Saturday, October 24, 2009

Resources for Learning Scales & Licks

Awhile back, in my weekly ezine, The Flatpick Post Newsletter, I wrote an article entitled, "Scales and Licks: The Building Blocks for Improvisation." (If you don't receive my FREE weekly ezine, why not sign up at the right hand column of this blog?) I described in my article how guitarists who improvise effectively are actually creating new music from"building blocks" they have rehearsed time and time again. In rapid sequence, they place those building blocks where they know they will fit. The building blocks are scales and licks.

Do you want to create great lead breaks and be comfortable improvising in any and every situation? Acquire the building blocks: scales and licks. Get them ingrained so thoroughly in your mind that your fingers know where to go without asking you.

If you would like some great teaching by which you can learn the scales to build great lead guitar solos, here it is! Instructor Craig Bassett's approach, in his instantly downloadable Guitar Scale Mastery, is to permanently tattoo guitar scales into your brain and fingers, while also improving your technique, speed, improvising and musicality. It works! This one is a gem--a real organized and effective system. To check it out:

Click Here for Guitar Scale Mastery!

If you would like to be able to learn any and every lick you hear on a CD, get the RiffMaster Pro so you can play the music that inspires you! This instantly downloadable software lets you take a lick from our favorite musician on any CD, and slow it way down without changing the pitch. Make a loop so you can listen and play to it over and over at any speed! Only $49--It does other neat things too, like transposes licks to the key of your choice--and it comes with hundreds of dollars worth of FREE Bonuses! For all of the details:

Click Here to Learn to Play ANY Riff or Lick!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tracking Your Progress

How can a guitarist objectively track his or her progress in playing skill? There are two proven devices for this:

1. Practice (and test yourself) with a metronome.
2. Record yourself.

Let's consider the metronome. How do you begin to practice with the metronome? Decide which tune you want to practice and adjust the timing of the metronome until its rhythm is at a pace that is much slower than you would ever play the tune. Yes, that's right--much slower! By forcing yourself to play slower you are really getting in touch with what is actually going on in the piece of music you are playing. You are becoming intimate with it. Plus, you are establishing the pattern by which your fingers will learn to obey your brain, and your brain will learn what to tell your fingers to do.

When you are playing your guitar at an abnormally slow pace you will find out that you didn't really know those licks as well as you thought you did. You were fooling yourself. Now, after this humbling experience, and after you have played the tune many times at that painfully slow cadence, kick it up a notch (as Emeril would say!). Set the metronome one step faster and repeatedly play the piece at the new setting. Then take it up another notch. And another. However, never set the metronome at a speed beyond which you can play the whole piece you are practicing cleanly and with perfect timing.

Before you set the speed too high, listen to the notes you are playing within each measure. Consider the context and richness of each note. Experiment by accenting several notes in each phrase. Then play the same phrases and accent different notes. You are setting the stage to express some great dynamics that you had never considered! Gradually, take the metronome to a higher speed. This is where it gets to be fun! You learn to play the whole piece (including the most difficult licks) perfectly at one pace and you reward yourself by graduating to the level. The test of the metronome is completely objective, because a metronome, at any given level, provides an accurate count of beats per minute.

Don't pay a lot of money for a metronome! You can get the instantly downloadable "Ultimate Metronome" for only $19.95 at:

Here is another way to objectively track your playing progress: Record yourself! You don't have to use great recording equipment--any basic pc equipment will do, or even an old portable cassette recorder (remember those?). You're not after a highly polished recording of great audio quality: just a recording by which you can hear the flaws you don't detect when you are playing the song. You will be surprised to find that you have missed notes, your timing has been off and that other kinds of rough spots are evident. Why didn't you recognize those things when you were playing the song? Well, the truth is, you have trained yourself to "hear" the song you're playing in a certain way: a way that so conveniently doesn't include your mistakes! You thought it sounded good when you were playing it because you filtered out some things that will show up on the playback of your recording. When you're not multitasking--that is, you're both paying and trying to listen to the song--but, rather, sitting with your coffee listening to the playback--you'll be much more focused on the listening part and much more objective in your analysis.

