Advice, observations, FAQ, and Ramblings.
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
During my street sessions, I often get questions from other guitarists or those who have aspirations to learn. I can say, almost every day that I play, I will have a series of people asking questions. Of course I am happy to pass on any advice or ideas to others, but this can often lead to an extensive conversation, which in turn stops me from playing.
I don’t want to be offish with fellow musicians, and I do genuinely want to help, as the subject is something I am passionate about. Nothing interests me more than geeking out with someone who shares my interests. However I am working. So I decided to set up a blog, and a series of youtube videos to answer the many questions I get. This way I can refer those to my channel who want my advice. This way is better as I don't rush my answers due to my time scale on busking spot.
So if you have been referred to this section of my site, “Hi and welcome, nice to see you here”.
Please feel free to read or watch what I have to say in response to those questions I receive.
Nice guitar, sounds great… oh its a (blank) no wonder it sounds good.
Now this statement/half question is worded slightly differently each time, and more to the point is irrelevant as to what guitar I happen to have that particular day.
I play various guitars on the street, such as a Little Martin LX1 (completely standard), A Stratocaster (USA standard), a Telecaster (USA standard) an Acoustasonic Telecaster (USA standard) a Danelectro 67 (China), an Epiphone SJ (China).
The cheapest guitar I play (new) is £120, I have done nothing to it whatsoever. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter what guitar you are using, only that is feels right for you. I have to state that despite me having American made guitars, it is of zero interest to me where they are made. I have guitars because I have tried them, I have played 100s of Teles and Strats and have made my choice on a particular guitar that feels and sounds right to me. I have also played, and am very tempted to buy Squire Tele and/or Strat that happen to be made in Indonesia, Some I have played sound absolutely great and would have no issues in using them in any professional set up. It makes me laugh when I hear other guitarists say they are great guitars to learn on… or are only good as a starters guitar. Actually in my humble opinion these Squires are an absolute bargain and will be a great workhorse guitar for any level player. Unfortunately ignorance and guitar snobbery is well and truly alive. Let me digress with some metaphors -
You own a formula one car, its fast, looks sleek, has technology to die for. You need to go to Tesco to do a food job (your bread and butter), you can essentially get there in 3 seconds (albeit traffic will slow you down). You can also get there in a Toyota, that you won’t cause high stress levels when needing to park it. You will wait at traffic lights as you would in an F1 car. So owning a fast car is overkill for what is really needed on the public roads. Essentially the same job is done to pick up a pint of milk in both cars. Lets say you need to do some repairs to your vehicle. In an F1 you’d need specialist attention, in a Toyota however you may be inclined to fix it yourself. And really who cares what brand of car you drive or where its made. The real question is - “are you a good driver”
Hope that answers the question.
Tip no1 - don’t be gullible or listen to sales people - use your ears and do what is right for you, buy a Squire and save yourself a bunch of money.
Tip no2 - Still not convinced? Check out “Jack Pearson” an incredible guitar player, who pretty much only uses Squire. He even has a Squire Bullet (under £100) and he plays it on a regular basis. What you will hear is a man who is using a tool to express himself. He is the kind of guy that would use a Poundland hammer to knock a nail in… (same end result).
Tip no3 - Don’t be a guitar snob. Be a thinker.
What string gauge do you use?
This has become very common question whilst out playing. I use my own custom gauge, depending on what guitar I am using. The question only arrises when I am using either my Telecaster or Stratocaster. So I will answer with this in mind.
Ive been experimenting with strings for a long time now and have come up with a set that is perfect for me. It may not work for every player, which is why I would always say, experiment and hone in to the separate strings to find what feels best for you. However because it has been such a regular question, I took time to find a string maker who now makes my own custom string brand. I am now selling these sets for Teles and Strats which you can order from me directly. The sets are as follows -
BROOMHANDLE STRINGS - £10
STRINGS FOR STRATOCASTER
Strat Set (Nickel wound)
9, 13, 15, 24, 32, 38
BROOMHANDLE STRINGS - £10
STRINGS FOR TELECASTER
Tele set (Nickel wound)
10, 13, 15, 26, 32, 40
You can order from me directly using the form on this site. These strings sell quickly and I order based on need.
In anycase a 2 week turnaround is max lead time.
Are you interested in joining our band? Or having a jam sometime?
