At Dream Guitars we are often asked for our thoughts on good ways to learn how to play guitar. We are so lucky to live in this modern age where knowledge is all around us and easy to find.
Here are a few thoughts on the best ways to learn guitar.
If you are completely new to the instrument, there’s no substitute for a good teacher, as initially learning the correct hand positions and physical posture are crucial early on in the process. This will help prevent bad habits or even worse, injury in the future.
Most often we are asked about learning a particular style of play such as Fingerstyle guitar. Many players are brought up on electric guitar, learning to play with a pic and strumming. Hence, the switch to Fingerstyle can seem daunting.
For Fingerstyle, there are some amazing resources that we can highly recommend.
Dream Guitars itself is proud to be producing more and more in the way of free lessons for our viewers. Please be sure to check our website and our Youtube channel often for the latest lessons from some of the top Fingerstyle players in the world.
Dream Guitars also offers a CD and tab combination that is a wonderful learning tool for Fingerstyle: Dream Guitars Volume One: The Golden age of Lutherie DVD by Al Petteway featuring some of the finest guitars in the world and a companion tab book making it easy to learn your favorite Dream Guitars songs that you’ve heard on our website.
Homespun is another company that has long offered some of the best tutelage in the business. Their myriad of DVDs, featuring some of the best players in the world, are a great way to learn Fingerstyle guitar. Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller says “I grew up playing electric guitar and blues. When I switched to Fingerstyle I was lucky to find the Stefan Grossman tapes that taught the early blues material with alternate thumb finger picking. This was a great start for me as getting some independence from the thumb and the other fingers on the right hand is key to Fingerstyle. Then I moved into slide material and later found the homespun tapes from Martin Simpson, Al Petteway and many more of my heroes.
Another great resource is CandyRat Records – they have some of the best Canadian artists on their label and offer educational material as well. Look for Don Ross, Antoine Dufour, and Craig D’Andrea.
But don’t forget about private lessons and camps as you begin to improve with Fingerstyle guitar. Some of our clients will book a private lesson with Al Petteway when they come to visit the shop. Spending an hour or two with the Grammy-winning guitarist can shed light on your strengths and weaknesses and give you a fresh look going forward.
There also amazing workshops all over the country, most in the summertime, in the form of week-long camps where you can study with a half dozen or more teachers and jam with many like-minded guitar loving nuts. Here in Asheville we have the Swannanoa Gathering every summer where Al Petteway hires many of the top players in the world to come and teach for a week at Warren Wilson College. You choose classes each day from a variety of instructors and styles. It’s simply magical. You’ll go away with enough material for a year or more of practice.
We highly recommend the Swannanoa Gathering and if you plan to attend, come swing by Dream Guitars as well while you’re in the area. We’d love to have you.
For more information on any of the resources above or to pick our brains further on the topic, please feel free to call the shop 828-658-9795.
Bookmark this page for frequent updates.
(Please scroll down for additional guitars.)
Franklin OM 1979
Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce
Mendel Octave Mandolin 2013
Southeast Asian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce
Mendel Octave Mandolin 2013
Figured Tzalam and Sitka Spruce
Forster Bouzouki 2010
Cocobolo Rosewood and Redwood
McGill Low Shoulder Concert 2002
Cocobolo Rosewood and Spruce
1931 Martin O-28
Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce
Blanchard Tamarack 2008
Panama Rosewood and European Spruce
Ramirez 1A La de Camara 1985
Indian Rosewood and Cedar
Huss & Dalton TOM-R Custom 2008
Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce
Merrill C-18 Reliced 2013 – SOLD
Mahogany and Adirondack Spruce
Lewis Archtop 1998
Walnut and Redwood
Elkayam Boaz Concert 1997
Indian Rosewood and Spruce
European Flamed Maple and Sitka Spruce
Elkayam Boaz Classical 1996
Brazilian Rosewood and Spruce
Huerga La Somori Toime
Quilted Maple and Spruce
Huerga Belleza Magica
Brazilian Rosewood and ‘Lucky 12′ Spruce
Huerga Belleza Luz
Brazilian Rosewood and ‘Lucky 12′ Spruce
Traphagen BRS Cordoba
Brazilian Rosewood and Spruce
Kanile’a Kanilea K-3 Concert
Kanile’a K-1 Tenor Premium
Kanile’a K-1 Concert Premium with Low G
Kanile’a K-1 Concert Premium Satin Finish
Huss & Dalton DS Custom
Mahogany and Adirondack Spruce
NEW Applegate FS
Port Orford Cedar and Ziricote (Wait till you see the back and sides…)
Gold Tone I-M-Bass/FL (Fretless Micro Bass) with Electronics
All Mahogany (Laminate)
Gold Tone I-M-Bass (Micro Bass) with Electronics
All Mahogany (Laminate)
Applegate SJ (Excellent Condition!)
