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SoundGround >> "How to Play Guitar" by David Fair


11/6/06 7:43 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 12/12/12 10:14 PM
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Originally I posted this on DasBeav's Daniel Johnston thread; then decided to take it away from there and post separately. There's a shorter version of it, delivered live in an interview, in the movie "The Band Who Would Be King". It's funnier when you see him talking.... like demonstrating the part where you move your right hand really fast in order to play fast.

Anyway.... one extreme perspective, maybe, but one that I think is really cool and really rock'n'roll.

====================


How To Play Guitar By David Fair



I taught myself to play guitar. It's incredibly easy when you understand the science of it. The skinny strings play high sounds and the fat strings play low sounds. If you put your finger on a string near the body part of the guitar it makes a higher sound and if you put your finger on the string farther out by the tuning end it makes a lower sound. If you want to play fast move your hand real fast and if you want to play slower move your hand slower.

That's all there is to it. You can learn the names of notes and how to make chords that other people use, but that's pretty limiting. Even if you took a few years and learned all the chords you'd still have a limited number of options. If you ignore the chords, your options are infinite and you can master guitar playing in one day.

Traditionally, guitars have a fat string on the top and they get skinnier as they go down. But the thing to remember is it's your guitar and you can put whatever you want on it. I like to put six different-sized strings on because that gives the most variety, but my brother used to put six strings of the same thickness on so he wouldn't have so much to worry about. Whatever string he hit would have to be the right one because they were all the same.

Tuning the guitar is kind of a ridiculous notion. If you have to wind the tuning pegs to just a certain place, that implies that every other place is wrong. But that's absurd. How could it be wrong? It's your guitar and you're the one playing it. It's completely up to you to decide how it should sound. In fact, I don't tune by the sound at all. I wind the strings until they all feel about the same tightness. I highly recommend electric guitars for a couple of reasons. First of all, they don't depend on the body resonating for the sound, so it doesn't matter if you paint them. And also, if you put all the knobs on your amplifier on 10 you can get a much higher reaction-to-effort ratio with an electric guitar than you can with acoustic. Just a tiny tap on the string can rattle your windows, and when you slam the strings, with your amp on 10, you can strip the paint off the walls.

