Guitar that Sounds Good

As seen in my buyer’s guide, there are many things to consider when purchasing musical equipment.  The logic that quality gear will result in better sound is not entirely unflawed.  PRACTICE will lead to good sound.  I live by example, as you can see from my instruments in the photos below.

Nils Seagull S6 with Gorilla Glue Repair.jpg

Keep in mind, I am not materialistic and I have crafted my art to represent that.  If I was working in a band that played formal functions, then appearance would be a more important factor, and I would concede to the proper stage presence.

Nils Crusberg - Les Paul Studio - Guitar - Small - Edited

Extra-Curricular Activities

As a full time private music instructor, I see at least fifty students each week.  Honestly, the vast majority of my students have virtually no interest in becoming involved with music on a professional level.  Most of them do it for personal enjoyment.  My students spend a lot of their time doing schoolwork and other extracurricular activities, such as sports; therefore they do NOT spend countless hours everyday practicing music, and conclusively they are not high achievers (AKA crazy insane guitarists!?@&*^%)

Guitarist Knuts - Edited

The article below outlines how kids are often overtaxed with commitments.  It describes how society has catered to this lifestyle and has propelled beliefs into our youth of outstanding achievement, even when it’s not true.  It also addresses how that affects kids as they move into the world of adulthood.  It’s a very good read!

In any case, I try to keep a levelheaded approach to this.  Often, students just use the 1/2hr we have together each week to unwind.  They learn a little guitar along with some basics of music, we hang loose, and they move on.  If I happen to have a student who puts in the extra-commitment, I will certainly challenge him/her, but if they are not looking to become outstanding, then I lower my expectations to match their goals.  Easy enough:)

Guitar Lesson Plans – Late 1980’s

SmkI took private guitar lessons during the late 1980’s.  My experience as a student had me in an entirely different environment than the one I currently teach in.  Guitar Tablature had not fully been an accepted form of notation (although it is arguably the most accurate), educational resources were not as readily available as they are today, teaching methods were often dry and uninteresting.  The location where I learned guitar was drastically different.  Instead of a first class studio overlooking a tidal estuary, as a I currently reside, I was attending lessons in a section of a city that was vaguely crime ridden and located just a 1/2 block away from an adult movie theater in a room that was filled with cigarette smoke as common custom encouraged the habit in basically every situation.

PN

My field of study with the guitar focused on jazz music, so I learned a limited amount of rock songs.  I spent the majority of my time reviewing a large variety of jazz concepts and technical skills, both conceptually and in real life situations.  I applied my learned knowledge to jazz standards.  Below, I’ve provided to the general public scanned versions of all the material that I used in my private lessons program, for either study or interest.

Click to access Joe_D’Angelo_-_Lesson_Plans.pdf

Youtube Instructional Videos by Guitarstyles!

As noted in prior blogs, I’ve made all of my guitar teaching lesson plans available at no cost to other interested parties.  One thing I haven’t done is provide the general public with instructional videos that might help with learning the instrument.  The youtube video linked below is my first attempt to create an educational video on playing guitar.  If you are an absolute beginner, I would suggest the song that is profiled in this video “The Movie Soundtrack for JAWS” as your first attempt to learn something on guitar.  As you can see, I left myself lots of room for improvement, but the content is accurate, and hopefully aspiring players find it useful.  Rock On!!!!

Apps for Musicians iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch

*See comments below for updated app suggestions

I usually hesitate to acquire the latest technological gadgets. The reason for my delayed response is often financial, but I am also the type of person who avoids unnecessary “improvements”. Things that work don’t need replacements! I am still using Windows XP on most of my personal computers (except of course my Apple). On my website, I have limited audio recommendations to software items that support the XP operating system:
www.guitarstyles.org/downloads.php

In 2011, a few of my family members gave me an iPad as a gift. At first I was very hesitant, as I like to have full control of the behavior of my computer systems. iOS has lots of limitations in that regard. I managed to put that personal requirement aside, and I embraced the iPad for it’s full potential. The iPad and it’s relatives provide musicians with incredible resources at an affordable price. Here is a list of music apps that I use regularly, and I highly recommend to students and other musicians who want to use their devices to enhance their learning experience.

Instrument Tuner
A good tuner for both band instruments and guitar is Pano Tuner. It is FREE and it responds very well to the sound in the room. Many tuners respond to overtones and give false readings, but this one doesn’t have that problem.

