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Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-22-2017

The other thread on learning guitar inspired me to come up with some ideas. Some of us are just singers, using backing tracks and that is absolutely fine.

Others play musical instruments, already. And some would like to learn. And I thought maybe I could help. Do you have to have lessons? That depends on how you define lessons. We all learn things in life. Some from teachers, some from experience and insight. Some from a combination. Some just figured out by ear. Some of the most famous guitar players did not have lessons, like you and I think of lessons. You know, sitting with a teacher in a practice room or the side room in Brook Mays Music Store, or something like that. So, who learned to play without reading music or taking lessons?

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Johnny Reznik of Goo Goo Dolls. BB King. Billy and BB just heard things and mimicked them. Learned a few patterns and wore them the hell out. Johnny would simply change the tuning on the guitar to something he wanted and then played from there, no idea how to write it as music manuscript and if he wrote tab and you played it in standard tuning, you would be way wrong.

When tablature became popular in the 80s, it was a boon for guitar players. The guy writing it might get close and then you could take it from there.

Guitar is all about patterns. The neat thing about it is that you can play the exact same pitch in more than one place.

So, most guitar players start out with chords. At least, I did. The idea was to play a chord progression so that I could sing a song.

I was always poor growing up. I have lived in government subsidized apartments, at one time. Also, I was first born, so I was supposed to grow up and be an engineer or a preacher. Odd, I know. But one day, shortly before we moved from California to Texas in 1974, I was ten years old and picked up my grandparents' Sears Silvertone classical guitar that only had three strings left on it, sitting in a closet. (My stepgrandfather flirted with the idea of playing but never did anything with it.) I picked it up. I remember laying on my back on their living room floor and fretting strings and playing something that was so familiar to me. The arpeggio of "Who'll Stop the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. So, I knew right then I had an ear for music, for intervals. I had no idea what I was doing but it sounded kind of neat.

So, we move to Texas and my mother gave to me a student acoustic guitar that my father had given to her. He started his college career as a music major at the University of South Dakota. His family was actually from Texas but he mostly grew up there. She had this guitar a long time because they divorced when I was three. Later, I would have three step-fathers but that is another story for another time.

We get to Texas, she gives me the guitar. We don't have money for me to have lessons. All she can afford is a new set of (nylon) strings and Mel Bay's Book of Chords. And I taught myself guitar from that. Just make the patterns in the book. So, if I could find music that listed the chords, that was better. My step-grandfather taught me how to read sheet music. Ths would come in handy, later.

Later, in my teens, I would get a book on lead guitar. And learn the patterns in those, having a particular affections for the blues scale and pentatonic.

And also, in my teens, I cannot remember the argument but basically my brother was upset because I would rather play guitar than play baseball or catch with him. So, he threw the guitar at me and it broke where the neck meets the body. My mother bought some packing tape and we tried to hold it together but the action would continually increase to an unplayable height. I may have been an asshole or uncaring and he certainly showed my by destroying the most important thing I had.

My grandparents had said that if I would get As and Bs on my report card, they would buy me an electric guitar and amplifier. So,first part of senior year in high school, I had 5 As and 1 B. No guitar. I can't remember their exact explanation but they crawfished out of that one. I think that deteriorated my trust in them. My mother, feeling so bad, said it was okay if I spent the money I had earned from household chores and mowing lawns to buy a guitar for myself. We went to this little hole-in-the-wall music store in Richardson, Texas (it closed down probably 35 years ago) in 1982 and I had just enough money to buy a Memphis Les Paul Standard copy guitar (PAF humbucker pickups, flat black with white binding), a Marlboro 132A practice amp (about 10 watts) and an MXR 10-band equalizer pedal. I was in heaven. And the guitar came with a hardshell case.

Later, in college, my college roomate would steal my amp and pedal. I had my guitar with me at a friend's house and that is why I still have it, to this day, though I do not play it any more. Yes, I still have a 1982 Les Paul Copy made by Memphis Guitars.

Anyway, so I need to get on to how I would help someone learn how to play guitar.


RE: Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-23-2017

I don't have some magical new scale or mode to give and you can find any number of sources online to get the basic pattern of chords and finding info that way is going to avoid clutter and a technical difficulty of trying to show that here. What I want to offfer is tidbits of observations, hacks, things I have figured out on my own and found repeated elsewhere, and things I never thought of until someone else hacked it for me. That term, hack. Weird how a term for thievery became a term for solutions. When I was younger, we called it a MacGuyver, after the original show starring Richard Dean Anderson. This led to an inside joke on an episode of Stargate:SG1. The lieutenant looks at a portal and sees it was modified. Turning to the colonel, played by Richard, she says, "it looks like they macguyvered it, sir." But I digress.

