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WIN a Bedell Award Series Guitar, page 83

BOB DYLAN You Aint Goin Nowhere
ANDY McKEE Drifting


YouTube Fingerstyle
Guitar Ergonomics
How to Find the Perfect Fit

LOWDEN Pierre Bensusan
Signature Model
On Two-Hand Tapping Fusion Orchestra
and Percussive FISHMAN
Techniques Loudbox
Mini Amp

25 Tips for
at a Jam

Play Scratch Rhythms
Learn the Reverse
Master the Fretboard

Crazy-Pete, President of Breedlove
Guitar Company bungy jumping in New Zealand.

The folks from New Zealand really know how to live. Their
love of life, music and adventure changed me forever and
contributed to the creation of the Breedlove Extraordinary
Experience. Crazy-Pete

Our town of Bend, Oregon, USA would be a great place for a

New Zealander to vacation. Great music, non-stop adventure,
Tell us your story.
and highly hospitable people await.

Whats more, they could visit the Breedlove Custom Shop to Design your dream guitar.
design their dream guitar. Guests can select their tonewoods,
personalize the frestscape, have the guitar custom fit to their
body, and create the ultimate souvenir to last a lifetime. You could win it.
This is how far we go for our clients and we love it.
So, how far will you go for a Breedlove? b r e e d l o v e g u i t a r s . c o m
Sometimes you want to plug in. For a safe solution
with superb sound, put in a Woody. Woody single-coil
and hum-cancelling pickups go in confidently when you
need them and come out carefully when you dont.
For info on our pickups and pedals contact us at (805) 964-9610.
2010 Seymour Duncan. All rights reserved. Seymour Duncan is a registered trademark.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective holders.
w w w . Y a m a h a G u i t a r s . c o m
My ears love the sound,
my fingers love the feel
Monte Montgomery
photo - Max Crace


800.388.4447 GHS Corp. 2813 Wilbur Ave. Battle Creek, MI 49037
a Bedell
Guitar page 83
14 Bob Dylans You Aint Goin Nowhere
16 David Grays Babylon
JANUARY 2011 VOL. 21, NO. 7, ISSUE 217

features Corey Harris: The blues guitarist
describes the art of fusing American and

41 Get Into a Real Jam

African musical influences. With the
Lick of the Month. By Andrew DuBrock

Twenty-five ways to enhance your jamming experience.

By Nicole Solis 20 Lowden Pierre Bensusan: Lowden
designs the ultimate guitar for finger-

50 Andy McKee
stylist Pierre Bensusan. By Doug Young
22 Crdoba Fusion Orchestra: Hybrid
classical guitar designed for steel-string
The contemporary fingerstyle sensation explains the
players has a warm sound and comfort-
percussive style that turned him into a YouTube star. able feel. By Ruth Parry
24 Fishman Loudbox Mini: Portable,
By Doug Young
affordable, and flexible acoustic amp.
By Andrew DuBrock

63 Guitar Ergonomics 101 26 IN THE STORES

How to make sure your guitar is a good physical match
for you. By Teja Gerken
Mary Gauthier: The songwriter gives
her childhood an unflinching look on
The Foundling. By Steve Boisson

Learn the Reverse Boom-Chuck:
A simple change in your strumming can
help you mimic the style of a piano.
By David Hodge


Percussive Rhythm Techniques:
Energize your guitar playing with
scratch rhythms. By Andrew DuBrock
songs to play
14 You Aint Goin Nowhere Bob Dylan
Whats It Worth?: A guitar appraisal is
16 Babylon David Gray a deep dive into the history of your
guitar. By Richard Johnston
36 Home Sweet Home
Traditional, arr. by David Hodge
59 Drifting Andy McKee Reviews of albums by John
Mellencamp, Ryan Bingham, and more.
84 Day Tripper The Beatles,
arr. by Tommy Emmanuel
Three Paths to Fretboard Mastery:
Deepen your fretboard knowledge by
IN EVERY ISSUE exploring new approaches to practicing
10 EDITORS NOTE scales and arpeggios. By Sean McGowan
86 MARKETPLACE Tommy Emmanuels arrangement of
89 AD INDEX Day Tripper.

COVER: Andy McKee with his Greenfield G4.2. 20 90 GREAT ACOUSTICS

PHOTOGRAPHER: Anne Hamersky 1988 Grit Laskin. By Adam Perlmutter

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 7

exclusive online features at

If youre a subscriber to or member of the Acoustic Guitar Club, you

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Learn the Reverse Boom-Chuck lesson (page 32), with video examples. Lowden Pierre Bensusan (page 20) Crdoba Fusion Orchestra (page 22)
Percussive Rhythm Techniques lessons (page 38), with video examples. Fishman Loudbox Mini (page 24)
Three Paths to Fretboard Mastery lesson (page 76), with video examples. FEATURED PLAYERS
Day Tripper (page 84), with video. Hear audio of Corey Harris (page 18).
ONLINE GIVEAWAYS See video of Andy McKee (page 50).
Win your choice of a Bedell dreadnought or parlor guitar from
the Bedell Award Series. Both guitars are a $2,599 value. Buy songs featured in Acoustic Guitar
Enter by January 31, 2011 at at

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editors note

IM HALFWAY THROUGH a six-week stint with my left EDITORIAL

Group Publisher
hand and wrist in a cast, so I can emphatically encourage and Editorial Director Dan Gabel
Managing Editor Mark Smith
you to maintain the health of your fretting and picking
Senior Editor Teja Gerken
limbs at all costs. While the scaphoid bone in my wrist Senior Editor Scott Nygaard
was broken during a decidedly nonmusical activity (flying Education Editor Dan Apczynski
Copy Editor Jan Perry
over the handlebars of my mountain bike), the results are Contributing Editors Andrew DuBrock, Ron Forbes-
seriously limiting my guitar playing. Im lucky that my Roberts, David Hamburger,
Sharon Isbin, Steve James,
orthopedic doc is a musician, because when I asked him Richard Johnston, Jeffrey
if he could shape my cast with a bend in the thumb so Pepper Rodgers, Rick Turner,
Doug Young
that I could at least try to play mandolin while healing,
he gladly agreed. For those of us who get our satisfaction, relaxation, and fun out of making DESIGN/PRODUCTION
Director of Design
music, even a temporary playing hiatus caused by injury can be frustrating at best. and Production Barbara Summer
So please take heed of our story on the ergonomic properties of the guitar on page 63, Senior Designer Timothy Jang
Production Manager Hugh OConnor
where senior editor Teja Gerken explores the many physical facets of the instrument that Production Designers Andy Djohan, Emily Fisher
have an impact on how comfortable you are when playingoverall guitar size, width of the Production Assistant Sam Lynch

fretboard, scale length, and much more. Making simple choices about the guitar you choose ADMINISTRATION
to play can save you trouble later on, and luthiers are increasingly incorporating features Publisher David A. Lusterman
Office and
that are specifically designed to limit the discomfort, pain, and injury that can come from Systems Manager Peter Penhallow
spending hours playing a guitar that does not fit properly.
If youre among the many guitarists whose New Years resolutions will include the vow Advertising Managers
(West) Adrianne Serna
to play with other musicians more in 2011, the 25 tips in Get Into a Real Jam (page 41) (East) Cindi Kazarian
will set you on the right path. Nicole Solis gives practical advice about choosing tunes, (Central) Claudia Campazzo
Advertising Operations
playing solos, leading songs, and observing the musical and social cues in the room, all to Manager Sarah Hasselberg
Advertising Assistant Troy Ratto
ensure that you have a great time picking with old (or new-found) friends.
Elsewhere in this issue, check out the cover story on Andy McKee on page 50, in which FINANCE
the innovative fingerstylist explains the tapping and slapping techniques that have been Director of Accounting
and Operations Anita Evans
wowing millions on YouTubethe video for his song Drifting (transcribed on page 59) Bookkeeper Geneva Thompson
Office and
has 34 million views to dateand in his live performances. McKee is on the road in early Bookkeeping Assistant Tristan Kelley
2011 with two other fine guitarists, rock instrumentalist Eric Johnson and fingerstyle Office Assistant Naia Nakai

master Peppino DAgostino, so be sure to check out the tour if it comes to your area.
Youll also find reviews of the new Fishman Loudbox Mini amplifier (page 24) and the Marketing Manager Mea Chavez
Digital Publishing
Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Model (page 20), a look at how guitars are appraised Manager Jason Garoian
(page 72), and numerous songs to play, including one by Bob Dylan (page 14) and a Digital Developer Lyzy Lusterman
Subscriptions Jan Edwards-Pullin
Beatles classic arranged by Tommy Emmanuel (page 84). Theres much more to play here,
Single Copy Sales Tom Ferruggia
so protect those hands!
Enjoy the issue,
Mail PO Box 767
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Shipping 255 West End Ave.
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Except where otherwise noted, all contents 2011 String Letter Publishing, David A. Lusterman, Publisher.

10 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011


music notation key

Guitar tunings are given from the lowest (sixth)

string to the highest (first) string; standard tun-
ing is written as E A D G B E. Arrows underneath
tuning notes indicate strings that are altered
from standard tuning and whether they are
tuned up or down.
In standard notation, small symbols next to
notes refer to fretting-hand fingers: 1 for the
index finger, 2 the middle, 3 the ring, 4 the pinky,
and T the thumb. Picking-hand fingering is indi-
cated by i for the index finger, m the middle, a the
ring, c the pinky, and p the thumb. Vocal tunes are sometimes written with a
In tablature, the horizontal lines represent fully tabbed-out introduction and a vocal melody
the six strings, with the first string on top and with chord diagrams for the rest of the piece.
the sixth on the bottom. The numbers refer to The tab intro is usually your indication of which
frets on the given string. H indicates a hammer- The top horizontal line represents the nut, strum or fingerpicking pattern to use in the rest
on, P a pull-off, S a slide, a bend. The number unless a numeral to the right of the diagram of the piece.
next to the bend symbol shows how much the marks a higher position (5 fr. means fifth fret).
bend raises the pitch: for a slight bend, 12 for Strings are shown as vertical lines. The line on Want to know more about Acoustic Guitar
a half step, 1 for a whole step. Pick and strum the far left represents the sixth (lowest) string,
direction are shown below the staff ( =down-
notation? To receive a complete guide to

and the line on the far right represents the first Acoustic Guitar music by mail, send a self-
stroke, =upstroke), and slashes in the notation (highest) string. Dots show where the fingers go,
and tablature (!) indicate a strum through the
addressed, stamped envelope to Music Editor,
and thick horizontal lines indicate barres. Num- Acoustic Guitar, PO Box 767, San Anselmo,
previously played chord. bers above the diagram are fretting-hand finger CA 94979-0767. The complete guide can
Chord diagrams show where the fingers go numbers. X indicates a string that should be also be found online at
on the fretboard. Frets are shown horizontally. muted or not played; 0 indicates an open string. notationguide.

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PEACE, LOVE & ROCK N ROLL =fccfnljfe1

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acoustic classic

Try the bouncy strum pattern notated below,

You Aint Goin Nowhere which emulates the acoustic guitar in the left
channel by starting with a bass note on the
Words and music by Bob Dylan downbeat, followed by an eighth-note chord
strum pattern for the rest of the measure. This
pattern naturally highlights the accented pulse
The Byrds included Bob Dylans You Aint Goin Nowhere as the lead- of the song, and you can provide more of a
off track to their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and it was the driving strum pattern by strumming every
first recording of this song to make it onto record. Though Dylan penned eighth note while accenting the beats as
You Aint Goin Nowhere in 1967 and recorded it with the Band later shown here (everything except beat three and
that year, his original recording was shelved until 1975, when it was the and of beat one). Try playing an embel-
included on The Basement Tapes. In the Byrds recording, singer Roger lished rhythm, adding little runs and fills like
McGuinn famously mixed up a line in the second verse, saying Pack up the ones shown here. Youll hear similar licks
your money, pick up your tent, instead of Pick up your money and in the right channel of the recording. Note the
pack up your tent as Dylan originally intended. When Dylan cut the alternate fingering for the C chord, which has
track again in 1971 for his Greatest Hits Vol. II release, he poked fun at a high G note on top. The part plays the C chord
McGuinn by saying, Pack up your money, put up your tent, McGuinn. like this some of the time, and also occasionally
(Incidentally, this 1971 recording featured Homespun Tapes founder anchors the pinky on the high G note for the
Happy Traum on banjo and background vocals.) progression (creating an Am7 chord when the
The Byrds version shown here features two acoustic guitars, panned progression moves to Am).
left and right, and a pedal steel guitar playing licks between phrases. ANDREW DUBROCK

Strum Pattern Embellished Chords

G G Am C G
320004 320004 x 0231 0 x 32014 320004


j j
& 4

G Am
320004 x 0231 0

x 3201 0 3
0 3
0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
0 0 2 2 0 2 0 2 0 2
B 3 3
0 0 2 3
*  = down;  = up

G Am G Am Am
1. Clouds so swift, rain wont lift 2. I dont care how many letters they sent Strap yourself to a tree with roots
Gate wont close, railings froze The morning came, morning went You aint goin nowhere
Am Am
Get your mind off wintertime Pack up your money, pick up your tent Repeat Chorus

You aint goin nowhere You aint goin nowhere G Am


4. Now Genghis Khan, he could not keep

Chorus Repeat Chorus C G
G Am Instrumental All his kings supplied with sleep
Whoo-ee, ride me high Am
C G G Am Well climb that hill no matter how steep
Tomorrows the day my brides gonna come 3. Buy me a flute and a gun that shoots C G
G Am C G When we get up to it
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly Tailgates and substitutes
C G Repeat Chorus two times and fade
Down in the easy chair

14 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

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acoustic classic

Babylon in parentheses. Gray fingers the Dmaj9/F#

chord with his thumb over the neck, but you
Words and music by David Gray can use your index finger here, instead. For the
G6 chord, he simply slides his ring finger up a
fret and adds the rest of his fingers as shown
in the chord diagram. This riff repeats through-
Babylon revived David Grays career in 2000 and instantly put him into out the second and third verses. Like the radio
high rotation on radio stations across the country. Having been dropped cut, Gray skips the Em chord in parentheses
from a major label, Gray teamed with drummer Craig McClune to self- whenever moving from a verse to a chorus, as
produce White Ladder. Babylon reached No. 57 on Billboards Hot 100 he does after the second and third verses.
and drove White Ladder up to No. 35 on Billboards Top 200 album chart. Try the strumming pattern (below, right)
Two versions of the song were releaseda longer album version with for the chorus. Gray moves his hand quickly in
three verses, and a radio cut that featured just two verses. The transcrip- a 16th-note subdivision so that he can play the
tion below follows the longer recording, but you can re-create the radio 16th notes on the and of beat two without
cut by jumping to the chorus after the first verse (omitting the Em in breaking his rhythm. You can vary this strum
parentheses). After the first chorus, play the second verse, then skip to pattern, but highlighting the accented notes
the repeated chorus at the end. will help you retain the songs characteristic
This verse riff shown here varies occasionally, but the most important rhythmic pulse.
notes are presented below, with a few inadvertently struck notes placed ANDREW DUBROCK

Verse Riff Chorus Strum Pattern

D maj9/F # G6 D
T x 023 0 21043 0 x x 0132

j j .
Chords, Capo I
# 4 > >> > >
D maj9/F # G6 Em D
& # .. 3
J ( ) ( J ) () .

() >
T x 023 0 21043 0 023 000 x x 0132


F #m11
A G A7 H P


( 20) ( 0)
x 0123 0 T34100 320004 x 0103 0
2 3 2 3 3 3
. ( )
0 4
B 2 3
*  = down;  = up

Dmaj9/F # A7
1. Friday night Im going nowhere Moving through the crowds, Im pushing And feel it now
G6 Dmaj9/F # G6 Chemicals are rushing in my bloodstream D A Em

All the lights are changing green to red I only wish that you were here, you know Let go of your heart, let go of your head
Dmaj9/F # Im seeing it so clear, Ive been afraid A7 Dmaj9/F # G6

Turning over TV stations To show you how I really feel And feel it now, Babylon
G6 Dmaj9/F # G Admit to some of those bad mistakes Ive made Dmaj9/F # G6 Dmaj9/F # G6
Situations running through my head Babylon, Babylon
Dmaj9/F # G6 Chorus
Looking back through time, you know its clear 3. Sunday all the lights of London
Dmaj9/F # G6 And if you want it, come and get it Shining sky is fading red to blue
Kicking through the autumn leaves and
That Ive been blind, Ive been a fool Em F #m11
Dmaj9/F # G6 For crying out loud Wondering where it is you might be going to
To open up my heart to all the jealousy Turning back for home, you know
Dmaj9/F # G6 (Em) The love that I was giving you was Im feeling so alone, I cant believe
That bitterness, that ridicule Climbing on the stair I turn around
Em G
Never in doubt To see you smiling there in front of me
2. Saturday Im running wild
D A Em
And all the lights are changing red to green Let go of your heart, let go of your head Repeat Chorus
Repeat Chorus (second half)

16 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011


Ramirez Advertising 2010

HEARING IS BELIEVING.Dean  800 800 1008

private lesson

When I spoke with Harris last summer, he

let his playing do the talking, with examples
that highlight his influences and demonstrat-
ing some of the similarities and differences
between African music and regional American
blues styles.
Corey Harris You seem to have a variety of influences and
styles at your fingertips. What sets some
The blues guitarist describes the art of fusing of these styles apart from each otherfor

American and African musical influences. instance, whats distinctive about Mississippi
Someone from Mississippi might say other-
By Andrew DuBrock wise, but to me, what makes a song Missis-
sippi is its got a real direct harshness to [its]
sound [Example 1]. They dont have a whole
lot of chords and fancy changes. Mississippi
blues is more about your rhythm, your timing,
and can you sing, accompany yourself. Can
you have emotion in your voice and come
across as being real?

