Saturday, March 30, 2013

audio archives here

I just finished creating pages for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 podcast audio archives on the home page of this blog.  On each page you will find the chronological list of podcast dates and their titles.  It's impractical to archive  old show notes here.  Since the beginning of 2013, all show notes have been on this blog. If you're looking for them, just click the show notes link under  "you can access" in the sidebar menu.

If you prefer accessing these shows in iTunes, just search for Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast.

mea culpa revised

I just unloaded some of my discontentment with Guitar Center. Now, it's time to take the credit for some bad information I had in the last podcast and show notes.

I gave the MSRP of what I thought was going to be all the Martins in the Crossroads Collection : $6,000.  Boy, was I wrong! Well, I was only 80% correrct.

The 000-28 EC - Madagascar is $6,000.  There won't be any "street" price for these guitars. They are to benefit the Crossroads Antigua so the MSRP is the price.

Okay, so the 20% that I have to correct goes as follows: 
The 000-45 EC - Madagascar has an MSRP of $10,00 and the 000-45 EC Brazilian will sell for $50,000.

My friend at one of my local Guitar Centers said they haven't sold any but a few people came to ask about the Brazilian and the Brownie.

If you're a collector or a huge Clapton fan, check out the entire collection online.

room for improvement

Yeah, I know that title could lead you to think I'm on again about putting time in with your axe, but not this time.  I was at +Guitar Center a few days ago and I got a little more info about their in-store String Club.  The dude I talked to is an old friend, and he was at that location (a music store) prior to Guitar Center taking it over several years ago, so he's not stranger to the business. I was there to pick up another set of strings that were ordered at GuitarCenter.Com to be delivered to the store.  More about that later.  The way he explained the string club is that it costs $20 to join and monthly, a $5 credit will be "activated" or something. The credit is only good for strings THAT MONTH. If you don't buy strings in a given month, you don't get to roll the $5 over or use it - you just lose it.  In essence, the idea of a card that costs  $20 which potentially gets you $60 is good.  BUT, if you generally buy strings in volume once a year, you're out of luck, or if you're an instructor who always keeps/buys a half dozen sets at a time, you're out of luck. Add every other scenario other than going to the store for a set of strings every month, and it's not so feasible. I get it. They want traffic into the store.  Most people who come in for strings may very well leave with more than just strings, like I usually do. As my friend who works there says, the essence of the idea is good, but it really needs to be more refined.  So, that's an update on the Guitar Center In-Store String Club.  

I was there to pick up the 2nd of 2 sets of strings I ordered to be delivered to the store. I'LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN.  I give them props for calling to see how I liked my experience of ordering online and picking up at the store.  I began by telling the caller that none of my criticism was directed at her but that it was a fiasco, that I'll never do it again and I will discourage everyone I know from doing it.  I   rarely buy strings there.  I wanted my DR Acoustic Pink NEONs, and they only stock the electric and bass varieties.  So, I thought I'd order them from GuitarCenter.Com, and in the interest of my budget, order them to be shipped to the store for pick up.  I can usually arrange my weekly travel to pass nearby.

I ordered 2 sets.  1 was in stock and 1 was on backorder.  They notified me to pick up 1 set at the store. To me, it seemed reasonable that they should just ship the other set because it was on back order, and I already made 1 trip to the store to pick up the set that wasn't on backorder.  No, that's not the way they've set up the "process" (read, sorely lacking process).  So, 2 weeks later, I had the pleasure of having to go to the store again.  Not only that, but to exit the store with this prepaid set of strings that was the  2nd half of the order I previously picked up, I had to show  my drivers' license.  The only thing that would have been more annoying (and the Guitar Centers where I reside are always unpleasant) would have been having to pass through those miserable turnstiles they used to have at the exit of all their stores.

Friday, March 22, 2013

get your blues chops together

Guitar Center, in conjunction with Gibson, Guitar Player, Marshall, Dunlop and Ernie Ball, is gearing up for its Blues Masters featuring Joe Bonamassa,  competition. Haven't heard about it?  Love to play the blues (and you're really good)? You should check it out.  

