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Totally Guitars Newsletter #12 11 Years ago  
TG Newsletter #12 - August 12th, 2009

In this issue you'll find...

- What's going on at Totally Guitars?
- Latest T.A.R.G.E.T. News...
- Recent Comments
- The TG Blog
- Q&A between members and Neil

What's Going On?

This week I have been able to get back to concentrating on creating
new lessons for the TARGET program. We talked about a few of the
upcoming ones on TG Live (Episode 7- now available for viewing in
the TARGET Section).

We also have been working on a more robust server to handle the
content and traffic that the site has. Our migration to the new
server will take place late Monday night, possibly resulting in the
site being hard to access for a couple of hours. It should be in
the middle of the night, at least in the US and we should be back
better than ever by Tuesday.

TARGET Live! update-

We just finished a really fun episode of TG Live. I did my usual
kind of rambling thing until questions started coming in, which was
pretty quickly due to the aimless nature of the rambling. After a
little while Matt had to ask everybody to hold off on the questions
while we caught up.
I think most people had a pretty good time. You can see it for
yourself now on the site. The show was split into 2 forty minute

TARGET Members Click Here To See The Latest TG Live

Changes On The Horizon-

As our TARGET members now know, there are a lot of new things
coming to TG. We will be restructuring and rearranging many of the
pages and sections over the next few weeks. Most of the changes are
in response to suggestions we have been receiving from our members.
We will try to make it as seamless as possible but be sure to check
in regularly as each day may bring something new.


The main thing that got added to the TARGET Program this week was a
fingerpicking song by Sheryl Crow, Strong Enough. It has some
unusual timing to the chord changes and a couple of fingerpicking
techniques that combine into making it a good exercise for students.

TARGET Members Strong Enough Click Here

As I finish up more lessons I can tell you about some of the songs
coming up. We will be looking at Windy & Warm next week, and in the
coming weeks we will look at songs by artists we haven't covered
before: Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison, maybe even Jason Mraz!

Following is a recap of some of the details about the TARGET

The TARGET Program is pretty revolutionary as far as an online
teaching system goes in that it is very interactive. There are many
ways that I stay in touch and interact with my online students. We
have an exclusive section in our Forum where I answer questions
from members, as well as take requests for upcoming lessons.
This interactivity even reaches out to live broadcasts for our
members where we play some songs, help resolve music problems, and
generally have an online group get together in real time. These
episodes are part of out TG Live! Series.

If you are serious about improving your guitar abilities I really
encourage you to join our TARGET Program while it is still open. I
can't say how many students we will be able to handle but I know
there will be a limit as to how many I feel I can work with. I want
to be able to devote the same time and attention to my online
students as I do for students I see in my studio every week.

If you are serious about improving your guitar abilities I really
encourage you to join our TARGET Program while it is still open. I
can't say how many students we will be able to handle but I know
there will be a limit as to how many I feel I can work with. I want
to be able to devote the same time and attention to my online
students as I do for students I see in my studio every week.

Check out the TARGET Program here

Recent Comments from Visitors

There have been some really interesting threads popping up on the
Forum this week. One that I would like everybody to look at and add
a post to is 'Please Introduce Yourself Here'. This was started by
one of our charter members and a lot of visitors, old and new have
entered their own short bio. Here are a few examples.
From Chris
Hi All,

My name is Chris. I'm 52 and when not recovering from torn
cartilage in my knee and the subsequent surgery, I drive a truck
locally for a living. I've been playing since the mid-seventies. I
own or co-own (the wife plays too) 4 guitars and 5 basses including
most notably IMHO, a Martin DX-1, A mid-seventies model Ibanez Les
Paul copy (lawsuit model),a Fender Precision, a Dean 8 string bass
and an Olympia 4 string acoustic bass.

I live in southern Indiana across the Ohio River from my hometown
of Louisville, Kentucky. We have 3 kids with one left at home,
currently attending Indiana University Southeast as an education
major. (He's going to be a teacher like his mother.)

