Young Blues SingerCheck out Brendan McFarland!  The boy who shocked the guitar store owner with his incredible voice.  Very cool to hear someone of his age (or any age) singing with soul.

I know it makes me sound like an old fart but the music today just sucks beyond all understanding.  Sure there are pockets of brilliance but for the most part there’s nothing to cling to.  So inspiring to see this kid belt it out in style!

You can watch and listen to him HERE.


These guys to a pretty good job jammin’ the 12 bar blues.  It’s a lot of fun and beginner guitar players should learn how to to this and have some fun with it.  The chords involved here a B-E7-F#7 (I-IV-IV).  As far as soloing over this chord progression, your first approach should be to try the B Major Pentatonic.  The nice thing about this scale is that you can play it all over the different chords without ever changing.  Now over the course of the tune, it’ll start to get a little stale so you’ll want to mix in some other tricks.  I would add some B Minor Pentatonic at just the right spots.  It’s best to put on a backing track in a 12 bar blues pattern and practice, practice, practice!

If you really want to get jazzy with it ala Wes Montgomery…

Play the blues scale a fifth up from the root of every chord.

On B you play F# blues
On E (this could be E7 as well) you play B blues
On F#7 you play C# blues


For anyone trying to learn to play guitar the Homespun Instant Access program is absolutely great. I have used Homespun Tapes for many years and find them to be of the highest quality and very usable.

Once in a while I order materials from other companies in my never-ending quest to learn how to play guitar better. Some are quite good, others are just recycled materials that are really not that useful. Homespun Instant Access, however, is always a good choice.

Their catalog features primarily acoustic music, though there is a good section on electric guitar as well. This is due to the fact the Happy Traum and his wife are long-time folk music enthusiasts.

You can pick from many different genres: bluegrass, country blues, folk music, Hawaiian music, classical, rock and roll, rockabilly, flamenco and much more.

For a guitarist just starting out, Homespun Instant Access offers very basic instruction. In fact, if you have fingers, a guitar, and a desire to learn how to play guitar, you will find their courses very suitable.

For intermediate and advanced players, the selection is almost endless. Beware though, that the advanced is really advanced and made for somebody who is truly dedicated to mastering this amazing instrument.

The acoustic guitar is quite simple to play and yet exceedingly difficult. If you want to strum and play so you can sing along the guitar is quite easy to learn. Yet, if you want to flatpick like Tony Rice or fingerpick like Jerry Reed, well you have some years ahead of you!

Learn more about the Homespun Instant Access program.

Well, I’ve thought about it for awhile and I think I’m going to clean out some things I have laying around that I don’t use.  Turns out that I don’t use my Martin Backpacker much.  When I go camping I can take my full size acoustic so why bother with the Martin which is cool but just have that full sound.

I’m thinking it’ll be up on Ebay before the week is out.  I wonder if I should play it a little and record it on video to give people a sense for what it sounds like.  I have a Washburn 12 string that I don’t play either but I don’t have a clue how to ship something like that.  It has a funky machine head on it that probably should be fixed first.

Hey, here’s a thought!  I can also put that You Tube video up in the auction that shows it being played during that Christmas song  – “I wish it was Christmas Today” with Jimmy Falon and Horatio Sanz.

I was searching around the net this morning searching for some popular chord progressions.  Below are the ones I found.  Let me know if you have any more to add to the list.

I-II-iii-iv “Longer” Dan Fogelberg
I-vi-ii-V “Please Mr. Postman”
I-iii-vi-ii-V-I “Alices Restaurant” Arlo Guthrie

Minor Progressions
i–V–i–iv–i  “Black Magic Woman” Santana
i–bVI–iv–bVII–i  “Mr. Jones” Counting Crows
i-IV “Oye Como VA” Tito Puente
ii-V-I “Autumn Leaves” standard



1.C C/E F G C
2.C G/B F/A G C
3.C G/B Am F G G/B C
4.C G E/G# Am G/B C


2.C C/E Fm G C

I was surfing along this afternoon and came upon this article over at The Boston Globe.  He describes the vi-IV-I-V as the Sensative Female Chord progression…lol.  He’s absolutely on the money!  I won’t rewrite his article here so head on over there and check it out.  I like it in Am where it goes like Am F C G.  That’s the progression in Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”.  You know…”What if God was one of us…”

I was surfing around looking for common chord progressions that I can solo over using my RC-20 looper pedal.  I found a site that had an interesting chart that I’ll be “playing” with for a while.  The first picture below is the Major chord pattern flow.  You can start from anywhere on the chart, just pick a chord within the key your playing and then follow it from left to right.  When you get to a bracket, you need to choos whether you’re going to go with the upper chord or the lower.   Now when you’re done with the I chord and you get the the *.  The astericks means you can then go to any chord.  If you’re doing a repeating pattern you may likely go to where you started. 

