Home: 2006 |
Playing Through Pain Needn't Break Strings
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For decades, playing hurt was just part of the
job for musicians, who learned to endure the pain in silence. Now
a cellist who once practiced to the point where she couldn't turn
a doorknob is spreading a message that resonates with musicians
around the country.
Janet Horvath's seminars help
prevent and treat injuries caused by overuse of muscles, harmful
playing techniques and instruments that don't fit. "These
injuries really can be nipped in the bud," Horvath said. "They can
be very minor if you pay attention to what your body is trying to
tell you right away."
Horvath has been associate principal cellist with the Minnesota
Orchestra for more than 20 years. In 1974, she was enrolled at the
Indiana University School of Music, studying under renowned
cellist Janos Starker.
Determined to be the best Starker student ever, Horvath practiced.
And practiced. And practiced.
It was too much for her body to take. In one two-minute movement
of the aria "Why Do the Nations" from Handel's "Messiah," for
example, Horvath's right arm moves back and forth 740 times during
the 96-bar movement.
"Try brushing your teeth with 740 strokes," she said.
Horvath's left arm began to hurt. But she kept quiet, thinking the
pain would disappear as she got in better shape as a cellist.
Instead, it got worse. She finally admitted her condition to
Starker and put down her cello for three months. It took another
nine months of working with Starker to adjust her posture and
technique before Horvath was healed.
The experience sensitized Horvath to the pain all around her.
Fellow musicians started asking for help with their problems --
muscle and tendon disorders, nerve damage, hearing loss, aching
lips and jaws and teeth.
She began working not only with musicians, but with physicians,
therapists, orchestra managers, college teachers and insurance
Today, some musicians use splints to brace their limbs and special
supports for heavy instruments. They are experimenting with
special chairs and modified instruments -- smaller piano keyboards
for people with small hands, for example, and a viola that is
stretched diagonally to help relieve a musician's elbow pain. Some
musicians use Plexiglas shields to protect their hearing.
Performing arts medical clinics have sprung up, and there's a
textbook for medical students who may want to specialize in the
In 2002, Horvath self-published a book, "Playing (less) Hurt: An
Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians." It has sold a healthy
Dr. Jennine Speier, a Twin Cities specialist in physical medicine
rehabilitation who has worked closely with Horvath, said musicians
are becoming more willing to talk about their injuries and seek
treatment. And more doctors are becoming knowledgeable about the
types of problems musicians experience and what specialists are
best trained to evaluate and treat them, she said.
"It's a tremendously changed area, although we're still, I think,
quite behind sports medicine," Horvath said. "But we're getting
there, and it's partly due to the rampant nature of overuse
injuries, the repetitive strain injuries that are occurring in the
workplace due to the computer."
In May, the Indianapolis Symphony became the first major orchestra
in the country to require its musicians to attend a two-day pain
prevention workshop. Orchestra management brought in Horvath and
used rehearsal time for her workshops.
Geoffry S. Lapin, a cellist with the symphony for 33 years, said
injuries had been increasing and musicians were missing work.
Horvath spent about an hour working with Lapin individually on his
"I thought it was the way I was leaning my head back when I play,"
Lapin said. But when he played for Horvath, she determined he was
scrunching his shoulders forward and putting pressure on neck
Because Lapin has very long legs, Horvath had him sit further back
on his chair and pull out the end pin at the bottom of his cello
another six inches, which opened up his shoulders.
"I am pain-free for the first time in years," Lapin said.
Five essential practice rules for beginning and professional
musicians to prevent injuries, according to cellist and author
-- Warm up
-- Take breaks
-- Vary repertoire
-- Increase practice load gradually
-- Reduce practice intensity on the day before and day of
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Who’s Playing What? A
Guide To The Guitars Of The Pros
Eric Clapton performs his slow-handed magic on his. Even with just
nine fingers, Jerry Garcia kept countless Deadheads dancing as he
played with his. At the mere sight of his, the King of Rock-n-Roll
could make a grown woman faint. Of course, I’m talking about
guitars. Professional musicians have been stroking and strumming,
picking and playing the world’s greatest guitars and making the
world’s greatest music. If you want to play like the pros, you’re
going to need to know what guitars are rocking their worlds.
