Monthly Archives: October 2008

Guitar Lesson – Double Stops


This Guitar Lesson, although it is not extremely complex, it could take your playing into new areas if yo don’t already play this sort of thing; and I’ll just about guarantee that you don’t use these type of things in your improvisation.  What I’m talking about here are Double Stops,  basicaly you play two notes at a time.  

Double Stops can sound very musical, are great for improviisation /solos, good for playing a second part behind another guitarist who is playing chords, and also very nice to play sections of songs in solo arrangements.  They fatten up the melody line by having a harmony note and require a little more thought than just running your hands up and down the fretboard playing scale notes.

I accidentally started playing part of the chorus of old song that people sing on New Years Eve called Auld Lang Syne, so  I thought it would be good to use as an example because there is no copyright breach, most people would know it and also there’s a lesson in the fact that you are trying to make something sound musical that you probably would never play.  There is an art in this itself, to turn common melodies into something and make it sound great.  In fact Alex DeGrassi recorded an album of lullabies, and it’s a perfect example of how to arrange for guitar.  Although this is not an example of one, you might like to listen to this Alex Degrassi Youtube Video.

I’ve written the TAB and Notation for this chorus with Double Stops.  Click the link to access the Printable version of Guitar Lesson Double Stops guitar_lesson_double_stops 

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Christine Kane Youtube Acoustic Song

I’ve only recently been introdeuced to Christine Kane’s music via the Putumayo American Folk album. Her style is a blend of Folk Country.   One song is called No Such Things as Girls Like That, it’s interesting vocal line.  The story before the song is very likeable . The other is Right Outta Nowhere.


 

And here’s Christine’s Blog Christine Kane’s Blog

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Build Your Own Acoustic Guitar

William Cumpiano Guitar Maker

Cumpiano Acoustic Guitar

Cumpiano Acoustic Guitar

About 15 years ago I became interested in Guitar Making, at the time I went and did a Guitar Construction Course and in my quest for further information I came upon  a number of books, one that stood out was a boo by William Cumpiano and Jonathon Natelson called Guitarmaking.  It is so thorough I would have to say it has set the benchmark for all others that follow. 

As guitar players, whether we build, repair or just play guitar, it is worth getting an understanding on what makes a good guitar.  Playing scales, learning tunes, recording, giging is all very well but looking under the bonnet is a very healthy thing to do, the instruments you play can make a massive difference to how you play.   Getting a bit of an education in Guitar Construction is highly advisable, especially for when you buy a guitar, regardless of price range, being informed is good, you may very well be playing the wrong or looking for the wrong guitar to suit your needs.  

I recommend that you check out William Cumpiano’s site at http://www.cumpiano.com/

He also has a Newsletter available  http://www.cumpiano.com/Home/Newsletters/archive.html

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Bela Fleck Youtube Flecktones

This is the first time I’ve posted a youtube to this guitar blog that didn’t have an acoustic guitar in it but I couldn’t resist this one with Bela Fleck the contemporary banjo player playing banjo.  Bela Fleck has worked with numerass Bluegrass and NewGrass (modern Bluegrass that ventures out a little more) and he has also worked with a number of World Musicians, such as Vishwan Mohan Bhatt.  In keeping with my policy at my sites, I’m not going to stick with one style of music because it’s possible to inspired from numerous styles.

That’s Victor Wooten on bass and I’m sure it’s Paul McCandless from the band Oregon on Soprano Sax

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Al Di Meola Paco De Lucia John McLaughlin Youtube

This version of Mediteranean Sundance played by Al Di Meola Paco De Lucia John McLaughlin is fantastic.  I saw them play it live over 20 years ago and it’s interesting to see how the tune has developed over that period of time. To see three virtuosos playing together and there being enough musical glue for each of them to retain their individuality but find a meeting point is a wonder in itself.   The only thing better than two guitars is three….in the right hands.

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Acoustic Guitar Makers – Linda Manzer

LINDA MANZER GUITARS

Linda Manzer Guitars

Linda Manzer Guitars

For quite some years now Linda Manzer has been making some of the most beautiful guitars on the planet.   A week or so back I wrote a short article about McGowan Guitars and also Olson Guitars.  Canada has some brilliant guitar makers such as Laskin and Larivee. 

Linda Manzer has made guitars for Pat Metheny, Carlos Santana and Bruce Cockburn to name a few.   To check out her gorgeous guitars go to her site Manzer Guitars

To hear Pat Metheny play a Manzer Baritone Guitar, go to my other site at the-guitarplayer.com

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Playing Guitar in Time

Do you have trouble keeping time?

 Here’s some simple but very practical helpful hints. 

Keeping time when playing guitar can be caused by a number of things, sometimes people just can’t feel time, this is not usually the most common cause but if it is, and this will sound a bit crazy to some people but in that case I recommend dance lessons.  But a word of warning, dance teachers, although they can dance in time, their way of counting the beats is often very bizarre and is not the same way as a  musician would count…. But the main issue here is develop a feeling for time, a feeling that moves through the whole body and is not just a mechanical rhythm count in the gray matter above your shoulder region.

Often the issue of timing is about poor or should I say yet to be developed guitar technique, the problem can come from three specific areas (yes there are more but I’ll keep this simple).  

One is the co-ordination of the right and left hand.  This lack of co-ordination is because in the beginning stages of learning guitar your brain sort of has to split in two and multi-process the fingering of the left hand and the rhythm of the right hand.  (Left hander’s I mean the other left and the other right), while you are concentrating on one hand the other one temporarily goes on vacation.

Two, it can be from the left hand (fretting hand); an underdeveloped ability to play chords correctly will cause the player to pause for a moment while they get the fingers lined up.  This can be easily fixed by paying greater attention to the movement of the fretting fingers, in fact one of the best ways that I have used many times with students is to get them to play the chords on only the first beat of every bar, totally forget the picking/rhythm hand and just play one strum on the first beat.  Use simple chord patterns.  If you watch your hand very closely and look at the pathway between one chord and the next you’ll notice there is very little movement required to change chords, the secret to it is to relax the hand for a fraction of a second between chords, and in that moment of relaxation, visualise where the fingers are moving to.   At some point I will create a tutorial on this technique.

Three, the third issue is that the right hand (rhythm) is totally disorganised and has just ended up playing rhythm the best way it new how.  I recommend strumming simple down strokes on very simple chord patterns, or even one chord is fine.  

Count 1 2 3 4 and just play slowly on the beat counting as you go. 

Then use Up and Downs,  1     2 &    3    4 &   1     2 &    3    4 &   etc, the &’s are up strokes and then vary the pattern to 1     2 &    3 &   4 & etc and work through lots of variations SLOWLY, work with a drum machine or computer loop, not too loud, just something that you can hear.

If you work systematically with the ideas above, I guarantee that your rhythm will improve.  The main issue is that most players train and do everything at once, but it is far better to isolate aspects of guitar playing such as right hand and left, rhythm and fretting and develop these areas without have to concentrate on what the other hand is doing.

I’m reminded of the Flamenco player Paco Pena, in an interview he said “I wasn’t good looking enough to be a dancer so I took up guitar instead”.

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