ZEN guitar Practice.

After the nuclear war there will only be cockroaches and Keith Richards!! So let`s get practicing…with some general tips that you oughta bear in mind when you want to get all Zen on your fretboard.

1. Cultivate a desire to try and achieve excellence. When your lazy friends are down at the bar setting the world to rights you could stay at home beginning a journey to set either your own world on fire or even set the real world on fire.

2. Set yourself goals – both sensible & unattainable

Set yourself some goals and schedule your practice and STICK to IT. Perhaps consider two goals:

A.An aspirational one such as becoming as good as Jeff Beck (insert your favourite guitar maestro here) but also

B. A realistic, realtime short term goal: for example “In six months I will be able to play Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry”. Remember though it’s the journey not the destination that counts, a guitar is for life not just for Christmas if you want to go anywhere with it.

Don`t use your aspirational goal to beat yourself about though. Expecting to be able to play like Jeff Beck is akin to expecting to replicate the Cistine Chapel Ceiling on the interior of a ping pong ball – it’s a long hard difficult road walked only by those with a unique, god-given gift.

3. Find an environment that really works for you it may be outside beneath your favourite weeping willow or it may be in a quiet corner of your barn – make it as comfortable and as appealing as possible with few, or no distractions or interruptions.
If you can and you are serious about progression try to practice alone in a silent area. Also get the right chair, I`ll sometimes find myself thirty minutes into a jam session only to realise I`m curled up like a pretzel…no good man!

4. Make it easy – as the playing will initially be hard enough make it easy by using the tools that help. Buy the best guitar you can, buy a decent tuner and invest in learning materials that suit where you want to take your playing. Read this blog for more advice on the learning tools available. There is a veritable cornucopia of new digital practice tools such as the Ovation iDea guitar, the Fretlight guitars, Loopstation pedal or Fender G-Dec amplifier.

5. Develop Routines and excercises

A. start off with easy rewarding warm up work before moving onto your structured learning path (or course) – this may be a couple of songs you really enjoy, so write them down, and maybe singalong.

6. Join a band – the fastest way to leanr is from other more competent players. Use your ears and your eyes, ask questions.

7. It`s never too late to start and whatever happens don’t give up. If David Geffen isn`t ringing you up don`t worry. The journey is usually far more interesting than the destination.

8. Make mistakes and try stuff well outside your usual playing boundaries. Experiment as much as possible and try unusual positions. Try sliding chords around or even moving them across the strings.

9. If your fingers, hands and wrists are hurting then stop awhile.

10. Enjoy using effects and guitar toys but don’t fall into the trap of letting them do all the playing for you – one day you`ll want to be at the stage where you compliment the effects and not vice versa.

8. Reward yourself afterwards with something you enjoy like “icecream”.

12. Try and listen to the right records for a start but don’t limit yourself to the world of guitar. Choose your poison for example saxophonists Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk and Miles Davis play some fantastic lead lines.

11. Most importantly – make sure it’s fun.

12. Have alook at “Zen Guitar” by Philip Toshio Sudo – it’s about motivation and fulfillment, not technique.


Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure. It can be defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Sustainable maintenance of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources is a defining issue of our time.

In musical terms sustain is the duration of a sound before it becomes inaudible. Guitars have a lot of sustain, which is one reason for their rich sound and tone. Rosewood, maple, mahogany, ebony and spruce, are some of the more popular tonewoods because they are workable as well as durable and beautiful. Unfortunately it has become highly important for the guitar manufacturing industry as a whole to consider preserving the trees from which guitars are made so that they do not become irrevocably lost.

Bob Taylor, cofounder and president of Taylor Guitars, says it’s a simple function of “More people, more goods and a higher rate of harvest than regrowth.” And, he says, “We need good, quality wood.”

Gibson, Fender, Martin, Taylor and Yamaha have put their best foot forward though and joined forces with Greenpeace to create the MUSIC WOOD COALITION:

The Greenpeace Music Wood Campaign is partnering with the music industry to protect threatened forest habitats and safeguard the future of the trees critical to making musical instruments.

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson;

there’s something in the water in Texas and it must be talent, melody or some kind of mystical otherworldly pan-galactic musical goodness and Eric Johnson is definitely drinking it.

By the time Johnson released his Capitol Records debut Ah Via Musicom in 1990, he was regularly winning awards for his musicianship in the guitar press. During this period, Eric Johnson was also drawing recognition for the rich, violin-like tone he coaxed from his vintage Fender Stratocaster.