Below is the Minor version of the above chart.  Note that it adds the VII chord and shows that the best way to get there is from the iv which means the minor iv chord (lower case is minor)

Let’s play with these for a minute and see what sort of progressions we can come up with.  Let’s start with the easiest which I think is the key of C Major which means we’ll be using the upper chart.  Lets pick E to start and see where this takes us…

Em (which is the iii) which means it really needs to be Em
Am (vi)
F (IV)  I chose the lower path in the brackets
G (V) (I chose this route rather than the diminished becuase I’m not so good at grabbing a diminshed chords…need to work on that)

You’ll have to grab your guitar and give this a quick play to see how it sounds.  I’ll grab my ukulele since it’s sitting here next me.

But that’s how it works folks.   Hmmm…before I go…what sort of scales can we play on this progression?  Sounds like a topic for another post in the near future!


I was playing around in LT Spice Model of the famous Fuzz Face pedal circuit.

The circuit is brilliant in its simplicity. The first transistor in the signal path is biased as a high gain amplifier that feeds the base of a second transitor which provides a voltage feedback to the base of the first transistor.   Note that the transistor model I used is suppose to be similar to those old germanium ones used back in the day.  I can’t really vouch for these models though.  I found them somewhere on a forum so the origin of the models are somewhat nebulous.

This is a pretty easy circuit to start with if you interested in putting together your own pedals.  You can built this circuit youself in a few minutes with some old parts you may have laying around.  If you don’t have these sort of parts laying around you will soon be able to buy them in the Electric Chili store.

Take a look at the output waveformbelow.  It almost looks like I just generated a square wave.  It has a solid pattern which is good musically.  We don’t want anything that’s a hot mess because it’ll sound like crap.

Check out the FFT below. The blue sinewave is the simulated input. You can see that the input isn’t modeled as a perfect sinewave but that’s OK. We’re unlikely to get a perfect sinewave out of guitar. In face, if we did, we would hate the sound. It would be pretty darn annoying.  The Blue wave is the output of the circuit.  You can see that it sustains many of the high frequency signals.  This makes sense because of the hard edges on the waveform.

The model is set up so we can see different pot settings can be evaluated at the same time.  Pretty slick eh?  Here’s a copy of the model itself so you can play around with it yourself.  Change the resistor and cap values and take a look at how it affects the output.  Throw a diode in a strange place to see how if affects the signal.   A tool like this is a great way to learn about how analog circuits work so if you haven’t downloaded LT SPice, you should Google and get it!

I’ve decided to take Electric Chili in a little different direction or maybe I should say little different focus. My intent at first was to provide information about guitars, gear, and learning how to play. I think I might have bit off a little more than I was willing to chew. The world of guitars is huge and who could possibly handle it all without a full time staff of writers. There’s just no way one guy can really pull off what I had in mind. Well, how do you really know unless you try right?

So here’s the background…after a little work on putting guitar effects pedals up in the store (and ebay), I starting doing a little research about what I was selling as well as doing some reviews. In my research I found several communities of guitar players that enjoy creating their own effects pedals. I never knew this interest even existed. As an working electrical engineer I find this to be absolutely fascinating and want to jump in with both feet! So that’s where I’m going! I want to develop some of my own pedals as well as offer platforms and parts for developing guitar pedals. That’s my new focus. I admit that I’m somewhat ADD in my interests and move around quite a bit so we’ll have to see what happens.

My first project is to develop an effects development box that incorporates a breadboard inside so that tinkering with different circuits is extremely simple. From there I would like to see what can be done with PICs in the way of modifying guitar audio signals. I’m having a good time just thinking about the possibilities!

Eric gives us a fine version of this Otis Rush classic from an abandoned documentary ‘Nothin’ But The Blues‘ by Martin Scorsese.

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