I played in working rock and roll bands from about '76 to '91
mostly playing original music to frighten small children by. One of
the bands I was in had vinyl pressed 3 different times. Once part
of a compilation on a small label in Indianapolis. Once a demo we
did got picked up by an indie label in Chicago and most recently
the 3 tracks we recorded in Indy were part of a retrospective
compilation of my hometown music scene from '79 to '83. One of my
greatest musical accomplishments is having received two royalty
payments. I would say I'm an intermediate player at best on the
guitar and I have a confession to make. I've been known since '81
as a bass player.
From Laszlo

Hi All,
I'm a 32 year old Hungarian. I've been playing the guitar for 7
First I learnt classical style, then rock and blues (solo
Although my basics are OK, I'd like to improve myself at home (I
have 1 little daughter, the second child is on the way .
I think I'm not so bad, but I should improve my self confidence:
playing some songs in front of a small audience almost gives me a
I'm really happy that I found this site, Neil's teaching method is
great, that's what I need.
I have an ElectroAcoustic Fender Guitar, a classical Yamaha and a
noname Electric (stratocaster-style).
My favourite guitarists are Richie Sambora, Ritchie Blackmore and
George Harrison. Thank you for the great site.
Laszlo (Laci)

Introduce yourself in the forums by clicking here

Ask Neil

This section has really taken off, mostly because many of our
members have taken it on themselves to help me out with answers.
Many of the questions are better suited to a group of people than
just my opinion. Now of course, I have never been known to hold
back an opinion, especially on a musical subject or performer, so I
jump in whenever it seems necessary. Here are a few recent
Minor Key Chord Progressions

First, I wanted to say thanks to Neil for creating the TARGET
membership and providing these detailed lessons. Hotel California
is in B minor and Neil explains that Bminor is the one chord and F#
is the five chord. The relative major key is D, so we are keeping
our C# and F# sharps.

I know that in Major Keys theory tells us that the 1 chord is Maj.
2 chord minor 3 chord minor 4 chord major 5 chord major 6 chord is
minor 7 chord is diminished. Like many here I understand the
concept of 1,4,5 or 1,6,2,5 progressions using a major key.

How does this chord progression theory apply to songs in minor Keys
? If you are in C the six chord is A minor. Does that now become
the 1 chord for that key if the song is in A minor? How would the
sequence for a standard minor key chord progressions work? Which
chords are considered major or minor ? Obviously the 1 chord in
minor and the 5 chord is major from the hotel California lesson. I
am hoping this question will help others as well. Thanks in advance.

Neil's Response


You are right about step VI of the major key being step I of the
relative minor key. The minor key includes all the notes and chords
of the relative major key, as well as 2 additional notes that are
used when you are using the melodic minor scale (see the
intermediate lesson Three Minor Scales).

These 2 additional notes create additional chords that are in the
key as well. The most common altered chord is chord V, which can be
major or dominant 7.

Sorry to be so brief but I hope this helps get you headed in the
right direction for now.

And JJ's Re-response

Thanks Neil,

Let me see if I have it correct then. Your minor key is found at
the 6th of your major key. That is the natural minor and a standard
minor key progression would be Chord one Minor, Chord Two
diminished, chord three Major, chord 4 and 5 minor, chord six and
seven Major. THREE SIX AND SEVEN are your major chords in any
natural minor key. Am I correct? THANX

Comments Recently Received



Thanks for adding this. I have been working hard on Classical Gas
and while I wouldn't play that in public yet it is coming along
nicely. Romanza is a great piece and I am printing the music today
so I can start tonight.
Later gator,

TARGET Members Click Here for Romanza

Windy & Warm

Neil, Lovin' your site, your teaching style (especially the theory
and background information about the artists and their music)

Really hoping that Windy and Warm is reasonably up on the list of
things to do.

For the record ... I ditched my local teacher (his brand of
teaching was simply to show off to me just how fast his fingers can
fly along the frets and then send me home to fend for myself with
the tab) I see myself as intermediate ... I can do a fair job with
Dust In The Wind ... but then this guy gives me "The Claw" as my
first piece to learn .... sheeesssshhh....

What I really want is to be Windy and Warm

Over The Hills & Far Away

I'm trying to observe Neil's "up-and-down" picking instructions to
improve my timing, etc. But in measure 3 of Over the Hills it looks
to me that the D string should he picked with an up on the "and" of
count 1, then the D chord should be strummed up on the "and" of
count 2. He's playing them with downs. Am I missing something? Or
is the tab wrong?

