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Guitar playing should be a lot of fun. I’ve just completed a Google search for “How To Play Guitar” and received 16,300,000 results, wow – with this sort of help learning the guitar should be a breeze for everyone. So why do we have more confused, frustrated and aggravated guitar players than at any other time in the history of the instrument?

We can’t say we don’t have enough information … the world is saturated with it and we can access this information 24/7/365, so that can’t be the problem.

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Gypsy jazz guitar is a genre based on the music of Django Reinhardt, a guitar player who overcame a severe disability to become a legend in jazz music. Most people have heard music by the Quintet du Hot Club de France or one of the gypsy jazz groups devoted to its style of music. Born in the 1930’s this group with Stephane Grapelli on violin, Django Reinhardt, Joseph Reinhardt and Roger Chaput on guitars and Louis Vola on bass, pioneered the concept of lead and rhythm guitar.

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It’s a sad fact that overuse injuries tend to be fairly common among guitar players. This problem, which is also known as Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, can become so painful that a musician may lose their ability to play the instrument with the same skill they once had. I’m sorry to say that I tell you this from personal experience.

Several years ago I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left wrist. I didn’t really know about overuse injuries at the time, I only knew that my fingers would go numb whenever I played guitar for an extended period. It eventually got so bad that my whole arm, from elbow to wrist, would start tingling and hurt whenever I played.

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New Instruments

I’ve finally revisited my musical past by acquiring a mandolin and an electric guitar. Pity I’ve forgotten most of the stuff I learned over 30 years ago and didn’t pursue. But as Jethro Tull says “You’re never too old to rock ‘n’ roll!” So far I’ve decided to concentrate on the guitar as my fingers were having problems coming to grips with the mandolin’s fretboard. I’ve got a few songbooks – Steve Earle, Robert Earle Keen and The Who – and some tutorial material to get me back to speed on the basic chords. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Oh! Neil Young and The Who are appearing in Brisbane next year, perhaps I could get  a few tips from Neil and Pete after their shows!!!

If you are looking to start Learn How To Play Guitar then perhaps the 12 string guitar is not the best place to start but it is a real thing of beauty.

The 12 string acoustic guitar is a great instrument. In technique, it is basically exactly the same as a normal 6 string guitar, yet there is more depth to it. Because it has double strings, it has an added poignancy that is hard to characterize. The sustain is longer, the notes are deeper, and the tone is richer. Even an entry-level 12 string acoustic guitar will have a power and vibrancy that can capture a whole room. Still, they aren’t for everyone. Continue Reading »

No Anchovies

The Spectrum gig on September 18th at Adelaide’s famous Rob Roy Hotel proved well worth the trip!

The casual Pizza and Spectrum “No Anchovies” show provided the chance to see the band in a more intimate venue and, although the acoustics were not ideal, Mike and the boys entertained “industry insiders” and a group of my friends with a set comprising older Spectrum numbers and more recent Spectrum Plays The Blues material. Even an Indelible Murtceps number slipped in.

One thing I noted was that the standard of musicianship of the band seems to have increased with age just like fine wine. Speaking of which, I scored a bottle of 2Mates Shiraz from David Minear, who is one of the “mates”!

I took the opportunity to chat to Mike and also former DJ Sheridan, who is the proud possesor of the famous LZ bootleg courtesy of my late brother, Greg. David and Mike now have copies too.

Proceeds of the night went to Support Act, a fund for struggling Australian musos, a group which I’m thinking of joining for the princely sum of $33. Of course, it would have to be the South Australian chapter!

Prior to the gig, I had coffee and a brief catch up chat with old school chum, David . 39 years is a long time to cover in 90 minutes, so I look forward to catching him again on the next trip. Thanks to David for organising the tickets to the gig.

Meanwhile you can check out his surf music label at  <<www.bombora.net.au>>.

What is tuning?

The most essential part of playing the guitar is keeping it in tune. With an out-of-tune guitar, even the best players can sound like the worst players. Each of the strings on a guitar, when played open, should produce certain tones. These tones will make up your tuning. When a guitar is in standard tuning, the strings should make the notes E, A, D, G, B, E. The strings are numbered from smallest to biggest 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The biggest string is E and the smallest is E as well, sometime the 1st string is signified as a lowercase E, or ‘e.’ Continue Reading »

Surf’s Up!

News readers won’t believe this; I can hardly believe it myself!

Having postponed our traditional August trip to Adelaide in favour of a trip in September to check out a Spectrum gig on the 18th at Adelaide’s famous Rob Roy Hotel, I was given the contact number of one David Minear.

When he called back, it turns out he is the David Minear with whom I went to college; same year, and a fellow member of the gymnastics team!!

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AP, June 2, 2008

Canadian singer-songwriter, Neil Young, is trying to change the world again – with his car.

Young has teamed up with Johnathan Goodwin, a Wichita mechanic with a reputation for re-engineering the power units of big cars to get more horsepower but use less fuel.

The two are looking to convert Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible to operate on an electric battery. Ultimately, they said, they want the Continental to provide a model for the world’s first affordable mass-produced electric-powered automobile.

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A US biologist, who discovered a new species of trapdoor spider, has named it after his favourite musician, US singer and songwriter, Neil Young.

East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond discovered a new species of trapdoor spider in Jefferson County, Alabama, in 2007. After he confirmed, through the spider’s DNA that the it was an identifiable, separate species of spider within the trapdoor genus, he opted to call the arachnid, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, after his favourite musician, Canadian Neil Young.

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