How Can I Lose Myself?

Can’t Remember?

I’ve heard and read many artists state that some of the best performances that they have given were ones that can’t even remember.  By this, I mean they give into the music/performance and go into a sort of trance, I guess you can say.  I’ve seen this in many guitarists that I admire from Eddie Van Halen to Bruce Cockburn and the result is usually a performance that strikes awe in my heart.  I say to myself, “how can I play like that?”

Let the music take control:

I’ll be honest, this is something that I still struggle with.  Two reasons:
1.  I want to remember my performance so I actively think about it while playing.  This hinders me because then my mind isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do; play the guitar.  The outcome is that I will either have a brain freeze and forget a passage or my playing because sloppy.  Either way, it’s a performance that I would rather forget rather than remember.
2.  I want it to be perfect so I over think and critique myself as I play.  Same result as above.

Play For Yourself:

Why is it that when we practice, we are at our best?  If I had a dollar for every time I said, “why can’t I play this now?  I was nailing it in practice…”  The reason is that when practicing, I’m playing for myself and no one else.  It’s just the three of us: Me, my guitar and the music.  Throw a crowd in there and the nerves kick in and all of a sudden the piece is harder than expected.  Why can’t we play for ourselves when we are in front of people?  For me, it’s that I don’t want to come across rude or narcissistic and I fear that the audience is judging me harshly.  But these notions are all conjecture and speculation that I have put out there with no real proof that it is true. I’m hindering my ability to play to my full potential.

Let the Music/Life Guide You:

A dear friend of mine Robin Easton (blog here), recently wrote a post suggesting that we should trust our hearts and trust life to teach us in life.   This can be applied to our playing as well.  Trust our experience, our training and our hearts when we play. Play for yourself and let your heart and music guide you into a great performance.  Note, that doesn’t mean that every note will be perfect,it might even be a bit sloppy but some of the best performances that I have ever witnessed weren’t technically great but the passion; the emotion was there.  The musician let go and let the music guide him/her into something that I felt privileged to watch.  This I suggest to you sounds scary to even me because this requires an act of faith and to embrace the unknown and dare I say relinquishing control.  But the idea of control is a myth because we can’t control things like if the PA goes out or if a crying baby is in the audience, etc… Giving in and letting go of the control is probably the biggest act of control that you will do.

Like that old cliche’ I’ve heard over the years: “Play like no one is listening.”

*Note: Thank you Robin for inspiring this post!


Getting Back Into Gear

Been Distracted:

If you have followed Guitar Musings in the past, you have probably stopped reading the blog because there hasn’t been a post in months.  This has been for a number of reasons; some personal and others professional. Anyway, I’m trying to get myself back on track;  with my playing and my writing.  

Surround Yourself:

I have found that, even though I play for many hours, I don’t practice.  I’m just noodling on the guitar but not learning or polishing my craft.  Some of that has to do with me being a bit lazy/uninspired and not knowing what to do.  That is why I signed up for lessons with a local teacher and am completely excited for my first lesson.  I have heard great entrepreneurs say that if you want to keep the energy of your new venture going, surround yourself with other entrepreneurs.   Doing this will keep the energy up and you will be more likely to succeed.  I’m doing the same by surrounding myself with other guitar players.  Just the thought of playing on a regular basis has gotten my creative juices flowing.  I can’t wait.

Are you surrounding yourself with other players to keep you going?  Reading this blog or going to a guitar related forum isn’t the same.  We need to have the contact of other musicians.  Whether it’s a lesson, jamming with friends or just going to a concert, try feeding your guitar soul a bit and the music will begin to flow.


Guitar Superstar Musings

Hola music fans,

So everyone keeps asking me how the Guitar Contest went. In a nutshell, it was mixed. I did everything exactly the way I wanted to. I made some contacts, met some stars, I turned in a performance that the crowd got into, and I distributed over 600 copies of my CD to guitar fans. The one bad part was that while the judges all agreed that I had the chops (“I’d have to practice for 100 years to get those kind of chops” – Earl Slick) , they weren’t quite ready for the intensity. Their critiques sounded like something my parents would have said (which I’m actually OK with, rock and roll ain’t for the parents).