What are you competing for?  Great question. The grand prize is and opening slot for Joe Bonamass in Hollywood, $10,000, mentor session and studio time with Joe Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley, Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker Amp, Gibson Custom Les Paul 1959 Re-Issue, full string endorsement deal with Ernie Ball (including strings, accessories and a feature on the Ernie Ball web site),  Dunlop Deluxe Pedal package (including the Way Huge Pork Loin, MXR Micro Flanger, Bonamassa Cry Baby and the Bonamassa Gold Hero III.)

What if you're really good but don't win?  You may be among the 10 top finalists, who will win a Marshall DSL40C amp, your choice of a Les Paul Traditional Pro II or Gibson ES-339 Traditional Pro, box of Ernie Ball strings and Ernie Ball Joe Bonamassa signature guitar strap, Dunlop GCB95 wah and Bonamassa Red Jazz III Player's Pack and a $250 Guitar Center gift card.  Hey, it's not the grand prize but it isnt' shabby either.

So, hone your chops, read the submission requirements and blast off with a little help from your social network friends and your friends at Guitar Center, Gibson, Guitar Player, Marshall, Dunlop and Ernie Ball.

spring break sale-a-thon

A lot of the spring breakers here at colleges and universities in New Jersey, are serving the survivors of SuperStorm Sandy, and their communities, rather than slathering on the sunscreen and treating themselves to fun in the sun and all that goes with it. It's refreshing to see them on the local news, getting filthy and giving of themselves. (If you'd like to contribute to the effort to restore lives and livelihoods, you can securely and effectively do so through Sandy NJ Relief Fund.

If you're a spring breaker who is looking for a new axe - and most specifically a new Strat, rush to save big bucks during Fender’s Stratocaster Spring Break Sale-a-bration. Stratocaster guitars from some of their most popular model series are available for a limited time at incredible savings and offered exclusively through your authorized Fender dealer. 

This Spring Break Sale-a-bration lasts only through March 31, 2013, so contact your Fender dealer now for the latest information.

Sign up their our Spring Break Giveaway, in which Fender will give one lucky winner a real break this spring—a trip for two to the Fender Visitor Center in Corona, California. They’ll fly you and guest to Southern California, with airfare, two-night hotel accommodations and more, compliments of Fender. Immerse yourself in all things Fender as you take in the Visitor Center and tour their main U.S. manufacturing facility—the birthplace of Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass and Jazz Bass guitars. You’ll rock one truly unforgettable “spring break” You don’t have to buy anything to enter—all you do is sign up here any time from right now through April 15, and they do the rest.

save the date in June

On Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. The Mahwah Museum is hosting The Les Paul 98th Birthday Gala at The Trustees Pavilion at Ramapo College of New Jersey. 

I attended the 97th Birthday Gala last year with a former student and it was excellent.  Last year's raffle guitars were donated by Rusty Paul, Les's son. We particularly enjoyed the Trio and Nicki Parrott, the ultra cool bassist.

The Gala will include live music with Bucky Pizzarelli, Lou Pallo, and the Les Paul Trio, a silent auction of Les Paul memorabilia, and a live auction of Les Paul guitars and other music memorabilia.  Wine, hors d’oerves, light fare and birthday cake will be served, and a raffle drawing for two autographed guitars will be held.      
These events are part of Mahwah Museum’s exhibit “Les Paul in Mahwah: A Tribute” which will run until June 2013. For information on these and other events, visit or call 201-512-0099.     

At this time there isn't a link for ticket sales on the Ramapo College Berrie Center web site. I'll post when I find tickets to be available. It will be a great night out.  See you there.

save the date in april

I always publicize what's going on in Mahwah, at the Mahwah Museum's Les Paul exhibit. If you're a guitarist, musician of any sort, an audiophile, have an interest in invention or just want to hear more about one of the creative titans who changed the way we listen to music when he invented and implemented sound on sound recording, you should mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 16th.  If you will be in the NY metro area, you can attend the Gallery Talk by Dr Charles Carreras and Jim Wysocki on “The Genius of Les Paul.”  The gallery talk will take place in the upstairs gallery of the Mahwah Museum, 201 Franklin Turnpike. Admission is $10. Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested. 

Both men have diverse insights to share about the man, his music and his extraordinary way of thinking. 
These events are part of Mahwah Museum’s exhibit “Les Paul in Mahwah: A Tribute” which will run until June 2013.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

mea culpa

[3/16/13 show notes from Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast Episode 099]

This week there is 1 student in the Student Spotlight, the Question of the Week is from my student, Bridget, who wants to know if I've ever heard......, News is about the affordable, parlor sized Jim Dandy guitars in Gretsch's Roots line (the blue one looks like spring, to me) and Take Note is that you can win a PRS SE Orianthi. So cool!