I want to point out that there is more than one way to play a chord. And to hopefully simplify some terms you may encounter in guitar studies. A chord is usually 2 or 3 notes. A chord with two notes is called a modal chord and it is usually the I and V. I is one, like the roman numeral. Though we can use the Nashville number system and use numericals. So, a modal is 1 and 5. It is often the "power chord" in types of heavy metal. But a full chord is 1, 3, 5. 1 is the first note of the key of the song. Or the actual chord, in this case. So, for example, the C major chord is C, E, G. The interval between C and E is called a major third. If you move E down 1/2 step to Eb, that is a minor third and you now have a Cm (c minor) chord. And you can play a chord in different forms.

Taking the C chord, you can play the primary or tonic form of C,E,G. You can start it on the E note and play E, C, G. That is called first inversion. You can play it with the G first, G, C, E. That is the second inversion. See how easy that was? And your regular open fret forms and bar chord forms are repeats of of these notes. And you normally only have to drop 1/2 on the 3 to make it minor. E major is E G#, B. Just drop off the finger in the open chord form and it is Em.

And you will find certain chord patterns are popular and used in a number of songs. Like the teen love songs of the 50s and 60s. Usually followed 1, 6m, 4, 5. By the way, that is the Nashville Number system. A number by itself is major chord, a number with lower m is a minor chord. The chorus in "Love Yourself" by Justin Bieber is 6m, 4, 1, for example. Playing open chords, it would be Am, F, C. You can do this in any key on guitar by using a capo at whatever fret you need.

And you will also find that many songs are played live 1/2 step down. That is, the whole band is tuned down 1/2 step, for a few reasons. First, to follow the tuning of the drums, which are acoustic, most times. Secondly, the acoustics of most venues are horrendous for music, even if it is a place that was expected to play a lot of music. Many of the highs will get lost. And, of course, tradition. Black Sabbath was one of the first bands to tune down and that was based on an injury Tony Iommi had received at his regular job. So, there is that. What if you are playing e-drums through a pa or digital amp? You could tune to whatever you want and there is no need to tune down 1/2. They say it is also to save the singer but 1/2 step is not all that much and many a singer re-arranges the song for a live version.

You can take a chord form and play it different frets or locations. This leads into the CAGED sytsem of lead guitar soloing and the 3 notes per string idea (3NPS). You can take a figure from a chord book and re-arrange it so that it is easier for you to play. You can play a chord in a different form if it allows a more easily played changed to another chord. Point being, as long as you have the two or three notes of the chord, how you play them is up to you and there is no wrong or right way. And if someone says there is only one right way, he or she is wrong, pure and simple.


RE: Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-23-2017

I should have started this off by saying that I am left-handed but I play guitar right-handed. And I think that is a misnomer. Most of the work in the right-handed playing is done by the left hand. So, why call it right-handed except for some aluminum foil hat-wearing conspiracy of right handers being insecure and appropriating everything for themselves? That was tongue-in-cheek, by the way. I do advocate some conspiracy theories but that is a whole 'nother thread.

Standard tuning for a guitar built for right-handed playing is that the first string (the skinniest one at the bottom) is A at 440 Hz when played at the 5th fret. And if all you have is a tone generator that puts out an A 440, then tune that and work your way backward. 6th string through the 3rd string are tuned by 5th. You hold the 6th string at fret 5 and tune the 5th string to match, and so on until you get to tuning the 2nd string, the open B. that is tuned by a 4th. Then fret the B string (2nd strong) at fret 5 to tune the 1st string.

This also means that when you are running a scale across the fret board, you need to move the pattern 1 fret on the B string. Modernly, digital tuners are just so inexpensive that I cannot see not using one, whether you get a clamp-on like the one from Snark, or a play-through tuner such as a pedal box, rack mount, or even a Johnson modeler amp that has a tuner already built in. And most guitar modeler boxes like Line 6 and other brands, also include tuner functions in them and they are going to be more accurate than your ear. Sure, it is good to still tune by ear, if you have nothing else at the moment.

The other thing that must be said about playing guitar that may or may not be covered in an instruction guide for beginners is what is called the "set up" of the guitar. It needs to be set up so that it can be tuned properly and that it is playable for you. Again, a digital tuner helps this immensely.

First off, "action." Action is the distance between the strings and the frets at any given point. This achieved by two main factors. The nut, which is the piece at the head stock near the tuning machines where the strings enter the fret board area. Too low and the strings buzz. Too high and it is so difficult to play. So, if you have adjusted other things and it is still not working, think about replacing the nut with another, preferrably either bone or some kind of steel.