Pano Tuner
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/free-chromatic-tuner-pano/id449780743?mt=8
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Change Tempo and Pitch

Slowing down music and changing the pitch of what you are hearing is an essential learning tool for any instrumentalist. Slow Down Music Player (SDMP) is my favorite, but JamUp XT is a close second with extra features for guitarists such as recording capabilities, amp simulation, and sample loading. Both items are FREE, but the display for SDMP is only iPhone/iPod Touch compatible, so it lacks resolution. JamUp XT attempts to up-sell the consumer, but the nag screens and are limited and the free version is quite functional.

Slow Down Music Player
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slow-down-music-player/id314296369?mt=8
Image

JamUp XT
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jamup-xt-amp-effects-processor/id449820506?mt=8
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Metronome

All musicians should regularly practice with a metronome. There are tons of excellent FREE apps in this department, but one of my favorites is Pro Metronome. It supports odd time signatures and you can change the sound of the click. It can be a hassle because it offers “hidden” up-sells for more wacky options like odd subdivisions,  and visual enhancements, but once you figure out the limitations, it’s easy to avoid those features.

Pro Metronome
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pro-metronome-beat-sound-light/id477960671?mt=8
Image


Drum Machines

Metronomes can be a monotonous way to improve rhythm skills, so I highly recommend practicing with a drum beat/machine. I have not found a free app that provides a large variety of patterns where the user can control the speeds/tempos, but I have discovered a couple of FREE apps that provide a limited number of drum examples for a musician to play along with, albeit with caveats. Drum Beats has fifty patterns to choose from but it displays flashing advertisements if your device is connected to the outside world and its display has limited resolution in order to keep it compatible with the iPhone/iPod touch. The audioBase.com Sample Player has modern drum/instrumental loops, but no “simple” beats are available, thus making the tracks sound a bit cluttered. Groove Bank provides the musician with a good selection of beats and it offers a large variety of tempos, but the user must sort thru “locked” examples to avoid being up-sold. bleep!Box Player is designed like a traditional drum machine/sequencer (it’s not just a loop player). It gives you editable pre-programmed examples, but the free version does not allow you to save edits, so if you wanted to practice with a basic beat, you would have to do a quick edit every time you open the product.

Drum Beats
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/drum-beats/id353093075?mt=8
Drum Beats
audioBase.com Sample Player

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audiobase.com-sample-player/id397523108
AudioBase
Groove Bank

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/groove-bank-acoustic-drum/id665856989?mt=8
Groove Bank
bleep!
Box Player
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bleep!box-player/id331518681?mt=8
Bleep Player


Music Production/Recording Studio

All the apps listed above, in one form or another, are necessary tools for any musician who is aspiring for improvement. Notice they are all free. The one app whose value far outweighs its cost is Garageband. If anything, the recording studio app made by Apple has too many features.  The interface is as intuitive as a piece of software this complicated can be. Excellent sounding tracks can be produced with this app, and for $5 it’s the deal of a lifetime. Unfortunately, Apple recently changed its pricing scheme on this product and made the app free with a $5 charge to unlock all of its features. In-App-Purchase requirements are always less desirable because they prevent the purchaser from installing the full featured version of the app on multiple devices.

Garageband
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garageband/id408709785
Garageband New


Conclusion

There are many other recording and music production apps that are outstanding. A few that I have had positive experiences with are: Synthstation, Djay, Fruit Loops Studio, Thumbjam, Music Studio, Groove Maker, Studio Track, MultiTrack, Tabletop, AudioShare, Wavepad, Traktor DJ, and iSequence. One important app that makes it possible to run multiple production apps together in tandem/unison is Audiobus.

Keep in mind, the apps listed above are current products in good standing as of late 2013, but that can change quickly. App developers often make updates to their software….. for better or for worse. It is important to have the ability to revert to a previous version of an app in order to avoid bad updates. To do this, you must plan in advance. Backup your apps by copying the contents of your “Mobile Applications” folder to a separate location. This folder is usually located in the “My Music/iTunes…..iTunes Media” of a computer with a Windows based operating system. A process of deleting the new version of the app and then dragging a copy of the original version of the app into the iTunes library is required to complete the process. Look online for tutorials on the subject, as this is only a quick description of how it works.