Practice with a metronome and record yourself to sharpen your guitar playing skills. You'll be surprised how fast your guitar playing improves!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why Jam with Another Guitarist?

I love to play my guitar in jam sessions with other musicians. Not only is jamming fun, but the benefits of jam sessions are outstanding, especially when a guitarist jams with another guitarist.

What, you might ask, are the benefits you receive from playing your guitar with another guitar player? First and foremost, you will have the opportunity to learn new things from each other. Your fellow guitarist likely knows some songs and licks that you don't know and vice versa.

Then there is the matter of timing. Playing lead while another guitarist plays rhythm will help you to think more about timing and will help you to play your lead guitar breaks at a consistent, even pace. And playing rhythm while another guitarist plays lead will help you to be a stronger rhythm player.

Now I have to tell you, this one friend of mine that I jam with has the tendency, when he is playing back-up, to pick up speed as the song progresses. That's not really the way a song should be played, but it has challenged me to work on becoming a faster flatpicker. It would be similar to playing to a metronome that is automatically programmed to steadily increase from about 170 to 200 beats per minute during a five minute period. As you can imagine, by the end of the song, I'm working pretty hard!

If you sing, jamming with another guitarist who sings is a great way to work out harmony parts. There is nothing quite like two guitarists who compliment one another in both guitar playing and singing.

When you jam with other musicians, don't forget jamming etiquette. Don't hog all the lead breaks for yourself, but alternate them on an equal basis any other participants who play lead. When you play the rhythm back-up make sure you are not playing so loud as to obscure the notes of the person playing the lead break. For example, if you are playing rhythm acoustic guitar while another person plays lead acoustic guitar, remember that when you strike a chord of six strings, unless you use restraint, the chord can easily overpower the single notes of the person picking the lead.

For the guitarist, the benefits of jamming with other musicians, especially other guitarists, are great. Seize every opportunity you can to jam!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Guitar Tutor Pro Guitar Training Package

Professional guitarist Ryan Cameron has recently produced one of the most practical, information-packed guitar instructional courses available. Ryan's Guitar Tutor Pro course includes 3 high quality ebooks, each with photos and professionally transcribed notation, so you will have no problem following along. The course also includes over 400 audio files and over 300 exercises... That's more than 2 times what any other course offers!

Discover how to read both music notation and tablature with the help of The Guitarist's Guide To Reading Music Notation.

Learn all the core guitar playing essentials such as, hammer ons, pull offs, palm muting, string deadening, slides, a variety of bends, and lots more! It's instantly downloadable and only $47.00 and includes a lot of extras--for all of the details:
Click Here!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Rosewood Guild for $949.99!!!!!!!!

I've always loved Guild Guitars. The high strings ring like a bell, and the balance of the typical Guild guitar is near perfect. Here is what may be the ultimate Guild--with solid Sitka spruce top and solid Indian rosewood back, sides and bridge. Ebony fingerboard on mahogany neck, bone nut and saddle. Can you believe you can purchase this guitar for only $949.99? You just don't find a guitar at that price with Indian rosewood sides and back! For more details click on the link below:
Guild GAD-30R Acoustic Design Series Orchestra Antique Burst

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Remembering 9/11/01

The photo above was taken by Bill-Fitz-Patrick, a subscriber to The Flatpick Post Newsletter, and is used by his permission. Bill was an official photographer at the Whitehouse for 15 years during the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. He took this photo of the Pentagon at ground level on September 12, 2001.

It was seven years ago that our nation was brutally attacked by evil terrorists. I remember the shock, the grief, the disbelief--as if it just happened yesterday. Not counting the 19 hijackers, 2,974 people died in the attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed to be dead. More lives were lost in the 9/11 attack than were lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor. I believe this statement hit the nail right on the head:

"America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining."