Brazilian Rosewood and Red Cedar
Tags : 12 string guitar, 8 string guitar, abalone, acoustic guitar, acoustic guitar music, acoustic guitars, Allan Beardsell, Ameritage, Anthony R. Klassen, ARK, Asheville, baritone acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, Beardsell Guitars, Beneteau Guitars, Blanchard Guitars, Blue Ridge Mountains, Bourgeois Guitars, Brazilian Rosewood, Bristlecone, Bruce Petros, Bryan Galloup, Cervantes, Cervantes Guitars, Char Guitars, Cheryl Wheeler, Claro walnut guitar, classical guitar, Cocobolo, Conde Hermanos, Contreras Guitars, crossover guitar, DADGAD, Dana Bourgeoise, DermotMcIlroy, Dominelli, Eichelbaum Guitars, Euphonon, flamenco guitar, Florentine cutaway, Galloup Guitars, George Lowden, Gibson, Gibson acoustic guitar, Gibson Advanced Jumbo, Gibson AJ, Gibson Guitars, Gibson J-200, harp guitar, Henderson D-42, Henderson Guitars, holl, Hollowbody electric guitar, Indian Hill Guitars, Italian Spruce, J-200, James Olson, James Taylor, Jason Simpson, Jazz guitar, Jim Olson, Joe Veillette, Jr., kauri, Keller Guitars, Kerry Char, Kevin Ryan, Kolb tuners, L-00 guitar, Leo Kottke, LOwden Guitars, luthier, Luthiery, Manuel Contreras, Manuel Rodriguez, Mark Blanchard, Martin 00-18, Martin Guitars, Martin HD-28, Martin Simpson, Matt Petros, McCurdy Archtop, McCurdy Guitars, McIlroy Guitars, Mermer Guitars, Michael Keller, Mike Kennedy, Moonstone, Moonstone Guitars, Mother of Pearl, National 0-14, National resonator, New Era Guitars, Nick Lucas guitar, nylon string crossover, Nylon String Guitar, Olson Guitars, Paul Geremia, Paul Reed Smith, Paul Reed Smith Guitars, Pete Townshend, Petros Guitars, Phil Keaggy, Piezo, PRS, PRS guitars, rhythm guitar, Ribbecke Guitar Co., Ribbecke Guitars, Ribbecke Halfling, Ribbecke Thinline, Ric McCurdy, Rich Mermer, Rodriguez Guitars, Ryan Guitars, Ryan Mission Grand, Simpson Guitars, SJ, Sobell Guitars, Sobell Model O, Steve Helgeson, Steven Dembroski, Sting, Thinling guitar, Tom Ribbecke, Veillette Gryphon, Veillette Guitars, Velazquez, Velazquez Guitars, vintage guitar, Wayne Henderson
The last few years I have developed a deep meditation practice. I won’t go into all of the benefits of meditation here because there are wonderful narratives on that subject. But suffice it to say that I find meditation a true key to happiness and contentment. Therefore I prioritize it in my day above all else. But sometimes that comes into conflict with my music and guitar playing. There are only so many hours in the day and I’m sure we all can relate to having to slice up 16 waking hours into slots of time for family, work, exercise, music, meditation and fun. And one day it hit me that music and meditation could be done at the same time. I actually did this when I was a teenager when I would play a piece of music until it became a trance-like repetition that I played just for pure enjoyment. Now that I have actual meditation skills and experience I find the two go beautifully hand-in-hand.
