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  1. #51

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    Beats, that is... This week I have b been able to get DL up to 180 and still reasonably clean. I still think there are better fingerings that the ones I'm using exp. for measures 5-8 and 13-16. Those are the real sticking points for me in trying to play this clean.


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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Beats, that is... This week I have b been able to get DL up to 180 and still reasonably clean. I still think there are better fingerings that the ones I'm using exp. for measures 5-8 and 13-16. Those are the real sticking points for me in trying to play this clean.

    Great to check out your progress, Lawson. It is an addictive tune and you're obviously putting in some time as this is the best you've sounded.

    Regarding the fingerings, here are my solutions for Bars 5-8 and 13-16. I find it easier to stretch the 1st finger out of position at the opening of bar 5. Otherwise, it's pretty much what you've come up with here. There's both a B natural and Bb in bar 13 (a '2 above/1 below' enclosure to the Bb) and this is one of those instances where single positional fingerings are problematic. I find it easier and more idiomatic to play that phrase down the fretboard employing a mixture of pull-offs and slides:

    Bars 5-8:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-5-8-jpeg
    Bars 13-16:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-13-16-jpeg
    Also, the "A's in bar 21 should be naturals not flats. This is a case where the original Real Book was in error. The recording clearly has naturals and the Omnibook has corrected the mistake.

    On the rhythmic front, some of your entries are a little rushed but overall, this is sitting much more in the pocket. Nice work!

  4. #53

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    Here's another option for bars 5-8 that once again requires a finger stretch (this time it's the 4th rather than the 1st). These might feel unusual if you play primarily from CAGED fingerings but for me they help preserve the flow of the line:

    Bars 5-8:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-13-16-jpeg
    Last edited by PMB; 12-25-2019 at 12:39 AM.

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    relying on static positions won't really cut it when playing Parker heads.
    Attachment 67090
    This this this!

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Here's another option for bars 13-16 that once again requires a finger stretch (this time it's the 4th rather than the first). These might feel unusual if you play primarily from CAGED fingerings but for me they help preserve the flow of the line:

    Bars 13-16:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-13-16-jpeg
    Thanks so much! I’ll be experimenting with all of these!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  7. #56

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    As a Christmas/ New Year present. here are

    fingerings I used to play it, as in the clip from post #10 of this thread.

    It is in both notation and TAB, on my blog page

  8. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterson
    I just try to do down strokes on down beats whenever possible. I will certainly look into all of your tips and ideas!
    IMHO, accenting and rhythm is very important for bebop tunes like this. By sticking to steady up-down strokes on up-down beats can easily lead to a somewhat square rythmic feeling like older musiscans did it, for example Coleman Hawkins. Donna Lee is frequently played like that. But bebop tunes like this has a more free flowing rhythm with slurs, triplets, "triplet feeling" etc.

    A sidenote: Normally Charlie Parker is credited as the composer of Donna Lee. However, it has been said that it was Miles Davis who brought the tune to the recording session. It has also been said that it was not Miles who wrote it. Benny Bailey and Frank Morgan has been suggested as the real composers. Whatever, it is one of the greatest and most archetypical bebop heads.

    I know politics is not welcome here but I can't resist:



    Sendt fra min SM-T810 med Tapatalk

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldane
    A sidenote: Normally Charlie Parker is credited as the composer of Donna Lee. However, it has been said that it was Miles Davis who brought the tune to the recording session. It has also been said that it was not Miles who wrote it.
    If you check out post #29 you can hear the head was stolen straight from a Fats Navarro solo over Ice Freezes Red which has the same changes as Indiana. Fats recorded his track before Bird recorded Donna Lee.

  10. #59

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    Which fingers? How bout all of them.....


  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Great to check out your progress, Lawson. It is an addictive tune and you're obviously putting in some time as this is the best you've sounded.

    Regarding the fingerings, here are my solutions for Bars 5-8 and 13-16. I find it easier to stretch the 1st finger out of position at the opening of bar 5. Otherwise, it's pretty much what you've come up with here. There's both a B natural and Bb in bar 13 (a '2 above/1 below' enclosure to the Bb) and this is one of those instances where single positional fingerings are problematic. I find it easier and more idiomatic to play that phrase down the fretboard employing a mixture of pull-offs and slides:

    Bars 5-8:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-5-8-jpeg
    Bars 13-16:
    Donna Lee fingering for speed-dl-bars-13-16-jpeg
    Also, the "A's in bar 21 should be naturals not flats. This is a case where the original Real Book was in error. The recording clearly has naturals and the Omnibook has corrected the mistake.

