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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    That's good to know. At 54, I have less time for blind alleys and other wrong turns. ) It's good to be on the right road.
    Exactly! I could not have said it better.

    Tony

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    you guys have inspired me to take another run through the formula...as soon as the fishing slows down and the heat arrives I'll feel more like staying inside...not easy here in Florida!....I'm going to order the intros and endings package...

  4. #53

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    I focused mostly on learning Robert Conti's Signature Arrangements and The Formula! to understand the reharmonization concepts. I had a fairly good chord vocabulary so I honestly didn't spend too much time on The Assembly Line but that might be a good idea for others.

    The Formula! is mind blowing in the way it is explained. I've seen a lot of other materials but nothing came close to the way it was explained.

    I love people like Ted Greene but the chord grips he uses are often pretty brutal to play and it's hard for me to take a book like Chord Chemistry and actually make music. Seeing examples from Signature Chord Melodies is a great way to go. It follows Conti's general rule that 'you learn by playing'. And playing means playing songs.

    Here is a video I did of Happy Birthday chord melody


    It's using Conti's concepts. Many times if you have one note that rings you can play a series of descending chords that move chromatically. You can do it without thinking once you get the chord moves under your hands.

    I'd like to do more when I get a chance.
    Last edited by wkriski; 04-08-2013 at 06:02 AM.

  5. #54

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    Will -

    Very nice!

    I notice you are playing a solid body electric that is typically used for rock styles. How do you like playing this style on that instrument? The reason I ask is that I just got a solid body Ibanez Apex Custom 7 string, which looks similar to your guitar i that it is a solid body built for rock. In fact, it is the signature guitar for one of the guitarists in a group called "Korn". The guy is called "Munky". I watched someYoutube in which he was playing the same guitar I have (not physically the same, but the same model). I had to do some work on the guitar to be able to tune it up to standard tuning, but handles very nicely and sounds pretty good through my Henrikson. It certainly doesn't look like a chord melody instrument.

    Tony

  6. #55

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    Hi Tony,

    Yes I'm a former 'shredder' and metal guitarist. That is an Ibanez RG with EMG active pickups. For jazz I had used it with the neck single coil pickup and tone knob turned down. Also the neck is thin and the chords are relatively easy to play. In jazz college even my teacher said it had a good tone - through the college amp, and my fingers might be partially responsible

    I wasn't totally happy with the tone from my jazz guitar at the time an Ibanez Artcore with Blues Junior but now I have a Fender Deluxe Reverb amp and Godin Multiac Jazz guitar so I'm using that for newer videos/lessons.

    People often get hung up on the 'proper' guitar to use but if you can get a good tone there are people using a Fender Telecaster such as Ted Greene which is good enough for me

  7. #56

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    Yes, I have seen videos of Ted Greene playing his Telecaster, as well as reading in the forums about other jazz players using similar solid body guitars. For a 7 string, I need all the "advantage" I can get, ad this one seems easy enough to play. It will be some time yet before I am finding my way cleanly around the 7 string. That extra string does throw me off. I think it will be worthwhile in the end though. Your arrangement of "Happy Birthday" was interesting and I could readily hear the influence of "The Formula" in it. Nice demo!

    Tony

  8. #57

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    I've been working on the Assembly Line for a couple of weeks, and I had a question about the high frets. I play an acoustic without a cutout, and I'm having a hard time reaching anything above the 14th fret. How important are those forms high on the neck? Without them, it looks like I have about an octave and a half range for the melody notes when I'm playing in C.

    By coincidence, I'm about to start looking around for a new acoustic guitar. If those upper chord forms are important, I'll think hard about getting a cutout.

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgk View Post
    I've been working on the Assembly Line for a couple of weeks, and I had a question about the high frets. I play an acoustic without a cutout, and I'm having a hard time reaching anything above the 14th fret. How important are those forms high on the neck? Without them, it looks like I have about an octave and a half range for the melody notes when I'm playing in C.
    I have that same problem. I think Conti says in the book not to worry about the higher frets if they're a problem to reach. However, I grab what I can of them (-sometimes just the top 2-3 strings) because it's good to internalize the sequences.

    Remember, in another key, the shapes that are above the 12th fret in C will be around the 3rd fret, or the 6th, and the shapes above the 12th fret will be ones played lower on the neck in, say, F.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  10. #59

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    Doesnt seem he uses many cords above the 12th with the formula....I don't have the assembly line, but his cords are really very standard drop cords for the most part, unlike some of the Ted Greene cords, no wonder they called him the cord chemist.

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I have that same problem. I think Conti says in the book not to worry about the higher frets if they're a problem to reach. However, I grab what I can of them (-sometimes just the top 2-3 strings) because it's good to internalize the sequences.

    Remember, in another key, the shapes that are above the 12th fret in C will be around the 3rd fret, or the 6th, and the shapes above the 12th fret will be ones played lower on the neck in, say, F.
    What I do is "wrap around" to the first fret, which plays the notes an octave lower. The reason is that those higher forms are different and certainly do come in useful at times. The important thing is getting the forms into your hands. When harmonizing a tune, I can avoid frets beyond the reach of my guitar by transposing the tune so it fits better a few frets lower. Generally with an acoustic guitar, I tend to treat it as a 12 fret with somewhat better reach. If you get too high up the fretboard, it tends to sound "plinky" anyway. The fulness of the guitar seems to be largely at or below the 12th fret. Of course, when playing single note leads, the story is different, but for chord melody, that is how I try to do it.

