Change the Key For Free

Chord transitioning is the process of changing the key of a particular song. It is usually to put the song in a key that is easier to sing. In an earlier post (Song Lyrics and Chords – Seaside Funk’s Top 4 Sites), I shared where to get free lyrics online. How many times have you downloaded the chords and lyrics and found the key was too high for your range? I run into this often.

If you are a solo performer you have 2 options, use a guitar capo (see my blog What Is A Guitar Capo?) or transition the chords to a key that is comfortable to fit your vocal range. The capo option is the easiest but once you get to the 5th fret, an acoustic guitar starts to lose its full body sound. Option #2 is to transition the song to fit your range. If you are in a band, option #2 is the only option.

What Is A Guitar Capo?

Now I am not one that can visualize the chords for a successful transition of a song so I would, with great frustration, work out each chord by counting frets from the core chord of the song. I am here to show you a better way.

INTRODUCING TRANSPOSR.COM comes from the makers of Planning Center and allows you to transpose a song from an MP3 file or a Text File.

It’s So Easy

Text: Copy the content of your text file into the blank page and select the original key of the song followed by the new key and select Transpose. So easy.

MP3: Upload an MP3 file you want to transpose. Decide if you want to transpose in half steps or from the original key to a new key. Boom, a new MP3 is created in the new key. This is really helpful for transposing backing tracks to your style.


There you have it and, if interested, you can join, for free, and take advantage of other services offered by Planning Center. Check it out first. If all you want to do is transpose text or MP3 files, bookmark the site. That is what I did.

Share this blog with a musician friend, I am sure they will enjoy this free service.

What Is A Guitar Capo? – Newbies Take Note!

What Is A Guitar Capo?

You see these little gadgets all the time on YouTube. So what is a guitar capo? More importantly, why do so many players use them?

If you are new to guitar, this is a tip to put in your back pocket as you become a master at basic chords and strumming techniques. It will come in handy down the road. Trust me.

History Of The Capo

You may be surprised to learn that this tool has been around for a long time. I looked up Capo on Wikipedia to find out. The word capo originates from the Italian “capotasto” which means the nut of a stringed instrument. The earliest known use of the term is by Giovanni Battista Doni who, in his Annotazioni of 1640, uses it to describe the nut of a viola da gamba.

An American, James Ashborn designed and patented the capo that pretty much represents what is used today in 1850.

What Does A Capo Do?

What is a guitar capo and what does it do? In a nutshell, the guitar capo changes the pitch of the guitar. For example the root note of the 1st and 6th strings of the guitar is “E”. The capo slide the capo up the neck the root note changes. The root note with the capo positioned on the st fret becomes F, 2nd fret F#, and so on.

So Why Is That Useful?

Sing and Play Guitar

If you sing and play guitar, the capo is invaluable. When performing as a solo artist I use the capo to be able to comfortably sing a song that is out of my range. As an example let’s say the chords of the song are G, D, C.

The figures above represent the fingering in the first position with no capo. The root note for the song is G. If we position the capo on the second fret, the root note changes to “A” using the same fingering. This is helpful if the song is too low for the person to sing in the key of “G”, positioning the capo on the 2nd fret allows you to sing the song in the key of A while playing the same chord positions. The best part is I don’t have to transpose the chords which is a pain in the butt.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

A band I was part of in SW Missouri, Tequila, Lime, No Salt, consisted of 2 acoustic guitars and an acoustic bass. Mark Sebastian on acoustic guitar, Mark McManus on bass on yours truly on acoustic guitar.

To “spice up” our sound, either Mark or I would use a capo to give the song some variation. Using the example above, Mark would play in the 1st position. I would capo on the 5th fret and play the following chord positions:

So the “D” above is the same a “G” in the first position, “A” the same as “D”, and “G” the same as “C”. The sound is like playing the song an octave higher than the first position providing a dynamic versus two of us playing the same chords. Besides, it sounded really cool.

Another variation that improves the dynamics of a song is using a capo and transposing the chords. We probably used this option more than any. To better explain we will take the same root chords, G, D, C, position the capo on the 3rd fret and “transpose” the chords to match the G, D, C in the 1st position as follows:

We used this variation to play Amy by Pure Praire League. It made it easier for me to play the leads in the G position.

Wrap Up

Until you get a chance to play around with a capo, it can be a little confusing. I sensed that while trying to explain the two variations. It is really quite simple and it will expand your “guitar voice” in ways you have not experienced.

Check out this video, Capo For Dummies to visually see how to use a capo.

You can buy capos from just about any music store. In a recent review, Best Online Musical Instrument Stores – Sweetwater Vs Musician’s Friend, you learned that I buy all my gear and supplies from Sweetwater.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it helps your guitar playing.

If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

To Your Guitar Success!





Song Surgeon Software – Free Demo

  • Product: Song Surgeon Version 5
  • Where To Buy:
  • Price: Free 4 Hour Demo, Standard $74.95, Pro $97.00
  • Guarantee: 60 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Rating: A+ BBB Accredited Business Since June, 30,  2003

Seaside Funk is always adding new material to our set list.