Hear the music COREY HARRIS SINGS THE BLUES with astonishing conviction. Though How would that differ from the blues in
examples at he grew up in Colorado and now lives in Virginia, a few moments spent other regions? with his 1995 debut Between Midnight and Day could convince you that Here in Virginia, a lot of it is dance music,
privatelesson hes a Mississippi Delta bluesman decades older. At other times, he Piedmont style. Its blues, but its got less of a
sounds convincingly like a seasoned Piedmont-style blues picker. harsh sound. People might play something
Harris was one of a handful of artists who kept the acoustic blues like [Example 2]. It doesnt have a whole lot
revival rolling onward in the 90s, but as his career progressed, he began of sevenths in there; it doesnt have a whole
to reach beyond North American blues styles to study and record Afri- lot of blue notes to itbut its got some.
can and Jamaican music. Recordings like Mississippi to Mali (2003) and But this is really my take on things,
because my parents came from Texas and
Kentucky. I was born in Colorado. This is just
what Ive observedthere are exceptions to
the rule. You had people like Mississippi John
Hurt who played like a Piedmont style, you
know, [but] he was straight up from Miss-
issippi. Then you have people like Mance
Lipscomb. He was from Texas, but he played
very much a fingerpicking Piedmont style, too.
And Hacksaw Harney, he came from Missis-
sippi, but he sounded very much like Blind
Blake. He played a lot of ragsand he played
blues, toobut he played a lot of instrumental
rags. I think a lot of that is people were listen-
ing to records and radio. Prior to [the] mid-
1920s, people didnt do that. They had to
sound like where they were from, more or less.

What did you discover that is unique to

African styles?
One thing they do a lot is a string choke.
[Plays Example 3, damping each note with
fretting-hand fingers and picking-hand palm.]
Zion Crossroads (2007) mixed reggae- and African-style tracks with the Ali Farka [Tour] does that. Ill show you
American blues tradition. At the heart of Harriss music and studies lies something he does in a different key
the interconnectedness that Harris finds between various styles of music [Example 4]. The way I pluck the string, I
rooted in the African diaspora, which contributed to his earning a pres- damp with my palm. Im hitting the guitar
tigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2007. On his most recent release, with my middle finger [the boxed note-
Blu.Black, Harris leans toward Jamaican influences, featuring a cover of heads in Example 4]. Its a tune called

Burning Spears Columbus and a handful of songs co-written with Bajourou, and its not from Ali Farkas region
Harriss reggae-influenced producer and bandmate, Chris Peanut of the country [Mali], its more from the
Whitley. south.

18 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Are there similarities between African styles You occasionally use African techniques in yourself grooving when youre mixing all
and American blues? your own songs. Can you show us an example those things up?
Some of [the Mississippi Delta blues] really of that? I imagine a circle moving clockwise and I try
sounds African. John Lee Hooker, for example, Well, Bam, Bam [see the Lick of the Month]. to play in a circle instead of in a line or in a
really sounds like hes from Mali. A lot of square. So, when Im playing and Im closing
brothers and sisters I know from Mali say You have a really strong sense of time, even my eyes, Im thinking about that circle moving
the same thing. Ali Farka Tour told me when when youre switching between licks and in a clockwise motion. And I think of just one
he first heard John Lee Hooker, he thought he rhythm, and mixing picking techniques like beat. I think of that one instead of thinking
was from Mali. double-thumb bass lines. How do you keep about all these other beats. I just think about
that one and I play off the one. ag
This lick is the foundational rhythm part of
Harriss song Bam, Bam. Its a tribute to Paul LICK OF THE MONTH Former Acoustic Guitar music editor Andrew
DuBrock is a freelance writer, transcriber,
Bogle, Harris says. He was a revolutionary
and musician in Portland, Oregon. His video
from Jamaica in the 19th century who was killed by the British government. Harris occasionally
series Acoustic Rock Basics can be found at
substitutes the open high E and B strings for the notes on beat two and the and of three in each, and he is the author of the
book Total Acoustic Guitar.

C *j
Am G
# # # # 3 . n j
* *
& 4 . ..
n n( )n . .
n n( ) . . ()
GUITARS: Gernandt Parlor with koa back

and sides ( Taylor 510ce.
National Koa Estralita Deluxe (for slide).

. 1 1 1 (10) 3
3 3 3
0 0 0 . Gibson Herb Ellis ES-165 electric archtop.

. 3 3 .
2 2 2 Dickerson lap steel.
0 0
B 3
3 3

STRINGS: DAddario light-gauge.
FLATPICK: Jim Dunlop teardrop-shape Jazz
* Occasionally substitutes open high E string over ringing open B string II or III.

Ex. 1
Swing ( = ) 1/4 * 3 1/4

1/4 1/2 1/4

1/4 3
0 0 0 0 0
3 0 3 0 0 0 3 0
2 01 1 1 1 2 (2) 0 01 1
2 2 2 2 2 02 0 020 2
B 0 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 0
02 2

* Straight eighths
Ex. 2 C F C A7 D

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 3 2 2 2
3 1 1 3 1 1 1
2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 0 0
B 3
0 2 3
3 1 1 1 1
3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0

G C Ex. 3 Ex. 4


3 0 0 0 0 0 000
0 3 1 1 01 0 3 0 1 01 0 3 01 0 01 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 2 0 3 3 23 2 02 0
B 3 3
0 3 3 2 3 2 3 3 3

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 19

new gear

Lowden Pierre Bensusan

Northern Irelands legendary luthier George Lowden designs
the ultimate guitar for fingerstylist Pierre Bensusan.

By Doug Young

See the AMONG A HANDFUL OF legendary pair- move up the neck, providing more
video review at ings of players and guitars, the associ- spacing between the outer strings and
AcousticGuitar ation between Lowden Guitars and the edge of the neck at higher frets,
.com/newgear master fingerstyle guitarist Pierre perfect for vibrato on higher-pitched
Bensusan has a unique place in melodic lines.
acoustic guitar history. In 1978, George Lowdens customary split saddle
Lowden built Bensusan what was then called a model S22 one saddle for the two plain treble
(today it would be called an O22), and aside from a few brief strings, and another for the four wound
diversions, Bensusans famous jumbo-body Old Lady has stringsprovides excellent intonation
been his near constant companion ever since. In 2009, over the entire range of the guitar, and
Lowden began to work on a replacement for Bensusans aging the gold Gotoh 510 tuning keys (with
instrument, providing a New Lady for Bensusan, and leading ebony buttons) make tuning smooth and
to the introduction of the Pierre Bensusan Signature model. easy. The Madagascar rosewood bridge
We took a look at this unique guitar. uses Lowdens typical pinless design,
which facilitates quick string changes and
Refined Elegance offers some additional comfort, with no
The Bensusan signature model is based on Lowdens F body bridge pins under your picking-hand palm.
size, which roughly corresponds to the dimensions of a small As expected of a guitar in this price
jumbo or grand auditorium. The guitar is 157 8 inches wide at range and with this level of endorsement,
the lower bout and 42332 inches deep at the tailblock. A small the instruments construction is simply
but effective armrest bevel helps minimize any ergonomic impeccable. And the top-notch materials
challenges presented by the deep body. The guitar is relatively and flawless construction create an
free of ornamentation, featuring only a thin, simple abalone
rosette and the Lowden name in abalone on the headstock.
T h e pitch-black ebony headstock overlay is embossed AT A GLANCE
with Bensusans signature in pearl on the back.
The instruments clean, uncluttered lines THE SPECS Lowden F-size body shape. Solid
help draw attention to the high-grade woods Adirondack spruce top. Solid Honduras
used throughout. The darkly stained, satin- rosewood back and sides. A-frame X-bracing with
finished Honduras rosewood back and sides tapered dolphin shape. Five-piece maple neck
are beautiful in an understated way and accen- with dovetail joint. Ebony fretboard, binding, and
tuate the nearly white, perfectly grained Adiron- headstock overlay. Armrest bevel. Madagascar
dack spruce top. The satin finish, along with the rosewood bridge with split bone saddle. 25.59-
use of wood everywherefor bindings, purfling inch scale. 1.77-inch nut width. 2.36-inch string
and moregives the guitar an organic and spacing at saddle. Gotoh 510 tuners. Light-
extremely classy look. The smooth-feeling gauge Elixir Nanoweb phosphor-bronze strings
five-piece maple neck consists of alter- (.012.054). Made in Northern Ireland.
nating strips of light and dark wood,
THIS IS COOL Impressive sustain and volume.
and even the lighter wood has a subtle
Bevel adds comfort. Neck width at higher frets
old-world character that is a pleasure
provides extra space in upper registers.
to look at as you play.
As with all Lowdens, the neck is WATCH FOR Beefy neck profile with slightly
extremely stiff and stable. The guitar wider string spacing and longer scale may
features a 25.59-inch scale length challenge some players.
(650 mm), with a string spacing of 1.77
PRICE $8,425 list.
inches at the nut and 2.36 inches at the
saddle. Interestingly, the neck width MAKER Lowden Guitars: 44 (0)28 4461 9161;
increases more than the string spacing as you

20 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

intangible but immediate sense of under- bright, ringing overtones than either of the the increase in sustain, brilliance, and
stated elegance. other guitars. The stock Fs more funda- overtones.
mental tone, tighter bass, and shorter
Tone Monster sustain seem better suited for traditional Extraordinary Fingerstyle Guitar
The Lowdens look, feel, and craftsman- fingerpicking and flatpicking, while the With the Bensusan signature model,
ship elevated my expectations of the Bensusan model excels at more ethereal Lowden Guitars has created an instrument
guitars sound, and I wasnt disappointed. sounds that are perfect for modern finger- that clearly stands at the high end of the
As you might expect, the Bensusan model style. Cascading cross-string runs in spectrum in all respects. Designed for a
exhibits the distinctive Lowden tone D A D G A D on the Bensusan model fingerstyle guitarist whose musical depth
difficult to put into words, but hard to create a dramatic, shimmering harp effect, places extraordinary demands on an
forget once youve heard it. There is a for example. The increased bass response instrument, the Bensusan signature model
diffuse quality to the tone, but without may be due to its bass-bias bracing, more than rises to the occasion. ag
sacrificing projection. The sound is loud which Lowden changed to compensate for
and full, with meaty lower mids, a strong the presence of the bevel, while the wood Doug Young ( is a
bass, and ringing highs. The most immedi- choices may at least partially account for contributing editor for Acoustic Guitar.
ately noticeable characteristics of this
guitar are tremendous sustain and the way
it responds to dynamics. This is a lively
instrument, with overtones and sympa-
thetic vibrations that leap out effortlessly.
Not surprisingly, the guitar sounds superb

Pierre Bensusans name graces the back of

his signature model guitars headstock.

in alternate tunings like D A D G A D and

adds a bit of authenticity to the sound of
Bensusan pieces (which are almost exclu-
sively in D A D G A D), but it is equally
impressive in standard tuning. The instru-
ments playability is excellent, with
smooth, relatively low action, and a neck
width that offers just a smidgen more
room for fingerstyle players. The rounded To
neck profile feels substantial but comfort- Gu my
able, and the bevel and body shape make r
the guitar comfortable to hold.
While retaining the characteristic
Lowden sound, the Bensusan model has
its own distinct personality and tonal
signature. With the help of a couple of Indulge
g yyour gguitar with a Levys
y gguitar strap.
Lowden-owning friends, I compared our
review guitar with several other Lowdens,
including a new F model made of Sitka
spruce and Indian rosewood and a cedar-
and-mahogany original S22 from the same
era as Bensusans Old Lady. Each of the
three guitars has a different voice, but
the Bensusan model stands out not only
for having a deeper bass than the F, but
also for having more sustain, and more

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 21

new gear

Crdoba Fusion Orchestra

Hybrid acoustic-electric classical guitar designed for steel-string players
has warm sound and comfortable feel.

By Ruth Parry

See the FOUNDED IN 1997 by designer Tim

video review at Miklaucic of Guitar Salon Interna- tional, Crdoba is known for building
newgear affordable nylon-string acoustic and
acoustic-electric instruments. Luthier
Kenny Hill is the chief designer and
production manager of the Fusion series, which, from its begin-
ning, has offered nylon-string guitars for steel-string musicians,
with either 12 or 14 frets to the body and a single cutaway.
The Crdoba Fusion Orchestra is the first non-cutaway guitar
in the Fusion series. The Orchestra has the look of a tradi-
tional classical guitar, but its body shape is slightly smaller, Unobtrusive and effective Sonitone electronics.
and it has a thin, radiused neck with a 17 8-inch nut width,
making it much more friendly to steel-string players than the Versatile and Warm Tones
usual flat fingerboard and 2-inch nut width of a traditional The Orchestras dark lows and nice highs
classical guitar. give it an overall tone that adapts well to
different musical styles, although the
Clean Lines and Comfortable Feel midrange doesnt resonate emphatically.
The lines and materials of the Fusion Orchestra are clean I performed with this guitar mostly as a
and impressive, especially for its price. The guitars back and soloist, fingerpicking pieces such as
sides are made of Indian rosewood, the top is solid Canadian Django Reinhardts Naguine, Baden
cedar (the guitar can also be had with a European spruce Powells Apelo, and the Irish traditional
top for the same price), and it has a mahogany neck
and ebony fingerboard. The rosette, multiringed
and inlaid by hand, is made of all natural AT A GLANCE
woods, with maple and ebony purfling outlin-
ing the soundboard. The body is accented THE SPECS Solid Canadian cedar top (also
with a binding of light-colored mahogany. available with European spruce). Indian
Like most classical guitars, it has 12 frets rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck.
to the body and an additional 20th fret for the Ebony radiused fingerboard. Rosewood bridge.
top two strings (B and E). The neck has a very Bone nut and saddle. Fan bracing. 650-mm
comfortable feel. I played a variety of styles on (25.59-inch) scale length. 178-inch nut width.
itjazz, Latin, pop, folk, and classicalto 2516-inch string spacing at saddle. High-gloss
which it responded surprisingly well. No matter polyurethane finish. Der Jung silver tuning
if I plucked it or strummed it (both with a machines with ebony buttons. Fishman Sonitone
pick and flamenco-style), the response electronics with Sonicore coaxial undersaddle
was solid. I normally play a nylon-string pickup. Savarez Corum Alliance high-tension
guitar with traditional classical propor- strings. Made in China. Left-handed version
tions, so it was necessary for me to available.
make some adjustments in my attack
THIS IS COOL Affordable. Good tone.
and feel. But its narrow neck will be an
Comfortable radiused neck.
advantage for players who are not
accustomed to the hand stretches WATCH FOR Midrange needs to be boosted
required on a standard classical, and when amplified.
the neck size makes it easy to capo
PRICE $750 list/$599 street.
without buzzing. The Orchestras intona-
tion is quite good and the tuning machines MAKER Crdoba Guitars: (877) 304-0909;
work smoothly.

22 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

tune Kitty Tyrell, and I was impressed
with its ability to project. I also performed
with it in a trio setting (with bass and
percussion), where it cut through well and
retained its warm tone. When jamming
acoustically with two steel-string acoustic
guitarists, the Orchestra had trouble
competing but it maintained its presence.

Simple, Effective Fishman

The Crdoba Orchestra comes with
Fishman Sonitone electronics, which
pairs an onboard preamp, mounted in
the upper portion of the soundhole with
rotary volume and tone controls and
powered by a nine-volt battery, with a
Sonicore coaxial undersaddle pickup. As
a soloist and in the trio setting, I played
the Orchestra through a Fishman SA220

The narrow neck will be an

advantage for players who
are not accustomed to the
hand stretches required on
a standard classical.
amplifier, and the Sonitone worked
extremely well. The rotary tone and
volume controls were easy to access
and adjust. I needed to boost the mids
a bit at the amp, but other than that,
I made no special amplification altera-
tions. The Sonitone adds to the guitars
overall weight a bit, but it was not overly

Nylon-String for Steel-String

The acoustic clarity of the Orchestra is
impressive, and I was pleased with its
sonic consistency with and without ampli-
fication. The nonclassical guitarist who
normally plays a steel-string acoustic or
electric and is interested in trying a nylon-
string guitar will definitely enjoy the expe-
rience of playing the Crdoba Fusion
Orchestra. Its sound construction, solid
woods, and reasonable price make it
appealing in all respects. As the propor-
tions are more in line with a steel-string
acoustic, it provides physical familiarity
and comfort, along with the benefits of
the warm, nylon-string sound. ag

Ruth Parry is a guitar instructor at the

String Letter Music School in San Anselmo,
California, and performs as a guitarist/
vocalist throughout the San Francisco
Bay Area.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 23

new gear

Fishman Loudbox Mini

Portable, affordable, and flexible acoustic amp from acoustic
amplification pioneers.

By Andrew DuBrock

See the EVER SINCE LARRY FISHMAN designed his farther, if you leave the amp on the floor.
video review at first acoustic bass pickup roughly 30 years For extra boost, put it on a high-backed ago, Fishman Transducers has been at the stool to get things closer to your audi-
newgear forefront of acoustic pickup development, ences ears.
imaging, and amplification. In 2003, I wouldnt hesitate to try out the Mini
Fishman released its first Loudbox amplifier, in a restrained full-band setting, or when
which was an instant hit. Three more models followed, each providing playing with a relatively quiet drummer
more features than the original: the incredibly powerful, gargantuan (playing with brushes, perhaps), but this
(but no longer available) Loudbox Pro and the more portable Loudbox is not the amp to take to rock clubs. If
Performer and Loudbox 100. Fishmans newest offering, the Loudbox you need to be heard with a heavy-hitting
Mini, is the series smallest and lightest. Packing 60 watts of power drummer or screaming lead guitarist,
into a 19.7-pound box, the Mini aims to provide Fishmans popular dont expect this diminutive amp to keep
Loudbox tone at a more affordable price and in an even more portable up. However, the DI output means that
unit, while still providing enough power for gigs in small rooms, as well the Mini will work fine as a monitor in
as jams and band practice sessions. venues where it wont suffice as the main
Lightweight Loudness
The first thing I noticed Versatile, Clean Tones
upon unpacking the I was able to dial in appropriate tones to
Loudbox Mini was how match whatever style I tried on my Taylor
light and small it is. The 314k equipped with a Fishman Acoustic
two-channel combo Matrix undersaddle pickupwhether
amp is housed in a strumming through pop chord changes,
13.7-inch by 12-inch chunking jazz rhythm chords, playing a
rectangular brown
cabinet. The lower
portion of the cabinet AT A GLANCE
contains a 6.5-inch
woofer and 1-inch THE SPECS 60 watts. Two channels. Instrument
tweeter, and the top is (-inch), Mic (XLR), and Aux (14-inch and 18-inch)
home to a tidy, straight- inputs. Three-band EQ with reverb, chorus, and a
forward control panel. phase button on Instrument channel; two-band
The interface is easy to EQ and reverb on Mic channel. Mix DI post-EQ
usesimply plug in, turn XLR output. One 6.5-inch woofer and one 1-inch
up, adjust the EQ (treble, tweeter. 9.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 12 inches.
mid, and bass on the 19.7 lb. Ten-degree tilt cabinet. Designed
-inch Instrument input; and engineered in the USA. Assembled in
treble and bass on the Korea.
XLR Mic input), add a
THIS IS COOL Diminutive size and weight make
touch of reverb or chorus, and youre ready to play.
it a great guitar-and-vocal amp for small gigs and
While Fishman isnt pushing this amp as a gigging machine, saying
jam sessions.
on their website that it will inspire your practice sessions and work
as a portable voice at the local open mic, dont let that fool you into WATCH FOR Lack of phantom power limits
thinking this is only a living-room amp. I was impressed with the Minis choice of mics.
output despite its small size, and it should have plenty of power for
PRICE $459.95 list/$299.95 street.
many smaller gigging situationsespecially a brewpub with lots of
windows, live walls, and flooring. The cabinets ten-degree tilt shoots MAKER Fishman Transducers: (978) 988-9199;
the sound upward, and a concrete floor would help project the sound

24 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

lead line up the neck, or fingerpicking a I was pleased to find that the Mini easily with you and play them through the Aux
quiet solo guitar piece. And while I didnt handled all of the inputs simultaneously as inputs as you perform, providing as lush
expect booming bass tones from such a I sang and played along with my favorite a backdrop as you want. And instead of
small box, the amp handled heavy strum- Beatles tunes. While the Aux inputs have deafening silence between sets, you can
ming at a surprisingly high output, only cue up your CD or a contrasting mix to
distorting minimally once I reached feed- I was able to dial in provide a background while you take a
back-inducing volume levels. In the break.
accompanying manual for the Mini,
appropriate tones to match
Fishman provides suggested settings for whatever style I tried. Portable, Potent Package
quiet, medium, and loud volume levels, Anyone looking for an inexpensive, highly
and I found their suggestions a good no controls, you wont need themyou can portable, and great-sounding amp should
starting point for getting the most effec- adjust the volume and tone on your MP3 check out the Loudbox Miniespecially
tive output from the amp. Overall, I was player (or other device). Not only are the singer-songwriters and singer/guitarists
quite impressed with the output I got from Aux inputs a nifty way to learn and practice who need something to amplify both their
this small box. songs and licks, they are a great features guitar and vocals, but want the smallest
The reverb on the Loudbox Mini to have at a gig. Take backing tracks along package possible. ag
sounds great, and I didnt need to turn it
up past 9 oclock (about 14 of the effect)
to get plenty of reverb for even a fairly
dead room. The chorus is a cool-sounding
effect. The knob has two highlighted
regions: a mild setting from 0 up to
about 12 oclock and a heavy setting
from 12 oclock up to the maximum
effect. Turn it to a mild setting and you
get the psychedelic, slightly underwater
sound heard on classic rock records; turn
it to heavy and youre scuba diving.

