Questions and Answers
Tuck Andress
2/01 - updated 2/24/01
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[Dates vary] (posted 2/24/01) Numerous questions about published transcriptions.

The only transcriptions I know of are:

"Man In The Mirror," which appeared in the November, 1995 (probably) issue of Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine, (7620 Delmonico Drive, Colorado Springs, CO, 719-599-5076). It is very accurate; I did it.

"Over The Rainbow," which appeared in the Fall, 1991 issue (Volume 2, number 3) of Guitar Extra (Cherry Lane Music Company, Inc., 10 Midland Avenue, Port Chester, NY 01573-1490; 800-331-5269 in US). It is very accurate; I corrected it.

There is a transcription of "Man In The Mirror" in the November, 1990 issue of Chitarra, an Italian guitar magazine, which is too inaccurate to be worth working from.

I wrote a long article analyzing my style in considerable detail, which appeared in the April, 1988 issue of Guitar Player (408-446-1105 phone, 408-446-1088 fax, 20085 Stevens Creek, Cupertino, CA 95014). It has some written musical examples.

I've seen some correspondence which suggests that Guitar Player may have published my transcription of "Sweet P" in late 1990 or the first half of 1991, but I can't confirm this for sure.

The May and June, 1998 issues of Guitar have interviews with me ("Over the Top") and accurately transcribed excerpts. May has eight bars of "I Wish," and June has eight bars of "Ave Maria" from the Hot Licks video.

[Dates vary] (posted 2/24/01) Several requests for changes to "Heaven Down Here."

Here are the basics:

Verse:
| Em11 | A11 | G Bm7 | A |
| Em11 | A11 | G Bm7 | A |
| F | Am Bm | Em7 | Em7 D/F# G A7 |

Chorus:
| D Em7 | G A7 | D Em7 | G A7 | Bm7 A | G D/F# | Em7 A11 | D |

Bridge:
| Gm7 | Bb | F | Am G/B C Dm7 | Gm7 | Bb | F | G A |

12/1/99 (posted 2/24/01) I'm intrigued by Tuck's description of his guitar setup. As he aptly points out, gear is important but the player is even more important. I do wonder, though, why Tuck would choose to play a pair of vintage Gibson L5's and and set them up to sound like a Strat, albeit an ultra high fidelity Strat. It's not a judgment thing; I'm just curious.

Good question! The Bartolini pickup, although equal coil humbucking for noise reduction, has a distinctly single coil sound, letting more of the high harmonics through than normal, duller sounding, humbucking pickups. My experience has been that more is better as a starting point; it lets us do less high end EQ boost trying to add those back in. The acoustic quality that comes from the difference in wood, body, etc., seems to come through equally regardless of pickup, which is why it is so different from using a solid body guitar. But if you separate out the pickup/electronic part of it, it is definitely more reminiscent of a single coil pickup. Best wishes,

Tuck

12/20/99 (posted 2/24/01) What was with the white Epiphone on the A&E Ice show??? Even tho it wasn't the L5, it was great to see you two have some air-time!

Hi! When we found out that it was going to be sub-freezing and maybe snowing, we asked them to rent a guitar so as not to destroy my L-5. I had played outside in a snow blizzard before, but this was expected to be much colder (midnight in winter in Finland). They checked into L-5s, but it would have cost as much to rent one in Finland as to buy one in the US! So I said get anything with F-holes. We were lip-synching to recorded music, so I never got to find out how that guitar would have sounded. Thanks for watching!

12/20/99 (posted 2/24/01) Is there a Tuck and Patti concert video? If so, who sells it. Thanks.

Sorry, there is no concert video yet. It will eventually happen; keep watching the website. There are three music videos which occasionally get shown on VH1 (Time After Time, Castles/Little Wing and Dream), plus a Tuck solo video which never gets shown anywhere (Manonash). We have done numerous shows on BET which get reshown periodically. Sometimes old shows we did in Europe get shown on German tv (Ohne Filter, Montreux Jazz). I have no idea how to predict when. Winter Solstice On Ice gets aired on A&E each winter, but we are lip-synching, not actually playing. Also there is a Tuck instructional video on Hot Licks, Fingerstyle Mastery. Sorry, we are not distributing any of this ourselves. For the instructional video, contact:

Hot Licks Productions, Inc.
Box 337
Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Phone: 914-763-8013
Fax: 914-763-9453
Other: 800-388-3008
Email: hotlicks@ix.netcom.com

12/29/99 (posted 2/24/01) Always enjoyed your playing. But what I really enjoyed is the "Three Experiences" article you shared...Wonderful. How did you ever learn to develop assertiveness into your playing?

By going through the motions (as exhibited by others) until it started to feel natural. Thanks for your comments!

2/2/00 (posted 2/24/01) Dear Tuck,

Whenever I read a biography of someone who has achieved a great level of mastery of the guitar, I often see common threads. One which has bothered me are the somewhat extraordinary circumstances which have influenced each's development and success. For instance, the discovery of Van Halen by Gene Simmons, you having such an exemplary ear from being exposed to music at such an early age, your sheer persistance and dedication, which reminds me of Steve Vai's 10 hour practice regiment daily. The problem is just that I see myself as very average and busy, dedicating as much time as I have to practice and play, but never seemingly enough. To compound it all, I'm so demanding of my playing. I may be just preaching to the choir here, but commercial success aside, I'd be happy to make beautiful music for the rest of my life. That's my goal. [He was 15 years old.]

You're right in thinking life can get and stay very busy. Here's some two-bit philosophizing for you: At your age, anything is possible. The options are wide open, and the one thing you can count on is that you can't predict the outcome. Life is (or may be) long. At your age I could barely play the guitar and would have said all the same things. Although I loved music, it was later that I became hooked on it, and even later before I became a zealot. Even the zealot period was only temporary, because when we started being on the road most of our time (from 1988 on), my practice time went way down. I applaud your goal, and idealistically believe that a lot of the rest will take care of itself, regardless of your particular life path, if you keep reaffirming high goals like the one you expressed. A surprising amount of it is pretty common-sense, as well, things like alcohol at most in moderation, no drugs, lead a decent and preferably admirable life, keep checking out your personality to make sure it is not getting in your way, seize opportunities, trust and nurture your inner voice of intuition to guide you best, work real hard on something in life but balance it with some experience of life so you don't get too one-sided, set high standards but forgive yourself for being human, be prepared to go all the way to your limits when it matters, etc. I have noticed that if you actually consistently do a halfway decent job at these basic kinds of life things, you already have a tremendous edge over a lot of people whose values don't get reflected in their words and actions well enough. To quote you, I may be preaching to the choir here.

Best,

Tuck

2/5/00 (posted 2/24/01) What is the source of the song "Takes My Breath Away?"