In a recent blog post regarding called  Song Lyrics and Chords​, I pointed out 4 sites that I use regularly. I also recommended the Song Surgeon Software to one of my readers. It’s a tool that accurately and efficiently helps me learn the finer details of a song.

I remember the old days listening to a song over and over trying to figure out the chords and writing down the lyrics . If the song was to high for my voice I had to transpose the chords to fit my range. It was a very frustrating process!

I originally ran across Song Surgeon​ during a google search for a tool to help with learning songs. I down loaded the free trial version and after working with it a few days decided to go for it and purchased the Pro version. Great choice!

So happy with my purchase that I felt I needed to let my musician blog followers in on it too.

It is so freaking cool what it can do. Even my son who  is a Video/Audio tech professional said he had never ran across anything like Song Surgeon​.

Song Surgeon – Founded in 2007

Song Surgeon has been around since 2007. I can’t believe I didn’t stumble upon it sooner. It’s sold worldwide in 120 countries and not only to  guitar players. Song Surgeon is being used by musicians representing over 37 different musical instruments. Dang!

Version 5 takes the software to a whole new level with the addition of key detection, automatic beat detection, and automatic chord detection (my personal favorite). All the added features are available on the display allowing you to immediately use them upon opening a file.

For my guitar friends, watch the video below explaining the features.

For an overview of Song Surgeon V5 watch this video:

To access the Free Demo referenced in the video,  Click Here.

Let’s Summarize The Key Points of Song Surgeon

Who Uses Song Surgeon?

  • Musicians
  • Vocalists
  • Transcribers
  • DJ’s
  • Karaoke Singers
  • Worship Music
  • Dance Classes
  • Exercise Classes
  • Teachers and Students

How Is It Used?

  • Musicians use it to slow down songs improving song learning by almost 700%.
  • Dance Studios use it to slow down the music to make it easier teach new steps.
  • Translator and Transcribers are more efficient and accurate by being able to slow the music down.
  • Churches and Karaoke Singers use it for pitch or tempo change to customize the music to fit their style.
  • Exercise Classes use it to speed up or slow down the music that accompanies the specific exercise.
  • Audio down loader helps detect and download millions of files from thousands of websites like  YouTube or AOL.
  • The Wave Form Editor allows for creating custom lessons or practice files.

Two Other Important Points

  • Whatever you do in Song Surgeon you are guaranteed Distortion-Free Audio.
  • Changes you make can be exported and made permanent.

What impressed me most from the overview were the diverse number of users of the software and it’s ability to export a permanent version of the song after changing the key or tempo.

Let’s see what else it can do.

5-speed Customized Guitar Lesson Creation

That is a mouthful but it is a very sweet feature for both students and teachers.

​Two versions of Song Studio are available, Standard and Pro. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the standard version. In fact there is a long list of benefits that will keep you very busy.

The primary distinction between the Pro and Standard versions is the Pro version provides the ability to create a 5-speed customized guitar lesson.

What Does That Mean?

In the standard version you can set up a loop, for example, to learn a particular lead. You can slow down the tempo as explained in the overview.

In the Pro version you can set up 5 loops of the same lead at different speeds. So you may set up the 1st loop at 30% making it easier to figure out the notes. Follow that with corresponding loops of the same lead (2-5) allowing you to increase the speed say from 30% to 50% to 75%to 90% and finally 100%. This is an efficient tool to learn the lead at your pace.

The video below demonstrates how looping works in Song Surgeon.

Song Surgeon is a great tool for any guitarist but really helpful for teachers to assist their students.

Wrap Up

  • Product: Song Surgeon Version 5
  • Where To Buy:
  • Price: Free 4 Hour Demo, Standard $74.95, Pro $97.00
  • Guarantee: 60 Day 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Rating: A+ BBB Accredited Business Since June, 30,  2003

There is a lot more to Song Surgeon than I am have covered in this review. I do, however, hope I was able to wet your appetite. For a detailed comparison of the Standard Versus Pro version, click here.

I highly recommend to try the Free Demo first.   Click here  to gain access.

Make sure to tell your friends!

To Your Guitar Success!






Gibson Acoustic Guitars – My 1968 Gibson J45-ADJ

If you read my post, Acoustic Guitar Lessons For Beginners –  Definite Yes!, you know I love acoustic guitars. It seemed appropriate that I share my story about my first “high quality” acoustic guitar.

Way back in 1970 when I was 17 years old, I spent the summer cleaning rooms at the junior high school. Well it finally paid off and I was able take my hard-earned $225 to buy a brand new Gibson Acoustic Guitar from a local music store in Ravenna, OH. The model was a Gibson J45 – ADJ (adjustable bridge).

Forty eight years later she is still with me. A little worn and dinged up from playing in a few bars over the years, but even more sweet sounding than the day I bought her. Gibson has such a rich history and the Gibson J45-ADJ is kind of the odd duck of the family as it goes with Gibson due to the adjustable bridge.

Gibson J45 – A Brief History

With a 70-year history, the Gibson J45 is considered the benchmark for acoustic guitar design. Introduced in 1942 at a list price of $45, it replaced the inexpensive J35. The J45 became the standard for building dreadnought guitars for Gibson and remains essentially unchanged to this day.