Multiple Inputs Increase

In addition to the Instrument and Mic
inputs on the front panel there are two
line-level stereo Aux inputs (14-inch and
18-inch) on the back for adding an

external audio source such as a CD or

MP3 player. My iPod worked equally well
through either the 14-inch or 18-inch
inputs, and I was soon jamming along
with the Beatles.
The Mic input allows you to plug in a
vocal mic and amplify both your guitar and
vocals, add the sound of a mic to your gui-
tars direct signal for a lush solo guitar
sound, or amplify another instrument
another guitar, mandolin, etc. Unlike the
Loudbox Performer and 100 amps, the
Minis mic channel does not include
phantom power, which means that your
choice of microphone will be limited to
a dynamic mic or internally powered con-
denser mic. As a singer/guitarist, I was
excited to plug in my favorite Shure Beta
87A condenser and take the amp for a
spin with guitar and vocals. Unfortunately,
with no phantom power I wasnt able to
use the Beta 87A, but when I plugged in
a Shure SM58 dynamic mic, I was
impressed with how much volume I could
get out of both channels, and the two-
band EQ and reverb controls were more
than enough to dial in a nice vocal sound.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 25

new gear IN THE STORES

1 3

Meng Su & Yameng Wang
Fri. December 3, 2010
Green Room
Sat. January 15, 2011, Herbst Theatre


SEIS CUERDAS: Ezequiel & Martin Etcheverry
Feb. 11 & 12, 2011, Palace of Fine Arts


Judicael Perroy & Jrmy Jouve
Sat. February 26, 2011, Green Room

Susana Prieto & Alexis Muzurakis
Sat. Mar. 19, 2011, Herbst Theatre

Sat. April 2, 2011, Green Room

Fri. April 22, 2011, Herbst Theatre


Sat. April 16, 2011. Time/Place TBA

1 Gibson J-160VS
Commemorative edition for John Lennons
70th birthday. Faithful reproduction of Lennons
sunburst J-160 (limited to 500 guitars).
Laminated Sitka spruce top. Mahogany back and
sides. Gibson P-90 pickup. $4,728.
2 Band-in-a-Box 2010
Latest version of the popular backup track
software. Simple interface allows creation of
basic arrangments by simply entering chords.
Allows printing of lead sheets. Compatible with
other digital audio and MIDI programs. Available
for Macintosh or Windows. Starts at
$129 ($69 for upgrades from earlier
3 Shadow SH 927
NMG-4 Mandolin Pickup Grand auditorium body. Solid western red cedar
Active Nanomag magnetic pickup. Pickup, top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides.
preamp, and controls attach to replacement Taylor ES electronics. $3,998.
pickguard. Available for A- and F-style
5 Roland Octa-Capture
instruments (SH 928 and SH 927, respectively).
USB 2.0 audio interface. Eight Roland VS
Minimal modifications to instrument. $265
preamps. Four independent software-controlled
monitor mixes. Bundled with Cakewalk
4 Taylor SCCSM Production Plus Pack. Macintosh and Windows
Stephen Curtis Chapman signature model. compatible. $699.

26 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Experience The Difference
Trace Acoustic
On Tour With Monte

Monte Montgomery Tour Dates:

Fri 11/12/10 Helotes, TX Floores Country Store t Sat 11/13/10 Houston, TX Listening Room at NiaMoves t Wed 11/17/10
TA 200-8BUUTMCT Davenport, IA Redstone Room t Wed 12/08/10 Oklahoma City, OK Oklahoma City Limits t Fri 12/10/10 Kansas City, MO
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player spotlight

adopted by a family from Thibodaux, and

grew up feeling lonely and displaced. She left
that small town at age 15 to look for another
home, a journey that included detoxes,
rehabs, half-way houses, and jail. She moved
to Boston, where she worked in restaurants,
Mary Gauthier eventually learning to cook. I found Boston
challenging in many waysto succeed there
was significant for my self-confidence,
The Louisiana-born guitarist and songwriter gives Gauthier says.

her hardscrabble childhood an unflinching look on The success that followed was tempered
by a drunk driving arrest on the night she
The Foundling. opened the Dixie Kitchen, a now-defunct
Louisiana-style restaurant near the Berklee
School of Music. Newly sober, Gauthier began
By Steve Boisson attending open-mic nights and struggled to
write songs. She traces her first truly original
song to a billboard stating that AIDS was
Gods wrath. As a gay woman, she took of-
fense. I stumbled into Goddamned HIV,
Gauthier says. Thats when I found the voice
that I would follow, and I still follow. The song
came from a place that was really unique to
WHILE PERFORMING AT McCABES GUITAR SHOP in Santa Monica, California, this me. I told the story first-person of a gay man
past July, Mary Gauthier speculated about a unique musical concept: an album of with AIDS, and I did it as a country song,
bleak, downbeat holiday tunes. She had just sung Christmas in Paradise, a snap- which was bizarre.
shot of homeless vagrants celebrating around a stolen Kmart tree in Key West. Like That willingness to explore seemingly dis-
many of Gauthiers songs, Christmas in Paradise exhibits the flinty spark of the parate elements works hand-in-hand with her
human spirit, as uplifting as any yuletide song. However, not everyone appreciates painstaking approach to composition, which
the triumph in a sad story told occurs strictly on the guitar. Producer Gurf
well. For a couple on their first Morlix, who helmed two Gauthier albums (as
date, she says, a Mary Gauthier well as early Lucinda Williams releases), has
show can be a deal breaker. expressed awe at her willingness to spend
Over the past decade, the months on a passage in order to find the
Louisiana-born Gauthier (pro-
nounced go-SHAY) has been
gaining a loyal following among
Dont Rush the Song
folk/alt-country fans, and her Fish swim / Birds fly / Daddies yell /
sharp, gritty songwriting has Mamas cry / Old men sit and think /
earned comparisons to Lucinda I drink
Williams, John Prine, and Kris
Kristofferson. She broke nation- Thats a chorus from one of Gauthiers
ally with her 1999 album, Drag most celebrated songs, I Drink, co-written
Queens in Limousines, which with Grit Harmon. They wrote more than
earned her invitations to perform 300 drafts. It was hard to find the right
at 11 major folk festivals, includ- language and phrasing so the song
ing Newport. After moving to wouldnt be a joke, Gauthier says. I didnt
Nashville in 2001, she landed a want it to be a joke. Its got some humor,
record deal with Lost Highway but its irony more than wit. The character
Records, and her two subsequent is in trouble. A breakthrough came with
albums, Mercy Now (2005) and the bridge: I know what I am and I dont
Between Daylight and Dark give a damn. Gauthier said that linchpin
(2007), sent critics trawling for took forever to find. We needed you to
superlatives. know that the character cared. Finally I
figured that the way wed know he cared
Songs of the Hard Life was if he said, I dont give a damn. If
Gauthier came late to her craft; somebody says I dont give a damn, you
upon the release of her first know that they do.
album, the self-financed Dixie Its a holy art, Gauthier says about
songwriting. Dont rush it. And dont settle

Kitchen (1997), she had yet to perform a professional gig. But it didnt take long to
graduate from open mics to top-flight venues, an ascension fueled by material culled for good songs. Weve got too many good
from a hardscrabble life that had been veering toward destruction. Abandoned by songs. Write great songs.
her mother at birth, Gauthier was placed in a New Orleans orphanage. She was

28 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011




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player spotlight

proper words with the right syllables and the Beats to Woody, in a lot of ways. Always with it. But I want to tell it big. Gauthier
sounds. I write when I have inspiration, and leaving and then writing about the things that spent two years writing songs that fit the
I work hard, Gauthier says. Little riffs that I happen in front of you. Gauthier shares that theme; the albums first two cuts focus on her
find along the way help with the song a lot. peripatetic bent. Theres been a lot of search- time as an infant in the orphanage. The orphan
My style is really simple. Alternating bass, ing for home going on in my writinglooking
maybe a couple of hammer-ons. I find my way
through the melody that way. Im not an ac-
for a place that feels like I belong.
My style is really simple.
complished player by any means, but Ive got Postcards from the Edge Alternating bass, maybe a couple
a very good right hand. I can stay in time. On The Foundling, Gauthier digs to the source hammer-ons. I find my way
through the melody that way.
Gauthiers writing is usually simple and of that orphan feeling that has haunted her
direct, though some of her songs use impres- since childhood. Its a concept album of ten
sionist, Beat-like imagery. Im pulling from songs, each one a postcard from a place in
Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, the two the journey that started at St. Vincents grows up restless (Goodbye), struggles with
shining lights in my writers world, she says. Women and Infants Asylum in New Orleans. identity (Blood Is Blood), and gets wounded
Woody was a poet, and yet simple. Hank was Its autobiographical but its also cinematic, in love (Walk on the Water, which carries a
a poet, and yet simple. And you can connect she says. I want to tell a story and be done quintessential Gauthier line, No one can tell
a heart what to do / A heart does what it
wants / Then it tells you.).
The albums centerpiece, March 11,
1962, recounts Gauthiers awkward phone
conversation with her birth mother, who had
kept her daughters birth a secret, and de-

The Youngest of the Old-Timers...

clined Gauthiers offer to meet. Songwriter Liz
Rose assisted with this painful composition.
It was just floating around in my head,
The New Larry Sparks Signature Model Blueridge Guitar! Gauthier says about the exchange. Liz helped
me mold it into a song. In the songs first
line, Gauthier sings about not knowing why
shes calling, but by the end her reason for
contacting her mother becomes clear. Im not
looking for Im sorry / Im not looking to lay
blame / I just had to thank you once, before
this life went by.
Gauthier says the songs on The Foundling
are simply human stories. Thats the thing
about adoption, its really just a human story,
she says. Its about relationships and attach-
ments; our ability to make sense of situations
that are complex. Adoption is just a meta-
phor. We all feel like orphans, at one time or
another. ag

Steve Boisson is a freelance writer and guitar-

ist based in Los Angeles, California. Hes at
work on a biography of John Fahey.


ACOUSTIC GUITAR: Taylor 912ce. Its a
n the mid-1960s Ralph and Carter Stanley saw something in a
boy from Lebanon, Ohio. From those early days with the
Brothers, Larry Sparks has developed his own dynamic
nice warhorse of a guitar, Gauthier says.
It stays in tune. It takes the beatings the
style while staying true to the traditions of that good old-time
country music. Those powerful lead guitar breaks, paired airlines dish out.
with soulful vocals have endeared him to Bluegrass Music AMPLIFICATION: L.R. Baggs Venue
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The Larry Sparks Signature Model Blueridge is based on preamp/EQ/DI. Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail
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already being called The Youngest of the Old-Timers! PICKS: Gauthier uses no picks for finger-
BR-3060 Larry Sparks Signature Guitar:
style playing, but she uses thin nylon picks
Full-size black pickguard
Vintage 50s style waffle-back tuners of no particular brand for strumming.
Certificate of Authenticity I need a superthin pick or Im busting
Saga Musical Instruments strings, she says.
P.O. Box 2841 South San Francisco, CA 94080
Visit us at BR-3060 CAPO: Kyser.

30 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011


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30-minute lesson

Learn the Reverse

A simple change in your strumming can help you
mimic the style of a piano or keyboard.

By David Hodge

music examples at ing almost any style of music, yet many guitarists miss out on playing some wonderful tunes by thinking of them as piano songs. Just be-
30minutelesson cause a piano may have been the featured instrument on the Beatles
Hey Jude, John Lennons Imagine, or Neil Youngs After the Gold
Rush is no reason to assume that these songs are unplayable on the
guitar. In this lesson, well talk about how making one single adjustment to a basic
boom-chuck rhythm is all it takes to simulate the chord-bass-chord-bass style that
defines many of these tunes. This technique will also improve your overall picking
accuracy and open your ears to more of the dynamic and textural touches you can
bring to your guitar playing.

The best capo for intonation Refresh Your Basic Boom-Chuck: 5 minutes
for the past 30 years The standard boom-chuck rhythm, commonly heard driving the beat in
is still the best today! bluegrass, country, and old-time songs (listen to Hank Williams pounding
out Hey Good Lookin), is one of the first rhythm patterns many guitarists
learn after mastering the art of playing downstrokes on every beat. To play a basic
boom-chuck rhythm pattern in 4/4 time, strum the low root note of the chord (the
bass note that shares the same name as the chord) on the first and third beats of each
measure and then strum the rest of the chord on the second and fourth beats, as in
Example 1, which shows the boom-chuck pattern on a C chord. The single C note
in the bass rings out when you hit it, so theres no need to strum it again when you
strum the rest of the chord. It actually sounds a lot better when you dont!
You can play a different kind of boom-chuck rhythm by shortening the note dura-
tion to eighth notes or adding an alternating bass line. Both are done in Example 2,

Like your hand...

Most capos cause tuning problems by
the way they engage the neck. They pull
the strings unequally to one side..
The SHUBB Capo closes onto the neck
just like your hand, not like a clothespin,
or a belt, or a vise, or a pair of scissors sideways pull on the strings.
The strings are NOT PULLED OUT OF TUNE!

learn more at:

707-843-4068 |

32 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

which might remind you of the rhythm of middle on the B and index on the G). Your
Folsom Prison Blues. Notice that the eighth thumb gets the bass note.
notes allow us to use alternating picking, Regardless of your picking approach, try to
playing upstrokes on the chords while using fret the entire chord shape with your fretting
downstrokes to pick the single notes in the hand. If you happen to strike the fourth string
bass. When playing upstrokes, remember that by accident, nothing will sound amissyou
you only want to catch three (or four) high will still be playing all the notes of a C chord.
strings. Hitting all six strings on the upstrokes Likewise, if you only hit two strings instead of
muddies your sound. three, it will sound fine. As you continue to
fine-tune your approach, youll eventually be
Throw It into Reverse: 15 minutes able to target just the strings you want to hit
To get a piano-style strum similar to every time. Try shifting your picking so that
the one heard in Hey Jude, simply youre only playing the second, third, and
reverse the order of chords and bass fourth strings of the chord on the downbeats
notes in your boom-chuck. Still using a C (while still playing the low C root in the bass),
chord, first use an upstroke to catch just the as shown in Example 4.
three highest strings, and then play the C in When youre ready, try out all the open-
the bass with a downstroke (Example 3). This position chords you know, four of which are
may take a bit of adjustment, because you are shown in Example 5. The challenge here is to
probably strumming in a manner counter to make sure you get the correct note in the bass.
what youre used to. Be patient and persistent Be sure to practice switching between chords
and concentrate on making short, precise as well. Initially, this may be a little harder
picking motions. If youre using your fingers than usual. The boom of the boom-chuck
instead of a pick, you can either play the allows you a quick moment to change from
chord with a sweeping upstroke motion of one chord to the next. With the reverse boom-
the index finger (or the index and middle chuck, you have to have your fingers set on
fingers for a stronger sound) or by using the treble strings first, and that may take
one finger on each string (ring on the high E, a little getting used to. It might actually be the

Ex. 1 C
x3 2 10 0

& 44
0 0 0 0
1 1 1 1
0 0 0 0
2 2 2 2
B 3 3 3 3

Ex. 2

& 44

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2
B 3 3 3
Ex. 3 Ex. 4

& 44

0 0 0 0
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 2 2 2
B 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 33

30-minute lesson

first time youve even thought about the me-

chanics of changing chords in quite some
time! But give it a little time and patience and
you might surprise yourself at how quickly
you get used to picking just the strings you
want to play.
Visit us at NAMM
Hall E Stand 1620 Express Yourself: 10 minutes
Whether youre playing with a pick
or your fingers, the reverse boom-
hand made in Ireland
chuck pattern really shines at bring- ing out notes on the high strings. You can use
this to your advantage on even the simplest
chord changes. Example 6 shows a simple
progression that moves between D and G,
with some interesting harmonies created by
playing different notes on the first string. The
open E notes in measures 1 and 2 change the
D chord to Dadd9, and the G to G6. In the last
measure, the second-fret F# note helps create
a Gmaj7 chord. Moving from the G6 in mea-
sure 2 to the D in measure 3 can be a little
tricky, because youre moving your middle fin-
ger from the bass note of G back to the F# on
the high E string very quickly. If necessary,
feel free to cheat a little bit, playing the open
E and G strings (while fretting the D note on
the second string with your ring finger) and
then hammering on the notes with the fingers
as quickly as possible. This sounds very cool!
As you experiment with different sounds, try
to find the right touch to balance the volume
of the chords and melodic notes on the treble
strings with the bass notes and dont hesitate
to use guitar techniques like hammer-ons and
pull-offs to enhance your playing.
Remember that many chords share notes,
so you dont have to limit yourself to root
notes in the bass. Chord progressions similar
to the one in Example 7 have been used in
many songs, from Danny Boy to John
Denvers My Sweet Lady to Thorn Tree in
the Garden by Derek and the Dominos.
Playing them with the reverse boom-chuck
demonstrates how a constant bass note
(sometimes referred to as a pedal tone) can
create interesting tensions within a typical
chord progression. Example 8, inspired by
Jim Croces Time in a Bottle, offers a similar
progression with some chord shapes played at
the third and fifth frets.
It might be good to point out here that if
you like using a capo to explore your guitars
dynamic range, you will find that combining
the capo with this style of playing will bring
an almost harpsichord-like quality to your in-
strument. Try playing any of the last three
examples with a capo on either the fifth or
seventh frets to hear this sound.
Of course, you can certainly move the bass
notes around as much as you like. Example 9
is a passage based on a chord progression
from the chorus of the traditional song Home

34 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Sweet Home that uses a very simple up-and- spots to watch out for. The chord changes in sures 10 and 11 is just like the one from
down bass line in the key of D. A complete measures 9 and 13 are probably the most in- Example 9. Even as the low note ascends and
arrangement of Home Sweet Home appears volved. During beats one and two, use the descends, try to maintain your focus on the
on page 36 and features the reverse boom- ring finger of your fretting hand to grab melody line. The B, G, and high E notes in mea-
chuck technique adapted to a chord-melody the tenth fret on the first string, and your sure 11 fall on open strings, which should help
style. It should give you plenty of practice in middle finger to fret the tenth fret of the fifth make playing this passage a little bit easier. ag
all the areas weve discussed in this lesson. string. This puts you in the perfect position
Although this arrangement is mostly made to shift toward the A chord that follows on David Hodge is a guitar teacher, managing edi-
up of simple D and G and A (or A7) shapes up beat three, which you can fret just like an tor of Guitar Noise (, and
and down the neck, it still has a few tricky open-position D chord. The bass line in mea- author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Guitar.