The song was written by Claire Hammill under the original title of "You Take My Breath Away" and originally appeared on the Stage Door Johnnies album by Claire Hammill on Konk Records. We learned it very circuitiously and had no idea who had written it. We performed it for years, always calling it "Takes My Breath Away." When we recorded it, we did an international copyright search to locate the composer and publisher, but for some reason could not find them. So we left that information blank on the album, and the record company maintained a fund for the royalties in expectation of finding out eventually. Later a DJ asked his listeners to identify it, and one of them did, and the the DJ told us.

2/25/00 (posted 2/24/01) In your corner section, you mention devoting much of your travel time on the road maintaining your databases. A blurb on your computer preferences and practices would be very interesting.

[Expanded later:] Hi! We decided not to get too specific to avoid endorsements. But I am a longtime Mac user, starting with the 512k Mac; currently I use a PowerBook 500 Mhz as primary computer at home and on the road. I back it up onto an Exabyte 8mm tape drive using Retrospect at home and onto multiple VST Firewire hard drives on the road. The computer features very heavily in my life, but I tend not to be a hobbyist; I use it in very goal-directed ways. You would never find me playing a computer game, aimlessly surfing the net, experimenting with desktop colors and fonts, etc. At any given moment in front of a computer I'm considering whether what I'm doing is worth the time, or whether there is a more efficient way to get the task done.

I have programmed a lot in Omnis 7 (a relational database language), starting back when it was Omnis 3. I started doing it to solve problems when I could find no othe satisfactory solution.

I programmed a relational, double-entry personal finance system (bank and credit card accounts) before there were any reasonable ones on the Mac, which I still use for some things.

I programmed the relational address book I use with a few special features that were important to me: Automatically maintained history field keeps an audit trail, a record of every previous version of the record in case you edit, make a mistake and don't realize until it is too late. Deleted records just get collected somewhere else in case you delete by mistake. When you insert a record, it takes some of the sub-strings (portions of name, phone numbers, city, etc.) from the new record and builds a list of similar records in case you have entered a duplicate but misspelled it, etc. It links any number of individuals' records to a single organization record so the organization record comes up with a list of its individuals, and global changes become possible.

I created a flat-file database of all our shows (attendance, deal history, venue/staff, sound, hotel, clothing, promotional activites, etc.).

Patti uses a flat-file database where each record shows a form where we can check off what songs were played on a given show. It allows for statistical analysis of any describable subset, so she can see how often (and what percentage of the time) we played each song in a given city or area in a given time period to help her decide what to play this time. If you meet her backstage and the computer is on, she was probably just entering the set we just played.

Back when I taught a lot of private students, I kept records of each lesson in a database.

Once I tried to design an expert system for matching clothes into outfits (not one of my strongest suits) based on rules I was planning to elicit from Patti (very expert), but it was beyond my ability.

I once roughed out a relational database for planning, advancing and accounting for tours and creating itineraries, with each day consisting of an utterly flexibly-ordered set of sub-records pointing to various databases of promoters, venues, money, hotels, flights, drives, cars, publicity events, photos, etc., allowing various reports at different levels of detail depending on need to know. Most people use spreadsheets and word processors to do this somewhat inadequately, but it begs for a database tool. Some associates of ours took the idea and turned it into a product which barely hit the market in beta form before they went out of business. It's never been worth it to me to spend the time on it myself, but I would love to have the tool (failing this we use Word's outliner, which is the next best choice I could find).

I roughed out a way to use it to generate fingerboard diagrams of every possible fingering of a given arpeggio, scale or intervallic structure, sorted in terms of usefulness according to rules I would input, but never followed through because I lost interest, having done a great deal of this manually a decade earlier.

I have used Excel a lot for financial record keeping and planning; our merchandising spreadsheet not only keeps track of money and inventory, but also maintains nightly statistics that get used on an estimator page for planning shipments of each item on the road based on previous sales/human, capacities, venue type, billing, etc. For planning foreign tours, where deals are made in different currencies in each country, I use spreadsheets that automatically detect the currency and convert it into US dollars based on average and daily exchange rates I input for the Euro and other non-EC currencies. All our tour accounting is done in spreadsheets I created with lots of error detection so everything is guaranteed to balance.

The outliner in Microsoft Word is the tool I use to organize my life; it is very powerful as a free-form database. One file has complete chronological record of everything having to do with our live equipment, including charts and graphs. "Studio Log" contains wiring details of the entire studio, the history of each piece of equipment and software, test procedures, calibration notes, notes about every recording, mix and mastering session including all non-automatable settings for each song, etc. "Itineraries Archival" has a heading for each year, a subheading for each day with sub-subheadings for specific information for that day (flights, hotel, time schedule, venue, production details, deal, guestlist, etc.); templates for each type of day (fly/concert day, drive day, fly/drive day from home, etc.) provide pre-formatted starting points for creating new days. By using the hidden text feature and various fonts, I can create the several types of output I need for different people without retyping (most people who get itineraries don't need the details on the car rental or the hotel reservation). "Tuck's Daily Log" has everything from lists to home maintenance details to tech support history for each piece of software to an ongoing log of every conversation with each business associate. There is nothing so miscellaneous that you cannot file it easily using this tool. Patti and I both learned to type early and fast.

One unusual thing I do is I keep huge, archival Word files for correspondence: One for every piece of correspondence we've ever sent to our agent, another for our accountant, another for general correspondence, etc. As a result I can scan manually or search for any key phrase within a single archival file. All this is in contrast to saving each piece as a separate file and later having to look through long lists of files in the Finder in the hopes that the title will remind me what is in it.

Years ago in Word I redefined Command-I, J, K and L to act as arrow keys (inverted T shape, just like the arrow keys on current PowerBooks). Option-Command-I, J, K and L move the cursor up/down a page or left/right a word. Control-Option-Command-I, J, K and L move to extreme top, left, bottom and right. Hold down Shift at the same time and it extends the selection. Shift-delete deletes the next character forward. Likewise I assigned keyboard equivalents to every command in the outliner. I'm not big on mouse/trackball/trackpad, etc. Over about a two-year period I memorized all these and trained myself to instinctively use all these as part of touch typing. Now I can do everything dramatically more efficiently than using the trackpad or arrow keys.

I had to learn to use QuicKeys with our Sonic Solutions hard disk recording system, where they are necessary. Since then I've programmed QuicKeys extensively to automate all kinds of things and add features to various programs. I very seldom use a menu or trackpad to get to anything; there is a QuicKey to get me to each document and application I typically use. If our agent calls, there is a QuicKey to bring forward the right file, expand the right heading and scroll to the right line so I can just start typing.

We receive faxes as email attachments using efax (www.efax.com).

In the US we plan travel logistics and navigate on the road, using GPS, with StreetAtlas USA. In Europe we use Route 66 software for the same thing.

Whenever I pack for a trip (about 25 times a year) I use a checklist created in More (old outlining program). That way, no matter how tired I am, I never forget anything.

I use Virtual PC to run the software for programming the BSS Soundweb system, which is in prototype stages for our next live system.