Second is the curvature of the guitar neck. This curvature is adjustable, by means of what is called a truss rod. You normally get to it at the head stock. There is either an open hole or a little cover held on by little screws. Remove that cover. The head of the truss rod almost always requires an allen-head tool. Find the right size and always keep it with that guitar. Turn to the right to flatten the neck, turn to the left to loosen and create more curve, which increases the distance or action of strings to frets. Make small adjustments and play some parts you expect to play until you get that sweet zone. Word of advice: if you change the size or gauge of strings that you use, you may need to adjust the truss rod. Putting on larger or fatter strings may require raising the action a teensy bit. And vice versa, putting on smaller strings may allow a flatter neck, which will translate into a guitar that is easier to play for fast parts.

The other factor of action is the bridge, where the strings anchor behind the sound hole on an acoustic or past the pick-ups on an electric. Les Pauls and some hollow-bodies use what is called the Tune-O-Matic bridge. It is a floater in that it is on pegs and the height of the bridge can be raised and lowered. Others, like my Flying V, have a decked plate (my guitar has no tremolo bar.) From the days of bridge plates anchored flat on the wood (decked) and having three raised sides, it resembled an ash tray and that became the favored name, the "ash tray" bridge. These are not adjustable in height.

Next is what is called intonation. This is the distance on a string between the nut and the saddle at the bridge where the string passes over. It will be different at each string with the lower frequency strings requiring more distance than the higher frequency strings. What I like about my Flying V and what I suggest you look for in a guitar is a separate adjustable saddle for each string. There is a little screw on the back of the saddle that lets you move it closer to the back or closer to the neck, depending on which way you turn it. How do you know when it is right? Used to be you had to listen to it but digital tuners get rid of the guesswork. Lets go with the low E, the fat string. Tune open until the tuner shows E. Press at fret 12, which is one whole octave, on the same string. The tuner should show E, again. If it is flat, like E flat, then you need to increase the distance by turning that saddle screw to the left to increase length. If the E at 12 is sharp, like F, then screw to the right, to shorten the length. Do this on every string. Visually, you should see each successive saddle closer to the neck. At the G string, you start over again.

After your action and intonation is set the way it needs to be, you can finish by lowering or raising pick-up height on an electric guitar. Depending on how you play. If you create up and down strokes on the strings that goes toward the pick-ups, you may want to keep some distance. Otherwise, if you pick and stroke laterally, you can bring the pick-ups closer for a strong sound.

Caring for your guitar is relatively easily. Buy a dusting cloth at the grocery store. Give your guitar a swipe once a week. That's it, just keeping the dust off. Get a small can of compressed air and blow around the trim pots (volume and tone knobs) and around the pick-ups. If you have to change strings, that is good time to clean the fret board. How? Wipe with a cloth dampened with water, dry with a microfiber cloth. Do NOT put oil on the fret board. Most will absorb too much and makes it too slippery and changes the sound. Wood needs to have a stable moisture content to sound right. Other fretboards already have a veneer or lacquer on them and the oil is useless and you only need a damp cloth. You can get rid of string gunk on the frets by taking a pencil eraser to those. Now, if the frets had developed grooves in them, you have the choice of filing and re-crowning the frets or replacing them. There are all kinds of tutorials for that on youtube. It is easier to watch than for me to explain in words.

Once every few years, I apply a coat of regular furniture polish to my Flying V. Keeps it shiny. The access on the back for the pots is a piece of plastic that was some odd color, no doubt cut to replace the original that may have gone somewhere. so, I bought a little bottle of black and little bottle of brown acrylic paint and hand-painted to match the grain of the top veneer, which is maple flame top stained with tobacco color and fade to black at the binding. First time I tried it and it visually blends in, like it was done at the factory. Luck of the irish, I suppose.

You can make trim pots last longer by blowing air or sometimes graphite into the little hole at the base of the pot, from the access cavity. You can also replace them. Get 500k pots, this works for just about every guitar. And capacitors are usually 47 microfarad (mF). You don't have to be an electronics expert, just draw or snap a pic on your phone of how it was in there and put the new one exactly like the old one was. There are also companies that sell complete electronic kits of pick ups and pots together with simple directions of what connects to where. In fact, if you want, snap pics of your guitar and what is on there now and what you want to put in it and send it to a company and they can match that for you. For example, my guitar has humbuckers, 3 way switch, volume and tone for neck pick up and volume tone for bridge pick up. The switch selects bridge pick up, neck pick up, and a combo of the two and I like it that way. So, I could send pics and request for what is basically a Gibson Flying humbucker set up, even though my guitar was made by Hondo. They had built it just like a Gibson. The body is made, I think, of plywood. I will get into that later. But basically, what is the difference between my guitar and a Gibson, other than several thousand dollars and a name inlay on the head stock? Wood is wood, electronics is electronics. My Flying V is at least 30 years old and still plays great. And I bought it in 1990 at a pawn shop for $70. That might be $100 these days. In the end, disregard the name and see how it plays. Does it play easily for you and sound good? Then it is good.

