Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Planet Waves Mini Headstock Tuner Review

NEW!  Planet Waves Summer NAMM release of their Mini Headstock Tuner

Planet Waves, the ultimate innovator in guitar gear has in fact done it again.  As if it were possible to top their already super small Headstock Tuner, they have topped even that.  Unlike the previous Headstock and Dual Action Capo Tuners, (which are fantastic by the way), the new NS Mini Headstock Tuner actually gives you the note.  This makes it even more complete because now you can see the actual note or key for more sure tuning.  Don't let the tiny size fool you.  Planet Waves makes some of the most accurate guitar tuners on the market.

Planet Waves NEW Mini Headstock Tuner
The new Mini Headstock Tuner still uses the red to green indicator to tell you when "you're there" but it is so small, it can rest nearly unnoticed on your headstock.  No need to remove it!  

UPDATE:  We tested this tuner in the studio on a Martin HD-28 acoustic which is a very loud and powerful guitar.  Martins are known for their booming lows which causes some tuners not to read the low E at all.  This wasn't a problem with this tuner and both the high and low E's were easily detected.  

Once you adjust the clip to the width of the headstock, there is really no need to take it off the instrument.  Just keep in mind that you'll be looking at the underside of the headstock to read it.  Not a problem because the LED lit screen is very bright and clear.  It also automatically turns off after a set time if no signal is detected which will save battery life.  This tuner takes watch batteries but due to its size, you'll see why no other type would fit.

Some musicians prefer to see the actual note they are tuning to which is a plus with this tuner.  Each note that registers is clear and bright with extra lines to tell you if you're going sharp or flat.  Really I would recommend it being kept on the headstock as it is so small, it would be quite easy to leave behind! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great Guitar Gifts for Under $100!

Yes, it's that time of year again. Christmas! Most of these featured items are way below $100 with perhaps just one, (the Audio-Technica Headphones), being a bit more. 
See our Guitar Gifts for Under $100 MUSIC VIDEO HERE!

All the same we've put together some tried and true gear that your favorite guitar player, (could that be you?) or musician would LOVE to see under the tree. Click this link NOW to enter our 2011 Holiday Guitar Gear Give-Away 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guitar Stands: Stands that Deliver

Wooden & metal guitar stands at work in Martin Guitar's Pickin' Parlor

Hercules Guitar Stand's Auto Grip levers with a Dread

While a guitar stand choice is often a personal one, I'd like to think that I'm doing all that I can to protect my investment.  I've been at an outdoor jam and watched in horror as my friend's prized dread accidentally blew off the bench.  I've also seen a beautiful Taylor 800 Series get kicked off the stand and chipped by it's owner during a performance.

As disturbing as these events are, they don't have to happen if you: 1.) Invest in a quality guitar stand  2.) Take it with you where ever you play  3.) Use it religiously

Hercules GS415B
One of the best guitar stands that I've seen has been the Hercules line.  In the photo above it is holding a huge Martin Dreadnought and here to the right it is holding a heavy Fender Stratocaster.  I did not have to change or adjust the headstock yoke.  So what ever guitar I am playing at the time fits immediately into this stand.

Some of the features I like are the automatically releasing headstock levers and padded legs.  The whole stand folds up instantly in seconds, making very portable.

I use it in the studio and when it's time to play out, it goes with me.  A carry bag is available (GSB001) so you can easily pack it on gigs or on tour.  No matter what, when I take a break, my guitar is safe and protected from falling and breakage.  I can really relax!

This is due to the fact that the whole stand itself tilts back on three legs which gives it a very stable base.

Auto Grip System levers open when you lift the guitar, close to hold it securely.  Yoke folds down for easy transport.

Comfort Grip feature quickly adjusts the height of the stand to fit a variety of guitar bodies.

Padded legs tilt back, giving the guitar a more secure resting position.

Guitar Stand & Stool
Another stand that I like is the Stage Player II combination guitar stool and stand.  This will hold both you and your guitar but just not at the same time!

