I’ve always been after a more mellow sound than what I can currently get out my guitar. Madeleine suggested I try D’Addario Silk and Steel strings, so I bought a pack a few days ago and have been playing them since. I asked Steve to demo the strings, as well as my lovely guitar Larissa, cause my abilities aren’t good enough to really show her off.
Sometimes I love them cause they’re so bright and clear, other times I hate them cause the tone comes off as thin and frail; it really depends on what kind of music I’m playing. When Steve plays them they’re shockingly bright and piercing compared to the sound I get; I’m not sure if it’s the difference in our nails or technique (or both).
They’re definitely meant for fingerpicking cause they’re so light1 that even moderate strumming will make them buzz, which severely limits my possible repertoire. On the bright side, it’s much easier to fret barre chords, and certain passages that were a struggle to play cleanly only require a light touch now.
Another advantage is that the tone makes me feel like I’m playing a different guitar. Even though it’s not quite the dry and mellow sound of a classical nylon, it’s somewhat staving off my desire to buy the Taylor I’ve been eying2, but who knows how long that’ll last.
Steve’s the only person I know who lives by the guitar, both literally and figuratively. I’ve seen such brilliant things come out of his fingers. Sometimes in the middle of a song I’m showing him, he’ll pick up the melody and go somewhere completely different with it that’s more beautiful than the original. And even though he’s mainly a jazz guy (after Wes Montgomery), he can play any style from classical to flamenco.
I’ve taken up his belief in not using a pick and sticking with my fingernails. “Just another thing between you and the guitar”, he said to me once. And when I explain how I’m stuck on something he’ll say, “Have you done it three-and-a-half million times?” to remind me that anything’s possible with enough practice. He’s filled with all these tiny yet crucial bits of information that have influenced how I approach the instrument.