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Work vacation

Let’s try again, apologies for not updating or posting for ages I am in the process of moving home at the moment and although it may sound an excuse I have to say that the house we are moving to is still incomplete and requires me and my partner to finish it! As we both have day jobs it means that we are spending almost all of our other 8 hours in the day working away at building and final finishing. At the moment the daughters’ bedrooms have no plaster on the walls and on one side not even a wall to plaster, one of the outside doors has 9 holes where new double glazed units have to and other things like no guttering down one side of the building, anyway, it has become a major obsession in my life at the moment so most other things are being put on the back burner. This of course means my posting has become less and less and I don’t seem to be able to fit in the video making. I had a problem with the room where I did those anyway and in my next incarnation the room will be brighter and much more conducive to doing great work. Most of my guitar students are now off for the summer anyway and I haven’t progressed with either my singing or classical guitar course.
One of the ideas I have for the website is doing guitar course reviews, and hopefully give you some idea about which courses are worth it and what you might get out of them. Personally I don’t think you can beat one on one coaching for a musical instrument and I think you need to be in the same room as well but we’ll see.
So, for the next two months you probably notice no difference whatever from the last three months because that’s how long I have been focusing on the conversion and as most of the comments I get are spam I am assuming that I don’t get many regular visitors anyway plus the fact that without feedback I am stumbling along blindly.
Life does not stop and our dreams remain despite having more pressing matters to attend to so as long as I keep taking steps toward achieving them I am doing something and doing something is better than doing nothing any day. So I am forgetting the rules, the formatting, the thinking that nothing is good enough and I am just going to keep writing what I can, when I can and that’s what’s coming out here.


Guitar performance:Observing yourself

It seems a lot of regular guitar teaching websites offer a great deal of info and very useful tips on the technique and nuts and bolts of playing the guitar but I don’t come across many articles about the strategy for producing a finished product or the mental and emotional blockages that have to be overcome to finish a new or even just learn a piece enough to perform it. It’s ok to sit in your room and practice all day and even play along to backing tracks but there is nothing like the real thing of playing before an audience to get some real feedback. You may be able to roll off some killer chops and licks when on your own but when you are being observed and if you consider the quantum weirdness effect here, things change, you might find you fingers seizing up or even worse forgetting what your are meant to be playing next. What you look like also plays a part in how you feel and your overall level of confidence.

Well, I found this out myself just last week and realise that I need a lot more practice at performing complete pieces of music and I have even considered getting some help with image and presentation. I have played in bands, vocal quartets, folk groups and lately a guitar vocal duo, but in all the time I have been playing, I have never played solo either instrumental, or with singing (That will come next) so I sat down to record some tunes last week I had been working on specifically with the intention of recording as a performance to promote myself on Youtube. I needed an instant audience and I know of someone I can easily call on at a moment’s notice also happens to be one of the most critical I know of, myself.

So I had rehearsed three tunes a few times and sat down to record them on my Zoom Q3 and It’s amazing what goes through your mind thinking of all the millions of people just sat there watching you, it has quite an unnerving effect and what was normally a relatively straightforward, relaxed performance and I refer to quantum wierdness here when you are being observed things change!, you seem to lose a certain amount of fluidity to say the least. Anyway, the first tune I wanted to do was a cover of “Somewhere over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. It is my own arrangement played on my new classical guitar and is neither long nor complicated but it took me about ten takes to perform it all the way through and even then I was not too pleased with it. As it is I am going to re-record it again and have decided to post a tune I have been developing of my own which I have called “Guitar Salsa” for now. This is mainly because it’s played on guitar and you can dance your Salsa steps to the rhythm so was easy to name. Even the performance of this is not the best I’ve done but perfection can wait , I need to get it out and actually I am not so anxious about this because it’s rather embryonic as it is so is being published as a snapshot of work in progress. it will be further developed.

So in conclusion I have found this exercise incredibly valuable not only as an aid to helping to complete something but as a mirror to see exactly what you look like and sound like from the outside (Can be a bit disconcerting). This method of practice is extremely valuable not only for the inexperienced performer but for seasoned players also and I guess is probably used anyway by professionals to hone their skills. If you don’t believe me just try playing a piece from beginning to end without hitch good enough in your opinion to be broadcast. You might be a natural performer and be able to do this without any inhibition but I feel that there are a lot of performers and possibly even the best erstwhile performers that we will never see or hear because they have never stood up either before a video camera or a mirror or more importantly a live audience and gone through a song or played a piece from beginning to end mainly because there is no reason to. Well consider the completion of just a couple of tunes to camera as reason enough and you will gain fantastic value from doing just this.

I love to hear your comments so please feel free to tell me what you think.

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Hi there,

Following on in my series of basic guitar set-ups, this one is about setting the individual string lengths to give an accurate octave of the open strings exactly at the twelfth fret.