One other thing to deal with action of strings and longetivity of the guitar. You will have a choice of set neck, neck through, and bolt-on neck. Neck through is one long piece of wood from head stock to back of guitar and the body is carved around it or added to it. Set neck is a separate neck that is permanently attached to the body with glue and then varnished over for a seamless appearance. Neck through cannot be fixed. If the neck goes bad, it is trash. Set neck, nearly the same problem. Bolt on neck is the easiest to fix or replace. You literally can remove the neck from the body and re-shape it or replace it entirely. If you buy a replacement neck, make sure they give you shims. Shims are flat pieces that you can place between the butt of the neck and the guitar to increase or decrease the clearance of the fret board above the guitar, and therefore, above the pick ups. Given a choice, get a guitar with a bolt on neck.

The only time the species of wood (maple, alder, ash, and so on) matters is with acoustic guitars. There is a lot of air and the wood flexes and "resonates" with whatever the strings are doing.

For a solid body electric guitar, the species of wood does not matter. What matters in an electric is the pick-ups and the amplifier. And how the guitarist plays. You can go on stage with Steve Vai at a show. He can take the guitar off from his shoulders and put it on you, leaving everything set up just the way he was just playing. And you play. And it will sound different because you are a different person. But there is no conclusive evidence that one species of wood resonates better than another for an electric guitar solid body. I could go into physics and some heavy math but suffice it to say that the tone of the strings depends on the strings, the solidity of the nut and bridge, pick-ups, amplifier. And nothing else. So, whether your guitar body is made of alder or plywood does not matter. Plywood can be just as hard as other woods and has to be in order to comply with structural requirements in construction. What is the advantage? Plywood is lighter and cheaper to buy. Why? because a factory making plywood does not have to go to a forest. People bring them wood pieces all the time and they can fab everything in one plant, which reduces operating costs. Lumber companies can make money selling wood parts and the plywood maker is able to make it cheaply because it is still cheaper than harvesting in a forest and getting that to market. And weight? Wearing my Hondo Flying V on a strap is like wearing air.

One of the heaviest guitars is an authentic Gibson Les Paul, designed by Les Paul. He really liked heavy guitars with high action. Many do not know this but the SG was a variation of the Les Paul standard. But it was thinner, smaller body, narrow neck and way lighter and played much faster. These are the reasons that Angus Young got one. But Les Paul hated that and made them remove his name from the SG line. I don't get it. What was up with that guy? Did everything with guitar have to be a struggle with him? Then, again, some people like doing things the hard way and there is no good reason why.

So, you find a guitar that plays the way that you want, that you can maintain, and that is affordable to you. You can also build your guitar completely from scratch. Will Gelvin of Will's Easy Guitars has a complete course for 20 dollars and he is a guitar builder with his own brand, Gelvin Guitars.

In fact, a lot of my observations are either informed by or echoed by Will Gelvin and Scott Grove. In fact, I am just a little bit older than Scott Groves and I find his humor and wisdom to be priceless.


RE: Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-23-2017

Amplifiers. Tube or solid state? Depends. Many guitarists swear by having tube amps. Back when amplifiers were first coming out, they only had tubes. And they had problems. Tubes would burn out at the most inconvenient times. And, such as the power amp stage, if one tube burns out, you have to replace all three in that stage. Because tubes age together and if you replace one tube, the others will burn out shortly after. So, having a tube amp can be expensive to maintain. The sound of a tube amp really gains value to the listener when driven past normal operation. The tubes get more than they can handle and lop off highs, creating a warm sound. And speakers also do the same, receiving maximum level and starting to lose highs. So, you really only get to the sweet sound of a tube amp when playing near maximum, which is louder than a lot of rooms can handle.

Solid state just about never fails. No tubes are involved. Just about all my solid state stuff is still working after decades without any replacement of anything. So, I bought the gear once and that was it. With exception of my Les Paul copy and the Marb amp and Equalizer peddle bought new at a store, everything else I have for guitars I bought at pawn shops and flea markets, paying pennies on the dollar. How many watts do you really need? These days, you will usually not need more than 100 watts for any venue. And 100 watts is more than enough for your house. And by watts, I mean rms, root-mean-square. It is a math equation but basically it means the average output which turns out to be somewhere less than peak. So, you see a guitar amp that advertised as 200 watts. Turns out that is peak. That means the amp could produce one single tone at instance of 200 watts before blowing itself out. But that is not the average. Scott Grove's simple math is accurate enough. Half and half. Take the peak wattage and divide by half. Then divide by half again. So, a 200 watt peak averages about 50 watts rms. A more accurate math would be half and 67 percent. Divide peak by half. Then take the result and find 67 percent of it. Such as my Fender 85 combo amp with a 12 inch speaker and 40 lb magnet. The spec is 200 watt peak max. And according to the owner manual I googled and downloaded pdf, it is at 65 watts rms. So, a bit over 50 watts on a good day in a lab.

