I am primarily a bass player - or so I thought.  One of the many reasons I picked up guitar (aside from enjoying it) is that I had hoped to improve my left hand technique on bass.  With the far more intricate movements required by guitar, I thought perhaps getting my hand more agile would improve my bass playing.  Well, I just picked up my bass to play a simple blues line and YOWZER, my hand was cramping up in no time.  So much for that idea.  Except now I'm hooked on guitar, so I guess now I'll have to figure out how to practice my bass and my guitar both.  And there's an autoharp staring at me from the top of the bookcase...  And I'm not sure, but I think I heard my harmonicas crying because they're so lonely (but harmonicas are good for crying, such a moody instrument). 

- Zurf


(8 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Discipline, practice, and patience. 

A story on Roy Clark.  Apparantly he was a very good jazz musician who enjoyed the old standards and could play them exceptionally well while bringing his own style to it, but on stage he stuck with "Pickin' and Grinnin'."  Why?  Because that's what he thought people were paying to hear and he was humble enough that he wanted to play for them and not for him.  The point is, playing in several styles isn't everything.  What is important is that you please yourself (or if you are a pro, your audience too).   If you want to play finger picking, play finger picking and if it sounds awful so be it.  Eventually you'll be playing with style and panache.

- Big D


(22 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Gitaardocphil - I've been self-teaching using a wonderful book called "You Can Teach Yourself Fingerpicking Guitar."  It's in the Mel Bay line.  I think it's designed for children, but I'm not too proud to use a child's book if I can learn from it.  I got through about the first six or eight lessons and have put it aside to incorporate what I've learned into my playing.  It's getting about time to pull it back out and learn another trick or two to incorporate.  I've tried many times before, but the key for me this time has been to accept that progress is going to be veerrrryyyy slow.  These arthritic joints don't move with the smoothness they did when I was agile, but the patience I have learned along the way has certainly made it easier to have a positive attitude.  I think the positive attitude has been way more important than agility in my fingers (which is improving as I play more). 

- Zurf


(15 replies, posted in Acoustic)


I'm not sure how to send a personal message on this forum, so I apologize for this being public.  It is being sent by a person who, 28 years ago when I was your age, thought much the same of myself as you seem to think of yourself.  It's nonsense and a lie.  I don't even know you, but I am absolutely certain of one thing, there is not one person on this planet who is a waste of protoplasm.  Every person who has ever been born has a unique soul made by a loving Creator - and that includes you.  If you think being made specially to be you isn't important, I'll tell you with confidence that it is. 

You don't have to stand out if you don't want, but just because you think others don't appreciate who you are doesn't mean you shouldn't appreciate who you are.  Plus, you only THINK you know what others think of you.  In time, I hope that you'll learn differently.  When the chips have been down, I've been shocked at who stood up for me because they cared.  I had thought they were "enemies", but in fact they were people who cared for me and respected what I stood for - but just had a different way of going about their own lives.  I don't wish hard times on you, but the lesson was worth the trouble.  Good luck to you.

It's trite, but there's a Dr. Seuss quote that seems appropriate: "Never apologize for who you are.  Those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter." 

- Big D

Cool comes from being who you are, not from doing what others expect you to do.  Anyone who wants you to be something you aren't to earn the label cool doesn't know what cool is. 

Be who you are and accept other people for who they are.  Seek to improve yourself by your standards, and if you're so inclined by the standards set forth in Scriptures.  That's how I've lived my life, and while I don't have a lot of friends, the ones I have are good ones and have stood by me for a long time - and vice versa.  But I have never, ever been cool.  I'd rather be a dork with good friends I can count on than cool with folks who'll turn their back on me as soon as I make a mistake. 

- Big D


(31 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

You just described my main guitar.  It was given to me when I helped a friend move.  Apparantly, his first wife (God rest her soul) had had a boyfriend before him that was a guitar teacher and had left a number of guitars in the house when he split.  So as my buddy is cleaning out the house they shared he was surprised to find a bunch of guitars in one of the closets.  Because he had very little sympathy for his now deceased wife's former boyfriends, he chose not to contact the fellow to come get his guitars and gave them to those of us who were helping him.  My daughter has one as well. 

However, I prefer to play it in tune.

