Don Chance Guitar Page
This page is a compilation of sites I have bookmarked over time and other stuff I have added as I began working on this page. No claim of quality either on this page or any of these links is expressed or implied. In fact, dubious quality is everywhere on the Internet and maybe even here.
If you have any suggestions, email them to me at email@example.com. However, I may or may not add them, so don't be upset. I have gotten some interesting emails, including some from professionals. I would REALLY like to hear if any serious musicians find this page helpful.
The following are sites that enable you to look up chords. Unfortunately, these sites are of varying quality. I rarely find that I can rely on any one site. I must admit, however, that there is some clever material on here. Too bad they couldn't all merge into one.
These sites contain a massive collection of songs in which individuals, mostly rank amateurs have provided tabs and/or chords to popular songs. Like the rest of the Internet, there is no quality control, and I mean that in a big way. While occasionally you may find that someone has done a good job tabbing or figuring out the chords to a song, the number of mistakes is massive. Some of these kids cannot even tell the difference in sound between a D and a B minor. What's even worse is the number of occasions in which some idiot tabs a few measures and then writes something like "I think that's pretty close. You can get the rest." or "That's all I've got right now. I'm tired. I'll try to do the rest later." Nonetheless, I find myself referring to tab sites often. If you know the song well enough and if your ear can tell when something doesn't sound quite right, you can usually filter out the trash and use the small amount of material here that's quite good. Of course, in that regard, even semi-professionals mess up. I'm reminded of what Paul McCartney said when he saw an advertisement for a guitar school that promised to teach "the special tuning used in Blackbird": "Well, I'd sure like to know because I play it in standard tuning."
|Harmony Central Tabs|
In line with this, the digital sheet music sites are generally pretty good. For anywhere from $2 - $6 a song you can get copyrighted sheet music downloaded to your computer. Needless to say this stuff is exactly the opposite in quality from the tab sites, though even copyrighted sheet music is not 100% accurate. Producers of copyrighted sheet music simply pay a fee to the owners of the song and hire someone to transcribe it. And that someone is not the artist who recorded it (I suspect most recording artists never see the sheet music of their songs.) It's also interesting to observe that there are multiple copyrighted sheet music versions of a given song, no doubt due to the fact that there are multiple transcriptionists. Generally all versions contain the piano G clef usually combined with either the F clef, G clef melody, or guitar tabs but rarely do you get all. So watch what you buy just to be sure you're getting the one you want. I like Musicnotes.com and I compliment them highly for taking care of me recently with a small customer service problem that was my fault. You may also wish to check out www.sheetmusicplus.com and www.justsheetmusic.com.
Listed below are links to over 100 manufacturers of guitars. Some of these companies are owned by other companies within the same list (e.g., Gretsch is owned by Fender, Epiphone is owned by Gibson) but I list them separately because they have their own web sites and are distinctly different guitars. (Well, ok, some Epiphones are practically the same as some Gibsons. Lighten up.) Some of these companies are small operations that make only custom guitars. Also, some of these companies make electric guitars as well. For companies that make only electric, see the list that follows this one.
If you're an independent luthier or a full-blown factory manufacturer and are not included here, please send me an email and I will add you.
