Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the beginning...

No EMT today, no lessons where I am currently at. I stalled out, and went back to the strumming pattern with the E - A - D Major Open Chords.

While practicing I noticed something, no don't think I am just some old man that is losing his grip on reality, because I have seen what is happening once before. Maybe it is just me, maybe others might have had this happen to them, who knows, but it is back, and needs to be dealt with accordingly.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Practice day

Still working on strumming pattern #2. Been spending much more time reviewing past lessons then I have been working on the actual current lesson. Been quite an uneventful day, had a lot of things to do around the house "Post-Thanksgiving", so this is going to be quite the short post indeed. Sunday will be better methinks, seeing as I never got around to the EMT lesson either. :-(

Friday, November 28, 2008

Practice day, EMT C#4 & another purchase.

Still working on strumming pattern #2 (Lesson 9) Currently getting the G Chord down, then move on to the D, and save learning and practicing the Csus for last.

Sent out an order today for three items...

I obviously won't see them until late next week, but at least they are on the way!

The humidifier is a gimmie, and if I would have known I needed it, I would have gotten it in the beginning, but it is coming now, so better late than never I suppose.

The chord book I was supposed to buy last month, but forgot about it twice, third time is a charm as they say, it is another Rock House product, so I know it will be exactly what I need!

I know I said Hands of Steel might not apply to me as I am learning on an acoustic, but methinks that it is the hands and fingers that are the focus, and not the instrument, so whatever use it has, I WILL make it work for my guitar. And yet again, another Rock House product, so I know it will be needed!

Just for the record, this blog may look like a suck-up for RHM at times, but it certainly is not! (I actually buy many other things for this guitar journey that RHM does not sell! LOL) If for one minute, I thought that either of these, or anything I have purchased from them was not of any value, I would not spend my money on it. I investigate each and every product before I make the purchase. I go to American Musical, Musicians Friend, zZounds, Amazon, and few other places, and read the reviews on anything before I go with it. Just like I did with my Taylor Rose, the future Fender Twin Reverb, Edly's Music Theory, and an electric guitar in August 2009. Even the Kyser came highly recommended. (Though many said to lose the rubber O-Ring on it once it arrives, and I will take their advice, and remove it before using it.)

Because there is no music store anywhere near me, I MUST RELY on the opinions of others, go look for yourself... So far, I have found no one anywhere that is saying ANYTHING negative about RHM! The products I own by them are doing exactly what they say they do, and with continued positive reviews from others about future purchases from them, I just can't see a reason why not to continue with their product line. (We should all know by now, that if something isn't broken, don't fix it!) And if the day ever comes that I dislike something from them, I can assure you that I will not hesitate to give a logical, and factual explanation why I found it not to work for me. And since it is working, I want others to know, in the hopes that it might save them the time, effort, and money having to look around, and experiment with buying different things.

Edly's Chapter 4 is on "Diatonic Intervals".
  • Two notes form an interval
  • The interval is the inclusive distance between two pitches.
  • Diatonic is the notes of the Major or Minor scale, as opposed to the Chromatic.
  • There are many reasons why to learn them:
  1. Chord Building
  2. Composition
  3. Improvisation
  4. Understanding Keys
  5. Remembering Keys
This was a very short, two page chapter that will be touched upon later. But it was again very meaty when it came down to counting the half steps (seconds, thirds) in which a chart was used to illustrate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A shout out to the McNickle Family!

Here is a Thanksgiving shoutout to our favorite Council member over at Tarmon Gaidon.

If you like Robert Jordan's "Wheel Of Time" series, and you like MUD's, or have yet to play on a MUD, you should go give it a try!

If you don't have a MUD client, you can GO HERE to play...

If you have a MUD Client, you can connect to:

Port: 5000

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey day has been quite busy so far, the kids are getting ready to sit down and watch a movie as the food is still in the works, hopefully I can talk them into "Gone With The Wind". It is one of our favorites, and we haven't seen it in quite a while, so quite overdue it is!

Today is quite the practice day indeed. I have been, and am going through my practice routine over and over again. Going to use the holiday "extra time" to pound away on it.

I have decided on the amp I am going to buy, no more investigation is needed, I have gathered all the relevant data, and there really isn't a need for for re-hashing the search for one much more.

Fender '65 Twin Reverb Combo Amplifier Done deal.

If you are one of the probably few that has never heard the amp in action, Fender has some demo clips you can see and hear:

Granted, it probably isn't the most popular tone, but it is mine.

Before I go, i'll leave you with that tone of mine... (Or at least the one I will be searching for one day!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LRAG-BEG - L# 9 & EMT C# 3 cont.

Been working on lesson 9 of course. Slow going. Been focusing more on practicing the prior lessons then I have the newest. I am thinking I need to make sure the road behind me is as well traveled as possible before running forward to quickly... The new strumming pattern is more the challenge then learning the new chord (Csus). So I am practicing the pattern with each chord individually before moving on to the next one. That is, after I learn the new chord!

In Edly's C#3... "Major Keys & Key Signatures"

I learned:

  • What a "Key" is.
  • A Scale vs. a Key.
  • Why should we learn Keys.
  • Who needs to know.
  • Patterns
  • What are "Key Signatures".
  • Determining the (Major) Key, from a Key Signature.
And some phrases to remember the order of added sharps and flats in keys, for example...

Sharps: Fat Cats Give Dogs An Endless Battle (F,C,G,D,A,E,B)
Flats: By Eight, All Dates Get Cold Feet (B,E,A,D,G,C,F)

There was a worksheet & a chart to go over as well.

The Rock House Blog: 20 Songs Every Beginner Guitarist Should Know

The Rock House Blog: 20 Songs Every Beginner Guitarist Should Know

Now here is a link I just had to pass along! As a beginner guitarist myself, this list got bookmarked, and will be used as time goes by! RHM is always Spot On when it comes to staying in touch with the guitar learning process...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LRAG-BEG - L# 9 & EMT C# 3

Lesson 9 Strumming Pattern #2

We are keeping the G & the D, but adding a new chord this time, the Csus (suspended). I am good with G&D, so now all that is left is to learn the Csus, and then begin the process of practicing the new strumming pattern. This one has some up's in it this time, as opposed to the last one that was all down strums.

