Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3]


Help for pickers. Give us a tip.

Related threads:
How do you hold a guitar correctly? (43)
Travis Picking - Misconceptions (135)
beyond basic chords & picking technique (29)
Guitar Fingerpicking Fun (39)
Guitar - Thumb position (57)
callous (41)
Dr. Guitar's surgery (79)
Ask Dr. Guitar (102)
Guitar: Teeny Tiny Fingers (29)
Crosspicking Guitar (57)
Instant callouses (50)
Beginner Guitar Tips? (112)
Bending Notes on Guitar (51)
Tips for teaching a lefty guitar? (50)
Plodding,Playing, Picking, Perfection (34)
Learning blues guitar (18)
Right hand help /fingerstyle (36)
Guitar right hand technique (50)
Learning to finger pick (69)
Triplet strumming techniques (20)
Rick's Pickin' tips. Questions & Answers (78)
e-groups for beginning guitar students? (2)
In its case or on the stage? (29)
Why Aren't You a Better Guitarist? (43)
Flatpick problem (21)
Folk guitar accompaniment (49)
fingernail strengthening (41)
Help For Finger (9)
Improving Guitar Skills (50)
Why 'boom chuck' on guitar (21)
Learning to play the guitar (53)
Licks, fills, embellishments? (37)
Size DOES matter..but flexibility rules! (20)
Could I play like Doc Watson? seriously. (85)
Building stamina - guitar backup (25)
Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II (101)
Help for pickers young and old. part 3. (55)
Dear Mr. Guitar (103)
Need to learn to play leads (55)
Guitar Help: Extending Reach (20)
Guitarists: Hand position and Volume. (43)
Learning guitar with a wonky digit or 2 (22)
Flat picking + two fingers. for Marion (39)
How can they play that fast? (73)
bluegrass cross-picking (11)
Pull-offs: Always down? Ever up? (18)
Pick like Doc? I'm improving at least! (13)
Where's your thumb? (49)
Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking (55)
improvising folk, blues, jazz etc. (27)
Calloused attitudes (32)
Towards better guitar tuning (22)


Rick Fielding 21 May 00 - 03:47 PM
Rick Fielding 21 May 00 - 04:06 PM
Rick Fielding 21 May 00 - 04:14 PM
Art Thieme 21 May 00 - 04:35 PM
MK 21 May 00 - 04:37 PM
Art Thieme 21 May 00 - 04:54 PM
Mark Clark 21 May 00 - 05:57 PM
Mark Clark 21 May 00 - 07:52 PM
Rick Fielding 21 May 00 - 10:03 PM
MK 21 May 00 - 10:32 PM
Mark Cohen 21 May 00 - 11:01 PM
Mark Cohen 21 May 00 - 11:05 PM
Rick Fielding 21 May 00 - 11:13 PM
Sorcha 22 May 00 - 12:31 AM
Mark Clark 22 May 00 - 01:16 AM
Mark Clark 22 May 00 - 01:30 AM
Rick Fielding 22 May 00 - 01:12 PM
Fortunato 22 May 00 - 02:23 PM
Art Thieme 22 May 00 - 09:40 PM
Rick Fielding 22 May 00 - 10:08 PM
Racer 22 May 00 - 11:55 PM
Mark Clark 23 May 00 - 12:42 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 May 00 - 06:33 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 May 00 - 06:35 AM
Mooh 23 May 00 - 08:30 AM
Mark Clark 23 May 00 - 11:32 AM
Peter T. 23 May 00 - 12:10 PM
Rick Fielding 23 May 00 - 12:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 May 00 - 01:28 PM
IvanB 23 May 00 - 01:36 PM
Whistle Stop 23 May 00 - 01:51 PM
Peter T. 23 May 00 - 02:17 PM
Sorcha 23 May 00 - 02:33 PM
Mark Clark 23 May 00 - 03:53 PM
Rick Fielding 24 May 00 - 01:02 AM
Mark Clark 24 May 00 - 01:46 AM
Mark Cohen 24 May 00 - 02:15 AM
Terry K 24 May 00 - 02:28 AM
Grubby 24 May 00 - 07:00 AM
Whistle Stop 24 May 00 - 08:41 AM
Peter T. 24 May 00 - 08:57 AM
Mark Clark 24 May 00 - 01:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 00 - 01:37 PM
Mark Clark 24 May 00 - 02:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 00 - 09:20 PM
GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 24 May 00 - 09:58 PM
Mark Clark 24 May 00 - 11:54 PM
Terry K 25 May 00 - 01:05 AM
Whistle Stop 25 May 00 - 08:30 AM
Peter T. 25 May 00 - 09:19 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 03:47 PM

I've been asked to compile a permanent thread on playing tips that might be of help to newcomers, or veterans, for that matter. There have been so many great threads in the past dealing with just about any instrument we could imagine, and it seems a shame to choose one over the other, so don't worry about the specific instrument here, all are welcome.

If you've got a teaching tip, a way to make the instrument sound better, or anything you'd like to share with others, we'll all be richer for it.

Thanks

Rick


This is a PermaThread (edited thread), used for information about instruments and playing instruments. Feel free to post messages to this thread, but be aware that information in this thread may be deleted or edited to make it serve as a permanent guide.

Click here for Part 2


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 04:06 PM

Well, since I'm one of the mouthiest when it comes to technical suggestions, I'll start it off with a couple.

GUITAR: It's been my experience that the size and shape of your guitar can make a huge difference in the time it takes to learn to play. If you have the luxury of choosing your instrument, don't go for the biggest at the beginning. Many experienced players designate guitar sizes according to the model names used over the years by Gibson and Martin. The "D" size (Martin) and the "J-200" size (Gibson) are both very large instruments, and may be awkward at first to a beginner, or someone of smaller stature. If you're carryin' a few extra pounds, they can make learning more of a chore as well.

Keep in mind that virtually every company from low-priced budget up to super-expensive, usually have models that fit the Martin/Gibson designations, and staff in a music store will understand if you ask for an "0" or "00" (smaller) size, even if your price range is a hundred bucks. They can also show you catalogues, which every store has, and that should demystify some of it.