So how was your week? Man, I was bludgeoned over my “playing favorites” when I mentioned Brownie last week. I know there are 2 other Clapton Crossroads Limiteds so I’ll mention them now and hope to redeem myself.

"Lucy," a 1957 Les Paul. was purchased by Clapton in NY in the 60’s even though he already had Les Paul at home. Clapton thinks he preferred the neck of the ’60 that he had, to the ’57 and at a point in time, he gave it to George Harrison, who played it extensively over the last years of the Beatles. Clapton did play it in the solo of the Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. In ’73, the guitar was loaned back to him, to inspire him and get him out of a serious life decline. He wasn’t’ playing or doing much of anything. Some time later, Clapton returned it to George Harrison. After having been recovered from a robbery attempt, Lucy has remained in the possession of the Harrison Estate ever since.

Clapton gives glowing praise to the craftsmanship of the Gibson Custom Shop on the new Lucy re-creation, right down to the nuances of the sanded neck profile, the off-set seam on the top and the screw holes from its previous Bigsby vibrato. Admiring the work of the Gibson luthiers at his office in Chelsea, Clapton adds, "I'd like to say that this is a fantastic repro. It's spot on. It's a great guitar to play." There will be only 100 of these offered worldwide - the same goes for Brownie. Their MSRP is $14,999. I have no idea what "street" will be.

Then, there's the Martin, "Martin." Drawing from the legendary acoustics of Clapton's present and past (including the famed 000-42 on which he did his Grammy Award-winning work on Unplugged), Martin has created three exquisite models for the Eric Clapton Crossroads Collection, built to the master's own specifications: the 000-28EC "Crossroads" Madagascar Rosewood and the more ornate 000-45EC "Crossroads" Madagascar Rosewood and 000-45EC Brazilian Rosewood models, all of which have been hand-signed by Slowhand himself on the sound hole label.

According to Eric Clapton, "And it's always been - I hate to say it - but it's been my experience that the proper guitars, and therefore the most expensive guitars, are always going to be the easiest ones to play. Because they're just made for playing. The motive behind the making of the guitar is 100% right. [These Crossroads guitars] are great. They're beautiful. They're perfect-absolutely perfect. Fantastic figuring, colors are great, the top wood is beautiful and the grain on the backs is fantastic. And they are unique to one another. The '28 has got a rounder bottom, but the '45 is bright and a bit louder.

There will be 150 guitars in this limited edition. MSRP is about $6,000. Again, I have no idea what "street" may be, or if there will even be a "street" price.

We’re in recovery day 138 after Super Storm Sandy as I record. This week we had tree service personnel around the building for several days, cutting up the dozens of fallen old growth trees that were laying where they fell all those weeks ago. I can’t help thinking about all the returning birds, and how many of them won’t find their nests from last year. Then, if I take it one step further, I think of the still displaced shore residents who are coping with their day to day lives in circumstances they didn’t choose and that were beyond their control. Thanks for anything you have done or are doing. If you’d like to contribute to the Sandy NJ Relief Fund, know that the funds are getting out to the long term recovery committees that meet the application criteria. Thank you to everyone who has, does or will help with this most challenging task, to put masses of people’s lives back together and to re-create revenue producing businesses up and down the shoreline of NJ.

The DRs are leering at me from that console table. My arm is still hot and welted from that shot. I’m apparently among the 1 in 400 that gets the reaction I’m having to the tetanus/pertussis injection. I’m glad you don’t have to get it frequently. At night it gets itchy but it hurts too much to scratch. So, I’m playing on a few guitars with dead strings. Soon and very soon.

The countdown to Crossroads Guitar Festival NY is 26 days from my recording date. Likewise for the first of the 2 Coachella weekends and 33 for the second weekend, Anya. I hope you’re going this year. 

By the end of June, the Les Paul in Mahwah: a Tribute exhibit will end in its current form. You shouldn't miss it if you will be anywhere in the NY metro area for recreation or business. Hours are 1 - 5 Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Lou Pallo, the Les Paul Trio and several jazz luminaries have created a terrific homage to the genius guitar player and inventor. Check out, Thank You, Les.