Since 1946, Fender guitars have defined rock-n-roll. Fender’s line
of world-famous instruments, such as the Telecaster®,
Stratocaster®, Precision Bass®, and Jazz Bass® guitars have rocked
the world stage for decades. From the very beginning with Buddy
Holly, Jimi Hendrix, and Muddy Waters to the modern maestros such
as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kurt Cobain, and Eric Clapton, Fender
guitars are a must for the serious professional and aspiring
A Guitar Named After A World War I Battleship – What Will They
Think Of Next?
The dreadnought guitar was made famous by the Martin Guitar
Company. Since just about that same time, the best and brightest
guitarists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries have shown why a
Martin guitar means excellence. Martin musicians include a who’s
who of guitar greats from Jimmy Buffet, Neil Diamond, and Ben
Harper to Tracy Chapman, Elvis Costello, and Jerry Garcia. When
you throw in such rock icons and string virtuosos as Michael
Hedges, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Willy Nelson, Tom Petty, and Neil
Young, you’ll begin to understand that you’re in good company when
you go with a Martin.
Gibson Supplies The Who’s Who Of Stars
Starting making guitars way back in 1936, the Gibson Guitar
Company has been making some of the world’s finest guitars for
nearly 70 years. Most famous for its Les Paul line of guitars,
Gibson has been the guitar of choice for such musical legends as
Earl Scruggs, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley. When you add two of
the most talented Beatles to the mix, George Harrison and John
Lennon, as well as Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, you’re talking a
guitar that shines out as one of the best of the best.
For those of you who are looking for a less mainstream guitar
choice, don’t fret; Ibanez, maker of all manner of musical
instruments, is known as the perfect guitar for the select. With
such guitar icons as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Pat Metheny, and Boz
Scaggs on board with Ibanez, you can rest assured that you’ll be
able to get your strum on just fine with this highest quality of
Yamaha Makes More Than MotorBikes
Beginning in 1887, Yamaha started making world-class instruments.
Granted they didn’t start producing their guitars for years to
come, but nobody would argue with the fact that Yamaha guitars are
some of the best in the world. With an attention to detail that is
second to none, Yamaha is a guitar to watch. But, if you want to
listen, don’t take my word for it. Lee Ritenour, Edwin McCain, Keb
Mo, and Richie Sambora will gladly show you how diverse Yamaha can
If you’re ready to rock like the superstar, get strapped with a
guitar of the pros. With so many great brands to choose from, be
sure to ask your local guitar store expert for their
recommendations to get the best guitar for your money. When you
take into consideration your playing style, experience, and
budget, you’re sure to find the perfect guitar and start playing
like the pros in no time at all! Rock on!
Jon Butt is the publisher of
Musical Instruments Guide , a free resource dedicated to all
things musical. From electric guitars to drum sets, tubas to
bagpipes, and every musical accessory in-between, the
Instruments Guide is packed full of informative articles, find
top-rated musical instruments and online merchants
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Guitar Chords: How to Easily Master the Guitar Chords You Must
One of the first challenges faced by the advancing guitar player
is learning a core group of basic guitar chords. Why is it so
important to learn these basic chords? Chords form the backbone of
most rock and pop songs, and provide the harmonic accompaniment to
the melody and instrumental solos.
Rhythm guitar based on basic chords provides many of the most
memorable rock riffs... think AC/DCs "Back in Black" or The Whos
"Wont Get Fooled Again". Whats really amazing is that by learning
no more than 10 to 15 basic guitar chords, you will be equipped to
play thousands of rock and pop songs!
