Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bluegrass Season is Here!

Martin D-16GT with Fishman Ellipse Martix Blend under the saddle pickup and custom pearl inlaid bridge pins. Picks by Strum 'n Comfort. Concho Western Straw Hat by Dorfman-Pacific

Now is the time to get your guitar ready for those warm weather concerts and jam sessions! My Martin D-16 is back from the shop with a set of new phosphor bronze strings, a new pickup battery and custom pearl inlaid bridge pins. I also had some cosmetic work done to the soundboard and the repairs are completely invisible. That's one of the reasons why serious musicians buy C.F. Martin guitars. They make beautiful, high quality guitars and stand behind them. I'm also a member of the Martin Owner's Club. We will be having Owner's Club Day this coming August 1st in Nazareth PA so check out the banner ad to your left for more details.

If you are a little rusty from not playing very much over the winter, the best thing to do is to put a new set of strings on your guitar. This will improve the sound greatly and encourage you to play more. If you haven't already, invest in a good electronic tuner. Being a little off is o.k. when strumming at home but if you get with a group, well, let's just say you'll stand out but not in a good way! I use a BOSS TU-2 which also offers chromatic tunings for my Autoharp. It will also do dropped D tunings and the LED lights are easy to see on a dark stage. The next best thing I can recommend is a DVD that will ease you back into playing at those Bluegrass Jams. Homespun Tapes has a variety of DVD's that will help you do just that. No matter what songs you play, you'll find yourself needing to know how to play backup for other musicians. If someone is soloing on a break, this is the back up rhythm that allows that person to shine.

Basic Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar taught by Steve Kaufman is the DVD I chose because it is very specific to that skill. Steve is the only three time winner of the National Flatpicking Championships but delivers step by step instruction of rhythm guitar and moving bass lines in a non-threating way. You will be playing the way he does very quickly. This is because Kaufman breaks everything down yet tells you it doesn't have to be done his way. Therefore he encourages the player to allow his or her natural musical intuition be the deciding factor. Examples of that are the walking bass lines and keeping up when the going gets fast. This was so well done, I am looking forward to seeing his Lead Guitar Breaks for Bluegrass Songs DVD.
Kaufman's approach is refreshing and liberating. After all, you are supposed to be having fun at these events, right? DVD's like this help to get the essentials under your belt so you can actually have a good time playing with other musicians without concentrating so much on technique. I especially appreciated his exercises for muscle memory so that chord changes are smoother and more accurate. This DVD offers 70 minutes of instruction with Music and Tab enclosed. Retails for $29.95

Coming Up Next......

Guitar Cables! Love 'em, hate 'em but you've got to have them. We'll take a look at some new guitar cables that are on the cutting edge for sound quality and even changing instruments on the fly while performing.

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