Student Spotlight
In the warm glow of the Student Spotlight is Arno. He did great work on something he’s been intent on conquering and he has. Excellent, man. The discipline to charge headlong into the things that are bothersome and holding back your progress is the mark of dedication. It's the least appealing thing but the most necessary. Kudos to you.

I was with my student, Bridget, who is playing far less than a year, but she’s playing so enthusiastically and she love love loves her guitar, and she relishes every achievement. She slogged through her first nasty bar chords and now, she nails them. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a young player bloom.

Anyway, she mentioned her music class and she asked so sincerely and inquisitively, “Have you ever heard the Star Spangled Banner on guitar?” to which I replied in the affirmative - not knowing where she was going with it. She then said, “My music teacher played us the Star Spangled Banner by some guitar player, and it was really awful.” I asked her, “Was the guitarist Jimi Hendrix?” and she said, “Yes! You’ve heard of him?!” She was genuinely surprised - almost shocked. 

It was strange but it was so funny too. Bridget is the 3rd of 4 kids in a home where the parents’ music tends more along the lines of The Eagles than Hendrix. I told Bridget how funny it was to me that she’d never heard of Jimi Hendrix because often when I have my student play the Star Spangled Banner by ear, they timidly ask if they can play it straight and not like Jimi. Her eyes opened wide in disbelief. She told me that no one in her class liked that version. I have an idea that it wasn’t all the distortion, although that may have played a part. Rather, I think it’s that most of what the genres she and her friends listen to don’t have much in the way of melody. The vocal lines are often extremely uninteresting and musically a bore, with a series of 5 or 6 syllables having the same droning note. I know she likes the music she likes, mainly for the what they lyrics are - and that’s great. Clearly, it would lean her ear away from an rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as performed at Woodstock. 

Oh, that was the other thing. She wondered if I had ever heard of that concert, where was it? Maybe Rhode Island or New Hampshire? I asked if it was Woodstock. Again, she was flabbergasted that I had a clue. Maybe even more than a clue. Her naivety was actually rather precious. I was smiling for the rest of that day, just thinking about it. 


Crackerjack quality at a sober price! Faithful to the Gretsch "Rex" parlor guitars of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, the all-new G9510 Jim Dandy Flat Top parlor-style model embodies everything that was great about everyone's first guitar. Everything and then some, that is, because the G9510 is crafted with select guitar woods and is fully lined and braced for warm and pleasing tone, with a 24" scale for endless hours of playing comfort.

You know how fixated I am on one's guitar actually fitting them. Well, smaller guys and petite chicks, this is a fine little blast from the past. Not only is a very vintage-looking guitar, but its MSRP is only $239, so it will make a fine entry level guitar for a beginner who needs a smaller profile guitar. I would guess that "street" will come in at about $199, but I don't have anything to back up my assumption. I think it's cute, retro, vintage and considering Gretsch quality, I will play one as soon as I can, and if the action is acceptable, I'll be recommending them for small players on a budget. 

Take Note
My take note topic this week is that you can win a PRS SE Orianthi guitar! This is excellent!! 

To celebrate the release of Orianthi’s new solo album, Heaven In This Hell, PRS Guitars and Guitar World have teamed up with the guitarist and Robo Records to give fans the opportunity to win a PRS SE Orianthi guitar. 

Don't know who or what Orianthi is? She's a 24 year old Australian phenom, with a very bright future and plenty of notches on her playing belt. She has opened for Steve Vai, traded solos with Carlos Santana, opened for Carrie Underwood and she was offered a spot in Michael Jackson's band, She worked with the pop legend, even though the tour in which she was scheduled to play never took place. She came to worldwide notoriety after her appearance on the 2009 Grammy Awards show.

She's a powerful guitarist, it the fashion of Joan Jett. Her riffs are powerful and she shreds with ease, grace and intentionality - when you listen to her, she's not just trying to impress you her dazzling speed - she has something to say and makes it clear. She's a guitarist with fabulous talent and an attitude that exudes confidence way beyond her years. She doesn't "play like a girl," and I love it.

The SE Orianthi model features a beveled maple top, korina back, 25”, 24-fret scale length Wide Thin neck with ebony fretboard, PRS bird inlays, a PRS-designed tremolo, and a push/pull tone control with three-way blade switch. You know I'm really fond of PRS guitars. They are probably my favorite electric guitars. PRS has NEVER made a bad guitar, so if you're looking for something with power and style, and you aren't the winner of this beautiful guitar, you just might want to purchase one. 

