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The Staunton Lick
March 1, 2014 4:18 AM   Subscribe

"This is basic plucking... or... The Staunton Lick. Hold down the chord of C...pluck a fretted bass string with the right hand... and pluck the first, second and third string altogether with the right hand."
posted by panaceanot (41 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Will always hold a special place in my heart as the final song of the final episode of the final season of Spaced!
posted by NervousVarun at 4:33 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


Previously from 11 years ago.
posted by ardgedee at 5:01 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Licking the wallpaper, man.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:13 AM on March 1


That was great, quark (No. 1 son) and I just had a nice dance around the living room to it. Cheers.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:02 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Same place I remember it from, NervousVarun. Always loved Homage to Patagonia on the same album.
posted by adrianhon at 6:14 AM on March 1


No matter what guitar you have, the nut position C chord will always sound quite badly out of tune. As demonstrated here.

Unless perhaps you buy one of these; I've never played one.
posted by colie at 6:23 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]




Is there some context here? A youtube vid of your favorite mellow electronic tune?
Is this plucking an actual thing? The references all go back to this song.
posted by Big_B at 6:28 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


You can also try to play that C chord in tune on these, if you think it sounds bad on normal guitars.
posted by thelonius at 6:38 AM on March 1


Great to see these alternative guitar neck companies doing well, considering that their target market consists entirely of Steve Vai.
posted by colie at 6:46 AM on March 1 [11 favorites]


5 elements.
posted by DonnyMac at 7:14 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I always liked Ramblin' Man, myself.

Their website says not dead, but sleeping so I live in hope of another album one day. (Although I found '64-'95 a bit unapproacahable: "This is our new album, it's not like our old album.")
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:37 AM on March 1


Is there something that makes this track notable?

I mean, it's enjoyable enough for what it is, but it's nothing especially unique or interesting on its own. I think it would be bad for MetaFilter if "post a song you like" became a legitimate basis for an FPP.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:53 AM on March 1 [11 favorites]


No matter what guitar you have, the nut position C chord will always sound quite badly out of tune.

I never knew that! (Which probably says something about my ear.) I'm tempted to ask what open chords (if any) have better intonation-?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:48 AM on March 1


This thread takes me back, thank you all.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:09 AM on March 1


I like the 404 from the eleven year old previously link. This is first time I've actually heard Lemon Jelly and I'm loving them.
posted by Roger Dodger at 9:14 AM on March 1


what open chords (if any) have better intonation?

The frets on a guitar are even more of a compromise than keyboard instruments in terms of equal temperament because their spacing doesn't take into account the density differences of the strings or the distance the string moves when you hold it down. So to be honest everything sounds a bit wrong once you start listening for it. We've all had our ears trained for equal temperament for so long that it's hard to notice, but cheap guitars highlight these issues a bit more.

I think open A and D and E might sound a bit better because it's the thirds that cause the problem. C is voiced 1-3-5-1-3, meaning you have that troublesome third right in the middle of the sandwich and then again higher up with potential to clash again; whereas A, D, E are voiced 1-5-1-3, with the third only represented once in E and D, in a higher register rather than muddying it all up in the middle there. Lots of guitarists also play open G with a finger muting the low third (on the A string) for this reason.

Guitarists intuitively solved this problem in rock by playing 'power chords' that are just 1-5 or 1-5-1 of course. But what I only found out recently is that power chords (boosted by the heavy distortion favoured by rock players) in fact do give off a pretty powerful major 3rd harmonic in a high register. So you get a 'just intonation' major third in your ears even though the guitarist isn't fretting it, due to the major third's position in the harmonic series.

I can't find the book, but musicologist Philip Tagg explains all this and refers to the massively valve distorted power chords (he uses ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man as the example I think), where you clearly hear that third floating above the comically chunky chords, and also in the 'pinched harmonics' of guitar solos that have been out of fashion since the 80s now. Tagg claims that playing a power chord on a piano only sounds realistic if you add a major third (played quietly) in a much higher register above the 1-5 chord.
posted by colie at 9:19 AM on March 1 [32 favorites]


colie, I could not have hoped for a better answer! Cheers!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:43 AM on March 1


Yes, tuning a guitar is a bit trickier than we learn as beginners. Certain common practices, such as tuning to a single chord, or tuning one string and then tuning all the others to it by the harmonics, are downright wrong. There's a good pdf at the wiggly fret guitar link that goes in to some of this.
posted by thelonius at 10:00 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


How much do intonation-compensating nuts like these help?
posted by wires at 10:16 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


colie: Unless perhaps you buy one of these

My first thought on seeing those frets was that they look like railroad rails distorted by an earthquake.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:18 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


It used to drive me crazy when I reached the point my ear was good enough to hear the problems with guitar intonation that colie describes. At first, I literally thought I was losing it. It was a huge relief to learn all that harmonic dissonance I could suddenly hear when I played was really there.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:26 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


This amazing video shows a guy playing Hendrix on the 'meantone' fret system... this fret layout looks even more extreme and cool.
posted by colie at 10:30 AM on March 1


I thought that there was going to be more to this post, but there isn't and I'm happy with that, and all the ducks are swimming on the water :D
Meta-filter sometimes it's there to remind you of great things that make you smile :D
posted by Dr Ew at 11:41 AM on March 1


How much do intonation-compensating nuts like these help?

Good question! Sure looks cheaper than a new neck.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:42 PM on March 1


I think people selling alternative nut and fret setups may well be onto something, however most of us actually experience our guitars going out of tune even by the standards of equal temperament most of the time, and could achieve a lot by sorting that out first.

