I'm Such a Rockstar

Don’t worry. After you read the post, you’ll hear the sarcasm in the title. All in the span of one weekend, I managed to:

  • Forget what an E chord was.
  • Have one of my ultra-cool stellar-hip indie low rise boot cut pant cuffs (ya, they’re bell-bottoms) hit one of my midi switches as I turned an overdrive switch on, setting one of my Timelines from ‘Dotted Eighth Mix’ to ‘Medium Swell’. And then I wondered why the drummer couldn’t keep tempo. I realized my error. But not immediately. It took me an…uh…unfortunate amount of time to figure out.
  • Pull lights up in the middle of a video. I have no idea why I did it. I just did it.
  • Sing the wrong lyrics in the first verse of ‘Blessed Be Your Name.’ In two separate services. And in one of them, I literally just made random vowel sounds to the tune. It was awkward.
  • Feel self-important.
  • End the big solo on a G. The song was in E. Major.
  • Try to convince myself that the G thing above didn’t actually happen. And it definitely actually did.
  • Totally space while following the pastor on the camera (and if you haven’t noticed, I also run the media at my home church…which means that when I suck at staffing the positions, I have to fill in on them during the message, rather than surfing Gear Page in the tech booth) because I was wondering if someday someone might invent an amp with parallel power sections, one with EL84 tubes and one with KT88 tubes. And then you could choose via footswitch whether you wanted EL84 out of one speaker, and KT88 out of another, or a mix in one, and one in the other, or visa versa, or vice versa from that. Sounds like a biasing and impedance nightmare. But it also sounds like sweet, sweet, tone. I suppose you could just get two amps; but this is beside the point.
  • Flex my musical knowledge by saying into the microphone to the sound tech during practice that the hum he was hearing was due to a reverb tube starting to go bad. Except that I said, ‘Starting to go microphonic.’ Which is wrong. I could have just turned my reverb knob down and said, ‘Sorry. I’ll go without reverb on the pad tonight, and have it fixed by next week.’ But I decided to sound smart. And sounded very dumb. The best part is that I even thought that anyone on the team would have actually been impressed by my knowledge of tubes.
  • Feel self-important some more.
  • Rail into the team for forgetting a break in a song during practice. We start the song over, get to the break, and…yep. I don’t even have to say it. The worst part is that the team probably thought I just wanted a complete solo of myself right there.
  • And lastly, managed to turn my volume knob half way down while doing the ‘Don’t-you-wish-you-were-on-stage-like-me pickup switch’ into the big chorus, and then spent the last half of the song wondering what was wrong with my amp since the volume was half-way down, rather than thinking about worshiping God or the leading of worship.

Ya. I’m definitely a rockstar. Especially on the times that I think I am. Yikes. To quote from a band who shall remain nameless so that I don’t feel stupid about quoting my man-crushes for the probably 879th time on this blog, when I already feel like I’ve probably reached a level of honesty bordering on stupidity in this post……’some days are better than others.’ Ever wonder why God chooses to use us? I’m not complaining; just recognizing that He could definitely do a better job on His own. Kind of humbling (in a really good way) to realize you’re not necessary.


46 thoughts on “I'm Such a Rockstar

  1. What more can be said… It’s a horrible thing to play a four chord song and forget where the chords go….

    I think you covered it here….
    ’some days are better than others.’ Ever wonder why God chooses to use us? I’m not complaining; just recognizing that He could definitely do a better job on His own. Kind of humbling (in a really good way) to realize you’re not necessary.

  2. Karl,

    I stumbled across your blog by accident this evening while looking to see if someone had a ‘tap tempo’ mod for a Seymour Duncan ‘Shape Shifter’ tremolo pedal. Although I didn’t find the information for which I was looking in your blog (I did find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKz1alh7bUE), I’ve spent most of this evening reading several of your posts. Thanks so much for ‘baring your soul’, sharing about the ‘trials and tribulations’ of being an evolving worship musician. I plan to encourage all my guitarists to frequent your blog.

