April Jam Camp: Electric Blues!

These jams are getting even jammier, and by that I mean we’re improvising more. A lot of jams are about getting together and playing songs, but to me, without the improv element, those aren’t really jams at all. I guess they’re song circles, and definitely a cool and enjoyable form of music-making, but…not really jams. Your mileage may vary, but I’m sticking to my definition.

At the Jam Favorites session in March, we turned a corner in this respect. We played The Weight and Wagon Wheel, two songs which are simple and so wide open that they really invite solos. After talking through how to get the groove and the chord changes tight, we went right around the circle, taking turns soloing, and it went GREAT. Everybody stepped up and went for it! At the end of the session, it was declared to be the Best One Yet.

Some changes were therefore in order. We’re plugging in this time, and we’re playing blues songs. Another important element in a successful jam is the notion of finding common ground between all the players, and I don’t know a better way to do that than playing blues. There’s room for everybody to contribute in any way they can. What could be better?

We’re meeting on Saturday, April 26. The morning session is full, and there is only one slot left at the 4PM session. Dust My Broom, The Thrill Is Gone, and Sittin’ On Top Of The World (done Wolf’s way) are on the menu. General info is here on the site. Someone’s going to grab that last slot, so don’t wait around. It’s time to play!

Tele-Building Classes: Questions Answered

Tele Trio 1

Tele Trio 2

Tele Trio 3
I’m very happy to say that the guitars we built in the first Tele course have attracted a good deal of interest. You have to take my word for it about the great sound, at least until I can get some clips up. But everyone can see they look beautiful. We’re not into doing this halfway!

So, from the mailbox:

Q: Can I bring my own neck and body from XYZ vendor?
A: Better check with me first and in many cases, I have to say no. Proper fit of the neck to the body is critical, and a mismatch can’t be easily fixed, if at all. With the AllParts necks and Clearfork’s bodies, that issue doesn’t even come up. If you were to order both the body and neck from the same vendor (Warmoth or USACG), then we’d probably be OK. Going that way is a lot more expensive, though.

Q: Will my guitar keep up with the commercially-made guitars I’ve bought before?
A: Absolutely, and the combination of the thin finish and carefully selected and assembled parts will give you a sound you can’t get from a guitar with a thicker finish. Choosing your own parts (I provide recommendations here) will mean you don’t need to mod it later, because you can get it right the first time. Of course, down the line you can swap out parts and pickups all you like.

Q: I’d like a sparkle/metalflake/bass boat finish with binding on everything! Can I get that?
A: Sorry, no can do. I recommend and offer a very thin finish, carefully applied and rubbed out, because it both sounds and looks great. If your body or neck comes with binding installed, we can work with that. But options like fancy custom finishes and the like are available from the $4,000-and-up builders. We’re all about getting a great guitar that you really helped to build for a total cost of $1,200 to maybe $1,500.

More to follow!

March Jam Camp: Jam Favorites

Jam campers!Some real must-know songs this time! We’ll work up the Band’s classic “The Weight” and get the timing right at the end of the chorus, because people generally don’t. We’ll play “Wagon Wheel”, the best new/old-sounding song to come down the pike in awhile, and really easy to play. And we’ll do “The Sounds of Silence”, both with and without capos. I’ll also show you how to navigate the 2/4 bars that tend to get people sideways. This is an extra-good lineup, I think.

We will meet Sunday, March 23, in the music studios at West Chester Music. The earlier session (at 1:30) is already sold out (thanks, guys!) but there is still space in the 3:15 session. Don’t hesitate if you want to be part of it, since spots are already going fast.

Song sheets are supplied to everyone who signs up, and it’s important to prepare so you can concentrate on blending with the group. I charge $25 a head, since it’s really a coached group lesson. You get the sheets and over an hour of coaching and playing in a small circle (only four people besides me).

You need some some skills to go out and and have fun in a jam, and that’s what this is all about. Please join us. Contact me though the site or at jayscottguitar@gmail.com. Thanks for your support!

Jam Camp 2014 Starts in February With The Beatles!

After taking a month off to get my Telecaster building course together and launched, I’m getting Jam Camp back on track with the Beatles. We’ll work up I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night (with the opening chord played correctly!), and Ticket To Ride.

