Newsletter Vol. 3 # 83 – February 1, 2009


Welcome to Volume 3, Issue #83 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Topic of the Month
  • New Lessons and Articles
  • Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow
  • Email? We Get Emails!
  • Tutorial Tips
  • Blog Bulletin
  • Reviews
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Hello and welcome to the February 1, 2009 issue of Guitar Noise News. A belated Happy “Year of the Ox,” to you!

The two major announcements of this newsletter both concern Len Collins, who some of you might remember for hosting the “World’s Largest Guitar Lesson,” back in 2004 over in merry old England. I’m sure I should have written that as “olde,” but living in New England I see way too much of that. Kind of surprised the state of Massachusetts doesn’t tax business for the extra “e.”

Anyway, Len’s been incredibly busy these past two years putting together the “Guitar Breakthough DVD,” which you’ll be reading about down in the “Reviews” section of the newsletter. Or you can simply click yourself over to the Guitar Noise review of Len’s DVD.

Len’s other bit of news is just as exciting. This coming Friday evening, February 6, at the Dolphin Café, located right on the market square in Towcester, Northamptonshire, Len invites you to his “First.Stop.for.Musicians.” Basically, it’s a huge “meet and greet” where musicians can come and find potential bandmates and music collaborators.

Let me quote directly from the press release:

Guitar Breakthrough, publishers of a popular DVD that helps guitarists improve their playing skills, has announced the launch of First.Stop.for.Musicians, a new concept in face-to-face networking that allows musicians to meet and socialise in a relaxed, non-playing environment. The venue for the launch of this ground-breaking idea is the Dolphin Café, situated on the market square in Towcester, Northamptonshire: the organisers hope that the idea will soon roll out to other venues across the UK and then across the world. The first meeting will take place on Friday 6 February 2009 from 6pm, and meetings will continue on a monthly basis thereafter.

Many musicians – young and old, beginners or experienced – would love to join a band but don’t know where to start in their search for other musicians. It is very important for them have meeting places where they can feel comfortable and find others to talk to, share experiences with and form bands.

“Answering advertisements can be intimidating, and there’s no way of knowing from an ad whether the chemistry will be right,” says Len Collins, founder and MD of Guitar Breakthrough. “We’re hoping that a forum where local musicians can meet in a relaxed environment and exchange ideas about their music will naturally lead to playing relationships developing, and ultimately to bands being created.”

There will be no charge either for membership of First.Stop.for.Musicians or for attending the sessions, which will be open to singers, songwriters, bass players, drummers and other musicians as well as guitarists. Guest speakers with a genuine interest in meeting musicians will be invited to share their experiences.

“We’ll split the meeting into sessions of an hour or so for young musicians aged 13 and under, and those aged 17 and under, prior to the start of the adult session,” added Len. “For the price of a cup of tea or coffee they can chat with other musicians and find people that they would like to play with.”

The meeting will begin at 6pm with a session for young musicians aged 13 and under, with those aged 14 – 17 meeting at 7pm and over 18s at 8pm.

For more information, plus people to contact with questions, click right on over to the Guitar Breakthrough website page at this URL:

And if you do manage to make one of the three sessions this Friday, tell Len I say “hi!”

Topic of the Month

Since today is the start of a new month, it’s time to update our “Topic of the Month.” In case you missed it here in the last newsletter, 2009 saw the return of this timeless Guitar Noise feature. If you happen to visit the Home Page of Guitar Noise, you will notice, up on the left hand side, close to the top, a list of lessons under the header, “Practicing,” which is the “Topic of the Month” for February.

Under the “Practicing” header, you’ll find links to some of the many wonderful articles and lessons we have here at Guitar Noise about practicing, written by a wide range of contributing authors. You’re bound to find a lot of interesting and educational material.

You’ll also notice that Darrin’s newsletter tip today concerns the practicing of modes. Couldn’t have planned this better if we tried!

And if you’ve any requests for future “Topics of the Month,” feel free to drop me an email about it. My Internet address, as I’m sure you know, is [email protected] and please try to put “Topic of the Month” in the subject line of your email.

Moving on to other new material:

New Lessons and Articles

As I seem to be doing a lot lately, I’m in the middle of putting the finishing touches on a new article while trying to get the newsletter and new podcasts done at the same time. So if “Dust in the Wind” is not up online when you get this issue of Guitar Noise News, don’t panic! It should be up online very, very shortly.

How to Make the Right Contacts in the Record Industry
by Tom Hess

You often hear that success in the music business is not about what you know as much as it is about who you know. So how does one go about getting to know the “whos?” How do we make contact and who are the right people to make contact with? Tom Hess gives some very valuable tips in this article.

Frame by Frame
(Writing a Film Score)
by Ian Hand

Guitar Noise would like to introduce you to another student of Tom Hess, Ian Hand of Bristol, UK, who tells us of his experiences in putting together his first film score.

Dust In The Wind
Songs for Intermediates #26
by David Hodge

This is another one of those songs that could easily have gotten onto the “Easy Songs for Beginners” page, especially if you’ve already worked on the two Guitar Noise Lessons on Travis style finger picking. While you’ll have to work at this one a bit, it’s not beyond the grasp of a beginner who’s ready to practice!

Exploring Music With Darrin Koltow

Tip for February 1 – Practicing Modes (Part 1)

This is the start of a series of articles on practicing modes. We’ll cover a routine you can use to explore, understand and apply modal thinking to your music.

