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  1. #26

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    While following this thread, I realized that I learned many of the tunes I know by listening to them constantly for days, then less frequently but repeatedly over months to years. Even when in high school, I played records all the time while studying, reading, and even eating (to the annoyance of my family). Once I know how a tune sounds all the way through, and the root intervals for all the sections are in my head, it’s fairly easy to play it in any key. After so many years, I don’t even remember the original keys for many tunes I rarely play. But if I’ve heard it often enough to imprint it in my head, it’s there forever.

    I still hear those old recordings in my head when thinking about the tunes. I can hear Bobby Darren singing You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To every time I play it. I learned Once In My Lifetime from a Sammy Davis Jr album, Bernie’s Tune from Kenton at the Tropicana, The Song is You from Nancy Wilson’s Yesterday’s Love Songs - Todays Blues, and Work Song from Nat Adderly (who had a decent sideman on guitar named Wes something on that album).

    Even now, I follow a lead sheet and listen repeatedly to tunes I want to learn, so that they stay with me far better than if I try to learn them just from the score. And I play along with them at least once a day in the recorded key until I’m comfortable that I know them. Then I find other versions on the web in different keys with different styles and tempos (usually on YouTube) and play along with them. I did this last year with Pat Martino’s Mac Tough. Even he did different versions on different albums, and there are a lot of covers out there. The intervals into the bridge are far from intuitive - but when I finally saw and heard the form in my head simultaneously and practiced it up and down the board, I truly learned it and can now play it in any key at Pat’s fast tempo on Yoshi’s.

    I played music all day in my office, car, and home - I don’t think I would have learned so many tunes otherwise. So it may help others to play a tune over and over for at least a few days, sometimes with the score or a lead sheet, even before trying to play it. For me, it’s critical that I can call up a tune in my head before I can play it well in the original or any other key. Tunes I played first and only from a chart and haven’t heard several times still require a chart if I’m to play them again.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    For me, it’s critical that I can call up a tune in my head before I can play it well in the original or any other key. Tunes I played first and only from a chart and haven’t heard several times still require a chart if I’m to play them again.
    Wise words, especially the last bit.

  4. #28

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    See, the logic of the CAGED division of the fretboard is such that you only need to learn anything in 5 keys. The other 7 keys are simply using the CAGED shapes up a fret or 2. If you took anything (eg- chords, scales or whole tunes) around the cycle, say starting in C, then moving though F, Bb , Eb and Ab uses up all CAGED shapes or positions. Then Db is just a fret higher than where you started, so rinse - repeat...

    Really no point taking things right around the clock, that's for other instruments!

  5. #29

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    There are (for me) three main useable good sounding positions/areas on the jazzular guitar: open, 3rd-5th and 8th -10th on the top three strings. Sometimes you may go higher. Low positions are not to be overlooked; a lot of great jazz has been played in open-3rd. The guitar sounds really good down there. (The other thing is that if you have an old school bridge you may need to compromise a little with intonation, so that can also affect your positional choices, my guitar also has some… quirks.)

    BTW I think it’s a bit of a problem that most guitar methods start in open position. I think mastering 3rd/5th should be a matter of priority early on, then the whole thing is less intimidating

    Open-5th is for things that are on the staff, 8th-10th for things with lots of those annoying line thingies.

    So with that in mind, transposition is not in this case as simple as just moving the shape (although there are times when it’s a bit silly not to take advantage of that) and you do need to change fingerings etc. That said fingerings for bop lines etc are dictated at least in part by the needs of phrasing - slurs, enclosures etc. I’ve found very little real world playing is position based; there’s always lots of shifts, but that’s not to say there isn’t value in practicing classical positions.

    guitar is also a bit like the clarinet in that putting things up an octave is annoying (unlike the piano or sax) However as a practical note alto sax players really like it when you play lines in unison with them (cos it sounds magical) so it’s good to learn bop heads in two octaves.

    This way of thinking is a bit more guitaristic. How you organise the fretboard may also depend on where the good sounding notes are on your guitar.