--President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Think Pendulum!

Do you like to hear lead guitar parts on an acoustic guitar that are kind ambiguous--that is, where the pick dances lightly over the strings, and it is not really clear exactly what is going on? Or, do like to hear a lead break that is snappy, where the notes are bold and crisp and make a clear statement? I definitely prefer the latter.

If you are a guitarist who would like to go the "bold and crisp" route, let's start with the basics I always teach. The first thing you need to do is to start with a pick that is thick enough. Use at least a medium pick--usually about .73-.81mm. This may seem difficult at first, but it is absolutely necessary, so that you'll get strong, snappy notes.

Grip the pick firmly so that your thumb and index finger cover most of the area of the pick. I use a standard Fender 351 medium pick (or something comparable). Instead of holding it lengthwise, I hold the pick so that the top (that is, the shortest side) of the pick is lined up over the top of my thumbnail, and so that the edge of the top of the pick is hitting the strings. This may or may not be best for you, but, in any case, choke up on that pick to keep those notes loud and crisp.

Do not rest the palm or wrist of your picking hand on the bridge or on the top of your guitar. Your hand needs to float freely so that you can keep the edge of the pick at pretty much a 90 degree angle from the guitar top. Keep your pinky or ring finger (or both) stiff so that one of these fingers glides loosley over the top as a reference. This will definitely seem awkward if you are not used to it, but it is a must if you're going to be a good acoustic guitar picker!

Now that you have the fundamentals in order, think pendulum. A pendulum, by dictionary definition, is "a body so suspended from a fixed point as to move to and fro by the action of gravity and acquired momentum." Envision your picking hand as a pendulum, swinging freely from your elbow, with the pick held at a fixed 90 degree angle, dipping down to strike a string from the left--and then the right--and then the left--and then the right. The motion is not from the wrist, but is from the pendulum swinging from the elbow.

Now, simply implement what you have envisioned. Make that picking arm work like a pendulum, with the pick swinging down to cut into the strings. Here are some exercises to get you started. Play the low E string with 8 strokes: down-up-down-up-down-up-down-up. Now do the same thing on the open A string. Now, without breaking the rhythm, play the 8 notes on the E string and then the A, then the E and then the A. Now try the same thing but with only 4 notes each string: down-up-down-up. Now again, with just two notes per string: down-up. As you do these exercises, apply the pendulum principle. You'll find that your notes are beginning to sound like the notes of a real flatpicker!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Epiphone EL-00

The Epiphone EL-00 is a great guitar for a player with a modest budget. I've owned one myself, and it was a real treat to play as I've always been partial to smaller-bodied guitars. The solid spruce top and the mahogany back and sides produce a sweet, yet punchy sound that really rings out. I'm glad that Epiphone has returned to the 24.75" scale on this guitar to match the Gibson L-00. (For awhile they went to a 25.5" scale--I never could figure that one out!) This is a lot of guitar for just $299.00! Just click below to see this guitar and get all of the details:
Epiphone EL-00 Acoustic Guitar Vintage Sunburst Chrome Hardware

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Variety is the Spice of... Music?

Certainly you've heard the expression, "Variety is the spice of life." It could equally be said, "Variety is the spice of music." There are many ways this could be applied; here are three:

Your Repertoire

If you are building a repertoire, you want to carefully consider each song that might be included. If you missed my article in last week's newsletter, "Building Your Repertoire," you can read it at:

Variety is important in your repertoire because you want to keep presenting fresh, unexpected offerings to your audience. Don't fall into a rut of doing all the same kinds of songs. If you play rock, work a slow song into your up-tempo numbers about every third song--and make about one in three of your slow songs slow BLUES. If
you play fiddle tunes on the guitar, break up those fast tunes with a slow waltz here and there. Surprise you audience once in awhile with a really off-beat and unique piece.