Nicknamed the “Workhorse”, the Gibson J45 has more recording time and been a key instrument for live performances than virtually any acoustic guitar. World renowned for its full, balanced expression, warm bass and excellent projection, the J-45 is one of most technically advanced guitars of its time.

The Gibson J45 – ADJ was introduced in 1956 and was offered as an option to the fixed bridge. Many have the opinion the adjustable bridge of lesser quality than the fixed bridge and is detrimental to the sound quality. More of an opinion than fact based on my personal experience.

When Was My Guitar Built? – Gibson Serial Numbers

When I originally bought my Gibson J45-ADJ I wasn’t interested in when Gibson built my model. It wasn’t until years later when a friend and fellow Gibson lover asked me. I had no clue but to say “well I bought it in 1970 so it must be a 1970”.

Now we just had to find the answer, so we started our research. It should be easy right? Find the serial number, google Gibson, and BOOM there it is.

Not So Fast!

We learned early on identifying Gibson instruments by serial number is tricky at best, and downright impossible in some cases. I discovered a very helpful but incredibly boring publication called Gibson Acoustic Serialization published by Zachart R. Fjestad.

According to Mr. Fjestad, the best method of identifying when the guitar was manufactured is to use a combination of the serial number, the factory order number and any features that are particular to a specific time (i.e. logo design change, head stock volutes, etc).

Really? Sounds like finding Waldo.

I found my serial number located on the back of the head stock. You can barely read it, but it is 988233. One piece of the puzzle solved!

Where the heck is the Factory Order Number?

I searched all over inside and outside of my guitar but there were no factory order number or anything resembling a number to be found.

So I am screwed, right?

Thanks to Google I started to search for where to find the FON on a 1968 Gibson J45 – ADJ. I ran across an amazing website called Guitar Insight. They just happen to have a nifty searching tool that would easily find the year manufactured by entering the serial number.

Mystery Solved!

I entered my number and learned my guitar was built in 1968. My head stock does not say Made in USA so it was not built between 1970 – 1972. I also learned the range of the FON was between 503010 – 503109. Based on the FON range, only 100 Gibson J45 – ADJ guitars were built in 1968.

Hmmm, that’s interesting, only 100.

What Is My Guitar Worth Today?

Remember I bought the Gibson J45 – ADJ for $225 and we now know there are only 100 built in 1968. Turning to Google once again, I entered “1968 Gibson J45-ADJ” to see what might be out there for sale.

Oh my, the results opened my eyes.

eBay had several 1968 models with the prices ranging from $3,000 to $7,000. All had the adjustable bridge but the styles varied by finish and the pick guard covers looked nothing like mine so it was hard to compare to my guitar.

My model is a sunburst finish with a relatively small pick guard. Nothing offered on eBay matched my model.

At the end of the day, the value is largely determined on the condition of the guitar. At another site I found a Gibson J45-ADJ, sunburst finish, good condition, but not the same pick guard as mine. They were asking $1,899.

My guitar, as I mentioned earlier, has a lot of wear and tear over the years. To me, each mark or scratch has a story and surface blemishes certainly do not diminish the sound quality.

Since I am never selling mine, the value is more important to document for insurance purposes. God forbid if anything were to happen to it. The range I believe is a fair representation is between $1,800 and $2,500 or about 10 times greater than the original purchase price.

How Much Is A New Gibson J45?

Gibson discontinued my exact model with the adjustable bridge making it impossible to find a new Gibson with the same exact features. What I did find is Gibson irecently released a model called the Gibson Acoustic J-45 Vintage 2018 – Vintage Sunburst .

This model looks amazingly like my 1968 Gibson J45 – ADJ with its vintage sunburst finish, Adirondack spruce top, Mahogany back, sides, and neck, and Rosewood fingerboard.

It is stunningly beautiful and sells for a healthy $4,749.

Wrap Up

I really enjoyed sharing my instrument with you and I hope you found it interesting. Beside the Gibson J45 – ADJ, I own a Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Studio. I plan on reviewing that model in an upcoming post.

To Your Guitar Success!





Song Lyrics and Chords – Seaside Funk’s Top 4 Sites

You’ve been diligently practicing your guitar, getting the feel, building up callouses and NOW it’s time to pick your favorite song to learn.

Great, Congratulations, Lets’ do this!

I am going to show you how to find song lyrics and chords for literally any song you may want to learn. If you read my earlier post Learn How To Play Guitar Online – Master The Basics, I suggested you should learn a song you like, something simple, with 3 chords if possible.

I am going to share with you where to find your song lyrics and chords online for FREE!

Your music taste will somewhat dictate the best source for your songs. For example, you may be into country, blues, classic rock, or pop. No problem, we’ve got you covered.

Below are my top 4 sites I have used over the years with great success:

  1. Ultimate Guitar
  2. AZ Chords
  3. Chordie
  4. Cowboy Lyrics

Just to be on the up an up, I have no skin in the game with any of the top 4 presented. In other words, I receive no compensation for presenting their website in this blog post.

If you are just getting started, may I suggest visiting Beginner Guitar HQ. It is free and a great place to pick up all kinds of tips and techniques on guitar related subjects. Click on Meet The Team to learn more about the folks behind the scenes at Beginner Guitar HQ.