    On the rhythmic front, some of your entries are a little rushed but overall, this is sitting much more in the pocket. Nice work!
    I'm really having trouble--ear-trouble--hearing those A naturals! Gotten re-train my ear for that measure.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I'm really having trouble--ear-trouble--hearing those A naturals! Gotten re-train my ear for that measure.
    They're definitely present, Lawson but unexpected as the home key is Ab and the phrase leads to an Fm chord (if you want to doublecheck, load Parker's performance in YouTube, set the playback mode to 0.25 and listen from 0'17"):
    Of course, there are lots of recordings and live performances that disregard the A naturals, either consciously or otherwise so you'd be in decent company if you chose to ignore them.

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    They're definitely present, Lawson but unexpected as the home key is Ab and the phrase leads to an Fm chord (if you want to doublecheck, load Parker's performance in YouTube, set the playback mode to 0.25 and listen from 0'17"):
    Of course, there are lots of recordings and live performances that disregard the A naturals, either consciously or otherwise so you'd be in decent company if you chose to ignore them.
    Actually I've spent part of my day today playing along with Bird and the Boys and i hear that A natural loud and clear, so its done. I'm in the tank with the A Naturals.

    But I tell you. Even slowed down to 160, trying to play that with Bird and the Band just underscores how totally un-hip I am. They play like drunk virtuosos. I play like I've got rigor mortis.

    This is one of the most discouraging clips I"ve ever posted. Maybe it'll make some of you guys feel better about your own playing!


  14. #63

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    You're too hard on yourself, my man. I can hear improvements with each take. Copping Parker's time feel is no easy task but I had a musical epiphany many years ago when I realised that CP was playing blindingly quick lines on uptempo tunes but treating them as if they were ballads or at most, medium-tempo swingers. Rather than count 4 beats to the bar, he cut the bar in half. Listen to the head again, count only on the '1' and '3 and notice how the accents line up (it's especially clear on this tune as the first entry is on beat 3). In other words, once you get to a certain tempo, what would normally be the backbeat ('2' and '4') is transferred to 3rd beat of each bar. Drunken virtuosity right there!

    There's a video somewhere on YouTube where saxophonist, Joe Lovano talks about this approach and demonstrates the difference via tapping his foot at different rates. The change in feel and phrasing is remarkable, despite the internal rhythms of his lines remaining fairly constant.

    I see the whole thing as fractal. Eighth-note upbeats are generally accented and slurred onto downbeats to create forward motion. Those upbeats transform into 2 & 4 backbeats and then accents on the second half of the bar, the first beat of every second bar, etc. This explains why we precede counting each beat in a bar when bringing in a band with a long count: 1 - 2 - 1-2-3-4. The first '2' is actually the 3rd beat of the bar but that telescoping helps everyone internalise the divisions at a broader level.

    I hope that makes sense. Guitarists often get so wound up with getting the pitches and fingerings down (a challenging enough exercise as it is) that they miss the vital aspects of rhythm and articulations that help bring bop lines to life.

  15. #64

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    I think these observations on the rhythmic subtleties are important. I've struggled to articulate this tune for decades and have come to accept that I'm not wired to execute it at any great speed. I was taken to task years ago when the clarinet player in our band complained that I was not playing it properly because I wasn't playing the dotted rhythm. The only way I could get it up to speed was by playing straight eighth notes. He wasn't happy with that and it's stuck with me ever since. In fact I don't think I've yet heard anyone play it at a very fast tempo and remain faithful to the original dotted rhythm that you hear on the early Parker recordings. Musically I also think there is little to be gained at ridiculous tempos. There is a take of Joe Pass and Niels Orsted Pederson on Youtube playing Donna Lee at a frantic pace but despite their great talents it comes across as mere musical gymnastics to me and the dotted rhythms are completely lost.
    Full credit to Peterson and Lawson for being brave enough to show their attempts which at least capture the spirit of the original composition even if the tempos are relatively modest.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by stoneground
    I think these observations on the rhythmic subtleties are important. I've struggled to articulate this tune for decades and have come to accept that I'm not wired to execute it at any great speed. I was taken to task years ago when the clarinet player in our band complained that I was not playing it properly because I wasn't playing the dotted rhythm. The only way I could get it up to speed was by playing straight eighth notes. He wasn't happy with that and it's stuck with me ever since. In fact I don't think I've yet heard anyone play it at a very fast tempo and remain faithful to the original dotted rhythm that you hear on the early Parker recordings. Musically I also think there is little to be gained at ridiculous tempos. There is a take of Joe Pass and Niels Orsted Pederson on Youtube playing Donna Lee at a frantic pace but despite their great talents it comes across as mere musical gymnastics to me and the dotted rhythms are completely lost.
    Full credit to Peterson and Lawson for being brave enough to show their attempts which at least capture the spirit of the original composition even if the tempos are relatively modest.
    thanks. I actually have noticed almost all bebop players, when they pass 200 bpm or so, move to a much more even-8ths, smoothed-out sound, and the swing feel happens as a kind of larger feeling pulsing in the background somehow. I love Pass/NHOP doing Donna Lee. I don't think the dotted rhythms are really sacrosanct at all. We're jazz players. We play it the best way we can with the feeling we want. Your clarinet player insisting on dotted feel... should just shut up and play with the band. Swing can happen over even-8ths but it's not quantified in the dotted 8th notes.

