Maria Taylor's 5-String Solo Journey

September 30, 2005

You started off playing keyboards. When did you realize you wanted to be a guitarist?
When I started writing songs, I decided it was easier to write songs on guitar than on piano. I’d teach myself chords and string them together. Because I didn’t know what I was doing on the guitar yet, I came up with more interesting things, whereas on the piano, everything I wrote sounded typical.

What was your main acoustic on 11:11?
A Martin OM-21. It’s a slightly smaller guitar.

How did you record it?
I’m not sure of the mic, but we’ll place it right in front of the guitar and I move until I find the sweet spot. Then I try to stay as still as I can. I record the part twice and pan them left and right.

How would you describe your playing style?
I used to play really hard, but I feel too disconnected if I use a pick. I prefer to feel the strings, so I usually wear an acrylic nail on my pointer finger to strum with now. I also take the high-E string off my guitar because I like smooth, rich, bottom-heavy sounds.

What inspired you to remove the E string?
The high-E string drove me nuts until it broke at a show five years ago. I played without it for a couple of weeks and realized I wasn’t hearing that “ping” sound. I take it off all my guitars.

What is it about acoustic guitar that you like?
When I’m recording, I always like to start with an acoustic because it has a percussive feel to it. You can hear your fingers on the strings. I find it to be a good foundation for the tune. You can probably pull my acoustic out of every song and the songs would still stand, but it’s the instrument I write on, so it helps keep them grounded.

Would you like to develop any aspect of your playing style?
I have a lot of room to grow as a guitarist, which is really exciting. I hope I can be a smoother guitar player, and I want to learn different styles. Every year I appreciate the guitar more, and I love everything about it. I love the smell, the way it feels. I love that it’s such a tangible way to feel the songs while you’re playing.

As a self-taught player, is there anything you wish you had learned early on, something you could recommend to new players?
You don’t have to strum on every beat! I used to think you always had to, but I realize now the subtleties are really important. That’s true with any instrument, but especially with the acoustic guitar. Space is just as important as sound.

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