I have committed to avoiding web programming; I just create content and do the simplest text formatting.

Our studio is also Mac-based, currently a Quadra 650, but destined in the future to be a G4; we've been waiting as long as possible to upgrade because it is finally completely stable. We record on a Sonic Solutions workstation, which is a hard-disk based audio editor. That's why we have an Exabyte tape drive for archiving the music. Our mixers and EQs are automated using a custom combination of Mackie's OttoMix software and Opcode's Max. We use Vision as a metronome when we need one (the only sequence we've ever created was a clicktrack!).

3/7/00 (posted 2/24/01) I'm trying to mike my classical guitar and I don't know the best way to go about it. I don't want to stick any electronics in it. I have a really beautiful instrument. My parents told me I could either have a car or they would help me buy this guitar. Not a hard choice. So I would like to amplify it. I have a limited budget but I don't want to squash any of the tone. I like the idea that you and Patti have of bringing your own preamp, EQ, and microphone to the gig and just plugging into the house system. Ideally I'd like to do that also. I thought I'd start though with a decent microphone. Can you make any suggestions?

Hi! I wish I could help you but I know absolutely nothing about amplifying acoustic instruments (I use magnetic pickup on steel strings, so it is a completely different animal). My one attempt years ago, using the most accurate mics known to man (B&K), was an utter failure, and I have never tried again. Sorry, and good luck!

3/30/00 (posted 2/24/01) I've concluded that the 6 string F#11 (from Takes My Breath Away voicings) is impossible to play unless you are from the planet Vulcan.

It all depends on hand size; I very seldom try to play it because I can barely make it and thus pull it out of tune if I get it at all. I know people with larger hands who find it easy.

5/23/00 (posted 2/24/01) Tuck, I have been reading your discussion on getting great tone. Will it work out if I use say a Fender The Twin the amp with a 1/3 octave equalizer plugged into the effects loop of the amp then attach an extra speaker to the Twin Amp so that the equalizer could then obtain the lower and higher frequencies that the Twin Amp can not obtain. I was thinking of a special peavey speaker with a tweeter for the higher frequencies and a woofer to get well below the usual 80 of a guitar amp. Do I have to worry about impedance mismatch ? Also would it be better for me to purchase a self powered 15 inch speaker that could get these frequencies. I am not sure if my equalizer could be plugged into such a speaker or not. I think that some of these self powered speakers have equalization control built into them. I have been playing jazz guitar for years but frequently when I play it is difficult to get the tone I am looking for in certain places. I thought that the above would give to me more control. Lastly would you or should I consider just using my equalizer and plugging into the loud speaker the place I am playing. A disadvantage of this would be i guess that I would have to plug my guitar into the equalizer and then from the equalizer to the sound system.I think you had pointed out that the eq is not as good as when it is plugged into the effects loop only. As far as self powered speakers are concerned, you a mentioned the Meyer speaker. If I like the sound of a lesser expensive do you think all in all I would be satisfied with something less than a Meyer. I certainly appreciate your help and I am looking forward to seeing you play again.

Hi! Some of what I'll say will be educated guesswork: I think you have some experimenting to do. I would first experiment with a 1/3 octave EQ with your existing amp/speaker before trying other speakers (I'm surmising that you already have The Twin). This would help you find out how much you can do with EQ alone and what is still missing. My experience is that you can EQ in pretty convincing bass with 12 inch speakers, although you will run into a headroom limitation with super-boosted low frequencies (if the frequency response is rated down to 80 hz, the speaker will put out lower frequencies (try plugging in a bass to see), just at increasingly low levels, so you can boost them back up to some extent which might be enough), but will have less success with very high frequencies. Still, EQ is very powerful, and it would be very useful to try this and go as far as you can with it; it might be so much better and more flexible that you'll find you don't need to go farther.

I have what was an inexpensive, old Boss 1-octave EQ that is quiet and remarkably powerful in giving a range of tones; you could even experiment with something like this. (You might do the same experiment with the speaker in the place where you're playing, if you can solve the impedance mismatch problems of running the high-impedance guitar into a low-impedance EQ or PA (you'd need a buffer preamp of some sort). But this only addresses the issue for one venue, so it would be ideal to be self-contained.)

Back to the Twin + EQ approach (sorry for stream of consciousness): It could happily go in the effects loop, but you would want to make sure the levels were reasonably matched so you don't get too much hiss (if EQ is line level, you need to be sending something approaching line level out the effects loop).

Concerning adding other speakers: If you drive the additional speaker off the amp in your Twin as well as the internal speakers, you'll probably be ok impedance-wise (double check spec on Twin, but it should drive a couple of cabinets ok), but will have no control over relative volumes. So you'd have to try and see what you got. It seems to me that the odds are that the random relationship in volume between the two cabinets would probably not be ideal, but you never know. You wouldn't have this issue with a powered speaker (whether internally or using an additional amplifier), but would have to find some way to distribute the signal to both the twin and any separately powered speaker. This could be a very simple line mixer, sending full frequency to both, or a crossover, in which case using the speakers in a Twin as mid speakers in a three way system would get complex fast, and I'm sure less successful than finding a single full-range cabinet.

Yes, of course you could be happy with less expensive speakers than the Meyer, but I don't know anything specific to tell you to try. (We recently got a pair of Meyer UPM-1Ps, which are still ridiculously expensive, but are great and tiny; they would happily double as studio monitors, and they would serve as a great compact guitar speaker, although I'm sure the 5 inch bass speakers would run into headroom problems if you turned them up a lot and boosted the bass. Combined with a subwoofer, they would make a killer system.)

Bottom line: Spend a bit of time EQing existing system first then see what is still missing. By the time you have done this, you'll know so much more about your sound that all your questions will be different. By the way, unless (and even if) you have worlds of experience with EQs, you will have much better success with a programmable one.

Good luck!

Tuck

6/7/00 (posted 2/24/01) I have a question for Tuck concerning transport of his guitar. Do you really trust the baggage handlers with it? Or do you have another system worked out? Last summer we had the opportunity to perform in Houston Texas and had to practically "sneak" my guitar into carry-on luggage!! Lotsa dirty looks from other passengers but I didn't have a case suitable for baggage.

Thanx!!

Hi! It's not that I trust them, but it's the best of the alternatives. I cannot count on always getting it on as carryon in a gig bag, and if they were to refuse, the fallback plan of gate-checking and sending it under the plane in a soft case would be unacceptable. Therefore it always travels under the plane in a flight case (then goes into a gig bag for around town). I used an Anvil case for years (with gaffer tape on the latches and/or cinch strap around the whole case in case all the latches failed at once, which has happened), then switched to Mark Leaf (teardrop-shaped fiberglas case), which is 12 pounds lighter and has worked fine. I've heard horror stories, but in about 1,000 flights with it as checked baggage I've not had any myself, other than an occasional delay of up to 4 days at the other end (we carry on a very small backup guitar for such situations). For the first few trips there was quite a bit of sawdust and a few wood pieces in the case, which was unnerving, and occasionally the pickguard will come loose. I have a solid, old guitar, though (insured for a lot), and I can imagine that a more fragile one might have more problems with shocks.