    I"ve been learning the Jimmy Raney solos from the Aebersold vol. 20 now for about 2 years and I notice his phrasing in long 8th note lines is often much more even than dotted. He gets the swing feel in the way he moves between the notes. He slurs where I pick, he uses a sweep where I wouldn't, and where I sweep, he plays almost staccato notes. He gets the swing feel somewhere else than in a strict dotted-8th approach. And nobody, nobody, says Jimmy Raney doesn't swing at all tempos!

    So I don't feel badly if I end up with a more even-8th approach. If I keep playing the tune, keep it clean, and keep advancing the tempo as I am able to do so while still feeling the music , I think Ill be fine. I might not ever get past 200 bpm, but my goal is really just to enjoy being able to play the tune clearly at a decent tempo.

  17. #66

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    Here is a transcription of Adrien Moignard playing it at around 270 BPM. I would say that his fingerings would need to be pretty efficient to be able to play it at that speed.

    Donna Lee - Adrien Moignard, Benoit Convert | Soundslice


  18. #67

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    Here's my latest tweaking of the fingering, played slowly. Mainly I've been hung up on mm 5-12 and 15-16. I think I have a better approach here, but need to practice to get it up to speed.

    Just playing into the Princeton Reverb Reissue and capturing the video and audio with my iPhone.



    AND here it is played with a backing track at about 160 bpm. The first chorus is with an even 8ths feel, the second is more swing feel. I think this is the fingering now I'll stay with and start building up.

    Last edited by lawson-stone; 01-01-2020 at 02:35 PM.

  19. #68

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    I imagine some were hoping I'd given up, but no, this guy never gives up. I now have pushed "Donna Lee" to the 190 bpm mark. No swing. Not very clean, not very articulate, but hey one thing at a time. I gotta be able to play it before I can swing it. It's amazing to me how I can have it all good but one phrase. I get that phrase right, some other phrase comes loose.

    ALSO: Is there anyone other than me who just feels like the HAVE TO PLAY SOMETHING during that long 2 measure rest? I have a feeling that a test for being a cool cat is being able to play nothing for the full 2 measures.

    Anyhow, for the few of you who love seeing torture, pain, failure... or just a fun and crazy project, here is my somewhat deeper involvement with that most difficult of Bebop Ladies, "Donna Lee."


  20. #69

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    You're definitely making progress. I want to thank you for persevering and posting about it.

    With this thread, and with some time off over the holidays I finally decided to learn it. Something I've been meaning to do ever since Jaco did it. That's a LOT of procrastination. Things are coming along nicely, but I'm really not ready to share.

    One thing I'd like to say in our defense. In slowing down the 1947 version to hone in on the phrasing it's comforting to hear that Miles is having some trouble! :)

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    You're definitely making progress. I want to thank you for persevering and posting about it.

    With this thread, and with some time off over the holidays I finally decided to learn it. Something I've been meaning to do ever since Jaco did it. That's a LOT of procrastination. Things are coming along nicely, but I'm really not ready to share.

    One thing I'd like to say in our defense. In slowing down the 1947 version to hone in on the phrasing it's comforting to hear that Miles is having some trouble!
    Especially since a lot of music historians believe that Miles wrote the tune!

  22. #71

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    I've found the movement from about 175-ish up to 200-ish tempo is always in small increments, at least for me.

