The Edge’s Influence Revisited

September 29th, I made the observation that modern praise and worship had been influenced by U2 and more specifically their guitar player The Edge.  Here’s the link,

Andy’s Corner at Pro Guitar Shop relates The Edge’s influence, providing a little bio and how he get his sound.

U2 has influenced a lot, musically, tonally, politically, spiritually, etc.

But The Edge’s approach to guitar and his sound is by and far one of the most recognizable guitar tones.


I hope you are preparing to have a Christ filled Christmas

Deep and Dark or Light and Happy

I love to play music.  My instrument is the guitar. I read about the guitar, surf the net in search of guitar info, and listen to mostly guitar music.  Guys like Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Al Dimeola and I can go on and on with a list of guitarists I love to listen to.

This evening I was reading the latest edition of Guitar World magazine with Jimi Hendrix on the cover (

In the interview with Joe Satriani, he was telling about how he used different gauge strings and played tuned down a step for the Chickenfoot album and tour.  But when he returned to his solo projects, he went back to using lighter gauge strings and standard tuning.  That’s when I realized the difference in a lot of the music I listen too and play.

Al Dimeola with his PRS Prism signature model

A lot of bands today, use dropped tuning, at least tuning the 6th string down from E to D.  They’re trying to have a darker sound and a darker tone of music.  Most of those bands I don’t get.  Their music is depressing and dark but that has never suited my mood.

I am a light-hearted person.  I am up, always up, and I realized that my guitar tone, and the character of the music I like and play is based on my character and personality.  That’s why I like guys like Satriani, Santana, and Steve Vai, etc.  That’s why my songs are happier, even joyful.

Why is that.  As an old song we used to sing in church goes, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.”


I Love Electric Guitar

SCCA Praise Concert, 2006

It all began before I was a teen.  My preacher and his daughter were taking guitar lessons and I thought that was pretty neat.  Therefore, I wanted to play guitar too.  Dad had a 1953 Martin 00-17 that he never learned to play on.  Because I wanted it so badly, Mom and Dad took me to the music store in Kokomo (Indiana) where he had bought the Martin and bought me a Winston beginner’s guitar.  A little 6-string acoustic flat-top that had a sunburst paint scheme.  Red blending to black along the edges.

I didn’t have lessons.  I may be a self-starter, but at that point, I didn’t know where to start.  So other than banging on the strings, not having learned anything about playing, it pretty much stayed shoved under my bed.

Then . . . Ralph Trotto came to town.  Ralph was from the southeast portion of Indiana.  His fame is pretty much reserved to the churches he played in and having taught the Memphis blues man Lonnie Mack some of his first guitar chords.  Ralph Trotto was blind which was cool in its own right.  He played a big-box Gibson electric (like a Byrdland or Super 400 or something) into a Fender Twin amplifier.  His voice was big and booming and that’s how he played guitar.  I was hooked.  I wanted it.

Malachi and me

Before I was allowed to take guitar lessons, my folks had me take piano lessons so that I could “learn music.”  I had about three years of piano.  I learned notes and my ear got trained to harmony.  I would practice the piece my teacher gave me that week, fumbling through until I had it memorized and played it back for her, without reading the music, but appearing too.  I didn’t become a pianist like my brothers and sister.

During this time, I attended a youth rally hosted by a Christian Church in Carmel, Indiana.  It was held in the auditorium of the Carmel High School.  They had a band, a Christian band, the first I’d ever seen or heard of.  But it was a Christian rock band and whoever the guy was playing the guitar, her was playing a red Gibson SG.  I was hooked.  That is still my “dream guitar.”  In fact, the best guitar I have ever played was a 1961 Gibson SG in mint condition.  My friend Marty had it.  His grandma had bought it new in ’61 and played it for 30 plus years and there wasn’t a single scratch on it.  If it had all the original tags ( it had some of them), it would have been dead mint.

One of the world's most famouse SG's

I pressed my folks to let me take guitar lessons.  By the summer of 1977 I was taking lessons.  I bought an Alvarez 5022 acoustic flat-top guitar for $90 (half price sale)  and took lessons from a Jazz musician by the name of Malcom Bender.

When the cost per lesson went up 33% ($3 to $4 a lesson), we couldn’t afford to keep them up and so my friend Jim taught me.  We wrote a song or two together, and played them at church.

The first real song I learned, besides the basic music lesson songs, like Michael Row the Boat Ashore and stuff like that was Three Dog Night’s “Old Fashioned Love Song.”

[Kind of a goofy performance isn’t it?]

I’ve been hooked ever since.  I’ve mostly learned on my own ever since, but I’ve played for 32 years now.  Not as good as someone who has played that long, but I enjoy playing.

