Newsletter Vol. 3 # 127 – December 1, 2010


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #127 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Spotlight on the Sunday Songwriters Group
  • Guitar Noise Featured Artist
  • Topic of the Month
  • New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff
  • Exploring Guitar with Darrin Koltow
  • Event Horizon
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

I’ve been hearing David working on “A Long December” for his jam class tomorrow at the Berkshire Community College, so I’m guessing that it must be time to turn the 2010 calendar to the last month. So welcome to your December 1 issue of Guitar Noise News, the free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise. My name’s Charley and I am your Guitar Noise News correspondent until at least the end of 2010. Then I’m thinking it’s high time I pass the keyboard back over to David. We’ll see.

Don’t know if any of you noticed, but when Paul put together the “Now and Zen” theme for last month’s topic, he also totally revamped the Guitar Noise site map so that you can find any article by year or by month.

I don’t know about you, but I find this very cool! And I totally appreciate that Paul has my glamour shot still up online with the April 15, 2008 newsletter.

And just in case you’re interested, I have taken up guitar since that first newsletter. Not that I would say I’m all that great at it! Like David, I play left handed, which is convenient because I get to use any of his guitars. It should come as no surprise that I’m partial to that Seagull of his in the photo.

Spotlight On The Sunday Songwriters’ Group

The SSG, which is short for Sunday Songwriters’ Group, has been a part of Guitar Noise for over eight years now, which makes it more than twice as old as me! Nick Torres and GN Forum member Ryan Spencer created the SSG to give songwriters a way to practice. After all, writing songs is much like playing an instrument in that you won’t get better without practice. Each week a new “assignment” is posted in the hopes that it will both challenge and inspire the readers to create a new song. We’re currently in the middle of “Week 5” in case you’re interested.

And I don’t know if you realize it or not, but Guitar Noise has a great many gifted songwriters as members and Paul and David would like to do a little more to get you acquainted with them. So every month starting today you’ll find a song that was written as an SSG assignment. Some will be relatively new songs and some will be from the eight years of archives that we have. Most SSG pieces are modest recordings done on the fly, simply meant to give the listener an idea of what the finished piece will hopefully sound like. And usually the heart that goes into any of these SSG songs more than makes up for the lack of recording it in a professional studio.

First up is a very cool Christmas song that Kathy Reichert wrote for Vic Lewis’ “write a fun Christmas song” assignment back in Year 7. Like most SSG pieces, these are modest recordings.

We hope you enjoy these wonderful songs your fellow Guitar Noise members have put together. And if you’ve got any requests from past years, we’ll try to track them down.

Guitar Noise Featured Artist

We’ve got a two-for-one deal on guitarists for you this month as we profile Metallica as the December Guitar Noise Featured Artist of the month. Read all about Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield on the Guitar Noise Profile Page.

Topic Of The Month

And it being December, it’s time to take out the Guitar Noise Christmas lights and to pull all the many wonderful holiday song lessons we’ve got out of storage. So pay a visit to the Guitar Noise Home page and then click on the Topic Banner showing “Holiday Songs” as the Guitar Noise December Topic of the Month and treat yourself, not to mention your family and friends, to some magical music.

New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff

The Guide To Touring (Part 1)
by Chris Gallant

Chris Gallant (lead singer and guitarist of The Sidewalks) brings you an introduction to the realities of touring. Grab your gear and get ready to hit the road!

Playing Slide Guitar In Standard Tuning
by Vic Lewis

Vic Lewis looks at the basics of playing slide guitar in standard tuning, which is a great thing to know if you’d prefer to not keep changing your tuning every other song!

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Tip for December 1 – Practicing Modes (Part 42)

We’ve plumbed the depths of the C Dorian and minor sounds for some time. Now it’s time for a fresh sound: F dominant 7. There are lots of things you can do to keep this sound interesting, rather than play the same stack of notes each time. We’re going to explore some of these cool twists on F7 in this issue’s exercise.

The exercise is a diatonic (i.e. in-key) walk through the F Mixolydian scale, which uses the Bb major scale. Although each melody note is diatonic, listen for that sweet b9 (Gb) in at least one of the chords. As with most of the exercises we do, play this one ascending and descending.


Next time, we’ll talk about some of the things this exercise does to avoid cliches and seek more sonic color.

Thanks for reading.


Copyright 2010 Darrin Koltow

Event Horizon

Todd Mack’s FODfest, a series of free concerts to celebrate the life of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, will be making a series of stops in the Midwest. Tomorrow, Thursday December 2, they’ll be at the Fulton Street Collective in Chicago. Show goes from 7 until 9 in the evening. And then Saturday, December 4, FODfest will be at the Ginkgo Coffeehouse in Saint Paul, Minnesota from 7 until 10 PM.

Slightly Offensive, with GN Member Tommy (“Tommy Gunz”) McLaughlin on guitar, will be playing Saturday, December 11, at Charleyhorse Bar and Grill at 9501 West 171st Street in Tinley Park, IL. Music starts at 9 PM and goes until 1 in the morning. Keep up with all Tommy’s shows at the Slightly Offensive website (

And I don’t have a time or an address yet, but that same Saturday GN Forum member Doug (“Moonrider”) James will be playing with his group, Southern Roots at the Moose Lodge in Louisa, Virginia. At least I think it’s in Virginia! You can find out more details when they get posted on their Facebook page (

Random Thoughts

In some ways, guitars and pets can be quite alike. Many are bought as gifts, particularly around the holidays. And many don’t hold the attention of the person who received the gift long past that.

And while I met a good number of cats who all could tell this sad story while I was in the “rescue cat house” hoping that Lily and I would find a good home, I can’t help but wonder how many musical instruments don’t ever get a second chance to tell their stories.

David’s classes at the Berkshire Community College will all have at least one person who decided to take up guitar after finding one in his or her home quite by surprise. If I remember correctly, that’s also how Jimmy Page got started (you can check the bio on the Guitar Noise Profile page for me!). Some find instruments that were originally played, however briefly, by one’s parent (or even grandparent) or a sibling. And I’ve even heard folks mention finding a guitar in the trash. Again, sounds like stories I’ve heard from cats and kittens.

But while some folks may find they are allergic to cats, I don’t know anyone who’s allergic to music. More often than not, instruments are either put away or abandoned because of lack of time, lack of desire, or lack of interest. And that’s kind of depressing, especially when you consider that there are so many people out in the world who would truly like to learn to play, if given the chance.

So if you’re taking stock of what you have over the holidays, and happen to find that you’ve some musical instrument that you’ve not touched or even thought about in years, consider bringing some light to someone’s eyes over the holidays. Music schools are always looking for good instruments that can be used as loaners, and there are certainly no shortages of charities that would be happy to give the gift of music to make some child’s smile a lot brighter.

Instruments aren’t the only thing in need. Strings, cases, tools, spare parts, books, tutorial materials, CDs that you’ve stopped using since you’ve gone to MP3 players – there’s a lot of music you can give to the world without being a performer or a songwriter.

And just as songwriters and performers give of their heart, you too can make the world a more musical, more magical place to live. The next generation’s Jimmy Page might be created out of your kindness.

Until our next issue of Guitar Noise News, play well and play often.

And, as David would say…


(Charles T. Cat)