Monthly Archives: July 2007

Charlie Byrd Trio

Jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd (d. 1999) plays Those Silk Shiny Stockings tune); his brother Joe is on bass and does a solo. What distinguishes Charlie Byrd from other jazz guitarists is that he uses a classical guitar and pretty much Segovia-style finger technique.

Another Byrd. Here he does Agua De Beber, by the famous Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim

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“Masters of Jazz”

Jazz guitarist definitely take a back seat to rock guitarists in popularity, as of course do classical. But Masters of Jazz Guitar: The Story of the Players and Their Music (in pb, from 2003) is one of the most interesting books on guitarists of any kind you’ll ever read. There’s Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Joe Pass, to name just a few.

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Short and sweet overview on guitar types

Depending upon one’s musical taste the term guitar can evoke any one of four distinct types: classic, flamenco, plectrum or electric. These in turn can be divided into two distinct classes: the nylon string class (classic and flamenco) and the steel string class (plectrum and electric). Those of the first, almost identical in outline, have a couple of basic differences. For example, assuming that both instruments are standard models, the classic is the larger (though not by much) and heavier of the two. The classic’s heavier weight (rosewood back and sides, spruce top) tends to make its tone deeper than the flamenco guitar’s (sycamore back and sides, cedar top).Another difference, and the most physically discernable, lies in the head. The head of the classic guitar houses metal tuning mechanisms, keys and rollers; the flamenco head contains simple tuning pegs made of wood, similar for example to those on a lute but facing downward. There is also at least one other differentiation—pickguards. Unlike the flamenco the classic does not have or need a pick guard, or tapping plate. This is because the percussive effects (rapping) so frequently employed on the flamenco are only rarely used on the classic, and even then are not so harshly executed.

The two types of guitar in the second class are much more varied and dissimilar to each other than those in the first. The electric alone comes in two different forms: the solid body electric, most popular among rock musicians, and the acoustic body electric, favored by jazz players, each of which, especially the former, comes in a host of different styles and colors. The basic stylistic options, however, are limited to two types of design—single or double cutaway of the upper bout. Of course the solid body electric can be cut in almost any design imaginable. It does not really even need a partially guitaristic body since, unlike with the plectrum and to some extent the acoustic body electric, it does not (at least in practical terms) produce any of its sound from the relationship of strings to wood. Its strings are brought to life only by electrical means. And for this reason perhaps, along with some of its more arcane switches and gadgets, the solid body electric would more accurately be described as a music synthesizer with frets rather than a guitar. Here the plectrum guitar, in so far as its shape is concerned—figure eight body, centered sound hole, head—and the fact that it is non-amplified (though of course it can be easily modified with a pick up) has more in common with the classic guitar than with the electric. The plectrum guitar is either flat- or arch-topped. In the first one the strings are fastened to and end on the bridge; in the second the strings go over the bridge nut and are secured to a metal brace (like that on a violin).

Compared to the nylon string guitars plectrums produce a much fiercer resonation and hence are much louder and more “twangy.” The plectrum guitar was at one time mostly used as an accompanying instrument in folk tunes and as a rhythm instrument in big bands. As a band instrument it gradually fell into decline with the advent of the electrified form, which made it not only more practical for background but for the first time allowed the guitar to be a lead instrument on a par with the trumpet and piano.

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Queen guitarist good at math

Queen guitarist, Brian May, is completing his doctorate in astrophysics:

The 60-year-old guitarist and songwriter said he plans to submit his thesis, “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” to supervisors at Imperial College London within the next two weeks.

I have no idea what that thesis means but I guess it’s nice to have something to fall back on.

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A little Ted Nugent history

Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes? Yeap, they split way back in ’75. And I never even knew such a group existed until this very minute. I wonder if Ted toured back then with a couple of deer strapped on over the fenders?

