March 2006 (Issue No. 159)
Leo Kottke talks about learning to play with other musicians, tone production, and picking technique. How to order a custom guitar. Patty Larkin turns the spotlight on women guitarists with La Guitara, a wide-ranging collection of captivating performances by female instrumentalists. Five songs to play, including "Eighth of January." Private lesson with Andrew Hardin. Chris Whitley, 1960-2005. Spotlight on country-blues guitarist Terry Robb. Help your kids learn to play guitar. Open-string blues lesson. Alternative tonewoods basics. A look at Larson Brothers Instruments. Expand your fingerstyle arrangements. And more!
Take Me Home, Country Roads
- John Denver
- Pete Madsen
- Leo Kottke
Eighth of January
- Traditional, arr. by Eric Lugosch
In This Issue
Along with John Fahey, Bert Jansch, and John Renbourn, Leo Kottke invented contemporary fingerstyle guitar in the early '70s. After nearly 40 years as a soloist, he's recently been reshaping his music in a duo with former Phish bassist Mike Gordon. In this exclusive interview, the veteran guitarist talks about learning to play with other musicians, tone production, and picking technique. By Teja Gerken.
THE ART OF ORDERING A CUSTOM GUITAR
If you've searched guitar shops high and low, but still can't find your ultimate guitar, perhaps a custom instrument is the cure for your blues. If you carefully limit your options, find a reference instrument so you can talk to your luthier in a meaningful way about the sound you want, and resist the urge to get too fancy, you'll be well on your way to getting the guitar of your dreams. By Richard Johnston.
LA FEMME GUITARA
Patty Larkin turns the spotlight on women guitarists with La Guitara, a wide-ranging collection of captivating performances by female instrumentalists. Read the interview with Larkin and tour mates Kaki King, Muriel Anderson, and Mimi Fox. By Dan Ouellette.
Take Me Home, Country Roads. Words and music by John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert.
A Private Lesson with Andrew Hardin. Tom Russell's longtime lead guitarist demonstrates some of his hot, country-rock lead lines, full of multiple slurs and ringing scale tones. By David Hamburger.
Breedlove C25 Passport Short-Scale Guitar. A chiming, expertly crafted little acoustic-electric that's perfect for the road—and for expanding your sound palette. By Michael John Simmons.
Epiphone AJ-500RC 12-Fret. Vintage vibe, remarkably complex tones, and unusual dimensions come together in a dreadnought that's well suited to fingerstyle playing. By Teja Gerken.
SansAmp Para Driver. A simple yet deceptively versatile direct box that'll make your flattop—and just about any other instrument—sparkle with life.
IN THE STORES
Chris Whitley, 1960-2005. The rebel slide man wrote original National anthems by changing his sound and sidestepping categories from one album to the next. By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers.
Terry Robb. The veteran guitarist takes a "more is more" approach by incorporating Django Reinhardt flourishes, Impressionist harmonies, and jazzy modes into his country-blues picking. By Steve Boisson.
Help Your Kids Learn to Play. Once you've found them a teacher, you can help set realistic goals, minimize frustration, keep instruments handy, and find music that will inspire them. By Jack Tuttle.
Open-String Blues. Are your blues solos sounding like a bunch of scale fragments? Add open strings to the pentatonic blues scale and create a whole new batch of blues licks. By Pete Madsen.
Forest of Sound. Today's guitarists can choose from a larger variety of tonewoods than ever before. Spruce and rosewood are still viable choices for many guitarists, but you may also want to check out the growing list of alternative woods now available for guitarmaking. By Richard Johnston.
STAGE AND STUDIO
Turn It Up. Experiment with EQ, volume settings, and placement, and your acoustic amp can become a portable mini-PA that sounds great and is easy to use. By Doug Young.
Reformed headbanger/electronic-raver Randy Collins slaps, taps, and delicately fingerpicks his treasured McIlroy A25C grand concert.
Windy City Innovators. The Larson Brothers built some of the finest guitars of the early 20th century. Through brands like Prairie State and Euphonon, their unique instruments provide a tonally rich alternative to vintage favorites. By Michael Wright.
Late Bloomer. After taking up guitar in his 40s, Matthew Haavisto dove right into the high-end guitar world, with guitars by Sergei de Jonge, Lowden, and John Kinnaird that fit his fondness for traditional folk fingerstyle. By Michael John Simmons.
Darden Smith, Field of Crows. By Judith Edelman.
Lenny Breau, Guitar Sounds From Lenny Breau. By Ron Forbes-Roberts.
Precious Bryant, My Name Is Precious. By Ian Zack.
The Marc Atkinson Trio, III. By Michael John Simmons.
Wilco, Kicking Television: Live in Chicago. By Derk Richardson.
David Wilcox and Nance Pettit, Out Beyond Ideas: Songs for Peace. By Phil Catalfo.
Jake Shimabukuro, Dragon. By Kenny Berkowitz.
Richard Julian, Slow New York. By Judith Edelman.
Cherish the Ladies, Woman of the House. By Sue Thompson.
Expand Your Fingerstyle Arrangements. Cultivate your own arrangements with a few simple techniques: play the melody in two octaves, experiment with different bass lines, and create variations with melodic fragments. By Eric Lugosch.
Strange Brew. Words and music by Eric Clapton, Felix Pappalardi, and Gail Collins, from the Cream recording Disraeli Gears. By Mark Hanson.
1992 Stefan Sobell Model 1 Sicilian. A gorgeous guitar built for fingerstyle virtuoso Martin Simpson. By Buck Curran.