Posts Tagged ‘Guitar’

Chet (June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001)

Posted by Brian on 30th June 2011 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Guitarists

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Chet Atkins’ death.

Chet Atkins was one of the most influential guitar players of all time. A member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, he was a pioneer of the so-called “Nashville Sound”, a smoother, more fluid style of country music. Strongly influenced by Merle Travis (the father of “Travis picking”), Atkins further developed his right-hand picking technique to become a guitar virtuoso.

In addition to recording over eighty studio record albums, he was a prolific producer of recordings for many other artists including the likes of Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers.

Here is what Australian guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel had to say about Chet Atkins in a recent interview with Acoustic Guitar magazine:

“I was eleven years old… I wrote a letter to Chet. I remember telling him my name, and what I did, and that I was a fan. On the envelope, I addressed it to ‘Chet Atkins, Nashville, America.’ It got to him, and he answered it! I’ll never forget, I came home from school and my mother said, ‘Put your bag down and go into your room, there’s something on your bed for you.’ There’s this big brown envelope, I open it, and inside was a black and white photo of Chet with his Gretsch, and he’s wearing a Perry Como-style cardigan, his hair looking perfect. He signed it ‘Best Wishes to Tommy, from Chet.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

“It made me think that if a boy from nowhere could write to the greatest instrumentalist of all time, and get a reply, then anything is possible.”

“… Years later, I was around my friend’s place and he recorded me playing some things by Chet and by Jerry Reed, and he sent the tape to Chet – without telling me! So I get this handwritten letter on Chet’s office stationary: ‘I received your tape and I played it for Lenny Breau. We were impressed,” and ‘Here’s my office number, look me up when you are in the States,’ which was all I needed to light a fire under me.”

I was hoping to find video of Wendell Ferguson playing “Fret No More”, his excellent tribute to Chet. I didn’t find that, but I did find Wendell playing a medley of Chet Atkins’ tunes at Hugh’s Room in Toronto:

You can read more about Chet Atkins life and accomplishments on Wikipedia.

If Only I Had a Better Guitar…

This is an old blog entry from Tuck Andress of “Tuck & Patti” fame. If you aren’t familiar with him, you should look him up, but all you need to know for now is that Tuck is a guitarist of the first order… and he has found three bits of wisdom that some of us never find…

Tuck & Patti: It’s the Guitar’s Fault

Video of the Month:

Posted by Brian on 15th June 2011 in Making a Living, Music Theory, Performing, Practice, Video of the Month

Yes, I know. This is the second video-of-the-month this month. It seems that I’ve got a bit of a backlog of great guitar-related videos to share, so for the next couple of months, I’m going to do two videos each month. This will also help to fill in the void of “real” posts that I assume will form with the onset of summer weather.

This video is a very entertaining look at Steve Vai’s audition to play in Frank Zappa’s band, “The Mother’s of Invention”. But it also drives home the fact that the more you know about music theory and musical styles, the more options you have if you want to make music for a living. Or, as a former employer used to say, “Learn more, earn more.”

And, for the record, I see no shame in being Linda Ronstadt’s guitarist…

Ten Things…

Posted by Brian on 17th May 2011 in Guitar, Performing, Playing well with others

I recently came across this list that was posted on my favourite guitar forum: 10 Things All Guitarists Should Be Able To Do. It is a list of ten things that any guitarist who plans on performing should work on. (And, in my humble opinion, all guitarists should have “performing” on their bucket list.)

This particular list caught my attention because number 2 is one of my pet peeves: Tune your instrument! It seems that so many musicians these days don’t bother to tune their instruments before performing, or more accurately, they don’t tune to the instruments around them; so while they may be in tune with themselves, they are not in tune with the other performers.

Like most top 10 lists, this one has its flaws. There is some overlap – for example, item numbers 3 (sustain), 4 (vibrato) and 8 (timing) are really just subsections of number 5 (phrasing) – and it is definitely weighted towards playing electric guitar. But it is all good advice, nevertheless.

If you’re interested, you can read (or join) the discussion generated by this list at Guitars


Songs You Should Know: Watermelon Sorbet

Posted by Brian on 12th May 2011 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Making a Living, Songs You Should Know

This tune by Eve Goldberg is the tune that we would all love to write. It was picked up and used for several years as the theme song for Bill Richardson’s afternoon radio show on what is now CBC Radio One. As I understand it, the income that was generated by daily national radio play allowed Eve to do what we all want to do – quit her day job at Borealis Records and play music full-time.

As fingerstyle tunes go, this one is pretty accessible. It uses familiar open position chords and a strict alternating bass line throughout. And it sticks in the listener’s ear for hours!

Have look at the video and see if you can figure it out!

Video of the Month: Craig D’Andrea

Posted by Brian on 1st May 2011 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitar, Guitarists, Video of the Month

This month’s video features another CandyRat recording artist, Craig D’Andrea. This tune, called “As We Go” is from his most recent CD: “…and the B.L.T.s”. Once again this month, biographical information is hard to find as his website is still under construction, but I can tell you that he is roughly 26 years old and that this CD is Craig’s third release on CandyRat records (who seem to have a monopoly on solo fingerstyle guitar players). I also know that he won the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in 2007 and that he lives in Connecticut.