I’ve owned and played Les Paul’s, Stratocasters, Telecasters, Ovation electrics and acoustics, Hamer, Aria, and more.  I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of guitars in music stores, pawn shops, churches, bars, living rooms and who knows where.

Give me an electric and I’m comfortable.  I’ll even sing with one strapped on my shoulders.  I feel as though the guitar is an extension

Playing a parts guitar (Telecaster copy) before work in 1987

of myself and play it like it is a part of me.  I love the expressive abilities of the guitar.  I love the variety of styles that can be played with the guitar.  I love to rock and nothing will rock like a Les Paul.

I really could go on and on about guitar and the electric in particular.

“I love guitar.”  You can quote me on that too.  I am not ashamed of the fact that I love guitar.  I have been inspired by many players, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Phil Keaggy, Bob Wall, Ron Salisberry, Mike Baer, Santana, Les Paul and I can go on forever about my influences.

Guitar is important to me because I can be expressive in ways I might not be able to otherwise, plus, having an awesome looking guitar slung over your shoulders is pretty cool.


Playing bass for "Wednesday Night Live"

Exploring Passion

This is one of the guitars I love. I could go on endlessly about it. Do I have the same type or rather, a greater passion for Christ?

I have been in love with guitars since I was about 9 or 10 years old.  And I fell in love with the electric guitar a couple of years later.  I must admit I am passionate about guitars.

I could tell you how great they are and how guitars are the most expressive instruments there are after the violin and that might be questionable depending on the artist (eg, listen to Gary Moore play “Still Got the Blues,” or “The Messiah Will Come Again.”  Check him out on YouTube, and

I could relate to you how I fell in love with the guitar and the electric guitar in particular (that involves hearing Ralph Trotto and a couple of years later seeing a Red Gibson SG played at a youth rally in Carmel, Indiana in 1972 or 73).

I could share with you how the Les Paul/SG style guitars are the best, bar none (whether made by Gibson or similar types by Heritage, Paul Reed Smith, Carvin, Hamer and others).

I love guitar and I love guitar music and I could go and on and on.  Don’t leave me yet.  I have more and it’s better, I promise.

I could go on endlessly about my grand-children, or missionary son, or my 30 year marriage, or preaching, or my favorite sports and sports teams and individuals, or summer church camp, etc, etc.  I could go on and on and on with a lot of different things that I am passionate about.

But why is it, and I am guilty of this also, why is it, that the one thing, that Jesus considered the most important thing is for the most part, the least important thing and the one thing that possesses the least amount of passion for many Christians, and that is (we need an echo chamber here for emphasis), EVANGELSIM…LISM…Ism…sm…m!”  The echo really adds emphasis doesn’t it…LOL!

Where’s your passion, Christians?

Do you remember this?  Watch the video.

Instead of Clara hollering, “Where’s the beef?”  Imagine someone who is not yet a believer and follower of Christ crying, “Where’s the passion?”  There are a lot of people that do not respect Christians and are not listening to our message for a number of reasons.  One of the most significant reasons is that we don’t seem to have passion about Christ and the Church and Christianity.

If you think I mean by passion, a super- expressive way of presenting a message or making a point, like some preachers, or exciting speakers, well, that’s not necessarily what I mean.  A lot of people are not that way, don’t have expressive manners.  Passion may not be extreme emotional expression.  But it is a fire with in you.  Is Jesus everything to you?

I know there’s a lot here, but this IS important.  Read, or reread this post from 11/22/2009, and return for more;

Your passion is what you put your heart and soul into.  It’s not that when I do something, I do it all the way, or I put my best into it.  I do a job and I put my best into it, not because I am passionate about the job and the work involved, but because as a follower of Christ, I put my best into everything I do.  Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be,” Matthew 6:21 NLT

Whatever is important to you, whatever has captured the desire of your heart, you’re going to invest in.  I love guitar and invest a lot of time, effort, and money into it.  I have a treasure there (I do have to guard it to keep it from becoming more important than Christ, Church, family, etc, so that it does not become idolatry.  Priorities you know).  What about my passion for Christ?  What have I invested?  The question begs to be asked, how do I come to have a passion for my Savior?  More than gratefulness, but that I want to invest my life into Jesus Christ.

Let me help you with that very quickly.

1st – Let Christ build that desire in you.  The Bible is where you get to know Christ and the primary source for building your relationship with him.  Live in the Gospels for a while.  A month, a year, several years.  Search out who Jesus is and how Jesus relates to you and is in your life.  As I’ve heard said from pulpits and Bible classrooms, “Fall in love with Jesus.”