10 runners-up will receive an autographed copy of her new album, Heaven In This Hell, a voodoo rock inspired album produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics.

So sorry for discriminating against (not) the other 2 Clapton Crossroads Collection guitars. Man, I didn’t mean to get any of my listeners so inflamed! But I like passion. Check out Lucy and Martin quickly if you’re in the market. There will be 100 Brownies and Lucys and 150 Martins, WORLDWIDE. I think they’re going to go quickly. If you’re interested, you better move on it

I’m hoping to have happy pink DRs on my one of my axes by Episode 100. 

Gretsch’s Jim Dandy parlor size models are just right if you like a parlor sound or you’re a smaller person and want a guitar that fits you. They’re pretty, too.

You can win a gorgeous PRS SE Orianthi guitar. It doesn’t guarantee you her titanic talent or success, but it will be a beauty to play. Paul Reed Smith hasn’t EVER made a bad guitar.

If you’d like to further assist SuperStorm Sandy victims, Sandy NJ Relief Fund will put 100% of your contribution to excellent use. The recovery here is going to take years.

Don’t forget the Les Paul in Mahwah exhibit at the Mahwah Museum in Mahwah, NJ which is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and the marvelous tribute to Les Paul by Lou Pallo, the trio and other musical friends, called Thank You, Les. If you’ll be in the NY metro area over the Easter/Passover weeks, check with the Museum. I can’t find anything posted yet but last year I think they might have been closed on Easter Sunday, which, this year, is March 31st. If you are thinking about going on that day, I’d recommend calling to be sure they will be receiving visitors.

You can follow me on Twitter, where I'm GuitarTechnique. I'm not a tweeting maniac. 

Over the coming 2 weeks I have some medical things to take care of and there are serious holidays, so rather than trying to scramble for time to do a show - and not just any show, the 100th episode of this podcast, I’m going to skip the next 2 weeks. I hope to have episode 100 recorded and live on the net and in iTunes by around the 7th of April. I appreciate your forbearance with this. I’m still in the process of ironing out the show notes subscriptions, too. I’ll sort it out eventually.

I’ll keep you appraised of my progress making the switch from the podcast page on the web site. I’ll be doing a little more site overhauling, too.

If you’re not comfortable, your guitar isn’t either, so don’t leave your guitar in a cold car or basement, or a hot car or attic. Humidify if your guitar lives in an environment in which there is less than 40% humidity.

Raptor Picks USA
Once in a great while, something comes along that's literally revolutionary. The Raptor™ R Series guitar pick is just such a creation. It affords its user a sublime quartet of sounds which can be summoned with a mere rotation of the brilliantly designed Raptor™ pick. Not only is it a beautifully executed, ingenious idea, but the first experience of playing with it is almost impossible to describe because it’s so different from anything you’ve ever employed.
Get past the unusual feel of the Raptor™ guitar pick and the door to faster, cleaner and more creative playing swings wide open.  Your grip will be sure.  Your attack will be silent. Your projection will be enhanced.  Add to that the technology  that enables the pick to glide over your strings, rather than bluntly striking them and the genuine Raptor™ “R” Series pick stands alone as an asset to every guitarist who uses one. 

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. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

the latest buzz

[3/09/13 show notes from Guitar Technique Tutor Podcast Episode 098]

So how were your last 2 weeks? Mine were too crazy.  This was the first time I didn’t update the web site a day or so before the turn of the month.  Man, I felt like a real shirker. And on top of that, I received an email from iTunes that my podcast cover art needs to comply with their new dimension requirement and my hosting server needs to enable some functions. I don’t host it myself, so I guess that’s another thing with which I’m going to need to fiddle. If you had any interruption to your subscription, that could be why.  I’ve fixed that. 

Well, show 100 is fast approaching.  My grand ideas about having guest interviews and such for the 100th episode may not materialize - primarily because of my time constraints.  I guess I’m busier than when I was thinking about it 5 or 6 months ago.  I’ll try to do something special.

