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anela51
Aloha

10 Posts

Posted - 04/21/2017 :  2:37:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aloha,

I am hoping to buy my first guitar to begin learning slack key, and I was hoping for advice on what to look for, especially for the best guitar to buy for a lower-budget purchase. It's not that I don't want to spend a lot of money, it's just that I'm not sure I will be coordinated enough to learn slack key's fingerpicking style at my age, and can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars if I can't get my fingers to behave.

I've been reading the boards a bit, and see that I need to keep in mind things like string buzzing and string gage, neck width, and string action (high-action, etc., although I'm not even sure what that means). Any other newbie tips?

Mahalo!
Anela

Fran Guidry
Ha`aha`a

USA
1505 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2017 :  08:43:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit Fran Guidry's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Each of us likely has a different idea of the ideal neck width and body shape and size, I'm afraid. I like wide string spacing at both ends of the guitar - 1 3/4" nut width and at least 2 1/4" string spacing at the saddle. And I like small bodied guitars because they work well with my large bodied body.

Action is basically the distance from the strings to the frets. High action, a large spacing between string and fret, takes more effort to press down and makes proper intonation (note accuracy) less likely. Very small differences can make a big difference in feel. Action that is too low leads to string buzz and poor tone.

Fran

E ho`okani pila kakou ma Kaleponi
Slack Key Guitar in California - www.kaleponi.com
Slack Key on YouTube
Homebrewed Music Blog
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anela51
Aloha

10 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2017 :  09:53:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the explanation, Fran. I was in the guitar store today and met a slack key player (not Hawaiian slack key, though), and he said one of the guitars I was looking at (Yamaha 830--don't remember if it was FG or FS) had high action, and I could hear it in the brightness of the sound. I liked the sound of the Yamaha FG800 Folk Acoustic SM Body better because it was more mellow and it was a smaller guitar--the regular sized dreadnaught I felt was too big for me. The strings were closer together on the smaller guitar though, but I didn't think to measure the instrument. I hope to test one out again later next week, when I shop around at a couple of other stores to 'try on' other guitars.

But thanks for the advice!

Anela

quote:
Originally posted by Fran Guidry

Each of us likely has a different idea of the ideal neck width and body shape and size, I'm afraid. I like wide string spacing at both ends of the guitar - 1 3/4" nut width and at least 2 1/4" string spacing at the saddle. And I like small bodied guitars because they work well with my large bodied body.

Action is basically the distance from the strings to the frets. High action, a large spacing between string and fret, takes more effort to press down and makes proper intonation (note accuracy) less likely. Very small differences can make a big difference in feel. Action that is too low leads to string buzz and poor tone.

Fran

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sirduke58
`Olu`olu

USA
993 Posts

Posted - 04/22/2017 :  2:30:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aloha Anela

I echo the great advice from Fran. You may also want to consider a nylon stringed guitar. Nylon will be much less stressful on your fretting hand. Less squeezing tension to get a clean note. Doesn't hurt as much as steel strings therefore, you may practice longer & progress faster. Drawback is the width of the neck which might make it a little more difficult to fret assuming women usually have smaller hands.

As for buying your first guitar, don't rule out pawn shops or even Craig's Lists. You can surely get more bang for your buck that way. You could shop around music shops to get an idea of what you fancy then check Craig's Lists or pawn shops for the same brand & model guitars and probably save a lot on the purchase price.

Another good reason to buy a used guitar is that it's already broken in. A guitar's tone matures the more it's played. It tends to get more mellow & warmer the more it's played.......Good luck in your search for your first guitar.
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Earl
Lokahi

USA
393 Posts

Posted - 04/23/2017 :  4:48:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Welcome Anela51. There is much good to be said of the Yamaha FS800 and FS830. The FS folk body is a little smaller than the FG dreadnought body, and may fit you better. You might also look at the Seagull / Art & Lutherie / Simon & Patrick / Norman family of guitars, especially the smaller body sizes. While that is a lot of names, they are all made by the same parent company (Godin) and each "brand" is targeted at different price points.

Action or set-up is important, but don't fret too much right now about specs for neck width, string spacing at the bridge, and similar factors. You don't (yet) know what you don't know, or what will ultimately be comfortable for your hands. Try everything you can in stores, even if you have to bring a friend along to play for you.

The nice thing about slack-key is that you use open tunings, typically starting with Open G or "taropatch tuning". That requires fewer fingers and easier reaches to make a chord shape (most of the time).

It is always best to find a teacher if you can. If you cannot, the Ozzie Kotani DVD's Volume 1 and Volume 2 and his book are the best way to get started. www.ozziekotani.com I also highly recommend Keoki Kahumoku's Beginning Slack Key DVD at www.thegtw.com. It is by far the best beginner level instructional video I've ever seen. Most "beginner" videos remain at the beginner level for about the first five minutes and then jump into intermediate territory far too quickly. Keoki is a patient, thorough teacher. He also has a Volume 2 for slack key.

