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The Campy Forum

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A New Journey
  • Thank you for this web site Jim. I have taken lessons in person, through the on line video sites, DVD’s and through my own study through TAB books. This is by far superior to anything I have done in the past. I discovered your music through Guitar Player Magazine which led me to the Fender Princeton video. After that I was hooked. I was a weekend warrior playing pop country and some classic rock. Basically three major chords with the occasional minor chord. I played this music but never really “listened” to it. I always listened to stuff like Danny Gatton, Arlen Roth, The Hellecasters, Albert Lee, Vince Gill, and now you. I always felt like the country-jazz style of playing was out of my reach until I started taking your lessons. After finding my band a replacement guitar player, I parted ways with them and now I am focusing on your lessons almost every day. I had never really played 13th chords or could do cascade riffs until now. Sometimes I don’t understand the theory part of what you are saying but I think it will come with time. I just concentrate on learning the chords and riffs and to be able to play along with the rhythm. I use a Boss Looper in my practice. I have read through this forum and the lesson index and have taken these lessons in this order. Playin the Blues, Playin the Blues Nailin the Changes, B# Blues, Country Lead in G, and Travis Picking. All great lessons. I want to tackle F Jazz but want to do a song or two first, maybe Chet Song or Panhandle Rag. I have read that it takes a little time before what you “practice” actually shows up in your “playing”. My goal is to immerse myself in your lessons and music and to become that country/jazz/rockabilly guitar player I always wanted to be. By the way, I traded/sold some equipment and now have a Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue. I play a Fender Squire 50’s vibe Tele that ain’t too shabby.
    I want to end this with a couple of questions for you or the other Forum members:

    How often do you change speakers/tubes?

    What advice do you have for those of us from out of town that would like to come hear you live?
  • Thanks for your great letter Telebilly... maybe CJ can help here?

    Speakers, I change when they blow or when they start sounding sloppy ... Tubes every 6 to 12 months...

    Out of town gig requests... Although we appreciate the requests, keep in mind- gas, equipment rentals, hotel rooms, flights, overage fees, tolls etc etc etc are incredibly expensive and we need an "anchor date" that can help initiate and pay for the tour. Thanks for asking, we'd play everywhere if possible!
  • Thanks for the reply Jim. CJ recommended and I picked up a copy of "The Guitar Handbook" in another post.
  • Hi Telebilly, sounds like you are making really great progress on your playing. I really like the progression of lessons that you have chosen by the way. It is very similar to the path that I have gone on during my Campilongo "guitar renaissance." I had actually started with the Travis Picking lesson a little over a year ago. It was my first introduction into fingerpicking and the lesson that has most profoundly impacted my playing over the course of this last year's musical growth. I throw in fingerpicking into my lead and rhythm playing at unexpected times to give a unique flavor to the cover tunes that my band has been playing. It took me awhile before I could "implement" the lesson in an improvisation setting but in due time it has become a second nature kind of thing. I mention this to address your concern regarding how long it takes for the lesson to "show up" in your playing. I have to admit that many of the Campy lessons that I have taken don't always have a direct application to the types of songs that my band has been playing. HOWEVER, I feel that I walk away from each Campy lesson an overall better player. Rest assured, some of the more difficult and exotic things that you learn will start to come out when least expected. For me at least, not all of it was within the first week of the lesson, or even the first few months. However, the overall confidence that I have gained from playing the various lessons, especially all the Blues lessons, B flat blues, nailing the changes, and Twister (to name a few) has been absolutely priceless and much more beneficial than the hours of DVDs, billions of Guitar Player magazines and even mediocre live lessons that I have had over the years. But I am guessing that you know all of this by now! That being said, I highly recommend that you continue at the pace you are going - picking up new lessons when you crave them and digging in with reckless abandon for as long as you are feeling that drive. Eventually you should try to jam with some other people or at least record backing tracks for yourself to see how much you can come up with on the fly. Country lead in G, by the way, is one awesome lesson to incorporate into a live jam. You can get a lot of mileage just from the first two solos alone. Sorry to be so long winded but you really have me excited thinking about the fun of this journey. As far as a next lesson, F jazz is a bit tricky but well worth the effort. That one took me awhile to digest, but when I finally got it down it was an amazing feeling. That being said, you may want to pick off a few tunes before you get there. Panhandle Rag is a very satisfying lesson. You get to learn a cool tune and then a bunch of great sounding pedal steel riffs and jazz/blues runs that range from easy to...well...pretty darn challenging. And, that is another thing that I loved about this lesson. It appeals to players of all levels. Its a lesson that gives immediate satisfaction, yet a lesson to go back to over and over. Along the same lines, you may want to check out Chet Song a/k/a Mainstreet Breakdown. This lesson will give you insight into a VERY DOABLE Chet Atkins tune. Its a snap to play the basic version as Jim breaks it down into easily digestible chunks. Then, Jim gives you a few years worth of improvisation ideas that you can work with at your own speed. Yet another great lesson (not a song) that you may find beneficial is the Freddie Green rhythm style lesson. I think that you would really enjoy adding some new chords and rhythms to your already growing arsenal of blues and country tricks. Freddie Green is another one of those lessons that increases in difficulty as you get into it. For me a lot of the chord forms were brand new but not hard to learn. And, the immediate applicability of the lesson cannot be overstated. The first afternoon I spent with this lesson, my girlfriend made up some lyrics and a melody to go along with my seemingly new found jazz skills. As a side note, I have always been a pretty straightforward rock guy (Stones, Ramones, Clash, CCR). Regardless, the Campy lessons have catapulted me into lots of new territory. My last recommendation is Over the Rainbow. If you have not yet tried a chord melody, you are missing out! This was my first chord melody and a lesson that I have gotten countless hours of enjoyment from. You will learn a whole bunch of new chords while learning a timeless melody. This is still my favorite warm up tune. Anyway, I hope that this post helped and didn't make the choices more difficult! Thanks for your post and thanks for inspiring me to go practice. Let me know what you decide on and Happy Playing!
  • Hi Telebilly,

