Ask Charlie…
  • Coffee or Cigarettes

    Hello Troubadourians! Years ago, when people found out that I was a guitar player, the first question was always “lead or rhythm?” Depending on my mood, my answer was either “both” or “lead” depending upon how much time I wanted to spend in that particular conversation. I was trapped either way but I knew that […]

  • Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

    Hello Troubadourians! When you read this column, it will be December (well, actually sometime after December 1…), but I’m writing it in mid-November. The publishing business is weird that way. We have to be dedicated to documenting past events and attempt to be somewhat prescient about the future. For a columnist like me, I’m usually […]

  • Take Me to the River

    Hello Troubadourians! At the end of last month’s column I admonished you to play smoothly, and that there is no substitute for smooth. So, what does that mean in terms of your playing? The obvious is to play so that your music flows from note to note and phrase to phrase. This applies to rhythm […]

  • It’s All in the Hands

    Hello Troubadourians! Yes, it’s all in your hands. It’s inescapable regardless of how much or how little money you spend on instruments, amplifiers, effects, cords, picks… or whatever else you’ve been told will improve your tone or make you sound just like your guitar heroes. The truth remains that your hands define your tone. How […]

  • The Things We Do for Love

    Hello Troubadourians! Why do you play music? Why did you choose the instrument you play? What need in your life does playing music fill? Do you ever stop to ask yourself these questions? I do. Every day I ask myself those questions and more. I do it to remind myself of the joy that playing […]

  • Picking Up the Pieces

    Hello Troubadourians! In an earlier column, I wrote about a phenomenon common to tube-based amplifiers where they have a “sweet spot,” which is the minimum volume that the amplifier can operate and still deliver a full spectrum of tonality. Some people call it “bloom” or “blend,” terms that are actually more apt from an electronics […]

  • Anticipation

    Hello Troubadourians! I could have just as easily titled this column “Story Time, part 4,” as it contains the final chapter of my time with the “White Rose” but I’ve always liked Carly Simon—she’s so sexy to see and hear—and it’s also a study in wanting, waiting, sacrificing, and finally having something you desire, so […]

  • Story Time, Part 3

    Hello Troubadourians! When last we visited the saga of the Martin guitar, I was leaving Valley Music with the “White Rose” and blown mind. I had wanted a real Martin for many years but I had no expectations of when I’d be able to afford one. It’s not like I’d never played one; after all, […]

  • The Sound of Silence

    Hello Troubadourians! With proper respects to Paul Simon, this month I’d like to talk about what you don’t play. Most of us obsess over what we do play. The chords, notes, rhythms, every sound we make with our instruments becomes fodder for analysis and critique. As a result, do we judge our music too harshly? […]