6/23/16

Don Rainey - READ-LISTEN-LEARN BEGINNER'S GUITAR (Sears, 1959)

It's time to get back to some audio, which we used to do around here pretty regularly.  I have a small pile that I have been slow to get converted.  It is a very laborious process to convert, edit, and clean audio, but I'm going to be sharing some of the odder items here, just like the good old days.

First off is this piece of...record...a 45 rpm disc that more than likely came with the purchase of a beginner guitar from Sears & Roebuck catalogs.  While today this idea is a farce, and usually results in an instrument of dubious quality that cannot be tuned, in 1959 and in the early sixties, you could actually get a fine specimen; one that was actually made of...wood (GASP!).

Your "host" is Don Rainey, who also made the 12" version that you had to buy separately (as well as an album about how to play the Autoharp...it's called the AUTOHARP; you just push the chord you want and strum...there are no instructions necessary!).

Anyhow, I have several problems with this disc, and I don't really know where to begin.  First off, Rainey wants you to tune your new guitar to this record, and he doesn't teach you another way, and each note goes by quickly.  I bet this was a huge thrill back in the days when you couldn't rewind, and I imagine several records got scratched beyond repair using this ludicrous idea.  If there's not a piano in the house, buy the kid a pitch-pipe or something.

Secondly, Rainey's guitar is not directly miked, and sounds terrible.  In fact, Rainey doesn't sound so hot himself, and I did what I could to clean up this record (and it wasn't bad, in fact had little use). 

Thirdly, he uses the old standby group of "beginner" chords, C, F, and G7.  He insists that to make the F chord, which is "one of the more difficult," he mentions, you must wrap your thumb around the neck and make an F on the low E string.  Huh.  Now, you can do this if you want to--you can use your toes if you are so inclined--but never in any beginner books did I ever see that.  It just goes on from there.

Fourthly, he keeps mentioning chord charts that were supposed to be included.  They aren't, but no big loss.

Fifthly, he actually tells beginners that 3/4 and 4/4 are "both of the time signatures."  Seems like there are more to me...
In the end, the truth is pretty simple:  you can't learn to play the guitar from a 45 rpm record.  The best way I have ever found is to buy a big book of sheet music you are familiar with that includes the chords above the staff, and go from there.  For me as a kid it was some sort of COMPLETE BEATLES book that was the size of a phone book, but it worked for me.

Of course, these types of records are simply to laugh at, and chop up for samples, so enjoy! More is on the way.

LINK:  Read-Listen-Learn (or don't) Beginner's Guitar

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