    I 100% agree with CJG comment!! For years I feel stuck in my guitar playing. I try guitar pro tab, a lot of books, DVDs, etc. Looking for a Fender Princeton review in youtube I see for first time a video of a guitarist named Jim Campilongo:
    WOW!!! Then the records and the lessons. After a year I have learn a lot stuff, changed my relation with the instrument, every day is a progress (NO STUCK!!)..............

    My recomendations.....mmmm...... 1).- All Blues: clear and usefull lesson (chord melody, blues, modes, arpeggios). You can play your own version of this inmortal Miles standard!!
    2).- Stardust: Chord melody is a incredible world to explore with Jim. Personally I love this song and the arregment is beatiful.
    3.) Another recomendation is to elaborate a daily routine in concordation with your time posibilities.

    Ok.....one more time sorry for my english (I am Chilean).
    Adios.
    JIG
  • CJG/JIG,

    Thank you so much for the replies! I have been reading your posts for several weeks now and feel like I know you guys. Jim is by far my favorite guitar player now and in addition to the lessons I am adding his music to my collection. You know, the Guitar DVD's are fun to watch, but looking at the screen it is sometimes hard to figure out what they are doing because the guitar is backward and upside down! If I am at a jam/gig and someone wants to show me a lick, I have to see it from their perspective, standing alongside them. Another thing, my wife tells me all the time that I am not a visual person, because I can never find anything. And I believe that Jim has said that is why he does audio lessons, because to learn music is to hear it.

    Anyway, I am trying to get that last lick in Country Lead in G down pat, the steel guitar lick. The part toward the end where you use the pinky on the little E and B string, and you push up with the ring finger is very challenging. I have played that lick but not like that. But I have made a commitment to learn it that way because as Jim says, "You will be glad you did"!


  • ...you will be INCREDIBLY glad!
  • These are 3 things to consider if you are looking for guitar lessons. IMO these are the best lessons you can find.
    1. Jim Campilongo has the heart of a teacher. He has an uncanny way of knowing what questions you are going to ask.
    2. The lessons are portable. In less than 5 minutes from buying the lesson, I can download, transfer to IPOD, and print the PDF file.
    3. Jazz, Country, Blues, Standards. Its all here. The only problem is deciding which lesson to purchase next!
  • Hi Telebilly, how are the lessons coming along? I have been working on Backburner and going back to some of my older lessons (Freddie Green and Arpeggios) for a "refresher" and was wondering how you were doing on a your new journey. Any new lessons since Country Lead in G? Hope all is well and happy playing!
  • Hey CJ, I have ordered Travis 101, Blackbird, and now working on Chet Song. This lesson blew me away. It is worth the price just to hear Jim play like that. I have the A and B part down, but not up to his speed. I am learning about using thirds and sixths and playing the major scale in ascending and descending 3rds. I had never done that before. I also am trying to incorporate Jim's practice schedule, the "b'fast, lunch, dinner thing". It is a little overwhelming but very worthwhile. Carl Verheyen once said something like when we improvise, we are doing it around a framework and that a certain amount of it should already be thought out. I think I agree with that because so many times in the past someone will say, "play that again, dude, that sounded good", but I could not, because I was not sure what I played. Anyway Chet song will keep me busy for awhile but I am thinking about something easier to digest. I like having a challenging lesson and also something else a little easier.