2nd – Get to know Jesus through the lives of faithful Christians.  Listen to their testimonies, talk with them about their relationship with Christ and learn how it is applied in their lives.  You will probably pick up a dimension or two that you hadn’t figured until you see it lived out or hear about.  Also, read or listen to testimonies (here is one source for these types of testimonies;  Learn from others.  Maybe their fire (passion) for Christ will ignite yours.

3rd – Pray about it.  Ask God to fill you up with that passion.  It’s simple.  Ask in your words.  Talk to God believing and expecting, but don’t put any conditions on your request or develop the way you expect it to happen.  Let God do it.  God will answer and fulfill your request in his way, according to his time, and the way that is best.

4th – Begin to serve and follow and do the things of Christ.  Help the needy.  Go on a missions trip to serve the lost.  Be a servant in your church.  The possibilities are endless here.  Read Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats,

Bye for now.  May the fire for Christ burn deep and long and hot in your life.  That is my prayer for all of us.


Guitar Giveaway

I found an interesting and incredible guitar company, Rittenhouse Guitars.  On December 24th, they will pick a name and give a guitar away.  I hope to win an S-model in gold, mildly relic’d.  I plan to increase my playing skill and use it for praise and worship mostly.  Go to their website to see the 6 different ways you can win.


Wally’s Restoration

If you know me at all, I am a guitar freak.  I have loved the electric guitar ever since I can remember and I am always looking for deals.  Not like a $4000 Gibson Les Paul for $3000, but a very used instrument that needs a bit of restoration.  It doesn’t have to be old even.

One of the best deals I’ve ever come across was a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Firebrand that I pick up for a measly $250 at a pawn shop in downtown Moberly, Missouri.

It was beat up! Not only had it been played and played a lot, it had been played hard, and it appears, probably in a bar band.  It had nicks and chips and finish wear and buckle rash on the back and pick gouges on the front.  The nickel plating on the bridge and tuners was completely worn away.  The tuners were fatigued from almost 30 years of play and wouldn’t stay in tune.  The bridge saddles were worn so it wouldn’t intone correctly.  This old guitar that I called Wally (the body and neck were made of walnut), had a unique tone, very warm.  Very good for blues/rock, jazz and classic rock in particular.

I took Wally home and began my process.  I played Wally for a while, becoming familiar and comfortable with him.  In the process of handling and playing, I was able to know what needed to be done with Wally.  I replaced the tuners because the others were shot.  I replaced the bridge saddles too.  I cleaned the volume and tone controls and the pickup switch with contact cleaner, tightened a couple of screws, leveled the frets, oiled the fret board and cleaned the guitar (there was a layer of cigarette smoke on it).

With a little tender love and care, Wally was once again a useful guitar that when played by someone who loves guitars and music produced a beautiful tone.  At one time Wally had been used to play music that did not glorify God and maybe took away from God’s glory.  But now, Wally was played to glorify God.

I didn’t refinish Wally, that was a part of Wally’s character.  I only replaced the parts that didn’t work right.  Wally’s character marks were still there as if they were scars from a previous life before restoration.  Wally was a great looking and sounding guitar.

Until it was bought out and morphed into a Facebook page, for several years I moderated the guitar discussion forum of the Christian Music Place.  There I encountered a couple of Christian snobs.  They believed that no Christian should ever buy a guitar that was used in playing secular, non-Christian music.  In other words, it was the devil’s instrument.

I 100% disagree.  And I openly told them so and they didn’t get it.  I believe in restoration.  That is what God is about.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” Psalm 23:1-2; “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” Psalm 19:7; “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” Psalm 51:12.

God restored Adam and Eve after they sinned, God restored Samson after he sinned, God restored David after he sinned.  God restores the repentant believer, whether they are coming to him for the very first time, or like Adam, Samson, David and others in the Bible, returning to God after having fallen away in sin.  God wants to restore the life that he gave in the first place.  That is a primary theme from the time sin entered the world to God’s final redemption of the world when the end of time takes place.

Wally is symbolic of this restoration.  As sinners we bear the marks spiritually of sin.  Scars, injuries and wounds that we know in our hearts and minds and God sees in our soul.  When we come to God, or come back to God with repentance, seeking his forgiveness (and he is faithful and just and will forgive – 1 John 1:9), the wounds are healed and scars like the one on my hand from whittling with my scout knife are there.  The scars are there, but healing has come and God has restored us to a right and righteous relationship with him in Jesus Christ.  Wally has the marks of a former time when he was used and abused as someone played music with him in bars.  But he has been redeemed and restored and is used for a different purpose, to be played to praise God.