Very comfy padded seat and foot rest.  This packs up like a folding chair and is easy to take along.
In fact I take it with me to most every gig, outdoor and indoor jam.  I bring the Hercules Stand also which means I can offer this stand to someone who forgot theirs.

This guitar stool-stand makes a great gift so you might want to take note of it for yourself or a strumming buddy.  the Guitar Buyer's Guide over at

The Stage Player II is available now from Amazon

Friday, September 30, 2011

Guitar Care: It's the Humidity

Guitar: "It's not the heat, it's the humidity!"

Now that fall is here, (or just about), we have to start thinking about the care & feeding of our acoustics a bit more.  The best place to keep control over temperature & humidity is still the guitar case.  I prefer the molded thermoplastic cases that came with my Martin Guitars and keep a hygrometer / thermometer inside each one.  Gigbags are great but they are porous and will not maintain optimal humidity and temperature conditions very well.  You need to get serious about storing and monitoring your instruments during times of excessive wetness as well as drier days that come with the fall.  PHOTO: Planet Waves Hygrometer

Now I've been guilty in the past of "over-feeding" my Martin acoustics as top guitar technician, Dave Doll can attest.  I was using the older Humidi-Pak by Planet Waves without a monitoring system inside the case.  As I could not tell what the levels were, the guitars became over humidified and difficult to play, (think REALLY high action).  The Humidi-Pak claims to regulate the humidity, adding/subtracting moisture so you stay roughly between 45-55%.  It's been very rainy the past few weeks and I have to say that the humidity in the case only went up to 59% so I'll call that a success. All the same, I think it's a mistake to leave any humidifying gadget inside your guitar or case without periodically checking to see how the guitar's levels are interacting with the environment.

Another way of dealing with low humidity levels is to simply humidify your ambient environment and store your guitars in a climate controlled room or area.  Your recording studio should definitely be under climate control especially for the benefit of your most precious instrument, your voice.  I like to keep at least one guitar out on the stand for easy access so it's great when the whole studio is properly keep at the right moisture level. PHOTO: Air O Swiss Travel Humidifier

The BEST Guitar polish...
I don't like to polish my guitars that often and I've been told to let the wood breathe for a full year on a new guitar.  Part of keeping the wood moisturized is to use a good guitar polish.  Everyone has their favorite mixtures and elixirs but Virtuoso Instrument Cleaner and Polish are some of the best I've ever used.  The most impressive results will come if you clean and polish your guitar before they get embedded with grime and dirt.  Still the Virtuoso cleaner does a very good job of even dealing with poor, neglected instruments.  I like Martin's Polishing Cloths and try to wipe my guitars down after every use.  Since they all have a light coat of Virtuoso Polish at this point, that;a quite easy and those forearm smudges are a thing of the past

The Wrap
Keep in mind that when you buy a new quality acoustic guitar from a reputable dealer, it will be kept in a climate controlled area such as what you see here at Russo's Music Center.  Once the guitar leaves that perfect environment, it begins to dry out.  The sound of that perfectly conditioned guitar is most likely what led you to buy it, right?  You can keep that first spark alive by properly humidifying your instrument at home or in the studio.

This Martin Sustainable Series Guitar is kept in the store at 45-55% humidity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christmas Guitar Gear Give Away!

Levy's Mock Croc Leather Guitar Strap-NEW for 2012!

WINNER...Dustin of Alpharetta, Ga!  Great job Dustin and congratulations from all of us at Eclectic Sound, Levy's Leathers, Martin Guitar and Planet Waves.

CLOSED!  Entry Deadline was Midnight, December 19th, 2011

Christmastime is here!  Eclectic Sound wants to celebrate the reason for the season with this year's Christmas Guitar Gear Give-Away plus our fantastic Video of Gifts for Guitarists.  We have BEAUTIFUL gifts for under your tree, (or maybe a special bandmate?), so check out the goodies this year:


Planet Waves 10 ft Circuit Breaker Cable

Levy's Leathers Gig Bag / Luggage Tags

Levy's Leathers Accessories Pouch

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Have a WINNER - Martin Guitar String Giveaway!