What is a Guitar Chord?
First lets establish the definition of a chord. A chord is three
or more different musical notes played together. In the case of
the guitar, this means that at least three strings are strummed or
plucked simultaneously to sound three or more notes. Since the
guitar has six strings, the maximum numbers of notes in a guitar
chord is six. All chords can be placed in one of three groups
based on the musical structure of the chord: Major, Minor, or
Seventh. Each of these chord groups has its own "sound" or "feel".
Major chords sound stable and complete. Minor chords can evoke a
more somber or pensive mood, and Seventh chords are jazzy and
somewhat incomplete sounding.
There is no standard list of "basic guitar chords" that every one
agrees to. However, there is general agreement that there is a
list of somewhere between 8 and 18 basic guitar chords (open
string) that every guitarist must know cold. These chords are used
in all musical styles from rock and pop to country, jazz, and
classical. No matter where you are on your guitar-playing path,
you should take the time to learn and master the basic chords.
Getting these right will ensure you have the basic tools and
skills to learn many songs and increase your playing enjoyment.
The List of Basic Guitar Chords
So what are the basic guitar chords? Our basic stable includes the
major and minor chords from four common musical keys, A,G,C, and
D. They are played as "open chords", that is at least one string
in the chord is not fretted (pressed down with a finger). Open
chords are easier to learn and play than more advanced chords such
as Barre chords, or complex chords further up the guitar neck. Our
list of basic major and minor chords is:
A Major (or A), A Minor (or Am), C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, G
These chords can be best learned as chord "families" (by key) that
can be combined into great-sounding chord sequences that make up
lots of popular songs. Using this chord family approach is much
more interesting and useful than just memorizing a bunch of chords
in random order!
These chords grouped by chord family (key) are as follows:
A Family (Key of A): A, D, E
D Family (Key of D): D, Em, G, A
G Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, Em
C Family (Key of C): C, Dm, Em, F, G
Tips for Learning the Basic Chords:
1. Pick a Chord Family and master it. This will give you quick
success and let you play great sounding progressions right away.
2. Use a Guitar Chord Chart as a reference tool. A chord chart
shows each chord as an easy to read "chord diagram" with exact
See this example of a chart of basic guitar chords.
3. Find the chords and lyrics for an easy song that is based on
the chord family so you can apply your skills. Many great songs
are based on only three chords!
4. Ensure each string sounds right. Take care to make sure that
each string is sounding clearly, and that only the strings that
should be played are played.
5. Practice, practice, practice! Every day, practice continually
change from one chord to another until you can do it rapidly.
Learn the chord families one at a time.
6. Master all the basic chords first. Only then move on to Barre
chords and other more complex chords. First things first!
7. Expand with 7th chords. As a next step you can easily expand on
your basic chord knowledge by adding 7th and minor 7th chords
based on the nine basic major and minor chords.
8. Have fun using your new skills! Enjoy your musical ability by
applying it to learning a small set of 5-10 songs you know really
well and can confidently play at any time.
Peter Bussey has been an avid guitar player for over 10 years. In
2004 he became Editor of The Guitar Players Toolbox, a website
dedicated to helping advancing guitar players improve with
practical tools, tips, and information. Visit
http://www.guitar-players-toolbox.com for a variety of free,
practical resources such as guitar chords, guitar chord charts,
song chords, and much more.
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Top Ten Items
You Need In Your Gig Bag
...Nothing like being prepared...
It would serve you well to keep that in mind. Whether or not you
going to play your gig, your recording session, or just jam with
the band, the list below comprises (in my honest, humble opinion)
ten of the most important accessories you need to have in your gig
bag. They are not necessarily listed in order of importance; I
think they all are equally necessary...
Ok...DUHHH!! Of course you need strings. Kinda hard to play
without them. The thing is that you would not believe how many
times people are just unprepared...and then they break one.
