Sunday, January 12, 2014

High Strung Guitar: Paradox (Disciple's Song)

Well, it’s the second week of the month and time for our special feature this month is the high string guitar or sometimes referred to as Nashville tuning or stringing. The Nashville moniker was attributed to this non standard way of stringing of an acoustic guitar because of its frequent use by Nashville session musicians.

To make it simple, a high strung guitar is not one with too much caffeine, but rather one where the four lowest strings (E-A-D-G) are strung an octave higher while the B and the high E strings are strung in standard. In other words, a high strung guitar is the octave set from a 12-string guitar. A guitar strung in this manner has a bell like quality and even alone sounds wonderful, but many musicians use it in tandem with a standard strung acoustic guitar.

In 1974, I began stringing one of my acoustic guitars in this matter and still have it strung this way. I don’t use it often and haven’t played it out since using it for special music at a funeral in 1989. As I was performing with two other guitarists that evening, I opted for a different sound to round things out and used it rather than my typical instrument.

My, I must use it more – as that is a long time. Probably my reason for not using it since is that I typically use my 12-string which I purchased in 1990 since I don’t often play in a group setting. There are quite a few recordings that use this technique and we will explore some of these during this week. To my limited knowledge, the most famous song using a high strung guitar is Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind”; unfortunately, I will not be featuring this tune as I have already used it on this blog.


In February 1981, I left Eastern Kentucky for Beckley, WV and the last album that I received was a promo copy of ArkAngel’s “Warrior.” I played this record to death and have already featured a few of the songs from this contemporary Christian album.

“Paradox (Disciple’s Song)” is today’s feature and features Kemper Crabbe on high strung guitar as well as much of the song’s (and the album’s) instrumentation. He also sings lead. The high strung parts can be heard near the beginning of the song. It appears that there is a 12-string in the mix – and it is a very nice mix for this song as well. The paradoxical lyrics are “before you can win, you first must lose”; “before you can gain, you’ve got to give”; and “you’ve got to die in order to live.” While it is a paradox, it is what a disciple is called to do.

I hope through the song choices of this week that you gain an appreciation for high strung guitar.





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