“Centuries ago, somewhere in West Africa, the banjo was born on the knees of griots—storytellers who improvised their lyrics as they performed. Almost like forerunners to today’s hip-hop artists, griots interacted with their audiences using call-and-response patterns to liven up the crowd. Their instruments—strings and animal skins tacked across hollowed-out gourds—are considered the first banjos.” Read article here.
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“…Last summer she was living in Hell’s Kitchen, working as a finance manager for a nonprofit arts company and having little success with her forays into stand-up comedy. Then her boyfriend bought himself a natural wood ukulele. She started strumming it, and found it easy to play with little training.” Continue reading article, “Those Four Irresistible Strings.”
Related: the past and present uke slideshow
Looks like guitarist Eric Clapton will reunite with old Cream band members–but it’s just for a tribute to drummer Ginger Baker. Read more.
Believe it or not Guitar Hero comes to handheld Nintendo DS.
The verdict? “So, while the peripheral is in many ways a minor masterpiece of innovation and the programmers could not have done a better job of converting the full-sized game, it is impossible to think of anyone (except, possibly, players possessed of freakishly small hands) who will be able really to enjoy their efforts…” Quoted from review at link.
Guitar strings are a pain to change, especially when you have to change the whole set. And guitar strings should be changed, say, every twenty-thirty hours or so of play (in my humble experience). Oil and sweat from your figners tend to dampen the strings’ response. This “response decay” is especially obvious on the kind of wound bass strings used on accoustic and classical guitars. To lenghten the life of strings wipe them down after use and always make sure your habds are clean before playing. Also wipe the fingerboard clean.
Here’s an interesting question/answer article on strings from Music Centers.
Here’s an early bass guiar (from the National Music Museum):
“The hollow-bodied instrument has no sound holes, only an early blade pickup with hexagonal housing, often called the “Charlie Christian” pickup after the jazz artist who was an early adopter of Gibson’s ES-150 electric arch-top guitar. Although the instrument appears surprisingly modern for its age, it has a long string length suited to upright rather than seated playing, and it is fitted with an extendable endpin…” Read more.
Eddie van Halen: How did you start playing guitar? What were the first songs you learned to play? Etc, etc… Sorry I’m not a big Van Halen fan but the Rolling Sone intrview is still interesting.
This shows Aaron Shearer attending as an auditor a master class conducted by Manuel Barrueco.
It is high drama, and nerve wracking. I attended a master class a few years ago (though not as a player). I don’t have a video of it but I got these two old ones off of Youtube, from I think 1965 and 1986 respectively. They both were taught by Andres Segovia.
If you’re a guitarist who uses a thumb pick in conjunction with your fingers (Chet Atkins, Gerry McGee of The Ventures) here’s a lot of types to choose from.
“There are certain natural laws that govern the behavior of our world: what goes up must come down; for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction; to play in tune, you have to get yourself in tune…” So says the Gibson Co.
Struggling musicians’ tool kit. It consists of various programs and sites to help you make that dollar.
“The Burst guitar, with its lush finish and rich sound, has gone from pawnshop to castoff to $500,000 collectible.”
“When Joe Ganzler found Gladys, it was love at first sight. She had a curvaceous body and graceful neck. When he held her in his arms and turned her on, she filled with electricity and purred. ‘The belle of the ball,’ Ganzler said. Ganzler, 51, has been married three times but has fallen for just one guitar. Gladys, as a former owner named it, is a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard with a sunburst finish. Ganzler keeps it in his Orange County garage, in a massive safe that looks as though it could withstand a bazooka attack. For good reason. Only about 1,500 Bursts, as they are known, were made between 1958 and 1960. They were a commercial flop. But today the Burst is considered the Stradivarius of solid-body electric guitars. Its distinctive, syrupy sound, mythic back story and cherry-and-gold wood finish have made it the world’s most sought-after ax. ” Read more.
I recently purchased the Line 6 TonePort GX for my nephew; it’s a small USB connected device, sort of a music synthesizer for electric guitars, which works with PCs or Macs. The software that comes with the device offers a hardware-like iunterface that resembles a personal sound studio, and the device itself is small enough to hook onto your belt while playing. I’ll get my nephew to write a review up for it as soon as possible. I got this new on ebay from Musicgear4less; it’s also available from Musician’s Friend (though presently it’s on backorder). Cost? Under $70.00.
“Guitar picks, despite varying in size, thickness and material, typically share one common trait – they’re flat and thus lack an adequate grip surface. Sweaty fingers and/or heated play can cause the guitarist to struggle to control the pick as it shifts position or ends up being dropped. In response, the guitar player may end up squeezing the plectrum harder thus creating tension in the hand, arm and shoulder. As a result, picking accuracy and speed can suffer and this extra tension can contribute to Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).” Read about Big Rock Guitar picks.
Exotic guitars. Keyword: exotic. Some of the designs look like they’d be more at home in a custom motorcycle shop.
Download chord generator for free–a billion combinations, so it says. Here’s an example.
There some famous guitar riffs (Doors, Santana, etc) in tab form; click and hear how it’s supposed to be played.
Barney Kessel-Kenny Burrell-Grant Green, playing Blue Mist
WikiHow has the answer. Here’s step one: “Buy an inexpensive guitar when you first start. It actually makes you better because you have to actually be a good player to sound good. A rubbish practice amp is good as well; sometimes you don’t even need an amp when practicing.”
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