Ex. 5 D G A E
x x0 132 3 2 0004 x0 123 0 0 23 1 00

& 44 #

2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
0 0 0 0
B 3 3 3 3
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
Ex. 6 D D sus2 G6 D D sus4 D sus2 G maj7 G6
x x0 132 x x0 130 3 200 4 0 x x0 132 xx0 134 x x0 130 32 000 1 3 200 4 0

# 4


2 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 2 0 2 2 0
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 0 0 0 3
2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
Ex. 7 D D maj7 D7 G /D G m/D D E7 A sus4 A
x x0 132 xx0 123 xx0 2 1 3 xx0 00 3 xx0 123 x x0 132 0 23 1 4 0 x0 124 0 x0 123 0

# # 4 n b

& 4

2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 2 2 0 0 0 0
3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2
2 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 3 3 2 2 1 1 2 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 0 0
0 0

Ex. 8 D m D m(maj7) D m7 G /D G m/D G m6/D A sus4 A7 Ex. 9 D 7 D #dim7 Em A7

x x0 3 2 1 x x0 23 1 x x01 3 2 xx0 2 1 1 xx0 123 xx0 120 x0 124 0 x0 1 0 3 0 xx0 2 1 3 xx1 3 2 4 xx 1 000 x0 1 0 3 0
5 fr. 5 fr. 5 fr.

b 44 # n # # # n
& #
5 5 5 5 5 5 3 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
6 6 6 6 6 6 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 2
7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 1 2 0
B 0 0 4 0

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 35

30-minute lesson

See video of
Home Sweet Home Home Sweet Home
Traditional, arranged by David Hodge 30minutelesson

D sus2 D G /D D D7 G G maj7 A 7 D D sus4 D D sus2

0 2 2 3 7 5 5 2 2 3 2 3 0 2 3 2 0
3 3 3 3 0 8 7 7 3 1 0 0 2 2 3 3 3 3 3
2 2 2 2 0 7 7 7 2 2 0 0 2 0 2 2 2 2 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 3 3
0 0

D G /D D D maj7 D9 E m E m(add9) A 7 A D5 G5 D5

2 2 3 7 5 5 2 5 3 2 3 0
3 3 0 8 7 7 2 5 0 0 2 2 3 3 3
2 2 0 7 7 7 2 5 0 0 2 2 2 0 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0
B 0 0

G A A add9 D D7 D dim7 E m E m(add9) E m/C E m/A D A7 D9

10 10 9 7 5 5 2 2 3 2 3 0 2 3 5 5
0 0 10 5 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 5 5
0 0 9 6 7 7 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 5 5
0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0

10 10 0 0 4 0

G /D A A add9 D D maj7 D 9 G G maj7 A 7 D5 G5 D5


10 10 9 7 5 5 2 5 3 2 3 0
0 0 10 5 7 7 2 5 0 0 2 2 3 3 3
0 0 9 6 7 7 2 5 0 0 2 0 2 0 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B 10 10 0 0
3 3
0 0

36 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

2010 C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. Cleartone is a registered trademark of Everly Music Company, Inc.
acoustic rock basics

Percussive Rhythm
Energize your guitar playing with scratch rhythms.

By Andrew DuBrock

See video of the ADDING PERCUSSION to a song can enhance its rhythm, turning a flat
music examples at arrangement into a three-dimensional soundscape. Of course, hiring a drummer or percussionist isnt a luxury we all haveespecially solo
rockbasics guitar players and singer-songwriters. But your guitar has percussive
qualities of its own. Pop and rock masters like Jack Johnson, Dave
Matthews, and the classic 70s band Boston have used percussive guitar
techniques on some of their chart-topping songs, and you can learn how to easily
integrate these ideas into your playing, too.
In this lesson, well explore how to play percussive strums called scratch rhythms
to keep a songs pulse bouncing forward.

Scratch Rhythm
Scratch rhythms involve strumming across muted strings, producing a scratchy per-
cussive sound that can add energy to any strum pattern or inject character into a riff.
To play a scratch rhythm, damp the strings by lightly laying your fretting-hand fin-
gers across the strings, then strum, as shown in Example 1. (The Xs in the tab and
notation indicate muted notes.) This creates a scratch rhythm across all six strings.

Ex. 1 Ex. 2
& # 44

x x x x x x x x
x x x x x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x
x x x x x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x
x x x x x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x 7 7 7 7 x x x x
B x
5 5 5 5 x x x x 5 5 5 5 x x x x

Ex. 3 D A C G Ex. 4 C
# # 4
n n n .. ..
& 4 n

. .
5 5 x x 3 3 xx 0 0 x 0 0 0 x 0 0 0 x0 0 0 x 0
77xx5 5 x x 5 5 x x 3 3 xx 1 1 x 1 1 1 x 1 1 1 x1 1 1 x 1
. .
77xx6 6 x x 5 5 x x 4 4 xx 0 0 x 0 0 0 x 0 0 0 x0 0 0 x 0
77xx7 7 x x 5 5 x x 5 5 xx 2 2 x 2 2 2 x 2 2 2 x2 2 2 x 2
B 55xx7
3 3 x x 5

38 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Working scratch-rhythm strums into chord slightly roll your index finger down to damp
progressions keeps the rhythm driving for- the first string and your middle finger down
ward. Example 3 shows one way you could to damp the third string as you lift your fret-
apply this technique to a DACG progres- ting-hand fingers off the C chord. Example 4
sion, similar to the guitar break on Bostons would work well when playing a solo version
classic Long Time. of Creedence Clearwater Revivals Have You
Now lets use a scratch rhythm to emulate Ever Seen the Rain? and other mid-tempo or
a real percussion instrumentthe snare upbeat 4/4 tunes. ag
drum. In most 4/4 pop songs, the drummer
hits the snare on beats two and four, which Learn more scratch-rhythm tech-
adds extra snap. Example 4 shows how to niques, along with how to play
approximate this sound when youre playing slap harmonics and use the drum-
by yourselfjust throw in scratch-rhythm like properties of the guitars body,
strums on beats two and four. Note that you in Andrew DuBrocks complete

go places
need to mute the open strings when playing Percussive Rhythm Techniques download
scratch rhythm on a C chord. To do this, available at
Flatten your fretting-hand fingers to damp the
strings when playing a scratch rhythm.

Make sure youre pressing down hard enough

to completely damp the strings, but not so
hard that you hear any notes sounding
when you strum, you should hear a percussive Got things on my mind.
chucka chucka sound. If you hear any open I sit down and start playing.
strings ringing, press down a little more to
Hours pass byI get lost in it.
damp the strings. If you hear fretted notes,
loosen up a little on the damping, and if you It takes me places...
hear bell-like harmonics, slide your fretting
hand up or down the strings until the har-
monics go away.
Now lets combine a scratch rhythm with
some chord strums. Example 2 alternates
four eighth-note strums of a D chord with four
eighth-note scratch-rhythm strums. Strum the
D chord for two beats, lift your fingers off the
chord to damp the strings for two beats, and
press down again to hear the D chord when
you repeat the process in measure 2. Once
youre comfortable playing through Example 2,
practice alternating between the D chord for
two eighth notes and scratch rhythms for two
eighth notes. Then try alternating every
eighth note.

To play scratch rhythm when fretting a C chord, 1.800.788.5828

roll your index and middle fingers down to damp Escape the expected. Experience graphite.

the open first and third strings.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 39

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FOR THOSE OF US who spend most of our musical careers
practicing by ourselves, jamming with other people can be a
revelation. Jamming is social and interactive, pushing you to
find out how to take that lick youve worked so hard to mas-
ter and put it to good use. It can also be overwhelming at
first. Rather than being solely responsible for the sound,
youre suddenly just one part of the whole. You have to learn
new songs on the fly, theres no stopping and starting when
you make a mistake, and youre doing all this in front of other
Yet, its not a performance. Those people are your allies,
not your audience. Its more like basketball than theater,
says Jason McInnes, a guitar teacher who leads several
regular jams at Chicagos Old Town School of Folk Music.
Everybody wants the game to keep going, so theyre going
to do everything they can to keep it going.
By spontaneously making music with other people, you
By learn to be flexible and roll with the punches. Whether youre
See video of the new to jamming or an old hand at it, these tips will help you
music examples at Nicole better prepare for a jam, participate more fully once youre there, and maybe even expand your repertoire of tricks to
jammingtips Solis show off at your next session.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 41

search as well as your energy. If you get over- important thing is finding people who make you
BEFORE THE JAM whelmed, remind yourself why youre doing this. comfortable no matter what level youre at.
Find the right jam for you and make sure
youre prepared for it.
has something to offer in a jam, McInnes 4 ASK BEFORE YOU JOIN IN. Not every jam
will welcome you, but dont take it personally.


Different kinds of jams can help you work on
different aspects of your playing, so think about
says, Its like a food analogy. If were going to have
a potluck, a simple macaroni salad can be just as
useful as a big bowl of chili that took two days to
Some jams limit the number of instruments or
players to get a tight, band-like sound. In other
jams, the community of people playing together is
what you want to get out of a jam. Jamming is a make. You might bring rock-solid timingthe abil- whats important, not the quality of the sound.
cornerstone of the blues, bluegrass, and jazz com- ity to lay down a metronome-like beat that the rest Whatever kind of jam it is, introduce yourself dur-
munities, so if you want to focus on one of those of the players can follow. Or you might know just ing a break between songs and ask if you can play.
styles, you should be able to find a jam to sit in on. the right fill to play at any given moment. When I If its a tighter jam, youll earn respect for showing
If youre ready to get a taste of performing, seek went to my first bluegrass jam, I didnt know a sin- good manners, and you can take a guitar seat
out a stage jam, where musicians actually play into gle bluegrass song, but I can sing harmony easily when one opens up. If its a truly open jam, youll
mics, sometimes even for an audience. Though a helpful skill when nearly every song has three-part be welcomedand youll have already started to
some stage jams limit the number of musicians vocal harmony. Use your own skillswhatever they get to know the people playing near you.
onstage, many will let lurkers play in the back until areto contribute to the overall sound and help
they feel confident enough to step in front of a
mic. Beginners can get their feet wet at slow jams
develop your self-confidence.
5 TUNE YOUR GUITAR. Before you
step into a jam, make sure
(where songs are played at slower tempos), where
they can get used to playing with other people and
even switching off between rhythm and lead. If
jam you might want to sit in on, talk to fellow
players, teachers, and music store employees.
your guitar is in tune. Once the
jam starts, its good manners
to step out of the circle to
your main goal is just meeting other musicians, When you show up, check out the scene before tune. A clip-on tuner will save
youll be able to do that in any jam, though youll you even take your instrument out of the case. Try your sanity when you try to
get more out of a jam with musicians who are to get a sense of the rules that they follow. Is tune your guitar at the same
close to your playing level. However, playing with there a leader who runs the show or do people time as the other guitars, vio-
musicians who are slightly more advanced can go around the circle, each calling a song? Are lins, banjos, ukuleles, and basses.
help you grow faster as a guitarist. Just make sure there other people who play at your level? Do the If you cant hear your instrument with all that
youre up for a bit of a challenge. Knowing what people seem friendly or fun? You might not find racket going on, face a wall or corner as you tune
kind of jam to look for will help you focus your the perfect jam, but as McInnes says, the most so the sound bounces back at you.

what youve been missing

acoustic sound enchancement
fits easily and discreetly inside the sound hole

+ fuller, louder sound

+ improved clarity
+ feedback suppression

42 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

When you get a big group of musicians together, there needs to be some way to control the
chaos and channel it into music. That is the rhythm. At the most basic level, your role in a jam
is to play the right chords at the right time and in time, something youll be doing for 90 percent
of your jamming time. Here are some tips to help you play better rhythm on the fly.
mute near the bridge to get a punchy staccato
sound that will clearly articulate the beat and help
clean up the overall rhythm. To add some texture,
play a simple fingerpicking pattern or add a
piano- or banjo-like sound with cross-picking, as in
Example 4 (based on Merle Haggards Mama
Tried), which uses a simple down-down-up picking
pattern on the open chord shapes.

9 BE THE BASS. Bass players have an exalted

role in a jam, and rightly so. As the arbiter of
the beat, the bass player is the metronome every-
one should follow. If theres no bass in a jam, its
up to some noble guitar player to take on the role.


Richard Colombo, who leads several jams at
Artichoke Music in Portland, Oregon, warns, In
The easiest way to play bass on guitar is to hit
just the root note on the downbeats. If you want to
get a little fancier, play the root and fifth of each
most jams, theyll say, This song is in D, but they chord, as in Example 5, based on a standard pro-
wont say what the changes are. If youre having gression in G. To really impress your friends, try
trouble figuring out the chord progression, look at varying the rhythm a bit, as in Example 6, which is
and listen to the other guitar players. Train yourself based on the verses of Help by the Beatles.
to read other guitarists fretting hands when they
play open chords. G, C, and D are easy to tell
apart, C and F can be a little tougher. But also lis-
ten for the little hints that not only tell you a chord
THING. One guitar, with its six strings
ringing, can be loud, but a roomful of them can
change is coming but what chord is coming up. be deafening. No matter how many instruments
Often, when a chord is about to change from a I to there are in a jam, you should always be able to
a IV, a guitar player will play a I7, as in Example 1. hear the singer or soloist. If you cant, quiet down.
Another common cue is the bass walk-up, where If someone with a quiet voice is singing, lighten
the bass notes move up to the root note of the your touch, play partial chords or even power
next chord. Example 2 shows a few different walk- chords, or take this as one of the few opportuni-
ups in the key of G. Notice how the walk-up from G ties you may have to play fingerstyle without get-
to C sounds different from the walk-up from G to ting drowned out.
D? Learn to hear that difference in a jam and
youll be able to tell which chord is coming next.
When you become more experienced, you can play
them to telegraph the chord changes to newbie
If two or more guitars are playing the
same chord shapes, you can add some variety to
jammers. the sound by playing out of a different capo posi-
tion. For example, if the song is in D and the other


have trouble with the chord changes, McInnes
says, Dont be afraid to sit out for a while. I dont
guitarist is playing D, G, and A chords without a
capo, capo to the second fret and play C, F, and G
chords. To complement C, F, and G chords played
mean leave. Watch and listen. You can mute your without a capo in the key of C, capo to the fifth fret
strings with your strumming hand, but still fret the and play G, C, and D. Youll add a lot of range to the
chords to practice. By the end of the tune, youll overall sound and still use simple chord shapes.
have a better sense of the progression, and, as
McInnes says, youll get it the next week.
Common Capo Positions
A new, modern guitar
with the depth and warmth 8 COMPLEMENT THE BASIC RHYTHM. If
there are a lot of instruments strumming the
same rhythm, you can improve the overall sound of

Capo II A




of a vintage instrument.
the jam by playing something different, as long as Capo III Bb Eb F C G
-Doug Wamble you keep the same general feel. Try simplifying
Capo V C F G D A
your strum pattern, highlighting the accented beat
to give more definition to the sound. If everyone is
LESLIE IHRIG boom-chucking away on Folsom Prison Blues, The open chords will sound as indicated when
scale it down to a tic-tac rhythm (Example 3). Palm capoed.

44 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Ex. 1 Ex. 2a
G G7 C G C G D
3 2 0004 320001 x 32 0 1 0 210034 x 32 0 1 0 210034 x x0 132

3 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 3 0 0 3 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 1 3 3
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 0
B 2
0 2 3
3 3
2 3

Ex. 2b G C G D

3 3 0 0 0 3 3 2
3 3 1 1 1 3 3 3
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2 2 2 0
B 3
0 1 2 3
0 2 3
2 3 4

Ex. 3 F
134 xxx
134 xxx
134 xxx
x 32 0 1 0
134 xxx
6 fr.