    Tony

  12. #61

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    Thanks for the advice, folks. I'll make sure I learn the forms, but I won't sweat it if I can't play them very well high up for now.

  13. #62

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    Chiming in with an update on my progress with "Chord Melody Assembly Line." My main work last month and this one is Conti's "Precision Technique." (I highly recommend that material!) With "Assembly Line" I want to go slow and to that end, I usually don't open the book; rather, I play the C, F, G7, D-, and A- sequences of chords over and over, getting a little smoother and faster as things go on. I expect to continue this way for the rest of this month (-today is 20 April) and then get back into the book next month. My thought is "I can't know these sequences too well. None of this effort is wasted. Things will speed up later. And the more deeply engrained these basic sequences are, the readier I will be for things to speed up!"
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  14. #63

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    Mark:I would suggest that you also apply each chord section (i.e. the Cmaj, F maj, G dom, etc.) to the tune Conti uses as the "working" example throughout thse chord sections. That gives you a sense for applying the forms to a melody. It isn't a matter of memorizing that tune, but rather, just getting a feel for the process. Then, at the end of the book, you go through another tune in its entirety. It is a good approach to take your time and really get these forms well in hand.

    Tony

  15. #64

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    Here's a chord melody video I just did from Conti's Signature Chord melody series. Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Slightly modified as he encourages us to do.


    I recommend learning how to play a variety of his chord melody arrangements before or while you are studying The Formula!. This is because we can tend to get stuck in the weeds with the ideas but never actually use them to play a full song. Also a lot of the chord moves become second nature and reusable in many arrangements. It's the practical application of The Formula!. As as Conti says, it's about being able to actually play.

    Here's an earlier video where I applied some of the concepts from The Formula! to Happy Birthday melody. I actually reused some of the ideas from the chord melody arrangements more so than from the theory, as these ideas become embedded in your subconscious if you start to learn some of the arrangements.

    Last edited by wkriski; 05-02-2013 at 09:46 AM. Reason: formatting

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    Mark:I would suggest that you also apply each chord section (i.e. the Cmaj, F maj, G dom, etc.) to the tune Conti uses as the "working" example throughout thse chord sections. That gives you a sense for applying the forms to a melody. It isn't a matter of memorizing that tune, but rather, just getting a feel for the process.
    Thanks, Tony. Sound advice and I'm a-gonna take it.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #66

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    that works!..nice arrangement...simply inserting some cycle 4 movements gives you a logical base movement..that alone helps with the base line question we all have in cord melody arrangements....

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkriski View Post
    Here's a chord melody video I just did from Conti's Signature Chord melody series. Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Slightly modified as he encourages us to do.


    I recommend learning how to play a variety of his chord melody arrangements before or while you are studying The Formula!. This is because we can tend to get stuck in the weeds with the ideas but never actually use them to play a full song. Also a lot of the chord moves become second nature and reusable in many arrangements. It's the practical application of The Formula!. As as Conti says, it's about being able to actually play.

    Here's an earlier video where I applied some of the concepts from The Formula! to Happy Birthday melody. I actually reused some of the ideas from the chord melody arrangements more so than from the theory, as these ideas become embedded in your subconscious if you start to learn some of the arrangements.

    Nice playing on these videos! I completely agree with what you said about learning several of Conti's chord melody arrangements. I have been doing that. In fact, your video got me interested in Conti's "Over the Rainbow", so that is next on my list. By playing his arrangements, we get Conti's phrasing sense. I am really amazed at his sense of "flow" and musicality. There is a lot we can learn from Conti's arrangements. By memorizing some of these arrangements, we can really get some of his phrasing well in hand, so when we get to The Formula, we already have a sense of what it is we are trying to get to. Anyway, nice work, Will!

    Tony

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Thanks, Tony. Sound advice and I'm a-gonna take it.
    When you are finished with "Assembly Line", just continue voicing chord melody arrangements from fakebooks. Shoot for a couple a day, if possible. It takes to time to get comfortable with doing this in a bunch of different keys and in a bnch of different melodic situations. Then, as Will was talking about, learn a bunch of Conti's chrd meldy arrangements, and then you will be ready for "The Formula". This is a long, but fun process.

    Tony

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    When you are finished with "Assembly Line", just continue voicing chord melody arrangements from fakebooks. Shoot for a couple a day, if possible. It takes to time to get comfortable with doing this in a bunch of different keys and in a bnch of different melodic situations. Then, as Will was talking about, learn a bunch of Conti's chrd meldy arrangements, and then you will be ready for "The Formula". This is a long, but fun process.

    Tony
    I was thinking of getting one of Conti's volumes of CM arrangements (-my eye is on Volume 5. which includes "Body and Soul," "I Got Rhythm" and "Summertime"). That could happen later this month. Because I took about a month with the C, F, G7, Dm and Am forms, I'm moving right along through the subsequent exercises.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I was thinking of getting one of Conti's volumes of CM arrangements (-my eye is on Volume 5. which includes "Body and Soul," "I Got Rhythm" and "Summertime"). That could happen later this month. Because I took about a month with the C, F, G7, Dm and Am forms, I'm moving right along through the subsequent exercises.
    Mark:

    I would strongly suggest that, if you can afford it, you also get "The Formula" at the same time. The reason is that if you take even just the first lesson of "The Formula", you will begin to see the same patterns of chords again and again in "musical phrases" in Conti's chord melody arrangements. Then, when you are ready to really dig into "The Formula", it will be there, ready to go. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you need to study "The Formula" before or during learning some of Conti's chord melody arrangements, but instead that if you read the first part of it, you will have a much better sense of what to look for as you begin to see Conti's chordal phrasing. That will make learning the arrangements that much easier and faster, and will also help prepare you when it is time to really dig into "The Formula". Ultimately, you will be coming up with your own arrangements of tunes that are every bit as good as what Conti does in his arrangement books. It doesn't come overnight by any means, but he doesn't hide anything about what he does from you, so all the information you need is there. "The Formula" lays it all out very clearly. You will get a lot more out of learning the Conti arrangements just by reading the introductory part of the "The Formula" and going through just the first lesson - all that is really only a handful of pages.

