“Tri-Tone Substitutions” Made Easy!

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Understanding “Tri-tone Substitution” Note: This article references my bluesy rave-up fingerstyle arrangement of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” A video of me playing it in Santa Barbara in August, 2017, has been posted here on YouTube: The actual music starts at about 0:35. Perhaps you have come across the term “Tri-tone substitution” in your studies, and had a hard time understanding it. Here’s an easy way to understand tri-tone substitutions: Think of them simply as dominant-seventh chords resolving down a half step – F7, instead of B7, going to E, for example. Most of you use B7 to resolve […]

A Tribute to John Renbourn

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September, 2016 Greta and I were invited to a tribute gathering this month for English guitar hero John Renbourn. John died at the age of 70 at his home in Scotland in March of 2015. Unfortunately, we had to turn down the invitation to attend. This is the tribute I wrote to be read at the gathering: Tribute to John Renbourn My wife Greta Pedersen and I have known John ever since I recruited him as a guitar columnist for Frets magazine in the 1980s. We have many fond memories of John: from sharing the stage with him numerous times, to […]

Getting A Great Amplified Acoustic Guitar Sound

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Getting A Great Amplified Acoustic Guitar Sound I have always created the tone and balance of my acoustic guitar with my hands, rather than with equipment. For instance, I always record through good microphones. But these days when I play smaller gigs and can’t use microphones, I have come up with the best, most natural sound I’ve ever gotten out of pickups and an acoustic amp. It’s a stereo setup, using two pickups. My setup is: • Fishman Loudbox Artist two-channel amp • K&K Pure-Mini pickup • Sunrise magnetic pickup • stereo endpin jack • stereo guitar cable (stereo jack […]

The Passing of John Renbourn

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My longtime guitar hero and friend John Renbourn of Pentangle fame died in late March, 2015. He was 70. Starting in the ’60s, I was inspired by John’s great facility and deep sensitivity with the guitar. He and his picking partner Bert Jansch provided me with considerable inspiration and countless hours of lifting fingerpicking tunes off records. I still play many of the tunes I learned from them.

Mark Plays for the President of the United States!

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Greta and I are back from our sojourn to San Francisco. We flew there Thursday morning, October 15, 2009, to play at a reception/dinner for President Obama. The event took place at the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in downtown San Francisco. About 175 people attended. I played guitar solos for about two hours, the last 45 minutes of which the president was in the room greeting people in a receiving line. I made sure to play some tunes that were appropriate for him, including Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” (the Obamas are Stevie Wonder fans), the Beatles’ “Michelle” […]

Grammy Winners!

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Portland, Oregon, acoustic guitarists Mark Hanson and Doug Smith and ten other great players won a Grammy in February, 2005, in the Pop Instrumental Album category for their contributions to the Henry Mancini Pink Guitar CD. This is Mark’s firsthand account of the experience. To win a Grammy is a lifetime goal of everyone in the recording industry. For some of us older winners it is a validation of a lifetime of work. For some of the younger winners it is the excitement of striking a rich cultural vein at the right time. For all of us it is one […]