I never allow anyone else to check our bags, do it with a skycap whenever possible (more competent), tip well and will jump right over the ticket counter and airline employees onto the belt if necessary to make sure that I've seen that it has been ticketed correctly: Correct flight numbers (memorize them!), airport abbreviations (learn them!) and passenger name, tag properly attached to the handle I want it on and handle still in good shape, multiple laminated ID tags with extras on hand since it's at the airport that they always decide to finally come off, claim tags accounted for. If it is a puddle-jumper, I stand on the runway and watch to make sure it gets on, and negotiate with personnel as much as necessary. When it's lost, we call repeatedly and try to out-think the lost baggage people and work the system, befriending them and persuading them to call likely airports and get people to personally look rather than just wait for it to turn up. Likewise we scour and return to the airport where it was supposed to arrive.

I believe that not doing all this is the cause of most lost baggage, since I've caught many mistakes and witnessed most passengers and some airline employees not being sufficiently attentive. Computers have theoretically made the airlines much better about getting bags there, but we've checked probably 8,000 - 9,000 bags and never permanently lost one, so I think that even the manual, handwritten system works pretty well. I figure it is my responsibility to be vigilant and proactive then surrender it to God, the airline's responsibility to get it there, damage it, delay it or lose it as it randomly sees fit, and God's responsibility to do whatever God chooses to do. So far, so good.

I would strongly recommend the Mark Leaf case, but they are expensive. They are at: 316-241-6928, MacPherson, KS. I had a cordura cover made to protect the case surface and hardware, which was a good move (Mark Leaf facilitated this through another company). Make sure that the outer surface of your case or case cover is not totally smooth, but rather creates enough friction to slow the case down somewhat when it is accelerating down sometimes quite steep and smooth baggage ramps, so it doesn't hit very hard at the other end. Cordura has this effect somewhat, as do rubber bumpers and rubber strips. It won't help you when it falls off the belt onto the runway, but it will lessen all the other shocks. If your instrument is particularly delicate, you might make an oversized case cover and line it with an inch or two of foam (visco-elastic is hippest but very expensive, otherwise something that compresses fully but offers some resistance, i.e. not soft but not rigid), which drastically reduces the shocks to the instrument inside the actual case. We did this with a rack we travel with, with great results; it hasn't been necessary with the guitar. We made friends with a good luggage-repair person and collaborate on various common-sense projects such as these as well as repairs.

[Update, not included in the original reply: Also check out Calton cases, which are also excellent and lighter; I don't know about cost.]

Another commonly-used alternative is to purchase multiple guitars you are not worried about losing and travel with one (or two) in a standard lightweight case (trying to carry on optional), with others in readiness to be shipped as needed. I haven't found multiple guitars I would want to play, so this approach has not worked for me yet.

I hope this helps (I realize it is more than you asked, but take the part that helps). Good luck with the music!

Best wishes,

Tuck

6/26/00 (posted 2/24/01) I own a recording studio in Nashville and also engineer. I love the sound of your records and am interested in your vocal chain and how you approach getting the vocal sounds. Did you design the acoustical space that you record in?

Hi! Patti uses a matched pair of B&K 4003s through a Millenia preamp into GML A/D into Sonic Solutions. We mix analog at Different Fur into a second Sonic Solutions, using our Avalon EQs, Fur's SSL and a lot of different reverbs. There is no compression at any point. We use short lengths of good cables. Patti sings in a small double-walled audiologist's booth Industrial Acoustics made for us. Its walls are relatively standard, but we put up a lot of fiberglas bats to absorb more, moving them around and listening until we all thought it sounded best. It sounds almost anechoic. It was easier for us to figure out how to accomplish this than to figure out how to make a great sounding room, so we committed to that course years ago. She sings very close to the mics, which have coincident heads and are angled apart about 60 degrees. She also has the most amazing mic control and vocal technique I've ever witnessed. I think there is much more info on our website under Tuck's Corner. Incidentally, recently we switched to the Stedman ProScreen, which is much more transparent than the pop filters she had used before. You'll hear the difference on our album, "Taking The Long Way Home."

Best wishes,

Tuck

7/13/00 (posted 2/24/01) I'm very grateful to find the site, & glad to see it's well done & satisfyingly thorough. I'm a 7-string, straight-4ths-tuning finger-picking classic/art-rock & fusion player (or something like that) & am urgently looking forward to future website additions in the department of your technique, Tuck, esp. chordal systematization. More than all that, I am inspired by the profound aspiration of both of you.

[Expanded here:] Hi! Since it will be a while before I get around to it on the web, I will tell you that the most powerful approaches I've found have been:

(1) "Chord maps:" Map out the chord tones related to a specific chord family (include all the notes that sound good with a given harmony) on full length of every string, either mentally or written. Explore that subset of notes on the guitar by randomly combining them. I was able to reduce all chords to only 12 families, and an hour or so on each one yields dramatic results. Goal: To see all choices democratically, as a piano player does. Here are the chord families appropriate for a standard jazz player (notes in parentheses may or may not want to be included, perhaps leading to separate sub-maps):

M7: 1 3 5 7 9 13 (#11)
m7: 1 b3 5 b7 9 11 (13)
mM7: 1 b3 5 7 9 13 (11)
m7b5: 1 b3 b5 b7 11 (9) (#5)
7: 1 3 5 b7 9 13
7sus: 1 5 b7 9 11 13
7#11: 1 3 5 b7 9 #11 13
7b9: 1 3 5 b7 b9
11b9: 1 5 b7 b9 11 (13)
13b9: 1 3 5 b7 b9 13
7#9: 1 3 5 b7 #9 (#11) (13)
Altered Dominant: 1 3 #5 b7 b9 #9 (b5)

These 12 families can be reduced even further:
CM7 family = Am7 family (major scale maps).
Am7 family (exclude 13) = D7sus family.
Cm7b5 family (exclude #5) = F11b9 family.
CmM7 family = F7#11 family = B Altered Dominant family (melodic minor maps).

(2) Parallel harmony: When I found a chord structure I liked, I moved it up the fingerboard and across string sets (trivial if you're tuned in 4ths), through itself (inversion) or through 5, 6 or 7 note scales. Many people work out inversions and harmonize diatonic scales or even other 7 note scales (harmonic or melodic minor when the chord fits into one of them). But it is more unusual and very cool to harmonize pentatonic or 6 note scales; try it probably first with pentatonic scales using any structure that can fit into a pentatonic scale.

(3) Resolutions: When I found a useful resolution between two chords that I could experience as a melodic move (e.g. 7#9 to 7b9), I would find that move in every voicing of the chord I could generate through the chord map and inversion approaches.

