Monday, December 1, 2008

Best Guitar Gear for 2009 - Educational Tools

It's about time! The Chromatic Watch shown above, gives you the 12 semi-tones of the chromatic scale and intervals in Circles of 4ths and 5ths.

We all need to stay on top of our game and for any musician, this means keeping up with music theory. Reading notation is not necessary to be a good player but I have found that having the ability to read both standard sheet music and tabs gives you a definite edge. If you are even thinking about composing or writing your own songs then you will need to start with music theory.

We have found some really innovative and yes, portable ways of taking your lessons with you for easy transposing and on the spot chord to key changes. The best music education tools are going to be ones that come along for the ride and are there at hand, (or on your wrist), ready to roll. Here are two must haves for your favorite guitarist and musician:

The Chromatic Watch Company Invented by William T. Hankinson, The Chromatic Watch Company produces beautiful quartz watches and clocks with the 12 semitones of the Chromatic scales as shown in the photo here or Circles of 4ths or 5ths. This wall clock is absolutely perfect for a recording studio, practice room or guitar classroom. Musicians and students can just glance at the wall for the time or the all the halfsteps found in an octave. There is an association you will begin to make with seeing or visualizing the semitones of the chromatic scale this way. Soon you will see them in you mind's eye and they will become part of your "chops" as a literate musician. Now who wouldn't want that? These clocks and watches are very well made but have an added bonus. Having a wristwatch with the chromatic scale or even intervals of 4ths or 5ths is a fantastic way to take this information along with you. The numbers have been replaced with major root keys a 4th or 5th apart in clockwise order. Having it handy and visible right on your wrist will make the notes more accessible to you especially if you are at band practice or a jam session and need to have the next interval. This has happened to me at jam sessions when someone has changed the key the song is being played in. You're told the first note and the key it is being played in but where do you go from there?
These watches are truly "golden" for this application. I have the demure, Ladies Quartz Circle of 5ths as shown in the middle photo on the right. It not only looks great but gives me my intervals of 5ths right there on my wrist. Genuine black leather strap. Needless to say it is what I choose to wear for any musician get-togethers or jams. These make a fantastic gift for any guitar player or musician on your list. MSRP is $39.99. Check out all of the fine timepieces by The Chromatic Watch Company online their banner ad on this page or at:

The Guitar Wheel
Wouldn't you like to ditch all those manuals and music books but still take along a library worth of guitar and music transposition information? Well, it can be done. All that you need is the Guitar Wheel. Invented with some heavenly inspiration by Dennis Cheatham, the Guitar Wheel is a serious educational tool for musicians. You won't believe how much information is found on the Guitar Wheel but even more amazing is the fact that when you flip it over, it gives you a whole world of Music Theory too!
The Guitar Wheel is very thin and easily goes where you go. To a concert, jam or guitar class, it is the on tool you will find indispensable for:

Chord Inversions for alternate chord fingerings
Enharmonic Equivalents
Comparing Scales such as Major, Minor, Pentatonic & Blues Scales
Determining Concert Pitch
Finding Minor 7th Chords
Finding Dominant 7th Chords

The Music Theory on the flip side of the Guitar Wheel offers even more with a piano keyboard & staff, concert pitch, intervals and transposing abilities built right in. If you are serious about advancing your composing and song writing skills to the next level, I highly recommend the Guitar Wheel. It is used in many guitar classes across the country with children as young as eight. The Guitar Wheel is configured like a curved guitar neck complete with numbered strings and frets, therefore making it easy to visualize how the chording or fingering works. Understanding that most musicians don't play in a vacuum, the Music Theory side of the wheel brings in keyboard access with major & minor scales, pentatonic scales, blues scales, degrees and eharmonic equivalents. The Music Wheel can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. All the same, it is an educational tool that will grow with you as you go deeper into music theory. This is important especially when you are spending about $15.00 for Book One then after out-growing the material, having to purchase Book Two. The Guitar Wheel is made of tough plastic, not cardboard and I figure if eight year olds can't destroy it, well, it should hold up for you! The MSRP is only $24.95 and the wheel comes with an instructional DVD highlighting its uses. Visit Music Master Publishing and the Guitar Wheel online via their Guitar Wheel, banner ad in the left hand column of this page or order it online at by clicking the link here: Guitar Wheel on

"Jingle all the way...." We're keepin' it real by giving you the best gifts for guitarists and musicians. Keep checking back as we countdown till Christmas with the Best Guitar Gear for 2009!

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