Picking Up a Second Instrument

If you receive this newsletter, you probably play (or want to play) the guitar. Have you ever considered picking up a second instrument and learning to play it, even if you only learn to play it well enough to offer a few "novelty" tunes? I've played the guitar since I was 12 years old, and the guitar will always be my main instrument. But back in the late 1970's I bought a mandolin and
learned some tunes on it just to add a little variety to the things I was playing on the guitar. Recently I've purchased a 5-string banjo and I've learned only one song on it--John Hartford's "Steam Powered Aeroplane"--but that one song adds an interesting and unique piece to my repertoire.

Each Individual Song

Did you know that there is an opportunity for variety within each individual song you perform? Let's say there is a part A and a part B to a song and the parts are repeated. Why not make the second time around just a little different from the first? Throw in something different. If you picked the melody on the low strings
the first time around, pick it on the high strings, an octave higher. And tweak the melody with some different notes in a couple of places so that it is just slightly different than than before. It will keep things more interesting and your audience will appreciate it.

Variety truly is the spice of life, and this principle is very evident in music. The greatest musicians are always finding new ways to make things a little different and keep things fresh.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Learn Guitar Quick!

Beginners! Learn the basics and the secrets to teaching yourself any song you want! Gain the power to teach yourself in 10 lessons for less than the cost of one lesson with a teacher! Impress your friends around the campfire with your newly acquired musical skills! Don’t get overwhelmed by the information overload and learn just what you need to start playing today! Learn to play the guitar without reading music! Learn how to play the guitar in 10 simple lessons! Learn Guitar Quick will teach you the basics you need to start playing your favorite songs. Sound clips, images, charts, and bonuses are included. For all the details:
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Saturday, August 02, 2008

How to Figure Out a Song by Ear

Have you ever wondered why some guitarists seem to be able to
figure out a song "by ear" with ease? This is a skill that anyone
can develop, but the guitarist with more experience will develop it
faster. Foremost in learning a song by ear is the simple commitment
to see the task through to completion. Sit down with your guitar
and CD player and determine that you will slowly break the song
down and learn it.

Learning the basic guitar chords will put you in a position of
strength for figuring out songs by ear. As you develop an
understanding of chords, you will come to recognize that the same
chord patterns are repeated over and over again in all of the songs
you listen to. With experience you'll learn which chords are most
often played in combinations together. Also, it will be helpful to
learn some basic music theory. Learning scales will be a big plus,

Here is another tip: Follow the bass notes in the song you are
trying to learn! If the bass note is E, it is most likely the root
of the chord. The chord will likely be E major, E 7 or E minor.
Learn to listen for the changes--and the timing of the changes.
Bite off a little piece at a time and analyze each little segment
of the song. If you are willing to commit to this, everything will
come together! As you gain more experience learning songs by ear,
the process will become much easier for you, and it will take you
less time to learn a new song. The more songs you learn, the larger
your frame of reference will be for learning the next one you wish
to tackle.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Gibson Elvis Costello Century of Progress

"A Century of Progress" was the name ascribed to Chicago's World's Fair of 1933-34. The Gibson Company, capitalizing on this event, unveiled a guitar for this exposition. In honor of the fair it was named the Century Model Style L-C. The L-C was a unique Gibson because of the liberal adornment of white pearloid, a variety of celluloid designed to imitate mother-of-pearl. The L-C was produced by Gibson from 1933 to 1941.

I bought my Gibson L-C on eBay a couple of years ago. It is about a 1938, and oh, the sound… The curly maple gives this instrument spunk. The top seems to be unusually thin, contributing, no doubt, to her responsiveness. This guitar is the quintessence of the sound I love: bold, sassy, crisp; yet she offers a hauntingly complex and resonant “aftertaste” (which I suspect is due in part to her age). Click this link to read more about:
The 1933-1941 Gibson "Century of Progress"

The renowned songwriter and performer Elvis Costello owns a 1936 "Century" and it is his favorite instrument. (I can understand why!) An authentic re-creation of Costello's L-C, the Gibson Elvis Costello Century of Progress Signature acoustic guitar, is a carefully crafted recreation of the acoustic that Costello used to record and perform many of his songs.

