Category Archives: Guitar

I must own this

A guitar that tunes itself by measuring the pitch of each string as you play it.

Also in that story, another automatic tuning product that has a library of different tunings, and allows you to switch between them on the fly — even in the middle of a song.

Now, how do I convince Gail that I need this?


Eric Clapton vs. Elton John

Here are ten reasons why the guitar is a more difficult instrument to play than the piano:

  1. Once you tune a piano, it’s tuned, and can stay in tune for years. A guitar that’s perfectly in tune at the beginning of a song can be out of tune halfway through that song. Plus, the piano is always tuned the same way. The key that plays a C note on one piano will always play a C note on any other piano. Guitars can be tuned in any number of different configurations — the open top string is usually E, but it might be D, or F, or something else; it depends on the tuning.
  2. On the piano, the right hand and left hand are doing essentially the same thing. They play different notes and such, but basically the same thing. On the guitar, the left hand is fretting notes while the right hand is picking or strumming them. Fundamentally different actions.
  3. A chord on a piano is usually three notes, sometimes four. On a guitar, you frequently have to play six-note chords with only four fingers (the thumb on the fret hand is almost never used).
  4. On the piano, there is one set of keys in strictly ascending order. You always know whether one note is higher or lower than another based on whether it’s to the left or right of the other note. On the guitar, there are essentially six different sets of notes which overlap. Is the 3rd string, 6th fret higher or lower than the fourth string, 12th fret? Answer: lower, but unless you play the guitar or have one in front of you, it’s not obvious.
  5. Unless you press the sustain pedal on the piano, as soon as you remove your finger from the key, the note stops. On the guitar, you can remove your hands entirely and the open strings will ring unless you deaden them.
  6. If someone has never played a piano in their life, you can teach them a C major scale in about 10 seconds: Black keys are grouped in either 2 or 3. Look for the 2 black keys together, and the white key immediately to the left of that is C. Hit that key, then each white key next to it (to the right) until you get to the next C. That’s it. Teach someone that, and if they find themselves at a piano a month later, they could probably repeat it. On the guitar, it would be 2nd string from the top, 4th fret, then 2nd string 6th fret, then 3rd string 3rd fret, 3rd string 4th fret, 3rd string 6th fret, 4th string 3rd fret, 4th string 5th fret, and 4th string 6th fret. Or instead of 3rd string 3rd fret, you could do 2nd string 8th fret. Or numerous other ways. I’ve been playing guitar for 20 years and I had to do little air-guitar fretting motions in order to figure out how write it down here. Someone who had never played a guitar before would have no chance of remembering the notes a month later. (On the other hand, playing a C-sharp major scale on the guitar is easy once you know the C major – just move everything up one fret. On the piano, I’d have to think for a minute to figure it out.)
  7. If you don’t play the guitar often, playing for more than a couple of minutes causes the tips of your fingers to hurt. Piano — no pain.
  8. You’ve got grands, baby grands, uprights, and other types of pianos, and they all look different, but excluding quality differences, they play pretty much the same way. Playing an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar are very different. 6-strings and 12-strings are also very different.
  9. With a piano, you play a note or you don’t, though you can play it louder or softer. Same with a guitar, but you can also play the note and then bend it, or hit the note below and bend up, or hit the note and slide up or down, or hit the note above and slide down, or hit the note below and slide up. You can bend strings behind the nut in some cases, and if you have a tremolo bar (aka whammy bar) or a slide, you have even more options. Plus there are natural and artificial harmonics, which are impossible on a piano.
  10. The location of a note in relation to position of the black keys tells you immediately what note it is. I haven’t taken a piano lesson in over 25 years, and I can’t read music anymore, but if you asked me to fine a G on a piano keyboard, I could find it right away. On a guitar, you just have to know, or remember the notes that the open strings play and figure it out from there.

Note to piano players — don’t get all bent out of shape. This list was made tongue-in-cheek.

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da

On my way to work the other day, I heard two different songs by The Police on
two different radio stations. It occurred to me that I hadn’t listened to The
Police in a while, and that they were a really good band. They’re all
really good musicians, and Sting wrote some really good rock songs, before he
went all adult-comtemporary and lame. I don’t mind some of his solo stuff, but
his work with The Police was orders of magnitude better. Spirits In
The Material World
, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
(not the cleverest song title ever, but a great song), Don’t Stand So Close To
, King Of Pain, Can’t Stand Losing You, Message in a Bottle, Roxanne, Every Breath You Take — they only released five albums, but they had so many
great songs. It’s too bad they broke up when they did (actually, I believe they never officially broke up, they just went on “hiatus”, but after more than 20 years, I think it’s safe to say they broke up).

I “restarted” my guitar lessons last Thursday. I’ve been taking lessons for a
little over a year, and I’ve learned a lot, but I wanted to do more music theory
than my teacher (John) can do. He suggested I switch over to the other guy (Terry)
that teaches at the same place I go, since Terry knows music theory better and
can teach it better. We started out going over basic stuff like the string
names, major scales, and major chords (root, 3rd, and 5th), and by the end of the
half-hour, we’d also talked about minor chords (root, flat 3rd, 5th), 7th chords
(major or minor chord plus the 7th), and he mentioned diminished and augmented
chords, though I don’t know exactly how they’re defined. I even have homework.
I think the next few months are going to be challenging, and I probably won’t
get any better as a guitar player, but having the theory background will
eventually make me a better player.