Classical Guitars have nylon strings which are easier on those beginning fingers...but have wide necks. There's always a trade off.

Of course many folks learned on instruments with VERY high action (strings need to be pushed really hard, equalling pain) or jumbo sized instruments, but generally it's easier on a smaller guitar, 'cause you can see over the top of the body and neck where your fingers are supposed to go.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 04:14 PM

Banjo too loud when you're practicing? If you have a resonator model, take the resonator off. Inside you'll see either a square dowel through the middle or one (or two) metal rods running the length of the inside of the pot (under the skin or plastic head)

Get a piece of round dowel about a half inch in diameter, and cut it just longer than the space between the banjo rod or dowel and the head. Use some rough sandpaper or a file to shorten it so you can just fit it in between the head and rod. It should have to be forced in a bit so it will stay. Position it right under the bridge and it will cut your volume to almost nothing. You won't wake a soul up with this "mute" on.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 May 00 - 04:35 PM

When I was just starting out on occasion I'd play in what we called "a basket house" just for tips. It was hard to count on making enough for the rent let alone food. Those days were, of necessity, my slimmest on record--and I'm referring to my waistline. After a while I was able to have a guaranteed wage even though that amount was usually way too low from my point of view. (It wasn't much better than playing for tips.) Even later, I could set my own price and then have the club owners decline or accept my needed salary. (Chris was in college by then.) Still, once in a while, someone would offer me the same amount I used to make when I was playing for tips and then I would usually say, "If that's all you can pay, then you need the money more than I do ! So let's just say I'll do a benefit for you. More often than not, they would accept. I'd feel good (and so would they.)

BOTTOM LINE: Their bank balance would look much better too (maybe). And I'd be in line for another gig or 3 down the road---and the fee would be my call (maybe).

Art Thieme ;-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: MK
Date: 21 May 00 - 04:37 PM

Setups and Action for Acoutic Guitars

With changing seasonal and climate conditions, most acoustic guitars will require adjustments from time to time to correct minor fluctuations of intonation and action, due to the slight expansion and contraction of tops (between the sound hole and bridge, and the area of the top just below the bridge) and, the fingerboard. This is normal as wood is a "living and breathing thing."

Before, having a set up done by your favorite luthier, it is very important to determine the gage of strings you use, and stick to that gage for a given instrument. (Feel free to experiment with different name brands of strings, provided you keep the guages consistent.)

The setup and adjustments completely take into consideration what gage of strings are on the instrument. If you should decide to change string gages once a set up has been done, know that it will affect not only the action but also the intonation, and, require a new setup to correct any new problems.

Separate Tip:
I also, strongly recommend against bridge shaving to correct neck angle problems.

Virtually every guitar is going to require a neck reset every 15 to 25 years. It is the nature of the beast. Truss rod adjustments can only do so much. Shaving a bridge is only postponing the inevitable (ie: a neck reset), and by doing so, ensures that you will also have to replace the bridge down the road as well. There is nothing to fear in having a neck reset done to your instrument, provide the work is carried out by a qualified luthier. It will enhance your playing and apprecation of the instrument as well as the tone, and will not devalue it in any way. It is the direct (but a little pricey) route to take.
The tell-tale sign of an impending neck reset, is that the saddle has been shaved down so low over time to improve the action, that there is virtually nothing left to shave, and, your action still remains high.


Last Tip (for now)

If you have a guitar you cherish, or one that you have a sizeable investment in, or one that you simply want to keep in good shape, buy a hygrometer (measurer of relative humidty in the air) and keep it in the same room where your guitar(s) is/are stored. (Buy more than 1 if you have them all over your house. Most reputable guitar shops sell them.) You want the guitars stored in an environment of between 68 and 74 degrees F., and with a relative humidity setting of between 40 and 55%. If the relative humidity is less that 40%, purchase a guitar humidifier (ie: "Dampit" or other brand names" and refill them (wringing out the excess water so they don't leak inside your guitar) twice a week...usually during the winter months, unless you live near the equator or some place warm. Monitor your hygrometer settings on a daily basis. If the humidity starts to exceed 55% (as in the summer months) store your instruments in their cases when not being played, and in a cooler, dry area of your house. Your guitar top and braces will thank you, and you won't have to worry about cracks developing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 May 00 - 04:54 PM

When playing in schools in our larger cities (in the U.S.A.) be sure to take along a packet of Kleenex in your back pocket 'cause there will undoubtedly be NO TOILET PAPER in any of the boys johns 'cause if that necessary commodity was left there for more than five minutes it would all be stuffed, whole hog, into the interestingly hued and putridly swirling water and the commode would soon be clogged so tight that even a magical clog dance wouldn't cure the problem. I've seen many-a-school janitor (Phil Cooper for one) red in the face with anger over the situation.

Well, I guess that's better than looking flushed.

A word to the wise...

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 May 00 - 05:57 PM

Practice tuning! This is a skill we must develop to a very high degree. Do it every day just like learning chords and licks. Postpone the purchase of an electronic tuner. Start with a good tuning fork; A440 is the most common pitch. Set your instrument purposely out of tune and re-tune it as follows:

Tune the A string to the pitch fork. Do this by tapping it on your knee and placing the ball end on or near the bridge. First sound the string, then add the vibrating fork. Tune the string and listen for the "beat" to disappear.

Now set the tuning fork down and tune each of the remaining strings in turn, using the A string as a reference. Don't note or fret the strings anywhere and don't use harmonics, just practice listening to the two strings sounding together and learn to "hear" when they are properly in tune.

Before tuning a string, be sure it's already below the proper pitch. If it's sharp, crank it down a full step or so and bring it back up. Never tune a string "down" to the proper pitch.

I know this is boring and maybe even hard but you'll be amply rewarded. Do this over and over as an exercise until you can crank all the strings into proper tune in just a few seconds. Once you master this, you'll never be satisfied with the results of an electronic tuner.

Of course all this depends on having your instrument properly set up and in good playing condition.