Martin's NEW Lifespan SP Strings treated with Cleartone!

The WINNER of Eclectic Sound's Summer Guitar Gear Giveaway is JOHN M. of New Jersey who wrote:

"That's easy - Playing the guitar on the deck in the summer reminds me of the summer of 1976 (and who doesn't want to remember being 18 again?) when we would haul our band equipment (who doen't wish they held on to that 62 Strat?) onto our drummer's patio a few times a week and practice the entire Peter Frampton Comes Alive album until Mr. Temborelli shouted from his window and threatened to call the police."

John Wins:

1 Set 80/20 Bronze Mediums

1 Set 80/20 Bronze Custom Lights

1 Set .012 Phosphor Bronze Lights

1 Set .012 Bronze Lights

Thanks to all of you who posted your thoughtful entries.  Look for our next Guitar Gear Giveaway at Eclectic Sound!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone, Dylan Hits 70!

Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday celebration TODAY, (May 24th), wouldn't be complete without his music.  Here Highway 61 Revisited does his perennial favorite, Like a Rolling Stone.
Highway 61 Revisited, the world's ONLY Bob Dylan Tribute Band performs this month at BB King's Blues Club in NYC, NY so check the CONCERTS listing at the bottom of the webpage.  Notice: Copyright music and lyrics reproduced by kind permission of Special Rider -- for original, exclusive
performances by Bob Dylan, check-out the official channel at

Joel Gilbert - lead vocals on a Gibson J-50

John JJ Jackson lead guitar Gretsch Arch Top

Monday, May 9, 2011

Home Recording Studio Basics: BOSS BR-1200CD

Studio equipment tips to make your next CD / Mp3 recording project a success!

If you are just starting to think about a home recording studio to make your musical ideas come to life, getting a stand alone portable digital recorder is a good place to start. You'll want a system that will grow with you so don't worry if things like mastering and recording drum and bass tracks are not top priorities right now. They will be more important later so it is best to invest in a recorder that has at least 8 tracks.
I chose the CD burning feature of the BR-1200CD 12 track digital recorder because it allows me complete control over my production from first idea to finished disc. I can also quickly provide producers or venues with a sample CD on demand in minutes. No minimum orders! Of course many pros will simply exchange MP3 files but often times the sound quality will only be as good as the receiving end's laptop or MP3 player.
A CD can travel easily in a car where is when most agents would have the time to listen to it.

Here are some of other features of the BR-1200CD from the BOSS website:
From guitar pick to compact disc, the BR-1200CD can turn your ideas into radio-quality songs with power and ease. Packed with great COSM® effects and amp models derived from BOSS’s GT-6/6B multi-effects processors, plus a great-sounding bass and drum rhythm programmer for instant backing tracks, the BR-1200CD is the friendliest and most comprehensive hard disk recorder on the market.
  • 12-track playback with 192 V-Tracks
  • Fast drum pattern creation with EZ Compose
  • Vocal harmony generator and pitch correction
  • USB port for file sharing with computers
  • CD-R/RW drive
Now if you are someone like myself who has had very little if any experience in digital recording, you'll find the BR-1200CD to be pretty intuitive and easy to use. The microphone and guitar jacks are logically placed in both the front and back of the unit. The only thing is with this model, you can only record two tracks at a time. It really isn't a major problem for me because I prefer to layer or over-dub my tracks anyway. That way if the last set of tracks you recorded doesn't sound right, you can scrap it without killing all of the tracks you've recorded prior.