    Thanks! 🙂

  3. Karl,

    nothing to do with this post, but do you have the george dennis vol pedal? I thought i remember you saying that you did… if so, does it suck tone? I am looking for a good vol pedal, that doesn’t change my tone… thanks, Ryan

  4. I think you’ve found your place in the Kingdom as an exhorter by way of making people feel better by reading about your mistakes. Reading these does make me rather happy, but then I recall that feeling I had when I’ve made similar mistakes. Such as this morning when I wasn’t paying attention and managed to play an Eb when the chord was an E. Then after that, I was getting a little too excited on stage and yanked my cable from my D.I. by tripping over it.

    Haha, today was a good service, actually. Never did go to that bridge in Undignified, though. It’s nice to have a chance to throw in some stereotypical bassist slap and pop in worship, but today was not the day, apparently.

  5. Very nice. I’m always amused that all of us can relate to these experiences. Most of the time they happen during worship.

    I’ve always leaned towards the idea that God has a sense of humor and likes to see how we react.

    Like the old line “If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, look at the person next to you!”.

    As long as we do our best to help others worship,
    it’s all good. But there are definitely times when I’ve wanted to pray “God, please throw us a bone today …”


  6. Thanks for the honesty! Last Sunday our team was up and I had the small part of Lead me to the Cross. Everything was great in practice and even that morning, then it happened. I messed it up the first time around, bombed the second time and lost confidence to attempt it at the end of the song to close.
    I’m a rock star too!
    It’s great that God uses us even though we are sooo human!

  7. Dude, this is hillarious. Man I so feel this blog post. Yesterday we had our worship leader out so one of the guitarist was filling in. I went pretty good, but you gotta love it when your doing a simple melody, and you fat-finger a note, look over at the bassist, and he is about to fall over from laughter, and the second verse and you fat-finger that same note again into a high pitched squeal… he’s still laughing. And also F#m and E are not the same chord, even when your fingers think it is. 😉

    All in all, I tell you doing worship music is so much harder than having a band and doing gigs that way. At least in my opinion, there is so much more flexibility that goes into the songs, and there is much more at stake. But all in all you do have good days and you have uhm… lets try it again on Wednesday days. But like you I am very humbled to be hand picked by God to do this fun job for his glory.

  8. Sal–lol Absolutely!! Although, to be fair…I think the song I did that in had five chords. World of difference there. 😉

    Mike Oliver–well, thanks for the kind words, and really, really glad you’re enjoying the blog! And how are you liking the Shapeshifter? 🙂

    Ryan–ya, I am currently using the George Dennis, and I like it a lot. I got it in a trade, and meant to sell it, but then realized that it actually sounded really good! It doesn’t take away the high end sparkle like the Ernie Ball seems to (in my humble opinion). If anything, it might add a touch too much sparkle…but I’m still debating about that (with myself). hehe It is active, though, and I always forget that, and can’t figure out where my last PP2 output is going to. hehe

    Colty–lol Well, I do try to be encouraging with my experiences…and when mistakes is pretty much all you have to choose from…haha

    Bro, I’ve so done the cable thing. And then convinced myself that probably nobody noticed the ginormous ‘POP’ when it happened. hehehe And ‘Undignified!’ Yikes, I forgot about that song. You know what? The last time I played it, I was on bass! And whenever I get a chance to play bass, I’ve gotta throw in some slaps and pops. Except that I’m a little fuzzy on the technique. Which should stop me. And it doesn’t. 😀

    Don–hehe I’m glad. It’d be real scary if it ended up being just me!! hehe 🙂 Which is what it feels like up there sometimes.

    TimH–wow. Great point on perhaps God having a sense of humour. I always picture Him cracking up when I start to take myself too seriously, because He knows the inevitable horrendous errors, clunkers, and off-key parts are coming. haha And I’ve definitely prayed that same prayer! hehe

    Mark–haha I know that part! The intervals are just a little different than what I’m used to, even though it’s a really simple part (but way cool sounding!). But it sounded so simple that I listened to it and went, ‘Oh ya. I’ll figure it out on the spot.’ Ya, not so much. I think I slid around to every single note trying to find the right ones. lol Glad to know it’s not just me!!

    Shane–lol Awesome story, bro. That’s the greatest, when you can look at each other and just laugh.