Eric fuses a more classical sense of melody with the a highly accomplished and adult sonic palette blending vibrato, bends, scales and tones in a way that avoids the hair-metal neo-classical plagiarism of guitar for guitar’s sake and the time honoured cliches of the been there, done that blues-rock guitar cannon. Here he is playing “Manhattan” – so, listen up and listen good because it’s said that Eric can tell the difference between the brands of batteries in his effects pedals.


The primary metric used to describe a guitar neck is the scale, which is the overall length of the strings from the nut to the bridge with the frets being placed proportionally according to the scale length so the smaller the scale, the tighter the spacing of the frets. There are also several sizes of fret wire available and traditional players often prefer thinner frets, and shredders liking thick frets. Thin frets are considered better for playing chords, while thick frets allow lead guitarists to bend notes with less effort. I use jumbo frets myself on a Strat plus and Ive got no complaints. IF you are trying out an electric for the first time spend some time talking to your dealer and trying out a range of instruments with differing fretwire and neck combinations – for example there are C necks, U necks, and V necks.

Capo 1

A capo is a device used for shortening the strings, and hence raising the pitch, of a stringed instrument such as a guitar, mandolin or banjo. What a capo does, in effect, is to move the position of the nut of the guitar to shorten the length of the guitar neck and strings and therefore raise their pitch.

Capos are used to change the key and pitch of the open strings of a guitar without having to adjust the strings with the tuning keys.

The pitch of fretted notes does not change; only the open, unfretted strings are affected. It should be noted that the capo is placed as close to the fret as possible; some practitioners recommend placing the modern clamp-style capos directly on the fret, rather than behind it.

Clamping a capo on the fingerboard of your guitar will let you instantly change the key of a song without having to learn new chords. This will come in handy if you accompany a singer whose vocal range is better suited for another key. For example, a capo installed at the second fret on a guitar in standard EADGBE tuning would then have an open tuning of Gb, B, E, A, Db and Gb. The following steps will show how to use a capo on an acoustic guitar.

Because of the different techniques and chord voicings available in different keys, the same piece may sound very different played in D or played in C with a capo at the second fret (at the same actual pitch). Additionally, the timbre of the strings changes as the scale length is shortened, suggesting other short-scaled stringed instruments such as the mandolin. Therefore the use of a capo is as much a matter of artistic expression as of technical expediency.


1. quick release capo

Use a quick-release capo to change keys quickly between songs to accompany different singers while retaining the same voicing.

2. clamping capo

Observe a clamp-style capo. This type fits from the side of the neck and is more difficult to install but allows for capoed tunings that leave some strings open.

3. pencil and band.

strictly for the hobo’s, man. ride them rails!


The partial capo (also known as a cut capo or short cut capo) is a regular six string acoustic guitar capo that has been “cut” or altered to allow it to clamp down only on certain strings while leaving other strings open or unclamped. Typically, partial or cut capos clamp down on the A, D, and G strings on a regular-tuned six-string, which results in a DADGAD-style alternate tuning. Many guitarist place a standard, spring-loaded capo backwards on the guitar, so the shorter side of the capo (normally providing pressure on the back of the neck) clamps the inner strings.

Dominic Frasca is known for his customized ten-string prepared guitar with single string “mini-capos” as well as sticks and levers attached to the guitar to create percussive sounds and effects.

Manzer Pikasso Pat Methany

Okay, breathe deeply; when we’ve modified our guitars to the hilt will it then be time to modify our bodies?

“I’ve gotta gig this weekend, can I install a couple of extra sets of hands please Doc?” This Manzer custom build for Pat Methany features 42 strings…and yes Pat is still only using two normal hands of five digits.

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Known as the Pikasso guitar, after its likeness to the cubist paintings of Pablo Picasso, this one pictured belongs to jazz supremo Pat Metheny, one of the most famous jazz guitar players of our time.

The Picasso guitar was built for him by luthier Linda Manzer in 1984 and can be heard on his song “Into the Dream” and on the albums Quartet, Imaginary Day, Jim Hall & Pat Metheny, Trio Live, and Metheny Mehldau Quartet his 2007 second collaboration with pianist Brad Mehldau. The guitar can also be seen on the Speaking of Now Live and Imaginary Day DVDs. Pat Metheny has also used the guitar in various guest appearances on other artists’ albums and on the Legends of Jazz TV show, where he referred to it simply as a 42- string guitar.