    What are your thoughts on Mystery Train? I want something to followup with the Travis lesson. Do you know anything about the Sleepwalk lesson? One of my favorite songs. I may order Buckaroo soon, that song has always kicked my rear end!

    Thanks for all your advice. You have really got me interested in Chet Atkins and you turned me on to Freddie Green. Good luck with Backburner, I love that song.


  • Hi Telebilly,

    It's remarkable how "easy" Chet Song is to play, but the part where Jim starts talking about thirds, and sixths and how to apply them to improvisation is really what makes the lesson so great. There's lots of joy to be had as we gain insight into the guitar, and Jim's approach to teaching is so user friendly. I'm glad you're enjoying the lesson!

    I purchased "Sleepwalk" concepts, and can say it's a real "meaty" lesson. Jim shows you tons of different ways to approach the classic melody, and follows his examples with tidbits of theory for those who want to go to the next level. For me it's made me want to learn more, and study/practice harder. Keep in mind it's more than "this finger goes there, then you bend...etc". Sometimes it's fun to go on autopilot and simply learn a song. This lesson doesn't serve that purpose. Have fun!
  • Hi Telebilly,

    First, NerdDiamond is absolutely right about "Sleepwalk" - this is a great lick filled lesson, complete with steel guitar bends and multiple takes on each phrase of a classic song. A great song and a very comprehensive lesson that will keep you busy for awhile.

    Also, I would have say that I HIGHLY recommend "Mystery Train" as a great follow up to Travis 101. Jim does a really fantastic job of breaking down each fingerpicking pattern in the tune. Its presented in a very clear and concise manner. And, to my surprise, it was really easy to to get the patterns down in a short amount of time. I may be biased tho because "Mystery Train" is one of my all time fave tunes. Its a great lesson to to take your fingerpicking to the next level in a true rockabilly context. The solo (which incorporates fingerpicking as well!) is a blast to play once you get it down. Also a great lesson if you are looking for another tune to throw into your repertoire. Turn up the reverb on this one and let the fun begin:)

    Another one that you may want to consider (although I would probably tackle Mystery Train first) is "Twister." Twister incorporates some fingerpicking and will give you some great insight into Jerry Reed style playing. And talk about getting a few dozen new licks under your belt - look no further. Twister isn't quite as hard as it sounds. And even at a slower tempo Twister is a lot of fun to play. I wrote about this on a few other posts as well and always recommend this to anyone who wants to pick up a Jim song but not sure where to start.

    Let me know how it goes and what you decide on. Sounds like you are making killer progress and just reading your post(s) really inspires me to dig back into my lessons. Keep up the great work!
  • Thanks NerdDiamond and CJ,

    I think I might hold off on Sleepwalk and order Mystery Train next followed by Twister. There are so many lessons to pick from. And the ones I have done I need to go back and refresh. I am rebuilding my repertoire from scratch and need to pick up some songs. I have even considered doing some solo stuff with the Looper.

    What would you guys recommend as my first chord melody song? I have been thinking about Stardust and Wish Upon A Star. Are you guys into the Standards? I never was in the past but now I want to learn jazzy versions of songs like Georgia and Over the Rainbow. How about Cannonball Rag, you guys play that?

    Jim Campilongo has changed the way I approach the guitar and IMO the greatest guitar player on the planet!

    Telebilly
  • Hi Telebilly -Thank you sir ...

    I would consider "Workin Man Blues" as a good follow up as well. Although it has Roy Nichol's lead, note for note, there is a funky fingerpicking pattern that might be a logical and fun next step...
    Opinions?
    As far as the chord melody, I'd recommend "Over the Rainbow". EVERYONE knows it and its doable...
  • I haven't tried Working Man yet, but think I will pick it up this week. I do love that tune and excited to get started on it.