For guitar I tune the A string then tune the bass E and D strings by it in turn. Then I tune the treble E string, again using the open A as a reference. Next I tune the B string using the treble E as a reference and finally I tune the G string against the D. If I've been careful, the B and G strings will wind up exactly in tune even though I came at them from opposite sides so to speak.

For fiddle I tune the A string by suspending the instrument firmly under my chin and bow the A string while applying the tuning fork to the belly with my left hand. I find that tuning a bowed string is more accurate than tuning a plucked one. Once the A string is correctly tuned, I bow adjacent strings together while twisting the peg or the fine tuner with my left hand. Your ear will tell you when the string you're tuning has "dropped" into place.

For a five-string banjo it's tough to use the A440 fork since there is no A string. You can get pitch from another musician or simply learn to tune the fourth string by its interval from A440. In any case the basic tuning technique is the same.

This tuning method does not require perfect pitch or even relative pitch if you learn to hear the "beat" caused when the strings are close but not together. The vibrating string produces harmonics of the primary note at most of the common tuning intervals.

A side benefit of this method is that you improve your ability to listen.

Hope somebody finds this useful. Better yet, I hope somebody has an improvement to the technique.

Good luck and stay tuned,

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 May 00 - 07:52 PM

McGrath, I'm with you on the session bit. If a participant can't get in tune somehow one of us is going to leave.

I didn't mean to say that electronic tuners are inately bad just that a student will be well served by learning to tune accurately without one. I actually have an electronic one but I never use it. I "inherited" it from my daughter who acquired it when she was young to help her with intonation on her bassoon.

The experience I've had using electronic tuners makes me think the intervals wind up slightly different when set to laboratory precision than they do when set by ear using my method. This may be one of those tempering things or it may just be my imagination. Still, I find that using the electronic tuner takes me longer and requires more minor adjustments afterward.

Keep in mind that I can get totally absorbed in the setup of an instrument. I've been known to spend days "making" a fiddle bridge and setting the sound post exactly where I want it. I've also spent large amounts of time setting up my electric guitar, to the point of redoing the setup for a new brand of strings.

It just seems to me that instruments are so much more fun to play (and hear) when they're properly set up and tuned. Unfortunately, this simple truth seems not to occur to everyone. How many times have you been in a session where someone asked you for pitch, mistuned his instrument, smiled and said "Close enough for folk music."

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 10:03 PM

Capos: The greatest invention since sliced bread!

The biggest problem I've encountered with capos over the years is when folks (who are playing with others put 'em on too tight, and in the middle of the space between frets. This will ALWAYS make their instruments sharp compared to the non capoed ones. Often the other folks will quickly retune to the capoed one, and before you know it, they'll all be way off pitch.

If you're using a Shubb capo, set it up to fit your neck before putting it on. The instructions (which on this capo are vital), often get chucked out. Don't turn the thumb screw once it's on the guitar. Place it JUST behind the fret, so that it doesn't stretch the string (which it will, if it's too tight and in the middle)

If you REALLY want to get accurate tuning, you can take the rubber off, put 'er in a vice and carefully BEND it to exactly match the shape of your fingerboard. I've done this on every capo I've ever owned....consequently I've got a dozen capos that were bent for guitars I don't own anymore!

Kyser capos (if you can stand the big ugly handle) have great rubber and are pretty reliable, but it strikes me that most experienced players still prefer the Shubb. Me? I favour the Dunlop "C" clamp (quite a cheap one actually) and have cut down a few for use on banjo or Mando-cello.

By the way, folks rarely use capos on mandolin, but if you're just learning, and have mastered the G, C, A, E and D chords, use a capo, and you can play in most jams.

If you're new at this capo stuff, make up little charts for guitar (or banjo, mandolin etc.)

Play G, C, and D on the first fret, and it becomes Ab, Db and Eb. So on and so on up to about the 6th fret. You might want to get an experienced player to make it up for you.

Oh, last thing. DON'T LOSE YOUR SHUBB!! Ah, forget it, everybody does.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: MK
Date: 21 May 00 - 10:32 PM

Once again, for everything you could ever possibly want to know about acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments, from the practical, to the highly technical, to the eclectic, with photos and descriptions galore, bookmark and visit Frets website, regulary.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 21 May 00 - 11:01 PM

Mark Clark, I'm with you on tuning by ear, but I'm not good enough to hear the open intervals (that is, I haven't practiced enough!) I use a method taught to me by John Knowles, in which you tune each string in turn to the A string: (1) Tune the A string to a 440 tuning fork. (2) Hit the 12th fret (octave) harmonic on the low E and match it to the 7th fret note on the A string. (3)Hit the 12th fret harmonic on the A string and match it to the 7th fret note on the D string. (4) 12th fret harmonic on A string matched to 2nd fret note on the G string. (5) Tune the B string to the 2nd fret note on the A string. (6) Tune the open high E to the 7th fret note on the A string.

Yes, I know it's not perfect. You have to know how to play a harmonic (pretty easy to learn), but more importantly, it assumes that the instrument's intonation is accurate enough that the 2nd and 7th frets are in the right place. But if they're not, no method is going to work. The advantage of this method for me is that you're tuning unison pitches, which makes it much easier (for me at least) to hear the beats, or just to hear when they're identical if you can't catch the beats.

My soon-to-be-ex-wife always used to rib me because I had an electronic tuner but never used it. In a noisy room, though, I went with the black box every time.

Aloha,
Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 21 May 00 - 11:05 PM

By the way, I usually found that the second (B) string was the most difficult to get in tune with this method. I often "cheated" and tuned it to the first string. I presume this may have something to do with even-tempering, or maybe it's just my bum ear.
Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 May 00 - 11:13 PM

Nope, Mark. The "B" string is a devil to tune. Every guitar is different. For many years I tuned the B on my Lowden a hair flat, or else it would play sharp on a few chords.