Thanks for asking, however I am happier doing my own thing. Ive been involved with many bands in the past which prompted me to never be involved with another. Its more about me, in that I prefer being solo. I discovered I am not remotely interested in aiming for bigger lights and am not motivated to compete with loud stages anymore. I also don't like to feel committed. As for jamming I am not interested, I know that sounds rude and I am up myself but it isn’t the case, I'm not better than anyone else, I just prefer to do my own thing. I am still learning and have lots to still learn. The relationship I have with music is spontaneous. I am the type of person that feels uncomfortable jamming for fun. For insight purposes, I have a pair of noise cancelling headphones that I wear just for the noise cancelling feature. I like silence when I don’t play. Possibly I am a nut job but that's just me. But again, thank you for asking.
I run a charity, will you play at our event?
No is the answer. Sorry but I currently invest my time in to the charities that are close to my heart. My preferred charities are receiving ongoing support from me, whether by donation or performing. If I were to do extra work it would be on behalf of the charities I have already chosen.
Can I book you for an event?
You can book me for an event, If you contact me through the contact form on the home page, We can discuss details further.
Do you pay tax?
Rude question, but yes I do. I also shower twice a day if you’re interested.
Non music related questions and statements
Can I talk to you about Jesus?
But do you believe Jesus was our saviour?
If I say yes does that justify what you’re doing is right?
Because what I think is that my choices are personal, just as anybody else who has a personal belief in whatever religion they choose to have the faith in. The operative word is “Personal”
You’d feel “put out” if a random stranger approached you and asked what deodorant do you use…. Wouldn’t you? And if that person continued by saying you should use a specific brand because it's kind to the ocean... he or she would in their own belief system feel as if they are doing good for mankind, and/or dolphins. Nonetheless its actually none of their business isn’t it so? Have a good day.
Have you ever thought about going on X factor or the voice?
Im not that type of person really, for one I don’t like being told what to do, I absolutely love my private time, I’m not comfortable in front of camera, and I don’t have that urge for validation. But I have no issues with the show or the type that need that notoriety. For me this is success, playing music in a street, choosing what and when I play, there is nothing else like it, it's total musical freedom.
Can I play your guitar?
If you let me use your toothbrush…?
Can I use your microphone?
If you wear a divers helmet, you can.
Is busking a full time thing, what is it like?
Mostly yes, you have to be passionate, dedicated to busk like this. Most people don’t even realise that a musician goes out with an amp, cables, stand, and guitar, carrying from place to place. My set up weighs the same as a bag of concrete. However I am not complaining, I truly love what I am doing. I take it very seriously and even choose to do this over a recording contract. Ive had 3 deals and each time I miss the streets. I am also contracted on to large cruise ships to perform, and I enjoy it, but I love the street, even in the cold winter time.
Busking is one the oldest professions, since the mid 15th century in fact. Only now in the last few years I have seen a dramatic change in perception, whereby councils, government, and the general public truly appreciate live music on the street. Here in England we are perceived as having the best music in the world, we have buskers all over the city bringing a sense of normality, a sense of calm, where music creates the backdrop to the concrete jungle. This is what we buskers do! I love to create an atmosphere, brighten someones day, change moods, bring a place alive. Buskers are the static ones, that turn up out of nowhere and vanish as quickly, moving on to another place.
Its part of our heritage here on this relatively little island, we are not the enemy and this is now starting to be recognised, a real appreciation of music and the arts has risen out of the terrible things that have been happening this year 2020. People genuinely want normality again and actually through music we can achieve so much calm. We “buskers” were often seen as opportunists, as some kind of ninja style con merchants trying to make money… But as I once said in an interview - We are labelled as “buskers” with the term itself having negative connotations and a connection to begging (Which it absolutely not). The truth is (I speak for myself) From age 11 - 18 I was spending all my full time practising my guitar, from 18 onwards I spent minimum 4 hours daily practising. When friends asked me to go on nights out, guess what I was doing? Yep, practising. My whole life Ive been experimenting, learning, practising and I am still doing the same today.
Musicians are one of the most dedicated people you will meet, our trade is music where others maybe lawyers or plumbers… all don’t just become this overnight, it takes years of exams, years of dedication. I happen to be a busker, I am proud to be part of my city.
The ignorant ones usually have no understanding and generally have not taken the time to read or see how a typical day works for the musicians trade. But the mind set of those with no real knowledge slowly but surely fade away. What emerges now, more than ever is conversation and appreciation for one another, regardless of your vocation… you’re human like me, I am human like you.
“Now can I get back to work please” :-)