The first guitar I bought was Silvertone. Later I bought a Fender Telecaster, but it doesn't really matter what kind you buy as long as the tuning pegs are on the end of the neck where they belong. A few years back someone came out with a guitar that tunes at the other end. I've never tried one. I guess they sound all right, but they look ridiculous and I imagine you'd feel pretty foolish holding one. That would affect your playing. The idea isn't to feel foolish. The idea is to put a pick in one hand and a guitar in the other and with a tiny movement rule the world.
11/7/06 9:03 AM
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DasBeaver
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Edited: 07-Nov-06
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Thats hilarious! or is it?
11/9/06 4:53 PM
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BarkLikeADog
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Edited: 09-Nov-06
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LOL Punk ethic. Although tongue in cheek, I agree with everything he has to say, except for the "master in one day" thing. Of course, it's important to understand the rules & the reasons behind them before you go breaking them, if nothing else for efficiency's sake, but yeah, ok.
11/9/06 5:06 PM
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Ali
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I honestly don't think David Fair was being tongue-in-cheek. I don't think he's got all the truth either. His idea of "mastery" is not mine. But listen to the 8 million songs he recorded with 1/2 Japanese (ok, I don't know how many, and it's less than 8 million. But it's a lot). You might see he's actually completely serious.
11/10/06 11:23 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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Edited: 10-Nov-06
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LOL I have no idea who he is. Just reads like trollish/sarcastic writing. I'm never surprised to find out there's one more idiot on the planet, though. You have a link to a vid, or anything?
11/10/06 11:40 AM
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Ali
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I don't know of any available vids, except the movie/documentary. And I also don't think he's an idiot... just a primitive :-)
11/11/06 10:54 AM
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DasBeaver
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Edited: 11-Nov-06
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Do you know wehre I can find some half japanese tabs?
11/11/06 11:40 AM
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Ali
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LMAO! I think you might do better with their science lectures, though!
11/29/06 2:44 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 29-Nov-06
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Excerpt from 'The Band Who Would Be King'
12/1/06 8:49 AM
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DasBeaver
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You've gotta admire the mindset behind the music.
12/1/06 12:25 PM
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Ali
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Glad you saw this, DasBeav -- I posted that vid mostly for you.... knew you'd appreciate it! The "old folks home" they play at too has a bit of an interesting history. The guy who runs it used to publish a literary magazine with writings from the residents, called "The Duplex Planet". There was some really cool stuff in there, a lot of surreal/dada stuff that was great, but it was difficult to sort out whether it was intentional or a result of dementia. It's a very odd way of introducing the random elements into structure.... don't need to do cut-ups, or random tape splices. Just have alzheimers!
12/2/06 11:15 AM
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DasBeaver
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Yeah, thanks Ali! I've been to swamped to SG myself lately. Haha, thats funny about the old age home, what a wild idea. I've spent a bit of time in those homes lately due to some family trouble, and I find with some of those folks they lose their 'filter' and unleash a stream of consciousness on several subjects at once with no related points. I don't mind that part too much, but the 'filter' is what you need to figure out which stories are interesting (war/adventure/love/drama) to which stories are, well, boring as hell (last weeks lunch/a lost sock/doorbells).
12/3/06 2:30 PM
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Ali
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Oh man, I'm sorry you've been putting your time in at those places... I mean, sorry you've had circumstances that made it necessary. I've had some of that in my life, too. I think the writings in the lit mag must have been edited somewhat in more lucid moments. I mean, those people did *write*, it wasn't just recording their stream of consciousness and transcribing. I said the guy who runs it, and -- correction -- ran it. The Duplex itself closed down quite some time ago. Maybe a year after I first heard about it, I think. I used to look at the publication in bookstores in NY, and then it stopped... I wish I'd bought some, now, or hope there's a compilation book.
12/4/06 10:30 AM
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DasBeaver
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Edited: 04-Dec-06
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Thanks Ali, the thing about those places is it forces you to realize things could always be worse. That books sounds like a good read, I'll look around for it as well.
12/4/06 12:41 PM
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Ali
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I didn't even know there WAS a book -- I "hoped so" on my previous post. But I just looked up "The Duplex Planet" on Amazon. There are two in print, including Greenberg's story about how he decided to set up the home and do the literary project. They seem to have some used copies of the old journal, too.
12/4/06 4:39 PM
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DasBeaver
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I was just shopping for a Christmas gift on Amazon and found a copy of Duplex Planet for $1.12!
1/3/07 2:42 PM
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DasBeaver
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Edited: 12/13/12 11:34 AM
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In keeping with our instructional ethic, here's another guitar 'How To'

Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing:


1. Listen to the birds.

That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about
how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And
watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't
going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod.

Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is
also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush

Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread
and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush dosen't shake, eat another
piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil

Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box."
And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employerin
terms of who you're brining over from the other side. Electricity
attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An
acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an
electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out

If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play
like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that
feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone

Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord
then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an
open field.

7. Always carry a church key

That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a
Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade
instrument. His song "I Need a Hundered Dollars" is warm pie. Another
key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just
stands there like the Statue of Liberty-making you want to look up her
dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.

8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument

You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your
music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place

When you're not playin your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place.
If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a
saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your
house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of
wet paper around it to make it grow.
12/12/12 10:06 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 12/13/12 11:48 AM
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Holy Necrophilia, Batman!
I was talking to Hugo about the David Fair piece recently. So I'm resurrecting the thread. And re-paragraphing for readability. And starting another sentence with the word And. And just now remembering the Captain Beefheart maxims that DasBeaver posted. Thanks, man... from all those years ago.... VTFU for that. I forgot completely. ttMFt!
12/13/12 11:36 AM
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DasBeaver
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Great find, these are both invaluable resources for any budding guitarist!
12/21/12 5:16 PM
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hugomma
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Don't know how I fee about their music, but I did the philosophy.

12/21/12 9:58 PM
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Ali
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hugomma - 

Don't know how I fee about their music, but I did the philosophy.


Moe Tucker approves. And the guy sounds exactly like Jad Fair, so... that's all I need.
1/24/13 1:39 PM
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DasBeaver
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Not to beat a dead thread...
I was working on a project the other day I realized I'd never listened to One String Sam on the electric 'diddley bow' as mentioned in Beefheart's Rule #7:


1/24/13 11:38 PM
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Ali
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The Diddley Bow... man, punk rocker had nothing on old-timers' "DIY" aesthetic. That's cool.

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