This is our third and final part of our interview with jazz guitar master, Tim Bedner. It was a truly wonderful experience to listen to Tim share his wisdom and passion for the guitar, especially in his favourite genre of music, jazz. I left this experience very inspired to learn and play the guitar at the highest level I can muster.
The depth of his knowledge of this wonderful and versatile instrument is astonishing, leaving me with a feeling of frustration and hope at the same time. Frustration because I realize just how much I have left to learn. Hope because I see, that with determination, will, and desire, this in-depth knowledge can be achieved.
His playing is exquisite. He plays with style, purpose and passionate. A cerebral guitarist who plays with soul – it’s quite a rare combination. He has a vast knowledge of music theory, guitar playing theory, and of guitar-based music, even outside of jazz.
We start off the interview talking about the difference between playing acoustic and electric guitar. His take on whether a student should learn on acoustic or on electric first is quite different than mine, which turned out to be an eye-opening juxtaposition to way of thinking I’ve had for many years. Our discussion lead into more consideration about guitar-playing ergonomics. It cannot be stressed enough: making ergonomics a top priority will go a long way to prolonging your guitar playing career.
We get into a nice discussion of his cover of Birdland by the seventies era jazz fusion band, Weather Report. He then treats us to his excellent playing of this song and describes in great detail how he came up with his version.
Tim then talks about seven-string versus six-string guitars, something totally foreign to me and I was very grateful to get a thorough education in the intricacies of seven-string guitar. We also talk about various tunings and how to incorporate various guitar parts while playing. His bass playing (on his guitar) is simply outstanding and we talk a little about walking basslines.
Tim then gives us a tour around his unique and beautiful guitar, Rippling Brook that he had commissioned by Ottawa-based luthier Mike Sankey. The design of his guitar is based on a Klein guitar design. It’s a gorgeous custom-made guitar that fits perfectly to Tim’s body. Everything about ergonomics and mid-range position. His dedication to his craft is remarkable.
Tim’s answer to my question, “what makes a good musician?” and “what do you look for in other musicians who accompany you?” are very enlightening.
“Someone who listens. Listening is THE most important aspect of a good musician.” That and “understanding of time.”
Close behind those two traits, Tim looks for other musicians who understand sound dynamics and players who are team players. The kind of musicians who support each other, play off each other, and who make each other better for the experience of playing together.
I then asked him, “how does a guitar player become a better musician?”
His answer again is for the guitar player to be a better musician, he must be a better listener. To improve their playing, guitarists must “stay excited about the music. Find things that excite you and take you to the instrument and the music.”
It’s just technique; it’s about staying passionate and interested in playing. Also, learning to play with other people, in order to learn of each other. Do what you love. Interesting how the third guitarist I interview comes back to the same thing – stay interested and be passionate about your music and your instrument.
Tim then goes to talk about more about his influences and guitarists who he learns from and gets inspiration from. Humble and self-effacing, a true gentleman and generous in his sharing of his knowledge and musical gifts.
To read Part 1 of this interview, click on the following link:
To read Part 2 of this interview, click on this link: