Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to "Normal"

[1/27/13 show notes from Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast Episode 094]

How was your week?  Mine was great despite the single digit temps or wind chills all week.  Man, it was cold!!

E-Rex’s last day of radiation was Monday. It  was a joy. He rang the ship’s bell 3 times as is the tradition at that cancer treatment center, when a guy finishes his course of treatment.  I took a photo and a video.  Then, a former student who has become like a daughter to us, took us out to breakfast, which was extra delicious in light of the celebration.

It’s been less than a week, as of my recording this show, and already it feels like life is returning to “normal.”  That isn’t to say I’m lying around munching bonbons, which doesn’t sound half bad, but that the mental distraction and I guess some attendant depression has been vanquished.  I’m so glad.

There are  4 students in this week’s Student Spotlight, the Question of the Week is from  one of my students and is about  constructing dominant 7 chords, News is about Taylor’s new Grand Orchestra body shape instruments, and Take Note is Used Gear, an Economic Indicator?

I want to welcome LeighAnn to my schedule. We had a consultation last week and our first lesson is going to be Tuesday.  Here’s another “guitar fit” reminder.  She received a guitar for Christmas that was a greatly desired gift and a surprise.  The bigger surprise is that although it’s a lovely axe, it’s too big for her.  So, we’re exploring the possibility of exchanging it.  Don’t forget to consider the size of the player for whom you’re buying a guitar, if they aren’t with you at a guitar shop or haven’t played any prior to you ordering one online.  It’s not the best idea to buy a dreadnought body shape/size guitar for a petite woman.  Case in point: Leeann and my student Shira.  Her too-big guitar issue will be solved in the next month or so.  She will be getting a nice parlor sized acoustic electric that will fit her and that she will enjoy playing much more than the dreadnought with which she’s bearing since she began playing.

Now that I’m functioning a bit better I have re-thought the show notes page for this podcast. I am going to move them to a blog, called, what else?  Guitar Technique Tutor.  You’ll find links to what I talk about and I will link to show archives etc.  This will be a work in progress for the coming week or 2.  I will link it to a Google+ network as well as the current GuitarTechniqueTutor on Twitter and I’m going to try to make a separate FB page which will also have the show notes. Right now I have a personal FB page, which I’d like to keep separate from Guitar Technique Tutor. That’s going to require some fiddling around so the changes or upgrades I’m mentioning today will likely take some weeks.  I’ll keep you posted. 

The honeymoon period of my latest DR string change has not yet waned, but I can tell in another week or  2 I’m going to be jonesin’ again.  I just love them - especially when they’re fresh. No matter what kind of ace you have, if you haven’t tried DR strings, you should.

Don’t forget the Les Paul in Mahwah exhibit at the Mahwah Museum, in Mahwah, NJ if you’re going to be in the New York metro area.  Even if you have seen the exhibits in his home town of Waukesha, Wisconsin or those created at various venues by the Les Paul Foundation, this Mahwah exhibit is truly extensive in its breadth.  This is a little jewel of an experience waiting for you to discover it. Visitors are welcome  Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from  1 to 5.

While we’re on the subject of Les Paul, don’t overlook Lou Pallo and the Les Paul Trio and friends’ extraordinary homage, Thank You, Les.  

Is your Valentine a guitar player?  If so, say, “I love you,”  with a handful of beautiful, red  Raptor guitar picks.

No matter where I go, when I show guitarists the Genuine R Series Raptor Pick, the ones with vision immediately comprehend that it’s not just another novelty pick that’s going to end up somewhere with all the other weird picks they have accumulated.  They try it, they utter a soft “hmmm” and they keep playing. And playing and playing.  Most of them tell me they expected it to feel weird but it’s comfortable and just feels different.   When I ask them what they think,  they say they want it and ask where they can get one.  

I don’t know a guitarist alive that isn’t looking for fresh inspiration.  The 3 uniquely and specifically engineered picking tips on the Raptor entice a guitarist to think about and explore the full range of sound qualities they can create with it.  The unique  beveling of the molded acrylic pick offer amazingly silent attack.  

The Raptor R Series pick is destined to become a pivotal tool for creative guitarists.  Personally, I haven’t played with anything but a Raptor R Series since the very first time I touched one and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed when you try it.

Get some today for the guitarist in your life, or for you  at RaptorPicksUSA.Com   Free Raptors with a purchase of 4 or more is just another way of “spreading the excellence, one guitarist at a time.”

Raptor™ picks are a registered design. All rights are owned by Black Carbon.

In the warm glow of the Student Spotlight are Bridget, Danielle, Lani and Shira.  Lani for 2 weeks ago, not this past week. Yes, Lani was on fire 2 weeks ago, but then, the Spotlight was quenched.  Bridget, Danielle and Shira are doing fabulously. Keep up the excellent work, Dudettes.

Lani gets lost in other activities and forgets to practice. If that’s you, use an app, make a list with little check boxes for each day, put it on your TDL or whatever you need to do, in order to keep the appointment with your guitar.  It takes about 28 days to make a habit. After that, you should be in a routine of practicing. So, make it a habit!!

This week's question, again came from a student who’s in high school.  She has an unusual way of processing information, sometimes creating more steps of reason than is really necessary.  Her music theory midterm was impending.  It was going to include tempi terms, like allegretto, andante and that whole milieu, interval dictation and some general theory.  Among other things, she wanted a way to quickly know the spelling of dominant 7 chords.   If you aren’t a walking chord encyclopedia, or don’t know all the 7 chords of the universe, this may help you, too. I took her to the circle of 5ths. That always evokes kudos from both of us on the magnitude of Pythagorus’s genius.  If you know the circle of  5ths, here’s a tip for building a dominant 7 chords  and being certain it’s not mistakenly a major 7 nor minor 7 one (if you cannot distinguish by sound, or you have to take a written test without the use of an instrument): The dominant 7 chord belongs to the key a 5th below (one position counter clockwise) hence the term “dominant 7.”   The key signature of the key a 5th below is the key signature that applies to the spelling of the dominant 7 chord notes.  If you know the circle of 5ths or can spend some time with it, this will prevent you from using the incorrect 7.  

Here’s a brief example:  so let’s say you need to determine the notes contained in an A-flat 7 chord.  If you remember or look at the circle of 5th, they key immediately counter clockwise from  A-flat is D-flat.   An A-flat 7 chord should be spelled A-flat, C, E-flat, G-flat.  Not G natural.  The G-flat is part of D-flat’s key signature and therefore is the 7 in the A-flat 7 chord.  

There are plenty of other ways to make the same determination, but my student wanted a circle of 5ths aided one because she knows and loves the circle of 5ths and the wealth of information contained therein. 

If you have  a question that you would like me to address on the podcast, please email it to me.  If I use your question, I will be glad to send you a Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast pick. 

In the news this week is a new body shape from Taylor - the Grand Orchestra (GO) with a Body Length of  20-5/8", a Body Width of 16-3/4" and a  Body Depth: 5".  This is not teeny axe!

Taylor's biggest body shape blends power, detail and balance across the tonal spectrum.
  • Taylor’s most powerful, complex voice
  • Incredibly balanced for a big-bodied guitar
  • Specially braced to be responsive to a dynamic attack
The newest shape to join the Taylor family unleashes the boldest, richest voice available in a Taylor guitar. Just as the Grand Symphony yields a deeper, more powerful voice than the Grand Auditorium, the Grand Orchestra stands out as a more robust alternative to the Grand Symphony. The GO shape features a slightly bigger footprint and a deeper body, which helps produce a potent low-end response. Under the hood, a new bracing scheme optimizes the movement of the soundboard to produce louder, more complex tone with incredible sustain. What separates the Grand Orchestra from other big-bodied guitars is how balanced the tone is from top to bottom, especially given its brawny bass. And unlike other big-body guitars that require an aggressive attack to get the top moving, the GO is responsive to a light touch, rewarding players who have a dynamic playing style. If you crave a guitar sound that’s brimming with power and rich detail, the Grand Orchestra won’t disappoint. From big cowboy chords to lush fingerstyle arrangements, the Grand Orchestra might be the most expressive and versatile big guitar you ever play. Just don’t forget, it’s not for petite peeps.
These are beauties:
First up the 918e
Indian rosewood’s high-fidelity voice covers an extended musical spectrum that ranges from a deep throaty growl to clear, sparkling trebles. Paired with the Grand Orchestra shape, the tonal power and overtones produce a level of complexity that serves up a feast for the ears. First Edition models feature several additional premium touches: AA-grade Indian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top braced with Adirondack spruce (which helps yield extra sonic horsepower), a custom label, and a case emblazoned with a customized First Edition nameplate. Our 900 Series appointments include the elegant Cindy inlay scheme    with Expression System® electronics.    
lists for $5658.00 can be had for $4149.00

