Rob MacKillop

Exploring the Plectrum Guitar

In Music on January 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I have a growing interest in the Plectrum Guitar, which is often associated with jazz but in fact has a much wider repertoire and practice. One could fancifully trace it back to the vihuela penola of 16th-century Spain, or ‘Latin’ and Moorish guitars of the medieval period, but for most people the work of Eddie Lang would be a good starting place. This wonderful website provides an overview of his work.

When I started guitar, aged 14, alone in my bedroom, I had Ivor Mairants’ Book Of Daily Exercises and Mickey Baker’s Jazz Guitar Volume 1 to keep me company. Sadly I made little headway with either book, but now aged 51 and looking back I recall my struggle to try to understand the instrument and its notation, and I find myself wishing to take another look, to try and reconnect with that kid in his room.

Just this last few days I have received a NEW GUITAR – always a BIG DAY 🙂 It is The Loar LH-700, a recreation of the early archtops made by Loyd Loar for Gibson. It is a magnificent guitar.

I also got hold of the following book from Mel Bay Publications, The Masters Of The Plectrum Guitar:

…which has a wealth of material in it, some items by Eddie Lang. I recorded the first two pieces in the book. The first uses the strings the guitar came with, regular acoustic-guitar strings. The second has flatwound (smoother) strings as I felt the regular strings were too bright.

I also have some old Plectrum Guitar tutor books, such as Ivor Mairants’ Guitar Tutor in Theory and Practice, and ordered from Abe Books, Play The Plectrum Guitar.

So, yet another musical avenue to explore!
I’ve created a Page on my Blog site devoted to the Plectrum Guitar:

  1. Beautiful instrument, and good call about the string switch.

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