- Big D


(22 replies, posted in Acoustic)

I tried one with my bass a while back, and picked one up for fingerpicking.  I like a good solid bass note and it was a bit muddy with just my thumb.  My thumb nail wore down too.  Still taking some getting used to, but you may want to try one out.  It's kind of nice that it fits around your thumb and so makes it a lot easier to hold firmly, plus if it fits well it positions itself too.  The hard part is that your thumb is in a different position than it is for strumming, so that's what made me think you might like it.  It sounds like you were having trouble keeping the pick in the right position, so a pick that you hold a little differently might be nice.  For $1, it seems like something inexpensive to try anyway. 

- Zurf


(27 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I have a varied background.  I am now an internal management consultant for a large global company. 

In the past, I have done the following for money, and probably some I've forgotten:
Window washer
Darkroom technician
Canoe instructor
Bass player
Independent businessman
Lawn boy
Darts hustler (especially Cricket and except for the Scots - every Scot I ever played whooped me badly - good thing I could pick them out by their accents)
Operations Manager
Purchasing Agent
Data checker
Trainer's assistant
Facilities manager

I've been working since I was 12 years old, and frankly I'm getting tired of it but have at least 25 more years to go until retirement (barring winning the jackpot in Lotto). 

I've got a great gig right now in this consulting line of work.  I enjoy doing it, and the folks I help seem to appreciate my perspective.  Plus I get paid pretty well, which surely doesn't hurt.  And all I have to do is bill enough hours but it doesn't matter what time of day. 

I am free from back injuries, aside from some having dislocated several vertebrae in my lower back many years ago - which slid right back into place on their own without surgery as soon as they pumped me full of morphine and muscle relaxants.  I had dislocated a vertebrae in my neck at the same time, as well as a shoulder.  All of those put themselves right as well without benefit of a knife.  I used to think it was luck, but these days I know better.  Luck's got nothing to do with it, but a merciful Lord answering prayers from my father who is a righteous man does. 

- Big D

Probably.  All the songs I play sound alike.  Maybe I should pay attention and find out what I do. 

I know I've got a default fingerpicking pattern because I can't break myself of the habit of the same pattern.  I'd LIKE to play something different, and you'd THINK that I ought to be able to do something about it, but every time I play it's the same old pattern coming out of the guitar.  Go figure. 

- Big D


(22 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Try a thumb pick yet?


(77 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)



(71 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Well if you're into Country, Josh Turner's - I'm Your Man

One need not study READING music to study music itself.  For some, a graphical representation may be more intuitively useful than the more language-based charts typically used in sheet music. 

I personally dislike tabs.  Trying to use tabs is like trying to read Greek to me, but there's no cause for insulting others for having a different preference. 

- Zurf

The hardest chord I've ever played was D.  I've tried and given up guitar so many times I've lost count.  This past September or October, I decided to give it another go by forgoing all books and just downloading some songs I wanted to learn to sing and play passably well.  The first one was "Forever and Ever Amen", and the first chord in that song is "D."   The first time I played that "D", it was the hardest chord I had ever played.  But that had nothing to do with where my fingers were on the fretboard.

My current obstacle is F#m and other F variations.  For all those out there fretting over barre chords, count me in your corner.  Write back and give some of us other newbies encouragement when you get them to sound right in a song.

I've given up on F#m for now and am learning Jimmy Buffett's Tin Cup Chalice, which requires going from G to B7 to Em one beat after the next.  None of these chords are horrible on their own, but getting from one to the next quickly enough to keep the song moving is enough challange for now.  If I play it with friends around, I'll make sure they're good and drunk.  I sound a lot better when the audience is drunk. 

- Big D

p.s.  Wormproof on a tackle box refers to the plastic type.  Soft plastic worms put into some kinds of plastic trays can react and melt the tray over time.  A 'wormproof' tackle box is one that is non-reactive to soft plastic lures.   It also makes a capital screen name for a guitar forum!

He doesn't make me think.  And if he did, he'd nearly always have missed the point of his kind of music, but I like the way Jimmy Buffett turns a phrase. 

I like singer song-writers.  Before we had kids my wife and I used to enjoy going to pubs to hear local artists.  I really enjoy hearing someone put places I know and activities I've done into song.  One of my river buddies does as good a job as any and far better than most at this endeavor, but unless you happen to sit around campfires alongside rivers in the Blue Ridge you're unlikely ever to have heard of him.  And if you have done it, you've probably met him at one time or another. 

