Here's a variety of questions

Wes Montgomery

I'm a studying jazz guitarist and I've been looking for some video footage of the late Wes Montgomery. I checked with my teacher but he had no leads. Basically what I'm looking for is any concert or studio footage of Wes doing his thang. Also are there any sites your're aware of dedicated to Pat Mentheny, he's one of my contemporary guitar heroes and inspirations. Thanks, Bill

Bill, there is some great footage of Wes on his Gibson L-5CES. It was taped in London in 1965 as part of a TV show called "Jazz 625". It lasts about 40 minutes and features Wes with Harold Mabern (piano), Arthur Hopper (bass) and Jimmy Lovelace (drums). They played Jingles, Twisted Blues, Round Midnight and other tunes. Wes' playing is amazing and the closeup video footage of his thumb in action is mind-boggling. I had a videoclip of it on the site but recently took it off due to a "polite suggestion" from BMI. I believe it was re-released as part of the "Giants of Jazz Guitar" video series. I am also told that there is some footage of Wes in Germany with the same band but haven't been able to see it. As to PM sites, yes there are a few.

Help with transcribing

I was wondering if you have any tips to help me transcribe better. I have been transcribing as much as I can (mostly the heads of songs, then checking them with fake books). As long as it's not too fast or slurred I can get the notes ok. But I have a hard time getting the rhythms right (getting them down on paper). I have done some transcribing of some solos with a lot of space (like Miles) and that's not too hard. But again, rhythms are what usually frustrate me. I also have a hard time even getting the notes from sax solos. Guitar, trumpet, and piano aren't that hard but saxophones are always hard to hear. This in itself is frustrating because some of my favorite players are the sax players(Bird, Trane, Cannonball Adderly, Joe Henderson, Brecker). And finally..... CHORDS, this is where i'm really clueless. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
dedicated jazz student in need, Todd Lansberry

Todd, transcribing is the bane of my existence. But as a university-trained musician, I'm supposed to have that skill under control, right? Heh, heh... wrong! But I can tell you what I have learned to make the process less painful. First, you should get the harmonies. That all starts with the bassline. Try to get that down on paper first and it will help you greatly in figuring out the changes. As for melody, saxophone is a hard instrument to get. There're so many dirty slidey things they can do. It helps if you try to transcribe some stuff from Sonny Stitt or Dexter Gordon, as they seem to be cleaner in their ideas (for transcribing purposes). Here's a down n dirty example: If you can figure out that the high D is on beat three and the low G# is on the "and" of two in the next bar, just count how many eighth notes you have in between and see if it matches with the number of notes the soloist plays in his lick.

Reasonably priced archtops

I am looking for a small-bodied acoustic jazz-guitar with f-holes and a cutaway. I see lots of guitarbuilders offering hand-built archtops, but no reasonably prized factory-models. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, Jesper Haller

Jesper, check out the line of new Epiphones: the Emperor, the Regent, the Joe Pass. They're great guitars for the price (under a grand). Other brands to look for: Samick, Ibanez and Yamaha.


Bob: I have an older Harmony archtop (carved top) that had the electrics removed years ago and I'm in the process of restoring it with a new pickup. My question is; for best sustain, clarity, and feedback reduction, should my archtop have a soundpost? It has a fairly tall bass-bar (about 1" tall) under the bass side of the bridge. I know that a violin needs a soundpost and a classical guitar doesn't. How about a jazz guitar?
Thanks, Joel Thomson

Joel, an archtop guitar typically doesn't need a soundpost. There are some that do. The Aria Pro II Herb Ellis model has a big fat one that makes it nearly immune to feedback. As far as other advantages of a soundpost, I'm not sure. Check the JGO Hotlist and hit some of the luthier sites and ask them for particulars. I would advise you to play the guitar a little first before you consider putting a soundpost in.

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