Since last I was behind the mic, I have received 1 of the 2 sets of pretty pink NEON DRs that I ordered.  One set was available and the other was backordered. Weird, right?  The strings haven’t made it onto a guitar yet, but they’re in my field of vision and making me yearn for them and for the soon approaching spring. Spring? Yesterday we got about 5” of snow.  That’s probably going to be our last “pretty” winter snow.  Now, the big question is now that my strings are all but changed, did I get my hair cut?  You betcha!  It’s all good. I hope  my strings will be fresh and new by this time next week.

Speaking of strings, if you haven’t been to your local Guitar Center recently and that’s where you buy some of your gear, you might not know that they have a String Club. I was in a hurry, when I was there a few days ago, but it looks like it’s a card you swipe when you buy strings and at some interval or $ threshold you get $5 toward your next purchase -- or something like that. I deny any responsibility for the veracity of what I just said. I gathered it from the display at the accessory counter.  If I had time I’d have asked the sales person. That’s for you to do, if you buy your strings  at Guitar Center.

Over the past 2 weeks Thanh had his first lesson, which you know if you read my blog. He did very well.  

The countdown to Crossroads Guitar Festival NY is 33 days from my recording date.  Likewise for the first of the 2 Coachella weekends and  40 for the second weekend.  

Here in NJ we had a bizarre storm that lasted for a few days and unfortunately added to the mayhem in shore communities, which are still devastated by Superstorm Sandy. 

Today, when I’m recording, we’re in recovery day 132.  Many towns that had more beach erosion - which they could scarce afford.  Some of them had replaced lost beach sand, so this is yet a further set back.  It’s a shame.  5 long tern recovery committees are going to share $1,000,000 in grants from  the fund and the application process is still open for a March  15 award to more more long term recovery committees/organizations to help the communities that are in need. 

Don’t forget if you’d like to help.

If you’re free Tuesday night, you can attend the Lou Pallo Gallery Talk at the Mahwah Museum in Mahwah, NJ.  It’s part of the Les Paul in Mahwah: A Tribute ongoing exhibit.
Lou Pallo is a founding member of the Les Paul Trio.  Lou and Les began performing and recording together in 1963; their relationship, both personal and professional, continued until Les's death in 2009. They played together weekly for many years at Fat Tuesdays and the Irridium in New York City.

As a tribute to his good friend, Lou produced a  CD "Thank You Les: A Tribute to Les Paul," which features Lou, Bucky Pizzarelli, Keith Richards, Steve Miller, Tommy Doyle, Slash and many other music legends.  At the Mahwah Museum, Lou will play, share  his memories of Les and talk about the making of his new CD, which will be available for purchase and can be autographed after the talk.

This week the A, B C’s are in the Student Spotlight again and I can’t complain about the trend, the Question of the Week is about buzzing, News is about Brownie’s Return and Take Note is about PHYSICALLY feeling your music. Last time I talked about your voice and learning to play the sound you want to have. This week it’s about not emotionally or soulfully feeling your music, but physically feeling it. 

Raptor Picks USA
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 you to think about and explore the full range of sound qualities you 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, last summer, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed when you try it.

Raptor™ picks are a registered design. All rights are owned by Black Carbon.
Genuine Raptor™ “R”Series guitar picks are available at 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.

Student Spotlight
In the warm glow of the Student Spotlight are the now infamous A, B, Cs.  Arno, Bridget and Clairie.  I was glad to welcome Arno back. His kids were sick a couple weeks ago, and then, when that coast was clear, he came down with than miserable, mutated cold that’s been knocking people out, in my area, since Christmas time.   He played extremely well.  Arno, you may think I forgot your ear truing, but I didn’t.  I wanted to have a little mercy on you.  I’ll text you what I’d like you to do by ear, later or tomorrow.  Bridget, oh Bridget.  She’s on fire for her guitar. According to her mom, it’s the only thing she doesn’t have to nag her to get Bridget to do.  I’m smiling because it sounds familiar.  And my C, Clairie is still playing assertively, way beyond her level of experience.  It’s great to see her abandon self-consciousness and go for it.  That’s admirable. 

Beautiful work, everyone.  All of these students are playing consistently well.  Each of them can use a bit more focus on rhythm. Sometimes is drifts a bit, but for the most part, I’m really pleased with them.

I think I’d have had an L in the A, B, Cs, if Lani hadn’t taken a spill on the slippery wood stairs in stocking feet.  She’s okay, but rather banged up.  Her back was hurting and I can surely understand how she was more concerned with comfort than her guitar for the past few days.  Feel better, Lani.