    Tony

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    Mark:

    I would strongly suggest that, if you can afford it, you also get "The Formula" at the same time. The reason is that if you take even just the first lesson of "The Formula", you will begin to see the same patterns of chords again and again in "musical phrases" in Conti's chord melody arrangements. Then, when you are ready to really dig into "The Formula", it will be there, ready to go. To be clear, I am not suggesting that you need to study "The Formula" before or during learning some of Conti's chord melody arrangements, but instead that if you read the first part of it, you will have a much better sense of what to look for as you begin to see Conti's chordal phrasing. That will make learning the arrangements that much easier and faster, and will also help prepare you when it is time to really dig into "The Formula". Ultimately, you will be coming up with your own arrangements of tunes that are every bit as good as what Conti does in his arrangement books. It doesn't come overnight by any means, but he doesn't hide anything about what he does from you, so all the information you need is there. "The Formula" lays it all out very clearly. You will get a lot more out of learning the Conti arrangements just by reading the introductory part of the "The Formula" and going through just the first lesson - all that is really only a handful of pages.

    Tony
    Thanks, Tony. I had no idea! Sounds like a plan. I'll do it that way, then.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Thanks, Tony. I had no idea! Sounds like a plan. I'll do it that way, then.
    You will really enjoy working with these materials if you enjoy working with harmony under the melody. If you listen to a really good cocktail style piano player - one who can play subtley and still make it interesting, you will get a real sense for what we can do with this stuff. There is a guy, Jim Haskins, who has a site: Cocktail Piano -- The Music You've Been Waiting For that has a whole collection of CDs of this subtle style, covering standards, show tunes, even a CD of tunes from the 70s. It is really interesting to read what he considers true cocktail style piano and why. Conti pretty much says the same sorts of things on his chord melody DVDs. One thing it seems you don't really hear guitar players do is play "real" tunes all the way through so that most people actually know what is being played. This is a wonderful way to do it. Conti talks on his chord melody DVDs about "really leaning on the melody" and "doing the improv with the underlying harmony" when playing for a non-jazz audience. That is really, in a sense, what a good cocktail piano player will do.

    Tony

  24. #73

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    I've heard cocktail piano and enjoy it, though it was not something I ever sat as a goal for myself (-as in, "Gee, I want to do that on guitar!")
    My mom plays piano and has a great ear. She knows no theory but can play any tune that catches her ear and fill it out with chords. As a kid, I couldn't do this at all. In fact, the main reason I started writing songs is that I had trouble learning 'em off records! (I'm glad I did that but I'm also glad my ear has improved since then.)
    Now, I want to be able to make a nice intro, play the melody with chords, maybe sing a chorus, take a solo, and then do the melody again but with some flourishes and tack on a great ending.

    I worked through the tune at the end of "Assembly Line." (I don't want to name it and spoil the surprise for someone working through that book.) Then I checked Conti's version and it was 90-95% the same. I take that as a good mark on my final exam. I don't consider myself done with the book---I need more work with the diminished and augmented shapes--but I learned a lot and can put it to use and consider this a watershed in my development. Next, "The Formula" and some of Conti's arrangements.

    O, I printed copies of six standards (w/lyrics) to keep on my music stand and work on: "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Blue Room," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Autumn Leaves," "All of Me" and "Body and Soul." This should keep me off the streets for awhile....
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I've heard cocktail piano and enjoy it, though it was not something I ever sat as a goal for myself (-as in, "Gee, I want to do that on guitar!")
    My mom plays piano and has a great ear. She knows no theory but can play any tune that catches her ear and fill it out with chords. As a kid, I couldn't do this at all. In fact, the main reason I started writing songs is that I had trouble learning 'em off records! (I'm glad I did that but I'm also glad my ear has improved since then.)
    Now, I want to be able to make a nice intro, play the melody with chords, maybe sing a chorus, take a solo, and then do the melody again but with some flourishes and tack on a great ending.

    I worked through the tune at the end of "Assembly Line." (I don't want to name it and spoil the surprise for someone working through that book.) Then I checked Conti's version and it was 90-95% the same. I take that as a good mark on my final exam. I don't consider myself done with the book---I need more work with the diminished and augmented shapes--but I learned a lot and can put it to use and consider this a watershed in my development. Next, "The Formula" and some of Conti's arrangements.

    O, I printed copies of six standards (w/lyrics) to keep on my music stand and work on: "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Blue Room," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Autumn Leaves," "All of Me" and "Body and Soul." This should keep me off the streets for awhile....
    Yes, cocktail style isn't for everybody, but what Conti teaches can be taken in many different directons as yours and my posts clearly indicate. I would say you have a really good handle on the material if your arrangement was that close. 5% or so is really personal interpretation anyway. There are some things toward the end of Assembly Line that I go back and review such as the 7th subs and stuff like that. What I like to do with any tune I am working on is to play it "straight" like in Assembly Line to get a sense of itbefore I start applying an of the ideas from "The Formula". Definitely get used to voicing lots of tunes as is done in Assembly Line because that is always a good starting point even quite some time down the road. It is a good skill to master.

