Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, guitar blog

Guitar Blog

Guitar Blogs, the idea of a Guitar Blog for some people I have met seems a little unusual.  In fact any type of blogging seems crazy to some people.  So I thought Im’d write a small article on why on earth it is important to someone like myself.

Some people consider a Blog as strictly a diary that is in a digital form on the web, and yes that’s /a valid interpretation of a blog but it is only one vrsion of the blog ‘truth’.   I have reasonably high level web skills, because I teach web development for a living, so apart from being a user of web technology, I’m also a teacher of it.  I became interested in Blogs for one simple reason.  People and students that I had ,met were all wanting some sort of web presence, some sort of online place to show what they had.  As I was teaching web design at the time, it seems too complex a challenge for people with limited computer and web skills to put all the pieces together and create websites. Easy if you know how of course.  When I noticed wha was happening at Blogger/ Blogspot (now a Google baby inh the same way that youtube is) I decided it was easier to teach how to use an online Web Application than go through the ins and outs of web development, both the client side and what’s happening at the other end.

So here’s what convinced me about doing Guitar blogs:

The content can easily be updated on a regular basis without having to rebuild or add pages to a site.

It displays in a chronological order, newest content above the oldest.

I can add video, audo and images simply

There are multiple tools for doing specific tasks.

Minimal maintenance.

I can write any content I like and have it fit comfortably into the template.

So instead of writing about my dog, what i had for dinner, what’s the latest at the movies I write specific articles about guitars, acoustic,  blues, fingerstyle, how to play scales, I add youtubes, tips on how to be a better guitar layer.  So really when it comes down to it,’guitar blogs are the obvious solution to what I wish to do, which is, share the information that I have learnt over a 38 year period of plying guitar.  And I still love it as much as when I started 38 years ago when I was 14.

don’t underestimate the content in the articles, there are many here if you click back through the calender on the side bar.  And if you want to see my other very cool blog, go there as well.  The Guitar Player

Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, learning guitar, MUSIC

Learn Guitar Warm Up Exercises

Guitar warm up exercises can be extremely annoying if you approach them from the wrong angle, with the wrong attitude. And when it comes to wanting to achieve anything, attitude is everything.

warm up guitar exercise

 I have uploaded a guitar scale / exercise that is very useful if you need to warm up quicklly before performing or if you are just starting out, it’s good for strengthening the fingers and getting comfortable with the fretboard.

Most players have a lot of trouble using their 3rd and fourth fingers (ring and pinky) when they start out. In fact, even some  great players don’t or didn’t use their pinky.  Leslie West, the truly brilliant sounding electric guitarist that played with Mountain in the seventies didn’t use his pinky, and I read in a guitar mag a few years back that he had regretted it.  Regardless of his feelings, I and many others are quite satisied with his Nantucket Sleigh Ride.  Also, I was shocked to see Santana in the seventies play and barely use his pinky.

But, using all the fingers available on the fretting hand is a good idea.

In the exercise:  play the open string. then first fret, second fret, third fret, 4th fret and then move to the next string and repeat the sequence. You’ll notice that when you hit the 3rd string, you’ll only need to play open, one, two and three.  And then return to the previous sequence for the final string.

The secret to playing this exercise PROPERLY, is by holding down the PREVIOUS finger as long as possible.

Once you go up the neck, then play it backwards, work back down.  Where a lot of players go wrong is they try and play too fast too soon and don’t worry so much about clarity and timing

Most important RELAX your hand

 To download the printable version How to practice guitar warm ups

for more exercises go the the-guitar.net

Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, learning guitar, MUSIC

Guitar Secret – Playing guitar duets

I remember a few years ago reading a great quote by a famous musician, it went something like, ‘the only thing more beautiful than one guitar is two’. 

Apart from the aural beauty of the sound of the guitar for the listener, there are also a number of other benefits for the player of the instrument.  Throughout my guitar life I have played in numerous guitar duets; these duets were for me, more beneficial than playing with a lot of other larger musical line ups.  The reason for this is because of the nature of the guitar, it’s flexibility in the roles that the player needs to take on and the broader opportunity for experimentation.

Most musicians would have probably realised that the more instruments there are in a musical group, the  ‘tighter’ the playing needs to be, as  many of the musical frequencies will be covered by the other instruments.  There is lot less room for the player to work in when playing in a larger group setting.  And by ‘tighter’ I don’t mean being stricter with the musical basics such as timing, I mean less adventurous with your harmony and chord voicings for fear of clashing with the other instruments.

Playing in a guitar duet will give you the opportunity to play all roles; you get the chance to play melody, to phrase it just the way you like, or play a harmony or some type of counter melody, to be the soloist or accompanist.  By having just two guitar players playing a few sets per night, you very quickly realise that there is a need for diversity in your repertoire.  This will really force you to dig deeper and develop a lot of different ways to play accompaniment, such as arpeggios,  moving bass parts, fingerstyle as well as plectrum rhythm parts (if you are not just playing classical), maybe more percussively or very openly.  And something else that you probably will find yourself doing as your playing gets stronger, will be playing solo arrangements of tunes.  As I’ve said in previous posts, when working with a singer I learn to play all the songs solo, meaning a complete guitar arrangement of the tunes.   This is a very nice way to start some songs and build them, one guitar begins and will hold it together by themself and then the other one starts later and it turns into a duet.

Guitar duets don’t necessarily need to be complex, they  can be very simple and still be effective, they seem to work in any style at all.  It is a great way to learn to create complimentary musical parts.  I highly recommend working in a guitar duet for some period of your musical life.