Common Thread

A common thread among the sites mentioned is the content (chords and lyrics) has been provided by an unpaid contributor. There a lot of folks that like to share a song they have learned. One word of caution, not all the contributions are 100% accurate. In fact, the contributor typically as for feedback and corrections.

It is typical to see the same contributor on multiple sites.

Remember its FREE and a majority of the time the accuracy is spot on. Who knows as you become proficient at figuring out songs, we may see your name as the contributor helping other players.

I think that would be cool.

Ultimate Guitar

As you can see from the picture above, there is a lot going on with Ultimate Guitar than chords and lyrics. It is a free site to join but it does offer a Pro feature if you are so inclined.

In the search bar at the top simply enter a song or the artist. Let’s input Take It Easy by the Eagles.

This illustration is just a small representation of the versions available for Take It Easy. Besides the Eagles, any artist that has recorded the song will show up.

Under Type, you have several options; Official, Pro, Chords, and Tab. We are interested in Chords. Pro and Official cost you money and Tab stands for tablature which is a subject all on its own but not now.

Notice the rankings for chords. I kind of like the one with 5 stars and 2,620 likes. Makes sense to always start with the highest rated version.

Now let’s take a look at the song detail.

There is a lot of great information to help you with the song. The difficulty for this version is novice so if you are new to guitar this may not be the version you would start. This song is pretty simple so I would go for it.

I like that it gives you the strumming patterns for the intro and verse/chorus with some notes from the author. Hover your mouse over a chord and it will display where to put your fingers, very nice.

Click Here To See The Complete Version Of Take It Easy On Ultimate Guitar

AZ Chords

AZ Chords is not nearly as sexy as Ultimate Guitar but it gets the job done.

You have a couple of options:

  1. Click on the 1st letter of the artist and you will get a listing of artists (use this option if you want to look for artists starting with E for example)
  2. Type in the name of the artist (Eagles in our example) and you will be taken to a list of Eagles songs. Much more efficient.

Unfortunately there is no option to simply type the song name.

Chose your option once you are on the Eagles page, click the link for Take It Easy (Tab), select the version, and check it out. Don’t be confused by (Tab), all the songs have the chords and lyrics included. The tablature follows the chords and lyrics.

So my observations are that it is somewhat similar to Ultimate Guitar except not as much information or options.

My beef with AZ Chords is they have links to “Learn how to play Take It Easy” or “Try these lessons to learn fast” that are misleading. The links are advertisements taking you to another site. It is not unique to AZ Chords.

I understand that AZ Chord’s source of revenue is advertising from those sites. Stay focused on the song and avoid the temptation to click and all is good.

Click Here To See The Complete Version Of Take It Easy On AZ Chords

At the end of the day, AZ Chords is a legitimate source to bookmark.


My first impression of Chordie is that the site is well-developed and pretty cool looking. It is very clean and easy to maneuver.

The menu is slightly different from Ultimate Guitar, pretty robust with some cool features.

Select Songs to easily browse songs from A-Z or choose Artists for a similar experience. They also provide a source for song books called Public Books which are e-books published buy individuals. MY Songbook is for you to collect your own library of favorite songs. Finally, they provide Resources and a Forum focused on many aspects of guitar instruction.

So reviewing the snippet, I like the presentation of the song with the 5 chords illustrated on the right.

Note the ability to transpose the song. If you are not familiar with the term, Transpose is the technical term to change the key of the song. The reason you may want to transpose a song is to make it easier to sing if the original version is out of your range.

Do you see Guitar Tuning? Chordie offers tuning for left-handed guitar, ukulele, and banjo.

Neither are relevant for this discussion but I am impressed Chordie included such options.

Click Here To See The Complete Version Of Take It Easy On Chordie

Cowboy Lyrics

Cowboy Lyrics is my sentimental favorite. If I search for a song with lyrics and chords, I hope Cowboy Lyrics has a version. The site’s focus is on country but not all songs available are pure country.

The menu is pretty straight forward to find the Artist/Band Name. Songs for the artist will be listed similar to the other sites.

So here we are at the Eagles. The options are lyrics only or chords and tabs. The chords and tabs will also have the lyrics.

Similar to the other sites we covered, the illustration above includes advertising links that take you away from the song.

Click Here To See The Complete Version Of Take It Easy On Cowboy Lyrics

Wrap Up

So there you have it, 4 sites to find chords and lyrics for the next song you want to learn.

I didn’t mention it earlier but another method is to use google and type “Take It Easy Chords and Lyrics”.

Most assuredly the 4 sites will pop up.

Don’t be surprised to see “YouTube” pop up on your search with several people offering to teach how to play Take It Easy. It certainly is another option to look into but my disclaimer is not all teachers are at the same level.

Thank you for your time please share this post with your friends.

To Your Guitar Success!



Acoustic Guitar Lessons For Beginners? – Definite Yes!

Guitar is SO COOL!!!

So many greats from Chuck Berry, George Harrison, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, and Tommy Emmanuel to John Mayer, and Jonny Lang. Why wouldn’t anyone want to learn how to play guitar for crying out loud. Once I caught the bug it was game over and I still feel the same today.

