DAVE & HIS GUITAR PART FIVE
There's a bit of a mixture of topics coming up in th is article. Not so many new chords, but a few tips and a whole new style of playing!
The first thing I want to mention is the sort of strings you use on your guitar. Strings are as individual a choice as guitars themselves and a lot depends on your style of play ing and the kind of guitar you have. If your guitar has been difficult to tune lately, or doesn't sound as good as it did when you first bought it, chances are it's not the guitar's fault but the string. When did you last buy a new set??? On a steel strung guitar, the strings should really be changed EVERY MONTH because they actually lose their peak after about a week. I change the strings on my electric guitar every two or three days, and sometimes for each performance, because with the sort of music we play and the hot conditions on stage, they get a lot of wear and tear. However, strings are expensive and you shouldn't need to change yours as often as this!
Prices of guitar strings on the market vary from just over £1 to about £3 for the hand-wound variety. It's worthwhile buying a set in the middle price range, because they won't be so brittle as cheap ones and they'll have a better tone. One nice thing the manufacturers often do is include an extra 1st string in a set and sometimes an extra second as well, because they know that these strings, being under the most tension, are likely to break easier than the rest.
Learning to put new strings on your guitar is easy. You just unthread the strings that are already there and see how it's done! With classical guitars, you usually thread the string through the appropriate hole behind the bridge, securing it with a loop and then securing the white peg over it. A guitar with steel strings, however, just has a hole down which the end of the string with the little ring on must be poked, and the peg rammed fast over it, otherwise it may spring out again when you are winding the other end round the machine heads.
You'll know when a string wants changing because instead of ringing nicely when struck, it will just sound dull and thuddy. There are things you can do, which will prolong the life of your strings a little. You see, one thing that sets them on the path to an early dust-bin is letting them get sweaty and greasy. This coats the strings and makes them sound and look dull before their time! The answer to this is to keep a soft duster in your guitar case and every day, before putting your guitar away, rub over the strings from nut to bridge, then thread the duster underneath the strings and rub the underside of them. This will remove any moisture or grease before it has a chance to corrode the metal strings.
Nylon strings have a longer life but should still be changed fairly frequently, according to how often you play. They will be thoroughly worn out after about three months, though La Bella and Gibson both make nylon strings, but there are quite a few makes on the market and I would suggest that you try a different make each time until you find a set, or a com bination of different makes that really suits you.
If you've gone into a music shop and asked for steel strings, you will probably have had the experience of the shop assist ant asking what gauge you'd prefer. Steel strings come in three main gauges, measured by the circumference of the string, and these are light, medium and heavy. Heavy strings are usually used by people who play with a plectrum rather than fingers, as you need to strike them quite strongly to get a good sound out of them. People who play that very fast blue grass music often use heavy gauge strings.
Light gauge are best for fingerpicking, which I'm going to talk about in a minute, and for r and b type numbers where you need to bend the strings to get a bluesy effect. For strumming, or for your first attempts at playing with a plectrum, medium gauge are probably best. They can also take a bit more punishment than light gauge strings! Just before we move off the subject of strings, though, do cast an eye over the machine heads every time you tune your guitar, which you'll need to do quite a bit if you've just put new strings on, as they take a couple of hours to settle down! If the machine heads seem a bit stiff to turn, a light touch of oil on the threads should do the trick. Always remember to wind the strings onto the machine heads very slowly and tune them gradually, or else they may snap under a sudden increase in tension.
Up until now, unless you've been getting private tuition or following your own tutor book, you have been concentrating purely on strumming chords. This has probably made you a bit frustrated because there are all these people in groups and on telly playing fantastic fiddly bits and all you can do is strum! Right. Prepare to rectify the situation now!
What is known as 'fingerstyle' on the guitar, consists of striking not all the strings at once, but picking and choosing, playing combinations of strings, sometimes on their own, sometimes together with others. To do this, you have to liberate the fingers of your right hand so that they can pluck strings individually.
The best way to start is with an exercise, playing an 'arpeggio'. As there are six strings on the guitar, you must imagine that each belongs to a different finger. 'But I've only got four fingers and a thumb!' I can hear you say. It is this style of playing that calls for a strong thumb with an even stronger thumb nail. If you find your nail is too brittle or too short to pluck the strings properly, you can but a thing called a thumb pick which fits over your thumb and provides you with a plastic nail substitute!