The BR-1200CD has great built in effects for both vocals and guitar. It will even accommodate a phantom powered mic but you will need to make that adjustment within the system itself. I would seriously consider upgrading to a condenser mic for use with this recorder especially if you are looking for warm clear vocals to stand out in the mix. I've used the Audio Technica ATM710 and AT2021 condensers with this recorder and have been blown away by the presence and richness they offer over dynamics. I can't wait to find out how the new Audio Technica-4081 Ribbon Mic will perform with this unit but I'm eager to experiment. Read our recent Review of the AT-4081!

Just like any other technology, there are nuances and a learning curve in the art of recording. Starting off with quality, all in one solutions means your recording studio will be less "Rube Goldberg-ish" and streamlined to get your projects out the door like a professional. I would also recommend purchasing the BR1200CD Instructional DVD shown in the banner ad section on the left. It can help cut to the chase and quickly get around the recorder. Here is another review featuring the instruments we've recorded with the BR-1200CD!
The BOSS BR-1200CD on the job in the studio along with the BOSS DR-880 Drum & Bass Machine. All in one, stand alone digital recording studios like this means less chance that you will loose your precious music files due to your lap-top crashing. A 40 GB hard drive on the BR-1200CD gives you more than enough room to create, edit and store your music. Retails for $1052.00, Street $899.00, (Sweetwater). Headphones: ATH-M50's by Audio Technica

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Planet Waves Renew String Cleaning System

Planet Waves Renew String Cleaning System can give your strings new life

Some musicians are almost fanatical about changing strings while other prefer to leave them on forever as the enjoy that "dead string" sound.  I suppose I'm somewhere in the middle.  However I'm almost fanatical about washing my hands before I pick up my guitar and wiping them off after I'm done.  I also rotate between four guitars and an Autoharp so my strings generally don't go dead from use but old age. If you scratch the surface of your guitar strings and notice a lot of gunk coming off, or notice black patches of discoloration, well, it's time for a change.

All the same, let's say you get a call to fill in at a gig tonight.  With everything else that you have to do, you're not going to have time to change your guitar strings.  So what's to do?  Even if you had the time to change strings, new ones are going to constantly go out of tune that evening even with stretching them in.  Also sometimes when you change strings, it can throw off your neck adjustment especially if you go from  medium gauge to light.

Well, rather than go through all of that,  you can use Planet Waves Renew String Cleaning System. 
This system is so ridiculously quick & easy that you can
pretty much, clean your strings and pack your guitar up in seconds. It's really a time saver in a pinch or can be part of your regular guitar maintenance program.

You get two cleaning tools with extra replaceable pads and solution.  Simply moisten the pad with the cleaner, loosen your strings and run the tool up and down the fretboard as shown in the lead photo.  It even cleans the string's top and bottom.
That's it!  Re-tighten your strings and tune your're done.  It really does clean your strings from grease, dirt and other debris too small to be seen with the naked eye.  However, you'll hear the difference immediately.

Deadbeat strings sound light and bright again and feel nice and smooth.  Of course you can add Nut Sauce to lubricate parts where the strings come in contact with your guitar, (the nut and the bridge), but the strings themselves will look and sound almost like a fresh set.   I've used this system on both naked and coated guitar strings and it made no difference.  Both types came out ringing clean.

So if you're in a hurry or would just like to keep your strings extra clean between restringing, consider Planet Waves String Renewal System.  It will save you both time and money both of which are often in short supply these days!
PW Renew System Tool

Planet Waves Renew String Cleaning System can be taken along on tour to clean your strings right before a show

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ernie Ball Gig Bag Amp & Touring Gear

Road-ready cases from C.F. Martin, Levy's Leathers & Hercules Stands
Spring is the time to get back on the road if you've been locked up in the studio during the winter months.  Now is the time to assess your flight cases and touring bags for wear.  You might even want to look into some lighter, stronger upgrades to carry your gear.  While touring needs will vary from band to band, for more local venues, most of us find ourselves packing & transporting our own rig.  Your most important gear (read expensive) is often going to be your guitar and mics so we've included ideas for these pieces and more!

