You- Tube Instructional Videos:  Today:  Tim Pierce, teaching Jimi Hendrix:

As I promised in my first Blog, “Welcome to Guitarland”, I’m planning to comment on some stuff on You-Tube, and hopefully point at some videos that are really great.  I’d think that You-Tube is the best thing that has happened for guitar!

I’m convinced that Guitar-Playing is an oral tradition, and videos can be excellent path for this.

Studio musician Tim Pierce’s instructional videos are incredible!  First off, he sounds great.  And his teaching is excellent.  ( Also he looks so HAPPY when he plays, kind of filled with gratitude.  It makes you glad to be a guitar player!)

Right off notice on the “Hey Joe” video, for example the way he shows so well the opening Hammer-on.(at about 1:10 into the video.)  Very good instruction on the fingering.  But notice what a great SOUND he gets.  You can improve your Hammer-on technique with this one example alone. (Philosophy here:  the Small stuff is the Big stuff.)  I think Tim plays this opening about as well as Jimi did, which is awfully cool.  I feel any guitarist can benefit from this video, whether intermediate or advanced.

Hey Joe:  

The Wind Cries Mary:  

Let me know what YOU think!

Best, Joe

Guitar Set-Up

For guitarists this is a super-important topic. While you may not have the patience to learn how to set-up your own guitars, it is so helpful to understand what’s involved. A guitar that is not working correctly can be very frustrating. It can sound badly, be very hard to play, and play out of tune. (i.e. Not Fun)

I remember when I was starting out , I had a Guild D-40 that sounded great when I bought it. Over time it seemed not to play as well: it made warbling kind of sounds, didn’t vibrate properly, had fret “buzzes” and generally didn’t play or sound right. Back then I thought maybe I had only imagined that it ever sounded right.

Now that I know better, I realize that this guitar needed to be set-up, again. Experience notices that guitars are made of wood and are subject to changes over time, often created by shifting humidity and being subjected to all that string tension.

Luckily for me, my good friends (and expert guitar techs) Harry Becker and Bill Cumpiano took it upon themselves to teach me the concepts and skills involved with setting up guitars. (So I probably really didn’t need to burn my Guild D-40 after all. Apologies to Jimi!)

Also it’s important to note that even when buying a new guitar the set-up can be way off. I notice, for example, that on most production-line guitars the ‘nut height’ is usually completely wrong, which can make playing really kind of miserable. Particularly for beginners.

I will attempt to explain how to assess and possibly set-up guitars. Luckily I’ve spotted a number of YouTube videos on this that are quite helpful. It seems like in the early part of these videos you will be shown how to assess your situation; if you hang in there they will show you what to do.

After playing a guitar, the first thing I personally look at is the “nut height.” Often the nut height is high, and will be hard to play in the first couple of frets, and can play noticeably out of tune.

Here is a collection of videos from various experts on YouTube that can serve as a quick checklist for you to gauge the health of your guitar, assuming that the frets are in good condition:

1) First check the nut height:

2) Next, assess the truss rod ( which can affect the nut height):

3) Next, check the string height:

4) Finally, adjust your intonation:

I hope these are helpful! I found learning how to assess and fix set-ups to be really interesting, yet took me really quite a while to get the hang of it. These videos, at the very least, will help you to know when it is time to bring your axe in to a good guitar tech.

Best wishes, Joe

Welcome to Guitarland

Greetings from Guitarland! Sometimes I think that’s the name of this fictional country I inhabit. It’s really a nice place. It’s kind of great being here. Am I right?
Being here, I’ve decided to use the opportunity of having a web-site to create a blog” about all things guitar. Playing guitar, jamming on guitar, learning music, fixing and buying guitars… gear… music theory. So much fun!

I welcome your input, your responses, your suggestions… because, although I seem to spend all day here, I never seem to know everything there is to know here.

I’m planning to share my observations and some of what I’ve learned over these years. It’s amazing and interesting how complicated and involved things can get in this guitar world. But that’s OK because we love it, right?

Some topics I plan to cover this fall are:
-Overtones and Harmonics
-Music using harmonic techniques
-Guitar set-up (So important!)
-Tuning and tuning systems
-Observations on shopping
-Some fretboard Music Theory
-Observations on trends in Guitarland – i.e. new music and styles
-The right style(s) of music for YOU to study and practice

I’d like to extend my warmest welcome to you to come visit me by reading this blog. I hope it will be illuminating and entertaining.

Best, Joe