As all the strings are of a different mass and also tuned to a different frequency it follows that the vibrational nodes of each string are going to fall in slightly different places and as the frets are fixed in one place, the way of compensating  for the difference is achieved by having slightly differing string lengths. The heavier and lower in register the individual string is, the longer it needs to be to obtain a more accurate intonation over the scale of the frets. The most obvious outcome of this maladjustment is that you tune your guitar’s open strings perfectly but when you play some chords particularly higher up the fretboard, it sounds out of tune!

Different types of guitar have different methods of reaching this adjustment, this video covers a Gibson type bridge with angular saddle pieces that are adjusted by an ordinary flat blade screwdriver. Some guitars have hex wrench screws and some cross head screws but the principal remains the same.

Acoustic guitars do not generally have individual adjustment so you have to rely on the quality and accuracy of the manufacturer. This issue will be covered in a later post

I love to hear your comments so please do post your thoughts.


How to remove fret buzz


Continuing from my last post here’s my latest instructional thread on – as the title suggests – how to remove fret buzz.

In this particular instance the fret buzz has been made manifest by straightening the neck but it may be that your guitar has always had this annoying problem and completely put you off playing,  so here’s how to fix it!

Not a fully comprehensive tome but enough to give you the general idea and I would be glad to go into it in more detail if asked so please leave comments so we can share the experience.

May your guitar strings be your heart strings.


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How to straighten your guitar neck

Hi, this is my first video and one of a series which will help the newbie or improver guitar player to understand and fix any perceived problems that they may have with their instrument, particularly those that have had an instrument lying around unused and unloved.

Like life itself,  you generally get back what you give out – so it is with the guitar – and everyone (Every guitar that is) like ourselves, has a unique sound and personality so the more time and attention you pay it, the greater the rewardsyou will receive back!.

Topics covered in this series:-

  1. Adjustment of truss rod – This one.
  2. Removal of fret buzz – Usually following adjustment of fret buzz.
  3. Intonation – Adjusting the octave perfectly over the 12th fret.
  4. Action – Height of strings away from the frets by adjustment of the bridge.
  5. Nut adjustment – Height of strings away from the frets by adjustment of the nut.

From a Demo to a release

This series of articles, video’s/audio’s I hope goes some way to remove some of the mystery from the process of going from a rough take to a full blown multi-track production suitable for release.

The actual material I will be working with is a song called “Weathergirl” and was penned by my songwriting collaborator Andrew Brock.

Without explaining too much about the song itself – as it should speak for itself – I suggest you go ahead and listen to the first draft which consists of an acoustic guitar and two tracks of vocal sung by me to get an idea for harmonies and construction.

The whistling part unless of course retained by popular demand I intend to replace with a Guitar Solo. I had idea’s for violin solo also be we shall use what is readily available i.e Me and one (Or two) of my various guitars. I will also add some percussion, not sure what yet but I do have a Korg PADKontroller and some good drum sounds but not sure I can get the light feel necessary for such a breezy sounding song.
I would much appreciate your comments good bad or ugly as I am considering this as a collaboration that could ultimately end up with  many different versions.
I am currently involved in a self development course to try and change my habitual habits of not seeing things through and changing my mind before the major change I originally intended has come anywhere near fruition.
It does however now seem  to be working both on a subconscious level and also in my conscious  actions and is self-evident from my output since I have been following the regular daily short video’s.
I have achieved at least some of the tasks that I know I should have done ages ago and persistently but always talked my self out of. The main difference between previous attempts and now is that I actually  feel like doing it instead of just going through the motions and hoping that I would feel better afterwards.
Anyway, the latest two instalments are the the subjects that gave arise to my Reality Checkpoint and are concerned with negative and positive emotions. It is with this simple scoring system that has made me aware that I am not very positive at all! and goes some way to explain why I have never managed to lift myself out of the rut that I seem to have been following for possibly twenty years. Actually this is  a wholly pessimistic outlook as there have been quite a few major accomplishments by myself and my partner within this time period, in fact a lot more than some people manage in a lifetime but what I’m trying to say is that it is a viewpoint on my terms and not other peoples idea of what they think I or themselves should be doing or have done.
To illustrate I will list the emotions and my current score for each one, first the negative….
On a scale from 1 – 10 (1 being “I am in control of me” and 10 being “I am consumed by these emotions”)
Fear –                      3
Jealousy –           5
Hatred –               4
Revenge –           7
Greed –                 2
Superstition – 2
Anger –                7
Total =                  30
Now the positive…
On a scale from 1 – 10 (1 being “I am numb to this emotion” and 10 being “I am in harmony with these emotions”)
Desire –                  3
Faith –                     2
Love –                      1
Sex –                          1
Enthusiasm –    2
Romance –           1
Hope –                     2
Total =                  12
The total scores speak for themselves and it is apparent  that I am more than half consumed with negative emotions!!
I am wondering if this is an average score or am I just individually not a very happy person? I would really like to know where some other members of the tribe come out on this?