We’ll start with the C ionic or C major sound. We’ll cover chords, scales and arpeggios that convey that basic sound. Let’s look at some ways of playing C ionic with chords, around the fifth fret.


A few notes on this: many different chords are possible for each melody note. I chose the ones I did because they sounded good, had more than a tinge of the ionic sound, and felt right under my fingers.

I used chord substitutions for some of the melody notes: you’ll see and hear E minor and E minor 9. I included the F# as a melody note even though it’s not part of the C major scale — again, it sounds cool.

Next time out we may go into melodic work that conveys the C ionic sound.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2009 Darrin Koltow

Emails? We Get Emails

Hi there

Just a note to say thanks for the great lessons at Guitar Noise. You’re always so clear and funny. That’s what I need, I think, when I’m struggling with chord changes and bleeding fingertips: clear and funny.

Well, I’m just a beginner but I’m getting there. Working on your REM “Losing My Religion” lesson now.

Thanks again.


Thank you for writing and thank you as well for your kind words, although I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be associated with bleeding fingertips! And as long as we’re not headed for the “you’re funny” conversation between Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci in “Good Fellas!”

Please feel free to write anytime, whether with questions or suggestions or just to say hi and keep us updated on how things are going.

I look forward to chatting with you again.


Tutorial Tip


Let me start by saying I am thoroughly enjoying your lessons. I have downloaded up to Podcast #22 (although I have only completed up to 8!). My wife bought me an electric guitar for Christmas of 2008 and a friend gave me an Ibanez acoustic guitar a few months ago. My busy schedule only affords a little time for practice, but I do practice.

I have a question that no one has been able to explain to me. I have tried to figure this one out on my own and can’t come up with the answer. On “Knocking on Heavens door, tricks of the trade”, you show a D chord and then Dsus4 or Dadd9. What are we sussing 4 from and/or adding 9 to?


Thank you for writing and thank you as well for your kind words concerning my work at Guitar Noise. It’s great that you’re getting into the guitar and I think a lot of us are in the same boat when it comes to finding time to practice. Myself included!

In regard to the Dsus4 and Dadd9, let me direct you to an old Guitar Column of mine at Guitar Noise called Building Additions (and Suspensions), which you can find here.

I’m assuming that you already know the basics of making a D chord (and if not, don’t worry, we’ll deal with that in a moment). And let’s start with the Dsus4. The notes of a regular D major chord are D (the root), F# (the third) and A (the fifth). When we replace the third with another note, it’s called a suspended chord. “Dsus4” means that we replace the F# with the “4” or the fourth note in the D major scale, which is G (third fret of the high E string).

We could also replace the F# with the E note (the open high E (first) string). Most guitarists will call this “Dsus2,” meaning that we’ve suspended the third (F# in this case) and replaced it with the second note of the D major scale, which is E.

Scholars of music theory tend to frown and say there’s no such thing as a “sus2” chord, and they do have their reasons for saying so. It’s slightly complicated and not worth getting into at the moment. But to keep them happy, it’s just as easy to call the “Dsus2” a “Dadd9” when playing it on the guitar. Making an “add9” chord simply means to add the ninth note of the major scale to the existing chord. The ninth note is the same as the second note.

Because of fingering concerns, we don’t always get every note of a chord on a guitar, especially on complicated chords. So we could make the argument that the Dadd9 chord is composed of D, F#, A and E (E being the ninth) and that we’re simply not playing the F#. While it’s not technically correct, a guitarist can usually get away with using these terms interchangeably.

If you’re not sure how chords are formed, check out the first two Guitar Columns of this particular series:

And I hope this helped and didn’t simply make things more confusing. Please feel free to write with more questions,

Looking forward to chatting with you again.



Blog Bulletin

Also in case you missed it last time out, I’ve made the decision to use my own blog page, as a kind of musical Q & A forum. We’ve just gotten done with a discussion on determining the key of songs. Next up will be a brief review of using a capo, with a focus on its use in group jamming and arrangements.

As always, please feel free to drop me a line if there’s anything of particular interest you’d like to discuss. I look forward to chatting with you there.


Len Collins’ Guitar Breakthrough DVD
Tutorial DVD Review by David Hodge

The Guitar Breakthough DVD by Len Collins is a breath of fresh air. This DVD lets you sit in on seven lessons spread out over the course of three hours on two discs.

Random Thoughts

I know I’ve mentioned this on numerous occasions, but since when am I above repeating things? This is especially true when this advice should be part of anyone’s everyday life. Two good rules to follow: Never turn down a chance to play music with others and never turn down a chance to go listen to music.

Last night (Friday, January 30), a friend invited me to see what was being billed as “An Evening of Blues Guitar.” The performers were Robben Ford, Jorma Kaukonen, and Ruthie Foster. This was a treat as I’d never seen any of these players in a live setting before.

And I’d never even heard of Ruthie Foster. She was sensational! Opening up the show solo, with just her acoustic guitar and voice, she brought an energy and urgency with her mix of gospel and blues. If you ever have the chance to see her, by all means please do.

This night was the first of a six week tour, I think, so if it comes to your town, give it your attention. Bring a friend.

Or just go out there and listed to a local band. Make it a point to go hear some music this month. What better way to enjoy February.

And before I forget, remember that Valentine’s Day comes the day before our next newsletter. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

And until that next newsletter, play well. Play often. Stay safe.

And, as always…