Although I generally prefer vintage guitars over new, one great thing about going with the new Elvis Costello "Century" is that you start off everything new--with perfect action and intonation and a nice, tall saddle height--and, of course, everything is covered by a great Gibson warranty! And if you buy from Musician's Friend, you'll never find a lower price. I have purchased a number of instruments from Musician's Friend, and have been completely happy with them all. And they offer free shipping and an excellent no-hassle return policy. For more details about the Elvis Costello Century of Progress Signature acoustic guitar, just click on the link below:
Gibson Elvis Costello Century of Progress Signature Model Acoustic Guitar Vintage Sunburst

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Rendition of "Mother Maybelle" Carter's "Troublesome Waters"

Maybelle Carter was a member of the original Carter Family, a band which was formed in 1927 by her brother-in-law, A. P. Carter. Maybelle was cherished by the Grand Ole Opry community of the early 1950s and became widely known as "Mother Maybelle." One of my favorite songs by Mother Maybelle is Troublesome Waters.

While I was cleaning my office recently, I found a copy of an old cassette I had recorded back in 1986, in Waverly New York. Troublesome Waters is among the songs on this cassette. With the help of Jonny Farnham, the sound technician for Christian Life Church, I multitracked, doing the vocal and playing the guitars and the mandolin. I had some fun getting the lead guitar and the mandolin talking to each other during the instrumental break. The upright bass is played by Kenny Marsh, a well-known musician in the area and the DJ for a weekly radio broadcast on WTTC in Towanda, Pennsylvania, the town I grew up in.

John Rath, a friend of mine here in Arizona, recently transferred the cassette to MP3 files, and you can listen to my rendition of Troublesome Waters from the link below. The recording equipment we used back in 1986 was primitive for its time, and the cassette copy was done on a not-so-great duplicator, so the sound quality is far from perfect--but it sounds better than some the old Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers recordings from the 1920's that I listen to--so I figured, what the hey--why not post it and see if anyone wants to listen to it. I love this song of simple faith and hope it is a blessing to you...
Click Here to Listen to Troublesome Waters

Saturday, July 12, 2008

50 Excellent Blues Backing Tracks!

Backing tracks (also known as jam tracks) are recorded arrangements of songs designed to provide a way for a guitar student to virtually practice with a playing band. Backing tracks can be an excellent tool for learning to play rhythm guitar parts in synch with other musicians. They are also great for learning how to improvise guitar solos while other instruments accompany you. They are great for helping guitarists with their timing application of licks and scales. In fact, backing tracks are the next best thing to playing with a live band and are included in best digital guitar instructionsl courses.

Professional guitarist and instructor Zack Roberts has put together 50 excellent backing tracks along with a great blues guitar instructional course. If blues is your passion, then you'll appreciate the value this amazing package gives you. 50Blues presents over 50 jamming tracks plus The Blues Guitar Essential Course for the guitarist. All your tracks comes with the keys, scales and improvisation tips and can be used for either electric or acoustic blues guitar. These are professional jamming tracks recorded live with a group of session musicians with real instruments made to give you the impression that you're surrounded by the band. For more details:
Click Here!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mick Martin's Introduction to Flatpicking Guitar

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July, celebrating the independence of this great nation, the Unites States of America. I thank the Lord for the great principles of freedom our nation was founded on!

Speaking of independence, I have a friend who has always remained independent from the many commercial influences that are so common in music today. His name is Mick Martin and he plays pure, raw country blues on the acoustic guitar in the tradition of the old masters. A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed his CD and instructional DVD package, Revelator (See my June 21 post).

Mick is also an incredible flatpicker. The photo above is of Mick jamming with the late Bill Monroe, "the father of bluegrass." I'm pleased to announce that Mick has begun a teaching series by which the beginning guitarist can learn the fundamentals of flatpicking from the ground up--and this instructional course is absolutely FREE! His first lesson is an introduction to flatpicking guitar and rhythm, including the basic chords. More lessons will follow. To go right to Mick's first lesson:

Click Here!

