Guru Guitars Biweekly
The Gear, The Bone, and Vegas Going South
by Eugene Reinert
A very common question I get from students is, "what gear do you use?" I am always open about it but I make sure they understand that gear is only a part of a musicians sound. Guitarists have made the gear manufactures millionaires because they enjoy everything about the guitar. We live in an age of extended reach. Anyone and everyone can and will make great new toys for us to buy and use. So I usually encourage my students to enjoy getting new gear but caution them not to depend on the gear alone to give them a great sound. Guitar playing is a great experience for all who make it through the ascetic initial months or years of really learning the instrument. Once you have a few songs down the fun begins.
I'm reminded of a time when I bought and sold stomp boxes by the dozen to find the ones I liked best. We all have sold the once prized amplifier to afford the next new beauty, or perhaps an old vintage half stack to blast the neighbors into calling the cops (yes it's happened to me). But, I must say that I am not one to shed a guitar. I have had a dozen in my lifetime. I tend to pick the one I like and play it until I know it. The greatest part of playing guitar is not having to think about it and just expressing what you feel. Fortunately I build guitars and so I inevitably built myself an electric guitar to fit my playing style and my technique. My custom guitar is unique in its look and tone and I am quite happy with it. All my "brand" name guitars, for the most part, sit unused. I have not abandoned the search for gear though. The hunt for new sounds will always hold a special place in my heart.
I have also realized how much of my tone comes from my hands. I have played my custom guitar through mediocre (sometimes less than mediocre) amps at gigs and have had people rave about the tone. Why? I believe it's because I'm comfortable on my guitar and I express what's in my soul. Nothing compares to someone sharing through an instrument. At least that's what the Guru always tells me--he is starting to get into my head! Tone is so subjective. Most listeners can't tell the difference between two different overdrives or amps or guitars. Non-players just want to hear good music. The tone search is a personal one and you have to find it inside before you can find it in the gear.
I live in Las Vegas and have been here 10 years. It is the sort of place that anyone can enjoy and anyone can hate. There are so many great things about the city and so many bad things as well. While living in Vegas I've served a full term in the Air Force as an H-60 Pavehawk Crew Chief, became a luthier, started a custom guitar and repair company, played in countless bands (both cover and original music), taught many people how to play the guitar, began a family, and opened a guitar store across the country. Now I'm on my way to North Carolina. I do hope Guru Guitars finds a place in all of you. We'd love to have a store like no other. From what I can tell GG is on its way. We need your help though. We are a small local business that needs support from the community. We offer pricing that is comparable to every other store in town (including the evil empire). Thanks in advance. I'll leave you with a quote from a local Raleigh bluesman.
"Just because you play the blues doesn't mean you have the blues."
3104 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27606
Lesson of the Week
This being our first news letter we do not have a special guest. But I hope to have some of the local Raleigh musicians pitch in what they know and help out the players who are looking for new ideas. If you would like to contribute to this column send an email of the lesson to email@example.com. It needs to be clean, professional, short and sweet with all necessary diagrams attached. I'll review everyone's offering and pick the one I want in the column. If you are picked for the next newsletter you'll receive a set of DR Pure Blues Electric Guitar Strings or DR Rare Acoustic Strings.
Take Your Time and Do It Right Grasshoppa
by The Guru
Sheet Music PDF: Figures 1-4
For the first lesson I want to stress that anyone can be a great player if they are willing to knuckle down a little. More than any other thing, lack of discipline keeps players from seeing the results they are after. The students who listen to every bit I teach them and execute the tasks given to them are the ones who excel beyond what they thought possible. So here is one to start you off.
Use a metronome!
It is the most over looked tool by far. If I had a dollar for every one sold I'd be rich. If I had a dollar taken back for all the metronomes on the planet that sit unused after they are bought I'd be so far in debt I'd never get out. Most students don't know how to really use them. There are so many ways to put a metronome to good use but I'll just include a couple basics this week. If you are interested in more ask Gene or Howard at the store. Right now The Guru is booked 416 days in advance.
Set your metronome to click at 80 beats per minute (bpm). Tap your foot to the beat. Breathe deeply. Down pick the high E string on the guitar every click (Fig. 1). Next up pick one note per click (Fig. 2). It's actually hard for some people to do this at first. You must do this correctly, every pick stroke right on the click. You may have to do this for a while to get it so be patient.
Next set the metronome to 160 bpm. We are going to treat the quarter notes like eighth notes for a second. Don't get impatient just do exactly what I say. If you don't know the lingo read up on it or take lessons. Play one note per click except this time play the notes using alternate picking. This will allow you to feel double 80 beats per minute while alternate picking. Do this until you are perfect at 160 (if any of this is too fast just take the metronome to a slower bpm and double it. (i.e. 70bpm goes to 140bpm, 60bpm goes to 120bpm etc.).
For Fig. 4 set the metronome back to 80 bpm and play two notes per click. One note will be down picked directly on the click and the other will be up picked evenly divided between the first and second click and so on. It will sound identical to playing Fig. 3 except there are no clicks on the up pick (up beat). It also looks different on the sheet music. Take your time and do it right. Guru will continue metronome lessons next time.
If you ever have questions about the lesson in this column send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week hopefully ya'll will have something fun to share. If not the Guru likes to guide guitarist towards the path of shred master (or whatever cool guitar label suites your fancy).
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