(4) Systematic intervallic explorations: For a given three note chord, I would systematically work out every possible arrangement of the notes that could be played on guitar, starting with closed voicings working towards open voicings while playing 3 notes total, then doing the same thing for 4 notes, then 5 notes, then 6 notes. This doesn't take long. Then I would arrange them on all the stringsets they could occur on (for example root in bass, 5th in the middle and 3rd in the next octave could be arranged several ways on the guitar). From there branch in four directions: (A) Invert everything. (B) Alter the starting chord; instead of major, do minor, then sus, aug, dim, etc. There are 19 possible 3 note structures, not counting inversions of each other, and most are unimportant (C, C#, D). (C) Track melodic moves through all the voicings you've worked out, as above. (D) Start over with 4 note chords, then 5 note (and even 6 note). Incidentally, filtering out inversions and transpositions, there are:

1 x 1 note structure
6 x 2 note structures
19 x 3 note structures
43 x 4 note structures
59 x 5 note structures
66 x 6 note structures
59 x 7 note structures
43 x 8 note structures
19 x 9 note structures
6 x 10 note structures
1 x 11 note structure
1 x 12 note structure

Note the symmetry (I left out zero). Totals: 325 possible structures in all of twelve-tone music. 194 playable on guitar (no more than 6 notes in structure).

(5) From one chord form, experiment with any alterations and additions which are fingerable and choose the ones that work by ear.

(6) Learn all the arpeggios you can; this opens everything up.

(7) Don't forget to explore intervals; after all, 2 note combinations are the basic ingredients of all chords.

I hope this all helps and doesn't confuse. Good luck!

Tuck

7/17/00 (posted 2/24/01) i just want to make a point of the situation about live tour in italy. It's really incredible the organization: they are in north italy a day, the day after they're 500 miles to south, the day after again 400 miles to north and the day after they 're 1000 miles to south and the last day 1000 miles to north. Who can organize a tour in this way? i think that they'll be really tired of all this travelling in italy.

Ciao

Hi! You are right; it seems crazy. But, on the other hand, this is the way touring works. The other way to see it is that the tour organizer worked hard to keep it from being even more difficult. That would actually be the correct way to see it, based on what we've seen in the last 12 years on the road. It is very easy to idealize a routing, but very difficult to make it work given available dates. Everybody juggles until the end. Once we flew from San Francisco to Osaka, Japan twice in less than a month, each time to play just one time and turn around and come home; musicians learn to expect this kind of stuff, and we all become very flexible. Fortunately Italy is one of our favorite countries, so we are happy that we get to see so much of it!

Best wishes,

Tuck

7/22/00 (posted 2/24/01) I'm a Dutch guitarplayer who's exploring this "solo-guitastyle". I saw your video on Hotlick's: it was great! The most important thing you said (to me) was: 'try to make music with this stuff". So i did: i worked on songs as: Rock with you, (M Jackson), I don't know (noa), You can call me All (P Simon), wich was a very tricky one, etc. My question is: can you give me the names of artists or songs (with interesting different parts), from wich you learned a lot by working them out for solo guitar? For example: Who recorded the song "You", or is this an original? And; on the video you play a great thing in F, i believe you heard Terry Saunders do (by the way:who is he?).

Hi! I hesitate to emphasize particular songs, because I have worked out (and later forgotten) lots of them on the spur of the moment, and have found that everything leads to the same place surprisingly effectively. So if a song comes on the radio or into my consciousness in some way and I have the whim, I might work it out. Having said that, I did spend quite a bit of time working out every Stevie Wonder song ever recorded, not because they are great songs for developing solo guitar, but as a first step toward sometime recording his songs. I found that about 50 worked out pretty well for solo guitar, but even the ones that didn't taught me a lot. I don't even think the style of music particularly matters; country or polkas will probably teach you as much as jazz or funk. I spent time in the 70's working out solos or textures by people like Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Art Tatum, John Coltrane, George Benson, Eric Dolphy, etc. All you would have to do would be put chords or bass line underneath any of this kind of thing to create the same challenge, also.

"You" was recorded originally by the McCrearys, and I think Stevie Wonder produced or at least played on it. The thing in F major was "Cleanup Woman" by Betty Wright. I may have played something in F minor, if so the title would have been something like "Supernatural" or "Your Love's a Supernatural Thing." Terry Saunders is an amazing San Francisco Bay Area guitarist who still blows me away; he plays locally.

Good luck,

Tuck

8/15/00 (posted 2/24/01) I am in the process of putting together my own project studio and I am looking at installing a protools system using Apogeee AD8000 converters at the front end along with Manley Massive Passive EQ and the Vox Box tube gear.

I would like to hear your comments on using the Meyers HD-1 speakers for monitoring. I would like to know as much detail about how you came to choose them. How do they compare with the Genelec 1031a? Do you recommend having a sub-woofer in the control room?

Anything that you would strongly recommend to me in putting my studio together I would appreciate. I had considered GML equipment but I wanted some of the warmth of tube gear in the audio chain.

Hi! We have had a long relationship with Meyer with a lot of favors either way, and when the HD-1s came out, they loaned us a pair more or less indefinitely. They are as great as either of us could imagine, and we have learned to trust what we hear from them totally. In our small studio subwoofers would be pointless, and the HD-1s go down to 32 hz anyway, as I recall. I have never compared them to the Genelecs; I know people who swear by Genelec as much as we do by Meyer. We're just completely happy and therefore unmotivated to listen. Here is what I would most strongly recommend, though, regardless of your choice of speakers: Have the control room SIMMed, preferably by Bob Hodas. He spent a day with Meyer's SIMM system in our room advising us about placement of speakers, listening point and absorption and adjusting Meyer CP-10 parametric EQ. The results were unbelievable; it went from unintelligible to a reference monitoring room that we trust so much that we don't bother to listen anywhere else any more. Bob will express a prejudice for HD-1s, I'm sure, but I would seriously consider his advice on any other monitoring matter. He's at 510-649-9254. I hope this helps somewhat.

Good luck,

Tuck

9/5/00 (posted 2/24/01) hi guys. could you suggest a few exercises for training my ears. i'm in a church choir right now and i'm envious of the other members who can quickly harmonize or arrange songs for four voices while i have to sit down with a piano or a guitar to figure things out. do those ads in guitar magazines claimimg to give you perfect pitch in 2 weeks really work? am i too old to get perfect pitch (i'm 26)?