Mick also teaches fingerpicking on his site--and don't forget to check out his great country blues CD and DVD instruction! Mick's home page is at:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The RiffMaster Pro Version 3 is Now Available!

The RiffMaster Pro 2 has long been the best and least expensive instantly downloadable software to slow down the guitar solos (or solos from other instruments) without changing the pitch. This way you can break the solo down and learn what is really going on, note by note. Now, version 3 is available with even better technology!

Let's face it, in order to play fast, you need to go slow. By that I mean, to learn any difficult piece of music by ear, you must be able to hear all the notes and the way the notes are played by the musician. The Riffmaster Pro 3 with upgraded technology now makes it quite easy for you to break down and play anything. You can slow down those machine gun licks from any CD or from your files so you can pick out each note and nail down that solo!

Master difficult phrasing like never before and learn any guitar solo, lick or riff note for not. Great for all instruments--and even helps you learn lyrics! Plus, you can even transpose the music to the key in which you want to play the piece! The RiffMaster Pro 3 version includes cd ripping, file saving to mp3 or wav (yes as slowed down versions), superior tracking and 17 different playable files (including mp4, wma, Aff, ogg mp3 and wav). And this software is incredibly easy to download and use. Lots of great bonuses too--and we're talking only $49 here! For all the details:
Click Here!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mick Martin's Revelator

In a couple of my articles I have mentioned Mick Martin, an excellent flatpicker who I took about a half a dozen guitar lessons from back in the 1970's in Pittsburgh. Mick straightened me out on some guitar playing habits that were holding me back and set me on the path toward better flatpicking. Now, about 30 years later, Mick and I have again been in touch, and Mick has graciously offered to share some flatpicking lessons on this site, which will begin in the near future.

What I never knew about Mick is just how great a fingerpicker he is! He has just released a CD of country blues, Revelator, executed in the tradition of the old masters like Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, etc. Mick describes the album as "pure as Appalachian snow," in that it features just Mick and his guitar, without additional accompaniment. Included with the CD is an instructional DVD on which Mick teaches how to play the songs! What a bonus--and what a great concept! Now the instruction is not really designed for the beginning guitarist--but it will certainly inspire and motivate all guitarists to keep moving forward.

The song from which the title of the album is derived, John the Revelator, is the only song in which Mick is accompanied by other musicians: Bruce Foley playing the uilleann pipes and Les Getchell pounding out the beat on the bodhran. These seem like unusual instruments to accompany a traditional Gospel/blues call and response song, but it all works just fine. The driving, steady beat is exciting, yet the mood that it creates is just a bit haunting.

In my opinion, Mick kicks the foundation laid by the old masters up a notch, implementing a wonderful mix of bass runs, double stops and chords. My favorite cut on the CD is the blues standard, St. James Infirmary. Mick's arrangement of the song is quite unique, and I would liken the dynamics of his bass notes and complex (yet bold and punchy) chords in this song to the dynamics Louis Armstrong demonstrated with his horn: raw power under the control of a disciplined musician who knows how to use power. You can hear Mick's rendition of St. James Infirmary (though the audio quality is inferior to what you'll hear if you purchase his CD) as the second of two of Mick's songs posted at:

You can purchase Mick's CD and DVD set for only $16.85--what a deal! Go to Mick's website at:

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Gibson Icon Nick Lucas Signature Guitar

In last week's post (see below), I wrote about Nick Lucas and the guitar Gibson made to his specifications: the Nick Lucas Special. As I noted in the article, Nick Lucas Specials are among the most sought after vintage guitars among players and collectors today. The orginal Specials, manufactured by Gibson from 1926 to 1941, are very hard to come by these days, and if you are able to find one, chances are you would not be able to afford it!