    I have this now up into the mid 190's so thought I'd post just in case I blow out a knuckle or something. I honestly am amazed at people who can play at these tempos and still articulate and phrase nicely. I'm so happy just to find the notes!

    Also.... I go back and forth whether this is easier on the 25.5" scale or the 24.75" scale. I have average size hands and sometimes I think the longer scale is marginally easier.

    Here's the L5ces



    And here's the VOS1959 ES175


  23. #72

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    So... as if my "final" clips weren't already plagued with mistakes, here are the clips from the cutting room floor, all in the interest of full disclosure!

    It's amazing to me how at the end of a phrase, sometimes the old synapses just won't "fire" the next line.


  24. #73

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    I remember reading a Robert Fripp column in which he said something like "if you can't do nothing for five minutes, you can't do something for five minutes." Or two bars.

  25. #74
    I’m still in the game! I just got the app Drum Genius. It’s fun to play to!


  26. #75

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    Great thread here, humbling and amazing!

  27. #76
    Baby steps.



    Just got the Ibanez AFC125. Lots of squeeking with round wounds. Good guitar though.
    Last edited by Peterson; 01-16-2020 at 10:12 AM.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    without hands, without guitar... without fingering that snapping fingers


    Since this is a thread in which we're sharing a bit of our own journey with this tune, I'd love to hear you play it. Maybe post a clip of you playing the tune and we can learn from a fellow forum member's efforts. We are a learning community here and that's my favorite part of this forum, hearing members playing.

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    I would gladly do so if I had the technical means of recording. It's a theme I learned, much like you did, about 35 years ago. I wasn't going very fast, and I can't remember the fingering I was using, something towards the 8th fret I think. We played it in unison with my friend alto sax, it was also a good exercise

    There was no malice in my Bobby McFerrin post. At the limit - for those who don't find it funny - that it is interesting to listen to his phrasing, his forays of bass lines, his jokes ...

    I think everyone can also introduce differences with the score, that's how Charlie Parker never played twice in the same way ( (listen to alternative and short takes from records)

    I see that those who have criticisms do not formulate them, but that is what makes progress. I expect criticism of my technical and musical considerations posted here, and I have none, necessarily, because there are in the world not 5 known jazz guitarists 8 strings

    my apologies if I bothered you. I have noted your name, and I will no longer speak behind you
    I was not in any way offended or bothered by anything you posted. I'm always eager to hear forum members play because in my area we have very little live jazz and this forum is the only place I can hear people play except for commercial recordings. You've posted some very interesting and well informed thoughts and as I have read them I've just wanted to hear you play, to hear how the ideas work out in the music. I meant no offense or harshness toward you, and I am sorry if it seemed that way. Recordings don't have to be elaborate. Many of us here just use our "smart" phones video and make a quick clip of something we're working on. Nobody expects professional production. The clips also help us see one another as human beings and not just internet voices.

    Feel free to comment on anything I post. Your ideas and thoughts are welcome, as would be your playing examples.

  30. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    Thank you for your response. I took over the guitar less than a year after 10 years of interruption. I changed my technique after going from the 7 strings to the 8 strings and the pick hybrid pick-fingers to 5 fingers without nails. I spend a lot of time working with my right hand and coordinating my left hand on sets of adjacent or not strings. I learn from it to improve this technic and I share on my forum very detailed exercises that I build for this (in French, sorry)

    moreover, I have a big flaw, I work little on themes, or at least not to the point of presenting them, it would have no interest

    if I worked Donna Lee, it would be on a ballade tempo, with just a bass line, in 3 different registers

    I think I will soon be able to show videos of exercises that I propose, for the series of chords in fragments, intervals played simultaneously, counterpoint, passing notes and chords, etc. but at this stage I have met no interest for my technical considerations, and even teachers, here, come to say that it is not possible (because they do not know how to do it), that we do not do like that, because the Chord Scale Theory (CST say experts) or Barry Harris, the best Jazz Teacher of all times etc. I don't care, There with never be another me

    I am unknown and have no desire to be known, but I believe in what I do, and I would do it. It may be in 20 years, there will be only one video, it will be my will, we will fall on our ass! Gone With the Wind!

    Now I'll let you work. Good luck!

    That is a spectacular clip! That woman playing rhythm guitar is like a swinging heart-beat for the music.

    Most of us here are unknowns! My musical motto is "I don't make history, I just make music." It has taken me a month to learn "Donna Lee" and I've worked on almost nothing else, so that tells you how far down in the talent hierarchy I am! Plus a job and family. We are mostly players here who just love the guitar and love this music.