I have found that it makes a lot of difference to staying in tune if you sort out a few things, which don't get mentioned as much as they should:

- Strings will slip on the machine head posts if you don't wind them on properly, especially if you are an aggressive player or bend a lot. They need to overlap themselves to form a tight knot and have a decent amount of string wound around the post.
- If your guitar is sub-400 pounds or so, it will probably have cheap machine heads and you can easily swap them out without drilling, for the best machine heads, maybe 50 pounds.
- Put some graphite shavings from a pencil lead on the parts of the guitar where the strings are anchored (that's the nut and the bridge).
- Use slightly thicker strings if you can.
- Change your strings before they turn black.
- Make sure your guitar's neck is actually straight. Adjusting a truss rod is nowhere near as scary as we usually think.

And for tuning, I use an iPhone app before my ears!
posted by colie at 12:58 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Put some graphite shavings from a pencil lead on the parts of the guitar where the strings are anchored (that's the nut and the bridge).

Note to self: check entire life with MetaFilter people. They have tips.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:04 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


I found '64-'95 a bit unapproacahable

That's a great album. I especially like the last track, Go, because it has spoken-word vocals by William Shatner. Everyone makes fun of his musical career but I think this track proves all he ever needed was a good backing beat.
posted by foobaz at 1:18 PM on March 1


This song (and other Lemon Jelly tracks) has been on my running iPod going on 8 years now. I know it backwards and forwards, every element picked apart and anticipated.

They are masters at taking a simple theme and creating a compelling 4 minute song without losing my interest, which has been a huge influence in my own (terrible) songwriting.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 1:47 PM on March 1


I second "Ramblin' Man".
Got excited for a minute because I thought this post was about a new Lemon Jelly album, and I'd just been thinking the other day that it's been a while.
posted by uosuaq at 2:48 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


> And for tuning, I use an iPhone app before my ears!

I recall an interview with Don Was, about producing Brian Wilson's comeback album. Most of the interview I forget, but one of the things that stuck with me was that he said Wilson insisted that musicians to tune to each other's instruments by ear, rather than to a digital tuner, because the subtle dissonance added richness to the sound.

Also -- I like most of Lemon Jelly's stuff, but 64-95 always left me cold, for whatever reason. I think part of the problem was "The Shouty Track", while pretty good in its own right, ruins the vibe when listening to the album end-to-end.
posted by ardgedee at 2:53 PM on March 1


I'm a little surprised to see a Lemon Jelly post that's about a song that has no video. They've taken videos pretty seriously, even releasing a DVD for 65-94
posted by aubilenon at 3:12 PM on March 1


...I think it would be bad for MetaFilter if "post a song you like" became a legitimate basis for an FPP.

oh, please...
posted by y2karl at 5:00 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


This song (and other Lemon Jelly tracks) has been on my running iPod going on 8 years now. I know it backwards and forwards, every element picked apart and anticipated.

Me too, BlerpityBloop. Never gets old.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:38 PM on March 1


I still don't get how anyone can stand a C chord repeated on guitar over and over for five minutes.What's happened to our listening criteria?
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:32 PM on March 1


I still don't get how anyone can stand a C chord repeated on guitar over and over for five minutes.What's happened to our listening criteria?

Ha! Heal thyself!
posted by stinkfoot at 2:41 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah, five minutes is for lightweights. Five hours or bust!
posted by Bugbread at 6:01 PM on March 2


Came back to post this discussion of practical tuning issues, from a recording engineer.

So, here's the best practical tuning system that I have found. First, as stated above, learn how to put on strings right. You can't stay in tune if the strings are slipping. In fact, skip the next couple of pizzas and get a decent setup on your guitar.

Then, get a good tuner. Cheap tuners used to be kind of sketchy, but they are all pretty good now. About $100 will get you a really slick one, accurate like a strobe tuner. Tune the guitar perfectly to the tuner. Then, tweak it by ear, until a big E5 and A5 chord sound equally in tune.

The A5 chord is the open A string, 2nd fret D string and G string, 5th fret B and high E strings. E5: open low E, 2nd fret of A and D strings, 4th fret of G string, 5th fret of B string, open high E. I have to mash down the A and D strings with one finger to play this chord.

These chords use only open strings, and fretted notes that are fifths or octaves. This avoids tuning with the problematic major third interval, and, since you are naturally using the tempered fretting of the guitar, should put everything reasonably well in tune.

One thing that I have not tried is, the "sweetened" guitar tunings built into tuners like the Peterson digital strobe tuners. An extreme version of a sweetened tuning would be what they have for the Buzz Feiten tuning system, which involves a modified nut and bridge saddle intonation, and has to be done by a licensed tech.
posted by thelonius at 12:05 AM on March 3


I still don't get how anyone can stand a C chord repeated on guitar over and over for five minutes.

What are you referring to? Because that's not what's happening in the linked piece.
posted by jammy at 12:07 PM on March 3


Came back to post this discussion of practical tuning issues, from a recording engineer.

This essay partly explains why my guitar sounds so wonky sometimes.

I'm reminded of an anecdote from (I think) John Cale producing The Patti Smith Group. He just couldn't get them to sound right when he had tuned all of their instruments properly, so he eventually just ended up letting them do their own odd tunings.
posted by ovvl at 12:45 PM on March 3


When a musician with a song including lots of first position complex chords notices this problem, he (and you) can go nuts trying to get his guitar in tune.

Worst offender: Oasis's 'Don't Look Back in Anger'.
posted by colie at 1:23 PM on March 3


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