There is a ton to figure out. Should you take lessons online, YouTube, DVD, or buy computer software? Yes, but the most important decision is figuring out what style of guitar is best to learn on?

Well, for me, it was really easy, the only guitar in our house was an acoustic guitar my sister gave up on so it was handed down to me. It was a real sweetheart with thick gauge strings and the action so high it made you cry from the pain. But I loved it!

When Seaside Funk performs you would be surprised how often I am asked by budding guitarists or parents of kids eager to learn what type of guitar, acoustic or electric is better. Of course, it is a personal decision but if asked I always recommend acoustic guitar lessons for beginners, no question.

Are Acoustic Guitars Easier To Play?

Compared to an electric guitar, not usually. It depends on the type (nylon versus steel) and what your budget allows. For the record, nylon string or better known as classical guitars tend to be easier to play.

My only reservation with classical guitars is that, by design, they have a wider neck which can make it more difficult, especially for younger players, to reach all the strings comfortably.

My best advice is to visit Sweetwater, Guitar Center or a local music store and tell them you are new to guitar and what would they suggest.

To Help Get You Started, Below are 4 Quality Acoustic Guitars Under $500:

Seagull S6 Cedar Original $419.00


Yamaha FG830 $299.99

Martin D Jr. 2 – Natural $499.00

Takamine GY11ME – Natural Satin $359.99

TIP: Try before you buy and do your research to find the best deal.

Master The Acoustic Guitar And Electric Is A Breeze

I know I am prejudice when it comes to acoustic guitar, it is my go to instrument, always has been. Just for the record I own 5 guitars:

  • Gibson J45 Acoustic
  • Gibson Songwriter Acoustic/Electric
  • Godin Multiac Nylon string Acoustic/Electric
  • Fender Stratocaster Electric
  • Ibanez Roadmaster, Electric

It is all about your hands

I know from my own experience to be an accomplished guitarist, you must master the feel of the guitar. Sounds kind of Zen like right? Maybe so.

I would suggest you read interviews with great guitarists. Across the board, they will talk about the importance of your hands as the key to making great music with guitar.

Seamlessly Transfer Acoustic Skills To Electric Guitar

Mastering the techniques and sound with an acoustic guitar will transfer easily to an electric guitar. You won’t have to rely on the all the effects available to make a great sound.

With your acoustic skills you will be able to enhance your electric guitar by combining the various amp or pedal effects to blow away the crowd.

Lessons – Online, Face-To-Face, or Computer Software

When I started out there were no options other than go to the Music Store and pay for lessons. I grew up in a college town and the teachers were typically college students trying to make some extra money. My instructor was not terribly reliable and showed up less than half the time so I quit.

Basically, I learned on my own with my trusty Mel Bay book while listening to records. My best lessons were bugging my guitar playing friends.

Today there are so many options, it is really confusing. YouTube has been great to give a platform to teachers to reach a broader audience. The nice thing is you can bookmark the YouTube site and play whenever you want. The same is true of computer software based lessons.

Both online and software have their challenges

You may have to search a lot of YouTube videos before finding a true teacher. There are a lot of amateurs that can teach some really bad technique. The upside is YouTube is free.

Software costs money and if they do offer a try before you buy, the content is limited so you have to take the plunge if you really want to see if it will work for you. Like YouTube, you can learn at your own pace and if it is a really good program, you can slow down the songs which makes it easier to learn.

Tip: I am sold on JamPlay as the best source for online lessons. It doesn’t matter if you are just getting started with guitar or are interested in improving your skills, they have you covered.

By far the best way to learn and improve your playing is to play with others. It’s fun and stimulating to make music with friends. Start a band!

I benefited in my early days by becoming friends with a local working musician that loved to show me his tricks. He eventually went on to become a studio musician in New York City. My time with him accelerated my skills 1000%.

Wrap Up

I hope I have given you some insight on the options available to learn the guitar. The bottom line is to become proficient you have to really love it. Despite it simplicity, guitar is not an easy instrument to master. Once you build up callouses, playing gets easier.

I try to play every day and when I don’t I get anxious. I am still not where I would like to be especially when I go to see the greats. Pretty humbling to watch Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Phil Keaggy, or Tommy Emmanuel. No matter, I love the instrument and the escape it provides from the day to day stuff life can bring.

I would love to hear how it is going and please share my blog with your friends.

To Your Guitar Success!







Helping Veterans With PTSD – Guitars For Vets

Recently, Gina and I attended Tommy Emmanuel’s concert at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Tommy is such a great entertainer and amazing guitarist, see him if you get the opportunity.

During a break he was talking to us about helping veterans with PTSD and how he was involved with an organization called Guitar For Vets.

Tommy, by the way, is Australian so I was very impressed with his outreach for our Veterans. As soon as I got home I  googled Guitars For Vets and was blown away at number of sponsors and musicians involved.

I was inspired and could not wait to share this amazing organization that is taking the power of music to heal those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) with my friends.

Why Guitars For Vets?

PTSD is a well documented. We know that thousands of our war Veterans are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sad fact is more soldiers have committed suicide since the Vietnam War than have died in actual battle. Fortunately many are finding hope in a very unlikely place, behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar.