    I don’t always take my own advice. I do silly things still like playing on low strings in high positions, ah well. I am a bit of a CAGED player. There’s no reason why you can’t use multiple methods of fretboard organisation. It all links up eventually.

    I’ve yet to find a better exercise than taking bop heads into different keys and registers.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 10-18-2021 at 04:23 AM.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    There are (for me) three main useable good sounding positions/areas on the jazzular guitar: open, 3rd-5th and 8th -10th on the top three strings. Sometimes you may go higher. Low positions are not to be overlooked; a lot of great jazz has been played in open-3rd. The guitar sounds really good down there. (The other thing is that if you have an old school bridge you may need to compromise a little with intonation, so that can also affect your positional choices, my guitar also has some… quirks.)

    BTW I think it’s a bit of a problem that most guitar methods start in open position. I think mastering 3rd/5th should be a matter of priority early on, then the whole thing is less intimidating

    Open-5th is for things that are on the staff, 8th-10th for things with lots of those annoying line thingies.

    So with that in mind, transposition is not in this case as simple as just moving the shape (although there are times when it’s a bit silly not to take advantage of that) and you do need to change fingerings etc. That said fingerings for bop lines etc are dictated at least in part by the needs of phrasing - slurs, enclosures etc. I’ve found very little real world playing is position based; there’s always lots of shifts, but that’s not to say there isn’t value in practicing classical positions.

    guitar is also a bit like the clarinet in that putting things up an octave is annoying (unlike the piano or sax) However as a practical note alto sax players really like it when you play lines in unison with them (cos it sounds magical) so it’s good to learn bop heads in two octaves.

    This way of thinking is a bit more guitaristic. How you organise the fretboard may also depend on where the good sounding notes are on your guitar.

    I don’t always take my own advice. I do silly things still like playing on low strings in high positions, ah well. I am a bit of a CAGED player. There’s no reason why you can’t use multiple methods of fretboard organisation. It all links up eventually.

    I’ve yet to find a better exercise than taking bop heads into different keys and registers.
    Good thoughts.

    I'd add that some of the greats were not position players, as I understand it. Rather, they changed position more readily than some modern players do. Django, of course, but Wes too. This is harder to get to if you base your thinking on chord shapes, because the shifts don't follow the grips.

    Another thought -- I find that the 12th fret is a very useful place to play a lot of things. It's not the same as playing at the nut because of the availability of the 11th fret. There is a question about intonation of the lower strings on some guitars.

  7. #31

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    One of the most valuable lessons I got was from Pat Martino when he spoke of "Neutralizing The Machine". Basically, it's the job the artist to learn their instrument so well that it's no longer in the way, if you think of what you want to play, you already know how and where to play it. I dig this approach because it shits the perspective from someone telling you you need to learn 12 positions/all keys etc etc to making your own decision about what you need for your own version of 'sounding good'. A dedicated alternate picker with heavy strings might not benefit too much from checking out a new fingering pattern, but someone who relies on hammer ons, pull offs and sweep picking could find a new universe of phrasing by shifting up a fret.....

    PK

  8. #32

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    PK, I think you meant to say shifts the perspective…at least I hope so!

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    There is a question about intonation of the lower strings on some guitars.
    I think most of the intonation problems people have on lower strings and close to the nut stem from the fact that they don’t set up the instrument for each combination of string gauge and type. Especially on the lowest strings, the nut slot is often too shallow. Then the truss rod is overtightened in a misguided effort to lower string height, especially over the first 1 or 2 frets. Then the bridge saddles are raised to stop fret buzz. Put them all together and you have a poor setup that will sound and feel terrible.

    With too shallow a nut slot, it takes excessive pressure to fret close to the nut - so the string is pulled sharp (just as will happen with excessive pressure on high frets). Too deep a slot will cause fret buzz, for which most players loosen the truss rod to add relief and raise the action - and that excessive string height can also affect intonation. Too narrow a slot can cause string binding that affects tuning accuracy.