TARGET Members Click Here for Over The Hills & Far Away

TG Free Video of Over The HIlls Click Here

Neil's Response


Your observations are correct, and so is the TAB. Strokes on the
"ands" of beats in this song are downs because there are faster
notes, 16ths. This means every quarter note is broken up into 4
strokes: D-U-D-U. The arrows in TAB show the direction across the
strings that the pick moves. An arrow toward the top of the page
means across the strings from low to high- 6th string toward 1st
string. In physical space this is towards the floor of the room and
referred to as a downstroke.

I hope this clears it up.

TARGET Members to ask Neil Click Here

The TG Blog

Aug 7th, 2009 by Matt

Hi Everyone,

If you haven't visited totally guitars recently, then you may want
to come over and have a look as we have just finished one of our
upgrades to the site that has (we think) fixed a bunch of issues we
have had with the delightful Internet explorer, and also some
navigation tweaks so you can find more stuff quicker..

While we are hard at work on Totally Guitars version 2 (yes we are
working on a brand new site) ,we wanted to put in these interim
fixes, and we would love to know if you have any major issues so we
can tweak some more ...

We also added a ton of new video content and we have a bunch coming
this month...so come visit, check out the ever expanding community
part which tops 20,000 members now, and say hi on the forum. If you
are having any technical issues at all, send us an email via
support@totallyguitars.com and we will be glad to help you.

So currently we have made the following changes to TG in order to
make the site more enjoyable for our users. You will notice a
Master Menu button at the top of each page except in TARGET. This
master menu is a text listing with description of what Totally
Guitars has to offer with a clear delineation between what is paid
and free content.

Next we got rid of the drop down every 30 days and made a clear
place consistent on each page to login at the top as well as
highlighted our support button better on each page. There have
been significant coding changes done to ensure greater
compatibility with the free video players in Internet Explorer.

Lastly we are in the process of migrating our site to a more robust
and reliable server. This migration will occur Monday night with a
brief interruption of service during the midnight hours in the U.S.

Thank you for being our loyal customers and friends while we grow
the greatest acoustic guitar community online.

Matt Williams
The Cross-Country Guitar Trip

Here is the conclusion to last week's story about flying with my
guitar. The new stuff is Part 3, below.
Heading To Sioux Falls

This week I took a chance on flying across the country (well,
halfway across the country) with my guitar. Not that it matters but
is a little on the expensive side and very important to me. I
started a thread in the Forum about the experience and here is the
first part of the journey, with the second half about to unfold
this weekend.
Part 1

After seeing the video about United Airlines and having traveled
with a guitar a few times, I thought I would keep a little journal
about taking my guitar on a trip this week. I am off to Sioux
Falls, South Dakota, with my daughter who is playing in a softball
tournament. I don't often take a guitar to these tournaments but
this one will last all week and I figured I might get some time to
play, and even PRACTICE a little.

I should mention that we are taking United Airlines. I figure they
might be on their best behavior due to recent events and publicity.

We arrived at the San Jose airport around 6:00 AM and headed to the
counter to check our bags. I was hoping to carry it on board but
the Claxton is in a Calton case and a Colorado Case Company padded
bag, making it probably too big for the overhead bin. I went ahead
and paid the fees for bags, including some surcharge for special
handling and asked the agent about insurance, or the best plan for
carrying a pretty expensive instrument.

She told me that I should carry it to the gate and see what the
agents there say, but that they might make me check it. I didn't
really have a problem checking the guitar but the main thing to
avoid is putting it on a conveyor belt and letting it disappear
into the dark abyss behind sinister rubber flaps.

Not surprisingly, I was told that I would need to check the guitar
at the gate. They printed up a tag and told me to carry it to the
end of the ramp and put it on a cart that already had a guitar and
a few other oversized bags. I did ask the handler at the cart to
please hand check the bag and he said to me, "Oh, we hand check
everything anyway." This didn't leave me with a strong feeling of
confidence as I walked away from the cart and headed up the ramp.

I was also a little concerned about the fact that now the guitar
would have to make the same connection we were, transferring in
Denver, knowing that this was possibly a cause for concern as well.