    As far as chord melody goes, Over the Rainbow is a must! This was my first intro to a chord melody (per Jim's recommendation) and I was not disappointed. This was also my first intro to some really "exotic" and very expressive jazz like chords. This is a perfect lesson for anyone who wants to expand their musical palette and add some nice color to their chords all while learning a classic melody. This is my favorite warm up song and my favorite song to play for my friends. I always get compliments when I bust this one out ...and my girlfriend always asks me to play this for her!
  • I would second the recommendation for Over The Rainbow. I've been playing it every day for the past week and I learn something about harmony every time I play it.
  • Hey Guys,

    Thanks for the advice. I ordered Mystery Train and was very pleased with it. Not sure how I am going to do the 12th fret thumb on the bass string thing. Does Jim give a mulligan for that? I have small hands. If I put my left hand index finger on the end tip of the metal of the 5th fret, I can touch the 13th fret with my thumb. Maybe I just need to start stretching it more. I have always avoided thumb on the bass string riffs, time to cowboy up I guess.

    BTY, I found out when Jim says note for note he means it. I compared other versions of Mystery Train and his is spot on.

    My long list of Campy songs to purchase take up two columns on a large size legal pad, and I am adding to it. Here is my short list of songs to purchase next. Not necessarily in order. Maybe you guys can advise:

    1. Working Man Blues
    2. Over the Rainbow
    3. Twister
    4. Thats Allright Mama
    5. Pan Handle Rag

    Well, I think I will divide my practice time with Chet Song and Mystery Train. And I need to go back and review Country Lead in G and Bb Blues. Do you ever feel that your day job gets in the way of your practice time?

    Telebilly
  • telebilly- I don't have an instant solution for the thumb difficulty, but hearing about "stretches" scare me, because I don't want you to hurt yourself. In this instance, one can always play open E. Music is a marathon, not a sprint...
    Thanks for ordering the lessons and for your positive presence here. I always look forward to reading your posts...
  • Telebilly, I know what you mean about not having enough time to practice. My day job (which does not involve playing guitar) takes anywhere from 45-60 hours per week. Obviously this cuts into practice and playing time. That being said, I do manage to squeeze in enough practice time to still make progress on weekly or at least a monthly level. I tend to put more concentrated time into my new lessons. For me a lot of how/when to play depends on what I am trying to accomplish for that particular lesson. For example, if I am learning a tune (say “Twister” or “Mystery Train” for example), I will put a lot of “up front” time into the lesson so that I can memorize all the parts as quickly as possible. Once I have the parts down, I will then incorporate the song into my list of tunes to be played on a regular basis. I will even try to wake up 15-30 minutes earlier than usual during the work week after learning a new tune so that I can just play the song a bunch of times before I go to work. I will also play right when I get home. I personally find that by getting in that extra 15-30 mins in the morning I see a great benefit. I am also of the opinion that you are better off practicing a little each day rather than just several hours on one day. Ex. I think that I see more progress if I practice 30 minutes everyday rather than a 3 ½ hours on Saturday. (Of course, I do manage to play 10 hours or so every weekend! – but that’s band time and not usually spent on the intricacies of the Campy lessons.)

    Anyway, in contrast to learning a tune, if I am working on a more technical type lesson (Arpeggios as exercises, Freddie Green Rhythm, Playing the Blues: Nailing the Changes etc) I will not try to necessarily do as much “up front” work. Instead, I will memorize as much as I feel comfortable with and then see how many different ways I can apply what I have learned. This is touch and go though and probably something that everyone develops differently. By example, I have been working on different aspects of the Arpeggio lesson for over a year. I had initially memorized more than I could really handle. I have spent the last two months focusing, however, on applying the Major 7th and the 7ths into my actual playing/improvising/band time etc. And the results have been really cool. For me this is a matter of quality over quantity. I too would like to take every lesson that Jim offers and someday I hope to get there! At the same time, I do want to maximize what I get from each lesson. And, I learned awhile back that some of these lessons hold months if not years if not a lifetime worth of information! Seriously, a lesson like “Chet Song” or any of the “Playing the Blues” lessons gives the student enough information to create albums worth of original material. But I know exactly where you are coming from, Telebilly, in wanting to acquire as much information as possible in a quick amount of time.

    Of course, sticking with Jim’s “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert” schedule will also pay off in spades!

    That being said, I really like the list of lessons that you have picked out on the next part of your wish list. I would really like to see your complete Campy wish list (Or maybe the next 10 that you have picked out) and would like to see/hear the order that you are thinking of taking them. Last year I sent a list of 10 songs to Jim and he ranked them from “easiest” to “hardest” and it really helped me progress at what I felt was a really quick rate. Maybe a few of us on the forum can recommend the order of your lessons and you could have a course syllabus to follow for the next 3-6 months. Personally, I like to vary the types of lessons that I take back to back. For example, since you are just finishing up Mystery Train, I wouldn’t necessarily go after another fingerpicking lesson immediately until playing Mystery Train becomes second nature. I would, however, jump right into Over the Rainbow. I would then go for Working Man Blues, then Pan Handle Rag, then Twister, and then That’s All Right Mama. Again, this is just my 2 cents and based on the way that I learn. Obviously, like students in any discipline we will all have our own unique approaches and aptitudes. Go with your heart and what inspires you! But keep asking questions along the way. Just reading your post has me rethinking my next few weeks of practice and the next lessons that I will order.