Trust me, that is plenty loud. In my house, if I go as much as 2 on the volume, the floor boards and cabinets are rattling. That is loud enough for any regular club. And if you play larger venues, your amp is either jacked into a pa system or a mic is in front of it and that mic goes to a pa system. So, you don't need more than 100 watts unless you just like to brag.

You can get mini stacks from Marshall, Orange, and others that build 30 and 50 watt heads all day long and you can jack into 1 or 2 cabinets if you want. And the little practice amps that put out 10 watts are fine and you can also record those with a mic. What kind of mic? Shure sm57. Cheap, indestructible, and used on just about every great guitar recording you ever heard. Average around 100 dollars brand new.

You can get modelers and modeler amps. Johnson makes a solid state amp that is also a modeler. And a footboard to go with it. Word of advice from Scott Groves, buy a brand new MIDI cable to go between. You can get separate modelers. I have a Roland GS-6 rack mount unit but not the foot board. Jack the guitar into that, and then into the amp. With the Fender 85, if I choose power amp in, the Roland acts like a brain and controls the amp, not the onboard dials. I can also just plug into a regular input and then the amp controls are active, again.

There are other brands like Line 6 Pod that have some mixed reviews. See if you can find videos of people reviewing and playing through them to see if you like that. And modelers can be jacked right into your audio interface by means of instrument cable, xlr cable, and MIDI cable. This gets rid of any problems with the room you are in.

Or go back to old school and turn up your amp and put a 57 in front it, slightly aimed toward one side of the speaker, not at the center. If it sounds good, it is good, regardless of brand. And yes, you can make a solid state sound like a tube with emulator functions in most modelers. As well as rolling back tone. Tube amps are notorious for losing highs, which may be what you want.

So, I should actually get back into things about playing guitar. There are a bunch of different modes and they are all based on the major scale. Usually, one step in the scale is different and that gives it a different name. But on guitar, the pattern can actually be simpler. I want you to think of two frets. The average distance between any two notes in a scale or mode. Some have a distance of 1 fret and some have a distance of 3 frets.

There is a blues scale that was favored by Eric Clapton and it earned that nickname. Starting A at the fifth fret on the fat string. On every string, you will start at the fifth fret. What differs is whether you are moving up 1,2, or 3 frets. 3 notes per string is basically saying you will only play a maximum of three notes on a string before you move to the next string. You don't have to have that limit. Some people advocate two-position pattern. Take the Eric Clapton blues pattern and run the pattern from the fifth fret going back to the nut or head stock on the guitar. Basically, you are mirroring. I view the Eric Clapton pattern as two patterns. the E chord pattern and the A chord pattern at the upper end. This a chord pattern at the upper end is also known as the BB Box, named so because it was favored by BB King.

You can learn other modes and my advice is to learn a piece of it. Get good on just 5 notes and solo that over anything. Then add a few more as time goes by. And here is my other secret. You can use that blues pattern on anything. Let us say that the band is playing an E chord. Due the pattern at the 5th fret in A, difference being, you can rest on where you find an E note in that pattern.

That is it. You don't have to learn all the note names or memorize a bunch of scales and patterns, unless you just like to do so. Remember two frets, land on the tonic or starter note of the chord. Do this in keys that are harmonic to what the music is.

Lastly, the CAGED system. This is based on the chord forms of C, A, G, E, D, as played in open string form. You can take a chord and arpeggiate it or play separate notes from it for a solo. You can also include transition notes by playing a fret or two above or below each standard note in the chord. There are books that go way more complicated, trying to show all the possible patterns and giving each a name. I say, keep it simple. Root yourself in the chord and vary it from there. When all else fails, think two frets.

I have seen and read others who find the CAGED system bulky and difficult to manage, claiming it has too many patterns to memorize. And they end up providing pages of their own patterns and names to memorize. Are they not understanding the meaning of the phrase, to simplify? Anyway, do what I do, and you can solo over anything. On the spot, completely improvised. You can also build specific solos based on the melody of the song or the arpeggiated chord form, ala CAGED.


RE: Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-29-2017

Guitar pick or finger picking? Depends on what you want to do. If finger picking just start with two, such as the thumb and forefinger. Add more fingers as you get more comfortable.

A pick? Sometimes you want to play down stroke all the time. Other times, you may want to pick down and up on the same string or across a number of strings. This is called alternate picking, often used when you want a separate pick attack on each note.