Chapter 3 in Edly's (music theory) is on "Major Keys and Key Signatures" I read it a couple of times today, but like last time, I think I am going to wait until tomorrow before talking on it, this chapter has 2 more pages than I am used to, (hahaha) so I would rather wait until I know better about what it is I am talking about, before I come here with it.

And for all those frustrated guitarists with their "perfectionism", here is something that might cheer you up, and let you know that your not alone!

Our latest update...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Practice day & EMT C#2 conclusion

About got lesson 8 wrapped up, and will move on to lesson 9 tomorrow.

Seeing as I have been having a hard time going back and forth between right and left leg in the sitting position, I am going to do my practicing while standing for as long as I can, ad see how that pans out. Been working on the song, and I have got the intro pretty well down. (Not much to it except for a bunch of "G's" going down, and a few up's. But it's at least a start!)

Chapter 2 of Edly's is "The Major Scale", as I said yesterday, and I learned:

  • The C - D - E flat major Scales
  • Constructing major Scales
  • Flats & Sharps never mix in a Major Scale
  • About Double Sharps & Double Flats
There were a few workpages having to do with constructing scales, and making transpositions from one Major Scale. A few other subjects were touched on lightly, only to prepare for more detailed information about them in later chapters.

Metal Monday

Today we are kicking off our own meme...

Metal Monday

Every Monday participants pick a "Metal" song, and expound on it. Maybe post a vid for it, or some lyrics, or an opinion about it.

Then you simply fill in the box below with the "Direct Link" back to the page where your submission is posted, and there you have it!

Linking is for participants ONLY, all others will be deleted. You can feel free to grab the code, and post it yourself as well.

So here is ours:


"Daddy says she's too young, but she's old enough for me..."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

EMT C#2 & Practice day

Chapter 2 of Edly's is "The Major Scale".

I read it and re-read it today, but I think I am going to read & re-read it again tomorrow, and comment on it tomorrow. There are a few things in there that need some absorption overnight, and then a worksheet to do in the morning, so I will do that, then talk on it.

Practice is going well with the C, G, & F now that I am no longer focused on the problem of the action. Concentrating on getting the fingering right will be just fine. In time I will adapt, so no need to beat myself to death over a circumstance that I cannot control at this point.

Been working on our website this weekend, adding a few things here and there, trying not to gett he sidebar too loaded down to where it loads too slow. I suppose I will be piddling with it every now and then, and if I make a noticeable enough change, I will pipe in about it here.

Been spending a little time here and there drumming up some traffic through a few sources, nothing in particular, but a few hits trickle in here and there.

Seeing as today is another short day on writing, I thought I would include some media at the end here, so here is Scarlett Rose showing off her current artwork...

And since I left a scathing Metallica comment on the net today, here is a little hair metal for ya Lars...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Everything bad comes in 3's & EMT C#1

Something just didn't seem to jive. Why the F of all chords? I had it exactly the way John showed it, I changed legs, I did everything under the sun, then I gave up, and plain old stuck my thumb on the two strings (1st & 2nd strings/1st fret) just to be pissy, to prove that they were going to submit. And ya know what? They still didn't hit! Then it hit me...

I went back to the WIRED DVD and re-watched the "Set Up" part. And their was the answer!

PROBLEM #1: The Action is too high.

When the guitar arrived, I didn't even know that it had to be "Set Up". I never learned that until just yesterday. My guitar was never set up on arrival, and now that I went and checked, I can see the culprit.

"But why are all the other chords goin so great then Ol' Top?"

Actually, I thought of that too! So when I go back to strum the E & C, I verified what I already knew. I have to "vise grip" that first fret to get the chord to hit. I have always assumed that the problem was "me", hence the reason why I asked about a "finger exerciser" at the RHM forums. I just assumed that I was a six foot three, 225 pound weakling. Ya right, like that pans out logically!

So it looks like that WIRED DVD turned out to be a godsend after all... LOL

PROBLEM #2: The nearest Luthier is 2 hours away.

I live in the sticks. There are 325 people in our village, and the nearest real civilization is 30+ minutes away, and even that is quite less than "real". No music store, no nada.

PROBLEM #3: We own no vehicle.

The engine blew on our truck last year, and seeing as we really have no where to go, we never really got the ambition up to buy another. Besides, since then, we have had another baby, and many auto models will no longer carry us all, hence we just passed on buying another. Well, that and we are poor! LOL (That is why AMS came in handy, because you can make payments.) My credit also stinks because I am disabled, and cannot work, so financing a vehicle is out, especially in these tough credit times.

The Solution: Live with it.

Somehow I am going to have to become one of those folks that likes the action high, and or wait until the nut finally wears down enough to lower it I suppose? LOL

So practice trudges on, and I will just have to keep moving forward in the lessons until the day comes that I am used to the action being that high. I will focus on the C & G, and work with the F, and then move on.

Oh, BTW. If you have my DVD, on page 8 you will find that the chord chart for the G Chord is wrong, it is a misprint. It should be "2nd finger, 6th string, 3rd fret" But the chord chart displays it as "1st finger, 6th string, 3rd fret" A human impossibility. I took an ink pen, and wrote over the two numbers at the bottom, and I will report it to RHM today. I imagine they have already heard about it, and more than likely have made the typo change, and I just got an old stock that has yet to be sold off, but it couldn't hurt to report it anyways. :-)

I read, re-read, and read, and re-read yet again, Chapter #1 of Edly's Music Theory. The Discussion was on "The Musical Alphabets, Natural & Chromatic"

John McCarthy's suggestion to get into some music theory is an excellent one! I am only on chapter 1, but already I can see my "Taylor Rose" in a whole different light! It's as if I am starting to know why she is what she is, and what makes her so special.

So what do I know now?

  1. I know what Pitch & an Octave is.
  2. The what's and why's of half & whole steps.
  3. There is 7 letters in the alphabet, with no beginning or end.
  4. There is sharps and flats between them. Except for E/F & B/C.
  5. Every "natural note" is separated by a whole step.
  6. B/C & E/F are separated by only a half step.
There is a nice little visual of a fret board that shows the notes on it, where you can see the E/F & B/C being a fret away from each other, and how chords have those notes in them. And a quick little opening talk on scales. Many other things there as well, but that is just a few of the things I got from it.