3 3
3 3 3 3 3 2 1/4

B 1
3 1
3 3
3 3 1
Ex. 4 D G D G A
x x0 132 3 2 0004 x x0 132 3 2 0004 x0 123 0

3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2
2 2 2 0 0 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 2 2 2
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2
Ex. 5

0 0 0 0 0 0
B 3 3
0 0
3 3

Ex. 6
G D Em Bm

Win free guitar strings!
0 0 0 0 1 2 2 2 Follow us on Twitter at
B 3 3 3
4 2 2 2

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 45

Somehow, the leads you can play perfectly at home become more challenging in front of other

February people. Thats a good thing. Taking a solo in a jam teaches you how to keep your playing con-
sistent even as you play in different environments. It often forces you to improvise as you learn
11th to 13th to recover from mistakes. All this helps you become a better player. And if youve never taken
2011 a solo before, a multilevel or beginner jam is a great place to start. The bar is low: just keep the
Mt. Wesley music going. Theres nothing more beautiful and wonderful than seeing someone take a solo
Conference Center for the first time, says Colombo. Even if there are some clunkers.
Kerrville, TX 78028
and good is always better than complex
and not-so-good, but in a jam, when youre compet-
you never know what songs are going to
be called or in what keys, so if youre gearing up
ing to be heard above different instruments playing to take your first lead (or your first lead in front
different things, a simple solo can be truly power- of people), learn movable scale shapes that you
ful. A two-note solo with rhythmic variation and can use to solo over anything. Colombo highly rec-
volume variation is so much more impressive than ommends the CAGED system. If you can get a C
a solo played by someone who knows all their shape and an A shape scale down, he says, you
Eddie Collins Flatpick Style
Tim Porter Finger Style scales up and down the neck but doesnt have any can play in any key. In his Your First Guitar Solo
musicality, McInnes says. workshop, McInnes makes it even simpler, teach-
ing a pentatonic scale on just the two highest

13 PLAY THE MELODY. No matter what

style of music youre playing, you can al-
ways play the melody as your solo. After all, you
strings. Most melodies tend to start around the
root of a scale, then go up and down. So if you
really want to pare down what you practice, learn
already know it works with the chords. Before the the scale from the five to the five instead of the
Pops Bayless Ukelele
jam, practice on one of the songs you plan on call- one to the one. Example 7 shows a C pentatonic
Kevin McCormick Classical
ing. Melodies are often based around chord tones, scale from the G to the G (five to five) instead of C
Details: 830-459-2120 so sing the first melody note, then pick the notes to C.

WWWHCAMPORG in the first chord to see which note youre singing.

Continue working through the song like this, gradu-
ally putting together the contour of the melody. 1
you gotten the picture that jams can be
When you get a better feel for it, try to play the loud? When you start to take a solo, announce it
whole melody more fluidly. Eventually, youll be to the rest of the jam by playing your pickup notes
able to hear melodies on the fly. And then you can loudly and confidently. Add double-stops or open
add fills, harmony notes, syncopation, or other em- strings to put more power behind your notes, as
bellishments to really make the solos your own. in Example 8, a kick-off to a bluegrass solo in G.

Ex. 7 Ex. 8

4 #
& 4

0 3 0 3 3 3 3
1 3 3 1 0 1 2 3
0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0


46 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

LEARN HOW TO LEAD A SONG strange phenomenon that causes the names of
every song youve ever known to disappear from
At some point, it will be your turn to call a song. Be prepared. These simple tips will help you know
your memory the second its your turn to call one.
what kinds of songs to bring and how to prevent that deer-in-the-headlights feeling so you can confi-
To cure it, write down the names and keys of your
dently lead your song.
songs. If you have trouble remembering


the jam, think of some songs
that you like, that you know the chords
a line or which order the verses go in, jot
down some notes to jog your memory.
I keep all my jam songs in an iTunes play-
to, and that arent too complicated. list (with my key in the Grouping field),
Two- and three-chord songs are great. so I can practice along with the record-
Pay Me My Money Down is a popular ings. To create my cheat sheet, I export
song at the jams McInnes leads. it to Excel, clean it up, sort by key, print it
There are only two chords and the out, and keep it in my pocket whenever I
chord change happens on the word jam. Dorky? Absolutely. But its also very
money every single time, he says. handy.
If you have 50 beginners in the room,
everyone can get it right away.
OK to reference a songbook if


youre thinking about what songs to
you have trouble remembering words,
but try not to read from one. Jamming is
a social experience. Reading lyrics out
bring, Colombo says, Bring something that every- a little unusual, like the minor chord in the chorus of a songbook as you sing is kind of like reading
body knows and something that you can teach us, or the tricky timing. an article to your friends during a dinner-party con-
so we can learn something new. The first few versation. When you read words, youre no longer
songs called tend to be simpler ones, to give peo-
ple time to warm up. But as people feel more com- 18 CREATE A CHEAT SHEET. In a big jam,
you might only be able to call one song,
making music together because youre disengaged
from whats happening at that moment. If we get

fortable and confident, you can introduce more but if the circle is small enough, you might get to away from the books in the jam, McInnes says,
challenging songs. When you call the song, make call two or three. The more songs you call, the we open our ears and eyes to the larger musical
sure to warn the jam about anything that might be more likely you are to experience jamnesia, that picture.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 47

Like any kind of social group, jams have their
own language and ways of communicating.
Think of this as your jamming phrasebook. You
thing about jams is that you cant stop
and repeat a section if you make a mistake. But
wont necessarily be fluent after reading this, you will soon learn that this is a really great thing.
but youll be able to get by just fine. One of the most valuable lessons jams can teach
you is not to dwell on your mistakes. As Colombo

20 KNOW CHORD NUMBERS. In a multi-

instrument jam, there needs to be a com-
mon vocabulary for chords. Rather than learning
says, Who cares? Mistakes go by really quickly.
McInnes adds, Be ready to make about a billion
mistakes, and let them pass by. Everyone will
all the names of every chord in every key, most
make mistakes, from tiny flubbed notes that no
jammers use chord numbers. The main ones you
one notices to a train wreck that ends the song.
need to worry about are the I, IV, V, and vi chords
Its an accepted part of jamming. You dont need
in the most popular keys, as in the chart below.
to apologize. Plus, mistakes give you something to
That knowledge and a capo will let you play almost
Ernie Hawkins New CD work on before the next jam.
any song.

A timeless walk down Four Chords in Five Keys 24 KEEP IT MOVING. As McInnes said, ev-
eryone in a jam has the same goal: to
Bourbon Street. keep playing the song. Dont noodle, tune, or chat
Key I IV V vi
too long between songs. Be ready with a song
G G C D Em to pick when the circle comes around to you. Try to
pay attention when someone calls a song (though
C C F G Am
it is OK to ask them to repeat the name and key if
D D G A Bm you didnt hear it).

A A D E F#m
25 HAVE FUN. If practicing is like studying,
jamming is like a party. Its a celebration.

21 MAKE EYE CONTACT. Once a song

starts, the talking stops. So how do you
Compliment people on their playing. Listen for the
jokes some people put into their music. Sing har-

Steve Kaufman know if the song leader is asking if you want to

take a solo on a song or sing harmony? Or if the
mony on a song you love. Answer someones lick
with a lick of your own. Try something new. Hang
3 Time Guitar Champ person next to you doesnt want to take a solo, around afterward for a beer or coffee and meet but is asking if you want to? Eye contact. That

piercing gaze doesnt mean youre doing some-
your fellow jammers. You already have so much in
common: these are people who love the same

Holiday Stocking Stuffers thing wrong, its usually asking you a ques-
tion related to whatever is happening at
that particular moment or is about to hap-
pen. Thats why, as much as possible, you
should be looking up at the other musi-
cians. To take the solo, nod your head and
start playing. To sing harmony, nod your
head and start singing. To pass, shake
your head and look to the next person.

Choose From ~
leader will usually gesture to signal not
17 Blazing CDs only that the song is about to end, but also
how it will end. Most jams or even regions
42 Books with CDs or DVDs have their own cues. If the leader rotates
his hand, head, or instrument, hed like to
20 Different DVDs for All Levels
repeat the last line or two. If she makes a quick music you do. Many of my musician friends are
T-Shirts, Strings, Picks and More downward motion with her instrument or hand, people I started jamming with nearly ten years
The World of Bluegrass Guitar and shed like it to slow down at exactly that moment ago, when we were all just learning. Now, were all
Mandolin. Just a Click or Call Away for a ritard. And in some parts of the country, the much better musicians, and we still get together to song leader will stick a foot out to signal that a play music, share stories, and geek out over each
plain old ending is about to happen. A lot of vet- others instruments. What could be more fun? ag
1-800-FLATPIK 865-982-3808
eran musicians dont bother giving physical cues.
Steve Kaufman * PO Box 1020 Instead they rely on subtle music cues or expect Nicole Solis, former editor of Play Guitar!, plays
Alcoa, TN 37701 you to know how a song should end. So keep your bluegrass mandolin in the Barefoot Nellies and eyes and ears open. writes about music, food, and various other topics.

48 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

See video of the
music examples at

50 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

The contemporary
sensation explains

the percussive
style that turned
him into a

YouTube star.

Photos by Anne Hamersky

media and video. After many years of teaching and

performing in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas,
McKee had achieved some recognition, taking
third place at the National Finger Style Guitar
Championship in Winfield, Kansas, in 2001 and
touring in the USA and Taiwan. In 2005, he was
approached by Rob Poland, who was starting a new

acoustic guitarfocused record label, CandyRat
Records. To promote McKees new album, Art of
Motion, Poland suggested he post some video per-
formances to a relatively new site, YouTube.
I didnt really even know what YouTube was,
McKee says. He quickly found out, however, when
he opened his e-mail inbox one day to find it full of
requests for tabmore than he normally got in a
month. The increased attention began when the
video of his tune Drifting (transcribed on page 59)
was featured on YouTubes front page. Video views
skyrocketedat one time he had the top three most-
viewed videos on the site, and Drifting alone has
garnered more than 30 million views. McKee soon
found himself touring nonstop and recording and
performing with artists he had long admired, includ-
ing Canadian guitar master Don Ross. While still
popular on YouTube, McKee has gone on to build a
ITS THREE HOURS before the show starts, but the teenager sitting on the steps more direct following, with more than 1,000 live
with his guitar in tow outside San Franciscos Great American Music Hall is taking no performances since he began touring.
chanceshe wants to be sure to be first in the line that will soon be forming. The object McKees music seems to have especially struck a
of his devotion, inside doing a sound check, is not the latest pop or rock sensation, but chord with younger guitarists, who are taken with
Andy McKee, a mild-mannered, unassuming fingerstyle guitarist who is reigniting interest his two-handed tapping and percussive approach,
in the genre and inspiring a new generation of guitarists with his combination of novel but his flawless technique and strong sense of mel-
techniques, technical precision, funky grooves, and catchy melodies. While inspired by the ody also appeals to a wider audience. Besides his
work of pioneers like Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, and Don Ross, McKee blends con- large catalog of YouTube videos, McKee has half a
temporary fingerstyle techniques and strong compositional skills to create his own sound. dozen albums to his credit, including his latest,
McKee rocketed to international fame after being discovered by fans on YouTube, be- Joyland, and The Thing That Came from Somewhere,
coming one of the first solo guitarists to reap the benefits of the high-tech world of social a series of duets with Ross.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 51

Dennis Griggs
I talked to McKee before a concert at the
Great American Music Hall about his musical
background and influences and got a detailed
look at the alternate tunings and techniques
he uses.

How did you start out on guitar?

MCKEE I was really into hard rock and heavy
metal in the 80s. I got into bands like
Metallica and Iron Maiden pretty early. But
when I was 12, I heard Eric Johnson on the
radio playing Cliffs of Dover. I just felt a
connection that he was playing instrumental
stuff. So I asked my dad for a guitar for my
birthday. He got me a nylon-string, and a few
months later I got an electric guitar.

Known I had a good friend in high school whose

grandparents owned a music store in Topeka.
for pure I dropped out of high school when I was 16,
tone, and they gave me a job teaching at the store.

I did that until I was 27, when I started get-
ting chances to play more. I taught a lot of
for pure different styles: fingerstyle acoustic guitar,
pleasure. electric guitar, even a little jazz or blues. I was
trying to learn all that at the same time, to
make sure I could teach that stuff! What inspired you to focus on acoustic

or call 410.254.4433 guitar?
M C KEE When I was 16, I saw a guitar clinic
that Preston Reed put on for Washburn
Guitars. His album Metal had just come out,
and he was using altered tunings and playing
over the neck, and hitting the body. Id never
seen anything like it. Id been a little inter-
ested in acoustic before, but when I saw him
doing rhythm and melody and harmony all at
once, thats when I decided to start focusing
on that. I picked up an instructional video of
his from Homespun Tapes, and I learned
Tribes and Slap Funk and tried to take
those techniques and learn more from his
album. Shortly after that, I discovered Michael
Hedges, Don Ross, and Billy McLaughlin.
Those four guys were my main influences.

How did you go about learning their music?

MCKEE Mostly I tried to learn by ear as much
as I could. I never did find any Don Ross tran-
scriptions. Many years later I found Michael
Hedgess book, Rhythm, Sonority, Silence
[published by Stropes Editions,].
But I mostly learned by ear, which was always
difficult. You end up with your own way of
doing things, your own interpretation. It
ended up being Andy McKee versions. For
example, I tried to learn one of Don Rosss
tunes, Tight Trite Night. He uses a thumb-
pick, and I didnt really realize that. So when
I was trying to learn his tune, I ended up
with my own way, trying to figure out how
he was doing things. He would sometimes go
down and up with a thumbpick, so I would

52 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

sometimes just hammer-on a note out of Your YouTube hit, Drifting, sounds like it You also have a slap harmonic at the end.
nowhere to double up, instead of going up might have been inspired by Preston Reed? M C KEE Thats a technique that, when I first
and down. Its little technique things like that MCKEE Completely. It was actually one of the saw it, I thought, Oh, thats so cool. Its cre-
that can make it your own arrangement. first acoustic-guitar songs I wrote. I had some ating a harmonic by hitting the strings right
other tunes that were sort of Travis-style, but on the fret. I use the middle finger, and its
Your version of Tight Trite Night has more I wanted to try to write a song that used tech- right across the 12th fret. In this song
percussive effects than Dons. Did you delib- niques I learned from Preston. I wanted to [Drifting], I alternate between the 12th, sev-
erately add those? learn what it was like to play over the top of enth, and 19th frets. Its the same harmonic.
MCKEE Not really. I was just trying to play it the neck and to learn to hammer-on [tap]. I
like him, and it came out like that [laughs]. I wanted to start with a basic groove and then When youre playing like this, you have the
have played bass guitar in the past, and I tried build it up into a melody on top of that later. groove going, but how do you add a melody?
to learn some Vic Wooten, so maybe some of So I started with this percussive thing MCKEE Until my newest album, Drifting was
that worked its way in [Example 1]. [Example 2], hammering on. the only song I had written in this style, and
one of the main reasons is that I find it hard
Youre using the index finger of your fretting
notation legend hand to play the bass notes over the top?
to keep these percussive things going and get
a melody in there. In Drifting, what I end up
M = thumb slap MCKEE Yeah, Im pretty much using just one doing is dropping out some of the percussion
x = pluck muted note finger, but sometimes Ill stack the middle and making a simplified version of the rhyth-
- = left-hand hit on upper bout top finger on top to get more strength. I just ham- mic things. The left hand just starts going

1 = right-hand hit on lower bout top mer-on the second fretthis is in D A D G A D [Example 3]. And that makes it a bit easier
tuning, so its the D, A, and D strings. Then I for the right hand to come in with some mel-
= right-hand hit on side of lower bout

right hand [index finger] taps the F# on the

! = right-hand hit on upper bout top [make a percussive sound] with the [right ody [Example 4]. What happens is that the
^ = left-hand clap on upper side, near neck hand] ring, middle, and index fingers on the
+ above tab number = left-hand tap side of the guitar, and then hit the face of the 11th fret of the third string, and then I pluck
+ below tab number = right-hand tap guitar with the left hand. I also hit the side of
the guitar with the palm of my hand to get sort See video of the music examples at
of a clapping sound on the side of the guitar.

r r r
j n ...
Ex. 1
# # # # 4 .  r

r .
& 4 n n n
n n n n n n w

7 ..

0 0 0

0 0 0
0 x 0 x 0 x 7
2 0 x 0 2 0 0 x 0 2 0 0 x 0 2 7
B 2
0 0 2 2
0 0 2 2
0 0 2 2

Tuning: D A D G A D (Ex. 24) Slap Harm.