When you're playing in "dropped D" often you have to tune the sixth string a hair flat as well, cause the extra resonance makes it sound sharp when played hard.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 May 00 - 12:31 AM

Fiddles: be absolutely sure your set up is correct for the type of music you want to play. This includes nut height, end of fingerboard height, bridge height,and bridge arc shape. Check out different kinds/types of strings to get the sound you want. Steels are very bright and brassy, "cored" are more mellow. "E" strings are a booger to get the right sound on, so check out lots, some of us use a different brand of E than the other 3.
Spend more on the bow than the fiddle if you have to. If the bow does not have a natural action, it won't matter if you have the fiddle to end all fiddles. Good bows start at about $200, classical type soloist bows will go for upwards of $10,000!
To break in any acoustic instrument, try hanging it in front of a speaker in a way that the vibrating body of the instrument touches NOTHING, and play music through the speaker. Can reduce Break in time to almost nothing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 22 May 00 - 01:16 AM

Mark Cohen, I used noted harmonics to tune my guitars for many years. Two things caused me to search for another method: one was the problem of getting the B and G strings in proper relation and the other was the difficulty of tuning in a noisy room between sets. Using the method I describe, I can hold the guitar so as to press my left ear against the side of the guitar while I tune. This makes it sound very loud. When I play two adjacent strings, the natural vibration of the strings creates quiet little harmonics that, if you listen carefully, may be used just as you use the noted harmonics. The difference with open strings is that there is nothing to distort the note except perhaps the force with which the string is played. You want to be sure your are tuning with the same plectrum force and attack as when you play.

FWIW, here is my own theory about the difference in tuning methods. Keep in mind that I have no competence in the physics of music so I could be way off base. When you play a noted harmonic on a string, there is very little visible movement of the string itself. This means the harmonic is a function of the string pitch at very low volumes. When you are actually playing, the strings vibrate in a much wider arc. This wider arc means the tension on the string---and thus the pitch---is slightly different than the same string played softly. Using my method, the harmonics you hear are a function of the actual pitch you hear while playing. Test this with your electronic tuner. Tune the string to a precise pitch playing softly and then play the string hard and see if pitch reading has changed. I'll be interested in the result.

Rick, I suspect that is what's happening with your bass string in dropped D. The string is less taught and, when played with any force, swings in a wider arc causing the sounded note to go sharp.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 22 May 00 - 01:30 AM

Sorcha, you posted while I was writing. Your fiddle advice is excellent. Setup is a very personal thing and bows are far more important than most beginning fiddlers imagine. One should only buy a bow after playing it, or hearing it played, on one's own fiddle. Several bows should be compared side-by-side for sound until the right one is selected.

I also like your idea about placing instruments in front of speakers. There is nothing like keeping those molecules moving to improve the sound of an instrument. If you can't be there to play it, at least play music at it.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 May 00 - 01:12 PM

Thanks Doug.

Great point Mark (about the vibrating string). Remember when choosing string guages...you always give up something to get something. A light guage string will be easier to fret but as Mark pointed out will vibrate more and be harder to keep in tune.

Mike's point about not messing with the guages once you've set up your guitar is excellent advice. This applies mainly to people who are striving for "perfection" or want to get absolutely the "best" from their instrument. Ya don't have to be such a nurd about it to have fun, but A WELL SET UP INSTRUMENT WILL BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU.

Instrument buying and selling:

If you spend 250 bucks on a Korean (or Chinese, or Taiwanese) guitar, you'll get between 50 and a 100 bucks when you sell it (even if it's only a year old. Japanese guitars usually hold about 50 to 60% of their initial sale value (this has gone up a lot in the last few years)

American and Canadian made instruments such as Martin, Gibson, Taylor, Collings, Guild, Santa Cruz, Larrivee, Dunn, Laskin, and a few others will not only hold most of their value but may (not in all cases) appreciate in value by the time you want to sell or trade. Newer brands like Takoma or Seagull, may do the same thing but they'll take another 5 years or so for word of mouth to put them in the same league as the others.

The sturdiest guitar? In my opinion, the big Yamahas from about 10 to 15 years ago are pretty well indestructable. (and often sound as good as the best Martin) Guilds are built like tanks as well. The Collings instruments are gorgeous and sound fine...but I wouldn't tour with one 'cause of their beautiful finishes...too easy to scratch up.

Best, sturdiest, most reasonably priced 12 string? Gotta be the old Guilds. You can find them at ridiculously low prices for what yer gettin'. Often in the 400 dollar range. Warning though, get a neck re-set before passing it on to your grand kids.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Fortunato
Date: 22 May 00 - 02:23 PM

Good thread, Rick.

Great advice, Art about the toilet paper, it's absolutely true and valuable.

When accompaning a singer or in a jam session people take turns with the 'lead' vocal or instrumental, don't play over the vocals. Typically melody or intrumental lines are not played over top of the vocal. Fit yourself around the phrasing of the song. Comp (that is play cords or use a comping lick, eg, boogie woogie) on your instrument during the vocals, and when you're up to it play fills between the phrasing of the vocal. Learning to be a "side person" will open doors for you, it teaches you to listen to the other performers and sync.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 May 00 - 09:40 PM

For sure, some things like toilet paper , condoms, merde etc. are, some feel, best swept under the rug. But know this all:

(I have just been heavily edited.)

I just wanted to post a very helpful tip.

If anyone wants to know how very easy it can be to drill a few extra holes down the tuning stock of a dreadnaught Martin and, therefore, after inserting planetary banjo gears into those holes in order to turn your vintage guitar into a 9-string model, just ask and it shall be done.

On the other hand, putting new groove guides for the strings into the saddle of the bridge and also in the nut----well, that's a whole other can of worms. (Please pardon my imagery. I'm watching Men In Black right now.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 22 May 00 - 10:08 PM

Right now Fender are making the best cheap mandolins I've ever heard. They appear to be far superior to other brands in the 200-300 dollar range. Now don't think for a moment that it's THE Fender. Unh unh, these are as oriental as Kentucky, Johnson, Washburn and the rest. They just sound very good and have straight necks.

I've played some new Gibsons (around 6000 dollars) and some high end Japanese (2000 dollars) and these Fenders are not totally outclassed in sound.