Music is well-known to be a healing power. Without music, I am not sure where I would be today. It has gotten me through many tough times. So the healing power of music to help soldiers cope makes so much sense.

In 2007 Guitar For Vets was formed to provide qualified veterans with guitars and a forum to learn how to play.

The idea stemmed from Patrick Nettesheim, a Milwaukee guitar instructor after being introduced to Vietnam-era Marine, Dan Van Buskirk. Dan suffers from PTDS and wanted to learn to play guitar but felt his condition would prevent him from succeeding.

Working with Patrick for a few months, Dan discovered his inner strength that helped him endure Vietnam was all he needed to play music. Both immediately saw the opportunity for self-expression and positive human interaction to help others. They decided to share their vision with Veterans at The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center and Guitar For Vets became a reality.

To-date Guitars For Vets has fulfilled over 25,000 lessons and distributed over 2,500 guitars for free to Military Veterans.

Meet The Ambassadors

The artists below unselfishly provide support to Guitars For Vets by sharing the word at their shows and/or websites. These fine musicians know the power music to help others in need and especially our honored veterans. Please honor these musicians by taking time to learn about them and support their music. They are most deserving.

Tommy Emmanuel

Dick Wagner

Earl Slick

Ron Keel

Jim McCarty

Billy Hallquist

Billy J Kramer

Joey Molland (Bad Finger)

Willy Porter


Ali Handal

Richard Kiser

Sonny Moorman

Local Chapters

Currently Guitar For Vets are represented by Chapters in 35 states. These special individuals are unselfishly donating their time to organize the lessons and arrange for the guitars.

If you think you might be interested in starting a chapter or becoming a volunteer, contact:

Bernie Kampf, Director of Chapter Operations

Guitar For Vets

P.O. Box 617, Milwaukee, WI 53201

(855) 448-4376


Over 50 companies are sponsoring Guitar For Vets and not all are from the Guitar world. Some names you might recognize include Gibson, Dunlop, D’Addario, G&L, Gretch, Les Paul Foundation, Taylor Guitars, and Yamaha. They are “all in” to support this worthy cause.

Check out the Guitar For Vets website to see the entire list.

Guitars For Vets also has a great assortment of apparel to wear proudly to show your support. To see the full offering click  here.

Many Vets Are Left Out – You Can Help

All G4V lessons and guitars are provided to the Veterans free of charge. You can imagine how many Vets could use the help. Demand exceeds the supply for the G4V program and they are not able to help every qualified applicant as funding is limited. Virtually all the proceeds go directly into programming and guitars.

Guitar For Vets is incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so your gifts are tax-deductible. A $200 contribution will send one Veteran through the G4V program and enable Guitar For Vets to continue sharing the healing power of music with deserving heroes across the country.

Thank You!

Thank you for taking your valuable time to learn about Guitar For Vets. It certainly has made a profound influence on Seaside Funk and opened our eyes to a channel we can get involved in to help these worthy Veterans.

Going forward we hope to influence our fans to donate to our tip jar to help a qualified veteran gain access to this worthy cause.

I welcome your comments, personal experience with Guitar For Vets, or other suggestions to help our veterans in need.






Learn How To Play Guitar Online – Master The Basics

I started learning how to play guitar over 50 years ago, way back before the internet. I know I’m the old guy trying to give advice, take it easy.

Anyway, now anyone can learn how to play guitar online. There are endless YouTube videos and web-based instructions available.

One thing I have noticed while researching guitar lessons online is the really boring but critical basics are overlooked many times. Unfortunately, I did not have lessons starting out and learned by observing others (and driving them crazy). I know now if I had a better understanding of the basics, I would have accelerated my playing exponentially.

So I want to give you an overview of those fundamentals that will pay off BIG TIME as you progress. All the discussion included will be based on standard tuning. Alternative tuning is a subject all it’s own.

  1. More Than Chords – The Importance Of Each String
  2. Tuning Without Electronics
  3. It’s All About Your Hands – All The Pro’s Get It
  4. Choose A Song You Know and Like

More Than Chords – The Importance Of Each String

The picture above shows the base notes of each string from the heavy #6 string to the light #1 string. Unfortunately, Every Good Boy Does Fine you learned in school doesn’t quite fit as an acronym to help you remember. I found a few examples on the web that might help but are pretty hokey:

  • Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually
  • Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
  • Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie

The E A D G B E are the root notes for each string. As you start to learn about chords or melodies, knowing the notes up the fretboard is going to be very helpful. Again, not too exciting but extremely valuable to understand. So Let’s take a look at this chart to understand what it all means.

Taking the “G” chord as an example. The notation picture shows numeric positions versus notes. The 3rd position is called the root note or “G” followed by the 2nd position “B” and 4th position of “G”. G, B, D, G, B, G are the sequence of notes from the low to high strings. If you were using a bar chord (more advanced), you would be on the third fret and the sequence would be G, D, G, B, D, G. Notice the same notes as the first position but in a different sequence to produce the same chord.

The basic chords every beginning guitar player learns are E, D, G, A, and C. Knowing those basic chords covers a lot of songs believe me. Knowing the inner notes of those chords will enable you to find variations of those chords on the guitar similar to the G chord example. This allows variation on the same thing when you play with others and it sounds cool too.