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Guitarist as actor

Can a stoned guitarist–namely one of the Rolling Stones–make a good actor? Well, MSNBC contributor Dave White has a take:

You know Keith Richards is in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” right? He plays Johnny Depp’s pirate papa. And without getting too review-y and spoiler-ish … I have to gush a little about Richards’ performance: it’s the most amazing two minutes of Acting/Not Acting I’ve seen all year. If the man’s goal was to reduce himself to pure space and still be physically, three-dimensionally present, then he should win an award for succeeding at that. Other more cruel people, cynics, may dismissively describe this sort of edgy work as simply “being drunk.”

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Why play a real rock guitar…

When you can pick up an air guitar “and sound and feel like a rock star.”

The gadget has 10 songs, including Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water,” programmed to play automatically. It is set to hit the market next month. It can also be connected to an MP3 music player or a speaker system, the manufacturer says. Manufacturers also showcased air guitars that could be attached to your wrist and blasts music as you move.

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Ex Eagles guitarist

Ever wonder what happened to ex Eagles lead guitarist Don Felder (not to be confused with that other Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh)? Well there’s a large site dedicated to this great rock guitarist, and what he’s doing now in music; there’s also some radio interviews and videos. I didn’t know this before but Felder is the one who composed the original music for Hotel California, the Eagles’ biggest hit (Henley wrote the lyrics). Several years ago Felder and the Eagle Board of Directors (Henley and Frye) evidently came to major differences of opinion (perhaps as to what musical direction the band was headed). Anyway, the result was that Felder was fired and then sued. The lawsuit with the group was resolved only this past May (the amount of the settlement was undisclosed). Check the site here.

It’s not known exactly why Felder was fired. Maybe some of that early underlying tension that had always plagued this group, bubbled back up, as described below…

Don Felder, the guitarist who was hired to edge the band away from its early country sound towards a more rocking groove, and Glenn Frey, Henley’s main writing partner, loathed each other with such a passion by the end that at the band’s final live performance, at a political fundraiser in southern California, they taunted each other between songs and laid into each other the second the set was over [and which had to be broken up by roadies]. Henley and Frey, who also could not stand the sight of each other, put the finishing touches to the band’s subsequent final release, Eagles Live, from opposite ends of the country.

Read on.

Note: Don Felder’s book about his life in the Eagles, Heaven and Hell, should be available in Oct., if not yet in the US then in Britain and Germany.

UPDATE: Don Felder.com There’s nothing on it right now; it’s evidently still under construction.

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Playing a symphony on one guitar

The sound quality isn’t the greatest but you get the idea. Guitarist Jorge Caballero, playing the first part of a Dvorak symphony.

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Speaking of Japan…

Why is this heavy metal guitarist so into Japan:

Marty Friedman is the ex-lead guitarist of Megadeth, the all-American thrash-metal band that has sold more than 20 million records. Metal cliches being what they are, you’d half expect him to say “Duuuuuuuuude” and throw up a “devil horns” hand sign as a greeting. Instead, his first words are an extremely polite “Hajimemashite, Marty desu.” (“Nice to meet you, I’m Marty.”)

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Japanese music chords and tabs

Like Sparkplugged, have you found it difficult to find guitar tabs for your favorite Japanese music? The do what he did and go here (just make sure you can read Japanese or at least be able to stumble you way through some pretty bad translation).

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Jim Greeninger

This video is from last year. “The guitar Jim is playing was built by himself and was recorded directly from the Baggs pickup via wireless transmitter and a live performance mic in the hall” (from intro by bransonguitar)

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Support list

The Humane Guitarist offers I guess what you’d have to call the A list of supports–things that help you hold the guitar to your body, like the Slider Strap for $29.95 and then ther’s this thing from Germany below…

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Guitar innovations

This is certainly the most unusual guitar playing (and guitar) I’ve ever seen. The guitarist is Michael Bianco and there’s some information on his style and recordings here.

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Producing a metallic effect on the classical guitar

A tense, brilliant sound produced by playing close to the bridge nut. This brilliance can be highly accentuated by playing only with the tips of the fingernails. The smooth and quick transition from the normal playing area over the sound hole to the area just before the bridge nut is accomplished by sliding the forearm towards it on a slightly inclining plane.