Let me give you some good advice, young man, you better learn to play guitar

It’s been almost a year since I started my weekly guitar lessons. Still no Grammy award, but I’m certainly better than I was a year ago. Favourite songs to play: Blackbird by The Beatles and The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin (though you have to retune the guitar for that one, which is kind of a pain). The lessons have certainly been helpful, but more because I’m forced to get the guitar out at least once a week and play it. I’m getting some instruction in my technique, but according to my teacher, that’s good enough that I don’t need much instruction there, just practice. My problem is music theory, and while my teacher does go over it, I’m not retaining much of it. At one point, he was explaining relative chords and stuff, and suddenly a bunch of stuff made sense — I even understood why the guitar strings are tuned the way they are, and not simply to a chord. Of course, a couple of months later, I don’t remember any of that now. It’s not my teacher’s fault, though, I just have to get off my ass and put more time into learning that stuff.

It’s my son’s birthday! Nicky turns the big ‘4’ today. I can’t believe he’ll be starting school (JK) in the fall. We got a package from the school just yesterday about it – his teacher will be Mrs. Tilton, who is new at Greenleaf. We were hoping Ms. Urfey would be his teacher – she’s taught JK at Greenleaf for at least the past 4 years, and is really good. She, however, wanted to move over to teaching grade 2, so they had to bring in another JK teacher. Nicky is looking forward to school, though I don’t think he has any clue what’s in store for him; then again, does any kid starting JK? Probably not. I think the teacher might have her hands full with him, until she can (hopefully) tone down his joking moods, when he loses control of himself, and “no, Nicky” doesn’t really mean anything. Hopefully Mrs. Tilton will have more luck doing that than we have, since she presumably has more experience in dealing with small children than we do. He’s also got three full months before he starts, so maybe he’ll grow out of it by then.

Update: Nicky’s teacher will not be Mrs. Tilton. We requested that he be moved to the A stream (i.e. Wednesday, Friday, and every other Monday rather then Tuesday, Thursday and every other Monday), and they have already done this for us (Gail being chair of the school council may have had a hand in this), so his teacher will be Mrs. Tyrosvoutis. I think that’s the right spelling, anyway – the kids call her Mrs. T. I pity da fool who pronounces her name wrong.

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Graeme the guitar god?

Not bloody likely, but I did have my first guitar lesson last Thursday. Gail bought me a month of free guitar lessons at the school silent auction back in February (for which we paid full price, so it’s not like we got a deal or anything, but the money went to the school, so that’s fine), and I couldn’t get a convenient time until now. So I get 5 Thursday-at-7:30 lessons before I have to start paying, which I probably will. I’m very glad to be getting back into playing guitar – I’ve picked the thing up probably once or twice a year since Gail and I got married, so it’s kind of too bad. If I had been playing a couple of times a week during those ten years, I might be pretty darn good by now.

Anyway, I’ll get some one-on-one instruction, plus it’ll force me to play more often, so it’s all good. My first couple of songs are “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day and the intro to “Sweet Home Alabama”, both of which use the same chords (G5, C, and D, and Good Riddance has an Em in there too). I played for about a half-hour tonight, and also dug out a couple of other old books as well – I played Stairway to Heaven for the first time in ages. I used to know that one pretty well, but forgot most of it. I did get it back pretty quickly though. My instructor tells me that he’s not a great guitar player, but a good teacher, though he seems like a pretty decent guitarist to my untrained ears.

Edmonton and Portland have already been added to the NLL for next season, but with the good comes the bad. It was announced this weekend that Anaheim has suspended operations for next season, so there will be a dispersal draft as well as an expansion draft. Don’t know when for either one. Man, the GMs in this league must really be getting used to these drafts, with teams coming and going all the time. Most leagues have to deal with one draft per year — the entry draft. NLL GMs have to deal with at least two and sometimes three drafts every year. It was also announced that there will be no more new teams next season, so the teams that will be playing are now set, unless someone pulls a Vancouver and pulls out at the last second.

John and Jackie (Gail’s dad and stepmom) moved this past weekend, up to a house near Sundridge, about 3 1/2 hours north of here, and an hour north of my parents. Nice place – on Hwy 124 about 3km from Hwy 11, lots of land, right next to a farm (kids would probably love a tour – next visit), with a pond in the back, though John says he’s going to have that filled. Not a bad idea – big time mosquito breeding ground. The house itself is a little bigger than their old place in Beachville, with a really nice sun room off the back. We went up on Friday to help move, though the moving part was way less work than the cleaning part – I must have cleaned about 12 windows, inside and out, including three huge picture windows (though Gail’s brother did the outside of those). Plus cleaning light fixtures and other stuff, and occasionally making sure the boys weren’t in the process of killing themselves or each other. Busy weekend – hopefully this coming week isn’t as busy as last week.

With all the cleaning, referreeing, and not sleeping very well, not to mention driving 700 km on Friday and today, I’m bushed. Night all.