Practice: Day #1

My guitar came back from the shop today, so I figured I had to go ahead and practice. My goal throughout this project is to practice an hour a day. This is highly ambitious given my work, family and community duties, but I figure it’s better to set an ambitious goal and fail, than to succeed at mediocrity. I put in more than an hour today, and I’m happy with where I am.

My guitar had been at Austin Instrument Repair for 10 days. It’s a Gibson Les Paul Studio, from 1989. I hadn’t played it in probably 12 years, since my second band Love Blender broke up. There was a ton of rust on the frets, a lot of the hardware was broken or missing, and the pots were all crackly. But Richard Fry fixed it up nice — the only thing keeping it from looking brand new is the wear I put on the paint in a couple of spots. He even fixed a small crack in the head that I had put there when I swapped out the original machine heads for Grovers.

I’ve gotten the basic structure of the solo down. It’s got three parts, a brief “power chord” introduction, with the last part of that played up on the neck. Second, there’s a set of arpeggios centered around the A chord up on the neck, and then there’s a series of repetitive power chords at the end.

I worked a lot on playing “clean” power chords, which means when I pick each string slowly I get a clean note. I wasn’t succeeding very well, and this is partly because I’m rusty and partly because I was always a little sloppy with power chords, since there’s usually so much distortion and effect on the guitar, most people can’t tell. But Brian May is playing it clean, so I’m going to try to do the same.

The arpeggios are going to take some time, but in my brief practice today, I did not feel they were out of reach, and that has given me a much needed sense of confidence on my first day of practice.