Although chapter 1 is only 4 pages long, there is much information packed into it, and the info there is mighty meaty. Granted there is much white space, visuals, cartoons, and the like, but what info is there does fill your plate quickly. The book is turning out to be an excellent read here in the beginning, and it is not intimidating at all. The author is staying as far away from being overwhelming as possible. An excellent choice for an overview of Music Theory.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I found my first song!

And here is the best part... (Besides it being one of my wife's favorite songs)

It is all Major Open Chords that I already know! E - A - D - C - G

No freaking F! Bwahahaha!!!

"Every Little Thing"
Carlene Carter
Little Love Letters

Actually I love the song to death, and know the lyrics quite well, and being huge Carter-Cash fans here at home, this will do just fine. :-)

Practice day & EMT Notation Quick Guide and Prelude

Well, I got a little bit of practice in last night, but had other things to catch up on due to my committing the entire day to the WIRED DVD from RHM.

So far my practice routine (In order) currently consists of:

  • Practicing ALL Chords learned in prior lessons.
  • Practicing ALL Strumming patterns learned in prior lessons.
  • Practicing ALL Exercises learned in prior lessons.
  • Practicing lesson currently working on.
  • Reviewing key material in past Music Theory reading.
  • Continued reading in the new area of the Music Theory book I have yet to do.
By the time I get near the end of the DVD, I should be spending the entire practicing time reviewing the entire DVD! But that is what has always worked for me, like a child, tireless repetition beats it quite well into me. LOL

Soon, I am going to begin implementing the "Hands of Steel" exercises in the "Bonus Features" area of my beginner DVD. The RHM catalog area for acoustic guitar doesn't list it as a recommended product for the acoustic guitar, so I am going to assume that the free exercises included in the DVD are applicable to the acoustic guitar at a beginner level, or they wouldn't have wasted the time, energy, and money to put them in there huh?

They consist of three exercises:
  1. Picking Exercise
  2. One Hand Rolls
  3. Finger Frenzy
I am planning on starting them at Lesson 14, which is half way though the DVD.

C & G Major Open Chords are still doing good in practice today, and I am making inch by inch headway with the F Major Open Chord. It still has some fight left in it, but then again, so do I!

I started the Edly's Music Theory for Practical People today, and went through the Prelude and the Quick Guide to Notation. I know some folks like to skip through those little pre-instruction suggestions, notes, and comments by the writer, but I have found that most of the time, it tends to be the cornerstone of what the writer is trying to accomplish, and in this instance (like others) in did come in quite handy to get in the author's mindset before beginning. Tomorrow I start Chapter 1, so we can see what I have to say then.

And whats up with Rock House? They never answered my friend request over at YouTube I sent a while back? Granted, my vids aren't Dick Dale quality (Maybe in about 25 some years when I reach his age, I might be half as good as him!) but I am gettin there! LOL

Thursday, November 20, 2008

(Review) WIRED: Guitar Care + Repair DVD

I received the two items I ordered today...

  1. "Rock House Wired: Guitar Care + Repair" (DVD)
  2. "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People". (Paperback)
I am going to review the Rock House product today, seeing as I watched the DVD today. Other products purchased in the past won't be reviewed until I am through with them obviously! LOL

I will start the "Music Theory" book tomorrow, since today I concentrated on watching this DVD 3 times. Just to make sure I had what it needed to tell me down! :-)

I will go over an outline first, then add my comments after you get the initial rundown.

When you look through "bonus features" area, (which I always do first.) you will see a short overview from John McCarthy on Basic Maintenance, which covers the following areas:

Guitar Care

  • Changing Your Strings
  • String Care
  • Effects of Humidity
  • Travel & Storage
There is also a section there for Bass Care
  • Changing Your Strings
  • Minor Adjustments
  • Truss Rod
  • Travel & Storage
But that did not apply to me, but I am sure it will for many others who play that particular instrument.

The main content of the DVD discusses these areas after an introduction:
  • Parts of the Guitar
Guitar Setup
  • Guitar Set-Up (Why & When)
  • Cleaning & Polishing
  • Cleaning the Electronics
  • Neck Adjustment/Truss Rod (Intro & Electric Truss Rod)
  • Neck Adjustment
  • Truss Rod (Acoustic)
  • The Nut
  • String Gauge/Adjusting the Nut
  • Action
  • Intonation
  • Pickup Height
Specific Overview
  • Tremelo
Diagnosing Problems
  • Humidity
  • Fret Repair & Replacement
  • Bowed Neck
  • Braces, Body Buzz & Bindings
Common Acoustic Problem
  • The Bridge/Lifting
Upgrade Overview
  • Upgrading Parts
Repair & Upgrade Parts
  • Input Jack
  • Changing Pickups
  • Pots
  • Upgrading a Switch
The DVD is hosted by Joe Palombo with the instruction coming from Guitar Luthier Ken Nash from Guitar Mechanic, in New London, Ct.

If you are a beginner like myself, someone who has little to no experience with a guitar, then this DVD IS A MUST HAVE! I can honestly say that the info I received on this DVD not only answered many questions that I had yet to ask, but filled in a lot of gaps in areas that I was going to inquire about later on. Again, if you are at "ground zero" like myself, you can't live without this, you will not regret it.

Most of the information provided here applies to the electric guitar, which is ok for me, because even though I started with an acoustic, I will be moving to an electric one day, so it is good to have all this info UP FRONT before my purchase. And this is going to make my decision as to which electric to buy, a much better informed one as well.

Ken makes it clear that many of the things that need to be done repair wise when needing to be done to an acoustic, should be done by a Luthier, and I agree with him wholeheartedly after seeing this DVD. Many of the things discussed require special tools, and special training when needing to be done to an acoustic. But for the electric owner, the tips and instruction provided here will save much time and money when you see that they can be done by you.