- Big D


(20 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Well, I am trying to learn finger-picking, too.  And I'm doing a little strumming with a pick.  When I tried strumming with my finger and thumb nails it just sounded like mud.  So, I don't do it now.  When I want a chord instead of a note when finger picking, I just pluck the top three strings with my fingers and one of the bass notes with my thumb.  It's not a strum and it doesn't sound exactly like the guy on the record, but it's the right chord at the right time and that's good enough for me.

Remember, you've got ONE MONTH of playing and the guys on the records started, improved, became intermediate, went pro, got a contract, and THEN recorded what you're trying to mimic.  Thinking you can strum like a pro on a record after a month of playing is like thinking you can do open heart surgery because you dissected a frog in biology lab.  Be patient, do your best, add some more patience, and keep practicing.  I guarantee you those guys that sound so good on your records sounded like crud at the end of their first month of playing. 

Good luck, keep a smile on your face, and if it gets too frustrating for you just set the guitar aside for a bit until you're calm again.  Pick it back up.  You can't play well if you're all stressed out about how it's sounding.  If you're the sort of person who gets stressed over progress, maybe record yourself once a month.  At the end of a month, listen to how you sounded last month.  You'll hear the improvement if you're practicing.  But my advice would be to remember that you're doing this for fun and not to get stressed out over something that's supposed to be fun.  Just an attitude improvement can improve your playing and it will definitely allow you to progress more rapidly.

All the best,

Don't worry about the rolling eyes.  The guitar shop I go to and test guitars, I apologized for my really bad playing trying to play along with the shop's music by ear (I suck at playing by ear), and he said, "Aww don't even think on it.  You know that I don't even hear you guys any more.  Blaze on." 

But still, I'd have to think that Smoke on the Water is in poor taste...

- Zurf


(12 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)

I can only speak from an evangelican Protestant perspective.  I've been attending churches like that for a long while.  In them, there are a few songs from the Methodist Hymnal that a lot of folks might recognize, but by and large the music is "Praise and Worship Music" that has a lot more similarity to 1970's singer/songwriter and folk music than it does other hymns.  Some of it's pretty good and rocks pretty hard.  Some of it's pretty good and creates a good mood of worship.  A lot of it stinks out loud. 

I have played bass in a Praise and Worship band.  There are some nice advantages.  One, you have a gig with an audience every week.  Two, you get to play something new that you haven't heard on the radio a gazillion times (assuming that you don't listen to Contemporary Christian radio stations anyway).  Three (if you're a guitar player), they are meant to be sing-alongs.  This means that the keys are often keys in which guitar players infrequently play - so you get to practice some different chords.  Four, arrangements are expected.  People don't complain, "Hey, that's not the way Zepp does it..." 

Usually worship sets are three or four songs, and maybe additional song time during collection, or maybe the guitar play picks out a subtle and contemplative tune during prayer time to add to the mood. 

It's a lot of fun.  The key things to me for playing in a Praise and Worship band were two-fold.  First, the audience is an audience of One.  Two, the other folks present are encouraged to participate and when it all comes together and everyone's having fun and grooving and singing and praising it's a kind of fun that's tough to describe.  I guess these are really just two sides of the same coin. 

Down side - rarely applause.  That's not what it's all about, but I'm immature enough to admit that sometimes when I've done a really good job on the bass and everything was grooving that it'd be nice to have an ego stroke.  My problem, not the congregations. 

- Big D


(32 replies, posted in Acoustic)

Considering I can only play a few songs, it's not a hard one to figure.  I started playing guitar so that I could sing "I'm Going to Love You Forever" by Randy Travis to my wife on our 20th anniversary.  Well, that and I felt like it.  But she's heard me practice it so many times now that I don't think it'll be all that special.  It's still a lot of fun to play. 

Some others I enjoy:

Louisiana Saturday Night - Mel McDaniel
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys - Willie Nelson
Down at the Twist and Shout - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Tin Cup Chalice - Jimmy Buffett
Another Saturday Night - Sam Cooke

I do NONE of these like the covers.  Not because I have anything against covers, but covers are done by professional musicians and I'm not of that calibre.  So I play them the way they're fun for me.  Some may say "cop-out" and others will say "arrangement."  I say "fun." 

I just downloaded "Good Hearted Woman" by Willie and Waylon.