Nothing more embarassing than having to take a break during your
gig to change a string. There could be a little bit of a
double-whammy here...it would be best if you had a backup guitar
(strung up and tuned, of course), but if you don't have one,
having a few sets of strings in your bag can save you.
Umm...Double DUHHH. This one comes from personal experience. I
never really thought about keeping extra picks in my bag, but
there was one time in particular that I found I needed one and I
didn't have any! I had to try and do the Billy Gibbons/Brian May
deal and use a quarter (yeah, I know...Billy uses a peso and Brian
uses some sort of British coin...but you get the point). If you
have never tried to play with a quarter and then have to, it can
be quite a different experience when compared to picks that you
are used to.
Triple DUHHH. No question about that. The deal here is make sure
your cords are in good shape. I've had them go out on me in the
middle of a gig (thank God for having a back-up). The cheaper ones
with the molded plastic ends can cause you problems because if you
develop a short-circuit in the plug you are pretty much done. I
prefer the cords that have ends you can unscrew to get to the
actual solder connection to the plug. Like #1 and #2 this may seem
to be a no-brainer...but you really do need all three.
No more DUHHH's here (well...maybe there is one later on). I'm
sure we have all been in situations where we tune to everyone else
by ear, and for the most part that might be OK for practice. For
live and recording situations, however, a tuner is a must-have
item. Especially for recording. I was hired out to play on this
one fellow's demo, and I didn't have a tuner with me - "no big
deal..." I thought. "They will have one at the studio." Guess
what? No tuner. We spent at least a half-hour trying to tune up by
ear to this guy's keyboard.
I have found that chromatic tuners are the best. One band I was in
tuned down 1/2 step to give a little edge in the vocal department,
and being able to tune exactly down was great. The "needle" tuners
of old can be touchy, so I would go for ones with some sort of LED
or digital display.
(By the way, there is a BIG difference between tuning down 1/2
step and tuning to A430Hz (?). We were the house band during jam
night one time, and this crusty guy comes up and asks how we are
tuned. I said "1/2 step down"...and he looked at me like I had
lobsters crawing out of my ears. "What the ?!@# is 1/2 step? Do
you mean A430Hz?" Whew...what a jerk. 'A' is actually pitched at
Pedal tuners are an excellent way to be able to keep in tune while
not having to undo your cords to plug in to an "offline" tuner
(and this will keep the sound man from kicking your butt when you
pull the cord and send a great sounding "POP" through the PA).
Do youself a favor. If you don't have a tuner - get one!
5. Strap Locks
It makes me shudder just to think about it. Get in your way-back
machine and go to 1984 (mmm...mullets...). I was jamming in my
cousin's garage with my very first band. The guy we had for a
singer was a guitar player as well. The problem was he thought he
was Paul Stanley and was jumping around in front of the mike with
both arms in the air. I'm sure you can figure out what happened
He had a Les Paul copy. Not expensive, but it was his only guitar.
The strap came off and the guitar landed - face first - onto the
cold, hard, concrete floor. Makes me nauseous even now. Cracked
the neck, chipped the headstock, smashed in the volume and tone
controls...what a mess.
All I can say is - get some strap locks. For the uninformed, strap
locks are nifty little devices that have a ball-lock system. The
pins on the guitar have a large hole in the end of them , and the
other piece (which is affixed to your strap so it won't pull
through the hole) plugs in and locks - it can't come undone unless
you push the release button on the piece mounted to the strap.
Strap locks wil help you to make sure your most prized possession
(your guitar...what else?!?) won't have to same fate as my old
6. Surge Protector
Man, we were fired up. A new club had opened in town and was
getting the rep for being "the place to play" - and we managed to
get a gig!
We came in, checked out the stage, made sure that we had enough
power sources, and went to town setting up.
I plugged my wireless unit, my footpedal effects unit, and my amp
in...and turned the power on. POP!! My wireless was, well, DEAD.