So what did I learn?
  1. I now know what "Action" is.
  2. I now know what "Intonation" is.
  3. I need to do more cleaning & polishing then I am doing now.
  4. I now know how important neck adjustment is.
  5. Changing the gauge of strings requires a very important change in the nut.
  6. I now see how that Tremelo really works.
  7. I need to be very diligent about keeping an eye on the changes in the guitar as time marches on. Many repairs are inevitable over time, and require you to keep a look out for them as the part begin to wear.
  8. Each part of the guitar plays a very important role in the whole.
  9. Repairs and upgrades can make a big difference, and there is no reason why you can't do some of them yourself, which will get you a little more personally bonded to the instrument over time, when you personally get to know every nook and cranny yourself.
  10. If you are unsure about doing any of the repairs, you will always be better off taking the instrument to a Luthier.
  11. Be sure to always consult the guitar manufacturer for any specs, recommendations, suggestions, and instructions that they might offer, that they have found works well with their particular product. This DVD is great, and is indeed a must have, but never keep the guitar maker, or part makers opinion out of the loop, because no one know their product, better than they do!
And... As with ALL Rock House DVD's, you get a free membership to their lesson support area at the website, with has more additional information, lessons, backing tracks, and every possible resource up the wazoo!

I haven't gotten much practice in today, because of the amount of time I spent with the DVD throughout the day, but I will be getting some in tonight! That F major Open Chord is calling my name, but like Judas says... "If you think I'll let it go your mad, you got another thing coming!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Practice day & F that!

I must admit, this lesson is a bit more challenging.

I have got the C Major Open Chord, though I still need to work on the 3rd finger, 3rd fret pressing down harder. And the G is going a tad bit slower. The addition of the pinky finger, like the C needs to be pressed harder. But...

That blasted F Major Open Chord is under the delusion that it has me beat. But I have sad news for it sports fans, it does not know the strength of my resolve!

I know I have the fingering right, and I do keep the first finger tilted to the left when barring the 1st & 2nd strings, first fret. But something always seems to go dead, half dead, buzz, clink, clank, clunk, you name it! And then one out of every 4 times I get it right.

And seeing as I am not taking a "Perfectionist" view of my playing, I myself have nothing to lose! And time is on my side! So I will have it, I will just need to wear it down until it surrenders... LOL

Music Mondays

There is a contest over at Music Mondays where you guess the the song and the artist, and I have the answer:

Artist: John Lennon
Song: Starting Over

They give you the lyrics, and you figure it out from there.

So I figured it out!

Go take a look!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Practice day

Still working on the C, F, & G chords.

C is going quite nicely as expected, and G has it moments, but F is being quite the pain indeed.

I have been switching the guitar back and forth from right to left leg, bending here, tilting there, and am just about ready to hang upside down from the rafters in the hopes of not hitting other strings. LOL

At times I do get it right, so obviously I will need to spend more time on this lesson than usual, no biggie, I have nothing better to do at times. Will just need to focus on my wrist.

Short day for writing, so here is a pic that the wife took of Scarlett Rose...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lets try again. AND in tune this time!

Sarge happened to mention in the comments of the last post that the guitar sounded a bit out of tune, so I broke out that downloadable tuner from RHM, and gave it a tune-up. So this time, lets see what it sounds like a little bit slower, and in tune.

Lessons 6&7

LRAG-BEG - L# 8 & an update on practice

Lesson 8 More Major Open Chords C - F - G

I can tell ya up front that F & G are going to be my favorites in this one. I thought that D was bad. LOL I'll be fiddling with this one for a while before moving on. I do indeed have the E - A - D down, so any fear I might have had in the beginning has now dissipated seeing as I have proven to myself that chords can be learned if you take the time to learn them.

Seeing as I spent so much time on this last deal, I thought I would make a vid for folks to see what I had been spending my time on for so long, and after doing it, it might appear that I got nowhere with it, but I assure you, that is not the case.

I am really glad I had a chance to read Sarge's post on "Perfectionism", because these past couple of days were a perfect example of that for me. I went into this looking to impress myself and others, and then came out of it fitting his post to a tee. I am really glad this one shows me having trouble, because that is what is really happening, and I imagine that others are going through the same things. Wanting to be perfect, but fumbling on it. That's ok, maybe folks seeing me fumbling on it will help assure them that their fumbling is ok, and that is what practice is designed for, to get better by keeping up the practicing.

I have a new feeling since doing this latest vid, it's the feeling of being comfortable with my shortcomings, because I know they can be practiced, and overcame, just gotta be patient...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Practice day & 4 Fenders

Still on the usual, except now I am mixing the strumming in with the picking exercise as I do each chord: Strum E x8, 4-1-3-1-2-1, Strum A x8, 4-1-3-1-2-1, Strum D x8, 4-1-3-1-2-1, then backwards, and so on. You get the picture if you have seen the DVD.

Looked at 3 guitars and 1 amp today:

Seeing as I was on the subject of "Surf Music" as of late, I thought it would be nice to keep poking around the guitars whilst I was on that side of town, and the amp was suggested by a few people in reference to its usefulness in songwriting...

So seeing as we have a quiet day on the blog, we can post a recent picture of the baby! (Georgia Rose)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unless your Steve, you might find this boring...

My "friend" I have talked about here before, I never mentioned his name. And obviously from the title, it is Steven. I told him last night I was going to hunt something down for him, seeing as he tends to be quite lazy in many areas, and quite forgetful as well.

So here it is Bro! You can cackle over this with the clowns, the next time your burning a bone, and chowing on Juanita's Taco Shop down at Moonlight Beach... (Encinitas, Ca.)

BTW... I finally got the reason behind the amp suggestion! It's the REVERB! Duh...

Practice day & more Window Shopping

Still faithfully on L#6&7, but instead of doing L#7 in just D (As shown on the DVD), I have been doing it in A & E as well. And switching back and forth between the picking exercise & strumming rhythm too. I get a lot more time in that way, instead of just focusing on each lesson to practice. And it makes it lot more interesting! After reading the post at the RHM blog about practicing songs, I thought why not move some of the practicing around to make it a little different every now and then?

I told a friend of mine last night that, the more I have been playing this acoustic, the less of a hurry I seem to be in to get an electric. He is a guitarist from my old days, and he was overjoyed to hear that. LOL

He started on an electric, and never picked up the acoustic, he said he has the "want", but not the "need", no real regret, just a secret longing to "unplug". He is the sentimental type, feels that he is "betraying" his electrics by wanting to get away from them, but at the same time knows that the thought is just plain silly. I imagine it would be a piece of cake for him to buy one and play it, I mean it is still six strings, still a guitar, how much (if any) different could it really be? Where is the learning curve? I imagine I will find out myself when the time comes. :-)

He is not much of a "help" with this journey of mine. He wants me to "go it alone", and not depend on him as some sort of guide. His primary reason is that "You are not me, find your own tone." It is kinda disappointing, I was expecting him to hold my hand through this, but he insists that I will never be happy becoming his clone. I suppose he is right, and we do have a few different tastes in music, so it would be a bit disappointing to pass by them whilst following him.