    Finally, regarding the thumb issue – I am in the same boat with you! I can’t get my thumb around the neck to save my life. On Mystery Train I “cheat.” I hit the open E and A strings (instead of fretting with the thumb on 12 fret) and kind of palm mute the open strings so that they don’t ring out too much. Maybe not ideal, but I don’t think that it sounds too bad that way.

    Keep up the great work and let me know your thoughts on the next lesson!
    CJG
  • Hey CJG,

    Is that list of easiest to hardest ranked songs on the forum somewhere, or would you mind throwing it out there?

    Like many around these parts, Jim's lessons have opened my mind and my playing, as well as taking me to a level of excitement about the instrument that I haven't felt in years. Thanks Jim!

    Tony
  • Hey Guys,

    I second Tonyw's request, about your list CJ. That would be cool to check out. I actually have 2 columns of lessons that I compiled by going through the Forum and Testimonials. I wrote down each lesson and how many times it occured in the
    Forum and Testimonials. For instance, "Chet Song" got more marks than say, "All The Things You Are". I also annotated a lesson if Jim had something extra to say about it, like "Over the Rainbow". From this, I developed "The List". I also try to determine prerequisite lessons. That is why I started with the two Playin the Blues lessons. IMO, that is where the journey begins. I can provide that list but would probably need to put it in a spreadsheet. Can Excel files be attached here?

    But here is the thing, a lesson like Freddie Green did not get much mention. In fact I had never heard of him until CJ mentioned him. I checked him out on youtube and was blown away. And I am sure that will be a great lesson. The more I know the more I don't know!

    My Top 10 of future lessons would probably be APPA, Panhandle, F Jazz, WUWUAS, Prettiest Girl, Twister, Over the Rainbow, Stardust, All Blues, Mr Sandman, Working Man, Rockabilly Jazz, Freddie Green, Sleepwalf, and I could go on. But I am open to suggestions and in the order they should be taken.

    My next lesson will be Over the Rainbow, maybe next week. I have never played a "chord melody" song but I have a feeling that is going to be a big part of my future guitar playing.

    CJ, thanks for the advice about holding off on another Travis lesson. Mystery Train will keep me busy for a while.

    By the way CJ, about hand size, I read that Merle Travis would use one finger on two strings. Amazing! But Danny Gatton had small hands. I wonder how he handled the thumb on the bass string thing.

    Jim, Thanks for all you do!

    Telebilly
  • Hi guys, I hope that everyone is making great progress with their lessons!

    I found "The List" that Jim had put together for me about a year and half ago. The list goes from Easiest to most difficult. It is worthwhile to note, however, that I had already taken the following lessons before "The List" was put together: 1)Playing the Blues, 2)Travis Picking & Beyond, 3)Playing the Blues Nailing the Changes
    4)Over the Rainbow.

    The List - (Easist to Hardest):

    1) Lipton Tea
    2) Buckaroo
    3) Freddie Green Rhythm Style
    4) Mystery Train
    5) B Flat Blues
    6) Steel Guitar Licks
    7) Country Lead in G
    8) American Hips
    9) Panhandle Rag
    10) F Jazz Blues
    11) Rockabilly Jazz
    12) That’s All Right Mamma
    13) Steel Guitar B Flat Jazz Blues

    Feel free to drop me a line with any questions and happy playing!
    CJ
  • Thanks for posting the list CJ.

    Is Over the Rainbow, pretty much the easiest chord melody in the bunch? Anyone know where Amazing Grace and Crazy fit on the difficulty scale?

    Thanks,

    Tony
  • "Over..." easiest... very doable. Highly recommended...
    then "Amazing..."
    Although "Crazy" is more about steel guitar on guitar, then it is about chord melody...then last, but not least "Crazy".
  • Over the Rainbow was my first chord melody song, very doable. You get Jim's version, a Freddie Green version, and a mp3 of Jim's combo playing the song.
  • Cool, I will go for that one first, just need to work through a couple other lessons before I buy another....

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