So needless to say I didn’t win the contest. But I accomplished what I set out to do and made a splash. To quote the editor of Guitar Player Magazine – “Yours will be the most watched video from the contest once we post them on Youtube.”

Here’s a video my wife shot of my performance.

For the record –


Earl Slick (David Bowie guitarist)

Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson guitarist)

Elliot Easton (The Cars guitarist)

Steve Lukather (Toto guitarist)

Greg Hampton (producer, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford)


Brendon Small (Creator of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse and Home Movies)


A bunch of gear and a magazine profile, no contracts or studio time


Hercules Guitar Superstar Vid
Unedited version of the performance (contains offensive language)


Hercules Castro: Guitar Player Superstar?

Below is a press release that I received from my good friend and Guitar Musings contributor, Hercules Castro. Hercules entered into the Guitar Player Superstar Competition and was selected as one of the top 10 finalists. You will find all the information below and if you are in the Bay Area and like great guitar, you should check this show out. I just wish I could go.
Congrats Herc and Good Luck!!!!

For Immediate Release

Hercules Castro of Colorado Springs Named a Finalist in International Guitar Competition Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar Competition Centerpiece of Guitar Player Live! Weekend Celebration September 11-13


  • Brendon Small to Host Competition; Judges Include Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson’s guitarist), Elliot Easton, Greg Hampton, and Steve Lukather
  • San Bruno, CA (August 11, 2009) — Now in its fifth year, Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar competition will be the centerpiece of Guitar Player LIVE!, a 3-day celebration of guitars, music, and gear presented by the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in Livermore, California, east of San Francisco, on Saturday, September 12, 2009.
  • Ten finalists have been selected from among hundreds of entries to battle for the international title of “Guitar Superstar.” Across the globe, hundreds of “unknown” guitarists of all ages and styles answered the call to post their best performances at Ten finalists were chosen to perform onstage in front of a live audience and a panel of world-famous guitar stars that includes Elliot Easton (The Cars), Jennifer Batten (guitarist for Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck), Steve Lukather (Toto), and Greg Hampton, (producer of Alice Cooper, Ronnie Wood, Lita Ford). Host of this year’s big event is Brendon Small, (co-creator of Adult’s Swim’s Metalocalypse animated series).
  • The celebrity judges will evaluate each original performance, and rate each contestant on technique, creativity, charisma, and overall vibe, and, at the end of the night, the 2009 Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar will be crowned, along with two runner-ups.
  • Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar Competition 2009

  • Jim Fuselli, rock critic of the Wall Street Journal wrote about last year’s competition: “…I admired the contestants. With their reputations on the line in front of Mr. Satriani, Mr. Vai and the other judges, they performed with conviction.”,
  • Vicki Genfan, the reigning Guitar Superstar, will perform at the competition before handing over her crown, and will also play on Sunday, September 13 at 3 pm along with Laurence Juber and Jennifer Batten.
  • “It’s a dream to launch a weekend-long celebration of guitar with Guitar Player LIVE! and our fifth Guitar Superstar event,” says Guitar Player Editor in Chief Michael Molenda. “If you’re a guitar zealot, it’s like some 6-string Woodstock—total badass madness, from Friday night’s opening Shrapnel Records concern starring Richie Kotzen, Michael Lee Firkins, and Chris Duarte, to bands rockin’ hard all along the Livermore plaza, to Guitar Superstar on Saturday, to Sunday’s Triple Threat Guitar show with GPGS 08 champ Vicki Genfan, Jennifer Batten, and Laurence Juber.”
  • The ten finalists, representing a wide range of guitar styles ranging from rock to country are: Dave Benzinger, Brodie Cumming , Brian Davidson, Hercules Castro, Danny Jones, Steve Langemo, Steve Senes, Krisz Simonfalvi, Doug Towle, and Jeff Zampillo. The contestants will perform with the GPGS house band Thud Factor, music directed by Bass Player Editor Jonathan Herrera.
  • All ten contestants receive an all-expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. The winner, First Runner-Up and Second Runner-Up of the event will receive custom trophies and complete gear packages. The champion will receive a feature article in Guitar Player magazine and prizes from event sponsors—including Harman International–Digitech, Mesa Boogie, Taylor Guitars, D’Addario, Planet Waves, GBase, Line 6, Sennheiser, Washburn, Randall and Gallien Kruger.
  • The competition takes place Saturday, September 12, 2009, 8:00 p.m. at the Bankhead Theater, Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, 2400 First Street, Livermore, California. Admission $23.00. Tickets can be ordered online at or call 925-373-6800.
  • Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar Competition 2009