    By the way, check out the Conti guitar site (Conti Jazz Guitar Patrons) because he has a review I wrote up on my new Conti guitar and a video I did of me playing one of his arrangements on it. I got the sunburst model with two pickups to match my Gibson Johnny Smith. These are very nice instruments. I got it so I don't have to take my Johnny Smith with me when I play out. The fretboard on the Conti has 24 fret access, so the Assembly Line chords can be played all the way up the neck as in the book! I am spoiled. It also has a short scale like the Johnny Smith, so it is really comfortable. The string spacing is great for fingering those chord melody chords and it is really easy to play them clean. Sounds great through my Henriksen too. This is definitely NOT some cheap guitar, but a quality instrument despite its low price.

    Tony

  26. #75

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    Hey, Tony, great playing! That Conti guitar sounds super. "When I Fall In Love" is such a great tune.

    Question: does the spot for the guitar cable ever rub against your leg when you play? (I noticed Jimmy Bruno's guitar seems to have the cable coming out of the strap pin---that seems like a great place for a cable to me!)

    You really walk the walk. It's a pleasure to hear you play.

    Just placed an order for "The Formula" and Vol. 5 of Conti's chord melody arrangements. Man, am I psyched!

    Thanks for all your sound advice.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Hey, Tony, great playing! That Conti guitar sounds super. "When I Fall In Love" is such a great tune.

    Question: does the spot for the guitar cable ever rub against your leg when you play? (I noticed Jimmy Bruno's guitar seems to have the cable coming out of the strap pin---that seems like a great place for a cable to me!)

    You really walk the walk. It's a pleasure to hear you play.

    Just placed an order for "The Formula" and Vol. 5 of Conti's chord melody arrangements. Man, am I psyched!

    Thanks for all your sound advice.
    Thanks Mark! No, Conti placed that spot for the guitar cable (according to something I read on his site) specifically so it doesn't rub against your leg. I don't have any trouble. That guitar really is a pleasure to play. I was looking for something that I wouldn't have to worry about when playing in a band. The Conti guitar is inexpensive at $1649, but apparently the price is going up either next month or the month after due to cost of materials, shipping, etc. So I decided now is the time. Since I already have several of his products, I figured his guitars just might be that good too - and they are! It is certainly a lot of guitar for the money.

    I am playing through my Henriksen amp, which simply does well with archtops, and the Conti is no exception.

    Tony

  28. #77

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    Peerless guitar, looks a little like the hofner very thin....I have not had a chance to try out a peerless but they seem to be really nice......I wish the body was a bit smaller...

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by artcore View Post
    Peerless guitar, looks a little like the hofner very thin....I have not had a chance to try out a peerless but they seem to be really nice......I wish the body was a bit smaller...
    I was a bit concerned about some of the dimensions of the Conti before it arrived, but have found it to be very comfortable instrument to play. The lower bout, though larger than my Johnny Smith is still quite comfortable, probably because the body is much thinner. The nut on my Johnny Smith is 1 3/4", while the Conti measures 1 11/16". Probably due to the string spacing, I am having absolutely no difficulty with the Conti in that area either. I really like the full 24 fret access because I can really play chord melodyy way up there. I have never seen a Peerless before, so I don't know if they are all of equally high quality or if they all have similar appointments as the Conti such as the solid top, back, and sides, real abolone inlays rather than plastic, full binding of headstock, neck, and the usual around the body. The quality is quite high on this instrument and I have found absolutely no flaws in mine. The gig bag is built very well and does protect the guitar. It is as heavy duty as the bags that my Henriksen amp and speaker go in. As I understand it, this guitar is built to Conti's specifications. When I ordered by phone, he told me that he plays one for all his videos and gigs, and his is stock (i.e. he doesn't swap out the pickups or anything like that). I would say the price is misleading in that if you were to judge this guitar by others you may have seen selling new in this price range, nice as they may be, I think you (me, anybody...) would be underestimating what this instrument is. I really enjoy playing this guitar and have not had the sense that I wish something or other about it had been done differently. I have nothing to gain financially by saying this. I purchased from Conti because I have had good luck with all the learning materials I have gotten from him over the years and have found all my dealings with his organization to be straight up and no hassles. I figured that since I am into his methods, I should try one of his guitars. So I am trying to convey an experience here that we can't, unfortunately, have by trying the instrument in a local store. It really is all that owners of this guitar say it is. I own a vintage Johnny Smith, and though there really is something about such an instrument that puts it in a league of its own, among the lower cost alternatives, I think the Conti is a clear winner. Not everyone wants or would afford a vintage Johnny Smith, but I think the Conti is within reach of most of us. From the perspective of playing, I could be happy with either instrument, and that is saying a lot about the Conti.

