Help for beginners

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Re: Help for beginners

Postby cgprnd » Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:38 pm

Roger, you shouldn't get into any trouble saying what you did. I know exactly what you mean and anchoring the pinkie seems to be necessary for stability for many of us, including our heroes. However, I've noticed the improvement in certain things I play when I don't. I studied you closely at CAAS in 2009 and noticed that any anchoring you did was with the edge of your hand, which is probably best, if one can limit it to that. You have an incredible amount of control with your right hand. Holding it the way you do allows each picking finger a basically equal distance to travel to the string, as opposed to holding the hand diagonally and varying those distances. Keeping all fingers free of anchoring is also necessary for the tremolo technique, which I heard in your "Carol of the Bells". I can see the virtues of not anchoring and I'd love to be able to avoid it as much as possible. I just have trouble with my hand "out in space" and expecting it to remain in control, but I know that for you and others with great technique, that it's possible and preferable.

I believe that Tommy Emmanuel is an example of someone who has put in so much time playing the way he does that he can compensate for any technique we may consider not to be ideal. I envy people like you who got off on the right foot in your technique and have been able to build upon a solid and correct foundation.

You asked about others who don't anchor their pinkie? I believe that Richard Smith qualifies, at least for most of what I've seen him play.

Rande
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Re: Help for beginners

Postby Roger Hardin » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:28 pm

Rande wrote:
I can see the virtues of not anchoring and I'd love to be able to avoid it as much as possible. I just have trouble with my hand "out in space" and expecting it to remain in control

Rande, I can see the hand "out in space" reason and that does make sense. I don't see technique as being correct or incorrect but to me anchoring seems to limit the use of your rh fingers. But it does provide a base if you are uncomfortable of having your right hand "out in space"

Rande wrote:
Roger, you shouldn't get into any trouble saying what you did

I am Just trying to avoid a breach of etiquette in this thread. You ever been to Muhlenberg County with a straight pick? That thumbpick mafia is watching us and they play for keeps. I hear if you become a "made guitarman" they will show you "the secret chord" (but you will have to take it to your grave). Don't get caught in public playing "the secret chord."

All seriousness aside I wish I could have had youtube back when I was learning. I know its not good for teachers and publications in general but for a student it could not be any better. You can pretty much find a "how to " video on youtube for anything you want to learn from a song, photoshop or if you want to change the power-steering pump in your vehicle. I would like to see more guitar-books in a commercial electronic format like kindle.

thanks
roger
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Re: Help for beginners

Postby cgprnd » Thu Sep 09, 2010 11:02 am

Roger, I agree with you about YouTube and visual aids. I remember the very first time I watched Tommy Jones up close, and I mean in my living room sitting 3 feet away from him. He played his version of "Orange Blossom Special". It was at a blazing speed and I wasn't aware of a lot of his technique at that point. He sounded flawless but I was flabberghasted and clueless as to how he did what I was hearing and I was looking right at him! When he finished I confessed that I couldn't learn much just by watching him. His response was "I learn a lot by watching!"

After some very specific questions on my part he unfolded enough for me that my watching experience was never the same again. He was so complex that it made it easier for me to watch just about anyone and learn something from what I see. The part that he, nor anyone else for that matter, can't really communicate visually is their choice of harmony and note combinations in their arrangements. I consider that to be from within. I believe that I already have that part but I have a long way to go with technique. Visual aids are certainly a plus.

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Re: Help for beginners

Postby Bryan B. » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:07 pm

Sorry for the confusion guys...

The style of playing that Tommy Emmauel teaches in his book "Fingerstyle Guitar Method" is alternating thumb bass as Chet plays it.

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Re: Help for beginners

Postby cgprnd » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:49 pm

Bryan, I'll agree about the "alternating thumb bass" but not the part about "as Chet plays it". But then if you are only talking about the fact that they both do it and nothing about HOW they do it, then we both agree.

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Re: Help for beginners

Postby Gary Smith » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:09 am

I think this all boils down to technique. Every picker has a unique sound of his own, we all do. We can try to sound like some one else, but in the end, its our thumb and fingering that make us all different.
Thats why, even the best can only sound close to Chet. Just my old timer observations.
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Re: Help for beginners

Postby cgprnd » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:58 am

Yes Gary, it all comes down to technique. I was just saying that Tommy isn't a good example of someone to watch
to learn how to play like Chet unless all you want to learn is how to alternate your thumb for the bass.