Hi! I have wondered about the perfect pitch ads, too, and just don't know. I believe relative pitch is even more valuable, though, because it is tied up with musical information (relationships between notes, whether vertical as in chords or horizontal as in progressions and melodies) and thus more meaningful. My way of working on it was to analyze lots of music of all types, figuring out the changes, inner voices, etc. The more you do it, the better you get. I had one student who couldn't keep the three chords in a blues straight who just took song after song off of CDs, working through gospel, pop, and finally specializing in Steely Dan, who have some very difficult harmonies because there are lots of chords that have no relationship to the previous chord as well as polychords. Just by repeatedly beating his head against the wall he developed a big chord vocabulary and the ability to hear his way into stuff he couldn't have dreamed of hearing. My only role was to catch his mistakes (easy at first, but it got a lot harder) and work with him on hearing the difference between what he thought it was and what was really there. If he had decided to listen to classical music or other styles, he would now have the tools. He was in his late thirties and not much of a player when he started, so age/ability is a non-issue. The advantage of being older is that you know better how to work intelligently towards a goal. In general, don't feel that you are wasting time when you work long and hard on minor details, unless you get the strong inner sense that if you leave it you can come back some time in the future and be closer to hearing your way through it, and that that would be a better approach.

My biggest turning point was the first time I figured out the changes and solo to a song (George Benson's "When Love Has Grown," I think) without using an instrument to check myself, forcing myself to be 100% confident before I ever picked up the instrument. I would urge you to push yourself towards this; check yourself by singing the intervals, building up to them a half step at a time where necessary. Learn to hear the same music both vertically and horizontally; the two support each other. A useful technique for vertical listening is to take the 12 tones, one at a time, and simply determine whether they exist, in any octave, in the music at a given moment. By process of elimination you can unravel some very complex harmony. Once you know the note content, start figuring out what octave(s), what instrument/voice for each note. I like to start with bass/melody, then work my way up from the bass. I've noticed that Patti does almost exactly the opposite! The goal is to describe to yourself somehow what each person was doing. For horizontal listening, isolate a note in a chord and see how it moves, finally resolving into the next chord. Harmony becomes a combination of a lot of melodies that way (particularly noticeable in vocal music or other music where voice leading is common). Go back and forth between these two ways of experiencing the same music until you start to experience both simultaneously. Whenever you get stuck, the chromatic scale is your best friend; get really good at singing it and resolving everything you hear into it: All chords, intervals and melodies (in 12-tone music) are a subset of it. To the extent that you are an instrumentalist rather than a vocalist, sing everything; your voice will probably be the most direct link to your ear.

[Added later: Taking this several steps farther, to one logical conclusion, I believe it was Ornette Coleman who said he heard every note in all 12 keys simultaneously.]

Of course, there are unlimited pathways to the same goal; the main point is to pursue with intent and you will amaze yourself.

9/13/00 (posted 2/24/01) I'm 18 years old boy from Israel who loves your music . Tuck, my dream is to learn guitar from you, I'm a jazz guitar player fror 8 years and the most thing that I like is the walking bass plus the harmony, and you're the best in that area. I'm tring to learn from your cd's but it's hard. Please, throw me few tips, help me to move forward in my life as a guitar player.

Hi! Here's my number one tip: If I can do it, you can do it. Of course, you'll have to work like a dog! But that is actually very satisfying in itself; just fall ever more deeply in love with music and your particular pathway through it. To be less vague, I have an instructional video which breaks a lot of it down; you can get it from:

Hot Licks Productions, Inc.
Box 337
Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Phone: 914-763-8013
Fax: 914-763-9453
Other: 800-388-3008
Email: hotlicks@ix.netcom.com

Good luck and hope to see you in Israel sometime,

Tuck

9/15/00 (posted 2/24/01) I have a brief comment for Tuck, just something that struck me as funny as I was reading the section in Tuck's corner about playing staccato. You say:

"Legato is easier and more natural on the guitar, which is why I emphasize working on staccato."

By contrast, the following is a quote from an old George van Eps book I have (The George van Eps Guitar Method, created and edited by George van Eps, copyright 1939 and 1961 by Plymouth Music Co., N.Y., p. 5):

"The reason legato is being stressed so much is because it is the hardest form of phrasing for the guitar. Staccato, the reverse, is the natural form and therefore the easiest one."

I guess it just goes to show we can reach our goals despite the occasional difference of emphasis, approach or opinion!

Hi! Great point! I love stuff like this; great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously and that when we start thinking that's when all the confusion gets started in life. Of course, when George Van Eps first started taking lessons from me (to straighten out his harmonic concept and chord voicings), I had to explain his error in thinking; he promised never to say this again. (Just kidding.) Thanks for writing.

9/19/00 (posted 2/24/01) Tuck !!!! Help !!!! Any chance you could help me out with the changes for dream??? I am really stuck on the chords and I have to perform the song tonight, in about 6 hours. Please help!!!!!

Hi! Here goes:

Intro:
|| Ab M7 | Gm7 Cm7 | Fm9 sus | G7b9 ||

Verse 1:
|| AbM7 | Gm7 Cm7 | Fm9 | Gm7 Cm7 |
| AbM7 | Gm7 Cm7 | G7b9 | G7b9 sus G7b9 ||

Verse 2:
|| AbM7 | Gm7 Cm7 | Fm9 | Gm7 Cm7 |
| AbM7 | Gm7 Cm7 | Eb9 sus | Bbm7 Eb9 ||

Chorus:
|| AbM7 | Am7b5 D7b9b5 D7b9 | G9 sus Gm9 | C9 sus Cm9 |
| F9 sus | F9 b5 F9 sus F9 | Bb9 sus | Bb9 sus A9b5 ||

Maybe a repeat of Verse 1 here.

Verse 3:
|| AbM7 | Gm7 Cm7 | Fm9 | Gm7 Cm7 |
| AbM7 | Fm9 G7 | Cm7 | F9 |
| AbM7 Gm7 | Fm7 Bb9 sus | Eb9 sus | Bbm7 Eb9 |

Repeat Chorus.

Another verse or two

Out section:
||: CbM7 | Abm7 | FbM9 | Ebm11 :|| Repeat and out

I think that's it. I tune the low E down to a D and do a lot of barre and stretch chords, but, forgetting about specific voicings, these are the changes. Sorry about the Cb and Fb, but they are correct and that's how my ear hears them rather than B and E. I hope this helps and reaches you in time.

Good luck,

Tuck

9/29/00 (posted 2/24/01) I must admit that lately I've been really jealous of the lifestyle of professional musicians, which is good, it encourages me to work very hard. And I cant expect the dream of being rich and famous, but traveling from place to place entertaining people seems to be something that Id really love to do. So here I am examining your tour schedule, and notice you travelling all over the states and even to Japan, Im sure you have been many other places too. It seems so interesting, and it spawns so many questions. Things like: DO you get a chance to admire the places you go, do you meet lots of people, and do you miss lots of people. Do your feelings ever become numbed with such a come and go lifestyle. DO places ever scare you .. and is it hard to deal with everything... I know questions like this are unfair and impossible to ask. The only thing I can do is get out there and do it and findout for myself. Believe me, I am eager.

But I will leave you with one question that is important to me. .. Hows

life ? :) Are you happy with your musical career choice ?