Edited by - Earl on 04/23/2017 4:51:21 PM
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anela51
Aloha

10 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2017 :  12:34:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Earl!

Other than the Seagulls which, unfortunately, are out of my price range, I've not looked at the other brands you mentioned, but I definitely will. The whole neck-width thing has me in a bit of a quandary, since all of the guitars in my price range have the 1.6875 nut width. I printed out diagrams of the major chords for taropatch, and will test my finger spacing with them when I hit the instrument stores again later in the week (that work thing kinda gets in the way of guitar shopping...)

I already have Ozzie's book, and am planning to order his Vol. 1 DVD as well as Keoki Kahumoku's Beginning Slack Key DVD very soon, and I've been scouring the internet for instructional videos and like both Harry's and Mark's. I haven't checked out Keola Beamer's beginner videos yet, but plan to. And thanks for the tip about Keoki's Vol. 2 being for beginners, too. That's a major help!

The one thing I know I'll need lots of exercises for is the fingerstyle, since my right-hand coordination will need A LOT of work. Any recommendations?

Mahalo!
Anela


quote:
Originally posted by Earl

Welcome Anela51. There is much good to be said of the Yamaha FS800 and FS830. The FS folk body is a little smaller than the FG dreadnought body, and may fit you better. You might also look at the Seagull / Art & Lutherie / Simon & Patrick / Norman family of guitars, especially the smaller body sizes. While that is a lot of names, they are all made by the same parent company (Godin) and each "brand" is targeted at different price points.

Action or set-up is important, but don't fret too much right now about specs for neck width, string spacing at the bridge, and similar factors. You don't (yet) know what you don't know, or what will ultimately be comfortable for your hands. Try everything you can in stores, even if you have to bring a friend along to play for you.

The nice thing about slack-key is that you use open tunings, typically starting with Open G or "taropatch tuning". That requires fewer fingers and easier reaches to make a chord shape (most of the time).

It is always best to find a teacher if you can. If you cannot, the Ozzie Kotani DVD's Volume 1 and Volume 2 and his book are the best way to get started. www.ozziekotani.com I also highly recommend Keoki Kahumoku's Beginning Slack Key DVD at www.thegtw.com. It is by far the best beginner level instructional video I've ever seen. Most "beginner" videos remain at the beginner level for about the first five minutes and then jump into intermediate territory far too quickly. Keoki is a patient, thorough teacher. He also has a Volume 2 for slack key.

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Earl
Lokahi

USA
393 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2017 :  04:22:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I just sent you an email, Anela. When you respond, I have a couple of PDF's to send.

The Keoki Kahumoku DVD #1 does a good job with basic finger picking drills within the slack-key context and taropatch tuning. The essence is to keep the alternating bass going, while adding and dropping individual melody notes, all the whiel keeping that bass going.

I also recommend "Easy Steps to Guitar Fingerpicking" by Happy Traum at:
www.homespun.com/shop/product/easy-steps-to-guitar-fingerpicking-three-dvd-set/

The exercises I will email to you are taken from Happy's video, especially Volume #1. The Ozzie videos will also help you through basic finger picking.

1-11/16" or 1.69" is a pretty standard neck width. The other most common size is 1-3/4". I learned finger picking on a 1.69" neck and did so for 15+ years just fine. But I have switched over to 1.75" almost exclusively these days. Either one will work, and depends more on your hand size, shape and flexibility than anything else.
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Earl
Lokahi

USA
393 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2017 :  04:30:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit Earl's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I checked the Guitar Workshop web site (www.thegtw.com) that I had mentioned before, and it seems to be on the fritz. But you can also order the Keoki DVD lessons through this web site:
https://www.casextreme.com/product.php?id=108

Bruce Lamb makes the Case Extreme clam shell and also has these bery good instructional videos he has been producing for years. (I have almost all of the titles). Maybe he just combined the two web sites.
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anela51
Aloha

10 Posts

Posted - 04/24/2017 :  12:45:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Earl,

I just sent you that email. Many thanks for your help!

Anela

quote:
Originally posted by Earl

I just sent you an email, Anela. When you respond, I have a couple of PDF's to send.

The Keoki Kahumoku DVD #1 does a good job with basic finger picking drills within the slack-key context and taropatch tuning. The essence is to keep the alternating bass going, while adding and dropping individual melody notes, all the whiel keeping that bass going.

I also recommend "Easy Steps to Guitar Fingerpicking" by Happy Traum at:
www.homespun.com/shop/product/easy-steps-to-guitar-fingerpicking-three-dvd-set/

The exercises I will email to you are taken from Happy's video, especially Volume #1. The Ozzie videos will also help you through basic finger picking.

1-11/16" or 1.69" is a pretty standard neck width. The other most common size is 1-3/4". I learned finger picking on a 1.69" neck and did so for 15+ years just fine. But I have switched over to 1.75" almost exclusively these days. Either one will work, and depends more on your hand size, shape and flexibility than anything else.

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