|Amalio Burguet||Hawkins (Ernie)||Recording King|
|Anderson (Robert)||Highland Strings||Redline|
|Babicz (Jeff)||Hopkins (Justin)||Rigaud|
|Barthell||Howell and Forsyth||Robert|
|Bashkin||Huss and Dalton||Robinson|
|Bear Creek||Ryan (Kevin)|
|Black Forest||Santa Cruz|
|Bozung (Chris)||Kiso||Sedgwick (Stephen)|
|Buscarino||Kramer (Randall)||Simon and Patrick|
|Kraus||Smith (Paul Reed)|
|Composite Acoustics||L Benito||(R) Taylor|
|Cort||Lehmann||Thompson (P. K.)|
|Dunn (Michael)||McElroy||True North|
|Eichelbaum||Manual & Patterson||Veelah|
|Flammang||Morgan Monroe||Wingert (Kathy)|
|Fleishman||Muth (R. S.)||Wood (Mark)|
|Franklin (Ken)||Noble (Roy)|
|Freeman (David)||Olson||Yong (C.H. Jeffrey)|
|Froggy Bottom||Oriskany||Your Perfect Guitar|
|Fylde (Roger Bucknall)||Pantheon|
|Greenfield||PRS (see Smith (Paul Reed))|
Here are some companies and luthiers that make only electric guitars (to my knowledge):
Daisy Rock (an interesting concept of guitars made specially for young girls)
Renaissance (Rick Turner) (the Linsdey Buckingham guitar)
I cannot tell you how important strings are. If I emphasize it, it won't be enough. You can sit down in a music store with your eyes closed, play a guitar and feel like you love it so much that you have to have it. You can play another one and it just doesn't feel right. Guess what? They could be the same guitar. They just have different strings. As a rule, lighter strings (called light and even lighter that are called extra light or super light) will be easier to play and give the illusion that the guitar has good action (a small distance between strings and fretboard). Medium to heavy strings will give the illusion of high action. Most guitarists, especially beginners, prefer low action. Don't let this fool you into buying or avoiding a particular guitar. Try to find out what kind of strings are on it.
Generally I prefer 12-54s for my acoustics and 11-48s for my electric (these refer to the gauge or thickness of the 1st and 6th strings). An electric with lighter strings will play well as a rhythm guitar but not as well as a lead guitar. As a lead, the strings will bend too easily and give a tinnier tone. Generally you will want something heavier for leads. Lighter strings will also break more easily, so I recommend keeping a used set around to replace a broken one until you're ready to change the whole set.
(Also, note that when I mention the string gauges 12-54 and 11-48, not all are the same. So two 12-54s could have different gauges for the inner strings.)
Of course, many of the large manufacturers such as Fender, Gibson, and Martin make excellent strings. For some good material on guitar strings, see www.stringitup.com.
|Black Diamond||Drstrings||Ernie Ball|
|Cleartone||Dunlop (strings and other)||GHS|
There must be as many ways of stringing a guitar as there are guitars. When I bought my Martin, I tried to string it the way the Martin manual said to do it. It worked, but frankly it looked like crap, and I was embarrassed at what the guitar technician must have thought when I brought it in for some minor repair work. I checked out a number of Internet articles on how to string a guitar, and I must admit, nothing beats this one. It's neat, tight, and simple.
As for how often to change strings, it depends. When I'm not traveling and can play about an hour a day, I sense my strings losing quality after about a month. So figure maybe 30-50 hours. You will know when they're losing their quality. It will be when you need to tune them more often and it's harder to get them into tune. Strings need a lot of tuning when first put on because they're still stretching out. They then reach the optimal point in their lives and need little tuning. Then they get "over the hill" (like people), and you have to tune them often. For what it costs, I find that replacing them is worth it at that point. As for their tuning optimum, I find with a very good guitar and good strings, I can play for a couple of weeks without them getting out of tune. I do take decent care of my strings, cleaning them regularly, though I don't think it really prolongs their life. I just don't like playing strings that I can tell are multicolored due to various hues of dirt from my fingers.
While you're thinking about strings, you might want to consider getting some new bridge pins. The original pins on my Martin did a poor job of fitting into the holes. Does that matter? Probably not, but I didn't hesitate to replace them, because bridge pins are cheap and fitting snuggly into holes is all they do in life.