As you can tell, I'm a big fan of heavy metal music...  (so long as the metal is in a Ford truck)

- Zurf


(3 replies, posted in Acoustic)

David Harp did a great little theory book titled "Musical Theory Made Easy."  And that's just what it does.  Here's a link to it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Music-Theory-Made … amp;sr=8-4

The book's a lot better than what I could do, as I'm still learning a lot about theory myself.  Read this book, and pay attention to what's going on while you play, and patiently wait for the 'EUREKA! moment.' 

- Big D


(16 replies, posted in Guitars and accessories)

It will not make your strum better in the sense that it'll clean up being muted on strings or having trouble getting a notes to ring out or you include too many strings.  However, it will make your timing better, which will improve all your music ESPECIALLY when you are strumming rhythm.

People who learn classically, I'm talking any instrument here, learn about counting rhythms.  1 2 3 4 for quarter notes in 4/4.  1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & for eighth notes in 4/4 time.  1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a for sixteenth notes in a 4/4 time.  The trick being, whether you are playing quarter notes, eighth notes, or sixteenth notes, the 1 2 3 4 all occur at exactly the same time.   (understanding making each beat exactly the same length is critical to playing triplets and shuffles)

If you did not learn classically, and do not know how to count a rhythm, or like me did learn to play classically (wind instruments, not guitar which I just started), did learn to count, and just don't feel like it when doodling around on a guitar, then having a metronome keeping your timing clean is a boon.  It's also a pain in the butt and you'll want to throw the dang thing out the window in short order. 

I play bass, and when I am working out a new bass line, I use the metronome to keep me honest so that I don't slip an extra beat or half-beat into a line practicing alone and then I'm all messed up when playing with others who are playing correctly.

By helping you to keep your phrasing and timing clean, the metronome will help your playing whether you are strumming rhythm or screaming out leads. 

- Zurf

At my brother's wedding, the DJ (a friend of my brother's who lives to tweak noses) played Angela Lansbury's "Beauty and the Beast"  from the Disney movie.

My mother-in-law, God rest her soul, loved piano music without lyrics.  She thought "Send in the Clowns" was a beautiful song and wanted us to use it as a processional.  She wasn't joking.  We went more traditional in our selection. 

- Zurf

I started playing less than a year ago.  Just for fun.  I'm a bass player who has never been able to make sense of what the other two strings were for.  Anyway, I've gotten enough into guitar that my basses are getting dusty.  I'm not serious about, just doing it as a lark, but it's fun and I expect that I'll keep doing it ad infinitum.  I get ten minutes to an hour of practice most days.  I've got young kids, a job, other hobbies, etc.  Life. 

Now, what I'm playing on is a Yamaha classical given to me when I helped a friend move and he found it in the back of his late wife's closet.  I like it fine.  But, it's really hard to play barre chords for me.  I'm an adult man, but I've got bony little girl fingers.  When I try a barre chord, my knuckles get in the way because either my fingers are too short or my neck is too wide.  I figure it would be easier to get a guitar with a narrower neck than to lengthen my fingers or file down my knuckles. 

My playing is mostly fingerpick style (very, very beginner on that) and rhythm strumming (beginner on that though bass playing comes in handy for understanding rhythm and fills). 

What should I be looking for?  Am I on the right track?

So far, I've liked the Breedlove Atlas concert size (a little smaller than dreadnaught)

I've liked the Baby Taylor (but would prefer a full size guitar)

I've like a Martin model that's all laminate rather than solid wood but it sounds good to me

I've like a Seagull but thought the highs were a little jangly and the lows weren't fleshed out enough.  That could be my playing, though.

All fairly low end models in those manufacturers lines.  Thanks in advance for any suggestions or comments, especially about features for the kind of playing I do and want to do (which is more fingerpick).

- Zurf


(9 replies, posted in Chordie's Chat Corner)


Saw the guy who asked if it's OK to start after 30.  I sure hope so, because I started a little less than a year ago when I was already in my 40's.  I've tried at times in the past and couldn't get the hang of six strings.  Four is more my speed.  Anyway, this last time I just ignored all the instructional books, got a chord picture book, downloaded some chords for songs, and started to play the songs NOTHING like the covers.  However I felt like it is how I played them, and still do.  If I ever play for someone else, it'll be on the back deck or around a campfire.  I'm not looking to play on a stage or make a name.  Just having some fun, not really caring how it sounds to anyone else so long as it brings a smile to my face.  This site has been a boon. 

Anyway, I've got nothing important to say, but I registered to be able to put together a songbook and not having anything to say has never stopped me from saying it before, so here I am saying nothing for two paragraphs. 

- Zurf