Articles from the Guitar Press

Over the years I have written lots of articles in Fingerstyle Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and other guitar publications. For a while, I was given the wonderful gift of crafting a quarterly column for Wood & Steel magazine. The folks at Taylor (Thanks, John D’Agostino!) have been kind enough to let me reprint my Wood and Steel columns and articles here. The articles in the other mags, which cover technique, amplification, transcriptions of some of my pieces, and other topics, are available at their magazines’ related sites. Please note: These copyrighted articles first appeared in Taylor Guitars’ quarterly publication, Wood & Steel. They are reproduced here by permission of Taylor Guitars for the sole discretionary use of Chris Proctor and cannot be reproduced or reprinted anywhere else without the express permission and consent of Taylor Guitars.) You can also find these articles at the Taylor Guitar Web site.

The New Grand Concerts (From Wood and Steel, Spring 2006)

The Grand concert shape started out on a napkin, at a lunch, where Bob Taylor and Tim Luranc and I began our discussion of ideas for a fingerstyle player’s dream instrument….

The Perils of the Tour– Road Dog- Winter 2005 (This article ran in the Taylor Factory Newsletter, not in Wood and Steel)

Just how does it come to be that I am presently hunkered down in the Greenstone Motor Lodge, a badly shopworn establishment located no more than 10 feet from the old highway, (before Interstate 95 bypassed it as the main tourist corridor)……

The Rules of the Road (Dog)– Road Dog- Summer ’04

It’s time to prepare your for summer on the road- to get you ready for your upcoming tour so that you have great fun, avoid the potential pitfalls that await all travelers, and come home bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Here are some suggestions to prepare you for any upcoming tour, vacation, or summer festival trip that involves a musician and one or more guitars or other musical instruments. Some items are cautionary, some are fun and encouraging, and I hope you find all of them handy………

The Right Music– Road Dog- Spring ’04

The idea of the “rightness” of any art form would drive my old philosophy teachers crazy, given the subjectivity of making such judgments. Nonetheless, we all seem to recognize, or the skin on the back of our necks does, at least, when someone gets it right. The last two Road Dogs have been about trying to list some folks who do it for me and my readers, and to describe a little bit about why…..

More Chicken Skin– Road Dog- Fall 2003

I got lots of lively responses to last issue’s Wood and Steel article listing some of my musical influences and gurus. The responses reassured me that listening must be a primal part of most of your musical diets- a source of inspiration for you as it was and is for me. Here is more of our collective chicken skin music (and brief descriptions of the reasons for your choices if you provided them)……

Chicken Skin Music– Road Dog-Summer 2003

Here’s to turning the tables. I would like to carry on about the subjective for a while; particularly the notion of what music sounds good, why it does and how we can create more of it. In the future I hope to get more specific about fingerstyle guitar music, bur for now I’m looking at the world of music in general. By doing so, I also hope to answer a pretty common workshop question: “What do I listen to for inspiration and enjoyment?”…….

A Day in the Life– Road Dog-Winter ’03

Ah, the start of a tour. We’ll leave out the pre-tour preparation, and thus spare you the gory details of watching me guess how many CD’s, books and videos to drop-ship to the beginning point of the tour and the entertaining attempts to fit my clothing and gear into the available luggage space. Instead let’s just look at the first 24 hours of the trip itself, on October 31, and November 1, 2002…..

Canon Fodder– Road Dog- Fall ’02

Let’s say that you’re sitting in a concert or workshop, watching and enjoying a cool fingerstyle guitarist. He flashes some taste and some speed, throws out some cool artificial harmonics, and bends strings behind the nut. He retunes and play some slide, shows 12-string chops which you may have never seen or heard, picks up a different guitar to showcase another tuning and another side of his repertoire, unrolls one cool composition or arrangement after another; all in all he puts on a wide-ranging and very attractive presentation, and you have a great time watching and listening. What could be wrong with this picture?……

Carpe Guitarum– Road Dog- Summer ’02

I just returned from a tour that spanned the month of April. 23 appearances in 26 days in 9 states. For the next week I’m considering changing my nickname to “Couch Dog.” But I digress… I meant to talk about the tour/home dichotomy……..

Behavioral Studies– Road Dog- Spring ’02

I performed at a festival last summer with a bunch of skilled and hard-working acoustic musicians from across the spectrum of our music world. Among them was a well-known female singer-songwriter, whose recent success has enabled her to cross over into the worlds of big radio airplay, touring with a band, playing to audiences numbering in the thousands rather than in the hundreds, and generally being a pretty big-time draw across the US and Canada. After her set I heard lots of grumblings…..

12-String Redux– Road Dog- Winter ’02

Here’s an article about a guitar underdog. It’s an instrument with a unique and musically striking voice; it has a fiercely-devoted albeit too-small band of followers; it bridges a wide range of technical demands and offers a stunning range of sounds and timbres; it cries out for adventurous experimentation and innovation; but it is largely ignored by the guitar community……

Guitar Electronics as the Key to Ultimate Happiness– Road Dog- Spr. ’01

It’s mid-December as I begin this column. The touring season has wound down, and I’m not due to hit the road until the second week of January. I have a brand new Signature Model guitar which sounds great, the Christmas shopping is done and tree is trimmed, the faithful hound is by my side, and I should be lying on the couch eating bonbons and taking it easy. Guess what I’m doing instead?…..

Practicing for Adults– Road Dog, Fall ’00

Do you know any fishermen whom you can trust to accurately describe the quantities and lengths of their catches? Around here, when a friend tells me that he caught five fish averaging around eighteen inches, I immediately assume that he caught two or three and that the biggest was fifteen inches at best. I do it without thinking, and without assuming that my friends aren’t to be trusted in other aspects of their lives and their conversational reporting. It’s just the nature of the beast…….

What to Practice– Road Dog- Winter ’01 (This followed Part I above)

My wife and I just got a dog- a seven-month old Lab mix from a local animal sanctuary, a dog with way too much energy and way too little sense. Our first task was to find out what motivated him. I thought was that whatever he liked and wanted to do on his own without coaxing would be great motivators to train him to do what WE wanted him to do, things that may not have come as naturally. We got lucky- he loves to play, and specifically to retrieve balls, sticks, and flying discs. Armed with that knowledge, …..

TV or not TV?– Road Dog- Summer ’00

I hadn’t played in Ashland, Oregon in about ten years. The concert presenter who decided to bring me back this year was impressed by my music, but also worried about the level of name recognition which I might (or might not) have with her audience after the long hiatus, and was determined to do her best to make the show a success. I was impressed with her chutzpah and energy, and promised her I would help her however I could……

Ten Tips for Attending a Taylor Workshop (Road Dog- Spring ’00)

In the fifteen years I’ve been doing workshops for Taylor Guitars, I’ve certainly evolved as a guitar player, performer and teacher, Taylor has grown in size and in quality as a company, and our dealers and workshops have taken similar positive paths. Where once our workshop attendance was spotty and unpredictable, now only massive snow storms, tornados, or other acts of God seem to be able to keep people at home. It’s been a great ride for this road dog, and I suspect that the best is still to come…..

In Praise of Small Bodies and Wide Necks (Winter/January 1999 Wood and Steel)

Guitarists who attend my workshops are generally inquisitive sorts, and ask me about all sorts of things. One of the common topics is choosing a guitar which will be the right size for the player’s needs. I have definite and strong opinions on the subject, which I’m happy to pass along to Wood & Steel’s readers.Even as I write this I anticipate hearing strenuous responses from defenders of just about every choice of woods that there is, and I look forward to agreeing with every one of them…..