Monday, January 11, 2010
“Mama ‘Tain’t Long Fo’ Day”
OK, this Monday Morning Blues segment is a bit audacious, not to say foolhardy, given that I posted Blind Willie McTell’s masterful version of this song just a few days ago on the Friday Blues Jukebox. But I just couldn’t contain myself—as you will notice in the pic leading off this post, I’m introducing a new instrument & couldn’t resist playing one of my favorite slide guitar songs to show it off.
The instrument I’m holding is a cigar box resonator guitar—& yes, the soundbox really is a cigar box (Tabak Especial, Toro Negra 6x52, 24 handmade cigars), & yes, it has a real Republic resonator cone snugged down in that box. The instrument was hand-made by Darren “Big Daddy” Dukes of Back Porch Mojo, & he really did a great job both on this one & others I’ve heard—Big Daddy has a YouTube channel where you can hear him test drive his creations—this is #190 in case you want to hear it in its creator’s hands. The building process takes a while, but this is a one-man operation turning out nice instruments at really reasonable prices.
Can you do the same things with a 4-string cigar box resonator as with a 6-string guitar? Of course not, but all instruments have some limitations & if you get to know an instrument well enough, you can learn to make those limitations a strength—I know this from playing ukes & banjos. Obviously, this instrument is new to me, but I’m having a blast, & am looking forward to busking with it over the summer—besides its good sound, it also has obvious novelty appeal, & it’s much lighter than my Regal resonator guitar (but I’m definitely not retiring the Regal, don’t worry—it will continue to be my main instrument.). I’m thinking this & maybe my 5-string banjo would make some good streetside fare for the tourists in McCall when summer comes again!
As I noted, this guitar has 4-strings, & I’ll probably keep it mostly in open D (DF#AD), tho I’ve also tuned it to open G (DGBD), & it sounds good in that tuning as well. Mr Dukes informed me that he uses strings 2-5 from a medium gauge acoustic guitar string set—in other words, the strings that would sound ADGB on a guitar in standard tuning. Dukes also makes 5-string models, & sells build your own kits for the ambitious.
You most definitely want to use fingerpicks on this instrument to get the best tone—I’m using metal fingerpicks & a plastic thumbpick. It also has a pick-up installed, tho in this video I’m playing it acoustically—however, I may be looking into a Pignose or other battery-operated amp for the summer busking season! Big Daddy makes real bottleneck slides & I got one of his as well. It’s a nice slide, but just as a matter of personal preference, I like the feel of my Coricidin bottle.
In keeping with my current notion of having series run in alternate weeks, there won’t be a Monday Morning Blues post next week; but I’ll be back with another blues tune on January 25th. For now: hope you enjoy the video—I sure had fun making it!