Hi! It is very interesting and equally challenging. I tried to evoke what the fabric of what road life is like in something we put on our what's new web page giving a day by day account of a Europe trip. It is absolutely grueling but completely satisfying if you love the music. It is business travel: We lower our expectations of what we will see to zero, then life becomes a happy series of surprises.

We meet lots of people in passing: Short, one time relationships such as at airport ticket counters, etc. I value all these; assuming karma is real, it means you probably have a connection with virtually anybody you meet; it's amazing to ponder this. The best meetings are people who come to our shows, as well as staff and crew at venues. Lots of short encounters, but meaningful and sometimes very beautiful moments; hearts can exchange love very deeply in an instant. We have people in Japan we've seen every year for a decade; I see them more often than some of my close friends at home; a lot of value can be crammed into a snapshot relationship if that's the intent of both parties.

We sleep whenever we can. When you can't, you learn to be cheerful and alert anyway, an extreme but rewarding challenge. I never pictured myself doing anything like this, and here I am. I have learned to turn the non-musical part into a very joyous experience; it is the arena I've been given to live in, and I try to be open enough to see it all as an opportunity to experience and share positiveness, even the 6 am flights after a late night, etc., etc., etc.

I still carry some life-long shyness and trepidation about new situations, but, once I'm doing it, I inevitably realize that it is just a continuation of life and there was never any reason for any fear or hesitation. I experience it as a challenge each time we walk into a venue to know that between us Patti and I have to figure out how to make it sound good for an audience using a sound system we've never seen in a short time, and it can be pretty scary when, after we set up, Patti starts singing and it starts out sounding horrible, which happens sometimes (speakers blown, systems set up all wrong, etc.). But the pace of life means we just get it right and get it done no matter how we happen to be feeling or what problems we run into, by putting extremely concentrated effort into it.

There is lots of experience of successful completion; you walk into a venue at the beginning of a day and it is like a blank palette (or worse). By the end of the night a lot of people have had a shared experience that may have even been life-transforming for some. Somehow in a short time all the production, personnel, etc. issues have been solved and all the forces aligned to make this happen transparently. I believe it fosters a great deal of flexibility and poise in life.

We were forced to become extremely organized and together. Laptops, cell phones, database, detailed advancing, logistical planning, businesslike attitude, perfect accounting, doing what you said you'd do, etc., all things that were either of essentially no interest or were antithetical to my personality at one point.

It helps immensely to be traveling with the person in the world you love the most doing something very positive that you both love. Still, the challenges at times seem almost unsurmountable, and the greater our capacity, the greater the challenges. The trick is to see all "negatives" such as this as good. If you tend at all toward a glass half-empty rather than half-full perspective, it is worth reversing that, because the other view is so much more satisfying and productive; both are self-reinforcing, though, so you must make a conscious decision how you will approach it. I turned from a cynical, sarcastic person into a very positive person through this whole process and am much happier and probably much more pleasant to be around.

Of course, because of the good marriage, group stability, intentional positiveness of musical message, excellence of music and production, satisfaction resulting in knowing people have been deeply touched by it and reasonable economic success, we have nothing to complain about even though details in everybody's life give rise to the desire to do so at times. What I hope is that if you removed some or all of these factors (taken to the extreme: enslavement, terrible marriage, poverty, chronic pain, etc.), I could muster as positive an attitude. For all I know, having things turn out well in this life might be a consequence of having a harder time in past lives, or preparation for harder time in future lives, so I take none of it for granted and try to do the best with the hand I've been dealt.

Ultimately I would say don't do it for anything but the love of the music; none of the rest of it is what it is cracked up to be, but you can turn the whole thing including difficult, exhausting and monotonous aspects into an extremely rewarding and fun experience by mental adjustment. It is not the least bit easy; it will test you to your limits, using all the inner resources you have and then some, but it is enormously satisfying. I hope some of this is useful.

Best wishes,

Tuck

9/30/00 (posted 2/24/01) I'd be very interested in your transcription of Winter Wonderland. I'm not sure what tuning you're using, drop D, double drop D, or standard.

Hi! Sorry, I don't have anything yet. I can tell you it is in standard tuning. The harmonics at the beginning are the result of playing standard 4-note jazz voicings with the bass note raised an octave by playing it as an artificial harmonic (requiring all 5 fingers of right hand). I hope this helps a little.

Best wishes,

Tuck

11/20/00 (posted 2/24/01) Who is Leo Kottke to you, and how was the tour you did together?

Leo is a wonderful virtuoso acoustic guitarist and singer from the American steel-string acoustic tradition. I was listening to his albums thirty years ago; he is an institution and deservedly so. He's also one of the funniest musicians we've ever seen; his brilliant and intelligent stream of consciousness monologues between songs are legendary. We loved hearing him and spending time with him night after night; doing the tour together was a career high point. If you can't make it to one of his shows, check out one of his CDs. His website is www.leokottke.com.

1/27/01 (posted 2/24/01)

1) A little more info on the in ear monitors would be nice. What do they get mixed through and powered with? Do they damage your ears?

2) How do you deal with tuning and keeping in tune on stage. This has been driving me nuts lately...

[I substantially expanded the answer for posting:] Live setup: We mix the feed that goes to our in-ear monitors in stereo with an old Biamp 883B mixer (pre-calibrated with security cover so the mix stays the same from night to night) and power them with simple, custom made headphone amps based around the Radio Shack LM386 chip. (We are not wireless; it sounds worse, it's big, expensive and more problematic, and it's unnecessary for us.) It's as low tech as you can get. We both listen to the same mix. Patti's amp is attached to her microphone; her mic cord is actually Mogami 4-pair snake in order to carry the multiple signals back and forth. Mine is attached to my guitar strap.

The amps, at 1/4 watt, will clip just before the monitors or our eardrums blow out but not before making ears ring and damaging hearing, particularly with extended listening at high volumes. Over the years we have worked to decrease and control both long-term and short-term levels that hit our ears, to the point that we are not experiencing any long-term hearing loss. We each address this differently:

I don't have a free hand to get to my headphone volume control during a song, so I preset the level and don't change it (the pot has clicks, so it does not accidentally move when touched). However, our live dynamic range is much too wide for me to comfortably hear the softest parts of a show at sufficient volume yet not be blown away by the loudest parts, so we run my mix through an Aphex Compellor 320A, set primarily to level slowly rather than compress, with limiting engaged. Leveling slowly evens out the volume of loud passages compared to soft passages, effectively gradually turning the loudest passages down by as much as 15 dB relative to soft passages. This is a lot of leveling, but the Compellor is an unbelievably transparent unit, so I'm never aware that it's doing anything. This lets me hear very clearly on soft passages but not have louder passages get much louder, analagous to how albums and radio are mixed to be uniformly loud (but not so extremely). By using leveling rather than compression, I avoid the oppressive, squashed sound of compression; all the short-term dynamics of the music get through unimpeded, as does the sense of longer-term dynamics even though they are being reduced substantially. The limiter serves as insurance against potential sudden peaks during softer passages, when there is no other gain reduction from the leveling. Leveling actually increases the risk of short-term peaks, so this is necessary.

