Nov 30 2010

Gibson: User’s Guide To Distortion

by Josh

Just a quick one: Gibson has released a User’s Guide To Distortion and it does a great job of explaining the different types of distortion and what it means to your playing.  Very enlightening!

Aug 18 2010

What’s been going on lately…

by Josh

Happily, a lot of guitar practice. I’ve been alternating between my Gibson Custom and my Seagull acoustic, mostly practicing songs that I am familiar with. I’ve been continuing on lessons over at Totally Guitars and slowly making progress.

I got the opportunity to travel back to my hometown thanks to my job, so I got to hang out and jam with my two cousins. It’s always cathartic to get to practice with family, and I always find it to be much more relaxing.

In the process of learning more about the guitar, I am also cultivating a strong interest in learning to build guitars myself. It will likely be next year before I execute on this interest, but we might end up with a new section at The Guitar Zero to focus on instrument building for the absolute beginner. I am still in the information-gathering phase, but luckily the Internet is filled with information from both amateur and professional luthiers. As the weeks progress, I will explore some of the more interesting websites that I have discovered lately.

In the meantime, I will get back to posting more about my guitar practice and some recent discoveries that have made playing more easy. More soon!

Apr 27 2010

Learning by jamming…

by Josh

I have the notable pleasure of working in an office environment with a bunch of other amateur musicians, so once in awhile we get together and have an office jam. The latest of these was last weekend, and we tend to prepare a new song each jam session and then go back to some old favorites.

I ended up arriving to the jam session late (as usual) and joined in with the group on a long rendition of Hey Joe.  After that, we made a few aborted attempts at Layla by Eric Clapton and quickly just fell into a blues session. A coworker of mine is fairly experienced with the guitar, and I picked up a simple little blues shuffle by watching him which ended up being my main contribution to the song.

Just as with anything, it seems to help if you surround yourself with more experienced players and just try to pick up a thing or two each time to work on.  It was fun getting to learn a few new licks, and that led me to seek out  this YouTube tutorial on a simple 12-bar blues that I’ve been working on lately.  I hope you all enjoy it.

Mar 7 2010

Common Chord Progressions and you…

by Josh

Over the last two months, I’ve been working on a lot of song practice.  Most recently, I have discovered the newest offering by one of my favorite bands: Barenaked Ladies.  For some reason, their new song “You Run Away” has burrowed into my brain and I have been listening to the single I purchased from iTunes frequently.

After some discussion with John, he pointed out that the guitar parts of this song are pretty easy.  I was somewhat skeptical, knowing that Ed Robertson’s guitarwork is on average far more advanced than what I would consider pretty easy, but I asked John to get me the chords for it anyway.  He quickly hit me back with details that as far as he could tell, the song used a capo on the 2nd fret and the chords were G, Dsus4/F#, Em7, and Cadd9.

That sounds like a mouthful, I thought… but I tried it out and quickly realized that these were the EXACT same chords that I use to play Eve, The Apple of my Eye.  I was but a few hours of strumming practice away from getting the pattern and with little effort I had another song in my repertoire!  John pointed out that this is one of the more common chord progressions in pop/rock music today and there is probably 100 more songs that follow the same pattern.  We’ve started work on a list that we will post up here, but it’s fun when skills from one song directly transfer to another!

Thanks to John for the chord tab and to Barenaked Ladies for a great song that inspired me to look deeper.  Their new album arrives in Canada on March 23rd and the US on March 30th, so be sure to check it out!

Jun 1 2009

New guitar is showing up today!

by Josh

My New Guitar!

I was lucky enough to come across a good price for this lovely used 60’s reissue Fender Stratocaster in three-tone sunburst!  The shipping notice says it should show up today, so with any luck I will be getting it set up and ready to rock shortly!

Aside from the price, I selected this guitar at the advice of my cousin John.  He knows what type of music I like and recommended this particular model of guitar.  He likes Fender stuff and has his own truly excellent David Gilmour relic stratocaster.  He’s even got some YouTube videos playin’ the thing.  He knows a quality guitar when he gets his hands around one!

Paul, one of my coworkers has recommended the book Fretboard Logic as a good starting point to help learning how to play solos, so I’ll be getting that to help with my skill building!

May 21 2009

Barenaked Ladies and Death Cab for Cutie practice and research…

by Josh

I’ve spent the last week periodically practicing some new songs: Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie and Light Up My Room by Barenaked Ladies.