Question of the Week
This week's question came in from a listener, Blaire,  by email and nearly the same question cropped up over the past 2 weeks from Shira. She was the happy recipient of a pretty new guitar that fits her well. It was, is there something wrong with my guitar? It’s buzzing a lot.

Well, I can’t speak to the specifics of the emailer, because I can’t examine their guitar. In Shira’s case, I can.  I hope  this helps Blaire and whoever else is plagued with a buzzing guitar.

I’d advised Shira’s dad about a particular guitar I thought she’d love both cosmetically and fit-wise.  She was a happy chick when I saw her with the new axe, for the first time.  But, as she played, it buzzed.  The full size, too big dreadnaught she’d been playing up until then, didn’t buzz unless she just couldn’t get the proper pressure  on a tough chord or something like that. Now she was a buzzing machine.  The neck profile was not substantially different so my first fear was that it was dried out -- as  many guitar are at this time, in the north east.  We’ve had the heat on (when we’ve had power) since September,  and countless people don’t  humidify their axes, even though I go on  until I’m blue.  But in Shira’s case, there weren’t any protruding frets and the neck was straight and not warped or sunken. (If you don’t know how to see if your axe’s neck is warped, you need to learn.) Oh, and just because it was a new guitar doesn’t mean it’s impossible for it to be dehydrated or warped.  It has to do with the environment in which it was stored.

Then, I played every fret to see if there was a high fret or series of frets.  Nope.

So then, I played a bit. The action is nicely low, considering it isn’t a very expensive guitar.  Most guitars in that price range have very high action and a neck angle that limits how much the neck can be adjusted to lower it.  This one, had very nice action.  I took a look at the gigantic of a dreadnaught that she’d been playing for quite a while.  Its action was high.  

Since I cannot find any fault in the structure her guitar, and it’s not dry nor warped nor sunken, I have to conclude that Shira has been picking hard, but it hasn’t been so obvious because of the high action on the dreadnaught.  When she moderated the pressure of her stroke, and made sure her fingers where close to the frets which are rounded and need a little more precise pressure than the flat frets she had on the dreadnaught, it sounded fine. So, she needs to lighten up on her attack, now that she has a guitar that is of higher quality than the previous high-action one.

Blaire, I hope you’ll look into what I’ve mentioned today.  If you feel your frets sticking out of the side of the neck or if you’re just not sure, take your guitar to a reputable luthier, if there’s one near you.  It may need the truss rod adjusted, it might be dried out, it might be warped, or you  may be playing too hard on low action.  In fact the action might be a little too low. 

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

his week about Brownie. Don’t know who Brownie is?  Then your genres of preference don’t include rock. 

Eric Clapton bought the Stratocaster® he affectionately nicknamed “Brownie” secondhand at Sound City in London on May 7, 1967, a few days before Cream flew to New York to record their second album, Disraeli Gears. It was a 1956 Stratocaster® with a two-colored sunburst finish and a well-worn maple neck and fingerboard.
Eric Clapton's "Brownie" Stratocaster is significant for two main reasons. One, it was his first Stratocaster, and as such represents his move away from the Gibson guitars of his 1960s stints with John Mayall, Cream and Blind Faith, et al., and toward a longtime close association with Stratocasters that continues today. Two, it's the guitar he played on his  1970 solo debut album and on what is widely considered his most famous album and highest musical achievement, Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, also from 1970.
Brownie, which was sold at auction in 1999 and currently resides at the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle, is a 1956 Stratocaster (serial number 12073) with a two-color sunburst finish and maple fingerboard. Clapton bought it secondhand for £150 on May 7, 1967, at Sound City in London, just before Cream recorded second album Disraeli Gears.
The Fender Custom Shop now introduces a faithful recreation of Clapton’s first Stratocaster, meticulously crafted after extensive examination of and research on the real Brownie. All but indistinguishable from the original, the Fender Custom Shop Eric Clapton "Brownie" Tribute Stratocaster takes you back to that pivotal period in Clapton’s life and career, with features including a three-piece alder body with off-center seam and nitrocellulose lacquer finish in color-matched two-tone sunburst, and a one-piece plain-grain maple neck with custom large "soft V" profile.
The guitar also has a 7.25”-radius fingerboard with 21 vintage-style frets, custom-shielded ’56 Stratocaster pickups with five-way switching, a single-ply parchment pickguard, a vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge, and nickel hardware. This finish and hardware are worn to mirror the original guitar exactly, down to the smallest nicks, scratches, dings, cigarette burns and more.
The guitar comes in a special black textured vinyl Derek and the Dominos "Fragile" case that also contains several special extras, including a numbered certificate of authenticity hand-signed by Clapton, the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition box set of Layla and 
Other Assorted Love Songs, a Fender Custom Shop story and photo album booklet, and a Crossroads Antigua brochure.
MSRP is $15,000 and I have no idea what "street" will be, if there will be a "street" (less than MSRP) price at the big stores.  