If you’ve played these tunes before, you know they work great and are fun to hear even when they aren’t done note-for-note. For anyone who cares to dig further, they’re full of little details and parts that really make a difference. Every song is a complete seminar in writing and arranging. Can’t beat that.

We’ll meet on Saturday this time, either the 15th or 22nd (watch this space) at 3:15. Sessions always run about 75 minutes. I’ll run two sessions if there’s enough interest. Song sheets are done. Since this is really a small class (I call it a coached jam), there is a charge of $25 a head. Enrollment is limited to 4 or 5 players per jam.

Full details are on the website under the “Jam Camp” heading. Don’t hesitate to get in touch at jayscottguitar@gmail.com if you have questions. You can also use the site’s contact form. Hope to see you there!

Jam Camps For 2013 Will Finish Up In December With “One-Hit Wonders, Part 1″

The one-hit wonders vein is a deep one, and offers a nearly endless supply of jam-worthy gems. This time we’ll be working out Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime”, “Stuck In The Middle With You” from Stealers Wheel, and Tommy Tutone’s immortal “867-5309/Jenny”. They’re in your head whether you want them there or not!

Sessions will be held on either the 8th or 15th (both Sundays), and I will post the actual date here once sign-ups start coming in. As always, song sheets are provided to help with learning the tunes, and we will meet at the West Chester Music studios. These jams are acoustic only, so we don’t annoy the neighbors too much. More to follow…

Jam Camp Rolls Into Winter With Bob Dylan

Our next sessions will be held Sunday, November 17, at the West Chester Music teaching studio. We’ll meet at 1:30 and 3:30, and will be playing through three or four Dylan tunes this time. Song sheets are done and will be sent as PDFs to those who sign up.

Total enrollment is limited to eight players, four per session. The sessions last about 75 minutes, are acoustic only, and cost $25 per person. This is not an open jam session! It’s really a coached group lesson, designed to help you build the skills you’ll need to play easily and enjoyably with other people.
We stress thorough song preparation, active listening, and being able to adapt to the group you are playing with. Short version: it’s way more fun when you know what you’re doing, and my jam camps will help get you there. Join us!

Contact me anytime through the site, or at jayscottguitar@gmail.com. Thanks!

Time for Fall Jam Camp!

Jam campers!After all of our successful summer sessions, we’re moving into the fall with the first camp scheduled for Sunday, September 22. Sessions will be at 1:30 and 3:30. I’ve put together a ’70s roundup this time, and we’ll do Amie, Mr. Bojangles, and Sister Golden Hair. If you are interested, please e-mail me at JayScottGuitar@gmail.com.

My fee per player is $25. This is really a coached jam and group lesson, and not just an unstructured jam. The emphasis is on sharpening your playing skills in a group setting. Everyone gets the three assigned songs together, using the song sheets I provide ahead of time, and comes in to camp ready to play through them. It’s NOT a band practice, though, so we don’t care about all the licks and details. All the players get to contribute in any way that’s comfortable, and no one should feel pressured to deliver a perfect performance.

We had a lot of fun at jam camp this summer! I’m hoping to see a lot of returning jammers, as well as some new faces. Don’t be left out! See you on the 22nd.

The First Sessions of Jam Camp Are History!

These guys rocked it. Tight rhythm and some very nice solos. Great job!

These guys rocked it. Tight rhythm and some very nice solos. Great job!

Thanks to all the jammers who came out today! Everyone was well-prepared and way up for some playing. I am proud of you all! This unit was based on three Beatles songs, and I used one of them as a surprise exercise in rhythm thinking. Mostly we focused on timing, tone, and dynamics, as well as how to get ready to play in a group. I saw a lot of poise, courage, and good humor today, and I probably had more fun than anyone!

Next up is a Rolling Stones unit on Sunday, July 14. The early meeting at 1:30 is sold out but there are a couple of spots still available at 3:30. Don’t wait around! I think this is going to get kinda popular as word gets out, so let me know if you want to be part of it.

We’ll meet again on 7/21 for a Neil Young program, and then on 7/28 for some classic Tom Petty. Sessions run about an hour and a quarter and cost $20 a head. See you there!