    Tony

  30. #79

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    Thanks for the info....it has me thinking about it....I've watched the videos of guys sitting down and playing and I'm thinking that looks a little awkward with the size of that body, but I guess it depends on what you find comfortable and how you hold the guitar..
    Last edited by artcore; 05-12-2013 at 10:32 AM.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    I really like the full 24 fret access because I can really play chord melodyy way up there.Tony
    That appeals to me too. My Ibanez Artcore has a shallow cutaway and I'm a big guy, so it's a strain to play some of Conti's chord shapes up the neck. (For example, the highest voicings of the F chord shapes from "Assembly Line.") I can make do but when I can get a better guitar, I want one with a better cutaway that allows access up the neck. (And only one pickup, two knobs....)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by artcore View Post
    Thanks for the info....it has me thinking about it....I've watched the videos of guys sitting down and playing and I'm thinking that looks a little awkward with the size of that body, but I guess it depends on what you find comfortable and how you hold the guitar..
    If you saw my video, I hold the guitar in a sort of classical guitar position using a strap istead of a footstool. The fingerstyle player, Steven King (not the author) talked at length about doing this in his Taylor seminars he used to do. It made sens to me ad has worked for me since. I can stand up or sit down and the positioning remains the same so there is no adjustment and it is easy on the hands and wrists.

    Tony

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    That appeals to me too. My Ibanez Artcore has a shallow cutaway and I'm a big guy, so it's a strain to play some of Conti's chord shapes up the neck. (For example, the highest voicings of the F chord shapes from "Assembly Line.") I can make do but when I can get a better guitar, I want one with a better cutaway that allows access up the neck. (And only one pickup, two knobs....)
    Fro that perspective of using Conti's materials, it makes perfect sense to use the guitar designed by the guy who pplays that way. (At least that was a part of my thought process while deciding to get that instrument). You can spend a lot of money on an archtop and not get that 24 fret clearance. My Johnny Smith was more money than I have spent on any two or three guitars, and (as wonderful as it is) it does not have that clearance. Conti did that because he uses that area a lot. Rather than just putting out a guitar to have his name in that market, he put out the guitar he would (and does) want to play. I am reasonably sure there are other instruments that provide that clearance, but Conti does it while still having the short scale and all the frets are playable. I think this guitar is unique because of that, among other things.

    Tony

  34. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    Fro that perspective of using Conti's materials, it makes perfect sense to use the guitar designed by the guy who pplays that way.
    That makes sense, though I'm sure Robert Conti doesn't want potential students to think his method works only with his guitar!

    I have two questions.
    One is about your 'classical style' of holding the guitar without a footstool but using a strap instead. I always wear a strap (and play seated) but I don't hold the guitar that high. I used to try lots of different positions but it is only since giving Conti's "Precision Technique" a couple months that I feel my picking is solid enough to make OTHER adjustments worth considering. How did you hold the guitar before?

    The second question is about strings. Conti doesn't use flatwounds. I assume the Conti came with the strings Conti uses--what do you think of them? (And more important, how often do you need to change them? I've had my current set of TI .011s on my guitar since last August and I play 2-4 hours a day; that's serious mileage!)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    I can stand up or sit down and the positioning remains the same so there is no adjustment and it is easy on the hands and wrists.
    Tony
    Tony,
    Excellent! You've touched on a very important point here. Most of us practice while sitting and play while standing which creates a different angle on the guitar and the way the hands address the fingerboard. I discovered this years ago when my execution on the bandstand was always several notches below that of the practice room. When it finally hit me what was causing the problem, I began to use a strap to keep the guitar in the same place all the time and was able to acheive a balance between practice and performance.
    Jerome

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Tony,
    Excellent! You've touched on a very important point here. Most of us practice while sitting and play while standing which creates a different angle on the guitar and the way the hands address the fingerboard. I discovered this years ago when my execution on the bandstand was always several notches below that of the practice room. When it finally hit me what was causing the problem, I began to use a strap to keep the guitar in the same place all the time and was able to achieve a balance between practice and performance.
    Jerome
    And now the kid in the dumb row raises his hand: "I know that the theory holds that if you wear a strap and sit, the guitar will be in the same position when you're standing, but does it actually work out this way for everyone?" It doesn't seem to for me.....

    (If that makes no sense, well, it won't be the first time I've been guilty of that.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  37. #86

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    Mark,
    Obviously. I can only speak for myself. I started wearing my guitars mid-chest a la Roy Buchanan and Les Paul about 35 years ago. That's high enough so that it remains in place whether I stand or sit. Another benefit is that when playing seated in a big band, it's customary for soloists to stand during their solos. I don't have to worry about the guitar shifting or moving around if I'm called on. I can stand up and get right to work.
    Jerome

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    That makes sense, though I'm sure Robert Conti doesn't want potential students to think his method works only with his guitar!

    I have two questions.
    One is about your 'classical style' of holding the guitar without a footstool but using a strap instead. I always wear a strap (and play seated) but I don't hold the guitar that high. I used to try lots of different positions but it is only since giving Conti's "Precision Technique" a couple months that I feel my picking is solid enough to make OTHER adjustments worth considering. How did you hold the guitar before?

    The second question is about strings. Conti doesn't use flatwounds. I assume the Conti came with the strings Conti uses--what do you think of them? (And more important, how often do you need to change them? I've had my current set of TI .011s on my guitar since last August and I play 2-4 hours a day; that's serious mileage!)
    There is no way that one must use a Conti guitar to work with his method. Your comment was probably in jest, but people reading this might not realize that, so I need to make this clear:

    1. I have been working with the Conti materials much longer than I have owned a Conti guitar (I only got it a week or two ago and have posted here longer than that as proof). I have only gotten an archtop to use with the method recently, having used a classical guitar and then an acoustic steel string parlor guitar prior to that. All these instruments worked fine. You would need to contend with wrapping around your chord forms when you can't get much beyond the 12th fret, but that isn't a bad thing - it helps you understand the fretboard.
    2. Conti would never claim he invented any of the musical aspects of his methods. Everybody has been using what I am referring to as the "Assembly Line" chords for many, many decades in jazz and other musical situations on all manner of guitars. Considering the Conti guitar only came out a few years ago and Conti wrote his books long before that, his guitar could not possibly have had an effect on how he wrote the method.

