From the Beginning

This blog is the story of how one can work for years to master an instrument — in this case the guitar and yet never quite achieve Nirvana. Ok, maybe I’m mixing a few metaphors here, but let’s have some fun. There is only one rule. You must never pay for lessons from another — that’s for golf, and well worth it. (No offense to you all who make your living teaching guitar, it’s just that most everyone I know who plays is self-taught.) So let’s help each other– that is unless the Devil volunteers, then I suggest you sign up. It would not be a bad thing to leave a legacy as did Robert Johnson. Sure you can learn all you want from the person who will show you that fingerpick over a beer, or two, but you will steadfastly refuse to pay money for a single lesson. Ok? Signed on? Let’s go.

Why? The guitar is an instrument that is really suited to self-teaching. Only you know what you want to do with the thing. Gig, play for yourself, entertain a few friends, be a rock star? What do you want? Well, at various stages of my life I have wanted to do all these things.

Let’s use this space to share thoughts and resources that we self-learning guitarists are using to find new ways to amaze ourselves with the beauty we can create if we only try.

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April 20, 2007 at 1:33 am 2 comments

Here There and Everywhere

Now that you have the basic chords and know where to look up the more difficult ones, it is time to have some fun with the interesting chord changes found in Lennon and McCartney's music, yes the Beatles.

It is hard to belive that it has been 40 years since they were on the top of the charts, but today they still have a fan base ranging form age 8 to 80 and no wonder. The music includes the beautiful melodies like "Here There and Everywhere" and "Yesterday" and rockers like "I feel Fine" and "I Saw Her Standing There."

If you are even a little bit of a Beatles fan, you really must have the Hal Leonard set "The Beatles A-I" and "The Beatles J-Y." Both of these books contain 100 songs each that include lyrics, chord symbols and guitar chord diagrams. If you know the songs (and who doesn't) you will find yourself flipping from page to page and enjoying the genius of the writing.

This is not a simple chord book, but the diagrams make it easy to learn chords that you don't know, or don't use that often. I have played many of these tunes along with the CD (and in some cases the vinyl) and have found the transcriptions to be dead on to the originals.  

One of the best side benefits to these books are the lessons these songs teach in creative chord progressions and voicings. 

This is a great collection of very playable music for the money. These songs sound equally good played on acoustic or electric.

May 6, 2006 at 9:35 pm 1 comment

Online Chord Finders

If you read my last post I just saved you a ton of money buying all those big chord books. Plus your understanding of basic music theory got a boost since you now know what notes (chords) fall into which keys.

Really, those little books are the best. Check out the one on Rock with Kieth Richards on the cover and the Blues edition with the Stevie Ray Vaughn photo.

However, as good as these books are for learning the basics, there are always those odd chords the show up in your favorite tabs. How do you play a Dadd9/F#? That's where the online chordfinder comes in.

I love the one at Chord Find. Just plug in the cord you need and Bang! it appears on the fret board right in front of you. Left handed? No problem. Just a click and you future Jimi's are seeing what you need to see.

Ok, what about key board, mandolin, ukulele, banjo… has that too. Plus you can quickly search for variations. In other words, it will first show the open position chord, but with a click it will show up-the-neck variations. This is a big help when you are trying to figure out how someone can make the chord change so fast. Then you realize that all they are doing is sliding up a fret.

This tip will help anyone who is ready for more advanced chords. Go ahead. Check out the GuitareTab! version of America's Sister Golden Hair fire up Chord Find and be playing up the neck like a pro. 

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May 5, 2006 at 11:55 pm 1 comment

Basic Chord Books

Ok, we have probalbly all spent a lot of money on "Teach-yourself-to-play" books. The first thing we need to do here is to share with one another the books that are worthwile.

If I were starting all over again and did n't know a thing about the guitar, I wish I would have had the series published by Amsco Publications. They have some great little books that are shaped to fit in your guitar case. The one that I have handy is called "The Compact Blues Guitar Chord Reference." They also have them for rock, jazz, ect.

They can take the rank beginner and show you how to hold the instrument (using photos of some guy that looks like he came from some Civil War prison.) Then they give you some basic info about stum patterns. After that it is a great primer on the basic open position chords. What's really nice is that they combine the chords in progressions based on keys and end you up with some little song that you probably actually know.

So the Blues edition that I have (SVR on the cover) starts out with a Key of A progression. A, D7, E7, A7. Not only does it show in diagram form and in photos (the Civil War prisoner guy's fingers doing things mine will never do) the way to hold your fingers it also suggests some strum patterns to try.

For my money this is the place to start. Find one of these books (Guitar Center has them) that features a style of music you like and start ripping through it. By the end you will be playing barre chords up the neck. I don't know of a better place to start. 

May 5, 2006 at 1:21 am 1 comment


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