Same with the amp. Somehow my pedal unit made it through and I had
to run a line-out direct from the unit to the PA. Sounded OK, but
I had no stage volume (we were too cheap to get monitors back
then). I couldn't hear myself that well that night...
I ended up "paying" my bass player with a bottle of his favorite
tequila to rip the amp apart (this guy was an electronics whiz)
and see what was wrong. Luckily it was only a blown fuse, but it
could have been a lot worse. Sadly, the wireless receiver did not
meet with the same fate.
I never - repeat, NEVER - have plugged in anywhere without using
my own power strip with a surge protector after that. Period.
7. Guitar Stand
Nothing can look more unprofessional than having to lean your
guitar against something when you are taking your breaks. Not to
mention, you don't want your guitar to fall over. Trust me...you
need a stand. Also, it looks pretty cool to have your guitar
arsenal displayed in front of the crowd...
This one really depends on your playing style, so I don't know if
it is "required"...but it a capo can come in handy.
For the uninitiated, a capo is a device that clamps around your
guitar neck to "change" the position of the nut. It allows you to
use the same chord fingerings in different keys, and there for get
different voicings. For example, play an open 'D' chord. Now place
your capo between the first and second frets and play the same
chord...it is now an 'E'. Pretty simple, and some songs
(especially some acoustic numbers) are downright impossible to
play without one.
Cheap...simple...and used by millions.
9. String Cleaner
I don't know about you but I can get pretty sweaty after playing
four sets in a seedy little dive on the edge of town. The eventual
result of this if you don't use some sort of string cleaner is
having to take a chisel to scrape out the crud that builds up on
your fretboard (ok - a chisel may be exaggerating a bit).
Your guitar is an investment. Clean it and take care if it!
This goes in the "may be needed" section. If you use a wireless,
you use batteries. If you use foot pedals, you may use batteries
(unless you use an AC adaptor). If you use a wireless microphone,
you use batteries.
I think this goes without saying anything more. You can tell when
your battery in your wireless is going dead - bad quality, bad
sounding signal - then nothing. Make sure you have plenty of back
ups. I had to get myself in the habit of remembering to get some
before every gig.
11. Gig Bag
You get your money's worth here at 1StopGuitar.com, I'll tell you
DUHHH (I told you there may be another one)!!! It's hard to put
all of this stuff in your gig bag if you don't have one. 'Nuff
12. Your head
ANOTHER BONUS ITEM!! SOMEONE STOP HIM BEFORE HE GOES INSANE!!!
Anytime you play, you need to remain focused. Sure, there are
other things going on in your life. Letting your mind wander can
lead to mistakes...been there, done that. Try to clear your mind
before you play and just "let it flow, dude".
To quote The Beatles in "She's Leaving Home" from "Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band":
"Fun is the one thing that money can't buy".
You can't put this in your gig bag, but remember - it's GOT to be
Well, that's about it. Obviously I wanted to have a little fun
(see item #13) here, but the points made and lessons learned are
...Nothing like being prepared...
Jerry Mathis has 25 years of guitar experience - playing,
teaching, recording and performing live. Visit his website
http://www.1StopGuitar.com to get all of your guitar tablatures,
articles, reviews, accessories and more all in one place!
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Acoustic Guitars – Laminated
Wood Versus Solid Wood
by Ken Searcy
A lot has transpired through the years in the debate over acoustic
guitars in the area of laminate versus solid wood construction. It
is not a secret that the type of materials and craftsmanship
affect the quality, durability, sound and price of acoustic
guitars. However, there is probably no other discussion bigger
The question that many players ask themselves is whether a solid
body is worth the price? Despite the better sound, they require
care and regular maintenance to prevent cracking. When using
laminated you run the risk that it will separate over time. There
is no clear answer to this question and as long as there is a
discussion about acoustic guitars, it will always be at the
The Debate - Uncut
Laminated is several pieces of wood glued together and solid body
is exactly that, one piece. There are pros and cons to both kinds.