But he has popped off with a little quip now and then that keeps me moving in the right direction, or answers a question, or motivates me, so that is a good thing. He is a parent as well, so when he lectures me in the context of letting children be themselves and not a mirror image of you, I get stuck with no rebuttal.

He did suggest that since I already owned a Taylor, that the least I could do was to show some bias towards their electrics, so I did spend quite a bit of time reading up at the website, and poke around some other places looking for customer comments and testimonials, and it appears that there is quite a few folks out there that have many nice things to say. So maybe I might have to throw a bit of bias their way, seeing as I am overjoyed with their product that I currently own?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Practice day & Window Shopping

Still on L#6 & 7 of course... Getting there quite slowly, but quite surely.

I started hunting around today on some of the suggestions for the electric guitar & amp that I will be getting in the Summer of 2009.

As I stated on the RHM Blog this morning... Charvel & Jackson are on the top of my list before all others, so there is no real need to investigate them until the time comes that I have gathered up everything else, and then begin the weeding out process. Whoever survives the weeding out process will have to go up against those two, to see what I end up with.

Today, and for the next few days, I will be looking over a guitar and amp that quite a few suggested after talking to them about what I might be looking for if I was going to go for a sound or genre that might be my second pick, or maybe something I always wanted to do, but was too afraid to admit to. So my current investigation involves:

These were suggested to me because of my love for Country & Surf music. Why? I have no idea, but that is what the majority went with overall, (And adamantly about the Surf music I might add.) so now it comes down to looking for reviews of the products, and customer testimonials. Les Paul & Marshall are next. (They were the "Jack of all Trade's" pick.)

I have no music store anywhere near me, so... Like the Taylor, the only thing I can do is go with the majority of positive feedback, and hope that all those that touted, were right after all.

The Taylor turned out to be a good choice, I do like it, and those that touted it were indeed right, so I am hoping they will all be right when the time comes to narrow it down to an electric. The only difference with this purchase, is that Charvel & Jackson will get a running start on all of the rest because of the exposure I had to them with my exploits in the 80's, so I will go into this biased. LOL

Oddly enough though, some (not all) of the old friends I talk to here and there, have a bitterness over Charvel & Jackson's association with Fender, but assured me that it was nothing about the product, just a personal beef. (They just wanted to get on the record with it, so as not to look like a Presidential election, where mud starts slinging, and folks dig up old bad blood. Silly indeed, but I do miss Southern California sometimes.) And besides, I lived in Ontario & Pomona, California for a while in the 80's, so other "local" considerations get thrown into my bias. :-)

All of the info I am researching now was collected before I came to RHM, so going there to ask folks in the forums will be my "last stop", and the beginning of my weeding out process.

No email yet on the Rock House Wired DVD & Edly Music Theory book being shipped yet, so I expect it won't be until Monday that they get on their way to me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Practice day & an order on its way.

Been working on L#'s 6&7 of course. And been switching back and forth from left to right knee. The left still works better, hate to have to change, but if it the only way that works, I might not have a choice. Need to try standing methinks, but I don't know where the guitar is supposed to be in relation to my body?

Order went in today for:

Got the conformation email for the purchase, but nothing as of yet for the shipping. (of course) I am not really expecting them until late next week, so no big hurry I spose.

When the DVD gets here, I will watch it through, and then review it here, so we can all see what it has for us. And as I said yesterday, on practice days I will study the Music Theory book, and report on it here to liven up the "off days" a bit.

Took a picture of the guitar to upload to the website I bought it from in the hopes of winning the $50.00 store credit, and the wife said it might be a good idea to post it here as well, in case anyone contemplating purchasing the same product might want a better look at it, and the case.

So here it is. Taylor DN3 Acoustic.

If you click on it, it should give the larger image...

While I was up feeding the baby at 4:30 am. LOL

I had decided to stop by the RHM forums just for the heck of it, only to find that being "outgoing" in my posts might not go over very well with some.

It appears that I might just be better off sticking to the mission of gleaning information as it relates to guitar instruction, as opposed to "just being myself".

With the curse of youth being, "the illusion that the universe as ones supplicant, remains in orbit about ones self", it might be pretty hard for me to show any humor on certain subjects. I imagine it would benefit me more to simply gather the relevant data needed, and depart quickly until the next occasion arises that I am in need of said resource.

I may indeed be ignorant on the use of guitar, but I doubt the 3 children I have successfully raised and have ventured out on their own, or the 5 children I still have at home, or the Masters degree I have in my past occupation, or my extensive travels of the world qualifies me as one who is lacking in life experience overall. :-)

But, such is the curse of the aged, "Having to wait on the curse of youth to be lifted before you can get your point across." LOL

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Practice day & an upcoming addition to learning.

Still on Lesson #7, as well as practicing Lesson#6. I think I am going to stick to working on Lessons 6&7 until Monday 11/17/08, before starting out on the new chords in Lesson#8. I will feel more comfortable getting in a good amount of time with the E, A,& D chords before venturing on to new ones. I do indeed know them, but it would be nice to have them good and down as best as possible in the Strumming Rhythm before going on.


I am going to start "Music Theory" very soon. This Friday, when I order "Rock House Wired: Guitar Care + Repair" (DVD) I am also going to order a book on music theory, and run that concurrent with the instrument lessons. Now would be a good time to get in on the "ground floor" of theory whilst I am at the baby stages of dealing with the guitar itself.

I posted a question at the RHM forums looking for suggestions, and getting some answers. I did a little looking around, and I am currently leaning towards: "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People". So unless a suggestion comes along that I find more appealing than that, I imagine I will go with that.

