Newsletter Vol. 4 # 26 – May 1, 2012


Welcome to Volume 4, Issue #26 of Guitar Noise News!

In This Issue:

  • Greetings, News and Announcements
  • Guitar Noise Featured Artist
  • Topic of the Month
  • New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff
  • Great Advice from Great Teachers
  • Random Thoughts

Greetings, News and Announcements

Hello! And welcome to the May 1, 2012 edition of Guitar Noise News, your free twice-a-month newsletter from Guitar Noise.

This month we are welcoming the return of our song lesson, “Cat’s in the Cradle” This particular arrangement uses both fingerpicking and strumming and is a lot of fun to play! We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

Guitar Noise Featured Artist

For obvious reasons, our Guitar Noise “Featured Artist of the Month”usually is a guitarist. This time out, though, we’re putting the spotlight on a man who did a lot of drumming. And a lot of listening and tinkering. He may not have been known as a guitarist, but Jim Marshall has probably done more for rock guitarists and bassists than just about anyone! You can read about “The Father of Loud” in the latest bio on the Guitar Noise Profile Page.

Topic of the Month

Having Jim Marshall as our May Featured Artist naturally led to us choosing “Performing and Playing Guitar Live” as our new Guitar Noise Topic of the Month. You can find many great lessons on this topic here at Guitar Noise by popping over to our homepage and clicking on the “Topic of the Month” link up at the top of the page, just below the blue banner.

New Articles, Lessons, Reviews and Stuff

Building A Chord Vocabulary
by Tom Serb

Can anyone really play 10, 15, or 20,000 different chords? Yep, you bet. Tom reveals the system for navigating the fretboard that he teaches his students.

How To Make The Transition From 6-String Guitar To 7-String Guitar
by Tom Hess

Tom Hess discusses how to improve your 7-string guitar playing by using the unique aspects of the instrument to guide you and to help improve your skills.

To Read or Not to Read
Part 3 – Some Practical Pointers
by Nick Minnion

The final installment of Nick Minnion’s excellent three-part series has some great tips for you to improve on your basic music notation reading skills in order to become better (and quicker!) at sight reading.

Finding Clyde – “Thoughts Of You” from the CD “Sacrifice It All”
CD Mini-Review by Lily

A powerful rock ballad from a hard-playing Michigan ban – definitely worth a listen!

Voice Leading for Guitarists – An Introduction
by Dan Vuksanovich

Voice leading, a vital component of harmony and composing, should be part of every guitarist’s technique. Here’s a great introduction to this musical topic and also a great introduction to Dan Vuksanovich, our latest Guitar Noise contributor!

Cat’s In The Cradle
by David Hodge

There’s a little bit of everything in this lesson, from easy arpeggios and strumming to some basic Travis style finger picking patterns. As always, David picks the song apart into small pieces that even many beginners can get with some concerted practice. Have fun learning this Harry Chapin classic!

Great Advice From Great Teachers

I have to make an apology at this point – we’re not going to be able to run the rest of Tom Serb’s series on Counterpoint, at least here in the newsletter. To best present the information in the coming segments, it’s vital to have a visual demonstration using music notation. And, at the present time at least, we can’t manage to do that here in the newsletters. But don’t worry! We will be posting the rest of the Counterpoint lesson on our blog in the very near future (Part 2 should go up sometime by May 7 or 8).

In the meantime though, here’s another piece of advice that you hopefully will find helpful.

Which Guitar First?

My students (or their parents) will often ask my opinion on which type of guitar to buy. For most beginners, it’s not even a question of brands or manufacturers. It’s whether to get an acoustic or an electric. While I have my personal preferences, I usually bring the question back to them: which guitar is going to make you want to play it? Then we go over the benefits of each.

Acoustic. Discussing acoustic guitars often leads to a conversation on body styles and sizes. For children, it’s important to take physical growth into account. A parent is often unaware that acoustic and electric guitars come in three-quarter and half sizes. Although dreadnoughts are widely available, they aren’t comfortable for many people. But before a student rules out acoustics, I always let him know about folk, auditorium, and parlor styles.

Electric. Students of all ages find electric guitars easier to finger and form chords. And the enthusiasm of playing an electric can spur many students to practice more often. Three of my young students switched from acoustics to electrics this year and their mothers regularly report that it’s hard to separate the student from the guitar!

If a younger student decides on an electric, again, size can be a very important issue. Like acoustics, it is possible to find “student sized” guitars and if a student is particularly young or small, a smaller guitar will usually result in less frustration in terms of trying to fret notes and eventually form chords.

For the would-be first time electric guitarist, it’s also smart to discuss and demonstrate the importance of playing at proper volume levels-whether with an amplifier or with headphones-and being courteous to the other family members.

Classical. It’s easy for the classical guitar to get lost in the list of possible first guitars, and that’s a bit of a shame. The nylon strings seem less intimidating (I caution students that their fingers will still hurt), the wider fingerboard often helps to cleanly fret notes, and the smaller body size usually allows most players to develop better posture and positioning.

The guitar is a highly personal instrument. One can learn the basics on any type of guitar, but a student who loves his or her instrument will usually play (and practice) more than one who’s hoping for a different guitar. As teachers and guitarists, we know that the first guitar is simply that-a first guitar, one of many more to come. People take pride in their instruments as well as in their achievements as students. By helping students choose the right guitar, one that they will want to play, you’re helping to get them started on a lifetime’s adventure.

The key thing to remember about the first guitar is that, above all, it should encourage the student to play at every opportunity. Make certain that it fits the student both in terms of size and personality and that the instrument is set up as well for the student as it can possibly be.

Random Thoughts

We’re making this newsletter a little briefer this time out but, rest assured, we’ll be back with a lot more to discuss in the May 15 issue of Guitar Noise News.

So, until then, play well and play often. And listen to any music that comes your way.

And, as always,