Ex. 2 Ex. 3
# 4 j

3 3 3

& # 4 .
12 ..
+ + 12 .
12 .
+ + + +
2 2 2 12 2 2 5 7
B 2
Left hand over neck Left hand over neck
Ex. 4
## 4 j j

& 4


+ + +
0 0 0
0 0 0 0
2 +
11 0
2 +
B 2
2 2
2 5
5 7
Left hand over neck

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 53


the first string open with the ring finger and

then the second string with the middle finger.
Then, finally, I pull off with the index finger to
Andy s Hands
play an open G. The right hand does a little McKee employs a variety of tech-
triplet on the face of the guitar, sort of simu- niques that are quite challenging but
lating what I was doing on the side. In the look effortless when he does them.
next measure, I tap the sixth fret, third string, Part of the secret lies in subtle details
then tap with the left hand, pick the open sec- and McKees precise approach to
ond string, and then strum down and hit the execution. For example, when tapping
face of the guitar [at the same time]. with either hand, McKee often braces
his hands with the thumb. When Im playing over the top of the neck, I always have the thumb
You have a lot of independence between your behind the neck as a counter against the tapping, McKee says. It helps to stabilize everything.
hands. Many players initiate most notes with And Ill have the right-hand thumb on the top of the neck. Thats important, I think. It gives you a
their picking hands, but you use both equally. bit more strength for getting the volume out of the strings. Another challenging technique involves
M C KEE I guess that comes from studying cleanly plucking strings when his picking hand is over the fretboard, mixing harmonics, tapping,
Michael Hedges and so on. I remember there and plucking. My right hand is a bit weird, I think, McKee says. I have it pretty tight and closed,
being a quote from Preston [Reed] about both and I dont use nails, because of the tapping. There are players who tap and have nails, but they
hands being active music makers. Its not nec- use a little different angle. I started tapping on electric guitar, and I got used to a very direct
essarily that one hand is holding a note and angle. When I pluck, my hand is sort of curled, and I come in toward the palm of my hand, whether
the other one is generating the sound. Either Im over the soundhole or over the strings while Im tapping.
hand can generate the sound with hammer-
ons and tapping. Its liberatingyou can use
either one. I did play piano in the past, and Did you practice anything to work on inde- How do you come up with all the unusual
maybe that helps with the independence be- pendence? Any exercises? tunings you use?
tween hands. I remember learning Scott MCKEE Not really, it was just songs for me. I M C KEE Mostly, its a lot of experimenting.
Joplins Maple Leaf Ragit took me for- was never one to practice exercises. It never Sometimes Ill use ones that are kind of stan-
everand the way he plays, each hand has its interested me. I wanted to learn songs and dard that other people have used. Sometimes
own part. I think just learning that one song figure out what was going on with them. If I Ill do little variations on those, or sometimes Ill
really helped me separate the two hands and wanted to learn a technique, Id usually take come up with my own. Theres a tune of mine,
make them do what I want. it from a song. Art of Motion, that is in an unusual tuning

54 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

[F# A C# G# B E]. I came up with that one be-
cause the chord of the tuning is F#m11. In
take my thumb and hit the sixth string, or with my index finger and pluck the note with
maybe the fifth string, depending on which my thumbsort of a common technique
standard tuning, the fingering for the chord one Im going to play next. Theres also a tricky [Example 7]. But then I play hammer-ons on
sounded so cool, but was almost impossible to move where I click on the sixth string, and the top two strings with my left hand
play [Example 5]. So I decided to just tune play the fifth string at the same time with a [Example 8].

sixth string up to F#, the fourth string down to

the guitar like that. I ended up taking the downstroke of my index finger [beat four of
It seems like it can be difficult to get vol-
C#, then the third string up to G#.
measure 1].
ume and tone when youre tapping.
What happens in that tune is that I have a You have some tunings that must really M C KEE Right. Its just practicing, thats all I
lot of repeated notes, but theyre played on stress the strings, like the E C D G A D in did. Youve got to hit them hard. My first ex-
different strings, so they have different charac- Rylynn. perience with tapping and pull-offs was Eddie
teristics. In the intro [Example 6], I hammer- MCKEE Thats a dangerous one, with the fifth Van Halen and Joe Satriani, but it can be trick-
on the seventh fret on the low string, and then string going up a step and a half. I also use a ier on an acousticand the strings are usually
pluck it, and then pluck the same note on the banjo capo on that song, on the fifth fret just
open fourth string. There are three of them. covering the bottom four stringsthe two
Then theres a click sounda common tech- high strings are open. At the end of the tune, Either hand can
nique for me, a percussive click sound. I just I do this technique where I fret harmonics

Standard Tuning Tuning: F # A C # G # B E Harm.

generate the sound

Ex. 5
# ## 4 w
Ex.. 6 play three times
.  r with hammer-ons
& # 4 wwww .. r j .. r
. . . .
w J and tapping. Its
. liberatingyou can

. .
0 12

0 12
. .
2 x 12
6 0 0 0 0 0 12 use either one.
B 4
7 7 +
3 0 3
0 0 2
7 7 +3 0

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 55


Andy McKees
Greenfield Guitars
Andy McKee plays three guitars by Canadian
luthier Michael Greenfield. Although each
guitar is custom-made, Greenfield says
McKee gave him free rein with most of the
design. Greenfield recalls, Most artists
are just really interested in playing their
music, and Andy just said, I want a G4,
do your thing. McKee chose his baritone
guitar based on an existing instrument
that Greenfield had built for someone else.
He called me from the guys house and
said, Dude, I want a guitar just like this,
Greenfield says. There was one change to
Excellence McKees instrument. A plain natural maple
guitar, while its a nice look, is a little anemic,
since 1970. and Andys an entertainer, Greenfield says.
So I asked him, Are you interested in shading the guitar? and he said, Im feeling
green! The translucent green finish on
(612)338-1079 the maple instrument gives it a distinctive,
unique look.
McKees most recent Greenfield is a
harp guitar, which was completed in July
2010. Andy was always bugging me to make
him a harp guitar. Greenfield says. I said
No, no, no, but finally he wore me down. I
invested two years in that project. Of all the
harp guitars Ive played, the most musical
ones were the Dyer style, so its based on
that design, with a hollow harp arm, but the
bracing is completely different. It has carbon-
fiber rods running up the insides to stiffen
it, and it has a low-stress bridge for the
harp strings. Instead of using a pin bridge,
the strings from the harp arm hook up to a
tailpiece, kind of like an archtop, which puts
a lot less stress on the top.

56 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

heavier. But you get callusesthe skin gets You do some interesting two-handed tap- just pluck the first two notes, and then ham-
thicker and you dont feel it as much. ping in 7-14. mer on the fourth fret, pull off the first finger,
One thing about hammering on and pull- MCKEE That tune was inspired quite a bit by pull off the middle finger [Example 9], and
ing off with the left hand [tapping] on an Billy McLaughlin and his approach to tapping. then tap the bass. That sort of thing is really
acoustic guitar is that you get some [sympa- Its using the left hand to do the melody and inspired by Billy McLaughlin, where you have

opposite of Preston Reed. The tuning is B F# C#

thetic] notes that you dont really want to the right hand to tap bass notes. Its sort of the these patterns [Example 10]. Without ever

F# B F# and I usually capo on the second fret. I

hear so much, but if youre plugged in you plucking anything you get these cool hammer-
wont hear those sounds. ons and pull-offs. In the next section, I go

Tuning: E C D G A D (Ex. 78) See video of the music examples at

Partial Capo IV, bottom four strings (tab relative to nut)

Ex. 7
*Artificial Harm.

x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12
x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 12 12 12 12
B 12
12 12 12 12 12

*Fret and pluck with picking hand

Ex. 8

*Artificial Harm.
9 10 9 9 7
10 12 10 10 8 7 8 10 7
x 12 x 12
x 12 x 12 x 12 x 12 12 12
B 12 12
12 12 12

*Fret and pluck with picking hand

Tuning: B F C F B F (Ex. 911)

Capo II
Ex. 9

2 0 2 0 7 0
4 0 4 0
2 4 0 2 0 9 0 5 7 9 10
5 3 0 2 0 7 9 10
B 0 5 0 7

Ex. 10 Ex. 11

2 0 4 0 2 0 4 0
4 0 2 0 4 0 2 0 0 0 0
0 9 0 9 0 9 0 9
7 7 7 7
B 5
Left hand over neck

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 57


back over the top [with the left hand]. Its a

little pattern of hammering on and plucking
[Example 11].

With Joyland, you set up your own studio

and started recording yourself. Why did
you decide to go that route?
MCKEE Ive been touring like crazy the last few
years, so in 2009 I wanted to take some time
off to work on the record. Putting the studio
together in my house was something I wanted
to do, so that at any moment, if inspiration
came along I could go down and work on it. I
just have a little room in my house. Hopefully,
Ill be working on a new recording, maybe in
2012, but for now, Ill just be gigging all over
the planet! ag

hat e lays
ACOUSTIC GUITARS: Michael Greenfield
G4.2 multiscale (25 inches and 27 inches),
with a 17-inch body made of Lutz spruce
and Macassar ebony. Greenfield G2B
baritone with a 28.6-inch scale and a
16 1 8-inch body of Adirondack spruce and
quilted maple (with a green tint). Yamaha
LJX36C guitar with System
60, a three-way pickup
system that combines
Yamahas Studio Response
Technology (SRT) mic-
modeling pickup and the
Acoustic Resonance
Transducer (ART).
Spillers harp guitar
(pictured). Michael
Greenfield HG1.2
harp guitar made
of Lutz spruce
(top) and old koa
(back, sides, and
neck), with a 25-
to 26-inch multi-
scale neck, and
sharping levers for
changing tuning.
Pure Western
pickups in the
D-Tar Solstice
EXP medium
gauge and EXP

CAPOS: Shubb full and


58 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

The next technical challenge comes in mea-
Drifting sure 13, where McKee taps individual notes on
the ninth fret with his right hand over the neck,
Music by Andy McKee while hammering-on, plucking, and strumming
with his right hand. Measures 2126 feature
some interesting interplay between hands,
with an especially tricky move in the last half
Drifting is a great introduction to two-handed tapping and will help of measure 22. Here, McKee taps on the sev-
improve the independence between your hands. There are several dis- enth fret, fifth string, with his right hand, slides
tinct sections, each with its own technical challenges. The percussive to the ninth fret, then hammers on the bottom
intro consists of simple chords played by hammering on the bottom two strings at the seventh fret with his left
three strings with the left hand over the top of the neck, while hitting hand before releasing the right hand note on
the top of the guitar with both hands (see the notation legend on page the ninth fret, creating a pull-off to the seventh
53). Practicing with Andy McKees YouTube video should help you nail fret (now fretted by his left hand).
the groove. Once you get the initial figure worked out, the rest of the One thing that comes across in watching
introduction consists of variations. Just pay close attention to which McKee play this piece is his extreme precision.
hand performs each action. In the second section, which begins at bar Each element in the tune, every note and every
5, the left hand is simplified, alternating between hammer-on chords percussive hit, is important and interacts with
and a percussive slap, with no syncopation. But the right hand is much the others to create the overall effect, so focus
busier, playing the melody with a combination of tapping, plucking open on one measure at a time (or even half a mea-
strings, and pull-offs with the right hand, plus a few percussive hits sure) to get comfortable with the arm and hand
thrown in for good measure. motions and groove. DOUG YOUNG

Tuning: D A D G A D Slap Harm.

3 3
Slap Harm.
3 3 3

12 19
12 19
12 19
2 2 2 12 2 2 2 19
B 2
Left hand over neck


0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11 0 6 0 6 6 0 4 0 6 6 11 12 11 0 6
2 2 5 7 2 2 5 7 2 2
B 2

To Coda with fill 1, second time

(see first measure of Coda)


0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 6 6 0 4 0 6 6 11 9 0 9 9 9 11
5 7 2 2 5 7 9 11 0 0 0
B 5
7 9
0 0

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 59

Slap Harm.


strum:      H strum:     P S S
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12
0 9 11 9 9 9 11 9 7 0 6 6 6 12 9 7
9 11 0 0 0 9 5 7 9 7 7 7 7 12 0 7 9
B 9
0 0 0
9 9
7 7
7 7
* Slide from 14th fret (A) to 11th fret (F ) on D.S.

Slap Harm. Slap Harm.

0 0 2 0 12 0 0 0 12 0 0
0 0 0 12 0 0 0 12 0 0
2 2 2 0 0 0 12 0
0 0 0 12 4 5 0 2 2 4 0 4 5 0 2 2 7
B 0
7 9 7
7 0

Slap Harm. 1. Slap Harm. Slap Harm.


0 12 0 0 0 0 0 12 7 12
0 12 0 0 0 0 0 12 7 12
0 12 0 0 0 11 12 7 12
5 5 4 5 0 2 2 7 5 5 9 7 7 12 7 12
B 5
9 7 7
0 2
0 2
0 2
0 2

2. Slap Harm. Slap Harm.


0 0 0 12 0 0 0 0 0 12
0 0 0 12 0 0 0 0 0 12
0 0 12 0 0 4 4 6 6 12
9 11 11 9 10 0 12 4 4 5 5 7 7 12
B 9

D.S. al third ending 3. D.S.S. al Coda

(repeat measures 3134 before going to D.S.) Slap Harm. Slap Harm.
Slap Harm. 


0 0 0 0 0 12 0 12 7 12 7 12
0 0 0 0 0 12 0 12 7 12 7 12
0 0 4 4 6 6 0 12 11 12 7 12 7 12
4 4 4 5 5 7 7 0 12 12 7 12 7 12
B 2
0 2
0 2

60 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Coda 3 3 3
Slap Harm.
3 3 3
Slap Harm.


Fill 1
0 0 0 12 19
0 0 9 12 19
0 6 12 19
5 7 2 2 2 12 2 2 2 19
B 5

Slap Harm. Slap Harm.

3 3 3 3 3 3


12 19
12 19
12 19
2 2 2 12 2 2 2 19 2
B 2


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How to make sure your guitar is a good physical match for you. BY TEJA GERKEN

PLAYING THE GUITAR shouldnt hurt. OK, guitar, how you sit or stand, and how tense strument doesnt match you, it can lead to
your fingertips can get a little sore if youre you are in general, but your instrument also pain and, in extreme cases, permanent dam-
just starting out or you havent played in a has a lot do with how comfortable you feel age. Lets take a look at how various aspects
while, but any kind of regular joint or muscle while playing. Whether your discomfort re- of guitar design affect your physical comfort,
pain that occurs when youre playing your sults from a poor setup, a guitar body size so how some standard guitar models differ, and
favorite instrument needs to be taken seri- large you cant comfortably reach the strings what some luthiers and manufacturers are
ously. Guitar-playing discomfort (and com- or see the fingerboard, or a neck with dimen- doing to ensure you can find an ergonomic
fort) results primarily from how you hold the sions that make fretting difficult, if your in- instrument.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 63


The A guitars body size has the greatest impact on

Premium Guitars and Sheet Music
how well it will fit any individual player. As a
general rule, its shape and size need to allow
you to hold it in such a way that it doesnt
interfere with your playing.
AER Amps Kakos
Bart Reiter Kennedy Size and Outline
Beard Kenny Hill Guitar fit is dependent on the bodys outline
(and overall size), depth, and waist (both the
Brentrup Kopp
shape and the location). The outline and the
Bourgeois Martin depth are most important, because they affect
Centaur Amps McPherson playability regardless of whether you are sit-
Collings National ting or standing. If youre tall (especially
Cordoba Olson if you have a long torso) youll proba-
Eastman Phil Jones bly be able to choose from a wider
Genz Benz Amps range of comfortable guitar-body sizes
Amps RainSong than if youre a smaller person. This is
Godin Ramirez simply because wrapping your arms
Goodall Santa Cruz around the body to reach the strings
Guild Seagull wont pose as much of a challenge.
Henriksen Taylor The size of the guitars body will
Amps Vintage Sound have more of an impact on your
Hoffman Amps posture and comfort if you play
Huss & Dalton Walker sitting down than if you stand up
and wear the guitar on a strap. A
Since 1959
strap tends to be installed at the
425 14th Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-8893 center of the body (at the endpin and the necks heel), putting the strings A jumbo body (Gibson J-200, left) may be larger than a
in about the same playing position dreadnought (Martin D-18, right) but its tight waist makes
regardless of the guitars size. But it more comfortable to play sitting down.
when sitting, the way a larger guitar
rests on your lap will effectively move the example, the rounded shape of Gibsons J-200
strings (and therefore your picking-hand posi- jumbo body measures a whopping 16 3 4
tion) farther up, while a small guitar will have inches at the lower bout, but its waist is pulled
you reaching for the strings a bit lower, to- in so that the body is only ten inches across at
ward the floor. If youre tall, you might have its narrowest section. By comparison, a Martin
to hunch over a small guitar if you play sitting dreadnoughts lower bout is smaller (1512
down, unless you elevate it into playing posi- inches), but its waist measures 1012 inches,
tion with a guitar rest, footstool, or strap. resulting in a slightly different position when
Needless to say, these issues may also affect youre seated. The location of the waist will
your shoulder position and comfort as you also affect your fretting-hand position, be-
play. cause a waist thats closer to the upper bout
will make the nut closer to you, while a waist
Shape shifted more toward the lower bout will result
Size isnt everything. Depending on their in the nut being slightly farther away, requir-
shapes and depths, two bodies with similar ing you to extend your arm farther to reach
internal volume can feel very different. For the first few frets.

Mike Baraniks Meridian model features an offset waist for better playing comfort.

64 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Some luthiers, realizing the importance of players may have trouble finding a comfort-
the waists position, have created body shapes able playing position on a deep-bodied guitar.
with waists that effectively move the neck This is especially true if the depth is paired
closer to the player. Some of Mike Baraniks with a large body shape. In some cases, a
models, for example, include an offset waist. deep body may actually lead to a decrease in
On my Meridian model, the treble waist is blood circulation, making your arm fall
shifted forward about a half inch toward the asleep, and you may be more likely to de-
headstock, says Baranik. When you are velop problems such as tendinitis or carpal
seated, the guitar sits lower, and the head- tunnel syndrome. A really deep guitar may
stock and nut are closer to your body. require you to tilt the body up to see your
picking hand, requiring a greater reach by
Depth your fretting hand and thus more potential
The depth of a guitars body has a significant strain on its wrist.
impact on how ergonomic it is, especially as it To better match the player to the instru- Linda Manzer wedge-body guitars are thinner at
relates to your picking hand and arm. Smaller ment, some manufacturers offer models with the bass side than at the treble side.
the same body outline but different depths.
For example, Martins J and M models are rect impact on some of her customers pick-
based on a 0000-size body, but the J is 478 ing-arm comfort. When Bruce Cockburn
inches deep at the thickest point, while the M developed a pinched nerve in his right arm,
only measures 418 inches. he traded in his deep-bodied Manzer steel-
string for a wedge model, she says. Almost
Wedge-Shaped Bodies immediately, the pain went away. He was very
One way to make a large and relatively deep happy and relieved. Many custom builders
body more comfortable is to give it a wedge have licensed Manzers wedge for their own
shape, making it thinner on the bass side and instruments, but there are currently no larger
thicker on the treble. Luthier Linda Manzer, production factories building guitars with
who has built guitars for Pat Metheny and wedge bodies.
Bruce Cockburn, among others, holds a copy- Wedge shapes are not for everybody, how-
Excessive tilting of the guitar can lead to increased right on the wedge design and now uses it on ever. Some players find that the wedge body
strain on the fretting hand. all her guitars. She says that it has had a di- rotates the treble side of the fingerboard away

Easily expand your

chord vocabulary

Get more details at

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 65


from the body slightly, requiring a more ex-

tended fretting hand position that can be less
comfortable (similar to holding a regular gui-
tar at an angle).

Bevels and Armrests

One of the most widely adopted innovations
that can affect a guitars comfort is an armrest
or bevel on the top of the lower bout.
Although there are variations, the idea is the
same: to eliminate the sharp edge where the
picking arm contacts the side and top, and to
approximate the feel of a thinner guitar.
Canadian luthier William Grit Laskin is gen-
erally credited as the first to include this fea-
ture on his guitars, in the late 80s, and it has
become a standard feature of his models. A
few years after I started the bevel, I received

The Laskin bevel.

a letter from a physician at the Bethesda,

Maryland, Performing Arts Medicine Clinic,
who thanked me profusely, says Laskin. It
was something he had long wished would
happen on guitars. He said it would relieve
playing-arm shoulder strain, which is one of
the most prevalent problems from his point of
view. Endless hours of reaching around the
box creates shoulder strain, which, if ignored,
can begin to radiate down the arm and up
into the neck and become so serious that play-
ing is painful, and permanent damage is an
ultimate possibility.
Due to its complex construction, the bevel
has so far been primarily used by individual
luthiers, but Lowden (see page 20) and
Taylor have begun offering it as an option,
and French classical guitar manufacturer
EvolutioMusic is offering a variation on its
classical guitars, some of which are built by
California luthier Kenny Hill.