Here’s how I approach it…
Clearly the piece of music has to be somewhat simple and repetitive. For me it’s usually just a few chords or a riff with some drone strings that I can play over and over. This is actually great fun and gives you all the benefits of building strength and endurance for your hands and fingers while also working on tone production and getting to the place where you can play without thinking. In meditation, there is no thinking – the whole idea is to forgo thoughts and focus on just one thing. Often this is the breath or image, but it can also be a sound, the sound of the music.
Start by playing something very simple even just a few open strings in DADGAD for instance, then begin to focus on hearing the music and nothing else. Put all your intensity into just hearing and letting the music come into your being. If your mind begins to wander and you find yourself thinking about playing the music better, work you should be doing, the kids in the other room, then gently, like you’re talking to an old friend, tell your mind that there’s no time for thoughts right now and bring yourself back to intense focus on just hearing the music.
Do this without any judgment or any feeling of failure. It’s a very hard thing to control the mind. It controls us every moment of every day and it doesn’t necessarily like it when we try to take control back. So thoughts will come, but every time gently bring yourself back. Even a few seconds of calm are extremely valuable and slowly those seconds will grow into tens of seconds and maybe half a minute and then a full minute and so on.
Studies show that meditation and calming from within is extremely healing and beneficial to the brain. But to me it’s something even more, it’s healing for my soul. I invite you to join me and try meditation, or if you already meditate try it with music and your guitar. Anything we can do to have the guitar in our hands more, put music into the universe, and work on controlling our mind is time will spent.
What’s up with the crooked frets? Yes the slanted frets on my guitars are awesome conversation starters. But that’s not what it’s all about.
According to Wikipedia, Ralph Novak, guitar builder and designer, patented the Fanned Fret at the end of the 80’s. While the patent has expired, he still holds the trademark of the term “Fanned-Fret”. Fanned Frets create a different shape to the guitar. The slanted frets lengthen the bass strings and shorten the treble strings. This is further achieved by positioning the bridge at an angle opposite to the nut.*
Fanned Fret guitars are multi-scale instruments designed with a real purpose.
To understand the concept, we need only look at non-fretted stringed instruments. Consider the piano and the harp dulcimer and you immediately notice the bass strings are always longer than the treble strings. The reason for this is to create proper tension with a longer, thicker string to produce full low notes. Conversely the treble strings need to be shorter so they can be tightened to produce the higher pitch. There is a beautiful resonance you get from a longer bass string. When you tune down to D or C or even further, a longer bass string makes all the difference in the quality of the bass notes. The treble string remains normal length or slightly shorter depending on what you need and can offer a great feel that allows for easy playing high notes, bending strings, etc. The combined string lengths or scales, can provide the perfect amount of bass, sweet trebles and playability that you want for your personal style.
Another benefit is slightly improved intonation. You can understand this if you look at a True Temper Fretted guitar like the Bamburg JSB currently on our website, a Micro-Fret guitar, or a Sitar. You will see that accurate placement for every note on every string would require many tiny frets. The Fanned Fret and its longer length bass strings help intonation across the entire fingerboard.
One other powerful benefit is simply the tension of each string in relation to one another. On a standard guitar as you play from the bass strings down to the treble strings, the treble strings are often more tense and noticeably tighter feeling. Fanned Fret guitars help even out the tactile feel and to me are smoother feeling when playing across the strings.