Tuning Without Electronics

OK, I love electronic tuners, what a great invention! BUT, it doesn’t hurt to know how to tune up without one or if, God forbid, the batteries die. Here is a tip, buy yourself an E Harmonica so you can off on the right foot. Blow on the first hole and match the sound to your guitar.

Alright, now we are cooking with gas!

Remember the strings from low to high are E A D G B E. For low E find the A note on the chart above. It will be on the 5th fret. Press it with your index finger and play it. Tune the A string (#5) by matching the sound. Move on to the next string and continue the process for Strings D and G. For the B string, depress the G-string at the 4th fret and match the sound. For the high E the B string on the 5th fret as you did for A-G.

It’s All About Your Hands – All The Pro’s Get It

One of my favorite and probably the world’s best fingerstyle guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel, said in an interview “give me any guitar and I will make it sing”. If you are not familiar with Tommy take a break and click here.

So much emphasis is on the what I will call the “chord hand” but the pro’s know that mastering “strumming hand” is what separates a good player from a great player.

I could write an entire blog post on the strumming hand techniques. Fingerpicking, how to use a pick, and muffling techniques all define your sound. The “chord hand” is important for sure. Proper arching of the fingers, how to change chords seamlessly, and techniques for applying pressure in time with the music to reduce fatigue are all important.

Choose A Song You Know and Like

Choosing a song you know and like is a great way to learn guitar quickly. Don’t start out by trying to play Bohemium Rhapsody or some other crazy difficult song. Chose a 3 chord song, master the chords and work on mirroring your strumming to that of the guitar player on the song.

Wrap Up

I hope this post opens your eyes to how important the basics for guitar are if you really want to become a “Rock Star”. I gave you several sources I trust to put in your toolbox.

I would love your feedback, comments on your progress, and, of course, any questions regarding anything about guitar playing. It is my passion and I love to talk guitar as much as I like playing the guitar.

To hear my guitar playing check out Seaside Funk featuring Bill Hammond on Sax at our video page. Bill is the star and I do all the heavy lifting backing him up on guitar and vocals :-).

To learn more about learning guitar visit How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar for more tips.

To Your Success!


Jason Isbell Review – The Nashville Sound

Thank you good friend Doug Green for introducing me to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Doug let me know Jason would be performing in my town and literally insisted I go. One of the BEST concerts ever!



I am excited to review Jason’s latest album The Nashville Sound, so good!

American Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist

  • Jason Isbell
  • Born: February 1, 1979, in Green Hill, AL
  • Genre: Pop/Rock
  • Styles: Alternative Country-Rock
  • Former Member: Drive-By Truckers

Jason grew up in rural l North Alabama. For the most part he was raised by his grandparents who lived on a farm down the road, next to the school that Isbell attended. When Jason was 6 years old his grandfather and uncle taught him to play various musical instruments starting with mandolin. His family would get together and play music every week.

Around 14 or 15 years old, Jason was playing in a garage band and country cover band with songwriter Chris Tompkins. At 16, they played at the Grand Old Opry.

In 2001, while working as a songwriter, he joined The Drive-By Truckers out of Athens, GA. Jason was instrumental in writing many of the songs for The Drive-By Truckers. After 6 years, he left the band to begin his solo career.

After touring doing 200 shows a year, Jason decided to take a break in 2010 and returned to Green Hill, AL. He released several works over the years. In 2015, his Something More Than Free album earned him a Grammy for Best American Album.

In 2017, with his new band Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, he released “Hope The High Road” as the first single from The Nashville Sound. The album also features his wife, Amanda Shires on violin. Amanda, besides having a successful solo career, is credited for touring with John Prine.

The Band

  • Jimbo Hart, bassist
  • Derry deBorja, keyboards
  • Chad Gamble, drummer
  • Sadler Vaden, guitarist
  • Amanda Shires, fiddle/harmony vocals

The 400 Unit is a powerful diverse group of top-notch musicians and have been essential to the successes of Jason’s last two albums and to him earning a Grammy for Best American Album. Interestingly, The 400 Unit is named after a Florence mental treatment facility.

The Songs – Jason Isbell Story Teller

Last of My Kind

A song about social change. People becoming self centered, not really caring about what is going on around them. Am I the last of my kind is more a statement about not conforming, still caring and willing to help others.

Cumberland Gap

Jason says “This song is about working class desperation, really. It was written as a tribute to the children of the coal mining regions.”


“Tupelo” is a song about the hope people can construct to escape their problems, no matter how false those hopes might be.

White Man’s World

This a powerful song with hard hitting lyrics that addresses the privileges and disadvantages baked into the American system along familiar lines of race, gender, class, and geography.

If We Were Vampires

The name doesn’t say it but this is a love song about wanting to be with Amanda forever. “But one day I’ll be gone or one day you’ll be gone” is the reality that it will not last. But, if we were vampires, we could be together for ever.