    My point was simply that an advantage of the Conti guitar is that you don't need to wrap around at the 12th fret because you can go all the way up to the 24th fret easily.

    With regard to the classical manner of holding the guitar, I have always done some form of that, probably because I have always preferred to use my fingers. Most people seem to rest an acoustic guitar on the right leg when sitting down to play. that always seemed really awkward to me because the player's elbow is then sticking way up in the air. To me, that feels really uncomfortable, and I wouldn't doubt it causes its share of physical problems after a while. With electric, I see people having the guitar slung rather low. It may look "cool" in a haphazard sort of way, but the angle at which the wrists are bent looks very awkward and prone to damage. Proof of this is in various guitar forums where people , especially for acoustic guitar where classical technique seems to be largely ignored, players are having problems with their hands and wrists. Unfortunately, it can take years before the consequences of our choices become known. I have a nephew who did whatever they called the "head banging" thing people did to each other at rock concerts in the 80s. A year ago, he had to have surgery on a couple of vertebrae whose cause was traced directly back to that activity. Same story for ignoring hands and wrists when playing guitar, though maybe to a lesser degree.

    With regard to Conti strings, he works with GHS and has sets put together with specific gauges. The gauges are (high to low): 11 - 14 - 20w - 28w - 38w - 48w. The package says "Preferred Guage Strings Manufactured by GHS Strings, Battle Creek, Michigan" on the back, and "Preferred Gauge Strings From Robert Conti" on the front. I like the strings and find they sound good and are comfortable to play. Conti says on the package "This set of custom gauged strings is the result of many years of experimentation. In addition to ease of playability, I believe they achieve an ideal tonal balance for the majority of jazz guitarists."

    I am one of the fortunate people who doesn't have weird chemicals coming out of my fingers, so strings tend to last a long time for me. Some people have to change strings every week, if not more, and others maybe a few times a year. It seems to depend on the chemicals in your fingers, how frequently you play, and the environment in which you play. If you play on a cruise ship, for example, the air would be salty, so maybe strings in that environment wouldn't last as long.

    Tony

  39. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Tony,
    Excellent! You've touched on a very important point here. Most of us practice while sitting and play while standing which creates a different angle on the guitar and the way the hands address the fingerboard. I discovered this years ago when my execution on the bandstand was always several notches below that of the practice room. When it finally hit me what was causing the problem, I began to use a strap to keep the guitar in the same place all the time and was able to acheive a balance between practice and performance.
    Jerome
    Monk:

    I am glad you picked up on that. My choice of words was on purpose, and that was exactly the point!

    Tony

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    And now the kid in the dumb row raises his hand: "I know that the theory holds that if you wear a strap and sit, the guitar will be in the same position when you're standing, but does it actually work out this way for everyone?" It doesn't seem to for me.....

    (If that makes no sense, well, it won't be the first time I've been guilty of that.)
    Monk's response is spot on, and your response makes sense to me. If you don't hold your guitar high enough, then when you sit down it will rest on your legs, changing the position. Whether I stand or sit, my guitar is never resting on my legs/lap so its position remains unchanged. Also, you want it high enough so your hands come to rest naturally in their respective positions for playing so you don't have that awkwardness I was talking about earlier.

    Of course, when all is said and done, we each have to find the positioning that works best for us. Clearly, monk and I have a similar approach, with similar reasons and results. We all have different hight, arm lengths, etc, so it may take some experimentation to find what is suitable for you.

    Tony

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post

    My point was simply that an advantage of the Conti guitar is that you don't need to wrap around at the 12th fret because you can go all the way up to the 24th fret easily.

    With regard to the classical manner of holding the guitar, I have always done some form of that, probably because I have always preferred to use my fingers. Most people seem to rest an acoustic guitar on the right leg when sitting down to play. that always seemed really awkward to me because the player's elbow is then sticking way up in the air. To me, that feels really uncomfortable, and I wouldn't doubt it causes its share of physical problems after a while. With electric, I see people having the guitar slung rather low. It may look "cool" in a haphazard sort of way, but the angle at which the wrists are bent looks very awkward and prone to damage. Proof of this is in various guitar forums where people , especially for acoustic guitar where classical technique seems to be largely ignored, players are having problems with their hands and wrists. Unfortunately, it can take years before the consequences of our choices become known. I have a nephew who did whatever they called the "head banging" thing people did to each other at rock concerts in the 80s. A year ago, he had to have surgery on a couple of vertebrae whose cause was traced directly back to that activity. Same story for ignoring hands and wrists when playing guitar, though maybe to a lesser degree.