It will give me something more to talk about on "Practice Days" then just the usual "Still on this and that" posts. I can get into what I am learning daily on that front, in the hopes some other beginners might see the usefulness in adding theory to their guitar curriculum.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practice day

Workin on the picking exercise from lesson #7 still. Going quite well so far, I must admit. So far I have been counting in my head to get 'er done, 4-1-3-1-2-1 but I imagine that I will need to do it not only without counting, but without looking as well. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

As for lesson #6, I am still practicing that as well, and I am actually able to start looking away from the guitar during the chord changes! Kinda nice to be able to see that my old memory isn't so foggy about learning new things. Getting kinda the "comes natural" feeling during that practice, so that is quite exciting indeed.

And as for the old fingers? They actually do not hurt as much as they did at day one, and neither do they hurt as long after practice. Now I can add a little more time here and there to my practicing.

Could it be that I am actually making progress?

Monday, November 10, 2008

LRAG-BEG - L# 7 & a Rant

Lesson 7 Picking Exercise

And I get to do it in my favorite chord of freaking D. LOL

But that is good, because D is sucking for me, and to tell you the truth, E is sucking as well! I know the chords, it is the delay from A to E, & A to D that blows. But that gives me something to practice up on!

This picking exercise is nice to switch over to, I was getting a little bit edgy with the whole left hand focus, so even tho this is a short break, I welcome it wholeheartedly. I would imagine that picking up on my picking will eventually be of assistance to my fretting hand, so I'll take all the help I can get from old righty.

I was going through my email this morning, and as an email subscriber to RHM's blog, I found this: 12 things you can do right now to become a better player and flew straight over to it...

Sarge reposted this in its entirety from a series of posts on this subject, and I can't even begin to tell you how glad I was to read this. RHM's people have been motivating the hell outta me, and I look forward every day to going to the weblog, and the main RHM site to interact daily. (BTW, here is a shout out to MJK (Mike) , he is the other follower on my blog here. I mention Sarge alot, so I need to wheel him into the front and center of the stage too. He pops in with comments for me over at the main RHM site as well.)

I think my 2 favorites of the 12 are:

5. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES… Be your own worst critic and when you play something that is not completely correct know what it is and learn from it. I don’t like to call them “Mistakes I think of them as “learning experiences” and consider them as chances to grow as a musician.

Don’t pretend learning experiences (mistakes) don’t happen just embrace them as learning opportunities and you will grow as a musician. Find the cause and plan how to create a different result
I am madly in love with "Being my own worst critic". It is always what drives me to do better. I show absolutely NO MERCY on myself, and I trust myself more than I do others, so I get alot of good feedback from myself! :-)

9. LISTEN TO OTHER GENRES OF MUSIC…Don’t be closed minded to other styles or genres of music. Almost every great musician has taken a few influences and combined them to create their own style. I often listen to other instruments to find new ideas for my leads for instance I’ll take a sax solo and listen to the way that he phrases his notes and try to add elements of this into my own playing, not doing exactly what he did but taking his ideas and using them in my own way.

You don’t have to reinvent your instrument just look at it a different way.
This is huge for me. I am dearly in love with 80's Hair/Glam/Sleaze Metal & Country music, but I get the biggest thrill out of listening to, and absorbing other music as well. I can say very proudly that I have very "Eclectic" tastes.

My father bred a taste for Big Band & Swing in me when I was a small child, and I am so grateful for that! I could go one forever dropping names of band leaders, but you can go see for yourself if you are interested. (Saves me the typing) Along with my love for so many other genre's.

Except... And this might strike a nasty chord over at RHM, but...

I am not a big fan of today's Metal scene. I can appreciate the music, just like today I voted for All That Remains "Two Weeks". We listen to FUSE in this house, and I can appreciate the song, but I am not a fan. Now before folks squawk, lemme tell ya why!

Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer were, and still are, antagonists towards "my" 80's Hair/Glam/Sleaze Metal, and for that, they get my scorn. And any that follow in their footsteps also get the same. Do I dislike the 3 artists just mentioned? Yes. They are hypocrites, and sell-out's now, just like we were then. Do I dislike those that followed them? No. They do not suffer for the sins of their fathers, but neither will I ever be a "Fan". I can see the beauty in their music, I can absorb and enjoy it, but I can never go "above and beyond" that. (BTW, Dave Mustaine can go flush his head down a toilet for a comment he made on VH1 about "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II" He claimed there was "A lot of creepy people in L.A." That didn't seem to bother that corporate whore when he was cashing the same checks as everyone else!)

When I look back in retrospect, can I say that their participation in killing off "my" metal was a good thing? Yes. If our music would have been allowed to continue on in the market, the lifestyle would have more than likely lead to my death. I was a big fan of the "excess" that was the ancillary drama of the genre, and I would have drank, drugged, and whored myself straight into the grave at the fastest rate possible. So for that, I am truly grateful. But there is still a bitterness that those fools had to be "The Buzzkill" of what was the biggest 15 year party of my life (1978-1992). Childish and petty? Maybe. But that is the way it goes, that is what being a "fan" is all about. "Loyalty". There is alot of good metal out there, but I just cannot bring myself to the level of "fan", loyalty they will never get, appreciation? Yes.

But never fear! The same goes for "Country Music"! As far as I am concerned, my participation as a "fan" stopped in 1996. It is no longer the same as it used to be. I can appreciate new country, and I do like many of the songs, but never do any of them get my "loyalty".

Maybe I am just getting old and traditional, but I like my memories, and I want to keep them at that. Just memories. :-)

RHM has a big "Metal Slant" to it, so I hope I have not offended those that might read this, it is nothing personal, I just refuse to leave (quite stuck in) the "80's Sunset Strip". LOL

My favorite "Hate Statement" was GLAM being "Gay L.A. Metal", and I am quite proud of being a former "Aqua Net" consumer. And we used "eyeliner", not "guyliner". (now how "Gay" is that?) At least we were proud to be shopping in the womens cosmetics aisle. LOL

Though the "lifestyle" was the biggest part of the genre, you have to admit, that the music wasn't all that bad... C'mon now, if you think Motley Crue sucks, then oh well... As if Vince, Nikki, Mick, & Tommy had no talent? Puhleese...

Sorry about the rant, but I had to get my cards out on the table someday. At least everyone knows where I stand in future conversations. :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Strumming Rhythm / Practice day

Here we go with our first update to see how far I have gotten from ground zero. Not bad if I say so myself. Not the best, but better than where I started...