Beyond that, some techniques are better than others for each individual. I consider some techniques to be "absolutes"
for improved overall performance and others to be a matter of preference.

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Re: Help for beginners

Postby Randy Finney » Fri Sep 10, 2010 12:53 pm

You nailed it, Gary.

What made Chet, Chet, more than anything else, was his touch. Indeed, this is what makes any player sound like themselves.

Due to my role as a promoter of guitar concerts, I get piles of CDs in the mail from players wanting to come to Toronto. The single most important consideration in whether or not I decide to bring them is really how much attention I hear them giving to their touch.

There is no shortage of players who can play complex combinations of note sequences. What these guys play makes for mildly amusing YouTube videos but has very little value in a concert context. Audiences, especially non-guitar playing audience members, simple do not want to listen to 100 minutes with a focus on complex note sequences. And I am not just referring to playing quickly. I am also referring to the tendency of some players to transcribe the multiple parts of Pop tunes and play them simultaneously. This may be a worthwhile technique building exercise to work on in your basement but, it is not concert material.

Sometimes players ask me why I won't promote concerts for them and I am very honest about it. I tell them that when I listen to them play I can't over the fact that they are playing a guitar. You need to make me forget that I am listening to a guitar player. Your playing needs to draw me into a "vibrational space" that is irrelevant to the instrument you are playing. Otherwise, I may be able to get 30 or 40 other guitar players out to your concert but, I won't be able to get 150 general music fans.

People don't come to hear you because of "what you can play on the guitar", they come to hear you because you tell them "who you are when you play the guitar".

Not to paint all young players with the same brush, but, it is a very common deficiency among young players that they seem to pay very little attention to this. It may be that they just spent so much time watching videos and reading TAB, that they become preoccupied with "getting the notes". I also think that the fact that most young people listen to music as mp3, or other lossy files, that they are not developing a refined sense of a nuanced touch because they are not hearing it - as it just isn't there. One more thing is that I think their listening is very narrowly focused. That they are listening to Jerry, Chet, and Tommy is obvious in their playing but, what I am not hearing in their playing is that they are also listening to Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Yo Yo Ma, Chet Baker, Johnny Hodges, and 100's of other musicians that they can, and should, be learning from.

I can hear in Chet's playing that he was very well listened to a broad cross-section of music. I know Tommy does - both because it is in his playing and I have spent many hours traveling with him doing just this.

At any rate, very few guitar players rival Chet's understanding of having complete control of a nuanced touch - John WIlliams comes immediately to mind - and I think a beginning player needs to be made very aware of the importance of this from the very beginning of their studies, and not become preoccupied with note sequencing.

The way to teach/learn awareness of it is to choose short - 4 to 8 bars maximum - passages which require relatively unchallenging lefthand technique. Then, as part of a daily routine, play this simple passage over and over and - without changing the notes, the rhythm, or the tempo - shape it differently each time by manipulating your righthand touch. For example, the first 8 bars of Carcassi's Etude No. 3 works well. You can practice exaggerating the melody, then the bass, then the accompaniment, and then a whole myriad of combinations bringing out different parts at different times to create a vast array of non-ear fatiguing listening interest.

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Re: Help for beginners

Postby Richard Hudson » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:34 pm

Very wise words. In a concert setting, the audience came to be entertained. Chet had that unique ability to entertain the general audience and at the same time do mind boggling things to impress the guitar players. Most of us don't have that ability.
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Re: Help for beginners

Postby tyguy » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:50 pm

From taking classical guitar lessons I don't anchor my pinkie but do anchor palm for mute(for thump only).Whatever works for folks,anchor or no anchor.I will say this;due to no anchor I can fly with my right hand fingers and really should be using the thumbpick as a flatpick(no fingers)for fatter tone.It's confusing at times whether to use the pick or the fingers as my speeds not much different with either.It's like Paul said a while back,you have to pick a technique and stick to it.Too late for me as I'm jack of all trades and master of none.I really want to play with no pick at all just fingers and thumb but hard to get thump that way when playing Chet style which I enjoy.Playing with a pick(plectrum,excuse me)only is like walking around on one leg even though the other one is fine.You gotz fingers use 'em. God Bless,Ty M.
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