A cutaway wont affect general playing com-

fort, but if your repertoire requires that you
regularly reach notes above the neck/body
joint, you may find that a cutaway provides a
more relaxed playing position as well as eas-
ier access to the upper frets.

66 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

The ExhibitEHIRUH
12-Fret vs. 14-Fret Bodies
Another design decision that can greatly af-
fect a guitars feel and comfort is whether the
string spacing. Stock steel-string guitar necks
are typically either 11116 or 134 inches wide at
the nut. Dreadnoughts often have a nut width
The Exhibit...
neck joins the body at the 12th or 14th fret of 11116 inches while the wider 134 dimension
(and in rare instances, the 13th fret). Up is standard for many OM-style guitars. But
until about the 1930s, all guitars had 12-fret these days, different widths can be found on
neck joints, which is still the primary neck- all kinds of guitars, and stock steel-string
joint location for classical guitars. The Martin necks may be as narrow as 158 inches and as
OM, which debuted in 1929, is generally wide as 178 inches.
cited as the first modern 14-fret guitar, and The size of your hands and your playing
its increased access to the upper range style determine which neck width will be
quickly made the 14-fret neck the most com- ideal for you. If you have large hands and
mon choice for steel-string guitars. But in thick fingers, a wider neck will give you more
recent years, players and builders have redis- room to move, and if you have very small
covered the ergonomic and tonal appeal of hands, a skinnier neck will make it easier to
12-fret steel-string guitars. Depending on the reach chords that span the entire width of the
body shape, a 12-fret design can make the fingerboard. Fingerstyle players often prefer '$QJHOLFR '$TXLVWR 
overall length of the guitar more compact, wider necks (134 inches and wider) that allow 0RQWHOHRQH
requiring less extension of the fretting arm more room for polyphonic fingerings, while
when playing in first position. This can be flatpickers sometimes find that a narrower
particularly noticeable for players who sit in neck allows for faster and more precise posi-
the classical position or use a strap tied to tion changes. :K\ZDLWWLO)HE
the headstock. The way the strings are spaced also affects
a guitars feel, though it tends to impact play-
NECK ability more than ergonomics. The width of a
A guitars body is the most obvious factor in guitars nut tends to give a fairly good indica-
matching an instrument to a players phy- tion of what its string spacing will be like for
sique, but many guitarists say that the neck is the fretting hand, but spacing at the saddle
the most important element in making an in-
strument comfortable. Factors that contribute
can vary quite a bit, and surprisingly, many
manufacturers dont include these measure-
to neck feel and comfort are its width, shape, ments in their specs. The typical range tends
fretboard radius, scale length, location of the to be from about 218 inches to 2516 inches,
neck joint, string spacing, and type of frets. with 2316 inches being a common middle-
ground. As is the case with nut width, many
Width fingerstyle players prefer wider spacing, while
Measured at the nut, neck width not only af- flatpickers often choose a guitar with nar-
fects the necks overall feel, it influences the rower string spacing at the saddle. Get great advice
for beginners in
If you suspect that its taking too much physical effort to play your guitar, it may need a setup.
Have it checked out by a good guitar tech and tell him or her that youd like it to play easier, if
possible. String action is the most crucial aspect of setting up a guitar with playability in mind.
Many new guitars (especially inexpensive ones) seem fine up the neck, but have high action at
the nut, making it unnecessarily difficult to play in the first position. Try putting a capo on your
guitar at the first fret. If the guitar is significantly easier to play this way, the nut should prob-
ably be lowered. High action farther up the neck is common on older guitars that either have
a forward bow in the neck, a bad neck angle, or a saddle thats too high. That can be fixed by
something as easy as tightening the truss rod or shaving down the saddle, or it may need a more
complicated (and expensive) neck reset. A good tech will be able to determine which procedure
is needed.
Other playability issues that can be addressed with a setup are the string spacing at the
nut and the size and/or condition of the frets. Some manufacturers install nuts with narrower
string spacing than is necessary. That isnt necessarily a bad thing, but if your fretting hand feels
cramped, check to see if the spacing could be widened (which will, of course, require a new nut).
Similarly, if a string is too close to the edge of the fingerboard, respacing can allow for much
better playability. Frets are generally replaced when theyve developed grooves under the strings,
which can cause string buzzes, and that much wear can also make the guitar harder to play.
But in some cases, refretting with different playability in mind is also worth considering, and ac- $19.99, Book/CD,
112 pp., HL00701232
cording to Gryphon Stringed Instruments Frank Ford, this is a frequent consideration. If you like
everything about a guitar except for frets that are too low or too tall, or not shaped the way you Order now at
prefer at their ends, ask a luthier about replacement options.

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 67


Profile a really thin neck profile may require more tars use a compound radius, which is typically
The necks shape has a huge impact on the feel muscle tension than one that has a bit of heft flatter on the higher frets than at the nut.
of your guitar, and, as with the width, the size to it. But a neck thats too large may require Slide players sometimes prefer a flat finger-
of your hands and your playing style determine you to open your fretting hand to an uncom- board (which is also most common on classi-
what will work best. If you have large hands, fortable degree and will make it more difficult cal guitars), as it allows all six strings to be
to wrap your thumb around to fret bass notes. played uniformly with the flat surface of a
Ultimately, the best neck shape for each player bottleneck or other slide.
will be matter of personal preference. Some
petite players with small hands have been Fret Size
known to prefer surprisingly big necks, and its The size of your frets can also have an impact
not unheard-of for players with large hands on the effort it takes to play the guitar com-
and long fingers to be most comfortable with fortably. Average frets are about .040 to .045
narrow, electric guitarstyle necks. inches tall, while low frets only reach about
The profile of the necks cross-section, .035 inches, and tall jumbo frets may be as
which can range from a sharp V shape to a high as .055 inches. Taller frets can change
gentle C shape, is also important. Players the effective thickness of a neck enough to be
whose technique is based on the classical ap- noticeable, and while some players feel that
proach, where the pad of the fretting-hand small, low frets make a neck feel faster, they
thumb rests on the back of the neck, tend to can require more physical effort because your
prefer a gentle curve or an almost flat profile, fingertips may make contact with the finger-
but pickers who wrap their thumbs around board, diverting some of their effort away
the neck often feel more comfortable with a from stopping the string cleanly. Refretting a
V-shape profile. guitar with different size frets to make it more
Although many players tend to forget that playable may be worth consideringeven on
their guitars fingerboard has a radius, it too a brand-new instrumentif every other aspect
has an impact on the necks playability. The of the guitar is as desired. There are no gener-
amount of curve in the radius (measured in alities about what types of guitars use what
These Martin neck shapes illustrate the differences feet) can affect the comfort of barre chords, frets, though most factory-made production
between a shallow C (top), a sharp V (middle), and and a greater radius tends to make string guitars tend to be in the average range men-
a curved D (bottom). bends easier than a shallow radius. Some gui- tioned above. On these instruments, different

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fret sizes are not usually an option, even on
special orders. But many individual luthiers
are happy to discuss options. Your overall guitar-playing posture is probably the
single most important factor in finding a pain-free
Scale Length playing position. Because everyones bodies are
Scale length, which refers to the distance of different, its important to experiment with playing
the strings between the nut and the saddle, positions, and the observations of an experienced
has a major impact on a guitars playability teacher can help significantly.
For many players, using a footstool is a first step
to good posture. Whether you use it to elevate your
left leg (classical style) or right leg, the idea is to get the guitar into a position that allows you to
play without unnecessary strain. Look for a footstool that can be adjusted to different heights,
and experiment with various settings to find a position that works for you.
There are also several guitar-elevating devices that attach to the instrument itself. Units like
the Gitano and NeckUp (see photo) support mount to the side of the guitar with suction cups
and help raise the instrument into a comfortable playing position without the use of a footstool.
Similarly, the Dynarette guitar cushion is designed to be placed between the guitar and the
players leg.
Many players find that wearing the guitar on a strap is the best way to get the instrument into
a comfortable position. This often works better when standing than sitting, because sitting with
the guitar on a strap can lead the lower bout to be pushed up by the players right leg. This is
especially true with larger guitars.

and tone. A shorter scale length not only puts tars with longer scales more powerful and
the frets slightly closer to each other (which louder. Full-size acoustic guitars are com-
makes it easier to reach extended chords), it monly referred to as short-scale (around 24.9
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70 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011


Whats It Worth?
A guitar appraisal is a deep dive into the history of your guitar
and the state of the vintage guitar market.

By Richard Johnston

WITH THE PHENOMENAL RISE in guitar values in recent years, many past (and how well, by current standards,
guitarists and collectors have been seeking appraisals of their instru- those repairs were done).
ments. Some guitarists, hearing about the high prices brought by The structural condition of an instru-
vintage guitars at auction, want to find out about their own instru- ment is critical because it determines
ments worth, while others may simply want to add a guitar to their what repairs, if any, are needed to put it
homeowners insurance policy, for which they need a written in optimal playing condition. That includes
appraisal. While members of the first group are often disappointed, the condition of the frets, straightness
Oh, is that all my guitar is worth? some from the second group have of the neck, neck angle, and string action.
the opposite reaction, more akin to Youve gotta be kidding! when Its also important to use an inspection
they find that a guitar theyve taken for granted is now quite valuable. mirror to check for loose braces and, on
Regardless of their reaction, guitar players rarely understand all the steel-string flattops, excessive wear to
factors an appraiser has to consider and how the resulting values are the bridge plate. On a guitar thats had
derived. Here are the steps I go through when inspecting and lots of use and many string changes,
appraising guitars and other musical instruments such as mandolins, those innocuous little brass balls at the
ukuleles, and banjos. end of each string can wreak havoc with
the thin piece of wood glued to the under-
What Is It? side of the top just beneath the bridge.
Most appraisals start by determining This is also a good time to check for
the instruments age and model desig- signs of earlier repairs. It can come as a
nation. With guitars made in the past surprise to many guitarists, especially if
75 years or so, that is often fairly easy, theyve owned the instrument for many
because they have serial numbers and years, that a crack-free guitar that plays
model codes stamped inside or written OK and sounds fine may still need expen-
on their labels. But many Gibson sive repairs to be considered in top condi-
guitars made in the 1930s, 40s, tion. But string tension can take a heavy
and 50s were shipped without a toll, especially on flattops, even when the
serial number or model code, and guitar has been hibernating under a bed
19th-century Martins had no markings, or in a closet for many years. Buyers are
just the company name. Identification often far more critical of an instruments
of Washburns and other early guitars playing condition than someone who has
can be even sketchier, so it can be owned the guitar for years and has
helpful to have a library of reference learned, often unconsciously, to work
books available. Many early guitars, around its shortcomings.
mandolins, and banjos dont even have
a visible brand name, which means that Is It All Original?
appraisers will need to spend lots of With every passing year, the originality of
Author Richard time doing Internet research and searching through reference books a guitars finish and parts becomes more
Johnston inspects and old trade catalogs looking for similar instruments. And guitars critical to its value. On vintage guitars,
a customers dont have to be old to be valuable, as there is now more widespread the finish and parts may appear quite old
guitar. recognition that some flattops and electrics made in Japan during the but can be more recent than the instru-
late 60s and 70s, for instance, have a particular sound and overall ments construction date. Determining
vibe that is uniquely connected to the music that was popular when what parts manufacturers used during
they were marketed. different periods, and what their original
finishes looked like, requires experience,
What Shape Is It In? as does detecting repairs. Until the past
The next step is an assessment of the condition of the instrument. few decades, many owners sent their

The three most important things I need to determine when appraising instruments back to the factory for
a guitar are its structural condition and playability, the originality of its routine repairs, even for something as
components and finish, and what repairs have been performed in the mundane as lowering the string action.

72 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

Manufacturers saw their repair depart- price guides (separate volumes for Listings with high starting prices, or Buy
ments as an important source of revenue, acoustic and electric guitars) and other Now figures, often run without attracting a
so customers were often encouraged to similar publications. However, given the single bid. On the other hand, last-second
have their guitars made to look new again vast number of models, and the minor vari- bidding in timed auctions means that the
for a small additional charge. This usually ations within similar models that can have actual selling price of an instrument can
meant overspraying the original finish with a major impact on value, no price guide is double just as the auction closes, making
fresh lacquer, and although a factory over- infallible, and they are best used to corrob- any earlier bidding level meaningless.
spray does not diminish an instruments orate values based on recent sales of
value to the same extent as a full refinish similar instruments. Investment Considerations
(in which the original finish is stripped or For the most part, assessing the value For many people new to guitar collecting,
sanded down to bare wood before a whole of recently made guitars is much easier, the recent recessionIm optimistically
new finish is applied), it makes the instru- because you can look up the manufactur- referring to it in the past tensehas
ment less desirable to most collectors. ers current list price, find the typical debunked the oft-repeated myth that
street price, and then factor in the usual vintage guitars always go up in value.
Assigning a Value percentage difference between a new Instrument values have always been in
Once all the above factors are taken into guitar with a factory warranty and an equiv- flux; its just that the recent run of inflation
consideration, its time to assign a value alent used model. lasted far longer than usual. Two big
to the instrument. While inventory listings When assigning a value I try to rely on reasons for the recent price fluctuations
from used- and vintage-guitar dealers may what similar instruments have actually are stricter standards among collectors
be helpful, theyre not always accurate. sold for, and a database of sales figures regarding originality and a greater divide
As anyone attending vintage-guitar shows can be of tremendous help. If our shop between the value of highly collectible
may have noticed, the asking price and the hasnt sold a similar instrument recently, guitars and those of interest primarily to
actual selling price of an instrument are I rely on a network of vintage instrument players with an appetite for older instru-
often quite different. Price guides, on the dealers, many of whom have similar data- ments. When values are rising and
other hand, often lump guitar models from bases or very good memories. Another demand is high, the prices of lesser exam-
different years together, although such source of actual sales data is results from ples of desirable models often go up
a grouping usually has numerous price recent auctions. When using Internet simply because they are all that collectors
ranges within it. The price guide published auction sites, such as eBay, its important can find. But when selling prices begin to
each year by Vintage Guitar magazine can to rely only on searches for completed fall, and its a buyers market, second-tier
be helpful, as can the Blue Book series of auctions, rather than current listings. examples can suffer greater deflation

The most important

tool you need to
make a classical guitar


January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 73
because collectors still in the market are nothing to do with an instruments play- have to spend to find the same model, of
holding out for the best, and there are ability, sound, or even appearance when about the same age, and in similar condi-
lower ceilings on the prices ordinary guitar compared to another. You dont necessarily tion. Many people make the mistake of
pickers are willing to pay. get a better-sounding prewar D-28 when getting an appraisal for replacement value,
As prices escalate, buyers become you pay an extra $20,000, you just get one and then expect to sell the instrument for
more critical and similar instruments have that people with more financial resources that amount. But consignment fees,
a wider range of values, depending on the happen to want. auction commissions, and other costs will
comparative rarity and desirability of Instruments that are nearly identical to probably put a considerable dent in what
certain years or versions of the same models identified with famous and influen- the owner nets from a sale, regardless of
model. For acoustic flattops, the best tial musicians often have much higher the appraised replacement value. As a
example of this fragmentation is the orig- values than similar examples of the same general rule, most owners will not net
inal Martin herringbone dreadnought. Forty brand that are slightly different. Good more than 80 percent of the amount their
years ago, when demand for vintage D-28s examples of this phenomenon are 1923 instrument has been appraised for should
began to grow, there wasnt much differ- Gibson F-5 mandolins identical to the they choose to sell it.
ence between the value of a 1935 D-28 one played by Bill Monroe and early 60s For most people, an appraisal is a way
and one made a decade later. Today, Gretsch 6122 Country Gentleman elec- to get adequate insurance so they dont
however, the earlier version can be worth trics that match the one used by George have to worry about the possibility of
two or three times as much as the later Harrison. Contemporary artists, such as taking a huge financial hit if their guitar is
example, even though the differences Eric Clapton, can also add a significant lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair.
appear minor to the average fan of old bonus to the value of instruments iden- For others, an appraisal is like checking
Martins. When differences in condition and tical to the model they routinely use in the financial pages for the current value
originality are considered, the values of performance. of their stock portfolio. Either way, its
two similar instruments can be even important to remember that any appraisal
further apart, or their positions can be Appraisal Numbers is a snapshot of your guitars current
reversed. For instance, a later herringbone and What They Mean approximate worth in an ever-changing
D-28 in excellent condition might be worth If you are having an instrument evaluated, market. ag
much more than an earlier example thats be sure you understand what the
far more rare, but has been highly modified appraised value means. An appraisal of Richard Johnston is co-founder of Gryphon
and heavily worn. This variation in one replacement value, for instance, is an Stringed Instruments and an Acoustic
guitar models value often has little or estimate of the amount you would probably Guitar contributing editor.