Going to spend the rest of the day practicing lesson 6, then Monday I will get to lesson 7. I now have something to practice everyday, along with the current lesson, I can just start every day with all of the lessons beforehand, and then practice the current lesson, that way I keep plugging away on everything I have learned in the past, along with the new, daily.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Practice day

Still working on the strumming rhythm of lesson 6, fingers still hurt, I imagine nothing new to anyone in the beginning stages.

I was doing my daily patrolling of the RHM website, when I made my way over to the "Ask The Teacher" section (Members Only area) And found quite a few places that had questions I was lining up to ask, that already had the answers I was looking for. Though I still have some questions left for the forums, that FAQ spot did wipe out about %60 of them.

Another thing I got out of that section of the website was a big boost in motivation! That alone is worth more than the price of the DVD itself! LOL

It was nice to see other folks asking the same exact thing I wanted to, and experiencing the same frustrations, and hurdles I am running up against. Lets me know I must be doing something right, if I am having the same issues.

I do have another question today about practice. I myself have been trying to practice 15 minutes at time, 4 times a day. 8am, noon, 4pm, 8pm. Anything more than 15 minutes, and my fingers hurt too much, and it just does no good. I tried to go beyond the 15 minutes at a time, and the pain just makes for blatant mistakes that I did not make minutes earlier, so I am staying with the tortoise theory, and just keep up the pace behind the hare. I will eventually catch him. :-) Also, with a wife and five daughters to deal with, I have to try and squeeze in what I can, when I can.

And of course, like everyone else I imagine, I tried to force the speed on, instead of letting it come naturally, and that was an instantaneous train wreck. Talk about the sloppiest, worst possible practice! LOL But c'mon, I had to at least try it, and it failed, like so many others probably found out themselves.

But I did learn something from that failed experiment, it was something that I also found in the question section.

I noticed that going from E to A, and from D to A was easier because I began to visualize to what and where I was going from E and D. So now I am trying to "get ready" to move to the next chord when I get around to the sixth strum, and have been trying to keep my fingers closer to the fret board, so there is less distance for them to travel, in the hopes of shortening the delay between chords.

I have been titling the body towards me a bit to see the strings, but that is going to have to stop according to one of the answers to the questions. I guess I am going to have to lean out a bit instead.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Practice day

Been practicing on lesson 6. The A & E Major Open Chords go alot faster than the D, the same as when I first learned them! LOL. Methinks that D is one of many rebels I will run into over time.

Fingers are still hurting, but I am hoping that is a good thing, and a sign of progress, that eventually one day, it will hurt less, which should make it easier? At least I hope.

Going to the RHM forums again to ask another question. These forums are quite nice to have! I just throw out question after question, and no one has yet to call me bothersome, a n00b, or told me a question was "stupid". So let us hope my luck doesn't run out, and I wear out my welcome!

Going to ask them about finger/hand exercising, devices, methods, etc...

Some time next week, I am going to order "Rock House Wired: Guitar Care + Repair" (DVD)

Seeing as there are no music stores nearby, or anyone one or thing that would be of assistance "shop wise", it might darn well come in handy to be able to at least do a little maintenance and small repairs on my own. It's only $13.00. A small investment compared to having to find someone, somewhere to do it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Lesson 6 Strumming Rhythms

Now that I have the Major Open Chords E - A - D down, it's time to put them all together in a strumming rhythm.

Got one answer at the RHM forum yesterday, yet it only addressed one part of my whole question, no biggie, at least I have something to work with for now.

No need for me to be at the same level of speed as the instructor, kinda figured that somewhat, but it couldn't hurt to ask. I hope they don't mind "stupid questions" because I am going to ask them whether they like it or not! LOL.

For now, I am just going to work on getting the chords together before getting on the metronome or the backing track. I am sure this will take some time as well, but no hurry, I have nothing else to do besides the family. When I am done with this lesson, I will make a video of my progress to post. Will be nice to actually see progress knowing that I came from ground zero to there.

Still working on the chair issue, got it pretty well narrowed down, should be able to get pretty close to the suggested technique.

The practice day posts do look a little boring, so methinks I might throw in some daily family news just to give it a little life. The wife got a new digital camera right before I got the guitar, so we can throw up a picture every now and then as well.

Why not start with one now? Here is The Rose Garden...

(L to R) Georgia Rose (baby) Scarlett Rose, Savannah Rose, Dixie Rose, Delta Rose.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Practice day

I have the D Major Open Chord down now. So that completes the learning of all three in lesson 5.

Time to work on my speed between the three of them, as well as trying to move between them without having to look as much, before moving on to lesson 6.

I have to go to the RHM forums today to ask a question about speed before moving on to the next lesson, so I will see what answers I get.

My question is: "Do I need to be as fast as the instructor before being able to move on?" That might go either way, but some factors are involved that I wonder are relevant this early in the learning process, such as: Finger strength, Dexterity, Experience. My guess is that I am not expected to keep up with John this early in the game, but to at least get a steady flow of movement. So off I go to ask, and we shall see what they say?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Practice day

I have the A & E down now. And focusing on the D. As soon as I get the D down, I will begin the process of switching them back and forth, and picking up speed between them before moving on to lesson 6.

I did try something suggested in the RHM forums, and I sat on the edge of the bed to practice, and that does seem to help to get me back to the original technique shown in the DVD. A little, but not %100. So it seems that the height from the ground can help me adapt to the hurdle. I am wondering if being higher then the edge of my bed might help even more. So I am on the hunt for other places to sit, to see if that will solve the problem.

Another thought I had was to place a heavy object on my right side, near my leg. (Not obstructing the area used to play though, much like the arms of a chair would.) If I could get that to prop up my leg straight, it would make it a lot easier to put the guitar on my right leg, as opposed to my left. Something else I will have to hunt for. One person down at the local bank even suggested using a belt to tie my legs together? Sounds primitive, but there might be merit in it, I will have to poke around with it. The closer I can get to John's example, the better off I must be in the long run.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Practice day

Ok, so we are actually getting somewhere with practice now!

I was having quite a bit of trouble at first, because I was unable to hold and use the guitar in the way John suggests in the DVD. I became rather frustrated, and went to the RHM forums to look for answers.

But it wasn't until today, when the visiting nurse came to my home, (They come 3x's a week) that I realized that I was approaching this from the wrong direction.

