitar is much higher than a hammer. This should be motivating enough for guitar lovers cum owners to pay some attention to your guitars in terms of caring and maintenance.

At random intervals, I will kick start a series of short postings on practical issues related to our beloved guitars. Abstract theories and technical information will be kept to bare minimum. Hope the series will benefit you over time. Cheers!

The first edition features our guitar fingerboards.

With regards to wood built guitars, the fingerboards are mostly made from a variety of tonewoods, a.k.a. guitar making wood species. The fingerboard has the following functions,

1. Provide additional stiffness to guitar necks
2. Enable fret wires and markings to be determined and positioned
3. Enable players to hold/press guitar strings thus produce various music notes

I don’t think the above list is exhaustive. You may be able to come out with more functions but I think there few are fundamental.

Lets’ talk about fingerboard maintenance; this is one maintenance area that is taken for granted by many guitar players. Fingerboards are often neglected because they are very stable and enduring. As they don’t give many problems, they are overlooked as well. Over the course of time, dirt and grime accumulate on the fingerboard. Some players feel that such “foreign substances” add character to the guitar. I will let you decide on this. We shall get on to topic of cleaning the fingerboard now.

You can use the following items to get it done. I should also stress that these recommended items are not the be-all-end-all items. You can always improvise with other things that may be more effective in many ways. Don't be afraid to try.

Plastic Scraper
Taken from:

Lemon Oil

Micro Fibre Cleaning Cloth

Position your guitar in supine position (well cushioned) and remove the strings as well. Notice the accumulated dirt and grime on this fingerboard. The owner hasn't cleaned it from day zero…

Use the plastic scraper to scrape off dirt from the fingerboard. Exercise care when doing it. You can see grains of dirt falling off from the fingerboard. You can brush away the scraped dirt and wipe the fingerboard with the car polishing cloth.

Polish the fret wire using the 00000 grade steel wool. Use the fingerboard guard to protect the fingerboard. If you are game enough, you can DIY the fingerboard guard using alternate materials, like plastics.

Apply lemon oil the to fingerboard by using sponge or toothbrush

Walah! It is done! Stay tuned for the more!