In an interview with Garden & Gun, Jason stresses the fact of his storytelling task, rather than an autobiographical one:

I’m not always the person speaking in the songs, keep that in mind. But there’s the kind of anxiety that gives you attacks, which I don’t have. And then there’s also the kind associated with neuroses, the constant summation and judgment of every situation you’re in and every reaction you have and analyzing yourself ad nauseam. I think that’s more my issue than anything else. I just worry too much.


This song is really about settling down, putting the wild days behind. Burned out like a Molotov references a past life of destructive behavior.

Chaos and Clothes

Jason Isbell is great friends with fellow songwriter Ryan Adams. Adams was one of the people who got Isbell back into rehab. On this song it’s Isbell offering Adams the support from the loss of a lover.

Hope To The High Road

If you follow Jason on Twitter or Facebook, you know he has some political thoughts. This song is inspired by his opinion of today s political scene.

Something To Love

Jason closes out The Nashville Sound with a song written to his daughter. He wants her to find her passion and pursue it. Good advice for any child don’t you think?

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed my review of The Nashville Sound. Jason Isbell is not mainstream but he has an incredible following of the most faithful fans on the planet. We never sat down at his concert and, except for me, everyone knew all the lyrics to every song. He is quite an entertainer, amazingly gifted guitarist, and his writing his second to none.

Please give this album your attention if you haven’t already. At the bottom of this page you can sample the songs from iTunes.

I welcome your comments and suggestions for future artists to review.







How Often Should You Change Acoustic Guitar Strings?

How often should your change acoustic guitar strings is an interesting topic. I get asked this frequently by my guitar playing friends who are just getting started.

There is no one single answer. I happen to play a lot of gigs so I change my acoustic strings often (for every gig actually). It is more important to know what signs to look for to decide to when to change out your strings.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on steel strings versus nylon.

Many factors impact how often your change your acoustic strings including:

  • The type of strings your use
  • Tone preferences
  • How often your play
  • The environment your play in
  • Your style of play

Strings Are Made of Steel

Kind of obvious but important to note that strings are made of steel. Dirt, oil, sweat coming from your fingers only accelerates string wear so, to the best of your ability, keep your hands as clean and dry as possible.

Deteriorating strings will:

  • Have a deadening sound tone
  • Tend to go out of tune frequently
  • Have discoloration near sound hole
  • Have a tendency to break easily (not good when performing)

Type of Strings You Use

There are seemingly infinite string manufacturers and they all produce high quality strings. My acoustic guitar strings are D’Adarrio phosphorus bronze light gauge. I really like their strings but what I am discussing here is the type, not the manufacturer.

Light Vs Medium Vs Heavy Gauge

How heavy the string is will impact the frequency of changing. Light gauge strings are easier to play but have a shorter life compared to heavier gauge strings. If your tend to really wail on the guitar, light gauge strings have a higher risk of breaking. Even if you aren’t a Rocker, light gauge strings will break down faster compared to heavier gauge strings.

Coated Vs Non-Coated

Most string companies offer coated acoustic guitar strings. Elixir claims to deliver warmth and sparkle together with extended tone life a longer string life using their product. My experience with Elixir is I don’t particularly like the feel of the strings and the sound is not as bright as non-coated D’Addario Phosphorus Bronze. As far as string life, for the price, I am not convinced that I changed strings less often because of a coated string.

My Source For Strings

My single source for strings and accessories is  Strings and Beyond . They are second to none for selection, great deals, free shipping, and superior service.

I usually get my order within 2-3 days.  If it makes a difference, I have been a customer for about 15 years.

A good tip is to note the date your changed strings. This will help you plan your string purchases so you don’t break the bank. I also suggest buying in sets of 10. It really brings down the cost.

Tone Preference

For me, there is nothing like a new set of strings to bring out the best in my acoustic guitar. I change my strings a day before my gig to give them a chance to stretch out. Changing right before a gig results in constantly having to check your tuning after each song.

That is my opinion.

Tommy Emmanuel changes his strings about an hour before show time. Hard to argue with one of the best finger style guitarist on the planet. Maybe having multiple guitars in the rack alleviates the tuning concern :-).

How Often You Play

By far the number one reason comes down to how often your play. Makes sense right? More exposure to dirt and grime and stress from your picks accelerate the deterioration. Washing your hands before your play will help but if your are doing a 3-hour gig, your strings are going to take a beating, trust me.

Environment – Cold, Hot, or Humid

The environment you play in will impact string life. Hot and humid conditions result in sweaty hands not to mention the strings stretching making it hard to stay in tune. Colder conditions also can be difficult as well The strings are rigid and can literally snap in a colder environment.

No matter what environment, keep your guitar in the case as much as possible with a humidifier in the sound hole. Besides getting longer string life, this is essential to avoid your guitar from drying out or warping depending on the environment.

Style of Play

Are your the next Pete Townsend on acoustic guitar? I played in an acoustic band where the rhythm guitarist broke a string (or two) every night. He played so freaking hard! I have never broken a string on stage (yet) because I tend to play with a light touch.

I play with a pick which does put more stress on strings near the sound hole. Finger style guitarist don’t usually worry about breaking a string but will increase string deterioration from the left and right-hand putting oils and sweat on the strings.

Thanks For Your Time

I appreciate your taking the time to read this post and I welcome your comments on your experience. Please leave your comments below.

To Your Guitar Success