    With regard to Conti strings, he works with GHS and has sets put together with specific gauges. The gauges are (high to low): 11 - 14 - 20w - 28w - 38w - 48w. The package says "Preferred Guage Strings Manufactured by GHS Strings, Battle Creek, Michigan" on the back, and "Preferred Gauge Strings From Robert Conti" on the front. I like the strings and find they sound good and are comfortable to play. Conti says on the package "This set of custom gauged strings is the result of many years of experimentation. In addition to ease of playability, I believe they achieve an ideal tonal balance for the majority of jazz guitarists."
    I do like that Conti's guitar allows access to the higher frets. I also like the single pickup setup. I may try a set of those strings. Next time I'm ready to change them, I'll get a set of Conti's and see what I make of them.

    It's a funny thing about playing sitting down. I'm one of those guys who crosses his legs but unlike most guys, I'm long-waisted. (I'm 6 foot tall with a 31" inseam on my pants---that's how long my torso is, and how short my legs are!) So my guitar feels a little "low" when I'm sitting; however, if I use the strap to bring it up several inches, THEN my arm feels like it's at an odd angle.

    I play with my fingers with the Assembly Line material, but I'm mainly a pick guy. (Conti's "Precision Technique" and "Jazz Lines" are my daily bread along with "Assembly Line," and I sometimes do the A. Line material with a pick...) I'm not sure your classical posture would work for me. But boy does it work for you!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  42. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by artcore View Post
    Peerless guitar, looks a little like the hofner very thin....I have not had a chance to try out a peerless but they seem to be really nice......I wish the body was a bit smaller...
    I asked Conti's people about this and got some info about Peerless and the Conti guitar. Peerless is a high quality manufacturer (as OEM) for several major brands. However, the Conti guitar only shares two attributes of the top line Peerless guitars (other than the build quality). These are the headstock shape and the pickguard. Other than these, Conti designed everything about the Conti guitar himself, so it is different from the Peerless models that bear their own name or as made for other brands. This is a private brand - "Conti" that is sold only via his web site.

    This makes sense to me because I really have not seen a guitar, especially in this price range with the attributes that the Conti guitar has, as mentioned in other posts. That is another good thing about Conti's organization, he/they will respond if we ask them anything about their products. So I hope this information helps.

    This is a link to Conti's Facebook page from the 2010 NAMM show. Notice what the banner says about who Peerless builds for:


    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater



    Tony
    Last edited by tbeltrans; 05-12-2013 at 05:37 PM.

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    I do like that Conti's guitar allows access to the higher frets. I also like the single pickup setup. I may try a set of those strings. Next time I'm ready to change them, I'll get a set of Conti's and see what I make of them.

    It's a funny thing about playing sitting down. I'm one of those guys who crosses his legs but unlike most guys, I'm long-waisted. (I'm 6 foot tall with a 31" inseam on my pants---that's how long my torso is, and how short my legs are!) So my guitar feels a little "low" when I'm sitting; however, if I use the strap to bring it up several inches, THEN my arm feels like it's at an odd angle.

    I play with my fingers with the Assembly Line material, but I'm mainly a pick guy. (Conti's "Precision Technique" and "Jazz Lines" are my daily bread along with "Assembly Line," and I sometimes do the A. Line material with a pick...) I'm not sure your classical posture would work for me. But boy does it work for you!
    When I called to order my Conti guitar, I ended up talking directly to Conti. Really a nice guy! Anyway, I asked him about dual vs single pickup. He said that if I intend to just play jazz (chord melody, single lines, comping, etc.) then the single pickup is good, as it is a clean uncluttered look and less hardware on the guitar and nobody uses the bridge pickup for that because it doesn't have that warm tone. However, if I were intending to play pop music, funk, etc., then having the flexibility of tone for those styles would make having the dual pickup configuration worthwhile. I have played those styles in bands before, and could well end up doing it again, so I chose the dual pickup design and you heard how good the guitar sounds.

    If I knew that I would only be playing jazz/chordmelody/not pop or rock, then I would have gone for the single pickup.

    By the way, I have googled and read discussions about dual vs single pickup configurations and people's opinions about the Gibson Johnny Smith, and people reflect the same views that Conti mentioned. My Johnny Smith has two pickups and is sunburst, so I decided to go the same route with my Conti guitar. I have no regrets, and believe that either would be fine (single or dual pickup). Conti said he plays a single pickup model, and it is black.

    You may have some experimentation ahead of you regarding how to hold the guitar. I have heard of other people having long torso/short legs or the other way round, so it isn't too unusual. The issue is to what degree is the length disparity. In your case, it is apparently pronounced enough to affect how you hold the guitar. Fortunately, there isn't ONE right way other than the way that works best for you.

    Tony

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by monk View Post
    Mark,
    Obviously. I can only speak for myself. I started wearing my guitars mid-chest a la Roy Buchanan and Les Paul about 35 years ago. That's high enough so that it remains in place whether I stand or sit. Another benefit is that when playing seated in a big band, it's customary for soloists to stand during their solos. I don't have to worry about the guitar shifting or moving around if I'm called on. I can stand up and get right to work.
    Jerome
    Thanks, Jerome. I'll work on this.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  45. #94

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    I always sit in the living room with my back against the couch when I'm working through a tune, in a nice comfortable position and then when I sit in chair, its oh man, I have to shift around to get the fingerboard in the right place...and thats my fault, I know better.....using the strap or adopting the classical position would be the smart thing to do.....

  46. #95

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    Soooo, you just need to take your couch to the gig.

  47. #96

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    I mostly gig right at home.....these days....