NEW! Ernie Ball Gig Bag Amp UPDATE

Ernie Ball's Gig Bag Amp with an iPod
Newly released at this year's NAMM Show, the Ernie Ball Gig Bag Amp pairs a padded guitar bag with Stereo Marshall Amplification.  This could be the perfect space saver when you just want something to practice with on the road without setting up and plugging into a half stack!

Really though, bands often have down time between shows and you can warm up back stage with one of these.  This compact lightweight battery- powered amp features 2 channels with independent gain, tone, and volume controls. On the busking option, it boasts the power to cut through any loud subway tunnel or busy street corner. The plug and play portability and transformable gig bag stand makes this a multi purpose unit. The Marshall Amplifier also features an MP3/IPOD input so you can jam along to any backing track of your choice or listen to your favorite songs through the stereo speakers.
UPDATE: We plugged it in using the Sanyo Pedal Juice to power it up while playing a Fender Strat.  The overdrive channel had the most volume of course but it really was more than adequate for playing backstage.  We plugged in an iPod and were able to jam along with our tracks but the volume was a bit difficult to control.  The iPod drowns out the guitar so you'll really need to to crank up the volume on your axe to play along.  The bag is well padded with roomy pouches and shoulder straps and appears to accommodate most electric, solid body guitars.

Martin Thermoplastic Acoustic Guitar Cases

C.F. Martin 600 Series Thermoplastic Case
Now maybe you've gotten away with a padded gig bag for local jams BUT when you are playing a professional gig, you may not always be handling your own guitar.  If you are flying in, you'll need to invest in a serious flight case.  So what do you do?  Well you could spend about a grand for a high tech Carlton Carbon Fiber Case or get real and invest in a Martin 600 Series Thermoplastic Case for well under $200.  The latter will protect your prized dread with a padded, plush lining plus keep it from suffering drastic temperature changes during traveling.  Not as light as their padded gig bag of course but I've transported my guitar in 90+ degrees and the Martin 600 Series kept it totally cool.

Lightweight, padded Tour Bag by Levy's Leathers

Levy's Leathers Tour Bag

Levy's is mostly famous for their gorgeous guitar straps and leather gig bags but their 600 Denier Tour Bag is also worth a serious look.  Padded in all the right places with two outside pouches and a double zipper for the middle compartment.  Very lightweight, use it to carry your mics, cables, boutique stomp boxes and more.

Levy's Leathers Padded Gig Bag
Levy's Leathers Padded Gig Bag for Electric Guitars

Just based on how they are constructed, solid body electric guitars tend to be a little more forgiving of abuse on tour.  Still, Levy's Leathers padded all leather gig bag is what I pack my Fender Strat in.  Extremely plush and well padded. Heavy duty dual zippers with a small upper & saddlebag pouch, large enough to hold full sized song books and sheet music.  Comes with a black luggage ID tag embossed with the Levy's Logo.  Has backpack straps, a carry handle and front handle all riveted for extra strength. A hardshell case for flying but this bag will get you in and out at your local gigs in style.  Most electrics will fit snugly in this bag with no shifting.
I really can't tell you how many compliments I've gotten on this bag!

Hercules Microphone & Speaker Stand Bag
Hercules Guitar, Microphone & Speaker Stand Bags

These days we only use Hercules Microphone and Guitar Stands in the studio so it would make sense to take this gear with us on the road.  Hercules makes heavy black canvas carry bags for nearly all of their folding stands.  In the photo I have a tubular speaker stand which I use with my Roland SA-300 and Fender Passport 500 PA systems.
This bag has a padded carry strap, inner Velcro braces and expands to accommodate extra wide gear. Really you could almost fit a snowboard in this thing!  The smaller tote is a Hercules Guitar Stand Bag.  Basically a pack and go feature for their EZ Grip Guitar Stands.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bob Dylan Revisits Highway 61 VIDEOS!