“There is also something about the splay of the fret that feels extremely comfortable, it seems to suit my hand beautifully, more naturally than straight frets.” Paul Heumiller
One other note I’d like to make is that there is very little difference in the overall feel of playing a fanned Fret guitar. I have handed them to many players in our shop without them knowing I was handing them a fanned Fret guitar and often they don’t even notice until they take a hard look at the fingerboard. On a technical note, you can choose where to place the one perpendicular fret and that decision will effect the feel at the first position and elsewhere. Common choices are the 7th, 9th or 12th frets. After owning several fanned fret guitars I’ve settled on the 7th fret for my playing. It keeps the first position very easy to play. “We once had a Jeff Traugott guitar where all the frets were slanted backward toward the headstock 10 degrees. This one purely ergonomic and can be comfortable to some players as well. Though you don’t get the multi-scale benefits.” – Paul Heumiller
Now let’s look at some common Fanned Fret scale combinations and the uses for each. Let me start by saying there are no hard and fast rules. I encourage experimentation and fearlessness in this regard. The least amount of fan that we typically see is a half an inch combining the two common Martin scales 24.9 inches on the treble to 25.4 inches on the bass. This is a great design for someone playing in standard and drop D and even DADGAD but not really going to lower tunings. You’ll feel very little difference at all but you will get improved intonation and clarity and the short trebles are a joy to bend. Other scales we often use for DADGAD players is 25 inch treble scale and 26 inch bass scale, Paul’s Somogyi employed this combination. This works great for DADGAD and even some C tunings. The one inch fan is still very manageable and very versatile. Both of these scales above can be used with standard gauge strings – light gauge works fine as well.
For my personal McConnell guitar we elected to use 25.5 inches on the treble side and 26.25 on the bass side. Jordan McConnell and I decided on this scale combination as I primarily play this guitar in low tunings C9, Gsus4, and DADGAD down a whole step to C. Paul says “I left the trebles long because we wanted them to bite. But I can also put it in standard pitch and it works great. I use 12.5 to 55 gauge strings – just personal preference here.” On the longer side of Fanned Fret would be 25.6 on this treble side to 27 inches or so on the bass side. This big of a spread you’ll feel a bit more but it can go very low – all the way down to A or B, crossing into baritone territory. “I once owned a Traugott with this spread and it was killer!. Bill Tippin is currently building me a short Fanned Fret guitar, this one will be 24.75 – 25.5, I plan to play it mostly in Drop D and Standard and wanted really bendy trebles!” – Paul Heumiller
There’s really no limit to what you can do with the Fanned Fret to accommodate your music and your style of play. At Dream Guitars we are Champions of the Fanned Fret concept and almost always have one or two in stock. We work with many builders who offer Fanned Fret options and owner Paul Heumiller is currently working on a new Fanned Fret Baritone design with Ken Jones that will be available in Spring of 2014.
Give us a call to discuss your needs and see if a Fanned Fret guitar is right for you. We would love to help you design your perfect Fanned Fret guitar.
“We all know that 12 fret guitars tend to have a different tonal profile than 14 fret guitars. Often they are often a little more complex and seem to just breath a little easier in the low end. This is largely due to the bridge position being shift down to a more central position in the lower bout. With a fanned fret guitar, the bass end of the bridge is in a ’12 fret’ position and the treble end is is in a ’14 fret’ position. This makes it easier for the bass strings to move the top and produce a nice full bass response. Meanwhile, at the other end of the bridge, the treble strings are still in a 14 fret position. The top is ‘tighter’ there and better able to produce good strong trebles. So… it seems to me that a fanned fret guitar, by virtue of the angled bridge, gives us the tonal best of both the 12 fret and 14 fret design.” – Mark Blanchard – Blanchard Guitars
We host a number of events here at Dream Guitars. Just one of our many ways to give back to the community and share music with others who are passionate about it. We welcome you all to come join us at a House Concert, Guitar Clinic, Setup Saturdays and other events throughout the year. Come visit Dream Guitars and the wonderful Asheville area!
Clive Carroll in Concert!
Friday, February 28 @ 7 pm
Pre-Show Pot Luck @ 6 pm
Tickets $20, Reservations Required
“Clive is a jaw dropping, amazing player. His technique will astound you but his compositions are equally amazing. He’s considered one of the very best U.K. Guitarists and he’s one of my personal favorites!” – Paul Heumiller
When the music press describes someone as an ‘Incredible acoustic talent’ and ‘Peerless – no other word for it…’ and when people like Jean-Christophe Novelli and Madonna are booking that same someone for their private parties then you know that something pretty special is going on. Welcome to the world of UK acoustic guitar phenomenon Clive Carroll…
About Clive Carroll
Soon after graduating from London’s prestigious Trinity College in 1998, Clive was given the opportunity to play at a gig with UK guitar maestro John Renbourn, who, on hearing him play, immediately suggested that Clive record an album. So one year later, Clive was working away in the studio, recording his first album ‘Sixth Sense’, which was greeted by press and audiences alike as something of a breath of fresh air in acoustic guitar circles. The album’s 2000 release didn’t go unnoticed by mentor and friend John Renbourn, either, because the pair spent the next two years on tour together in Europe and the United States.