Kentucky used to be a great buy but since they switched from Japan to Korea, the quality's dropped quite a bit.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Racer
Date: 22 May 00 - 11:55 PM

This hint is for the really green guitar players:

Many people buy guitars and either find a teacher or a friend to show them a few things. Often, this teacher or friend will immediately start teaching this musician in the making about keys, music notation, modes, scales, and theory. Then this teacher of friend will take a breath and start into resonance, and the harmonic/overtone series.

The new musician will go home and start playing his/her scales, learning his/her chords, and studying his/her music notation.

This poor soul realizes that all of this is boring and difficult. S/he gets intimidated and overwhelmed and quits playing.

Musicians who are just starting out should play what they like to hear. They can worry about the technical aspects of it later. All a new musician needs to know is how to read chord diagrams. Initially, they can pretty much sort out the rest on their own.

I'm completely self taught. I can remember working three hours a day, seven days a week for about two months on "Stairway to Heaven". I was twelve at the time. I never play the song anymore (I can't even stand to listen to it) but I can still remember how to play it.

The important thing is to pick up the instrument everyday. Get used to the way it feels, play what you want, and don't time yourself. Above all, play. If it was supposed to be work, they wouldn't call it playing.

-Racer


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 May 00 - 12:42 AM

Racer, I think you bring up some really good points. I never give a new student any theory. I draw a few simple chords that are specifically used in the song being learned. Beyond that, I'll introduce some type of rhythmic strum that's easily mastered. That's it for starters.

When a lot of us began to learn to play, there were no teachers of folk styles. Our heros were all self taught and we figured if we weren't self taught as well, we wouldn't be authentic or valid or something. The first time I met anyone who could sing and play the guitar, I asked him how he learned to play. I wasn't very old so I was thinking music lessons, scales, recitals, years of very slow progress. He told me no one taught him, he just bought a book with chords in it and put them to the songs he wanted to sing. Well, that just blew me away. It had never ocurred to me that one could learn something without going through a long, formal and unpleasant process. The good news is that he was right.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 00 - 06:33 AM

I really like that idea of playing music to an instrument so that it can learn how to sound better while you are doing something else. Whether it's true or not, it's a beautiful image. Now I wopnder would it make any diffeence what music it was exposed to. Could youirreparably damage your instrument by playing (you name it, I'm not starting a fight here) to it?

Anyway it certainly seems true that an instrument that has been played a lot seems to sound better, and play more easily.

As for capos, Kyser may be ugly, but they are the only capos I've ever come across where you can shift them around in the course of a tune, and still be in tune with other people.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 00 - 06:35 AM

Oh yes - there's a little device I've come across which I swear by now - it's called a Pub Prop, and it's a little pocket-sized clamp you stick on a table to hold your guitar (or other string instrument) steady while you're talking or getting a drink or whatever. It's a lifesaver in a crowded session. Here is a link to the man who makes them You get a few funny looks when you attach it to the table for the first time, but it's not long and you get someone asking you "where can I get one of those things?"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mooh
Date: 23 May 00 - 08:30 AM

There are a variety of ways of curbing feedback when playing amplified, including...turning the volume down (amazing that it's not more obvious)...covering the soundhole...eq adjustments...alternate signal sources (magnetic, piezo, mics et al)...moving or directing away from speakers...but here's one thing not to do...

I once saw a guy's guitar literally explode because it couldn't endure the solution to feedback. This happened during a gig, in his hands, while he was playing. The amplified explosion stopped the band cold. Seems the player had, just before the gig, filled the guitar with expandable foam insulation, somehow sealing the soundhole. The glued seams of the flat-top couldn't withstand the pressure and let go with a bang. I don't remember what make of guitar it was, but I seem to remember that it was blamed for the accident. (As you've guessed, the guitar did sound like crap.)

The moral of the story is, GET PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, and don't do anything to your guitar that you can't undo.

Mooh.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 May 00 - 11:32 AM

McGrath, I guess if the pub is otherwise closed for business and there are just a few very trusted friends about, the Pup Prop could be useful. I'd want to make sure no one was wearing shoes. I have my own protective device... a hard shelled case.

Tip for new players:
If your instrument doesn't require the protection of a hard shelled case when not in your hands, throw it away and buy one that does. Keep your instrument latched inside it's hard shelled case any time you are not actually playing it. If you are in a public place of any kind (pub, festival, theatre, airport, wherever) keep your hand or at least a foot on the case at all times. When you walk over to the bar for another pint, carry your instrument with you safely latched in its case.

Trust me on this. I've seen fine instruments lost, stolen, dropped, kicked, doused with beer and otherwise damaged by failure to follow this simple rule.

Related rule: You're not Johnny Cash and you're (probably) not on television. Never sling your instrument over your back suspended by its strap from your shoulder. That is unless the cost of a replacement instrument is not important to you.

Don'tworry, be happy.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 May 00 - 12:10 PM

As a relative novice, I have to disagree with Racer. I went nowhere playing the guitar until I started to learn even some rudimentary theory. Even knowing what keys are, that most songs have a I-IV-V7 format (or the equivalent) and that there are natural minors, puts hundreds and hundreds of scattered bits of information into order, let's you memorize songs 100 times easier, and makes it easy to figure out what a capo can do for you, and that one song shape with chords can be in another key and changed over. This is about half an hour's serious work to learn. If I had even those rudiments twenty years ago, I would have saved immense amounts of wasted time and grief. People learn things in different ways: but a very little theory goes a very, very, very long way.

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 23 May 00 - 12:31 PM

Seems like a neat little device McGrath. I'd like to be on-side with Mark on this one BUT too many times I've been lazy....and lucky.....so far!

I wish a few other folks would join in here. As mentioned this is NOT just about stringed instruments. It's to be a permanent thread showing newbies that we discuss ALL instruments on Mudcat.

Cases: You rarely see folks with the old fashioned black cardboard cases any more, as they've generally been replaced by soft gig bags.

