Category Archives: Performance Tips

How to Improve Your Guitar Playing

These So many guitar players want to improve their guitar playing but ignore some fundamental things.  Here are some tips that are easily missed by inexperienced players.

  1. Learn the notes on the fretboard
  2. Learn the sound / texture of chord types
  3. Learn how to hum and play simple melodies
  4. Learn something new every day
  5. Listen to all styles for inspiration
  6. Play music not theory, it might be clever but if it sounds terrible, why bother?
  7. Learn to play slowly and in time
  8. Learn each song in a couple of keys if possible
  9. Learn to memorise songs
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others or criticise

These things may seem simple  but they are things that are highly worth considering

Tony Hogan


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Filed under Acoustic Guitar, Guitar News, guitar tips, Performance Tips, tony hogan

Guitar Player Youtube Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is a player I have been listening to since the mid seventies, he’s a magnificent acoustic guitar player from Canada.   In this short youtube video there is a sample of his playing and also discussions about his approach.

For more Bruce Cockburn check out his playing with a great Mali musician Bruce Cockburn

Tony Hogan Super Blogs


Filed under Acoustic Guitar, Performance Tips, youtube

Acoustic Guitar Fingerstyle Arrangement Part 1

Acoustic Guitar Fingerstyle Arrangement – Gypsy Rover TAB and Notation

What a lot of beginner guitarists don’t realise is many of the better guitar players have done is work on arrangements of tunes to help develop their playing and ear.  It’s not just about learning a few solos, playing a few blues or pentatonic scales or wearing the right outfit.  Being able to sit down and play a couple of dozen solo  guitar pieces is a great way to practice and get a musical response from your practice. There’s always a lot of room for variation and improvisation once you get the basic idea of a song .  And if you’re travelling around the world it’s really nice to sit in a boat in a lake a few hundred miles from Kathmandu, look up at the Himalayas and bliss out playing guitar (something I have done).

I’ve decided to write a half a dozen reasonably simple fingerstyle guitar arrangements, this is the first one.  These sort of of arrangements are also very useful for singer / songwriter acoustic guitar players who are wanting to strengthen their playing, they will help create a lot more options to accompany vocal parts and once you can play this sort of guitar it will help you to play a solo gig and play guitar breaks which consist of more that a single note solo.

What I’ve done is taken the old Irish Tune Gypsy Rover and written a basic part and a slight variation.  You might find that the melody is a fraction different to the original tune, I’ve called it up from memory and that’s roughly what I’ve heard in my head ( poet license).

Gypsy Rover Acoustic Guitar

Gypsy Rover Acoustic Guitar

Here is the Printable PDF, which no doubt you will need it Gypsy Rover Acoustic Guitar Arrangement

Here is a midi file of the tune to give you an idea how the tune goes Gypsy Rover Midi

NOTE: Midi files are not real audio recordings, they are data files, so it will lack the tone of a guitar and the human element so essential to music.  But the file size is tiny.

Take the idea and develop it.  I often work on other peoples arrangements, then I close the manuscript once I have an idea where the tune is going and I have an understanding of the underlying chord pattern and melody and other main parts.  By playing other people’s arrangements will give you new fingerings and options which you might not ever have come up with.

Next week I will write another Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Solo Arrangement

The botom line KEEP IT MUSICAL

Tony Hogan Acoustic Guitar Blogger


Filed under Acoustic Guitar, learning guitar, Performance Tips

Diversity in Your Set List = a Good Gig

Have you ever been to see someone play music and it seemed like they’ve played what sounded like almost the  same song all night?  Sound familiar?

So how to get around this? If you are new to performing you may not even realize that you are doing something a bit like that.  As many players want to get out of the practice room and into the public arena, it’s worthwhile thinking about the songs that you play, not just whether you like them but whether there;’s a good balance in what you do. 

Now ladies and gentleman, here’s blues ballad number  Seventy Three for the evening. 

No matter how good you are, or think you are, boring is boring.  So here’s a few ideas to get you thinking clearly.

  • Look at what Keys your songs are. Are most of them in the same key?
  • Do you play too many ballads?  I love ballads but too many kills the energy of what you are doing, they need to be played at the right time, they have more impact if you place them correctly in the set list
  • Are all your songs 4/4 time?  Break them up with a few 3/4 ‘s and 6/8’s
  • Do all your songs have the same type of chords, mainly majors, or mainly 7th’s if you are doing blues?
  • Have you fashioned yourself on another band or player and do too much of their material?
  • Do you only do originals?  I love original music but if you add the odd familiar song it can add a little familiarity for new listeners to you gig.
  • Do you do straight covers?  I think it’s good to turn a tune inside out and make it your own
  • Is your song list predictable?  Why not throw an odd song in here and there?
  • Are all your songs the same mood?  People like top go through different emotions.  Make the audience laugh and cry?
  • Do you communicate with the audience? You could always play the whole gig with them shut.
  • Do you try and show off in every song just how brilliant you are? Don’t play everything you know in one song. Space it out a bit and add the element of surprise.
  • Do you play with the same instrument all night? Swap instruments, maybe some nylon string, 12 string etc, Even mandolin is nice.  I play a Balalaika ever now and then, people call it falafel music and the girls start bellydancing… this IS cool
  • Do you only play fingerstyle picking?  Play some rhythmic stuff and some plectrum guitar if possible.

If you have given it your best shot, tried your best and followed the above, if people aren’t happy at the end of this…they may never be happy and this is not your problem.

OK, when I sat down at my computer I had planned to post about something else but we ended up with this and it’s vvery useful…you don’t necessarily have to follow the above but at least it will get you thinking.

If you have about 2 minutes to spare, please do the Survey so I can develop my sites even further.

An interesting thing I’ve found out is very few players that have responded to my survey subscribe to guitar magazines.  Maybe it’s the thrill of finding it in the news stand

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Filed under acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, Busking, MUSIC, Performance Tips