On a side note, I have taken guitars on board in a gig bag before
as well as checking them and frankly, there is a certain sense of
probably false security with the "out of site, out of mind"

As I write this, we have made it in Denver and I find myself a
little concerned, but probably only because we have a couple hours
layover and not much else to do. I just hope the guitar is being
gently carried from baggage hold to baggage hold.

Anybody seen the flying pig lately?

I'll try to get back to you in a few hours after we get settled in
Sioux Falls.
Part 2

I have to admit I was a little nervous as I waited for the luggage
in Sioux Falls. There was a bin that seemed to be used for
oversized and unusual items. I hoped my guitar would be hand
delivered there, especially when I saw a nice Fender electric case
in the bin. As I kind of kept an eye on both the belt and the bin
(partly wondering where the heck the Fender owner was!), I was
surprised to look back at our pile of bags and see my guitar.
Apparently it had come out on the belt and Lizzie had grabbed it.

I took it over to another carousel and, with a bit of trepidation,
unzipped the cover and opened the latches to find everything
apparently in good order. I did have a bit of a doubting Thomas
moment and grabbed the headstock to make sure it was still intact
and all was well.

I am now half way through the adventure, at least as far as the
airlines are concerned, and am breathing a sigh of relief. Now I
just hope I can find, or make the time to play the darned thing,
maybe even get to some video lessons on the road. I will keep you
Heading Home - Part 3

Hi Gang,

Today is Saturday and I am embarking on the 2nd half of the
adventure. Right now I am sitting in the Sioux Falls airport,
having moved to an earlier flight on a different airlines,

The first difference in a small town airport is how friendly and
helpful everybody is. I just booked the flight this morning and
figured I try the same approach. I asked the agent who was helping
us at the kiosk if I could carry the guitar on board. He said, "I
certainly would."

Now, this is a short flight with not many passengers on its way to
Minneapolis where we connect with a packed flight to San Francisco.
We don't even have assigned seats on that flight yet.

In any case, so far so good. I will try to check in from
Minneapolis but I think it's a quick turnover. i just hope I can
sweet talk somebody into finding room in the cabin.

Stay tuned...

It is now about 9:00 PM and I am back at home with a really
anti-climactic story, which means good news.

I mentioned that for as empty as the short flight to Minneapolis
was, the flight to SF was overbooked and we didn't have seats yet.
The agent in Sioux Falls thought he could get us exit row seats but
it turned out he couldn't. He said we would be at the mercy of the
agents in Minneapolis. He did say there were plenty of seats in
first class but the upgrade was a lot of money.

Lizzie pointed out that her sister had been on a first class flight
once and that if I really loved her I would spring for it... Funny

We arrived at the gate only to be told that they weren't ready to
assign us seats but they would call us when they could. Lizzie
decided to head off to Starbucks for some tea and a snack. A few
minutes later, as I was catching up with one of my TG cohorts about
recent developments, they called me up and handed me new boarding
passes. Without looking at them I asked again about exit row seats
and that I had a big carry on. I probably mentioned that the guitar
is in a Calton case, which is big and heavy, as well as a padded
bag from the Colorado Case Company. The bag is mostly to protect
the nice case from being scratched- something that I still
occasionally scratch my head over.

The agent must have seen me walk away from the counter earlier
because she said, "I know, I moved you two into first class, where
there will be plenty of room."

I was a little stunned with this great stroke of fortune. Not only
would the guitar be fine, but Lizzie might think I loved her as
much as her siblings! Needless to say she was thrilled. I never did
get around to telling her that the upgrade was probably just a
karmic coincidence and I don't think we ever need to go there. As
it is, I should be able to parlay this into a few months of good
behavior... Dream on dad.

So as uneventful as it turned out, I certainly feel a great sense
of relief being home with the guitar. I wonder what the ratio of
good stories to horror stories in the traveling with a guitar
series might be. Somehow I think the horror stories always get a
lot of press and the good ones don't. As a matter of fact, I saw 2
or 3 other guitars on board and I certainly would like to commend
and thank Northwest Airlines for a job well done.

Until the next adventure-

That's it for this week!

Stay tuned and in touch,

P.S. - Feel free to get back to me on the blog and on the forum to
let me know what else YOU would like to see in this weekly

Not A TARGET Member Yet? Check TARGET out here Join today before
the $19.95 a month memberships are gone!

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