Guitar Noise News – February 2014

Guitar Noise Valentine's Day


And welcome to the February edition of Guitar Noise News, the “official newsletter” of the Guitar Noise website.

If we’ve timed this right, it should be right about Valentine’s Day, which means that you’re either about to have a great day or that you’re a bit of a wreck because you’ve forgotten it. Let’s hope it’s the former!

Also, there’s a great chance that Paul has put together a special “Valentine’s Day” version of the Guitar Noise logo, which you can see at the upper left hand corner of any page on the website. Did you see the great logo we had for Chinese New Year? If not, take a look at the top of the January 2014 Guitar Noise News.

With a bit of luck, we’re hoping to have new variations of the Guitar Noise banner up for special occasions throughout the year. If you’ve any suggestions as to the “when,” just drop a note in the Comment Section of this newsletter.

Question of the Moment

A recent email:

David, I’m curious about one point:

What keeps you writing such good articles?

When people first stumble upon Guitar Noise (and when they feel so inclined to drop us either an email or a note in any of the Comment Sections), one thing many note is how detailed the lesson instruction is.

A lot of the “why” of this is because when I first started writing for Guitar Noise, back in November 1999, we had no audio files and were just getting started on working putting up music notation and tablatures. We did this through a program called MusEdit (we have since switched to Finale, in case you’re wondering) in order to make the notation and tablature stand apart from the crude “lines with numbers” format one would find on the innumerable guitar tab sites of the time.

As a teacher, I found that many other teachers (not to mention all those websites) taught by what I call the “do this” method. In other words, they’d write out a tab and say “play this” without giving the reader much else in the way of instruction. Ironically, in some ways this method is used even more these days in video lessons.

When Paul hired me to write for Guitar Noise, I quickly realized that I was writing for people all over the world who were are every possible level of guitar playing one could imagine. So my goal was to try to explain as much as possible and in such a way that the readers hopefully would find all of their questions already addressed in the text.

Both Paul and I take pride in the amount of recognition the Guitar Noise has received over the years. The highest compliment we get is how reading the lessons is like having an instructor right there with the reader. And I’ve also done my best to maintain that level of writing for my various books for “The Complete Idiot’s Guides” publishers.

I think what it all comes down to is that I think that music, as well as the making and the sharing of music, is all about inclusivity. Anyone can play. Yes, there will always be different levels of ability and people will always want to be better guitarists and musicians than they currently are. And we at Guitar Noise hope to do whatever we can to make those dreams of playing (or playing better) come true.

Personally, I, too, am constantly striving to become a better guitarist and musician and I think it’s only fair to share what I learn. And since I intend to keep learning forever, I guess I hope to also keep writing forever, too!

This is a lot more of a ramble than I had intended! But I do hope it helps answer your question.

And, by the way, both Paul and I do try to answer every question and email that we do get. Placing a comment or question directly with the article is one way to reach us. You can also feel free to email me directly at my personal email, which is still [email protected] (see? some things don’t change!)

New Lessons, Articles, Reviews, Blog Posts

First, we’re excited to be bringing new song lessons and articles to the pages of Guitar Noise. If you’ve not already found these on our home page, you might want to check them out:

Ventura Highway – America
Guitar Noise Song Lesson by David Hodge

This single-guitar arrangement of America’s “Ventura Highway” focuses on strumming but also adds little fills to give it a similar style to the original recording. As always, we’ll walk you through it step by step and the lesson comes complete with both music notation, guitar tablature, and MP3 audio files.

Guitar Noise Music Bio by David Hodge

Find out a bit more about the folk-rock band formed by Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek, who won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1972.

The Circle Game – Joni Mitchell
Guitar Noise Song Lesson by David Hodge

Here is an easy fingerstyle arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” done in open G tuning. As always, we’ll walk you through it step by step and the lesson comes complete with both music notation, guitar tablature, and MP3 audio files.


We at Guitar Noise invite you to advertise you (or your band’s) upcoming gigs here on our Events Page. You can see, for example, that our own Alan Green will be playing guitar on Valentine’s Day with the Essential Sounds Big Band at Saint Peter’s by the Waterfront, located on College Street in Ipswich (England).

To announce your gig, drop Paul a line on our “Gig Alert” thread on the Guitar Noise Forum page’s News Section.

And still speaking of Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but bring up one of my favorite love songs of all time, “It’s Not a Love Song,” written by Guitar Noise Ubermoderator Nick Torres. Three years ago we were running a feature called “Spotlight on the SSG” and Nick’s song, appropriately, got showcased for Valentine’s Day. Nick was also kind enough to let me use it as the main focus for the “playing in a group” section of my book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Ukulele, and the recording that we made for the book is one of my absolute favorites, even if it’s only the first verse!

And, finally, coming up soon in our Guitar Noise Song Lessons section you’ll find a sparse, elegant accompaniment for “Crazy Love” by to be followed by separate lessons on Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Karma Police.” We’re looking to add future lessons throughout 2014, featuring songs from Led Zeppelin, Gordon Lightfoot, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow, and the Grateful Dead.

Plus, we’ll also be bringing you lessons on all sorts of other topics. You’ll soon be able to find a primer on power chords as well as ukulele arrangements of R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon” and “Losing My Religion.”

This and That (or “Neither Here Nor There”)

I’m not sure what to call this section of the newsletter and I’m trying to decide between “This and That” and “Neither Here Nor There.” We used to call it “Random Thoughts,” and maybe I should consider going back to that. Or maybe I should simply flit between the three. Thoughts (random or otherwise)?

Anyway, in the “neither here nor there” category, I’d like to relate an observation about life on the Internet, or at least life as it’s being presented to us. It wasn’t all that long ago that, whenever you went online, you were often besieged with messages of inclusion, such as “People are searching for you” or “Find your yearbook / school / college friends” and that sort of thing. Yes, these are all spam artists, but that’s not the point here.

What is the point is that nowadays, apparently, we as a society are not about inclusion. The banner ads are more likely than not to tell you things like “Four people are spying on you! Find out who?” Kind of sad, no?

But not as sad as anyone who has ever thought of the Internet as a private place. There’s absolutely no way that is can be. And, believe it or not, this is part of the reason why Guitar Noise exists – to publicly bring together and give guitarists and musicians from all over the world a place where they can discuss their art, music, and to go through the growing pains with the strength and support of those who have done (or are currently going through) the same.

In a recent email from Paul, he mentioned to me that in November I’d be celebrating be part of the Guitar Noise staff for fifteen years. That seems like an eternity sometimes, but all of it is here online. You’ve got a decade and a half of my lessons and articles and (for what it’s worth) random thoughts at your beck and call should you ever need it.

And while that certainly seems more than a little weird, it also seems to be a great way to segue back to our opening “Question of the Moment,” no?

As always, I look forward to keeping up with you all on a more regular basis.

Play well.

Play often (meaning “every chance you get!”).