Archive for the ‘Guitar’ Category


August 28, 2012

Another guitar song, this one by the Zac Brown Band about my favorite brand of guitar.

He was born in the woods
Torn from his home.
Well, he was naked,
And destined
To be out on his own.
And he waited in darkness,
Hoping someone might see,
From something so rough,
What a treasure he’d be.

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.

Well he’s hollow in the middle
From the shape that he’s in.
He’s either filled up with music
Or locked in his shell again.
And it takes some fine tuning
To make him come around,
But he’s a huge piece of me
And I’ll never put him down.

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.

He is a good friend,
And he has his own voice.
And you get what you give;
Sometimes it’s just noise.
But if you treat him well
He will last your life long.
And if you’re honest and open
Well, he will write you a song.
(Write you a song, write you a song)

Stronger than steel and wood.
Seen me through the bad and good.
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
And when I’m hanging by a string,
Every little thing
Is understood
Between Martin and me.


This Old Guitar

September 13, 2011
My Martin HD28 by pjbishop93
My Martin HD28, a photo by pjbishop93 on Flickr.

Dozens of songs have been written about guitars. Here’s the one written by John Denver.

This old guitar taught me to sing a love song
it showed me how to laugh and how to cry.
It introduced me to some friends of mine
and brightened up some days
and helped me make it thru some lonely nights. Oh
What a friend to have on a cold and lonely night

This old guitar gave me my lovely lady
it opened up her eyes and ears to me
it brought us close together
and I guess it broke her heart
it opened up the space for us to be
What a lovely place and a lovely space to be.

This old guitar gave me my life my living
all the things you know I love to do
to serenade the stars that shine
from a sunny mountainside
and most of all to sing my songs for you
I love to sing my songs for you.
Yes I do, you know
I love to sing my songs for you


March 27, 2009

I love connections. This week’s favorite connection starts with an African American guitarist in western Kentucky named Arnold Schultz. Born in 1886 in Ohio County, Kentucky, Schultz has attained legendary status as the key figure in the development of the guitar finger picking style that is known today as “Travis picking.” Like Robert Johnson, he was remarkably skilled on his instrument, only one photograph is know to exist of him (shown below), he died at a relatively young age, and the rumors that surround his death center on a jealous husband.

Arnold Schultz

Arnold Schultz

Where and how Schultz developed his unique finger-picking style is not entirely clear, but he appears to have traveled and performed widely in his youth, possibly on riverboats. His reputation as a guitarist led many to seek him out for instruction: Melford Everly, grandfather of the Everly Brothers, is said to have once hired him to teach his daughter, Hattie, to play a song called “The Drum Piece.” He may have taught Hattie his unique finger-picking style, which involved playing a bass note with the thumb and the melody with the other fingers.

Throughout the 1920s, other western Kentucky musicians also listened to and learned from Schultz, including Kennedy Jones, who added a thumbpick to the style. Jones, in turn, influenced Mose Rager (1911-1986) and Ike Everly (son of Melford and father of Don and Phil). Mose and Ike played together early in their careers but eventually went their separate ways. Mose, in particular, employed alternate chords, embellishments, and other trechniques with the style. Merle Travis (1917-1983), also from Kentucky, credits both men as influencing his own playing style, which can be heard on his numerous recordings during the 1940s and 50s. His style of playing became the predominant style in country music and the next generation of guitarists studied his work closely. One was Chet Atkins (1924-2001), who heard Travis on the radio and imitated his style, adding his own personal elements. In time Atkins would be become one of the greatest guitarists, session musicians, and producers in Nashville. In fact, it was Atkins who was instrumental in helping Don and Phil make the necessary contacts in Nashville and ultimately led the studio musicians in many of their Cadence recordings.

As a side note, I think nearly every guitar student in the South, at least back in my day, learned some variation of Travis-picking, usually on old standards like “Wildwood Flower.”

Lightfoot, William E. “A Regional Musical Style: The Legacy of Arnold Schultz.” In Sense of Place: American Regional Cultures, edited by Barbara Allen and Thomas J. Schlereth, 120-37. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.

Wolfe, Charles K. Kentucky Country: Folk and Country Music of Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1982.

Three People, One Guitar

March 9, 2009

The Everly Brothers appeared on the Tennessee Ernie Ford television show sometime in the late 1950s. In this clip, Don, Phil, and Ernie are all playing one guitar. Don is sitting and holding the guitar. Phil stands behind him and frets the lower strings with his left hand while Ernie stands on the side of Don and strums the lower strings with a pick. Don frets just above where Ernie is strumming and plays a lead melody just below where Ernie’s hand. The video makes it clearer.

According to one biographer, this neat little trick was one that Don and Phil learned from their father, Ike, and his two brothers, Charlie and Leonard.

The guitar is probably the black Gibson J-200 with dual white pickguards. Don and Phil played a number of J-200s during their career, including their own custom designed model.

Palin Comparison: Which Ticket Would Be Better for Music?

September 5, 2008

This just in:

Palin Comparison: Which Ticket Would Be Better for Music? | Listening Post from

Word is that Alaska governor, Republican vice presidential nominee and airborne wolf huntress Sarah Palin gave one of her children the middle name “Van” so that his name would rhyme with Van Halen. After all, one of its best-selling albums, 1984, did come out the same year she competed in the Miss Alaska pageant.

John McCain (who may or may not have been aware of her predilection for the guitar legend) played the …Read more…

This does not bode well, people. So fire up those DVD burners and start ripping as fast as you can. And check your collection for CDs that Ms. Righteous will want banned. Except Van Halen? She likes them? If I were a fan of Eddie & Co., I would be hiding those tapes and CDs right now!

This highlights the way in which music is contextually placed and how that context can change and shift reception over time. Van Halen–cool when they came out, not cool later, wicked cool as old guys (when they’re straight anyway), and possibly pariahs or maybe heros now, depending on your political orientation. And poor old Abba. They’ve really ridden the roller coaster of taste. They were high again, but McCain may have given them the kiss of death.

Fun Music

August 18, 2008


That’s right everyone! The electric guitar can make music fun. And following in the great French conservatory tradition, you can learn right here in Fun Music School in beautiful Chantilly, France, because what is fun if we do not learn to make it properly?








Bodyless Guitar

August 11, 2008


We found this man in Montmartre in Paris, playing his guitar. If you look closely you may notice that the guitar has only the outline of a body, in other words it is neither a solid- nor hollow-body guitar. On the rear portion he had a headphone jack and some controls. When he played, I couldn’t really hear the strings that well. They look to be steel strings.

Guitar Hero

July 18, 2008
Taken by musical mutterings

Taken by musical mutterings

My kind of place

July 18, 2008

Found this great photo surfing the blogs this morning. Kudos to the photographer.