    And interesting point about worship music being more difficult. I can totally see that. There’s a lot more improvisation, and ya…a lot more is at stake. Great comment!! 🙂

  9. lol – This reminds me of something from our service yesterday! In the worship set we were going from How Great (acoustic and I was playing a slide part on my acoustic) to Worship You Forever (with electric intro, right!). So in rehearsal I was just planning on putting down the acoustic early and then having my LP in hand ready to go for the next song. The worship leader said he would say a few words before the song so that I would have time to switch. I said “that’s OK, I should be good”. Well, I thought he was still going to do so because he didn’t say otherwise and I waited for How Great to end so I could get one last slide in (that’s what they do on the recording rofl). Well, nobody waited and I was just plugged in and started in time for the second half of the intro.

    Oh, but that’s not the end…. 🙂 I, too, was wondering why my LP was quiet on the intro. Well, duh, it’s because I had used it on the opener with a wah part throughout and had it switched to the rhythm position with volume and tone slightly down. What is it we say here? Splendid? 😉 Not so much!

  10. Some days are dry, some days are leaky
    Some days come clean, other days are sneaky
    Some days take less, but most days take more
    Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor

    Some days you’re quick, but most days you’re speedy
    Some days you use more force than is necessary
    Some days just drop in on us
    Some days are better than others

  11. Chris–lol Oh, man. Worship leaders always do that! ‘Can you get the exact album tone on this song?’ ‘Sure, I’ll get pretty close. But I’ll need to switch guitars and change some settings.’ ‘Oh ya, we’ll make sure we say something in between songs and give you time to switch.’ And then they never do. lol That’s awesome, bro.

    And the wah thing. Totally. Anything without an led, I’ll mess it up. haha

    Kenrick–yes!! Any U2 quote means automatic comment of the day!! hehehe

  12. Karl, well, the wah thing was totally my fault. I play a POD xtLive (sorry!! 😉 ), so I switched patches and wah was off – I just had my LP still on neck pup which was turned down a tick.

  13. Chris – yea I hate switching guitars in between songs, cause you never have enough time, and then you have public display of you trying to pull the guitar over your head, hitting yourself in the head, then realizing you have your in-ears over your strap, which then yanks them out of your ears… ouch.. and then grabbing the other guitar, to switch patches… ugh, the next song is almost over, and you were the only instrument for the intro… epic fail. 🙁

    And the bass player is laughing, while slapping and popping some sweet line. 😉

    Good Times… err… Splendid.

  14. Also, I guess that is why the worship leader keeps wanting me to get a Variax… uhm no I tell him, my sweet JS1200 rocks just fine, and I can switch guitars. 😉

  15. Ever heard Third Day’s Rockstar? Great tune.
    And here’s an animated Lego video of it!!! Wonderful!!!

  16. Chris – yea, as long as the band is good enough to keep the people focused on the worship and not the guitar you should be good. 😉

    Fantastic guitars in my opinion. And if you ever decide on getting a new ibby let me know I have a guy that gives a solid price, and does a seriously killer setup on em.

  17. Chris–“I play a POD xtLive…”

    These words are strange and foreign to me. I’m not sure I understand what you’re talking about. 😉 hehe I’m sure you get some great tones, brother.

    Shane–aech. No Variax. You are right to refuse, my friend! 😉

    Chris–Floyd Rose’s ooze worship. 🙂

    Tom–hehe Wow. All I can think about while watching that is that I would never in a million years have enough patience to film lego movies. Can you imagine how many shots and little movements of little lego guys it would take for like, 30 seconds of film time? Wow.

    Shane–who’s your guitar guy? And you’re not in Southern California, are you? I’m looking for a new guy currently. I was trying to be my own guy (hmmm), but stuff like finishing and fret dressing, I really need a pro.

  18. Karl, I have a guy that I just found up here in Hemet. just got my Parker back from him. I was so pleased I gave him my baby, the Hagstrom to dial it back in.

  19. Why are those verses to Blessed Be Your Name so hard to remember. Seriously. we’ve been singing that for 7 years now, and I still mess them up! Got another good one for ya…We pulled Let Everything Has Breath out of the archives a few weeks ago. As I was reading Ps. 150 and introducing the song I said…”Let everything has BREAST praise the Lord.” Yeah, I said it!

