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meet the Reverend Nadine

Nadine There's someone to whom I should introduce you. This is Nadine. The Reverend Nadine Charger. The first guitar I've named, actually -- she's the lovely electric guitar in the foreground. She's a Reverend brand guitar, I'm glad to say, as Reverends are well and rightfully known for their exceptional craftsmanship, sound, and value, and this one's no exception. I thought that this was a Reverend Jetstream, and that's what it was advertised as being, but as it turns out, Nadine is a Reverend Charger HB-FM, an increasingly rare discontinued model. The body of the guitar is mahogany, like a Les Paul, but it's chambered in the interior, making it lighter (Les Pauls are known for being so heavy that guitarists who perform regularly with them have gotten repetitive stress injuries!) and more resonant, and it's got a flame maple top that brightens the sound a bit. The pickups are two Reverend humbuckers. The color is tobacco burst. The combination of features makes this guitar a true rarity -- one of only ten made, Joe Naylor, president of Reverend, tells me. And I LOVE this guitar! The sound is incredible, and incredibly versatile. It's got a 'bass contour' knob that lets me get everything from classic and full Les Paul sounds (but without the 'mud' to which Les Pauls are sometimes prone) to Fender-esque twangy blues and even surf music.

And how did I get this guitar? It's a classic story of the wonders of connectivity in a network -- both the Internet and the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. I'd blogged about my lust for a Reverend guitar. As it turned out, a used one was being sold via Craigslist in Tuscon. That's a rare thing to happen -- people who buy Reverend guitars tend to love them dearly and never, ever let them go, so they're hard to find used. This one was at an incredibly low price as well. But it was in Tuscon. Who did I know in Tuscon? No one. But fellow EpiscoBlogger Nick Knisely did, and gave a call to a deacon he knew there. Nadine (the deacon) didn't play guitar herself, but was willing to get a little online tutoring from me in how to check that one is a genuine Reverend and in good shape. And Nadine very generously met the seller, examined the guitar, bought it on my behalf, and packed it lovingly for shipment to join me in the Distant East. And so the guitar got her name -- the Reverend Nadine, after the Reverend Deacon Nadine who connected me with the guitar.

Once I knew this guitar was heading my way, I actually wrote a song with it in mind -- "No Greater Love," a chorus with lyrics taken from John's Gospel in memory of Jonathan Daniels, suitable for congregational use on his feast day or that of any martyr. I've been describing it as "Peter Gabriel takes The Edge (U2's guitarist) to Taizé," and people have found that an apt description. I actually play it by hooking up my guitar to a soundboard and my Mac Book Pro, which runs a program called Guitar Rig 3. Guitar Rig lets me emulate via the software just about any amplifier, cabinet, or guitar effect I could want -- including the multiple chains of amplifiers and effects that performers like The Edge use to create their sound. It's fabulous -- a package that's not cheap for a seminarian, to be sure, but that lets a musically-inclined seminarian get and record sounds that used to take $40,000 worth of equipment to get.

To play "No Greater Love," I start simply by slapping the guitar strings so they click against the pickups. That sound is run down multiple chains of effects including some interesting delays, creating a sound that some listeners swear is a troop of drummers on congas and djembes, and that gets looped so it will continue while I play other things. The guitar part has a kind of swelling, orchestral feel, again due to effects. I'm hitting the strings all at once and in a carefully controlled manner with my fist, blunting the initial 'attack' of the notes, but starting the strings vibrating in a way that grows with feedback -- and especially with a guitar as resonant as Nadine is. I don't know how much of that came across when "No Greater Love" debuted at the Jonathan Daniels memorial lecture at seminary -- my amp wasn't really made for the task, and was very close to its limits -- but it was fun to try, thanks to the good humor, "why not?" spirit, and solid support of the EDS Singers, our chapel choir.

I'm hoping to record the song soon, at which point I'll release it -- and instrumental tracks that could be used for worship in congregations without a resident guitarist/technogeek -- under Creative Commons license, meaning y'all can use it freely as long as you don't sell it for money or claim that you originated it. I'd like to do that for psalm settings and other music I've written as well. All I lack to record is a quiet space for it, I've put a request in to EDS to set aside a bit of space for a music room, and I think it's going to happen soon. So here's hoping that "Grace Notes" will include a lot of musical notes in 2008 and beyond!

And to answer a frequently asked question: yes, I think it's funny that my guitar has apparently already been ordained while I'm still discerning a way forward, and what my next steps might be if ordination isn't going to happen soon. But hey, at least there's one Reverend in the household, and she certainly is a blessing to me! Thanks to Nick and Nadine for making it happen -- I still can't believe my luck!

January 15, 2008 in Music | Permalink


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Thank you for introducing us - I'm so glad that there is a duly ordained guitar as a foretaste of things to come...and looking forward to being able to access your music soon too.
Many blessings on the year ahead, Dylan my friend...

Posted by: Kathryn | Jan 16, 2008 6:21:19 AM

Cool - hope to hear this tune soon.

Posted by: Ann | Jan 16, 2008 12:30:11 PM

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