It is a fact that laminate is known to produce a ‘dead’ sound that
does not sustain or project sound very well and the one-piece body
is known for its richer tone. Laminate is more used because it is
more durable and less sensitive to humidity and change in
temperature. A body that is made from one-piece timber is very
sensitive to humidity and climate change. The top is like a sponge
that you can’t let dry out.
A Bit Of History
Years ago the debate was not about sound quality or durability, it
was about price. The one piece timber body guitars were very
expensive so many musicians did not have a choice but to buy one
made of laminate. A one piece is coveted because of its rich and
beautiful tone that only seems to become better over time.
However, times have changed quite a bit in the world of laminate
including the craftsmanship. Better quality laminate is being used
and more detailed craftsmanship has been applied so they are
sounding better and better everyday.
It is evident why this debate is becoming less spectacular, but
the fact will always remain the same that a laminate will never be
able to sound as good.
The Main Problem
When building a guitar you want the soundboard, better known as
the top, to be as lightweight and strong as possible. Creating
this ratio with laminate is often difficult because in order to
make it strong it ends up too heavy. The wet glue used to secure
the pieces of timber together can become to heavy when too much is
used. Unfortunately, when too little of the glue is used, the
timber pulls apart. Recently new adhesives have been introduced
that have helped to solve this problem and ensure lightness. This
is one of the ways that laminated construction is becoming more
popular and competitive.
Necks, Sides & Backs
Acoustic laminate necks are very common and widely accepted. This
has become a popular way to make the neck stronger. Hybrid guitars
are also extremely common. Many models are made with one piece
body tops and laminate sides and backs. The sound quality is 90%
dependent on what the top is made of, so as long as the soundboard
is one piece the rich sound will be present. This is also a great
way to make solid body tops affordable.
How Do You Tell The Difference?
Depending on how dark the timber or stain is, telling the
difference between them can be a difficult task. First, you need
to look at the inside edge of the sound hole on the top of the
body. If the edge has a natural finish it is a one piece body and
if it has two or more layers it is made of laminate. To determine
what the back and sides are constructed with you need to first
look at the back of the guitar. Next, look inside the sound hole
at the same spot on the back and see if the wood grains are the
same. If they are the same it is a whole body. You can do this
same technique with the sides.
It’s a Wrap
Everyone’s opinion is different. Many believe that there is no
need to buy an acoustic made of laminated timber when solid bodies
are so affordable now. Others believe that the sound quality of
laminate bodies on their own and in a hybrid model is comparable.
Each individual needs to evaluate the pros and cons of both, and
decide what makes sense for them. For example if you travel often,
perhaps it makes sense to purchase a laminate model for its
durability. When buying there are always a lot of questions that
need to be answered, this is just another one.
Ken Searcy is the host of
you will discover invaluable advice and tips on how-to choose and
guitars, the perfect acoustic guitar,
guitar amps and guitar accessories.
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And speaking of
jamming, if you're tired of jamming alone, check this out!
Guitar-Backing-Tracks is a brand new
site that allows you to select ANY drum beat... ANY bass riff or
ANY synth track...... and start jamming immediately!
Improve your guitar playing......
create your own songs..... improve your lead with over 125,000
different combinations of beats, riffs and synth tracks behind
For the last 6 months, Chris Elmore and the team at Guitar Tips
have been flat out recording and he's just told us he's finally
Because you're already a subscriber on our newsletter -- we wanted
you to be among the first to check it out. It's called
"Guitar-Backing-Tracks" and like all his other sites, you can
access the site any time of the day or night, at the times which
suit you best!
Whether you enjoy slow jazz beats, hard rock beats, ultra fast
grooves or slow mellow tunes... ... you'll be jamming in your own
home, with your own virtual 'Backing Band' behind you!
There's so much more to explain, so check out his
new site before everyone else gets in!
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