There are a lot of different hardshell cases on the market, but if you're travelling by plane a lot you should have one of the "Calton" style. Several companies make really heavy-duty form fitted cases that (are said to) withstand anything that an angry baggage handler can dish out. They're usually in the 500 dollar range.(but if your axe costs 5000 bucks it's worth it) They're heavy though.

Just remember though that an "arched" case is stronger than a "flat" one.

Over the years I've done quite a bit of "psychological preventive medicine" in regards to travelling and safety of instruments. This may sound silly (or tacky) but I put a "Teamsters" bumper sticker on one of my cases that constantly had to go through the hands of baggage handlers. Why? Most handlers are union guys, and are probably gonna have more respect for the property that has that sticker, than a case that says "Flower Power" or "Marx Rules!"

When crossing borders and asked "what do you do?" I've often said "I sing Gospel music"! I have no idea whether this stuff actually works or not, but logic tells me that a uniformed official is going to be less suspicious of a "Gospel singing Teamster" than a "folksinging hippie!" (although personally I'D me more suspicious of the former)

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 00 - 01:28 PM

Well, the pubs and the sessions I frequent must be a lot more folkie friendly than yours sound, Mark. If I want a drink, I just hook the guitar onto the pub prop, so it won't fall over, and nod to the fella next to me to keep an eye on it. And when it's his turn I'll do the same for him.

Customs - I've said this before, but I've been advised that if you are taking a bouzouki through customs, it's best to describe it as "a kind of guitar". Customs officers aren't allowed to have a sense of humour, and bouzouki sounds too like "bazooka" - it's like joking and saying you've got a bomb in your bag. You'll likely get strip-searched.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: IvanB
Date: 23 May 00 - 01:36 PM

I "learned" guitar in my teens and early twenties (completely self taught). However I never did manage to get by the d**m F chord and stopped playing for over 30 years, getting immersed in a career and other mundane interests. Never lost my love for folk music, tho' and decided upon retirement I was gonna learn to play guitar! The first thing I did was find a teacher, in order to learn things right before I had a chance to get bad habits ingrained.

My teacher worked with me from the standpoint of working out songs that I liked to play, with advice on proper playing techniques and a modicum of theory sneaked in, almost without my knowledge. Although I'm often frustrated at my progress (or seeming lack thereof), I'm glad I started with a teacher. Yes, he even sneaked in the F chord, bit by bit! I'm afraid without his help, I'd have continued on my course of 30+ years ago and become frustrated. Now my biggest frustration is finding enough time to play everyday.

So I guess I'm agreeing with both Racer and Peter T. Although it's fun doing the things you want, I think a teacher can do wonders setting you on the right track. And a basic bit of theory can certainly accelerate your ability to find comfortable keys, fingerings, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 23 May 00 - 01:51 PM

Racer and Peter T, I think you're both right. Racer is right because a fledgling musician needs some immediate gratification, or he/she will probably give up pretty quickly ("I wanted to learn to play because I like music, but this seems more like accounting!"). Peter T is right because a little structural knowledge goes a long way, and gives you a foundation to that allows your learning to progress.

But I think you need to have an ear to put the abstract structural stuff ("what's I-IV-V?") in context. If you learn a few simple folk songs first, then your teacher can say "let me show you what these three songs have in common...". Suddenly I-IV-V makes sense, and you're off and running. You can get both the immediate gratification and the beginnings of theory in your first month or so of learning your instrument, so you needn't worry about falling too far behind in the theory department.

It's like learning any other language. We learn to speak before we learn to read and write, and that comes before we learn the rules of grammar. As long as you don't try to get too far on speech alone, you should be able to go as far as you want with your chosen language.

However, there are exceptions even to this, because a lot of people are able to put this stuff together intuitively. I remember reading an interview with Peter Townshend once, during which he demonstrated this principle by crumpling a piece of paper and tossing it across the room into a wastebasket. He told the interviewer that, at some intuitive level, he had calculated the lift needed to overcome gravity, the force needed to move the ball of paper across the room, the arc needed to drop it into the wastebasket, the amount of wind resistance it was likely to encounter, and several other physical properties. He confessed that he didn't have the education needed to truly quantify any of these parameters, but somehow he had managed to calculate them sufficiently that the paper actually went into the wastebasket. This sounds kind of silly, I know, but think about it -- we all do this stuff, whether we're trained in it or not. And there are lots of musicians out there who play brilliantly but know next to nothing about theory.

I'd be interested in others' views of this. Another thread, perhaps?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 May 00 - 02:17 PM

Not to hijack this thread, but to be clear I agree completely with Racer that starting most people off with scales and deep theory is totally offputting. That is what killed piano for me. But I am someone who played amateur guitar for 20 years, reading TAB all the time, had all the nice fingering, could do an F chord quite happily, and strummed along, and never got anywhere because there was no cumulative learning -- I knew there was more going on in "BIG MUSIC", but that all pop and folk songs had a structure that made it pretty likely that Xchord followed Y chord a lot of the time was actually a revelation! And that choruses shifted very often predictably, etc. People don't know any of this stuff anymore.

A half an hour with theory, at the right moment, and it all fell into place for me. That is all I am saying. People don't even know that a 7th chord is the secret to getting to the tonic. Why does a G7 show up so often in songs that start in C? I mean really basic stuff. Incredibly helpful.

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Sorcha
Date: 23 May 00 - 02:33 PM

RE: TEACHING--I have discovered that with most people, the best place to start is by ROTE, ie, listen to this, then play it (The Echo), after a few times of this, introduce Simple Visuals--"D D DDD", (which would play as long note, long note, three short notes) while the student LOOKS at the paper, not the fingers. Then when this is going good and student knows the sound and names of several notes/chords, put them on a staff and say, this is what you have been playing looks like in music notation. Go as slowly as your student needs you to and work in REAL songs that Student Wants to learn. My students have all been playing appealing tunes by the end of the first lesson. Says something about either my students, or me, or my method, don't know which!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 23 May 00 - 03:53 PM

Reading the recent posts, I realize that I overlooked the obvious fact that chord families and keys are part of theory. Of course the new player needs to understand them; I always teach those things to a beginnig student. Things I leave for later include scales, chord construction, chord substitution, harmony, sight reading, etc. Still, if I think a prospective student will require much coaching on those basic ideas, I'll politely decline the student before that becomes a problem.