Tuning: GBbEbFBbD
Craig’s Website:
Craig at CandyRat Records: – sheet music available

Happy Easter!

Posted by Brian on 21st April 2011 in General Music, Guitar, Guitarists

To help get you in the mood for Good Friday and Easter, here is Chet playing the classic hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”:

How to: Become an Expert Guitar Player

Posted by Brian on 13th April 2011 in General Music, Guitar, How to:..., Practice

They say that it takes ten thousand hours of working on something to become an “expert”. (I’m not sure who “they” are, but I’ve heard it a number of times and have no reason to doubt that number, so we’ll go with it.) The average full time job occupies roughly two thousand hours a year, so I suppose that this is why most job postings are looking for someone with at least five years experience.

Now, lets consider what it takes to become an expert guitar player. Let’s say the budding young guitarist has half an hour a day set aside for practice, and by “practice” I don’t mean playing a favourite riff repeatedly, I mean working on scales, building repertoire, studying theory, ear training, etc. Lets assume that our budding young guitarist manages to practice five days a week on average – so two and a half hours of practice a week, or, assuming two weeks of vacation each year, 125 hours a year. Only seventy-nine years to go before receiving “expert” status. (For the record, its a rare “budding young guitarist” who even practices this much.)

Let’s say that our future expert decides that, yes, music is something that (s)he wants to get serious about. (S)he decides to practice an hour a day, 6 days a week and joins a band that rehearses for 2 hours every Thursday night. We’re now up to 400 hours a year – and a mere twenty-five years away from “expert” status. But take heart, we can get there five years sooner if we can book a 2-hour gig every weekend…

Clearly, this is going to take some time…

Better get started.




Book Review: Six String Nation

Posted by Brian on 29th March 2011 in Book Review, Guitar, Review, The Instrument

Back in December, I wrote a post on the Six String Nation Guitar. A guitar that was built using Canadian historical and cultural artifacts.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I was given the Six String Nation book written by Jowi Taylor, who first conceived the idea of the Six String Nation Guitar.

The book is basically a history of the guitar, which has been nicknamed “Voyageur”.

Taylor starts with the initial concept and takes us through the collection of materials and construction of the instrument, to its performance debut, and beyond to its appearances at various music festivals and other events. There are also a number of short pieces throughout the book featuring various people who were involved in the creation of the instrument and stories of how various artifacts from different regions came to be  part of the instrument.

The book is well written and interesting, but what really struck me was the photography. One of the features of the Six String Nation project is that when the guitar is at a public event, a photographer is available to take pictures of different people holding the guitar. The photos are all taken with the same white backdrop, but the artistry of the photos is quite striking. There are also lots of photos of the guitar being played both on stage and off, by a number of Canadian performers.

So if you’re looking for a gift for that special guitar-playing someone, this just may be the ticket.

Ordering information can be found on the Six String Nation Website.
(Note: I have no affiliation with the book, its author, or its publisher.)



Quote, Unquote.

Posted by Brian on 23rd March 2011 in Guitar, Guitarists, Practice, The Instrument

A selection of favourite guitar quotes:

“A guitar is something you can hold and love and it’s never going to bug you. But here’s the secret about the guitar — it’s defiant. It will never let you conquer it. The more you get involved with it, the more you realize how little you know.”
Les Paul

“I got my first guitar when i was about nine years old. It took me five years to learn how to tune it but it was easy from there on.”
—The Edge

“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded.”
— Jimi Hendrix

“No matter how long you play guitar, there’s always something else to learn.”
— Tom Petty

“About 10 years ago I knew three chords on the guitar. Now, in 1982, I know three chords on the guitar.”
— Freddie Mercury

“I’d think learning to play the guitar would be very confusing for sighted people.”
— Doc Watson

“I began to learn a lot of chords and rhythms. It was a bit boring at the time but came in very handy later on.”
— Alvin Lee

“I can’t say I’ve really mastered the instrument but I’m able to get it to where it speaks for me.”
— Dave Mason

“I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor. I can never move but I can make a guitar speak.”
— John Lennon

“The guitar is the easiest instrument to play and the hardest to play well.”
— Andres Segovia

“I wanted to learn how to do everything a person could do on a guitar. Of course, that was impossible.”
— David Bromberg

“My chosen instrument is guitar and, fortunately, I’m able to muddle through that. I can play guitar to the point where I can express myself artistically.”
— Joe Perry

“The thing about guitar players is we’re all like a brotherhood or sisterhood. We don’t care if you’re great, good, bad, in between or whatever. As long as you love it, then we’re all going to help each other.”
— Tommy Emmanuel

“Because of its low cost, ease of playing, and quick learning curve, you should seriously consider whether the air guitar is the instrument for you.”
— Larry Sanders

“Pain or romance. That’s what I do with the guitar. I don’t do scales. I either make it sound like it’s in pain or in love.
Dick Dale

“I have always felt — from the very first day that I picked up the guitar — that this journey was never going to end.”
— Steve Vai

“There’s so much that can be done on the guitar. And that’s what is so good about the guitar — everyone can really enjoy themselves on it and have a good time, which is what it’s all about. Right?”
— Jimmy Page

“If something is too hard to do, then it’s not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your shortwave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we’ll go inside and watch TV.”
— Homer Simpson