74 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011


More reviews available at own. For instance, on Penny Lane, Juber who repossesses his farm, then steals his car. somehow plays McCartneys bass line and the In All Choked Up Again, hes not sure
piccolo trumpet part simultaneously. But its whether hes strangled a man to death, or
not just Jubers considerable chops that even whether that man was his father. Either
impress and satisfy; its the subtle, jazzy chord way, theres a new level of control to the writ-
extensions (You Cant Do That), the tender ing, a precision that pushes these songs for-
John Mellencamp legatos (Here, There, and Everywhere), ward no matter how slow the tempo or bone
and, best of all, the reinvention of iconic gui- dry the delivery. Binghams fingerpicking
No Better Than This
tar parts, which here sound recognizable yet is firmly front and center, right where it needs
For their second studio col- fresh (Blackbird). The result is a keenly to be to deliver the intimate,timeless des-
laboration, seasoned rocker pleasurable journey through some of the best peration of these songs: I cant believe Im
John Mellencamp and heralded producer music ever created. (Solid Air Records) out again on the high lonesome road, he
T Bone Burnett went to considerable lengths PHIL CATALFO sings, reaching the middle ground between
to recreate a vintage vibe, and their efforts Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard. Lay my head
did not go unrewarded. Outfitted with only Justin Townes Earle down on the rail and sing my way back
one microphone and a 55-year-old Ampex home. (Lost Highway)
Harlem River Blues
mono reel-to-reel rig, the duo and a session KENNY BERKOWITZ
group including versatile guitarists Marc Opening with the buoyant,
Ribot and Andy York recorded tracks at three gospel-tinged title track (in Suzy Thompson and
historic Southern locations during Mellen- which the protagonist gleefully describes his Del Rey
camps 2009 tour of minor league ballparks intent to commit suicide by drowning), Justin
Hen Party
with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Those Townes Earles third full-length album is the
locations included the First African Baptist logical extension of his stellar previous effort, Del Rey, who plays a synco-
Church in Savannah (North Americas first Midnight at the Movies. Fully at ease with his pated style of guitar based on prewar blues
black church), the legendary Sun Studios in craft, Earle, like his father Steve and name- and barrelhouse piano traditions, is one of the
Memphis, and room 414 of the Gunter Hotel sake Townes Van Zandt, combines weary best fingerpickers of this or any generation.
in San Antonio, where blues giant Robert vocals, effortless melodies, and unadorned Suzy Thompson is a consummate blues fid-
Johnsons first recordings were captured in guitar playing to weave emotionally affecting dler whos stolen more than her fair share of
1936. Predictably, given the recording envi- songs. On the wistful One More Night in music festivals with her room-filling, vibrato-
ronments and talent involved, distinct echoes Brooklyn, Earles simple, palm-muted finger- laden vocals. The pair has known each other
of inspirations past are unmistakable through- picking drives an initially spare arrangement for decades as members of the West Coast
out the new albums 13 roots-rich tracks. On that expands to include standup bass, synco- blues community, and that familiarity adds to
A Graceful Fall and No One Cares About pated electric guitar, restrained drumming, the richness of their debut album as a duo.
Me, signature Sun slap-back and hopped-up and sighing strings. Earle abruptly switches The 14 tunes here range from old jazz and
country blues predominate, while the title gears to the unrepentantly lustful Move Over vaudeville numbers to country blues, with a
track and Coming Down the Road churn Mama (Move over mama / Youve been healthy dose of Memphis Minnie, one of the
with propulsive rockabilly fire. Each Day of sleeping in the middle of the bed too long), a original female guitar heroes. Having per-
Sorrow references raw electric shuffle blues, rockabilly rave-up that makes it abundantly formed together countless times, Rey and
and a memorable handful of other cuts com- clear what he wants when he comes home Thompsontreat the studio as an extension of
bine folk, gospel, and more to compelling from a long tour. And somehow Earle can sing their stage shows, with Reys metal resonator
effect. (Rounder Records) a song about working for New Yorks MTA guitar and ukulele providing the groove and
MIKE THOMAS complete with swooning pedal steeland Thompsons fiddle the filigree, as they trade
make it sound like it could have been sung by a vocal duties or sing together in close harmony.
Laurence Juber weary railroad worker circa 1935. With Harlem Although blues based, this is essentially
River Blues, Earle has made one of the finest acoustic dance music, with even Sippie Wal-
LJ Plays the Beatles,
roots albums of the year. (Bloodshot) laces mournful Devil Dance Blues given just
Vol. 2
MARK SMITH enough of a vitamin B12 shot to get the toes
When it comes to Beatles tapping. All in all, its a welcome treat from
songs, nothing can displace the originals in Ryan Bingham two of the finest instrumentalists and arrang-
the popular imagination. But artful covers of ers in the business. (Hobemian)
Junky Star
their immortal compositions can deepen our IAN ZACK
appreciation of the inventive melodies, irre- Its been a good year for Ryan
sistible chord progressions, and boundless Bingham, who won a Grammy
creativity the Fab Four evinced in their bril-
liant catalog. Ace fingerstylist Laurence Juber,
for The Weary Kind, settled down in
Topanga Canyon, and started getting the
who spent three years recording and touring attention hes long deserved. Produced by DAN GABEL, editorial director and publisher:
with Paul McCartneys band Wings, is noted T Bone Burnett, this third album goes deeper Old Blind Dogs, Wherever Yet May Be
for (among other things) his Beatles interpre- than the first two, with less rock, more intro-
MARK SMITH, managing editor:
tations and has previously devoted one entire spection, and a sharper focus on Bingham as
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Hawk
album and many other album tracks to their a songwriter of road-weary, whiskey-soaked,
songlist. His second Beatles-exclusive collec- classic Americana. In Hallelujah, he lays SCOTT NYGAARD, senior editor:
tion, like the first, soars and swoops through dying on the street, bleeding out of a gunshot Heidi Talbot, The Last Star
the Lads musical derring-do and adds his wound. In Junky Star, he shoots the man

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 75


cise will be to play all of the notes in a C-major

scale up and down one string, as shown in
Example 1. Although most guitarists practice
scale patterns by starting and ending on the
root, we want to develop awareness of all of
the notes in the scale, so this exercise starts
Three Paths to with the lowest note on each string. Example
1 starts with a low E on the sixth string, the
third note of the C major scale, and goes up
Fretboard Mastery to the 15th fret, the G on the low E string.
Continue by working up and down each indi-
vidual string, from open position all the way
Deepen your fretboard knowledge by exploring new up to the 15th fret. If you can, try doing these

approaches to practicing scales and arpeggios. exercises with just one or two fingers. In this
way, youll be removing any reliance on muscle
memory and be learning the notes of the fret-
By Sean McGowan board by sight and by ear. You may also find
it helpful to say the names of the notes as you
play them. Practice this exercise with a metro-
nome until you can play and recite the notes
of the scale in time with the click.
Lets use this single-string approach to play
triad arpeggios (triads played one note at a
See video of WITH THE NEW YEAR fast approaching, theres no better time than the time). Using one finger, move up and down
the music examples at present to commit to some guitar-related resolutions and new ap- each string, playing only the notes of a proaches to your practice routine. Part of the beauty of the guitar is that C-major triad (C, E, and G) as shown in
woodshed no matter how deep ones understanding of the instrument becomes, Example 2. Were sticking to the key of C for
there are always different ways of looking at it. Guitarists at all playing now, but once you can play comfortably in C,
levels can benefit from learning scale and arpeggio fingerings that push try the same exercise in other keys. You can
the boundaries of what theyre used to. even use this approach to play double-stops
In this article, well try to do all of the above, focusing on three distinct and un- on two strings (Example 3), or triad chords
conventional ways to approach your guitars fretboard. With careful practice, the on three strings (Example 4).
techniques outlined here have the power to expand your understanding of scales and
chords, deepen your knowledge of the general layout of the notes in standard tuning, Rethink Your Position
and enhance your overall soloing technique. When youre drilling the same scale patterns
again and again, its easy to convince yourself
Play Scales on One String that the only truly important notes of a scale
You may know enough scale and arpeggio fingerings to get through a chart or solo are the roots, and that the notes between
over a simple chord progression, but this lesson will help you develop complete them are just different ways to get between
mastery of the fretboardand its not as daunting as you might think. First, you can them. Obviously, thats not trueevery note of
break out of old scale, arpeggio, and chord patterns by tackling one string at a time. a scale is important. Lets revisit some familiar
To make it easy, lets start by working only within the key of C major. The first exer- scale patterns that travel across multiple

Ex. 1 Ex. 2

12 8 3 0
1 5 8 13
12 9 5 0
2 5 10 14
B 0 1 3 5 7 8 10 12 13 15 13 12 10 8 7 5 3 1 0 0 3 8 12 15
15 10 7 3

Ex. 3 Ex. 4

12 8 3 0
13 8 5 1 1 5 8 13 13 8 5 1
0 5 9 12 12 9 5 0 12 9 5 0 0 5 9 12 12 9 5 0
14 10 5 2 2 5 10 14 2 5 10 14 14 10 5 2 2 5 10 14
B 3
7 10 15 15 10 7
8 12 15
3 3
7 10 15 15 10 7
8 12 15

76 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

strings, but instead of starting on root notes,
Ex. 5 Ex. 6
& 44
lets start with the lowest scale tone available

in a given fretting-hand position, regardless

of whether or not its a root. Similarly, in-
stead of ending on a root, lets continue play-
ing notes of the scale until we hit the highest
0 1 3 5 3
scale tone we can reach without changing 0 1 3 6 5 3
position. 0 2 5 4
02 3 7 53
Try an ascending C-major scale in open
position (Example 5). Notice the range of this
B 0 1 3
0 2 3 75 3
7 5 3

particular pattern: low E up to a G on the
Ex. 7

& 44
third fret of the first string. Next, simply move

up another two or three frets to another area

or position, and play a descending scale
(Example 6). Were not necessarily trying to
come up with practical fingerings for playing
0 3 8 12
fast passages; were simply exploring different 1 5 8 13
ways to play the same scale in an effort to 0 5 9 12
2 5 10 14
master the fretboard. There are about five dif-
ferent regions covering four frets each (one
B 0 3
3 7
8 12
10 15

Ex. 8

finger per fret) on the fretboard, and while


some of the fingerings will be familiar, others

& 4

will seem awkward at first. As we saw with

the single-string exercises, we can use this
same approach to work through arpeggios
(Example 7) and triads (Example 8).
0 3 8 12
1 1 5 5 8 8 13 13
Think Like a Pianist 0 0 0 5 5 5 9 9 9 12 12 12
2 2 2 5 5 5 10 10 10 14 14 14
Many common scale and arpeggio patterns
are actually quite impractical with regard to
B 3
3 7 7
10 15 15


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ESSENTIAL fingering, picking patterns, and economy of seven-octave scale with minimal effort!

ACOUSTIC motion. For example, notice that the two-

octave major scale pattern in Example 9 fea-
Guitarists can learn a lot from them in this
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tures a somewhat random fingering pattern. achieve a similar sense of fluidity and even
By contrast, pianists use just one fingering for play long, three-octave scale patterns while
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repeat that fingering through multiple oc- Lets try this with a major scale. To start,
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Ex. 9
14 in-depth lessons for players of
all levels, taught and recorded by Fretting-hand fingering:
the master teachers at Acoustic 2 4 1 2 4 1 3 4 1 3 4 2 4 1 2 4
Guitar magazine. 7 8 10
8 10
7 9 10
LEARN TO 7 9 10
Play barre chords, solo with arpeg- B 8 10
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of three and four notes (in either order),
which well then play on two adjacent strings.
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For instance, the first four notes of a G-major
scale are G, A, B, and C. Well play those notes
on the low E string, followed by the next three
notes of the scale (D, E, and F#) on the next
adjacent string, the A string. Try using a 12
44 fingering for the low E string, followed by
124 for the A string. Next, move on to the
fifth-fret G on the D string, and start the next
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Example 11. This time, the first group in-
cludes the notes G, F#, and E, and the second
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This approach also works well with arpeg-
gios. Three-note triad arpeggios can be sepa-
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followed by one note on the next (Example
12) or vice-versa (Example 13). Four-note
arpeggios, like the Gmaj7 chord shown in
Example 14 are great because they can be
split into two-note groups with two notes on
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in i dn d
Sean McGowan ( is a jazz/ n :// . . / in d
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Day Tripper vocals in your head while youre playing the

song. I use my fretting-hand thumb to play
Words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney,
the F# bass in measures 1719 as I play the
the B notes on the fifth string in bar 10 and

arranged by Tommy Emmanuel melody and harmonies with my fingers. This

may take some getting used to if you dont
See video of I came up with this arrangement of Lennon and McCartneys great song usually use your thumb over the top of the
Tommy Emmanuel back in 1990. I had been playing Lady Madonna in my shows and was fretboard, but it will really help you play the
playing Day Tripper really looking for another Beatles classic that had a great riff and a great harmonies and open notes with clarity.
at AcousticGuitar melody at the same time, and Day Tripper fit the bill perfectly. The Start out slowly and meticulously, making
.com/daytripper opening riff is powerful on its own but I wanted to do something differ- sure that all the fingering is right. Once youve
ent to make it even stronger, so I came up with the staccato notes that worked out the arrangement, record yourself
establish the groove with the first and second fingers of my picking and have a listen to the dynamics between the
hand while playing the riff with my thumb. This was a real challenge at melody and the backing. Its important that
first and I quickly discovered that the best way to play both parts was the melody comes out nice and strong. Keep
to hammer-on the last note of the riff with the index finger of my fret- practicing until you reach a point where you
ting hand. only think about the melody when you play
As with a lot of Beatles songs, Lennon and McCartney sing Day the song. When I get to the it took me so

and I really wanted to capture it. For instance, when I hit the F#add4
Tripper in unison and then split off into harmony. Its a great sound, long part (which begins in measure 20), I
really pump the bass like a rock n roll player
chord in measure 17, I let the open B string ring against the fretted third and use a lot of dynamics to bring the chorus
string, causing a nice cluster of harmonies on the chorus. I suggest lis- to a crescendo before heading back to the
tening to the original Beatles recording and keeping the sound of the main riff. TOMMY EMMANUEL, CGP


1 1
3 3
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
2 0 4 0 2
B 0 3 4
2 2 2

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
2 0 4 0 2 0 4 0 2
B 0 3 4
2 2 2 2 2
0 3 4
2 2 2

* Low E note tied (held from previous measure) on repeat Slap strings with pick hand as you play them.
Verse A7 2 1
4 4 1

2 2 1
9 2 2 2 3
3 2 3
2 T T
5 4 2 0 5 4 2 0 5 3 2 0
0 0 3 3 0 0 2 0
2 2 1 1 2 0
2 0 4 0 2 2 0 0 4 0 2 2
B 0 3 4
2 2 2
0 3 4
2 2 2 0 3 4

84 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

E7 F add4 E /F F

2 1
4 1 2

5 4 2 0 2 0 2
3 0 2 0 0 0 0 2
4 0 2 1 3 1 3
0 2 0 x 0 4 0 2 4
B x 0 x 0
0 3 4
2 2 2 4
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

E /F F E /F F F 7 A7 G 7 C 7 9
3 1
4 4
1 2
1 3 2 2 3
2 1 1
1 1
3 2

4 2 0 2 0 0 0
5 2 0 2 2 2 2 8 7 7 5
4 3 1 3 3 3 6 5 4
2 2 5 5 5 3
B 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 0
2 2 2 2 2 5 5 5
4 4 4
4 4 4 4 4

strum with thumb (downward stems) or fingers (upward stems)

B 7sus4 E7
23 1

strum with thumbpick

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
4 4 2 2 2 2 2 2
3 3 4 4 4 4 4 2 0 4 0 2
B 4 4 4 4 x 2 2 2 2
0 3 4
2 2 2

D /E E F /E E D /E

2 1 2
1 4
1 1
1 1 3

strum with thumbpick

0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 7 9 10 9 7
2 7 9 11 9 7
2 0 4 0 2 7 9 11 9 7
B 0 3 4
2 2 2 x 2
0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0
0 0

A /E E D /E E A /E E D /E E E5
1 4
3 3
30 1

0 0 0 0
3 7 10 9 7 9 3 7 10 9 7 9 5 5 5 5
2 7 9 9 7 9 2 7 9 9 7 9 4 4 4 4
2 7 11 9 7 9 2 7 11 9 7 9 2 2 2 2
B 2
0 0 0
x x
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
x x x 2
0 0 0
x x
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
x x x 2

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 85


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Steven Kaufman
Breedlove Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Seymour Duncan Acoustic, . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Enterprises, Inc, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Sheppard Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Breezy Ridge Instruments, Ltd., . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Levys Leathers, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Shubb Capos, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Chasson Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Luthier Music Corp., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Soloette, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Collings Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Luthiers Mercantile, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Mandolin Bros., Ltd., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Stewart-MacDonalds

DAddario & Co., Inc., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Guitar Supply, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Donnell Enterprises, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 C.F. Martin & Co., Inc., . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37, 92
Sylvan Music, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
McElroy Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
DR Music, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Taylor-Listug, Inc., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
McPherson Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Fazios Frets & Friends, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Tonerite, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Montefiore Instruments, . . . . . . . 38
Fishman Transducers, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Tul Publishing LLC, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Mountain View
G7th, Ltd., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Luthier School, . . . . . . . . 86 Ultrasound Amplifiers LLC, . . . . . . . . . . 17

George Lowden Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 The Music Emporium, . . . . . . . . . . . 67 V-Picks, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

GHS Strings, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Musicians Friend, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Walden Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Godin Guitars, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Musiquip, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Yamaha Corporation of America, . . . . . . . . 5

January 2011 ACOUSTIC GUITAR 89

great acoustics

1988 Grit
By Adam Perlmutter


Harvey Levy playing MAKING, its common for a
this guitar at manufacturer to celebrate a guitarist with a signature
gritlaskin model. But a luthier may also
build a tribute for an industry
cohort, as was the case with this left-handed William
Grit Laskin ( instrument made for
Harvey Levy.
Levy is the bow-tie-wearing vice president of Levys
Leathers ( and a guitarist of some five
decades. In the mid-1980s, he commissioned Laskin to
make a cutaway guitar for him, using the builders mid-
size (16-inch lower bout) body. Levy chose flamed maple
for the back and sides, but left the selection of the other
materials to Laskin, who decided on a Sitka spruce top,
mahogany neck, and ebony bridge and fingerboard.
Levys guitar is devoid of some of the innovations for
which Laskin, an eminent luthier who matriculated in the
early Larrive shop, is now knownthe sideport sound-
hole and built-in armrest. It does feature his iconoclastic,
pictorial inlay work, though. For the headstock, Levy had
Laskin depict a girl on a swing, capturing a range of
motion based on the guitars positionwhen its on a
stand, she appears at the top of the swing; when in
playing position shes in mid-swing. For this dazzling orna-
mentation, Laskin used burled maple, burled walnut, ster-
ling silver, mother-of-pearl, and abalone.
The Laskin has been Levys main guitar, even traveling
with him as he attends trade shows around the world. The
instrument has weathered some accidentsthe neck
was once broken, the endpin smashed into the lower
boutand its top has been marred by an aggressive
fingernail. But according to Levy, the guitars balanced
tone and excellent resonance continue to get sweeter

every year. ag

Adam Perlmutter is a former editor for Guitar One maga-

zine. He transcribes, arranges, and engraves music for
various publishers and individuals.

Acoustic Guitar (ISSN 1049-9261) is published monthly by String Letter Publishing, Inc., 255 West End Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901. Periodical postage paid at San Rafael, CA 94901 and
additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Canada Returns to be sent to Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.
Postmaster: Please make changes online at or send to Acoustic Guitar, PO Box 469120, Escondido, CA 92046-9020.

90 ACOUSTIC GUITAR January 2011

2009 Taylor Guitars

Always to our own tune.

et so
me off T
r s lilitt
e erss, in
c ud
ng ou
ur me
a sid
de b
n er
e , att Tay
> with its legendary Martin tone, striking aesthetic features and
onboard intelligence, the Performing Artist Series
will take your body, mind and soul to new heights.

Experience all three great cutaway models on or at your local
authorized Martin dealer. Each specifically
designed to inspire great performances.
Expect excitement!
2010 C. F. Martin & Co.