Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Summer Bites the Dust

Fall in Minnesota can be beautiful. September was warm and dry, ideal for doing just about anything outside. October brought much cooler temps and much needed rain. Acorns and black cherries are falling abundantly from the trees, and soon the leaves will begin to join them on the ground. I would love fall more if it weren't followed by such long and bitter winters as we have here in Minnesota.

I have begun to list my transpostion books "Guitar Player's Friend" on eBay again. I didn't list them much during the summer primarily because I had more pressing priorities to take care of this summer. I did spend some time learning a few new songs that I will be able to perform at the monthly jam sessions. I have about 27 songs that I can play and sing from memory. My goal is to learn one a month for the next year. That is not a difficult task, it requires just a little more effort during the hour or two of daily practice that I normally fit in my schedule. I have at least 50 music books that I have accumulated over the years, so there is no shortage of good songs that I really want to learn.

There are some great sites online where I have found lyrics and chords for songs that I really like from long ago. One of my favorite websites is Cowboy If there is a particular artist you like, you may find exactly the song you always wanted by that artist. There are quite a few similar sites that are easy to find if you spend a little time with google. Just enter a song title on google search and you will get a ton of results to point you to sites that have recordings, lyrics, sheet music, chords, and tabs. I have bought sheet music this way, but most of the time I just look for the free stuff that provides the lyrics and chords.

Usually, what I do is edit what I find online to put all the lyrics on one page and transpose the song to a key that suits me. Many times you will find that there are errors in what is posted online, but it is not hard to figure out what they are and make the appropriate changes. The biggest problem I have found is that when you copy from the website to MSWord on your computer, you may lose the format so the chords are a little out of position. My solution is to print directly from the website so I can make the appropriate format corrections by using the hard copy as a reference.

I'd be happy to hear any tips you might have to pass along to our guitar playing friends.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime in Minnesota

I love the month of June. It is the best time of the year for fishing in Minnesota. The first week in June is when I spend a week fishing with my brother on Pelican lake at my Breezy Point time share and take a side trip to his place to do more fishing on Cooper lake near Longville. The fishing was not fast and furious this year, but we caught plenty of fish so we could have 2 meals of fish during the week and take home a meal or 2 of fish to fry later. Mid June I took my neighbor, Denis, fishing on Rush lake north of Cambridge. The lake was weedier than I have ever seen it in the past 30 years. We were able to find the bluegills in shallow water where the weeds weren't too thick. We kept about 2 dozen altogether and considered it a pretty good outing. Two days later I took my grandson, Chris, and his girlfriend, Leah, to the same lake and we also had a lot of fun catching bluegills in Rush lake. We only kept about a dozen because the kids weren't interested in taking any fish home to eat.

I saw my first fawns of the year about the middle of June. I first noticed the doe near the back of my property by the swamp and soon the two very active fawns followed her as she slowly wandered off to my neighbors yard. I also saw a wild turkey in the front yard a few days later. I wouldn't have noticed it, but our dog happend to look out the living room window and started barking at it. It must have heard the dog, because it didn't stop moving until it got into the woods in my neighbor's yard.

This is the first year I actually played guitar outside. My friend Dave and his wife Betty came up to my friend Dan's place and we set up outside in front of Dan's apartment building and played for 2 or 3 hours. Then yesterday I went to a jam session at the Lion's park in Lindstrom, MN, about 25 miles from home. It was really windy, but that didn't have much impact on our playing and singing. There were 8 or 9 guys there, and we drew a crowd of 15 to 20 people including wives and friends of some of the participants.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Many guitar players already know this, but if you are a new guitar owner you may not be aware that it is very important to provide a good environment for your guitar. This is especially true if you have a quality guitar that would be costly to replace.

You should keep your guitar in an environment that is not too hot or too cold, and not too dry or too damp.

If you keep your guitar in your home, you probably don't have to worry much about temperature extremes. However, you do have to be concerned about humidity levels. Winter tends to greatly reduce indoor humidity, and low humidity can cause cracks to develop in the thin wood that is used in the body of quality guitars. Once a crack develops your guitar will not only lose a great deal of its value, but you will be lucky if it doesn't affect the quality of the sound from your guitar. The good news is that humidifiers for guitars are pretty cheap and readily available in guitar shops and from online music stores. I like to use the humidifiers from December through March in Minnesota. That is when the extremely cold and dry winter air presents the biggest challenge to indoor humidity levels.

Carrying your guitar in your vehicle may also require some precautions to avoid exposing it to temperature extremes. Before you put your guitar in your vehicle it is a good idea to let your vehicle warm up in the winter and cool down in the summer. That way you won't risk causing structural problems due to rapid expansion or contraction of the guitar's fragile components.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Guitar Player's Friend

It has been more than a month since I was last inclined to put anything in this blog. I can't say I haven't had the time since it is still winter in Minnesota and I'm not inclined to spend much time outside enjoying the weather this time of year. I'm still having fun with jam sessions and memorizing new songs to play and sing. I have about 2 dozen now that I am comfortable with performing from memory now. I'd like to double that number this year.

I'm still having some success selling my "Guitar Player's Friend" transposition tool on eBay, but it is not very profitable by the time I pay all of eBay's fees and PayPal's fee. I would like to try getting a web site set up to allow people to buy direct from me to see if I that would provide a little better profit margin. I have sold 140 so far since I started in mid 2005. I think that's enough to show that there is a market for this handy little device, but I need to figure out a relatively inexpensive way to get exposure to a larger audience of guitar players.

I'd like to hear from anyone who stumbles across this blog if you have any ideas for subject matter or thoughts about my ramblings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back to Minnesota

It has been a while since I was last motivated to add to this blog. In the meantime I drove to South Carolina and spent about 3 weeks with my youngest son, Richard, and his wife Amber at their home in Irmo, SC. It was nice to get out of Minnesota while winter was taking over the northland. The weather in SC was more like spring than winter. There were only a few days the temperature stayed below 50 degrees and there were a lot of days in the 60 and 70 degree range. We decided that it wouldn't be a bad place to live during the winter months.

We also visited Marlene's brother and his wife in North Carolina for a couple of days. They live about 3 or 4 hours away from Rich's place. We both enjoyed our visit and all the good food they provided while there. I also enjoyed playing my guitar and singing for them for a couple of hours.

Now we're back in Minnesota enduring seemingly endless subzero temps and more snow than we've had for a few years. Thankfully we are healthy enought to deal with all the little inconveniences that come with living in this rather extreme winter weather.

I'm looking forward to another jam session at the senior center next Tuesday, and I signed up to participate in another new jam session for electric guitars and equipment on the 29th. That one should be interesting because the focus will not be country music or bluegrass, but geared more toward rock and pop music. It has be a while since I did much of that, but I thought it would be fun to see how it goes at least once. If it's a good fit for me I will add it to my schedule and make it the 5th monthly scheduled jam session.

There doesn't appear to be much interest in this blog yet, so I guess I'm going to have to find something more appealing to the masses who might like articles about guitar music and related issues.