Picks and Picking
OK, there are people for whom getting the right pick is critical. You might say they are a bit "picky." Frankly, I am primarily a fingerpicker and I do not use fingerpicks and I do not let my nails grow long to replicate fingerpicks. I use my bare fingers. Nonetheless, playing a strumming rhythm with your fingers is not the best way to do it, so yes, I am forced to use picks. And I use picks with my electric. But I am most at home using my fingers. Whatever you feel best with is what you should do. But I want to emphasize that just because almost all guitarists use picks does not mean you should. I stress that you give serious consideration to learning how to fingerpick. There is so much you can do fingerpicking that you cannot do with a pick wedged between your thumb and forefinger. (Try plucking two non-adjacent strings and you'll know what I mean.) I hope that made sense. Sorry, I'm just a bit of a control freak with certain activities. (For example, I drive only a manual transmission car.)
As for types of picks, there is almost nothing I care less about. Large, small, medium, etc. Just get something that feels ok in your hands, if you must use a pick.
OK, I know there are probably more guitar books than there are guitars. Here are a few of my personal favorites.
|Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument by Allen St. John|
|The Guitar Handbook by Ralph Denyer|
|The Complete Guitarist by Richard Chapman|
|Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker by Jim Washburn and Richard Johnston|
|Guitar: Music, History, Players by Richard Chapman|
My preference being acoustic, I recommend these.
|Acoustic Guitar (my personal favorite so far)|
|Guitar World Acoustic|
Obviously this is not an extensive list. There are just too many. My personal favorites are listed below. They're not all on the list so much because they're great guitarists (surely debatable on some) but because of what they accomplished with the guitar, i.e., the total package of songwriting, vocals, performance, etc. I may add some from time to time as I think of them and get more familiar with them.
|Lindsey Buckingham (one of the few fingerpicking rock guitarists)|
|Eric Clapton (needs no justification)|
|Sharon Isbin (created the first guitar department at the Juilliard school)|
|B. B. King (needs no justification)|
|Roger McGuinn (pioneered the 12-string when with the Byrds)|
|Jimmy Page (needs no justification)|
|Paul Simon (one of the first acoustic guitarists to be a rock star)|
|Stephen Stills (his "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" is one of the greatest guitar masterpieces of all time)|
|James Taylor (after Simon, maybe the second acoustic guitarist to be a rock star)|
|Doc Watson (a constant reminder that you shouldn't have to look at your fingers to play)|
|Nancy Wilson (of Heart) (Well, ok, I don't know if I really have a reason. She just looks so hot jumping up and down playing her guitar. Well, yes, she really is a pretty good guitar player.)|
Of course many manufactures make excellent amps, though most are geared for electric guitars. The following manufacturers make models specifically for acoustic guitars (though most make them for electrics as well):
|Acoustic Image||Crate||Genz Benz||Schertler|
|Line 6||Acoustic Electric Rsch||Soundboard||Walker Labs|
Stuff that doesn't fall in the categories above.
|Shubb capos||Kyser||Online tuner|
|Really cool online tuner||Infinite Guitar||GuitarNationLive|
|Guitar Lesson World||Italia Straps||Chorder.com (Online Guitar Tuner)|
|Theguitarlesson.com||Guitar Lessons Mobi||Sam Ash|
|Music 1-2-3||123GuitarTuner||Pro Audio Land|
*(but see my Rants & Raves page in the category of "Marketing")
For anyone interested, feel free to read my product review of the glider capo.
Advice for New Guitarists
I know there are plenty who will disagree, but spare me the lecture. Read this list all the way through, especially the last item.
My band is called Capital Gains. Our web site is www.capitalgainsmusic.com. I have done some songwriting and here is page that contains some sheet music and recordings. Here is an mp3 recording of me playing Classical Gas on my Martin DC16GTE. Keep in mind that the original recording contains an orchestra, so this one is, as a friend said, a "kinder and gentler" version. Other recordings are on this page.
A rare photo from my teen years. That's me on the right at about age 16 playing a Fender Musicmaster through a Fender Super Reverb amp (not visible). I'm not left-handed. The photographer developed the negative reversed. But doesn't the left-hand look kind of give it a Jimi Hendrix-Kurt Cobain panache? Yeah, right.
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Last updated:May 23, 2013