Many in-ear monitor users (and radio stations) use the Compellor, without limiting, followed by an Aphex Dominator to do the limiting, because it has a much better-sounding limiter than the Compellor. I don't find that the Compellor's limiter engages very much, and this has been no problem to me. Another great-sounding unit that can be programmed to do the same thing as the Compellor/Dominator is the BSS Soundweb.

What about the fact that I am no longer hearing the dynamics as they are really happening? Doesn't this put me out of touch with the reality that the audience hears? No, because we have another Compellor which does the same thing to the mix we send out to the audience (except there is no need for limiting). Otherwise our dynamic range would be far too wide for them, just as it is for me. The symptoms of that would be that soft parts would be too soft, loud parts would be too loud, and either the audience would suffer or an engineer would be forced to try to ride gain all night (the Compellor does exactly this, but much more transparently than a human). So it actually brings me closer to hearing what the audience hears. The net effect of all this is that Patti can confidently go from a whisper to full voice, whatever she feels in the moment. As long as I make sure I always balance with her, we have confidence that it will come across fine for the audience with the fader untouched all night, which frees us mentally to lose ourselves more in the music.

Patti's volume control and power switch are right by her little finger all the time, so she rides gain to taste as songs get louder and softer. A surprise momentary peak during a soft passage when the volume is turned up would be uncomfortable but not damaging unless she just left the volume up.

For live, you'd be smarter to get a current mixer, preferably with digital recall and a headphone output (even better if it has some dynamics across the stereo buses, although you may still need an external unit for this). Stereo reverb is a must. If money and size are not a concern, I would buy Studio Technologies headphone amps (see below), but you must protect your ears very carefully with amplifiers this powerful. Theoretically each person should have their own independent stereo mix, which means physically multing each input to multiple mixers unless you use a configurable system like Soundweb to do all this in software. We are unusual in sharing a single mix, and it took a while for us to become comfortable with this. Even in the studio, where we have independent mixes, we make sure not to let them get too different from each other so we inhabit the same world.

Studio setup: We each have our own Mackie 1604 mixer, with fader and mute automation on the Mac, for our monitor mixes, and a third for monitoring tracks on playback, so all mixes are fully independent. The mixers are only used for monitoring; they are not in the recorded signal path. We removed the power transformers from the Mackies and remoted them in another room to eliminate the hum in the noise floor (most bothersome on higher channels), since we do critical monitoring through them. Each monitor mixer output feeds a stereo BSS Varicurve for overall headphone EQ, followed by two channels of a Drawmer DL-441 quad comp/limiter for ear protection. We use Studio Technologies model 35 headphone amps, modified to allow dangerous headroom; they are great-sounding, class A amps, the best we could find at the time. The comp/limiter holds peaks to a repeatable level, but it is nonetheless possible to turn the gain of the headphone amps up to the point that it could damage hearing and even blow out our eardrums, so there is still theoretical danger. Because it is just the two of us, we decided not to try to limit the final output, which would have required further custom design and audio degradation. Instead we calibrated the amplifier volume knobs in dB, and are consistently very, very careful about how we set them.

Concerning ear protection in general, we are convinced that our ears are in much better condition than they would have been if we had used stage monitors all this time, plus we have the advantage that we have heard the music in dramatically more detail. But there is no completely foolproof solution to ear protection, because, no matter what electronic protection you use in the form of dynamics processing, inevitably you will have a variable-gain headphone amplifier following that processing. In order to sound decent at normal listening levels, that amplifier will have to have enough headroom to do some damage if driven to full level for any length of time, which can happen in the case of equipment failure or unlucky headphone level adjustments. Therefore I believe understanding, backup planning (drilling on what physical moves you'll make if you are suddenly confronted with much too loud sound) and constant vigilance are absolutely essential for any in-ear monitor user. I would never give control of any aspect of my in-ear monitoring chain to someone else unless I completely understood and agreed on the signal flow and the ways in which I was protected and the ways in which I was still vulnerable.

Tuning: I tune silently between each song with a Boss TU-12 tuner and it still isn't often enough, plus it takes way too long. I also change my strings every second or third night and stretch them to death to catch any ones that might break and minimize stretching that occurs during performance. I have also gradually learned with Patti's help to pay attention to the intonation of each note of a chord, and make adjustments to push or pull them more into tune relative to each other, rather than just assume that if my finger is at the right fret the note is in tune.

1/31/01 (posted 2/24/01) My main instrument is classical guitar but I also play electric guitar at home for fun but in the next year I will start to learn jazz at school.

So, in our guitar class, our teacher uses to make us discover songs from mainly classical guitar but we can hear some other stuff sometimes and the last song we heard is Manonash from your solo album Reckless. I just fell in love with the song and I think that's an amazing creation. After the song finished, my teacher talked to us of you and your wife. He said that you were a cool guy and that if we would like to ask you some sheet music you would probably want to send it by the internet. So I would really appreciate you to send me the sheet music of Manonash because I would like to learn that because of couse I really like the song and also because I think that in would make me progress in my electric guitar learning.

Hi! I wish I could help, but I never wrote any of it out. I find it pretty daunting to notate the stuff I play, so I don't do it very much. I can at least tell you the low E string was tuned down to D, most of the first verse was played all at 5th fret except for occasional bass notes at lower frets, except that the higher part went back and forth between 10th and 12th frets, and the harmonic slide at the end was 10th fret played up an octave using artificial harmonics. That should get you started. From there it gets a little more complex and harder to describe. The solo section was basically improvised. Unfortunately a lot of the trick to the feel is in details of the right hand, which are even more difficult to communicate. Muting/staccato happens as much as in the left hand as in the right.

I will suggest, based on all the great work of other guitarists and musicians in general that I took off records note for note by ear as I taught myself music, that that is an extremely rewarding process and worth the trouble, even if in some cases it takes a few years before your ear and technique grow to the point of getting it all. This is even more true if most of your learning experience has been playing from written music. The caveat would be to go through that process on music you particularly love, because it can be slow going and is much easier if you love it. I believe it is much more important that you love the music than what music you have actually chosen; it is the process that is most valuable rather than the specifics. I am flattered that you have found Manonash to be such a piece, and encourage you to dig in as much as you can if you're so motivated. Don't be discouraged if you end up putting it down for periods of months or even years during which you continue to grow; each time you return you will be able to peel more layers off the onion, so to speak, and of course do the same process with other music as well. I wish I were a cool enough guy to actually write it out for you, but that is a pretty horrifying prospect; it would unfortunately just go on a great big to-do pile (where it actually already sits!).

© 2001 Tuck Andress


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