We're celebrating Bob's 70th Birthday this May as Highway 61 Revisited performs Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" with breakout solos by Joel Gilbert, (lead vocals, rhythm guitar 1945 Gibson J-50), Scarlet Rivera, (violin) and John "JJ" Jackson, (lead guitar, arch-top Gretsch). Rivera was part of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue Tour and is heard on many of his recordings.  Jackson likewise was an original band member of Dylan's and was part of his Never Ending Tour. Gilbert is a cinematographer (Bob Dylan: World Tours 1966-1974, NR 2004) and expert on Bob Dylan's music and instruments.   This incredible tribute band will be performing at BB King's Blues Club in New York City on May 30, 2011. Click the link here or see listings under "SHOWS" below for tickets.  Visit Highway 61 Revisited website for concert dates and band info'.
Notice: Copyright music and lyrics reproduced by kind permission of Special Rider -- for original, exclusive performances by Bob Dylan, check-out the official channel at Bob Dylan's TV Channel on YouTube

Rico Tabazio - Fender bass!

Gilbert, Dr. M & Peter after the show

Blowin' in the Wind and Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat. Check out Scarlet Rivera's violin solo while cracking up over Dylan's lyrics on Pillbox Hat.  Jackson's cool blues guitar solo at the end is NOT to be missed!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gig Your Rig: Fender Passport Pro 500 Review

Fender's original Passport Deluxe PD-500 PA System

FENDER Passport® Deluxe PD-500
A lot of singer - songwriters have depended on the Fender Passport for small to medium sized gigs.  They really were a step up, allowing you to travel with a compact PA System that easily fits in the backseat of your car.  At about 53 lbs, the Fender Passport Deluxe PD-500  is considered light to have your 8 channel mixer, speakers, mics and cables all included in the weight. They work fairly well for vocals and drum / bass machines.  I still prefer a dedicated tube amp for the guitar but in a pinch you can plug an acoustic right in. Phantom power allows you to use more sensitive condenser mics but the Deluxe PD-500 came with two well made Fender dynamic mics.  Sounds pretty cool, right?

Fender Passport® 500 PRO Replaces the Deluxe PD-500
So when Fender came out with their series "upgrade", the Passport Pro, I was very interested in the next generation's innovations.  One thing is the weight.  The Passport Pro 500 is nearly 9 lbs lighter than the Deluxe PD-500 but there's a partial reason for that.  Fender touts the Passport Pro 500 as the "top of the line" in this series.  We beg to differ.  One issue is that you get LESS by way of accessories and quite a bit so.  The original PD-500 Deluxe came with two very solid Fender dynamic mics, cables, clips and cases.  These essentials are NOT included with the new Passport Pro 500.  So you are going to have to go out and buy mics and cables before you can gig this rig.  That would also bring up the weight!

The New Fender Passport Pro 500 is 9 lbs lighter
Another issue we found with the new Passport is that it only offers reverb in the FX department.  The previous Passport gave you a full array of rather professional plates including Hall, Room, Delay, Reverb and more.  The older Passport also came with high quality Celestion Speakers and heavy duty Speakon Cables.  Fender says the speakers are still made by Celestion.  No go on the Speakon Cables however.  The ones you get now are very thin in comparison and do not lock as the Speakons.

The "redone" Passport Pro 500 has a port that lets you record your performance with CD quality (.wav) straight to a USB flash drive, CD-quality .wav and mp3 file playback.  Passport's are adequate enough for live performances but I don't know too many artists wanting to record with it.  Most musicians just want to get in, set up and play with something that is reliable and rugged.  I've found Passports in general to be just that.  The new Passport has 10" Woofer, 1.2" Horn Loaded Tweeter.  The older Passport Deluxe PD-500 has Two 8" woofers and one titanium compression driver and horn per cabinet PLUS Neo-Precision neodymium speakers designed by Celestion.  Feedback Killer was also installed on the older higher end Passport series.