In the meantime, Clive would occasionally return to playing classical repertoire, recording the ever popular ‘Canon’ by Pachelbel for BMG/RCA Victor in 2002. His next solo album, ‘The Red Guitar’ appeared in 2004 and this time it was guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel’s turn to invite Clive to tour with him. After a jaunt across Australia together, the pair continued to perform all over the world. The collaborations with John Renbourn continued, meanwhile, and 2005 saw them work together on the Sony Picture Classics film ‘Driving Lessons’ which starred Julie Waters and Harry Potter star Rupert Grint.
After years of travelling with guitar giants Renbourn and Emmanuel, it was time to go solo and so in 2006 Clive embarked on a series of tours under his own name, accepting an invitation to appear at the highly regarded International Guitar Night of America along the way. All the time, the buzz concerning this young virtuoso began to grow ever louder…
So, with barely time to draw breath in between working on side projects like tutoring at the Irish World Music Centre in Limerick, playing at events organised by the likes of film director Guy Ritchie and Michelin award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli and travelling to the Middle East to play at the Strings Of Freedom concert for the Sultanate of Oman, work began on Clive’s third solo album, ‘Life In Colour’. The result is a roller-coaster ride of six string virtuosity that takes the listener from the dusty roads of ‘Mississippi Blues’ one minute to the wide epic open space of ‘Oregon’ the next.
One thing is for sure; ‘Life In Colour’ represents a milestone both in the career of a remarkable musician and the music world in general.
For more information, please visit his website.
Reservations required for all events, please email email@example.com or call us at (828) 658-9795.
How it works….
- Come join us at 6 pm and bring a dish to share and a bottle of your preferred beverage. It’s always a wonderful array of treats!
- Show starts at 7pm and performers play two sets with an intermission to mingle and meet the artist!
- Guitar demos available in the shop before and after the show.
Al Petteway and Amy White! March 29 (7pm)
Tentative – Steve James! May 10 (7 pm)
Robin Bullock and Steve Baughman! August 2 (7pm)
The beginning of 2014 brings to us an amazing 2013 Mountain Song Odalisque Claro Walnut/Carpathian Acoustic Guitar, built by our very own Ken Jones. Ken is our primary luthier here at Dream Guitars for repair work. Ken, a proud member of the Guild of American Luthiers, also builds stringed instruments including custom, hand-built acoustic guitars and mandolins under the name Mountain Song Guitars nearby in Candler NC. Recently we invited him to start building his amazing Mountain Song Guitars for us as well and this one certainly does not disappoint!!
The Odalisque is Ken’s original body shape and makes for a perfect midsize guitar that is about controlled power. For this guitar, Ken selected some beautiful highly figured Flamed Walnut and Carpathian Spruce. This guitar also features a Venetian Cutaway, a Custom Interlocking Ebony and Ziricote rosette, and comes with an Ameritage Hardshell case. “This is the best sounding Walnut guitar I’ve ever played . The bass projects perfectly, with a bit of OM style snap, the midrange is warm and lush and the trebles are sweet and blossom beautifully. Ken added wonderful touches including Armrest and Ribrest Bevel, Red Perfling lines around the entire guitar and an elegant Ziricote Fingerboard , Rosette and Bridge. Welcome Ken Jones to Dream Guitars!” – Paul Heumiller
“Ken Jones’ Mountain Song Guitars Odalisque is one of the best fingerstyle guitars I’ve ever played. It has beautiful woods and a perfect neck shape and size. The tone is balanced and clear with lots of sweetness in the high end and a nice controlled bass. I would buy it right now if I could. I love it.” – Al Petteway
Another note on Ken – He also offers individualized guitar building instruction ranging from one day workshops targeting specific aspects of the construction process, to long term courses covering the entire guitar-building process from wood selection all the way through to final setup.
