Exploits Inspire

Following the guitar making exploits of damacleod again and, once again, they are inspirational!

He’s building another guitar from scratch, this time a tele body with strat pick up configuration. I lay in bed this morning after waking up too early and could think of little else. Not that I’m obsessing over his project, but it constantly reminds me of the three guitar assembly/build projects I have sitting in my pile of guitar stuff.

I have the parts for three complete guitar builds. One for myself and one for my friend who got me the body blanks. I still have that chunk of wood that needs to be shaped into a guitar body. I want to build a pseudo Rickenbacker 480, but with rounded edges, contoured back, and…my inspiration for this morning, a curved body. I’m thinking the body will curve around like a Vox Virage or a Parker Fly.

But alas, this week will not be the week I start on this project. Perhaps I can get started on the strat project for my friend… we shall see.

Thanks for sharing all your projects damacleod!


Adjusting Lessons

So we had one lesson and this week every student has a conflict, but so do I, so it all works out.

However, I’ve been talking with the father of the father and son group in my “class” and his son is struggling with the E and A chords. This young man has a huge desire to do it perfectly and will likely get discouraged and give up if he doesn’t see some progress. This isn’t unusual. I think we all have this tendency. Add that to his youth and his small hands, and he has a long way to go before he is banging out chords. So how do I help him learn and stay interested while he gets through those first tough lessons?

So I sent the following email lesson:

First, Smoke on the Water!

This video shows you power chords and a lot more, but what you want to focus on is the basic song between 2:08 and 4:06. Just have your son (and you) slide his index finger from fret to fret. The description of the entry guitar is a distraction and the other stuff in the rest of the video will be learned later. We’re not there yet.


Second, Seven Nation Army!

Once again, the video starts with the riff at the 0:59 mark and goes till 2:15. This song can be played by sliding your index finger all around, but it is better to play it the way he does by moving your pinky to the 4th fret. You’ll see what I’m talking about in the video.


And if you want to practice your A and E chords, try A Horse With No Name!


Here’s a blog with a great lesson on how to play this song with the two chords you have learned:


WE’ll see how this coming Thursday lesson goes. I’ll keep you posted!


I cannot express the pleasure I took in playing guitar while my 3 year old played the drums. I wish I had a picture I could post on here. Or even better, a clip or recording of what we played. He is barely three. He grabbed his headphones (ear protection), came to me, asked me for drumsticks, and then asked if I would play the guitar with him.

I plugged in my guitar and we played for almost 3o minutes. He would start a strong beat on the tom tom or snare. I would strum a chord progression to that beat. He would switch between the tom tom, snare, and high hat, then switch between playing two of the three. He would stop and yell for me to stop in time with him. He would start up again and I would start up again.

We made music together and it was wonderful. It wasn’t very good and it wasn’t anything anyone else would probably ever be interested in hearing, but we made it together and we are better for it.

Wanna Be Teacher

It has begun.

Thursday night I became a guitar teacher. “But how?” you ask, “You don’t even play the guitar very well. It’s not like this is fencing.”

“Ah,” I reply, “but I know more than my students.”

And you’re right. This is nothing like fencing.

In fencing I can teach an 8 week beginner class with little thought to the curriculum and an easy, relaxed approach. I’ve done it so many times, I have internalized it. This is something entirely new and it is hard and scary and not relaxing. But I am liking it.

So I am starting simply. I am teaching a small class of four students once a week for six weeks. We’ll see if I exhaust my knowledge by then and if they still want to do this. Only one student has their own guitar. The rest are using mine. We’ve all agreed that at the 6 week mark we’ll discuss what happens next (like buying their own guitar, individual lessons, changing to a real teacher, etc.)

