Bright, Hot Lights

The guitarist spent time warming up while I prepared my video and audio recording equipment. Finally, a chord rang out. ” Your high E is just a bit sharp,” I said, not thinking for a moment that I had not performed for about fifty years. She grinned and checked that string; ‘just a bit sharp,” she agreed.
We were recording in the old Meeting House. They designed the buildings as centers for religion and to be the center of Town government – in those days, in much of New England, religion and Town government were the same. Being that a significant part of the Town population might squeeze in, they designed for good acoustics: no microphones, no amplifiers, and no speakers in those days. These days it’s used mostly for weddings and performances.
Acoustics aside, air currents, hot lights, and temperature differences create problems. The lower end of your guitar lives in one temperature zone, and the tuning heads at the top of the neck live in another. The lower tension, more heavily wound bass E, A, and D strings seem less affected. The treble strings are under more strain and are thinner – they seem to be the source of most issues.
For a while, I am back in the music room of Rienzi’s Coffehouse in the Village. The wound G string rather than breaking on my classical guitar always let’s go gradually as its outer wrapping unwinds. I am hurriedly placing a new string and stretching it out as carefully as I can – new strings have lots of excess stretch, and will go out of tune at the worst possible moment; in the middle of a song. The B and high E both need replacement, but that will have to wait until I buy new strings. Being that I am pretty busy at the coffeehouses this spring, that means almost every week.
When I get to my gig at the Dragon’s Den, I can almost feel the treble strings go out of tune as I step into the hot lights that shine down on the performer’s little stage. Our “green room” for preparation is a barely heated cubby with a draft. You know that any tuning you do here is a waste of time in February.
I am back in 2020, the guitarist and I discuss how capo’s change tuning and how you have to retune after placing it and after taking it off. Capo’s are little adjustable bars that fit over your guitar’s neck. They help change the key while staying in a fingering style you prefer. but there is a cost to everything. Your tuning ican be affected. Even more so if the neck of the guitar is not absolutely straight.
It is pleasant to just for a moment, step back, and realize that some things have not yielded to either technology or years.

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