The Wrap:
As a musician, you have to determine what is really important to you and your audience.  While the new Fender Pro 500 is about $400 cheaper than the previous model, you will still need to purchase mics, cables, etc. before you can take it on the road.  While most musicians use a Passport for vocals, the loss of all but reverb for effects is not a good trade off.  Without multi effects you could end up sounding like you are singing through a PA system.  I'm sorry to see the older Passport Deluxe PD-500 go but was glad to have it repaired rather than replaced with the newer model.  All in all, not a good call on this one, Fender.
Once again "Old School Must Rule" but the old Fender Passport goes the way of the dinosaur.

Monday, March 7, 2011

C.F. Martin's New Cleartone Strings

Dr. M and Martin Craftsman, Dave Doll after restringing her D-16!

One of the things I have appreciated about being a Martin Guitar Owner is the excellent factory set-up all my guitars have received.  In general, most acoustics tend to have a higher action (distance between the strings and fretboard) than electrics.  This has not been a serious problem with my Martin D-16GT or SWDGT even after having them restrung at their Free String Clinics.

These new treated strings are now part of all factory set ups
Not only did I learn a lot about guitar mechanics, but these clinics gave me a chance to try out different Martin Acoustic Strings.  I recently switched from Medium Phosphor Bronze to Lights on my D-16 and was thrilled with the change.  The guitar plays like butter now!

It is worth it to experiment a bit because new strings are like giving your guitar a "voice lift".  Dead strings are just that, DOA.  New to Martin's line of acoustic strings are the Lifespans, treated with Ceartone for longer play.  I am looking forward to trying these out on my HD-28.  These are being installed on all new production Martins this year.  Oftentimes, guitar strings will sit on a wall at the music store and go dead before they can even be played.  Martin hopes to avoid this problem with the use of Cleartone strings which should be a boon to both dealers and their customers.

If you'd like to learn how to properly restring your acoustic, here is Martin Guitar's Restringing Video.
Dave Doll is the Martin Craftsman in the Video who did my D-16GT in the lead photo.  I can say that this is perhaps the best technique out there.  Simple, to the point, Dave shows you some insider tips such as how to keep your strings from slipping out of the posts and effectively seating the end pins with the ball end of the strings. Check it out and you too can get pro results on restringing your acoustic guitar!

C.F. Martin D-16GT

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big Book of Irish Songs

Big Book O Irish Songs from Hal Leonard

This time of year, everyone wants to be a little Irish and if you are playing local pubs and coffee houses, you might want to have a few Gaelic ballads on your set list.  Your audience will appreciate your inclusion of them even if they aren't Irish just based on their beauty alone.

Now while "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" is a lovely sing-along, there is so much more to Celtic music than that.  You would do well to look into the history of many of these songs which oftentimes were written in homage to the wealthy landowners from whom Irish peasants rented.
Playing the Harp & Guitar - Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Therefore many of the songs in this genre are not necessarily love songs as one might think.  More than that they were written out of respect and awe of people occupying a certain station in society. 
Think of how an artist renders his patron in a painting.  Very flattering!  In other words the one who pays the piper calls the tune.  Traditional Irish Folk Songs like Garryowen are used as a Bagpipe March and have patriotic lyrics.
Wake Songs are also another type of Irish music that might be misunderstood.  A parting glass and an Irish Wake was part of the experience of many who would leave Ireland never to return to friends or family.  Needless to say, these are very moving compositions.  Hal Leonard's Big Book of Irish Songs for Piano Vocal & Guitar offers lyrics and guitar chord diagrams in standard notation.  Not all are Folksongs but quite a few are from Tin Pan Alley such as those written by George M. Cohan (Mary's A Grand Old Name & Harrigan) The songs are alphabetically ordered for easy access and the book itself folds quite flat for your music stand or piano.  This is NOT a Fake Book so be prepared for multiple chord changes on the guitar.  Well worth the effort if you want to get the full flavor of each song.

Drum Major leading a band of Pipers playing Garryowen.