For both of these songs, I received some instruction from my cousin John via Skype.  Soul Meets Body is only three chords, its a decent song to work on strumming and switching chords.  I still don’t quite have the strumming down, but its getting better.  Light Up My Room is one of my long-time favorite songs and I really wanted to learn the intro to that one.  It’s much more fingerpick oriented, but its not that hard of a pattern to figure out if you listen to the song while you practice.

My cousin was able to dig up a reference video for each of these songs: Soul Meets Body from an old appearance on Conan O’Brien and Light Up My Room from YouTube’s Bathroom Sessions.  Watching those videos helped work out the chord formations and some of the strumming/picking patterns to get more comfortable with the songs.

I’ll put up a more detailed post about each song after I work on them a bit more, so keep an eye out for those!

May 13 2009

Practice: Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

by Josh

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up the tab for Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty and gave it a shot.  Free Fallin’ is a song that is well suited to beginners like me because its only three chords and they’re very easy to switch between.

The song is comprised of a D chord, a Dsus chord, and an Asus chord.  The strum pattern is pretty easy to figure out if you listen to the song, and I learned an important lesson from this song: often, a finger or two will remain anchored and will not move as you move from chord to chord.  In the case of Free Fallin’, your ring finger will stay in the same spot on the B string.

You can see this by looking at the chords I listed above:

     D  Dsus  Asus

To move from the D to Dsus, simply add your fourth finger to the e string. To move from the D chord to the Asus chord, leave the ring finger where its at and then shift your index and ring fingers to the D and G string as indicated on the tablature above.  Anchor that ring finger and don’t let it move as you transition your chords, it really helps.

This is a very fun song to play and provides both chord switching practice and strumming practice. With a little work I think I can have this one down!

May 11 2009

Concerts: Fleetwood Mac

by Josh

I live near Denver and as a result get the chance to see some pretty great shows.  Last night was no exception, as I got the chance to see legends Fleetwood Mac in concert!

At first, I was a little apprehensive about spending that much money on a concert.  I have absolutely no reservations after the show!  The whole experience was cool… being an older band the crowd wasn’t rowdy at all.  In fact, a lady that reminded me quite a bit of my Mom was sitting next to us.  She warned me that she always cries at “Avalanche” which I can only figure meant “Landslide”… the band came on around 8:20 and played for around two and a half hours and did TWO encores!

The show was being billed as “The Hits” and it did not disappoint… pretty much every song I could think of that even remotely passed as a hit of theirs they did.  The highlights of the night for me was Lindsey Buckingham doing a completely wicked guitar solo that was so good he got an extended standing ovation after it was over.  Mick Fleetwood also had a pretty rocking drum solo during the first encore, which was pretty fun.  Stevie Nicks seemed a little lower in register than I remember her being from her albums, but still worked it out pretty well.  John McVie just seemed to be there… quietly working it out on the bass without too much involvement with the crowd.  The concert was extremely good overall, and my ears were still ringing this morning!

After doing some research, I found out that Lindsey Buckingham plays a Model One guitar from Turner Renaissance guitars that he helped design.  It seems that you too can own that guitar but since you have to email them to find out how much I’m guessing its probably more than I have to spend on a guitar (I emailed them anyway, curiosity got the best of me)!  Lindsey sure could shred that thing… his fingerpicking alone was outstanding.  There is a YouTube clip that shows the solo I mentioned above as evidence of his superior abilities.  I’m going to use the experience of watching him play as a target… if I can get 1/4 as good as he is at fingerpicking I will consider this venture a WILD success!

It was a very worthwhile concert, if they’re coming anywhere nearby everyone should take the opportunity to see them!  If you can’t do that, it seems that there’s already 33 YouTube clips from our concert to enjoy!

May 8 2009

Sore fingers lead to research…

by Josh

One of the more irritating side effects of practicing the guitar more is sore fingers from pressing down on the strings.  I don’t have a good solution for this problem, but it has led me to doing a considerable amount of research, guitar shopping, and watching skilled guitarists on YouTube while I rest my fingertips a bit.

Tonight, my wife was flipping through channels and I noticed that Counting Crows was playing on palladia, so Adam Duritz is rockin’ it out as I write this post.  I really like his songwriting and I’ve been a fan of Counting Crows for a long time.  He’s got a blog that is very interesting, its worth a read!

Among other interesting things I’ve come across this week is Eric Johnson’s 1958 Les Paul Goldtop on Ebay for a ridiculous amount of money, which took me quickly to YouTube to find this video of him playing Cliffs of Dover.  I have no idea how someone attains that level of guitar skill.  Insane.  I’ve been very lucky to string a few chords together at a time, watching him play is astonishing.

Mores soon!