Need Help Memorizing a Piece of Music?

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How to Memorize a New Tune By Mark Hanson Of course, a time-honored method of learning a new tune is to read the available notation and/or tablature. But what brought you to the new tune in the first place? Likely, having heard it inspired you. Here is a a memorization suggestion, to go along with the “practice-one-hand-at-a-time” tip: Listen to the tune many times through before trying to play it. Eons ago, the way I learned Beatles and Byrds songs was to sit in front of the record player, listening to a tune over and over all the way through as I wrote down the […]

My Amplifier Settings

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My Amp Settings April, 2016 As I wrote recently, I am very happy with the current amplified sound I am getting. I use a Fishman Loudbox amp, running a Sunrise pickup through Channel 1 and a K&K Pure passive pickup through Channel 2. That stereo pickup system is mounted in both my mahogany Collings SJ and Indian rosewood Goodall CJ. The K&K has more output than either Sunrise I own, so the Channel 2 volume rheostat is lower than Channel 1. One Sunrise pickup has a slightly different output than the other, so I balance the two channels by ear. How […]

Practice One Hand at a Time!

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April, 2016 The following is a practice technique I have used for years with my students: practice one hand at a time. In my experience, as fingerstyle students learn a new tune, they often struggle moving the fretting-hand in time with the picking hand. Most often the rhythm suffers – the student slows down (or stops…) in order to include all of the notes. Consider taking a hint from the piano world: train your hands one at a time. The Notation/Tab seen above is taken from “Happy Together” from my recent book/CD Travis Pick the Hits! (See and hear the entire passage here.) Ex.1 requires no […]

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 […]

NAMM Wrap-Up 2016

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February, 2016 Greta and I attended the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center in mid-January, 2016. It was the usual cacophonous, end-all, music merchandise extravaganza, attended by 90,000 people per day over four days, right across the street from Disneyland. It’s quite a scene. All of the major music manufacturers have booths, displaying instruments of every persuasion (acoustic, electric, digital), publications, accessories, recording gear, electronic and computer gizmos, and much more. Attendees are music industry professionals: company reps and designers, demo artists, and a ton of retail store owners and employees scouring the […]

Meeting John Denver

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How John Denver Dealt with Traveling on a Commercial Flight with His Guitar (at least once!) by Mark Hanson The only time I met John Denver was in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport at Christmastime, 1971. I was at the gate (at that time, of course, we could meet travelers as they departed the plane) to greet my brother Eric, who was returning from New York. When he came off the plane, he suggested we wait a few minutes and we might be able to talk with the increasingly famous John Denver as he deplaned. When John emerged from the jetway, […]

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 […]