But there is good News! The Gibson Company has recently produced a limited reissue of the Nick Lucas, in its Acoustic Icon series, that is faithful to the original specs of the Nick Lucas Special. The thing that really set this guitar apart from all other acoustics was the deeper body (4" at the neck, 4 5/8" at the end pin). Read Norman Blakes comments about the acoustical benefits of this in last week's post below. Also, the back and sides were made from hand-selected figured Eastern hard rock maple at a time when mahogany bodies were the norm. Another great feature was the carefully radiused (slightly arched) AAA grade solid Sitka spruce top to give the top more tension and better projection.

Although a vintage Special would be preferred by many players, one great thing about going with the new Gibson Nick Lucas is that you start off everything new--with perfect action and saddle height--and everything is covered by a great Gibson warranty! And if you buy from Musician's Friend, you'll never find a lower price. I have purchased a number of instruments from Musician's Friend, and have been completely happy with them all. And they offer free shipping and an excellent no-hassle return policy. For more details about the Gibson Nick Lucas, just click on the link below:
Gibson Icon Nick Lucas Signature Acoustic Guitar Vintage Sunburst

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Nick Lucas and the Gibson Nick Lucas Special

In the late 1920's, Nick Lucas became one of the most popular singers on the radio, but prior to his fame as a vocalist, he had established himself as a guitarist. In 1922, Nick cut two sides of a record with the originals, "Picking the Guitar" and "Teasing the Frets." These were the first solo jazz guitar instrumentals recorded.

You can see and hear Nick sing and pick in 1929 at:

An older Nick (1951) is at:

According to, in 1924, Frank Campbell, the general sales manager for Gibson, tried to persuade Nick get rid of the Galliano he had been playing. Nick told Campbell, "If you'll build a guitar to my specifications that's not too bulky, I'll throw this guitar away." Nick wanted a wider neck, deeper sides, and a smaller body that would look better on stage. In 1925 Gibson made the guitar for Nick, and the rest is history. The Gibson Nick Lucas Special became available to the public from 1926 to 1941 and these vintage guitars are now among the most prized instruments sought by collectors and players. Don't let the small top and back fool you: Because of the unusually deep sides, the Nick Lucas Special has great projection and tone.

In an interview for an article, "Norman Blake: Flatpicking Legend," Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, August 1997, Norman Blake describes the virtues of his 1929 Nick Lucas Special: "I like that it has a shorter, punchy tone that is good for old time music. It has a deep tone, but it has a real short, gutsy, loud, spit-it-out kind of sound. It doesn't ring or sustain forever. I kind of equate, in my own idiosyncratic mind, lots of sustain in guitars with a more modern sound. In other words, if you get a guitar that rings and you can go out and get a hot dog and come back before it stops ringing, it starts to get a little modern sounding. It can also start to get a little generic sounding because they can all start to sound the same. It is like the A model Gibson mandolins, there is only about one in a hundred that is really a cut above the other ninety-nine. That is about the same thing with large guitars if you are not careful. There is about one in a hundred that you can pick out and say it has character."

An article, "What They Play," in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, October 1999, conveys Norman's thoughts on the unusual depth of the sides of the Nick Lucas Special: "Blake theorizes that the tone of a guitar has a lot to do with the size of its top in relation to the depth of its sides. 'If you have a large top,' he says, 'you need deeper sides. For a dreadnought to really balance out, it ought to have deeper sides, but it wouldn't be very comfortable to play. The sides on a 00 are deep enough for the size of it. L-series Gibsons are between Martin 000 and Martin 00 size as far as the top is concerned, and the sides are deeper than the Martin 000. That creates a better balance and a better tone. I'm talking about the old flattop Gibsons from 1926 up through World War II: the L-00, L-1, Nick Lucas, Century. And the Nick Lucas has even deeper sides on the same Gibson top. It gives you a sort of dreadnought sound, but with a lot more snap and a lot more articulation. And that short neck is a lot easier to get around on. I like the shape of the Gibson necks from the '20s and '30s.'"