You can also do hammer ons and pull offs with one hand on the same string. This is called economy picking where you strike the string once and play the next note or two with hammer on or pull off.

And what if you do economy picking on one string and move to the next string and do it again? That is called sweep picking. How do you get fast? By starting slow. Playing slow allows you to memorize the pattern and coordination. Speed will automatically come along, later. There is no magic trick to getting fast. You just start slow with the pattern and the technique and get it down rock solid. Later, one day, you will be playing it and just feel faster and before you know it, you are blazing. Some scales may fit your hand and style than others. Yngwie Malmsteen is almost always sweeping in phrygian mode, for example. I often get heavy metal ideas in locrian. In fact, I once wrote a heavy metal instrumental that I pompously entitled, "Locrian Gigue in E." And this gets into stepping out of the limits of 3NPS. You can make a whole solo bit on one string, if you wish.

Which leads me to speed picking. Speed picking is easier to learn on single string work. Don't start out trying to speed pick across the fretboard and really, a lot of time, you will combine speed picking and economy picking.

Here is the secret to speed picking. As mentioned, I have played guitar since October 1974. But it was a few years ago when I saw a youtube vid from a guy half of my age and the video was "what they did not tell you about speed picking."

Different players do different things and if you concentrate on those things, you will miss the goal. For example, when Eddie Van Halen speed picks, it is usually on the first string and his whole hand flaps and his forearm oscillates. Others swing their hand back and forth or try to move the whole arm, which may work for them and their music. But here is what the real concentration should be focused upon. Speed picking involves the least amount of travel of the pick across the string. So, when you are practicing speed picking, don't think about how your arm or hand are doing things. Think soley about decreasing the travel time and distance of the pick across the string. Your hand may rotate or not rotate. Your elbow may go toward or away from the guitar. That does not matter. What matters is decreasing travel time and travel distance of the pick across the string. That is genius.

Two-handed or tapping technique. This can be done on any guitar but it sounds best on electric with some significant compressor and even some distortion going on. The compressor tends to give equal volume to picked and hammered and pulled notes. It is literally using your strumming hand to hammer on to and pull off of strings just like you did with the fretting hand in economy picking. Eddie Van Halen was not the first to do this. But he innovated its use in heavy metal and popular music in a way not done before by others. Others had done so in making the guitar sound like a piano and he used it for soloing.

You can do a combo of picking and two-hand. What I do is pick a long note, then tuck the pick between middle finger and the upper palm of my hand, which leaves the index finger free to tap and pull. If you want to tap with more than one finger on your picking hand, then setting the pick down on a long note where you can get to it later is the best.

Some more about guitar and gear set-up. Another innovation by Eddie Van Halen then became the new idea for many a guitar. His old signature guitar, Frankenstein, now has a patent and is a trade secret. And he had a limited production with Fender because part of the spec was having a 1976 US quarter glued to the body and there were only so many left in circulation by the time that run was being built. So, each one sells for about $23,000. You might play it once, just to say that you did, don't change anything on it or you ruin the resale and collector value. Then you place it in a glass display case and never touch it again. Instead, change things on your 100 dollar guitar you bought at a pawn shop.

What did Eddie do? Well, he liked and preferred Fender Stratocaster and that is basically what Frankenstein is. Up until then and to this day in authentic and copy runs, Strats are single coil pick ups. This creates a tinny sound and they have hum and buzz from the 60 cycle power we have in the US. Back in the early 50s, an engineer for Gibson guitars was trying to get rid of the 60 Hz hum. So, he decided to wire two singles in opposing bias next to each other so that each one's electromagnetic field canceled out the interference of the other. This was the first "humbucker" pick-up, named because it got rid of or "bucked" away the irritating hum. And became instantly popular in the Gibson Explorer and Flying V. It also became popular in the Telecaster, though plenty of Tele's were built with single coil.

What Eddie did was, in essence, took a humbucker and potted it (encased the windings in wax compound) and put it in his Fender Strat. This also changed the power output of the guitar. 1 pick up has a certain power output. Let's call it 1 watt, for simplicity, without actually looking up the wattage, just now. If you add another pick up to it, whether in series (one leads into another) or parallel (both are operating as separate branches of the same circuit, such as a humbucker) power is always additive in a circuit. Power (total) equals power 1 plus power 2. So, a humbucker puts out 2 watts in our sample math. This changes what the amp needs to do and what the sound will be like. Humbuckers are both louder and "quieter" in the sense that you do not have the hiss and hum of interference from 60 Hz hum. So, if you still want a strat sound, best to adjust eq. Humbuckers have a "fat" sound and singles have a "skinny" or "buzzy" sound.