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Electric lute

Sometimes I’ll cruise ebay’s musical instrument pages (especially guitar pages) for a couple of hours looking for unusual instruments. Here’s one I came across today (the ebay # is 300129044775):

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Here’s the main problem with this insturment. The fact that the “body” rests so high up the fingerboard. To play below the fingerboard/bpdy you’d have to slip your hand underneath where the body touches the neck and then up again on the fingerboard. Or you could play the bottom part of the fingerboard with your hand sort of parallel (flat)  like a violin or cello.

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Transducer for classical guitar

Aside from sitting in front of a microphone a transducer pickup is the best option for amplifying a classical guitar. The disk of wood, housing a “pickup,” sticks to the top of your guitar near the bridge. It’s held in place by a special glue-putty that allows you to slowly pull it off when you want. You can of curse use put it on and remove it as many times as you want. However, from personal experience I can tell you that it can sl;ghtly mar the finish where its stuck to. I would not use it on an extremely expensive guitar.

Depending upon the quality and size of your amplifier you can achieve almost all of the effects produced on a typical electric guitar. The jack plug is the same as on any electric guitar and fits any amplifier.

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Some of the world’s great classical guitarists

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Three necks?

This is the first three-neck guitar I’ve ever seen. As I write is has about twenty minutes left on ebay auction. It has no bids (yet) and the Buy It Now price is $637. The ebay site has a ton of pics of it. UPDATE: it ended with no bids (maybe some people thought you needed three hands). One of the necks has twelve strings.
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How to adjust the intonation on an electric guitar

The things you’ll need to adjust your guitar’s intonation are:

  1. electronic guitar tuner
  2. a screwdriver which fits the bridge screws

Sounds pretty simple. here’s where the article is.

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John williams

Here’s a good reference page for John Williams fans (the guitarist, not the composer by that name), with bio and discography.

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MIDI files

Guitarist has some nice midi files of various classical guitar pieces, including the famous Twenty Studies by Fernando Sor.

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Acoustic version of the Ventures’ Walk Don’t Run

California Guitar Trio

Bravo…more…bravo

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Wikipedia and the guitar

Wikipedia has an extremely large datbase of guitar info and links; in fact, it’s called the guitar portal. It’s huge, really huge.

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eMedia’s new Guitar Pro software

From Axrtopia: eMedia’s Guitar Pro 5.1 is the new Windows/Macintosh hybrid version of the best-selling multi-track tablature editor software for guitar, banjo and bass from Arobas Music. Besides writing scores, Guitar Pro 5.1 is a tool for beginner and accomplished guitarists alike to improve, compose, or accompany themselves.

So far I have never used this program, so cehcki as many reviews as you can before buying.

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Real or fake playing? We report, you decide

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I this fake guitar playing by Madonna (aka Queen of Pop)? Well, according to the London Telegraph, “Debate is raging on internet message boards over whether Madonna’s ‘rocking’ Live Earth performance owed more to technical wizadry than musical talent.”

From the pic above it looks like she’s braying for the feed bag of oats to be strapped on her mug.

You can watch the video of this performance here.

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“What’s hot with jazz guitar…”

Guitar Site has an article on Argentinean jazz guitarist Pino Marrone. “Some of the most exciting musical experiences of the last decade include performing contemporary classical music on electric guitar…” Playing classical guitar music on an electric guitar (or amplifying a classical with a transducer pick-up) is becoming, or should we put it?…less verboten.

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Free music pages

Some great compositions here for the classical guitarists. Coste, Giuliani, Sanz, Krieger, Losy, Carulli, Mertz, Sor…

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Pain free guitar playing

Here’s the teaser “Guitarists often complain about stiff fingers, hands and arms especially after several hours of practice or performing on a regular basis. Having played the instrument for over 35 years now, I’ve taken some daily precautions that have prevented everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to rheumatoid arthritis…”

Read on.

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Do not emulate this position

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No, don’t try emulating this classical guitar position. It’s all wrong. The guy obviously never took a lesson in his life.

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