    About the 3-day Festival:

  • Guitar Player LIVE! includes concerts at the Bankhead Theater and free performances by well-known regional bands and exhibitor endorsees on four outdoor stages. Another highlight will be an exhibition of Bill Owens’ photographs commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Altamont Raceway Free Concert. To cap off the festival evenings, several local taverns and restaurants will also host local band performances, and the Vine Cinema will feature a special run of classic and cult guitar films.
    • Shrapnel Records Guitar Night Friday, September 11 at 8 p.m.
    • Guitar Player’s Guitar Superstar Competition Finals Saturday, September 12 at 8 p.m.
    • Triple Threat Guitar – Featuring Laurence Juber, Jennifer Batten, Vicki Genfan Sunday, September 13 at 3 p.m.

    For packages, call the box office at 925-373-6800.

    About Guitar Player magazine:

  • The Music Player Network of publications for musicians performing and producing music includes Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, and EQ magazines and related websites, TV, enews and events. For more information please visit Music Player Network is a division of NewBay Media, LLC.

Larrivee OM-03RE Review

Guitar Musings Larrivee Review

If you follow Guitar Musings on Twitter, you know that I recently purchased a Larrivee OM-03RE guitar. I have been in wanting for a Larivee for quite a while, since I tried one out at a local guitar shop. The wait was finally over and I wasn’t disappointed.

Specifications – From Larivee’s web site

Lower Bout: 15.375″
Upper Bout: 11.75″
Waist: 9.625″Depth: 4.25″
Depth: 4.25″
Scale Length: 25.5
Nut Width: 1 & 3/4
Fretboard Radius: 17″ to 21″ Compound
Setup for Light Gauge Strings
Frets: Nickel/Silver
Frets Width: 2.5mm (0.0985″)
Frets Heigth: 1.0mm (0.00394″)
Satin finsh neck and body
Tusq Nut and Saddle by Graphtec   

Look and Feel:

This is not a fancy looking guitar with elaborate inlays and exotic wood grains but it’s a simple and elegant design that perfectly suited my needs. What caught my eye immediately was the rosewood back and sides and the African ebony fingerboard. What can I say, I’m a sucker for dark wood and the satin finish really compliments the beauty of the wood.

A bit smaller than my other guitars, the OM-03RE felt natural either using a guitar strap or playing it sitting on my lap. This was important for me because I have problems with tendentious and the smaller form factor feels more comfortable/ergonomic. I’m a big fan of 1 and 7/8″ necks but the width of 1 and 3/4″ meets my minimum requirements for a fingerstyle guitar. The action was a bit high, making it harder to play when moving up the fretboard but that is easily remedied by a few adjustments to the bridge. That will be in a future post.


If I had to chose one word to describe the tone of the 03RE, it would have to be warm. I immediately noticed the the mid and bass coming out clearer on this instrument, which is something that I wasn’t expecting because I’ve read other reviews/opinions that stated it favored the high end. Compared to my other guitars the bass response was much better. Maybe some larger body guitars have a more low end response but I was pleased with the Larrivee’s performance.

Final Thoughts:

What can I say, I am happy with my purchase of the Larrivee OM-03RE. It’s smaller form factor feels great in my hands without compromising tone and range. A nice upgrade to an all wood guitar without breaking the bank.

Larrivee Guitars
Tejon Streen Music – This is where I bought my guitars. They were awesome to deal with and always have the guitars setup properly.