And you can change things. Some guitars have the selector switch set up so that you can switch to single coil. This is called "coil split" in a humbucker wired to do this.

You could choose different pot values and capacitor values and again, some aftermarket manufacturers will have different set-ups you can buy, depending on what you want to do.

Eddie's Frankestein had a bolt on neck. And he changed necks a few times on that guitar. The idea was to have a neck with the right feel and size and have the right action for the kind of playing he wanted to play. So, you can do that, too, to make your guitar play easier for you. So, you when do the different things I have talked about, your guitar is helping you instead of fighting you. Basically, if you are trying tapping and things are not going well, think about changing the set up on the guitar so that it does work for you.

You could build your own guitar from parts and pieces. Eddie's Frankenstein was built from bodies and necks that were in the trash bin because of maybe a flaw, such as a knot in the wood that was not the look the builder wanted. Essentially mix and match what you want.

Strings. How do you want to play? A lot string bends, or fast playing, go lighter gauge. My favorite story about this is from Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. He used to play heavy strings, like 10s. Until he did a show with BB King when they literally traded and played each others' guitar. And King asked, "why do you want to work so hard?" Billy had thought that you needed heavy gauge strings to have a heavy blues sound and King played lighter strings. King told him that heavy is in your fingers and style, not the strings. So, Billy switched to lighter gauge and there is a set named after him. Many times, from the factory, it will have thick strings, 9's or bigger, so that they stay in tune from shipping and demos. If you buy a new guitar, see if the shop, if they have a guy that knows what he is doing, put on a set that you like and set up the intonation and action for you. Especially if you are spend a few thousand dollars. If you are just spending a few hundred, don't waste their time. And the stuff I have talked about in guitar maintenance and set, you can do for yourself instead of spending another 50 to 100 dollars at some guitar shop. Like truss rod, intonation, etcetera.

But if I was to recommend electronics, I would say to stick with 500k pots and 47 uF capacitors and humbuckers if your pick up cavities in the guitar allow it.


RE: Redneck Guitar - poochypooch - 07-29-2017

(07-29-2017, 03:39 PM)ronws Wrote: Guitar pick or finger picking? Depends on what you want to do. If finger picking just start with two, such as the thumb and forefinger. Add more fingers as you get more comfortable.

A pick? Sometimes you want to play down stroke all the time. Other times, you may want to pick down and up on the same string or across a number of strings. This is called alternate picking, often used when you want a separate pick attack on each note.

You can also do hammer ons and pull offs with one hand on the same string. This is called economy picking where you strike the string once and play the next note or two with hammer on or pull off.

And what if you do economy picking on one string and move to the next string and do it again? That is called sweep picking. How do you get fast? By starting slow. Playing slow allows you to memorize the pattern and coordination. Speed will automatically come along, later. There is no magic trick to getting fast. You just start slow with the pattern and the technique and get it down rock solid. Later, one day, you will be playing it and just feel faster and before you know it, you are blazing. Some scales may fit your hand and style than others. Yngwie Malmsteen is almost always sweeping in phrygian mode, for example. I often get heavy metal ideas in locrian. In fact, I once wrote a heavy metal instrumental that I pompously entitled, "Locrian Gigue in E." And this gets into stepping out of the limits of 3NPS. You can make a whole solo bit on one string, if you wish.

Which leads me to speed picking. Speed picking is easier to learn on single string work. Don't start out trying to speed pick across the fretboard and really, a lot of time, you will combine speed picking and economy picking.

Here is the secret to speed picking. As mentioned, I have played guitar since October 1974. But it was a few years ago when I saw a youtube vid from a guy half of my age and the video was "what they did not tell you about speed picking."

Different players do different things and if you concentrate on those things, you will miss the goal. For example, when Eddie Van Halen speed picks, it is usually on the first string and his whole hand flaps and his forearm oscillates. Others swing their hand back and forth or try to move the whole arm, which may work for them and their music. But here is what the real concentration should be focused upon. Speed picking involves the least amount of travel of the pick across the string. So, when you are practicing speed picking, don't think about how your arm or hand are doing things. Think soley about decreasing the travel time and distance of the pick across the string. Your hand may rotate or not rotate. Your elbow may go toward or away from the guitar. That does not matter. What matters is decreasing travel time and travel distance of the pick across the string. That is genius.

Two-handed or tapping technique. This can be done on any guitar but it sounds best on electric with some significant compressor and even some distortion going on. The compressor tends to give equal volume to picked and hammered and pulled notes. It is literally using your strumming hand to hammer on to and pull off of strings just like you did with the fretting hand in economy picking. Eddie Van Halen was not the first to do this. But he innovated its use in heavy metal and popular music in a way not done before by others. Others had done so in making the guitar sound like a piano and he used it for soloing.