    I also see many guitars with nut slots that are tapered toward the bottom, presumably to “accommodate” strings of varying gauges. So the thinner the string, the closer it sits to the first fret. Although not all agree, I like my slots round, concentric with the string, deep enough to surround half of it at the front face of the nut, and no more than large enough to permit smooth sliding of the string through it. In order to achieve this with proper clearance above the first fret, you really need nuts set up for most string sets you use.

    String gauge affects intonation, especially at the bottom. I use an 80 7th string on my 25.5” scale tele clone for best accuracy - even the 65 7th that comes in a Chrome 7 set is just a bit off at 1 and above 12, even with the saddle all the way back. String tension affects this too. If you want to be able to switch from Chromes to Stringjoy RWs on the same guitar, you may well have intonation problems if you don’t change the nut and setup along with the strings.

    If you can’t do it yourself, it’s well worth the cost of a pro setup to have perfect intonation and optimal playability. I use Tusq nuts and do not glue them in, so I can easily swap the nut (or set up a new one) if I want to change gauges or types. I can see no valid reason for having to avoid a key or position because of intonation problems, and I can’t imagine trying to play a guitar like that.

  10. #34

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    The intonation problems I was thinking about are on the lowest two strings around the 13th fret and higher. Most guitars aren't great up there.

    But, I've never really understood why not.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    The intonation problems I was thinking about are on the lowest two strings around the 13th fret and higher. Most guitars aren't great up there.

    But, I've never really understood why not.
    It starts with proper setup. Frets have to be leveled. Then relief, nut slot depth, and saddle height have to be set to achieve the desired action and balanced to minimize variance in string height up the board to that necessary to clear the next fret toward the bridge from the one being played. The closer you get to the bridge, the more an added fraction of a mm of saddle height will sharpen the note above its proper intonation because you’re stretching and tensing it proportionally more than it would be at a uniform height. And it’s worse on higher notes because the added height increases tension when fretted by a greater percent as the vibrating length decreases.

    Excessively high action from increased relief means slightly shorter string lengths. If extreme, the range of saddle adjustment may not be adequate to get good intonation on all strings unless you move the bridge or trim the nut to bring the scale length back into the range for which the neck was fretted. And if the truss rod is really cranked for low action but the neck is less than perfectly straight, raising the bridge enough to stop buzzing on the highest frets can sharpen each fretted note above the tallest fret(s) because the string height will be excessive and progressively higher moving toward the bridge. If the neck is set with zero relief and it requires too high a bridge for buzz free notes, intonation also suffers as above. And any shift of nut or bridge “moves” the entire fretboard relative to the ends of the scale, which can also affect intonation adversely.

    Wound strings carry their tension mostly in the core, and heavier strings are generally stiffer than lighter ones. So they’ll tense more than lighter strings when fretted the same vertical distance and will be proportionally sharper. Lengthening the string at tuned open tension reduces this, which is why bridge saddles are furthest from the nut for the lowest strings. Also, many of us tend to fret the lowest string(s) from a slight angle because our fingers are coming up to meet them. The slight lateral displacement further sharpens the fretted note and can make any slight intonation error toward sharpness greater and more audible. Heavier 6th and 7th strings are less prone to intonation errors when set up well because they’re stiffer and have more mass. So they can be closer to the board than lighter gauges without buzzing and won’t bend and stretch as easily when pressed harder against the frets, both of which reduce intonation errors from excess tension added by finger pressure.

    Then you have pickup height and string pull. The magnets do pull on the strings and can affect vibration patterns. Pickups too close to the strings can alter harmonic content and intonation.

  12. #36
    For terms of disambiguation, I think it’s worth pointing out that there are a couple of different things that you could actually view this topic as being about:

    1. Learning tunes in all keys and the possible value in doing so etc.

    2. Learning to “cycle” language, licks, melodic material through keys, the way great players talk about doing or having done at some point.

    There are distinctions of “scale”(entire forms vs melodic cell) and also “time”. Changing keys every 2-4 beats is quite the distinction from 32 bars... and at least worth coming to terms.