Place your left hand in the E major shape on your guitar. Then, with your thumb nail pluck strings 6, 5 and 4 (6 is the lowest string, in case you've forgotten). Then with the nail of your first finger pluck string 3, with your second finger pluck string 2 and let your third finger pluck the 1 st string. Then reverse the procedure, always letting your thumb deal with strings 6, 5 and 4. Try plucking in this order, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and when you reach the top string, go back again, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. That is the E major arpeggio.
You can practise this exercise with every single one of your chord shapes until you can do it quite smoothly. Then take that tune 'Greensleeves' that I showed you the chords of last month. Instead of strumming the chords to the beat, sub- . stitute the first part of the arpeggio, plucking the strings from 6 to 1, in every place where you would have strummed a chord. Doesn't it make a difference? Instead of gaps you now have a beautiful rippling sequence of notes. Try the order 6, 5, 4, 3, 1, 2 , sometimes for a variation. That sounds great, too.
WORD FROM NOD
I'm writing to you from the 'Top of the Pops' studio, well I'm not actually writing it but recording it on an incredible automatic recording level Sony cassette recorder, I have chosen a quiet time to record - while the others are in the BBC canteen having tea. We are at present having a break between dress rehearsal and transmission of the show.
It's great to be back home again although it's only for a few days, as we have still to do more dates in America before Christmas, I hope to be spending Christmas with the family at home.
When ! was travelling to Wolverhampton to sea my parents, my car broke down. I have had more trouble with my brand new car than with the first car I ever had, a rusty! mini.
Having a tremendous time in the US of A mainly touring on our own but we have been playing on bills with Black Sabbath, Ten Years After, ZZ Top, Aerosmith and Kiss, Also recorded the next album in New York, we've taken much more care on this one and spent over a month in the studio, which is a long ti me for us.
The rest of the mob have just invaded the dressing room and it's getting too noisy to think, the rest of the guys send you their love and wish you all a happy Christmas and New Year.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY about "In for A Penny"
Melody Maker - November 8th 1975
Much of Slade's recent work has been afflicted by a definite paucity of ideas, and this single does nothing to arrest their decline. The song is not particularly ambitious, is handled with no great enthusiasm and is vveakiv constructed, NoddV Holder, never one of rock's more versatile singers, is at his most uncomfortable here with a throat scrapping 'JOcal set against a background of limited musical intelligence. There are, no doubt enough Slade loyalists left in the country to ensure that this will make an appean;1nce in the charts., but it promises little for the future of the band,
Record Mirror - November 8th 1975
A good Beatlesish kind of a tune, written of course by Jimmy and Noddy, with a good lyric. The arrangement is modest, featuring some nice melodic guitar breaks and the harmonies are perhaps the best Slade have ever done. This shows the group breaking new territory and doing it very well.
NEWS IN BRIEF
The boys flew into London last week to do 'Top of the Pops' and 'Supersonic' but had to fly back the following week because they still have two more weeks of their US tour to do.
While Louise was changing her travellers cheques in a bank in New York it was held up and robbed.
Noddy has a New York Policeman's cap which was given to him by an American fan ... who nicked it from a cop! ... Dave is into wearing cowboy spurs ... it's the Wolverhampton cowboy ...
While the Slade Rolls was in the garage for service they accidently bent the side of the car.
Many of you have asked why Slade did not release the Live Album recorded at the New Victoria in April. The boys thought that as it takes three to four months to get an album released and as it would contain material already released in single or album form they decided not release it. They also had some great ideas for a new album so they hoped you did not mind waiting a little longer for the new album - should be out in February or March '76.
IN FOR A PENNY
Do you remember the night in September The two of us laid in the hay,
Do you remember the day in December And how we got carried away.
if you're in for a penny you gotta be in for a pound
Cas over and over you play me that old fashioned sound So look around
Did you discover Ihat ooh I'm a lover When we took a tumble or two
Were you surprised when you tried me for size You bit off more than you could chew.
Play the refrain, play it, play it and play it again. Do you remember the night I surrendered
You wanted to paint me in oils
Ooh you are tender do you remember The sleepers could hear me for miles.
Play the refrain, play it, play it and play it again.
© Copyright 1975 by BARN PUBLISHING LTD