You can do a combo of picking and two-hand. What I do is pick a long note, then tuck the pick between middle finger and the upper palm of my hand, which leaves the index finger free to tap and pull. If you want to tap with more than one finger on your picking hand, then setting the pick down on a long note where you can get to it later is the best.

Some more about guitar and gear set-up. Another innovation by Eddie Van Halen then became the new idea for many a guitar. His old signature guitar, Frankenstein, now has a patent and is a trade secret. And he had a limited production with Fender because part of the spec was having a 1976 US quarter glued to the body and there were only so many left in circulation by the time that run was being built. So, each one sells for about $23,000. You might play it once, just to say that you did, don't change anything on it or you ruin the resale and collector value. Then you place it in a glass display case and never touch it again. Instead, change things on your 100 dollar guitar you bought at a pawn shop.

What did Eddie do? Well, he liked and preferred Fender Stratocaster and that is basically what Frankenstein is. Up until then and to this day in authentic and copy runs, Strats are single coil pick ups. This creates a tinny sound and they have hum and buzz from the 60 cycle power we have in the US. Back in the early 50s, an engineer for Gibson guitars was trying to get rid of the 60 Hz hum. So, he decided to wire two singles in opposing bias next to each other so that each one's electromagnetic field canceled out the interference of the other. This was the first "humbucker" pick-up, named because it got rid of or "bucked" away the irritating hum. And became instantly popular in the Gibson Explorer and Flying V. It also became popular in the Telecaster, though plenty of Tele's were built with single coil.

What Eddie did was, in essence, took a humbucker and potted it (encased the windings in wax compound) and put it in his Fender Strat. This also changed the power output of the guitar. 1 pick up has a certain power output. Let's call it 1 watt, for simplicity, without actually looking up the wattage, just now. If you add another pick up to it, whether in series (one leads into another) or parallel (both are operating as separate branches of the same circuit, such as a humbucker) power is always additive in a circuit. Power (total) equals power 1 plus power 2. So, a humbucker puts out 2 watts in our sample math. This changes what the amp needs to do and what the sound will be like. Humbuckers are both louder and "quieter" in the sense that you do not have the hiss and hum of interference from 60 Hz hum. So, if you still want a strat sound, best to adjust eq. Humbuckers have a "fat" sound and singles have a "skinny" or "buzzy" sound.

And you can change things. Some guitars have the selector switch set up so that you can switch to single coil. This is called "coil split" in a humbucker wired to do this.

You could choose different pot values and capacitor values and again, some aftermarket manufacturers will have different set-ups you can buy, depending on what you want to do.

Eddie's Frankestein had a bolt on neck. And he changed necks a few times on that guitar. The idea was to have a neck with the right feel and size and have the right action for the kind of playing he wanted to play. So, you can do that, too, to make your guitar play easier for you. So, you when do the different things I have talked about, your guitar is helping you instead of fighting you. Basically, if you are trying tapping and things are not going well, think about changing the set up on the guitar so that it does work for you.

You could build your own guitar from parts and pieces. Eddie's Frankenstein was built from bodies and necks that were in the trash bin because of maybe a flaw, such as a knot in the wood that was not the look the builder wanted. Essentially mix and match what you want.

Strings. How do you want to play? A lot string bends, or fast playing, go lighter gauge. My favorite story about this is from Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. He used to play heavy strings, like 10s. Until he did a show with BB King when they literally traded and played each others' guitar. And King asked, "why do you want to work so hard?" Billy had thought that you needed heavy gauge strings to have a heavy blues sound and King played lighter strings. King told him that heavy is in your fingers and style, not the strings. So, Billy switched to lighter gauge and there is a set named after him. Many times, from the factory, it will have thick strings, 9's or bigger, so that they stay in tune from shipping and demos. If you buy a new guitar, see if the shop, if they have a guy that knows what he is doing, put on a set that you like and set up the intonation and action for you. Especially if you are spend a few thousand dollars. If you are just spending a few hundred, don't waste their time. And the stuff I have talked about in guitar maintenance and set, you can do for yourself instead of spending another 50 to 100 dollars at some guitar shop. Like truss rod, intonation, etcetera.

But if I was to recommend electronics, I would say to stick with 500k pots and 47 uF capacitors and humbuckers if your pick up cavities in the guitar allow it.
Cool post Ron. You should join Tristan's discord server to see if you like it. It's less formal than this forum and has a lot of youngun millennials, but you may find you like it.


RE: Redneck Guitar - ronws - 07-29-2017

I have been there a few times and it certanly seems to get more traffic and traction than this forum. Almost as if this forum has become my blog. But I still check in here to get rid of spammers. This house may not get many guests but we can deep the dust and trash out of it.