Dear Nigel Hendroff

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This is an open letter to Nigel Hendroff

Dear Nigel,

Hope everything is going well in Australia. Iowa is just happening as it’s always been. I know you’re probably jealous of our miles of prairie, pigs and our sub-zero winters, but you will just have to learn to be content with the outback, wallabies and beaches.

I feel like I owe you thanks. I don’t know what it’s like in Australia, but in some churches in the US there used to be real hesitation about electric guitars in worship. I think it was because a lot of players (myself especially) hadn’t figured out how to use the electric guitar in a way that would promote and inspire worship. I usually used too much gain. My voicings were inappropriate. It took me too long to figure out what dotted eights were. Often, my guitar was as awkward as a teenager.

Then I started listening to you. I started to think different about how I was playing guitar. I started listening to the other musicians more and concentrated on how I would fit in the mix. You pointed the way to playing guitar in a church setting. Thanks for being a good example of musicianship in the context of praise and worship.

It’s really easy for me to let the influences of other genres seep into my playing. This isn’t always bad, but if I’m not careful I start to get off center. What works on guitar for other genres won’t necessarily work for me at church. Sure, some techniques and tricks can be adapted for church and that can be the inspiration for some really interesting moments. In order for this to work, I need to have a clear example in my mind of what does work in church. You provide that for me. Your parts always serve the song and fit well with the other musicians. Having your example helps keep on track. Whenever I start to experiment with something I just ask myself, “How would Nigel do this?”

You have a great ear for counter melody. I’m always pleasantly surprised by a lot of your parts. For instance, take the song “You Deserve.” I recently was playing this song at a youth conference here in Iowa. That little riff you have in the pre-chorus is genius. Every time I play that song I keep asking myself how you came up with that.

I don’t know if this is out there already, but I would love to hear the story about how you got saved.

Your pedal board is pretty inspiring. I remember when I first started playing and I think I had a Crybaby, a Rat and a Line 6 DL4. I had some other friends that had PODs and other modeling units, then I saw a picture of your pedal board. My life was changed forever. At the time I didn’t know what half of the stuff was and couldn’t even imagine what you were using all those pedals. Now, I’m much wiser and know that there is no way you could get through a worship set without every single one of those pedals.

Could you maybe lay off tremolo picking for a while? I’m not saying it doesn’t sound cool. It’s a guitar texture that fits in the mix really well. It’s just that…it’s kind of done a lot. My wrist starts to get tired after a while and then I can’t play it evenly and everything slowly falls apart. I would appreciate it. Thanks.



PS I’m an American and we really don’t use the word “cheers” over here. I just used it because the only Australian I have ever met used it once, so I’m just assuming that all Australians use it. If I sound like an ignorant American, I promise, it’s only because I actually am an ignorant American.

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