DAVE AND HIS GUITAR
How have you been getting on With those chords I showed you last time? By now you can probably swop them around quite speedily and you've probably found a few more songs to go with them, too. Now that your fingers have become fairly accustomed to stretching and holding down strings (we hope!) you'll find your progress from now on will be much faster.
It's just the beginning that's the worst.
One thing you may have noticed is that long fingernails and guitar playing don't mix. Sadly, it's impossible to press down strings when you've long nails on your left hand - all you hear is a nasty buzzing, rattling sound. Look closely at the hands of any guitarist and you'll spot his trademark - long straight nails on his right hand for plucking the strings, and short nails on the left. If you're finding the nails on your right hand breaking every time you strum a chord, there are things you can do about it. First of all, raid your local chemist's for patent nail hardeners. There are quite a few types on the market and the specialist magazine Guitar, which you might find quite interesting, although it is meant for more advanced musicians, advertise a special one for guitarists.
If you don't mind your nails not looking very glamourous, here's a tip I picked up from a guitar teacher a few yesrs ago. Paint a layer of clear varnish on your nails and, wh ile it's still sticky, place a layer of fine tissue over it. Leave it to set, then build up another layer and another. You should really only do this if you are playing a steel string guitar as nylon is kinder to the hands and nails. Some people use metal or plastic devices called fingerpicks, but I think that at this stage it only makes things more complicated, as they do tend to fly off across the room when you strum vigorously!
You may have found, too, that the tips of your fingers on your hand get very tender with struggling to hold down the strings for C Major. Try rubbing a little surgical spirit on to deaden the feeling slightly. The only lasting remedy is to keep on playing, as often as possible, until you have built a protective layer of hard skin.
Fed up with playing four string chords? Here's a chance to find out what the bottom two strings on your guitar sound like. Below you'll see the full versions of those chords I show ed you last time. C Major, F Major and G7.
Like most guitar chords, they can be adapted to suit the individual guitarist. So if your fingers just won't stretch enough to allow you to play the bottom string of C Major, leave it out and place your third finger, instead of your fourth, on the fifth string.
That F Major's a bit boggling, isn't it? The line I've indicated going right across the strings means that you must lay your first finger right across all the strings, curving your wrist right round to enable you to position your other three fingers. It's pretty devillish to learn but, once you've mastered it, means that you can playa major chord on any fret. Move F Major up a fret and you've got F Sharp Major, up another and you've got G Major. You'll see that I've given you another version of G Major as well. This is just an alternative - and easier - way of playing it. But as with most alternatives, you'll find that in some songs it's easier and quicker to play one or the other, according to what other chords are being played before and after it.
One of the great things about learning to play the guitar is experimentation. Once you've got a bit of strength and con trol in the fingers of your left hand, you can try playing chords' - just things you've made up yourself - anywhere on the fretboard. Sometimes they sound horrible, sometimes they work, and if you accidentally stumble across something which sounds really good, the next thing to do is look it up on a chord chart to see what you've discovered.
The four new chords I'm giving you this time are G Major, E Major, A Major and D Major.
G is almost the same as G7 except it requires a different hand position. A Major is a nice easy one to play. If you add your little finger onto the 1st string, third fret whilst playing A, you turn the chord into A7 by literally adding the 7th note in the scale of A.
Play the chord of E Major, add your little finger to the 2nd string, third fret and you get E7. C7 is formed by adding your little finger to the 3rd string, third fret.
These sevenths have one main use in music and this is to lead into another chord. I don't want to get too musically complicated, but you can find the correct 7th to go with any musical key simply by counting down four notes. So, if you're playing in the key of C, count down four notes and you get G, and G7 is the perfect chord to play if you want to lead into C Major. Similarly, E7 leads into A Major, A7 into D Major and so on.
If you've found that playing a song in the key of C makes it too high for your voice, try playing the same song in A, using the chords of A Major, D Major and E7. If you've ever watched people playing acoustic guitars at a folk club, or even sometimes on TV programmes like Old Grey Whistle Test, you may have seen them using a device which clips across the strings of the guitar, right across one of the frets. This is called a capo, short for a very long Spanish name, and it's purpose is to alter the pitch of the strings.
A capo gives you an easy way out if you don't know many chords. Say you want to play the chords of the key of C, which would be C Major, F Major and G7, but you want to sing in the key of G because that's easier for your voice, you can simply clip the capo over the third fret, play your C chords and lo and behold you are really playing in G!
In my opinion, though, it's far better for you to learn all the chords you can and not rely on the minimum, especially if you ever want to join a group. By ail means try a capo out. Make sure you buy a modern type which has an elasticated piece which fastens round the neck of the guitar without scratching the varnish.
I mentioned checking chords you may have discovered against a chord chart - most music shops stock books containing dozens of chord shapes for guitar and one of these would be a really worthwhile investment. it'll also make things much easier for you when you come to pick up the sheet music of a Slade song!
A WORD FROM DON
I'm speaking to you from Chicago on the telephone, so I hope Di can write down everything I say, although the line is very bad. I and the other lot are enjoying the tour, even though the going is hectic. Although this is our fifth tour (I think)
we all feel that this is going to be the tour that really makes us big over here. Ever since I have arrived I have had that peculiar feeling in my stomach similar to butterflies that this time it will really happen.
For the first couple of days after we arrived I suffered from a slight tummy upset, which I presume was due to the change of food (all those hot dogs and hamburgers chili con carne).
While we have been here we have noticed a lot of English style restaurants and pubs. They are becoming very popular with the younger generation, and trendy places to meet your friends similar to the Hard Rock Cafe in London.
It's been nice meeting up with all the friends we have made on our previous tours.
Must go now as the line is getting worse. All my love to you all. Best Wishes. Don.
NEWS IN BRIEF
The State side tour is estimated to be seen by 500,000 people ...... Following the success of Slade's 2 week series on Insight, Radio 1, they have been approached by commerical radio for a similar series During a two week break in the the U.S. tour they will come home to England.... Avaiable soon - book containing Fan Club Newsletters from July 1971 to present day........... Don is still collecting postage stamps a hobby he started when young............. Slade Fan Club has nearly 5,000 members from overseas Slade shipped over to the States twelve tons of equipment, worth £45,000.
Trevor Coleman has written in to inform me that he has obtained the LP"Beginnings', released as 'Ballzy' in America, from Reddington's Rare Records in Birmingham.
As many of you already know, a lot of overseas countries release Slade Sampler Albums. These are not usually available here in England but if you already have the full Slade collect ion there is no need to obtain them as you will have all the tracks within your own records.