For more information and some great photos of Nick Lucas and the Gibson Nick Lucas Special go to:

Frontal Photo of Nick Lucas Special courtesy of Photo of Nick Lucas Special label by Mark Stutman, courtesy of Folkway Music,

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Best Seller on My New Website!

The best selling guitar instruction kit on my new website, All Your eBooks, is Jared Crebs' The Beginner's Guide to Unlocking the Guitar. Although there is a full money-back guarantee, I have had no returns so far!

With Jared Crebs' intensive, instantly downloadable instructional course, you can easily start playing and singing your favorite songs on the guitar, learn songs faster and more efficiently, and improve your guitar skills 150% in just one weekend!

Finally, never before released methods are now available to show you how to unlock the guitar, learn how to play any of your favorite songs, and perform like a seasoned player in less time than you have ever dreamed of! In as little as 48 hours, you will realize your lifelong dream of playing the guitar and improve your current guitar skills to learn songs faster. You will learn how to play your favorite songs from popular bands like Eric Clapton, Guns N' Roses, Blink 182, Nora Jones, The Beatles, Jimmy Buffett, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Avril Lavigne, Blues Traveler, and many more... For more details about this great instructional course that is currently featured on the left hand column of my bookstore:
Click Here!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

We remember with gratitude those who, throughout the generations, have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation, securing our freedom through military victory!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Pizza Tapes

One of my favorite CD's is a collection of recordings from a historical meeting with Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia--the only time they ever played together. They were brought together by mandolinist David Grisman, and the fruit of this meeting was called The Pizza Tapes.

According to David's website, "Legend has it that a pizza delivery boy lifted Jerry Garcia's cassette tape of two evenings worth of very special music from his kitchen counter, thus paving its way into underground tape trading circles and giving a handle to these incredible performances. Now at last, from the vaults of Dawg Studios comes the sonically superb official release of this historic jam session, the only meeting of guitar greats Jerry Garcia and Tony Rice, introduced to each other by their mutual friend and musical associate, mandolinist/producer David Grisman. The Pizza Tapes capture these virtuosos at a rare moment in time, free of pressure, hassles or any given agenda other than making music and having plenty of fun."

Someone posted a sample from The Pizza Tapes, the song Shady Grove, at:

You can purchase The Pizza Tapes from David's website at:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Announcing: My New eBook Store!

I am real excited about my new ebook store, All Your eBooks. At All Your eBooks you can browse and find ebooks that you can download instantly on just about any subject, plus instructional videos and unique software products! For example, are you interested in guitar lessons? Just enter the word guitar in the search field in the middle of the site and get the details on all kinds of instantly downloadable guitar instruction: from beginners to advanced, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, blues, rock, etc., just about all of the products I have reviewed on this site and in my weekly newsletter! Hobbies, Investing, Real Estate, Employment, Health, Fitness, Publishing, Education, Marriage, Relationships, Music, Home Improvement... The list goes on and on... Literally thousands of digital products! Browse and enjoy! To go directly to this ebook store:
Click Here!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"Deacon Dan" Crary, Flatpicker Extraordinaire

Dan Crary (a.k.a. "Deacon Dan" Crary) catagorizes himself as a "solo flatpicker." He is, in fact, one of the greats, up there with notables like Doc Watson, Clarence White, Norman Blake and Tony Rice. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1939, Dan has quite an intesting background as seminary student, a philosopher, and currently a speech communications professor at California State University, Fullerton. Dan is one of a handful of guitarists who played a role as establishing the acoustic guitar as a solo instrument in the bluegrass genre. Check out this exciting performance by Dan:

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I love this print of Strummin', by Troy. It has such a loose feel to it, and yet it is a bit profound as well. You can get a beautifully framed 20x25" print of Strummin' for only $129.00. Just click on the link below and enter 11703619A in the search field at the top of the page. A 14 x 19" copy of this print, also framed, is $49.99. The item number is 11703618A. Unframed prints are available too. Click on:
Buy Guitars posters and prints at