Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

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Adam Rafferty Tour Diary 11/15/08 – Guitar Air Travel Tactics

Alternative title to this post could be “Shame on You Airlines!!!”

Let me start by saying that if you have any brilliant ideas about traveling with acoustic guitars, I  am all ears.  I am sitting in the Prague airport, still a little perplexed, as I write.  Luckily I am here with guitars which are all in one piece and did not go broke getting them here.

Just when I think I’ve got the “flying with a guitar dilemma” licked, the ever evolving chess game between the dark forces of the airlines and us good guys (musicians) takes an unexpected twist.

I did everything by the book.  I loosened the strings, bubble packed the neck within the hard shell case, and as I have written in an earlier post – I then pack  the case in my travel case, like a good acoustic guitar student should. 🙂

I know many guitarists just show up to the gate either with a hard shell or a gig bag – and this is Russian roulette.  God forbid they tell you is has to be checked, you are in trouble – or maybe you just don’t take the flight.

This tour was pretty extensive – so I traveled with 2 acoustics, and an electric.  So, all in all thats:

2 acoustics in road cases  (playing solo, one needs a backup axe)
1 Electric in a soft case (fits in overhead)
Laptop & Gear case

Guess what?  The fun started when Swiss International Air charged $200 for taking a 3rd luggage piece getting out of the gates in NYC.   That’s just one way, folks.


And flying from Koln to Prague – I had paid for 3 luggage pieces online ahead of time – but basically that just gave me the “privilege” of dividing my 23 kilo allotment across 3 bags.  

Why must there always be surprises? At the counter I was told it would be 140 euros.  But fear not – a creative solution came…

It did not take long to figure this out –

$200 NYC to Europe
$200 approx (140 eur) Koln to Prague
$200 Europe back to NYC


That would be $600 for this tour alone if I just took my lumps and handed my credit card across the counter.  And guess what – I’m coming back to Europe in the Spring…another $400 – $600.  That could amount to $1000 or more – just to shlep a backup guitar 2 times that I almost never play.

And The Solution Is…

First off, I twisted their arm to let me take a hard shell in the cabin, and left a road case with my friend in Koln. Having another person there to pass gear off to was key!

So friends – the solution is (drum roll, please) I will be leaving lots of gear here across the pond.  Actually, guitarist and instructor Stefan Grossman put the idea in my mind so kudos to him – park guitars and other equipment junk in Europe, and travel light.  

So, a Taylor, a Yamaha Electric (Killer axe – I bought 2) and maybe a boss multi-efffects board will stay here.  I just can’t bear to pay the offensive B.S. money they want to charge.

Assuming my guitars foster parents will humidify it regularly, I should be in good shape.

I’d rather buy more guitars with the money I save.  🙂


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Greetings from The Road Again – European Tour Update 11/9/08

Greets Friends!

I am traveling once again on the good ol’ German rail system – and figured it is as good a time as any to give you a tour update.

Today I got to immerse myself in the joy of practicing.  This tour has been hard work and lots of travel – but I have really gotten in some good practice in hotels and can feel new musical areas opening up, and it is very exciting for me.

It’s something I can’t quite explain…it feels just so  darn good to work on my acoustic guitar playing!  I worked long today and yesterday on re-arranging my own tune “Shelter Island”.

The tune is not yet recorded, as I knew it “wasn’t quite there yet” – but the solutions I had been seeking popped up over the last 48 hours!  It will be “unveiled” on youtube soon.  It is a pretty, sprightly little travis picking ditty with a nice melody that just feels great and sounds great.  When the right hand fingers are firing just right….well I don’t want to stop playing it!

At some point, a voice in my head said “hey, try this slighlty different hand position” – and next thing you know, the strings were poppin’ effortlessly under my right hand.

As well, on the Bennie Wallace tour I started investigating new phrasing techniques by using “the feeling” of hammer ons and pull offs in the right places to get melodies to “lay” more the way Charlie Parker and Dizzy would phrase.  Not many guitarists use the left hand fingerings in this way.  I felt a new level of steadiness in the time and “locking” with the drums.

It’s awesome…there is always new stuff to work on, and I will never get it done.

There must be some kind of similarity to practice and meditation in terms of brain waves, or “states”.  If I am not mistaken,  the “alpha” state is our regular waking mind – and as one slips into meditation one achieves a “beta” state.

It never fails – it takes 30 minutes or so of practice for the guitar to “open up” – which is really my state slipping into another mode.  Musical solutions reveal themselves, new tunes appear and music plays itself.

And all I can say at that point is “thank you” to whomever is giving me the gems, the ideas and the music lessons from some other realm.

Until next time, be well and keep swingin’