Tip for new players:
You need an obsessive personality. If music is simply an interest you'd like to add to your already crowded life, you can have a great time singing and playing with friends. On the other hand, if your goal is to stand out among musicians, be in demand for sessions and get the big hand for an instrumental break, you need to be obsessive. Very few "great ones" in any field are well balanced personalities. They do what they do pretty much to the exclusion of everything else and they do that not by design but because they can't help it.

Having a great time playing with friends,

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 May 00 - 01:02 AM

Mark, I hope you don't mind if I repeat that last paragraph of yours. It's so filled with truth, it's bursting at the seams.

"Tip for new players: You need an obsessive personality. If music is simply an interest you'd like to add to your already crowded life, you can have a great time singing and playing with friends. On the other hand, if your goal is to stand out among musicians, be in demand for sessions and get the big hand for an instrumental break, you need to be obsessive. Very few "great ones" in any field are well balanced personalities. They do what they do pretty much to the exclusion of everything else and they do that not by design but because they can't help it."

(Rick here again) I'm glad that this thread is going to be a permanent one, because I'm going to let as many of my students as possible see these words.

I make a lot of time for my hobbies and "semi-vocations" such as Leather-carving, article-writing, and cartooning, but I play A LOT because I "can't help it".

REPAIR TIP:

Once you take your instrument in for repairs you've usually lost 50 bucks right off the bat. There are several good books on doing home repair and set-ups. It really isn't difficult. Get to know "Elderly Instruments" in Lansing Mich. Find their web-site and send for their catalogues. Also Stewart-MacDonald. Different company, great catalogues on repair (and EVERYTHING ELSE)

Every musician should know about these two companies.

rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 24 May 00 - 01:46 AM

Rick, be my guest. Oh, I see you already were. *BG*

You're right on about the repair advice too. The local music store hired a part-time guy who just lost his job at the TV repair shop but is pretty handy with tools. They keep him busy by contracting the band instrument repair business for the local school district. You probably don't want this guy working on your instrument. Learn to do as much as possible yourself but find well known professionally trained craftsmen to handle the big stuff.

Rick, maybe you'd be willing to provide lists of the sort of things a player can safely attempt and another of the things that should be left to widely known professionals.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 24 May 00 - 02:15 AM

Rick and Mark, I've really been enjoying this thread. Are either of you familiar with the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop? It's a heavenly week in the Northwest woods (actually 3 successive weeks) with some of the best acoustic musicians and teachers around, focused mainly but not exclusively on guitar. Daily classes, nonstop jamming and informal instruction, faculty and student concerts, and swimming in lovely lake Flora. Some of the faculty I remember from the late 80s: Eric Schoenberg, Gordon Bok, John Knowles, John Cephas, Del Rey, John Reischmann, Betsy Rose, Scott Nygaard, Linda Waterfall, Bob Brozman... Sounds like both of you guys should be on the staff some summer. If you'd like to learn more, drop me a personal message and I'll put you in touch. Same for anybody who wants to give their musical ability and enjoyment a huge jump start.

Aloha,
Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Terry K
Date: 24 May 00 - 02:28 AM

Having bought my first guitar a month ago, I'm particularly interested in tips for beginners!

I generally agree with what has been said - I actually like to know some theory and am lucky that I have struggled (not very successfully) with piano for the last 5 years - I find it remarkable how much this helps with guitar.

I tried to find a teacher but there don't seem to be any in my area, so I bought two tutor books. They seem about the same as my piano tutor books - not a great deal of help other than general guidance.

My breakthrough has been finding the Charanga PC based tutor which I am finding an enormous help and really enjoyable too. The great thing is that it is multi-dimensional and works similar to a live tutor. It has recordings of all the tunes so you can play along with any part (melody, strum, fingerstyle etc). It has just enough theory to keep you up to speed.

Only criticism? - it may be a criticism of guitaring generally but why do you have to use tab when notation makes so much more sense!

Cheers, Terry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Grubby
Date: 24 May 00 - 07:00 AM

No problems with the F chord ( We all discussed this a few threads back didn't we) but I have trouble hitting that B7 every time. Grubby


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 24 May 00 - 08:41 AM

Terry, you don't have to use tab. Lots of guitarists, myself included, prefer standard notation if we're using written music at all. Sometimes the two are tied together -- a standard staff on top, tab underneath. This can really help if you're in an altered tuning, and need to think a little more about where on the fingerboard each note lies. But whatever approach is preferred by this individual or that, standard notation is not dead. I personally feel that it is easier to load more "instruction" -- finger placement, inflections, dynamics, etc. -- into each measure of standard notation than the same measure of tab.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Peter T.
Date: 24 May 00 - 08:57 AM

Terry -- some of us use TAB because if you are at all visual, when you come to doing barre chords or much moving around on the guitar, the chord shapes really help. The chances of my learning and remembering the individual notes of the diminished chords, for instance, are zero -- I can do this with TAB for all of them in microseconds. And so on. I would think TAB is pretty important for most novices who want to use relatively sophisticated chords early on.

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 24 May 00 - 01:27 PM

Mark Cohen, Yeah, Rick has a way of starting really interesting threads. They suck me in nearly every time. One of the really cool things about a forum like this is that I get to post what little knowledge I have but I don't have to list the things I don't know. And let me assure you, what I don't know would span volumes compared to the odd paragraph on what I do. The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop sounds good though, it would be fun to attend as a student. (Right after I find time for the Woodenboat School in Maine)

Tip for mastering difficult chords:
      Practice.
I don't mean practice the song for which you learned the chord, I mean practice the chord. Over and over and over. If it hurts your hand to make the chord, practice more often. If it doesn't sound right, practice. If it takes too long to make it, practice. And when you practice, think with your ears more than with your fingers. And learn to ignore pain. Thirty minutes of real concentrated practice will leave you drained. If it doesn't, you're just going through the motions.