To name a few of the great guitar duets over the years have been:

Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn
Larry Corryell and Philip Catherine
Pat Metheny and Jim Hall
Strunz and Farrar
 John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner

But my favourites ones have been the ones I’ve played in with two of my good friends Bill Stewart and Robin Chambers.

Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, learning guitar, MUSIC

The best time to Play Guitar

I find that different times of day are suited for playing certain things.  Over the years I’ve noticed if I get up early and start playing, it’s a very good time to practice things like slow exercises, reading very simple fingerstyle/classical guitar pieces.  By doing this it sets me up for the rest of the day to play other things musically.   By playing simple material it enables me to play with greater feeling because I don’t have to think so much about technique aand if the material is good and musical sounding it puts me into a calm mood.  When players are relaxed they play their best.  If  I start with complex material it can create a feeling of frustration, I consider very important to feel good about practicing and not feel like I’m a workhorse with a goal that I may never reach.

 Once I’m comfortable I’ll eventually start working through more complex or new material.  Because I have already got some satisfaction  back from the music, I don’t feel so bad if the new material isn’t quite as good as I want it to be or if I’m not feeling as if I can’t play the more complex music to the standard I had hoped for.

As the sun goes down I like to sit outside on the balcony and play ten or so instrumentals and sing for a while, I’ll often do this til the mozzies get to the point where I notice them.  I find it very important to play outside whee there’s trees, and from where I sit I can see hills and small mountains, usually a lot of birds singing.

My favourite time to play is about nine thirty at night, the world is starting to be quiter then , the air seems better acoustically and because my fingers have done some music throughout the  day the music is very alive.  I also find this time of day and later is the most suitable for recording, the world is much more sensitive at these hours and it’s easy to become lost in the music.

 When I used to work more live, I found it difficult to get up early and play because the playing late leaves you in a very different emotional state. 

To sum this up, it’s the ability to create the right mood to do music that is the most important thing. If we get it wrong and not happy and get frustrated, it’s easy to lose interest, this is a very important thing to consider.  It’s not just about picking up an instrument and playing, it’s about creating the necessary environment to get something back for the time we are putting  in.

I’m wondering what other players do.  Why not leave a comment?

Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar, art, MUSIC

How to get through a musical slump

Every guitar player or artist goes through slumps.  Slumps are times when we’re not feeling creative, when we wonder why we are doing what we are doing, the creative juices are turned off and we think about giving it all away.  Like everything, we can approach it from a negative mindset or apositive.  Ultimately the creator within ourselves is screaming to get out, to make the most beautiful music possible and experience the emotions that come with that.  We humans are emotional beings, ‘feeling junkies’ that want to get the right sensations running through the neuronet in our brain, or sometimes we subconsciously go for sensations that are lesser than what we really want but we have developed patterns that seem to lock us into an endles loop.  And it’s also been said many times that we are creatures of habit. So here we have three major aspects of ourselves that are driving us. 1. We are creative beings 2. We are emotional beings and 3. We are creatures of habit. 

Where this article is leading to, is a place where we can look at the slumps and turn them around into something that is useful and not something that is undermining our desire to create and sabotages our music or artform.

I like to think of a musical slump as a time to look at what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and how I can do it differently. In a slump, we are often looking for or in need of inspiration.   If we are always listening to music, maybe it’s time to stand back, turn the music off, maybe our ears are on overload or have become numb and insensitive.  Or another choice is to listen to and explore other styles, it’s very easy to get caught in a style. I’m a firm believer that many musicians are not necessarily playing the music that really suits their nature and have arrived at the style they play by default, because it was fashion or what their peer group was listening to, they wanted to play and just ended up playing what was happening at that moment. 

In the slump, I will often put myself into what I call the ‘musical workshop’, I’ll look at what aspects of music I need to work on, maybe technique, harmony, open-tunings, different methods of improvisation, analysing other players, playing classical guitar pieces, arrangements by other players; there are numerous things that can be done to still be IN music even if we are feeling musically out of sorts. At other times it’s better to just stand back and have a break, but if you do this, the important thing to do is to make a plan of re-entering into music and some point in the near future.

And sure enough, like the cycle of seasons, before you know it you find yourself back creating again.

 If you need some resources I have a number of them at www.the-guitarplayer.com

Posted in acoustic, Acoustic Guitar, acousticguitar

How to be a good guitarist

How to be a good guitarist?

A HELPFUL TIP

There are a lot of pieces to that puzzle.  This is a major one.   What I’ve noticed over the years is that the players that have played with a lot of other players eventually develop a good sense of time.  Some players that only ever play solo can often end up a bit wobbly with their time.  So the bottom line is  DEVELOP a GOOD SENSE OF TIME, it doesn’t need to RIGID, but it does need to be solid but with a little flexibility.  A lot of players speed up, try to avoid this.  Practice with a drum machine or rhythm track, the more musical the drum machine is, the better.  Or use some sort of drum loop. Start working at a very slow tempo and gradually over a period of times learn to play faster.

If you really want to hear some great guitar accompaniment, listen to what Tony Rice did on Hot Dawg with David Grisman.  In fact one of the all time great acoustic solos is on a song called 16/16.

If you can keep good time, musicians will want to play with you, if you’re real clever, very flash and showy but can’t keep time, other musicians won’t bother working with you, there are a lot of good guitar players out there.  Timing is everything.