  20. Karl, the fact that you are willing to bare your mistakes for the world to see makes you a pretty stand up guy. The fact that on top of that you’re willing to admit your sometimes prideful attitude that said mistakes make you feel stupid about is what makes you a real worship leader rather than a musician that happens to lead the church’s band.

    We all have our prideful moments, and we all make stupid mistakes (regardless of profession, too) … but I love the fact that you’re willing to talk about it. You rock.

  21. You guys rock, its so nice to be amongst real people that are willing to admit thier short comings, I am just like all of you guys.

    Karl – http://www.ibanezrules.com, the guys name is Rich Harris, and you can check jemsite.com for tones of references. You can get an upper end ibby from him with his platnium settup for just a hair over what GC or MF charges for standard guitar no setup. He has the details on his site. The only thing to keep in mind is that he is only one guy, so once you order it takes a while, mine took about a month. But once you get it, you will see why its worth it.

    I don’t know if he will do other guitars, but his site has alot of great information on how to do and maintain your guitar, and he is stand up guy when asking questions.

    No, I am in east Texas. Sorry bro.

    Chris – The whammy rocks for hitting a harmonic and doing a fade in to simulate feedback when you are using in ears and don’t have the stage volume to pull off real feedback 😉

    Or its even great to get that middleastern feel… but most… almost all worship songs don’t fit with that. hehehe

  22. Shane – thanks a ton for the links!! Going to check them out. By the way, with the right amount of gain, I don’t need a lot of stage volume for my Screamin’ Demon in the Jackson to give me some feedback. 😉 Actually one time I did pull off some pretty serious feedback with my LP during a rehearsal – kinda scared me but then I was happy! 😀

  23. Chris – back when we had stage monitors and I was playing on my 7String (all I really had at the time) we were playing Wonderful Cross in rehearsal and on the final D note, I got some really nice feedback by accident, but hey the group loved it. Stinks I never could replicate it after that. 🙁

    Although I am sure that there is, but I wonder if there is a good pedal for initiating controlled feedback? Anyone know? Its such a good mood setter when it works, like songs Let God Arise, during the versus, where you need your guitar to sustain for days, with some feedback before the next chord comes.

    Times like those you do feel like a rock star 😉 and you know I’m right. hehehe

    • Shane – before I went to the dark side and got my Pod X3 Live, I used a Proco Rat to force the feedback. It did a great job of it.

      I have to say that the X3 Live took a lot of tweaking but it finally gives me some great tone. And being able to do separate dual delays with dotted eights in 150ms and 450ms is just sugar on top! 🙂 (ok, that was just for Karl)

      • I have done the same with mine, hehehe I read an article about getting Edge’s delay (an forgive me Karl) even though he is not an artist I listen to much, I do like the dual delays, they add a nice dynamic.

        I went in an used some delay, so after that I was able to get some serious sustain, and for my feedback I usually just pull off the volume, hit the harmonic on the 5th fret and fade in which sounds just like feedback although more controlled. Its alittle extra work, but I it works and with delay on I usually can make it sound natrual.

        I also have an ebow, although jumping from picking to ebow, is not a technique I have do, and to be honest I haven’t worked on it that much… maybe I shall start. 🙂

  24. Sal–really! Right on. Do you have a name and number for him? And does he do fret dressing and finishing work?

    CC–lol That’s awesome! And seriously on the Blessed Be Your Name thing. Those verse phrases seem so interchangeable…it’s like I have to re-memorize them every time I do that song…which you’re right…has been for like, 7 years! lol

    Rapha–thanks for the kind words. I figure, the whole congregation already heard it…why not the internet, too? lol

    Chris and Shane–your comments aren’t really directed at me, but I don’t want you to feel left out. 😉 lol

  25. Shane – good point about Let God Arise and the sustain. I know that Daniel Carson uses multiple delay pedals (Karl, stop drooling) to do the endless sustsain. I believe he uses a DD-5 in reverse mode for these where he’ll hit the chord and then kick in the delay to keep the same chord going as long as he likes. He’s very fond of doing this live between songs too – I was at a conference where Tomlin was playing and asked him about some gear stuff afterwards. Great guy! He also said that he really only plays his Tele in the studio but he uses LP and Tele live. IIRC, he would also use amp feedback onstage, so he’s probably doing this in the studio too for some of those parts.