“For me the best compliment I can give Ken Jones is that I have one of his Baritone Fan Fret guitars on order for 2014. I’ve been so impressed with the originality of his designs and most importantly the satisfying tone of his instruments that I just had to have one. Inspiration and passion are how I judge guitars and Mountain Song guitars have both in spades!” – Paul Heumiller
This 2003 Martin Limited Edition D-50 is number 2 of only 50 made and is as much an art object as an instrument. Not withstanding its amazing appointments, this baby sounds amazing. Lush, tight basses are easily coaxed from this beauty, along with well defined mids and trebles with just the right chime and sparkle.
The extensive use of abalone, outlined in mother-of-pearl, represents the pinnacle of fine craftsmanship by the team at Pearl Works, under the watchful eye of legendary inlay artist, Larry Seifel, before his untimely passing.
This extremely rare find comes with a letter of authentication and custom leather-bound case with built-in analog hygrometer.
“There’ so much to love about this highly collectible Martin D-50, I hardly know where to start! Of course, the fingerboard inlay is incredible, but one of my favorite details is the abalone herringbone purflings. They just add a great, subtle glow to the perimeter of the body. Not to be outdone by the shellwork, the woods used are lovely and unusual. The pale Brazilian Rosewood is paired beautifully with the heavily bearclawed Sitka Spruce top. Of course, this bad boy has all that legendary dreadnought tone — big fat bass notes and chimey trebles seem to sustain for days, and will have all the banjo pickers at the Feed n Seed running for cover! This is a terrific opportunity to acquire the cornerstone to a museum-worthy guitar collection.” – Paul Heumiller
“I had the chance to play one of these before and it’s quite a thrill to hold a guitar like this one. You might want to put this in a nice display case because the inlay done by Pearl Works is amazing and incredibly detailed. By the way, it’s fun to play as well.” – Al Petteway
Last night I was sitting in the salon getting my nails done when I realized I should do an article as so many players ask about my nails at the shop. There are many ways to go and it’s a personal decision for each player. But here’s what I do and how I got there.
When I initially started playing Fingerstyle I used my own natural nails. The nails were weak, though especially at the end where they often broke, a serious impediment to progress so I switched to metal finger pics – the kind that many Blues players use. I used these for several years. They were extremely uncomfortable and I never liked the metallic attack on the strings.
Then one day I found myself in New York City attending a workshop with Martin Simpson who was one of the instructors. The first song I heard them play was Rosie Anderson and the tone Martin produced was just amazing. Single notes were fat and clear and the overall tone was just beautiful sounding. After the performance we had a chance to meet and chat and he showed me his acrylic nails. Martin told me he goes to the salon every few weeks. I walked out of the door at Columbia University down the street to the first salon I could find and gave them my right hand!! It was pretty comical actually because they thought I wanted both hands done – I mean it was New York City after all. They didn’t speak much English but as soon as I made the motion of playing air guitar they understood.
This was probably 16 or 17 years ago and back then the acrylic nails were a powder and a resin that were mixed together and applied to the nail. Not a great product as it would dry out the original nail and was prone to chipping more often than it should. However over the past few years, a new acrylic nail gel product came out that is not only healthier for your real nail but much more durable and in fact a bit more flexible and better sounding.
The process is pretty simple, as the name implies – the product, which is a gel, goes on thick and gooey and levels itself. If it is your first time and if you want your nails to be longer they will first apply some fake nail tips to form a bridge for the new gel nail to go over. You then place your hand under a UV light which hardens and cures the gel in short order (warning this can get hot and burning, pull them out for a few seconds to cool and then reinsert them). There’s a few iterations of sanding your nails and adding coats of gel and drying under the UV. This takes about 30 or 40 minutes, then you are ready to go home and play. Well almost. One of the great benefits of this product is shaping. The standard nail file goes from course to fine so you can experiment with beveling your nail and polishing it to different ranges of smooth for the particular tone that you want for your music. Think about the bevel on your favorite pick and try for that for starters.