  48. #97

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    I will be practicing with thhe jazz group next Sunday afternoon. It will be my first time with the Conti guitar, so it will be interesting to see how that goes. From what my wife says, there should be little difference in overall sound. She says that it sounds nice and wrm through my Henriksen. I am not sure when we will be performing next, but will find out next week, since we don't practice just to do that. I went through a stretch of probably 6 or 7 years of not playing in any bands, and then the opportunity came along again. It seems that if you can read charts, fit in with other players (i.e. stay out of the piano player's way, musically speaking) and show up on time and sober, there is always another opportunity somewhere.

    As far as I am concerned, I think that sitting at home and playing chord melody is one of the most relaxing and engaging things I can do for myself. If opportunities did not come up to play in a band, I would still be perfectly happy. If I were trying to play one part of something the rest of a band might play, such as soloing over a boombox or BIAB, then that might get old real quick. But chord melody is something I can always enjoy alone. I don't even use my amp at home most of the time. Some (I don't know about here, but in other forums) seem to think that unless you put up videos and/or play in a band, what you are doing at home isn't valid. I have a web site that is sub-titled "Guitar For The Rest Of Us" (Avocational Guitarist | Guitar for the rest of us) about learning chord melody and playing for your own enjoyment because I really believe that is perfectly valid and a great way to spend one's time. I wasn't in a band when I started it, but that doesn''t change how I see it one bit. I have nothing to sell, but I put up blog articles about playing chord melody for yourself and talk about my experiences with Conti's materials. I would love to have my own books on the subject to sell, but believe that Conti already did it and way better than I ever could.

    In retirement, that is what I want to do - continue to play chord melody, even if it is just for my own enjoyment. There are lots of tunes to play and lots of ways to harmonize them.

    Tony
    Last edited by tbeltrans; 05-12-2013 at 09:28 PM.

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    As far as I am concerned, I think that sitting at home and playing chord melody is one of the most relaxing and engaging things I can do for myself. If opportunities did not come up to play in a band, I would still be perfectly happy.
    Tony, I'm glad to hear you say that. I want to become a really good guitar player and to me the advantage of that is being able to play well, for myself alone or for others. It's like cooking----not everyone who can cook wants to run a restaurant!

    As a kid, I wrote songs and that remains more important to me. Though since I've gotten into jazz, and especially The Great American Songbook, I realize I'm not that good and that I (often, not always) get more out of playing a great tune well than one I wrote myself. (There's an undeniable kick to having a song of your own you think is cool, but my own tunes aren't jazz, though some have a bit of that influence.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  50. #99

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    Its a hobby for me and very glad I found cord melody..I am retired so I can fool around as much as I want with it...I don't use the amp much, but lately I'm plugging in and making some recordings...It really points out the weakness in the arrangements.
    Also the positives...

  51. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Tony, I'm glad to hear you say that. I want to become a really good guitar player and to me the advantage of that is being able to play well, for myself alone or for others. It's like cooking----not everyone who can cook wants to run a restaurant!

    As a kid, I wrote songs and that remains more important to me. Though since I've gotten into jazz, and especially The Great American Songbook, I realize I'm not that good and that I (often, not always) get more out of playing a great tune well than one I wrote myself. (There's an undeniable kick to having a song of your own you think is cool, but my own tunes aren't jazz, though some have a bit of that influence.)
    I have not tried writing my own songs, so I don't have that experience to comment on. I think thequality of the standards is quite high. At that time, there were skilled song writers, really those who wrote lyrics and those who put them to music, and there were the performers whose skill making the tune come alive for the audience. It was collaberative,with each person involved being a master of his or her knowledge domain. When The Beatles came along (after their first few albums), they began writing their own material, as did other rock groups of the time, and that became the norm. It didn't seem to matter if the songs were particularly good or not, though The Beatles had absorbed a rather wide variety of music, including the standards and used all those influences in their music.

    To me, a good test of a well written tune is if the melody and harmony are strong enough to stand on their own in a variety of settings. There was a jazz 2 CD set called "A Bite of the Apple" of Beatles tunes that worked really well. I have heard one CD of an attempt to cover some Stones tunes as jazz pieces that, in my opinion, falls flat. I have heard some classical guitar renditions of some Hendrix tunes and though they have a few short moments, overall they really don't work well. Edgar Cruz captures rock tunes as solo classical guitar pieces. I have some of thse CDs. It sounds to me as if he has to work really hard to get it all in. I doubt that they would hold up at all if he weren't skilled enough to capture much of what the band is doing.

    The standards hold up well because they have a strong melody line and you can do a lot with the harmony. Not everything written during that time withstood the test of time, but there is a large body of it that did, and still does.

    There is so much music coming at us from so many directions today, that it would be really easy to not hear really good music being made that would hold up. We have too much of a good thing, and I really don't know what is being produced that might work in a setting such as solo chord melody.

    As for song writing, I am surprised in hindsight how many good tunes there were from the 70s. I don't know what the ratio was from the 30s, 40s, and early 50s between all that was produced and what withstood the test of time, so I don't know if the 70s appraoched that at all, but there is quite a bit from the 70s that could be set in a chord melody arrangement. I don't know about music from the 80s and beyond except maybe a few tunes.

    I don't really consider myself "jazz" necessarily either. My inspiration comes not from sax players, as many jazz guitarist seem to want to emulate, nor from jazz guitarists, but instead from certain cocktail style piano players. They take harmonic freedom, but stick to the melody. That is what I aspire to as is presented in The Formula. Conti provides a way to achieve that, but it still takes a lot of time on the istrument, which he makes quite clear. So I am somewhere along the way, but far from any destination.

    Tony