It comes with and I assume is set up for 10's,  so if it’s not your plan to play with 10’s, have the set up done before you take the guitar home or have it delivered.  If you’re considering this guitar, you should know the neck profile is a soft V.  For me,  it would be a deal breaker, but you cats with big hands will probably welcome it.   I didn’t see the number of guitars in this limited edition, but I’d venture to say it’s going to be small.

Take Note
My take note topic this week is  PHYSICALLY feeling your music. No, I don’t mean getting all soulful and emotionally caught up, although that’s not bad. Last week I had a conversation with one of my students about this and thought it would be a great topic for this segment.  

If you have a decent understanding of the music you play - and I’m excluding exclusively chord strummers from this conversation - part of learning what you play and mastering it has to do with fingering.  I’m sure I have beat consistency to death on this blog. One of the reasons is reinforce the exact movement every time.  But there should be more to learning a fingering or even selecting a fingering when you sight read or just begin to work on music.  Remember, those notes on the page are pitches.  My student was talking about how there’s a slight mental jog when he moves from area of the fingerboard for one piece of music, to a different area of the fingerboard (which we call position) for another.  He was saying that it takes a bit of time to reorient himself.  

I encouraged him to think about what he was playing in theoretical terms as well as the sound.  Theoretical terms thusly: if you’re playing a passage in a position in which you are unfamiliar or maybe you just haven’t settled into comfort with it, don’t forget that each successive finger  represents a half step.  So, although you may not be fully relaxed in a particular area on the neck, if you’re playing an E and the next note you need is an F#, skip a finger, it’s a whole step away.  Likewise for any notes that are on adjacent strings, remember the strings are a 4th apart in pitch, except for from the G to B strings.  So, if you’re playing a C with your 1st finger on a given string (excluding the G string), the F higher than that C has to be right next to it on the same fret.  Try it.  Try it on the  6th & 5th string.  Try it on the  5th and  4th string. Try it on the  2nd and 1st string. And if you’re playing from one of those Cs to the G higher,  the G is on the next string 2 rest higher because it’s a 5th.  My student looked down and thought for a while.  He said he never takes those things into consideration.  If you have to sight read, professionally (studio work etc) or you want to enhance how your brain works if it’s a challenge for you to move from playing in one position for an extended period, and then moving to another, you need to think about it.  You also need to mentally visualize the fingerboard where you’re playing.  There’s a lot of growth you can achieve by not looking at your hands as you’re learning something.  Listen closely for what you’re playing and compare it to what you’re reading (or in the case of music you’re playing by ear, compare it to the original, if you can.) 

Are you like my student?  Do you ever think, as you play, “whole step, half step, a fifth, a half step etc?  If you play exercises that use intervals, do you think about what the intervals are or do you just pound away with your fingers?  There’s more to mastering this instrument than brute force.  PHYSICALLY feel what you’re playing.  It’s going to make you a much better player.

Raptor Picks USA
If leprechauns leave little presents for people in your house, on St Patrick’s day, you might want to surprise the guitarist in your life with a 4 pack of Raptors - don’t forget that buying 4 gets you 5.

Genuine Raptor™ “R”Series guitar picks are available at 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.

If you’re not comfortable, your guitar isn’t either, so don’t leave your guitar in a cold car or basement, or a hot car or attic. Humidify if your guitar lives in an environment in which there is less than 40% humidity.

You can follow me on Twitter, where I'm GuitarTechnique. I don’t Tweet excessively.  
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, practice  and until next time, I'll be doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time.  Have a nice St Patrick’s Day if you celebrate.