Go through some related changes. See how many different chords you can reach without repositioning your hand. See if you can make other chords by moving a single finger or two. Look for ways to move between chords using a planted "pivot" finger that doesn't have to move. Make chords with the fewest possible number of fingers so you have fingers left over for the fun stuff.

Here is a gratuitous chord exercise for the ambitious beginner. (If I haven't blown the HTML) It moves up and down from G6 to G7 to Gmaj7 and back down again. The trick is this: only two fingers may be lifted from the fingerboard for any single change! Under no circumstances may you reposition your hand. I'm assuming you are using a flatpick and all strokes are down, 4/4 time, two beats per chord. They are four-string chords so the unplayed strings must be muted. Keep this pattern moving until it's smooth.

Have fun,

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 00 - 01:37 PM

"Novices who want to use relatively sophisticated chords early on" - but I think one of the most important tips for a novice is, don't try and do this. It's so much better to keep it simple and get it right and take your time. You've the rest of your life to add in the extras.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 24 May 00 - 02:05 PM

McGrath, I agree with your advice from the standpoint of learning arcane theory. That was not my intent here, I only wanted to provide useful calisthenics. Everyone should feel entirely welcome to ignore my advice as they choose.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 00 - 09:20 PM

I wasn't really disagreeing with you Mark. Learning to put your fingers into peculiar shapes to make difficult chords is great exercise.

But I see people trying to use chords they don't need and that aren't ready to use, and losing the fun. And the rhythym.

Much of the time the chords with the strange names and the funny look are just a matter of moving a couple of fingers in a straighforward chord. I never consciously learnt a lot of the chords I play, and don't even think of them as different chords. More theory would help - I tend to think the theory comes out of the practice and after it rather than before.

That's largely a matter of personal style and taste, and it's probably got something to do with what side of the brain you got up on on the day you were born. Sometimes I think we fail to appreciate how very fundamentally people can vary in that kind of thing. It's as basic as the diifference between being left-handed and right-handed.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 24 May 00 - 09:58 PM

Very good thread, Rick!

I want to agree 100% with Mark C about learning to tune by intervals. My wife is a violinist who is well versed in this method of tuning. She can tune up my guitar in about 10 seconds, whereas it takes me minutes. I am a relative beginner, and here is the way I have been doing it. I tune the "A" string to a tuning fork as Mark describes. Then I sound the "A" and (try to) sing the "D" one fourth higher. Then I fret the "D" on the "A" string and try to match it with my voice and try again. When I think that I have it, I tune the "D" string to the "D" I sing. Then I play the "A" and "D" together and fine tune so they sound "right" together. I repeat this with all the higher (in pitch) strings. Finally, I tune the bass "E" to the treble "E" by playing them at the same time until it sounds like one "E". Then I take out the electric tuner and see how I did. Nowadays, after doing this for about nine months, I am usually within ten cents of the tuners opinion. I think it is important to have a tuner, wife, or teacher who can tell you when you have it, else you can learn to hear things wrong. Eventually, I hope to do away with those intermediate fretting steps and just sing the intervals to myself.

About what Art said about waistlines and what Rick said about size of guitars. If you have a larger waistline (like me) you will have more trouble playing a guitar with great depth. That is where one with a larger body size and less depth (to get the same bass response) is good--for example the Martin "OM" shape. I solve the problem by holding my guitar in a classical position. That is with the waist of the guitar resting on my left knee which is elevated. I think you get better left-hand mobility that way anyway. If the body is too big, though, you have to hold your left hand too high for comfort.

As Rick says, there is always a trade-off.

Murray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Mark Clark
Date: 24 May 00 - 11:54 PM

McGrath, I totally agree with the different cognitive styles thing and with the desireability of learning to play more accesible music and get accustomed to playing in time and making transitional runs before getting into advanced technique and theory. Still, sixth and seventh chords are about as basic as they come. In bluegrass music dominant sevenths are rarely played by the guitarist but a sixth chord will actually pop up once in a while. Major sevenths are admitedly rare in bluegrass. The reason I chose the exercise I did was because, for all the finger movement, only the D string actually moves. The others remain unchanged throughout the exercise. I guess I secretly hoped that some inexperienced but obsessive new guitarist would see it someday and get excited about it.

Murray, I have to say, I'm really impressed. Your method of learning to tune by intervals is probably some of the best ear training you can do. When I was a child, my father would try to teach me to tune his violin by singing "my dog has fleas" and tuning the strings to the sung notes. I never told him that he could't hear (or sing) the difference between D and C#. *BG* He loved playing his violin but he really shouldn't have been allowed to touch one.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Terry K
Date: 25 May 00 - 01:05 AM

McGrath, I totally agree about novices not taking on too much. I have no natural talent and need to learn things logically and progressively. I wasted so much time on piano trying to play "cool jazz" numbers (my ultimate ambition) which are simply too hard.

It took some help from the Mudcat to show me that it's OK to play Clementine, My Bonnie and The Ash Grove and my playing has now improved immensely - and my enjoyment with it.

Cheers, Terry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 25 May 00 - 08:30 AM

I agree that this is an excellent thread. However, one of Mark's suggestions on learning chords is "If it hurts your hand to make the chord, practice more often." I would suggest being careful about this one. Very often, pain is a sign that something is wrong, and pushing through the pain is the last thing you should do. I've had this experience myself, a few years ago, when I started to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The solution was NOT to "practice more often" -- that would only have made it worse. The solution was to analyze why my playing was causing me so much pain, and find a different approach (in my case, changing my hand positions), so that the pain would go away.

Just a word of caution about one point in Mark's otherwise excellent advice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help for pickers. Give us a tip.
From: Peter T.
Date: 25 May 00 - 09:19 AM

Well, when I was speaking about chord shapes, I wasn't aiming at Gm7sus4, I was thinking about things like Am and Bm. But otherwise I of course agree.

yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 28 November 3:50 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.