    I was sincere when I said I would love to hear you play. We are 95% a very supportive community on this forum, and every level of accomplishment gets celebrated and encouraged. I imagine you play much better than you say you do. Every time I watch a clip of a forum member playing, I'm encouraged to stay with the struggle to get better.

    All the best sir. I wish I spoke French! My daughter is fluent in French, has her PhD in French literature and lived in Paris for a year. She introduced me to many of the delights of that city, but I'm sure I would love to know more.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    but I believe in your sincerity, and indeed in the sincerity of most here. That's not the problem

    today, we appear on Youtube or "social" networks for anything and everything. I am very talkative but I believe in the need for a certain restraint, a modesty (decency?). With music, we exhibit much more than notes, patterns, chords, the ability to go fast, etc. This engages Body and Soul

    I am also a poet, I have been writing poetry for about forty years. It is fully available online, like my painting, everything is free. I don't publish any books, I don't want a publisher, I don't want to sell anything. As a poet I am sensitive to words, rhythm, sounds and meaning, and I guess it feels when I write in French, and much is lost when I translate into English. It is not without shame that I do it here. The difference between my poetry and my music, at this stage and apart from my compositions of the 80s*, is that it is accomplished, very accomplished: writing a poem is like composing. Ideas arise as in improvisation, but the form reworks for hours, sometimes days for a sonnet, an haïku, ie a few tens words

    * Patlotch's Compositions

    so through exercises, with the precautions because I am anything but a teacher, I will make videos of musical techniques, because regarding the guitar, some things need to be seen and heard at the same time, with if necessary scores, diagram... But I will not broadcast my music until I am satisfied, and I'm hardly satisfied with what I'm doing. I see too many things that don't satisfy me, I think some should start by listening to themselves, criticizing themselves before putting their recordings online. If they put them online, it's always because they're a little proud of them, and not just because they're humbled
    look at this title: DONNA LEE FINGERING FOR SPEED, and ask yourself if the question of well playing Donna Lee is really a matter of speed, when you don't have the groove and phrasing at medium tempo. All the bebop is a matter of phrasing, of rhythm and accentuation, not just speed eight-notes...

    by the way it exists



    go guys, and girls, the sax is the sexiest jazz instrument
    I agree phrasing is an essential feature of the music, but bebop was always also known for it's hot tempos and nobody is going to sit into a jam session on bop tunes who can't hang at higher tempos. Tempo, and technique to achieve higher tempos, is also an essential feature of the music. There is nothing wrong with focusing on ways to increase tempo. The OP was interested in this question and posed it for us, so that's why this thread has been occupied with the issue of speed. The OP asked the question, it's a totally fine question to ask. I doubt you'll ever hear "Donna Lee" played in a club or jazz festival at a tempo under 200 bpm.

    I prefer not to think of "speed" but "fluency." To know the guitar and have the technique to present musical ideas at a high level of energy, a hot tempo, is an important dimension of music. If I speak a language, but can only use the language if I sit at home and look every word up in a dictionary, that's not fluency, no matter how much I know about the language. Fluency means we are able to keep pace with a rapidly moving, unpredictable conversation without making too many mistakes. That's what "speed" in jazz and especially bebop is really about.

    Also, most of us, not all, but most, view jazz as an improvisational form. We don't wait until he have a perfect arrangement that we can deliver error free to go ahead and play. To be fresh and vital, jazz involves taking risks in performance, rather than retreat into a fortress of perfect arrangements. Many of us on the forum also are very much learners. who post our clips to get encouragement and advice from players--not theory specialists who don't play, but players--about how to improve. Obviously if I need to improve, my clips will be imperfect. I post a lot because the response of some of the truly amazing players and teachers on this forum has been wonderfully beneficial. Comments by fellow strugglers in the music are also encouraging and helpful.

    So while speed isn't everything, it is a legitimate thing and it's what the OP asked about so it's what we're talking about.

  32. #81

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    This week I found the 200 bpm mark and about 90% clean. The phrasing is still not very lively, and there are a few spots where it's not a cleanly played as it needs to be, but this is the point where I"m going to stop increasing the tempo until I can play it cleanly and with good phrasing. I just knew forum members were checking here every day to see if I made it (NOT).

    I'm also having fun with the Fender Super Champ X2 head set on the 65 Deluxe model. This little hybrid tube head is a lot of fun to experiment with.