Friday, September 19, 2008


Well, I know this is a blog made strictly about guitars (well, guitars and all things music), but I was given a Mandolin over the weekend. It is an 8 string Ovation Acoustic/Electric and a gift from my dad. My mandolin knowledge is limited, in fact it is an entirely foreign instrument to me.

The action is terrible, so I'm not sure if that can be adjusted, and I haven't even figured out the standard tuning. On top of that, I don't know many songs that feature the mandolin, but I do know that the mandolin is a cool instrument.

Ok, so a quick wiki search reveals the standard tuning as GDAE. Simple enough. And obviously the mandolin is in the lute family of instruments, so the transition should be quite simple. I'm not much of a bluegrass fan, but there are plenty of modern artists in more mainstream forms of music who have incorporated the mandolin into their music.

I have yet to even attempt to play it (the high action is the speed bump here), but I think a new instrument is in order for me. While I love the guitar, I've been stuck on a plateau for a long time now, and I'm feeling very uninspired. Maybe the mandolin will be a nice diversion while I reach the next plateau.

If anyone has any experience with the mandolin, please feel free to give out your advice.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Some Guitar Heroes

I know it is cliche these days to mention who our favorite guitar players are. Especially when considering the wildly popular video game with the fake guitar. True, but as a guitar player, who has been listening to guitarists for longer then I've played, I have a few guitarists that I fondly admire. Some of them are well known and highly influential to most modern guitarists, and others are largely unknown yet hold a strong amount of respect for those who know them.

To start, I will begin with the lead guitarist of King's X, Ty Tabor. I first heard his band when I was about 10 years old. I received a gift certificate to Strawberry's Music Store and my uncle guided me to listen to King's X. Gretchen Goes to Nebraska was the first album I purchased of theirs, and to be honest, I didn't like it at first. It took a few listens, but it definitely grew on me. Summerland is a tune that is forever ingrained in my mind. I still hum the intro from time-to-time and find myself absently plucking it on my guitars when relaxing.

Tabor has some strong riff-sense. Meaning, his riffs are unparalleled in the hard rock\blues metal world. He is a master of the blues solos melded with hard rock and those who have found his music will appreciate his inspiring melodies. The man has soul. What can I say, but he has probably been the most influential guitarist for me. He's not always blazing fast, but he is such an accomplished musician, he leaves everyone else frustrated and awe inspired.

So please take a listen at some older King's X material. Faith Hope Love and Gretchen are two favorites of mine.

Now, moving in a somewhat different direction, I'll explain why Dimebag Darrel is another guitar hero of mine. Dime was the lead guitarist of Pantera. We all know his story, and if not, simply search his name, and you'll find his tragic story mentioned thousands of times. I was not a huge Pantera fan, but being into heavy metal as a youth (during the 90s) it was required of my peers to like this band.

He set the tone for modern day metal, and changed the way we think of Texas guitar players (I will eventually detail my respect for Mr. Vaughn). While he was a huge rock star, he seemed to be the most laid back guitarist of the entire 90s metal lot. Namely, the fame did not get to his head as much as it did his peers. I appreciate him for that, and I appreciate his wild sense of creativity. His riffs are copied everyday by mallcore bands around. This is in no way an insult to Darrel. He was in the forefront of modern day metal, and as usual, the artist who is influential and ground breaking will eventually become copied.

It was a sad day when he was shot. He was taken from fans of his music prematurely, but yet, his tone and sounds will continue on.

More to come later...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Power Chords on the Acoustic

Lately I've been enjoying the blissful simplicity of power chords on the acoustic guitar. From playing old Black Sabbath songs to punk riffs, it is all good!

While I enjoy more complex chords, the power chord will always hold a special place in my musical heart. So easy, yet so pointed is the power chord.

Do you find yourself playing songs intended for the electric on your acoustic, and if so, do you remain true to the song, or "acousticize" the song to your liking?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feel the Bass

Bass guitars are an essential instrument for keeping rhythm and simple melody. While I myself have only played a bass guitar on occasion, I appreciate the bass guitarists that I have jammed with.

I think it is a good idea for a serious guitarist to at least play bass lines on the guitar. This helps the player to gain valuable timing skills. When I am trying to learn a song from ear, I usually try to identify the bass guitar. This helps to then find the correct key, beat, and melody. From there, I can then fill in with the proper chords and scales.

What I have noticed throughout the years, is that the bass guitarist is typically the unsung hero of the group. The picture of the bass player with the dark sunglasses, standing towards the back of the stage, calmly plucking his strings is the epitome of laid-back coolness. Of course, there are some obvious exceptions to that stereotype, but by and large, most bass guitarists seem to be the quiet, logical members of the band, if not a bit eccentric.

There have been times when I have been tempted to make the jump and play bass guitar in a band. But lo, I do not feel as if my personality type can fit into that of a bass guitarist. For now, I'll have to be satisfied with the click, thwack, beep, bop of other bass guitarists.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Acoustic Guitars

I've been playing the guitar for years now. My first guitar was a gift to me for my 10th birthday, it was a Harmony folk guitar. I learned some simple melodies and held onto that guitar for years, despite the fact I skipped most of my teens playing the guitar. When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I purchased an old Ibanez and then a brand new Washburn electric guitar. Along with the small gorilla amplifier, I was in business.

For the next few years I continued to play electric guitar as my primary instrument. My wife had a Takamine acoustic which I inherited, but the action was terrible on it. So we bought an acoustic guitar for myself. The Larrivee D-03. This is a beautiful instrument. Since picking up the Larrivee a few years ago, I have shifted from being a mostly electric player, to an acoustic player. I now have my heart and mind set on this certain Breedlove which I had the pleasure to test out a few months ago.

Anyway, the acoustic guitar is an important part of my life. What kind of acoustic guitars do you own and what are your dream guitars?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quick Update

Wow, I really haven't posted here in a long time. Well, that will change. I am still into the guitar and playing. I plan on putting more lessons up and discussions on all things guitar.

I even wonder if I've moved beyond the CAGED method since starting this blog. Yes, there are certain aspects of CAGED that help, especially if one is familiar with the Circle of Fifths, but I think Modes are probably the best way to go for the serious guitar theorist.

While I will have the occasional lesson posted here, I think this site will be better served as a site that discusses guitars, hence: TalkGuitars. In fact, I may open this up as a community with multiple posters if it ever grows to that need.

I am solely using my acoustic guitar right now, though I do pick up my electric once in a while so I don't become too rusty.