The first class went fairly well. We started with the different types of guitars (I had a classical, acoustic, and electric with me), the parts of the guitar, how to tune the guitar, and the E and A chords for playing the chorus to Yellow Submarine. But I’m already seeing some potential difficulties. Two of the students are a father and son. The father picked up the chords pretty quickly (as did the other students), but his son did not. In a fencing class, I know how to handle a student who is struggling with a specific skill. In this circumstance I just asked the father to work with his son on it between now and the next class.

We ended the class and they all thanked me and said they had a good time. We’ll see if they’re still saying that next week!

Exhaustion and Disappointment

Just got back from a trip to the other Washington…as in District of Columbia. It was hot! Hot and muggy! I was so busy with work that I didn’t even take my Ardor licensed Steinberger headless guitar. I did get to hang out with the east coast portion of my family, which was great, but I am exhausted from long work days, late nights, and poor sleep habits.

I did get a little time to find the Guitar Shop in D.C…only to find that it was apparently closed and will become a bar called the “Guitar Shop” in which one can purchase alcoholic beverages and listen to music, but not actually play instruments or purchase said instruments. Very disappointing.

Bad Influence again

I was a bad influence again. A coworker and I went to the local guitar shop during our lunch break. I asked the local guitar tech about the cracked finish on the Ibanez AW100. The tech was, once again, very nice and very helpful. He was instantly familiar with the Ibanez Artwood series and didn’t say anything derogatory. It sounds good, but he laughed when I told him what I got it for. He said he should’ve expected that kind of deal hunting from me.

He also said that the cracking on the back was just cosmetic. He said the only concern is if water gets in there, but the wood underneath will be fine. The crack on the neck joint is more sensitive to moisture because of the glue in the neck joint. But it is an easy fix. Just put a strip of clear fingernail polish over it to keep moisture out. If anyone out there in the internet has a different idea, let me know!

Now for the bad influence part. My coworker bought a Boss TU-2. We were looking around and he commented that his next pedal purchase would be a tuner pedal since he was just using his phone right now. He also just bought a Fulldrive dual overdrive and didn’t have any more plugs to power the pedals.

So I asked what they had that could also power his other pedals. They had a used Boss TU-2…and they gave my coworker a great deal…because I was there. Not a bad day.

New Acoustic

Well, new to me. So here are the pictures.

It looks pretty good all strung up (compared to only having three classical guitar strings on it originally). And the gig bag is nice and plush on the inside. I am really liking the sound of it too. It isn’t as boomy on the bass side as I thought it would be, but it also isn’t all treble. To my ears (which aren’t very good mind you), it has a wide mid-range that feels good. But for $20, nothing is perfect.

As far as I can tell, there is no cracking on the inside of the guitar that matches up with the cracks on the outside. Actually, there are no cracks on the inside as far as I can tell.  I hope this means that it is just cracks to the finish.

After looking at it more closely, I did find another crack on one side of where the neck and body come together. I can’t tell if it is also just a surface crack, but I assume something bad happened to this guitar to cause all these blemishes.

The nice thing about it is that I got the whole thing for $20 and it sounds better than I expected. Certainly higher end guitars would sound better, but it is going to be a great instrument to learn to play acoustic on!

And who knows, maybe I’ll learn to make repairs on it too.

More Friends

I don’t know how to express my appreciation for my friends. I’ve never had a lot of close friends, but I am getting more as I grow older. Today is a perfect example.  A friend texts me to ask if an Ibanez AW100 is worth $20. I said if the neck and body aren’t cracked, it is worth it for him. And if it’s too much for him, it is worth it for me!

Well, he decided he didn’t want it…but he got it anyway and I paid him back! The previous owner (not my friend, the original seller) had tried to put some classical guitar strings on it and there is some major finish cracks on the back which concern me, but overall the integrity of the guitar seems solid. With a little more research I discovered it was made in August of 1997. It has the chrome tuners instead of the more current gold Grover tuners. I restrung it and it seems to be in great shape.

So add another one to the fold  (first steel string acoustic too) and a huge thanks to my friend! Pictures to come soon.