Archive for the ‘DADGAD tuning’ Category

Video of the Month: Ben Kammin

The second video of the month this month is a nice tune called “Sleepytime” played here by Ben Kammin and written by Alex DeGrassi. If you are a decent fingerstyle player and have ever wanted to try DADGAD tuning then this tune is a great place to start. This was the first DADGAD tune that I ever learned and it was from watching another video of Ben playing an excerpt from “Sleepytime” that I was inspired to learn it.

The tune is pretty straightforward, except for the bridge section where you need to get a “four-over-three” feel. Otherwise this tune is all about creating a mood – there are no flashy pyrotechnics – you just need to play cleanly and let the notes ring for as long as possible. Transcriptions are available from Alex DeGrassi’s website.

Ben Kammin is a graduate of the Fingerstyle Guitar program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona where he teaches guitar and does research for UWM.

Ben’s Website:

Ben’s YouTube Channel:

Alex DeGrassi’s website:

Video of the Month: Andy McKee

Posted by Brian on 3rd January 2011 in DADGAD tuning, Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitarists, Practice, Video of the Month

Okay, I’ve posted this video before on my website, but I’ve decided to revisit it this month. Over the Christmas holidays I was able to catch up on some back issues of Acoustic Guitar Magazine and the most recent issue (January 2011) featured YouTube sensation Andy McKee.

Andy McKee is a fingerstyle guitarist who cites Preston Reed, Micheal Hedges and Don Ross as his main influences. He became an internet superstar when this video was featured on YouTube. To date it has over 35 million views and Andy’s other videos have combined to give him approximately 100 million views. At one time, he had the three most popular videos on YouTube.

The first time I saw this video I was blown away, but I also considered it a bit of a novelty and filed it under “unplayable for mere mortals”. (Especially mere mortals with two young kids.) However, the magazine article included a transcription of the tune and I thought, “Okay, let’s have another look at that video”. Of course everything in the recorded tune seems to happen at a lightning pace, but when you have a transcription to look at, the main elements of the tune are not out of reach for a decent player. There is a lot in there that I’m not accustomed to doing (i.e. using my guitar as a drum kit) but once I got out my metronome, it didn’t take long to get the gist of the first few bars of the tune – albeit at a comparatively glacial tempo. I may not ever take the time to learn the full tune, but it was a lesson to me – the same lesson that I always try to get across to my students: to play something fast, first you have to play it slow.

Anyways, if you want to learn the tune, its in DADGAD tuning and if you’re like me and need a visual breakdown of everything that is happening in this tune, you can get a transcription from the January 2011 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine or from the CandyRat Records website.

Love At First Sight – Pt. 2

Posted by Brian on 11th May 2010 in DADGAD tuning, Fingerstyle Guitar, Practice

In my post dated April 14, 2010, I started to chronicle my efforts to learn to play Laurence Juber’s “Love at First Sight”. This is the second installment:

Day 28 – May 11, 2010

Well, I’ve pretty much mastered and memorized the first eight bars that I was working on in my last post. And, since bars 9 to 12 are identical to bars 1 to 4, I’ve actually got the first twelve bars under my belt. I’ve now started working on the next twelve bars which will take me to the end of the first section of the song (0:35-1:27 in the video).

From a technical standpoint, this section is not terribly difficult to play, though it did take some extra time to work out the fingering, partly due to some transcription errors in the sheet music. In bar fourteen,  the tablature called for an impossible stretch from the 5th to the 12th fret (Yikes!!!). Fortunately, the standard notation was correct and indicated a fingering that gave clues as to the proper (and much easier) way to play it. I also checked Laurence Juber’s version on YouTube (approx 1:04) to confirm my solution. In bar 16 there was also a minor error, which although playable, made it more difficult than it needed to be.

Rhythmically speaking, however, this section is a little bit counter-intuitive. Once again, I have been working regularly with my metronome at a lower speed as I work out the timing and at this point I am very close to being able to play the entire first section at tempo. Normally by the time I am able to play a section of reasonably challenging music, I have it memorized but this section contains a couple of slight variations of a repeating melody line and this has slowed down the memorization process.

Once I’ve mastered this first section, I will be well on my way to knowing the whole song. The first 24 bars repeat, and in the remaining 50-odd bars, there are several recurrences of chunks that I’ve already learned, so I’m hopeful that I’ll have this tune ready in time for campfire season.

“Love at First Sight”…

Posted by Brian on 14th April 2010 in DADGAD tuning, Fingerstyle Guitar, Practice

… among other things, is a solo fingerstyle guitar piece by Laurence Juber, a guitarist best known for being the lead guitarist in Paul McCartney & Wings. It is a piece that I have decided to learn how to play. I’ve been working on learning songs in DADGAD tuning and, so far, I’ve pretty much mastered Alex deGrassi’s “Sleepy Time” and I’ve made a good start on Pete Huttlinger’s arrangement of “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”. (DADGAD tuning is one of the more popular non-standard tunings for guitar. Basically, the first and sixth strings are tuned down a whole tone to D and the second string is also tuned down a whole tone to A.) I thought it might be fun to chronicle the journey of mastering a new piece – assuming that I get there.

April 14, 2010 – Day One.

During today’s practice time I spent two 10-15 minute blocks working on the first 8 bars of the tune. During the first block, I just worked out the notes and fingerings playing through the first 12, or so, bars a couple of times. Basically, bars 9-12 are the same as the first four bars so I decided to focus on the first eight bars. I then took a break from this tune, worked on the Pete Huttlinger arrangement a bit, played “Sleepy Time” and then returned to “Love at First Sight”.

This time I got out my metronome and worked on timing. The song calls for a tempo of 92 beats per minute (bpm) and I found that 80 bpm was a good tempo to start working at. I was able to get a feel for the tune and by the end of the session, was able to play the first eight bars reasonably well at the reduced tempo.

You can hear Laurence Juber playing “Love at First Sight” on YouTube.