The reason I left the drums, and started the guitar was because my physical limitations will not allow me to play them. But, as the nurse noted when I discussed it with her this morning, is that I will simply have to do a "Rick Allen" and work around it. (She is a big 80's fan as well, so we had discussed him more than once.) BTW, since I am mentioning him, I need to give this a shout out as well: Raven Drum Foundation check it out...

Yes, it would be nice to mirror John, but that can't happen because of the amputations, and the bone deformities in the lower half of my body. Ergo, I made a few adaptations, and now the practice is going much better! And I mean MUCH better.

  • The guitar will need to be placed on my left leg, instead of my right.
  • The guitar needs to be tilted up and in to accommodate that.
  • I will have to lean to the left and down to use my left hand to my advantage.
It made me wonder for a moment if my changes would come back to bite me later on because I needed to stray away from John's technique. But I did a little looking around, and like Rick's drumming, there have been guitarists that have had to make their own way as well. Django Reinhardt, Marc Playle, Jeff Healey, just to name a few I found. I will be honest and say that it makes me feel a bit "Less than" other musicians, but that will have to be something I will need to come to grips with.

The articles I found on the three men spoke highly of them, so maybe I will need to keep in mind that there are some instances in life where the end does justify the means.

But with that aside, I am doing well with the A & E major Open Chords, and need more work with the D. It might take a bit of practice to move on to lesson 6, but as Sarge said: "It's a journey, not a race." So we indeed might have some short posts on a few days. Who knows, maybe I can throw in some ancillary quacking to fill some space.

I can still solicit advice from the folks at RHM, but I might have to twist it a bit to make it work in some instances. But as long as it works, who cares if it looks a little odd. I am in it for the music, and I am sure the music won't mind having to park in the handicapped spot, to make it to the ears of the listener... LOL

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Lesson 5 Major Open Chords E - A - D

I am just going to assume that all guitarists share the same experiences the majority of the time, especially when just starting out, such as myself. So let us hope that those reading can relate, by thinking back to the first time learning their first chords when I say...

Damn, my fingers hurt! LOL

And those first three chords where no piece of cake to try and learn either! And yes, I said "try". I still do not have them down, and don't expect to just as yet. It is certainly not as easy as it looks by any means.

My main problem, which others might have had, is getting my left hand positioned correctly, so that the fingers are where they belong. So far I have found...

  1. I need to keep my fingers arced, to where they come straight at the fret. My pinky likes to hit that first string, and deaden it.
  2. I need to keep equal pressure on all the strings in a "Bar Chord". That one is a killer. Just when I think I have it, I get down to test each note, only to find I am not placing enough pressure on one of the strings with my finger. Especially with that "A Major Open Chord" I keep worrying about my first finger touching the first string, so I let up on that second string a bit to stay away from it.
  3. It is not easy to see down where my hands are at, when sitting up straight, and keeping the guitar in the correct position.
  4. I will need a nice sturdy chair to sit in for practicing
  5. I will indeed need callouses on my fingers to make this a lot easier.
I kept watching the lesson over and over again, until it finally occurred to me that I have the chords right there in the book in front of me! No wonder it was essential to learn how to read the chord charts, it keeps me from having to rewind the blasted DVD a million times. LOL

Tomorrow will strictly be one among very many "Practice days only", so unless I have some new revelation, methinks the next post might be a bit shorter.

The kids sure do like watching me with the DVD though... It is like a tennis game, seeing them watch John on TV, then turn to me quickly to see what I do, then back to John. I do get clapping, and "Yay Daddy" every once in a while when they can tell that I am doing it correctly. Gotta love the built in "fan club" at home.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

LRAG-BEG - L#'s 1,2,3,4

The wife and I, (and the kids of course) watched the entire video "Learn Rock Acoustic Guitar" two times through last night before getting serious with it this morning. And as I had stated in a comment over at the Rock House Blog . The wife got so "overly-excited" about the thought of me getting back into music, that she hooked me up after the kids went to bed. And for that, I am forever a John McCarthy fan! LOL

  • Lesson 1 dealt with "Parts of the Guitar", which if you saw the "Ground Zero" video, that turned out to be the best place to start for me. (It's kinda nice to know what it is you are playing before you actually start.) So now I actually know all about my guitar! Who'da thunk?
  • Lesson 2 discussed "Holding the Guitar and Pick". And like drumming, knowing how to hold the sticks (The guitar in this case) actually makes all the world of a difference! (trust me, holding the sticks foolishly will come back to bite you later on, so I was more than appreciative to get the guitar right from the git-go.)
  • Lesson 3 gave me the "Names of the open strings". Yet again, quite invaluable for someone who doesn't know his ass from a soundhole in the body! And believe me, I will be spending quite a bit of time here in the beginning lessons, as I damn well know that memorizing the names of the strings, as well as the upcoming chords will come back to bite me if I don't get it done before moving on. So I expect this to be a very long process. For those of you reading, you had better prepare for a long haul before you really see me get anywhere. I am the anal type, and need to be %103.5 sure I have it down before even moving on.
  • Lesson 4 was a "Chord chart explanation". And that was nice to have. I would imagine that it probably helps a hella lot to be able to read the charts and the tab if you ever plan on getting past the first day!
I went through the "Bonus Features" and found out about Guitar Care: String changing, String care, Effects of humidity, Travel & Storage. More of everything I needed to know from the gate. Humidity wise, I will need to take that into account because of our weather conditions here, so a humidifier is a purchase coming very soon. The "Video Chord Chart" is great to have in that section as well, along with the 3 exercises from the "Hands of Steel" DVD that are included at no extra charge. Granted, it is no where's near the content of the "Hands of Steel" DVD, but to have those three as a bonus only adds to the value of the teaching!

I went online to download my free tuner and metronome, as well as look over some of the other information there to go with the lessons. An invaluable resource indeed. Kinda makes ya wonder why this whole outfit is only $20.00? I would have paid twice or three times as much for it. (Don't get any cute ideas RH, I am already sold on the twenty bones, so don't go raising it anytime soon!) I popped into the "RH Classroom" as well, and there is still a grip of stuff there for me over and above what is on the DVD. Again, an infreakingvaluable resource! At this point, I wouldn't take "Private Lessons" if they were offered to me for free. And the forums contain more information then I will probably ever be able to absorb anytime soon.

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