The long-term care of these nails is pretty straightforward as well – about every 2 to 4 weeks depending on your own situation, you can go back to the salon for what is called a fill. This is where they simply fill in the portion of your nail that has grown out and add any more gel towards the base of your fingernail, fixing any minor nicks or things that need to be touched up.
Nail salon price varies around the country but anywhere from $20-$30 will get you a set of these nails, and fills usually range from $15-$20. Well worth it – I used to lose my pics all the time and now I simply can’t leave home without them.
PS -Be sure and get a pedicure while you’re at the salon, it’s not just for the ladies and it’s fabulous!
What exactly is a baritone guitar? A baritone guitar is simply a guitar with longer strings and a larger body so that it can be tuned to play in a lower sounding register. Tunings, scales and chords are identical to any other guitar just the actual pitch changes. A common baritone guitar would have a scale of 28.5″, that is 3″ longer than a typical guitar. This allows you to use heavier strings and to tune down a 4th or 5th. For instance a common tuning would be Standard Tuning but down a 5th to A-D-G-C-E-A. The relationship between the strings remains exactly like standard tuning, so you play all the same shapes for your chords and scales, but they sound at a different pitch. An open E chord in the first fret would sound like an A chord.
You can also use any alternate or open tuning variation for instance DADGAD tuning from A to A or G to G on the outside strings. The actual pitch is somewhat irrelevant and is dictated by the gauge of strings used and the construction of the instrument. Dream Guitars owner Paul Heumiller, a long time baritone player says, “I play in many tunings on my baritone guitars and I also like to experiment with a variety of strings. For instance I will use a lighter gauge string and tune up higher to B or B-flat on my baritones or I’ll use very heavy strings so that I can get down to a low G on alternate tunings like C9. The same guitar can do a wide variety of things with a little experimentation. It’s also quite fun and gives you a lot of colors if you’re a performer or recording artist. The emotions that you can get from a baritone guitar are unlike anything you can get on a regular guitar.”
While it’s true that many players use low tunings on a normal scale guitar, there is a fullness, depth and beauty that only comes with the longer string length. Other common baritone scales range from 27 or 27 1/2 inches on the short side, and up to the 28.5 inches referred to earlier. The player will feel a bit more of a reach in the left arm due to the longer scale, but it is very easy to play and many players enjoy the extra room it gives for the fingers to do their work.
Baritone string sets are more common now as the instrument has become more popular. D’addario and many other companies offer sets for baritone guitar which would be .017 to .070. Many players also use a medium set shifted over using just the second through sixth strings and then add a bass string of your choice from .060 to .070. A thinner bass can add a bit more string attack while the larger is more round and deep.
Owner Paul Heumiller on why he plays baritone guitars: “For me it’s all about inspiration for my songwriting. I started playing guitar to write music and it has always been my passion. An instrument with a voice that moves you to write something better or different than you normally would is incredibly valuable. For me when I play even my most familiar chords but on a lower tuned baritone, it changes the emotion and the feeling of the music. It leads me somewhere I would not have gone on a regular guitar. I’m a big advocate of having a guitar collection that offers as many different sound possibilities. Why have 10 guitars all the same scale? In my collection I have short scale high tuned guitars, normal scale, fan fret, baritone, bass and nylon string instruments. Inspiration is always just an arms reach away for me as a writer.”
Dream Guitars offers baritone instruments from many of the world’s top custom makers. In addition we have wonderful performer priced instruments as well from Veillette, Furch and Gold Tone. Also keep a look out for the first Dream Guitars labeled baritone models coming in 2014 custom designed by Paul Heumiller and Ken Jones of Dream Guitars, incorporating the features we have seen that really work for baritone over the years.
Dream Guitars is happy to announce its inaugural Dream Guitars “Black and Gold” Friday where some of the best deals of the year will be offered on our in-stock instruments.
This sale has begun and is presented throughout the day right here on this blog as well as our Facebook page.
Deals Good Until Current In-Stock Inventory Runs Out or Monday, December 2nd at 5pm, whichever comes first.
Current Deals – Click on the Image for More Details:
*Dream Guitars is not responsible for any errors or omissions on the deals offered during its inaugural Black Friday event on November 29, 2013. Offers subject to change without notice.