    Karl – thanks for not letting us feel left out… 🙂

  26. I had that exact same amp train of thought, only it was 6L6s and EL84s. Except I wanted it to be a combo, weigh less than 45 pounds, and have a reverb tank, a lot of clean headroom and to break up at bedroom levels. You know, like one set of tubes would be clean at one volume, and the other set would be dirty….and you could just switch them…

    Then I thought, maybe 2 amps would be easier.

    And I really don’t like plugging myself, but after wanting to write about guitar for so long, I made a blog that’s half about guitar. Though, as of right now, it’s like 100% about guitar. I don’t know if anyone here will like it, but you could check it out…


    I link to Karl a lot. And I write like Karl. What can I say, your writing style speaks to my stream of consciousness.

  27. Chris–no problem! 😉 lol And I’m diggin’ that reverse delay thing you’re talking about.

    Ben–score! We need to go into business and create that amp. My skill set includes changing tubes, fuses, and soldering! I think I’m set! hehe

    And great site, by the way! If you don’t mind, I’m gonna link to it in my blogroll. Cheers!


  28. Karl, Yeah the reverse thing is pretty slick, though I think for it to be “endless” you’d have to have another delay in front of it to repeat the note so that it’s then re-delayed. Talking about delay is confusing… 😉

  29. Chris–seriously. And sometimes, at least for me, it only makes sense to play it. When I try to explain it to myself, it’ll hurt. lol Mmm…delay.

    Ben–cool. Linked to you! Very cool site. 🙂

  30. Jamie & Shane–

    In the words of Brad Pitt in Fight Club when Edward Norton is shooting at him, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Wait!’ We’ve got talk of both POD’s and ‘not really listening to Edge’ in the same comment thread thing? It’s like an overload for my mind right now that these things actually take place. My entire worldview is crashing down.

    Oh, wait. Never mind. You both mentioned delay. Ah, all is well. I over-reacted.


    But seriously…Shane, thanks for sharing the delayed technique on feedback. Love it. And Jamie…are you cascading dotted 8ths into each other? In that way, are they both working as dotted 8ths, or would one be working as a triplet and another as a half note?

  31. Karl – The way I have mine set is to have dotted 8ths, and then on the other channel, its triplets, and the volume varies between the 2 channels. So what that gives me is this real nice staccato effect with pings. Ands some really nice dynamics, and I don’t have to play as much to get some really nice emotions added to the song… minimalist.

    so it kind of sounds like this.. Ding ding ding ding Ding ding ding ding. 🙂

    Sorry about the X3… wait no I’m not 😉 it just works out much easier at my church because we don’t have an Amp room, and so I can bust out a variety of tones that are 90% there. Plus its much easier to transport back and forth, although I did add a Hardwire Valve and Tube to my pedal board, because the drives on those were better for me, and gives me some flexablity… Now if I could just chain together more effects I would be set. 😉

  32. Right on! Thanks for the info. Sounds like it sounds awesome, and I love the fact that it allows you to be minimalistic.

    As for the POD, I’m vocal about my opinions, but mostly because it’s very fun to be. 😉 In the end, if it’s helping you make great music, and even moreso, great music to worship God, then that’s all that matters.

  33. haha nice … sounds like me 🙂
    this morning i got the chords for God is alive (which we play in B i believe) and some other song i forget the name of ( key of Bb) mixed up…yeah not so great. also i played the first half of free to run with my amp on standby and was wondering why my guitar wasnt coming through my ears…or anywhere for that matter.
    i felt super smart for the rest of the set 😛

  34. Anonymous–lol That was an awesome comment! Sorry I saw it so late. Yikes, I’ve been missing a lot of comments lately.

    Snarf–that is awesome! I’ve so done that. And the standby thing. haha Nice!

  35. just thought i’d read this again. and in doing so i thought it was funny that we use delay so much we don’t realize that its on when its not supposed to be…therefor messing up the rest of the band. classic.

  36. I have a contractor friend who was over at Yngwie and April Malmsteen’s house yesterday doing some work. Now THAT guy is a rockstar! My friend said Yngwie came down the stairs in black leather pants and big black boots. The guy actually dresses that way in real life!!!! He’s all scalloped necks and ham!

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