Then there’s the 618e
While maple is known for its bright tone and fast decay, the Grand Orchestra design enriches maple’s natural tonal palette to produce a full-bodied voice with impressive sustain. Big Leaf maple is paired with a Sitka spruce top featuring a new bracing scheme, which adds responsiveness to the powerful output. A limited batch of First Edition models also boasts several premium features: AA-grade maple, a three-piece back, Adirondack spruce bracing for a tonal turbo boost, and a Twisted Oval headstock inlay to match the fretboard inlays. First Edition models also feature a custom label and come in a case with a customized First Edition nameplate.   
 lists for $3798.00 can be had for $2849.00

And the 518e
On their 518e, the rich midrange of mahogany, together with the enhanced lows and highs that the Grand Orchestra shape produces, creates a big, round voice that blends power, warmth and complexity. This First Edition offering features premium-grade Tropical mahogany back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, side bracing, our standard 500 Series appointments with an additional Deco Diamond headstock inlay, and Expression System® electronics. First Edition models also feature a custom label and come in a case with a customized First Edition nameplate.
lists for $3518.00 can be had for $2649.00

My take note topic this week is: Used Gear, an Economic Indicator?
I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of mail from guitar shops - both the independent local ones and national ones, too.  In the past year I have noticed a lot more advertising of “used gear.”  I know most shops buy guitars - in fact, that’s how I came to own one of mine. It’s a long story that I have probably already told on this podcast. I have a student who sold his guitar back to Guitar Center just a month or 2 ago.  

I was thinking, when I received the last postcard pushing used gear from a guitar store, that although they’ve been dealing in used gear for several years, they hadn’t before advertised it so continuously.  Maybe it’s an economic indicator. Are guitarists having to trade their guitars in to upgrade rather than having both?  If so, is that because they aren’t able to stretch their cash far enough anymore?  Is it that more guitarists are selling their axes for money and not replacing them?  If so, is it because they are not getting jobs to play nor bread to pay their bills?  What do you think?  Maybe there’s just a large market of guitarists looking for lower prices and they’re open to axes someone’s owned before.  In some cases, you get a better price AND a better instrument than if new.   That may be it.  Now that everyone with a smartphone scans barcodes where ever they are, to find the best price they can.  Then, they either buy on the spot, go to somewhere else to buy,  or they order online. Each used guitar or guitar gear item, is unique.  It would be the exception rather than the rule that more than one seller of used gear might have the same guitar or whatever in the same condition as any other seller of used gear.  That may be why it’s working well for the shops and the purchasers.  

I keep thinking that it’s a harbinger of yet tighter financial times - but perhaps I’m wrong.  Perhaps it’s a way for the seller to be a bit less accountable in their pricing.  I’m sure that in brick and mortar stores, there’s haggle room built into the prices.  

I’ve only bought one used guitar. I wasn’t actively looking for it, but when it came to my attention, I snapped it up.  I got a steal. I don’t know if everyone does that well.

I'm in the process of some web site overhaul. I'll keep you posted.

If you're seeking expert competent guitar instruction in the Bergen and Rockland County towns in which I teach, such as Airmont, Allendale, Fair Lawn, Franklin Lakes, Glen Rock, Hawthorne, HoHoKus, Hillburn, Mahwah, Midland Park, Montebello,  Montvale, Oakland, Oradell, Paramus, Park Ridge, the hamlet of Ramapo, Ramsey, Ridgewood, River Edge, Saddle River, Suffern, Tallman, Teaneck, Tuxedo, Tuxedo Park,  Upper Saddle River,  Viola, Waldwick, Washington Township, Westwood, Woodcliff Lake or Wyckoff please contact me. For lesson inquires, calling is best and my number is on the web site. If we can coordinate our schedules and you're a good candidate to learn to play the guitar, perhaps we can work together.

Whether you are a beginner guitarist, a gigging professional or at any level in between, a genuine Raptor™ guitar pick will catapult your playing forward.  Visit RaptorPicksUSA.Com to order yours today.
Practice, have a great  week and until next time, I'm D A Arlaus, doing my part to "spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time. "

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I'm beginning this blog with the plan of phasing out Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast (which can be found on iTunes or at GuitarTechniqueTutor.Com) show notes on the GuitarTechinqueTutor.Com podcast page.  It will likely also contain mid-week posts as well.