The 10 Commandments (According To Captain Beefheart)

Beefheart once described his ‘thing’ to an uncomprehending radio interviewer as “music to dematerialise the catatonia”. His style was rhythm and blues-based but completely unorthodox in its approach to structure, rhythm and key. Magic Band musicians had names such as Winged Eel Fingerling, Zoot Horn Rollo, the Mascara Snake and Rockette Morton. They wore a ragbag of cloaks and the Captain wore a hat, usually a topper, which became his trademark. Here are his 10 Commandments to budding guitarists.

1. Listen to the birds

That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar

Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush

Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil

Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re brining over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you’re guilty of thinking, you’re out

If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone

Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key

That’s your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He’s one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song “I Need a Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty — making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he’s doing it.

8. Don’t wipe the sweat off your instrument

You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place

When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.

Though they bear numbers, they are not arranged heirarchically — each Commandment has equal import.


Lenny Breau

I found this article online – I, Andy, am not the author – However, I figure I would repost this edited version here on my Blog. This Blog sometimes acts as a Web Bookmark for articles that interest me. The original Author was Matt Warnock and if I have stepped on any toes I apologise. In this article, Matt explains that when learning how to play jazz guitar, many of people learn 4 and 5 note chords in order to expand their comping and chord soloing vocabulary.

But, some of the best players in jazz guitar history were able to derive countless sounds from their instruments by using two and three note chords as the basis for their harmonic lines and phrases.

One of the players that comes immediately to mind, according to Matt, when one thinks of two-note chords is Lenny Breau.

Lenny was a master at using the 3rd and the 7th of each chord, often coupled with a color note or two on top of those notes, to create flowing and colorful chord lines that sound like no other player.

In today’s lesson we’ll be exploring a few fun and easy exercises that you can to in order to bring some of these Lenny Breau guitar chords and harmonic approach to your comping and chord soloing.


The first part of this exercise is learning how to play the 3rd and 7th for each chord in a Major Key ii V I Chord Progression.

The notes that create the chords for a key come from the scale of that key. Each note in the scale can be considered the starting point or root note for one of the chords. If we were using the key of C Major the root notes of the chords would be:


To find the next note of each of the chords we would then count along 3 notes from the root note including the root note as one so:

1 2 3

we now have C and E.

If we repeat this step from the E in our chord:

1 2 3

we get a G so our notes for the chord are now C, E and G. Since we only need 3 notes to make our chord we can stop here.

This process can be repeated for each of the notes in our scale and we would end up with:


In this lesson we’ll explore two different position for these chords on the fretboard, one using the 5th and 4th strings and one using the 4th and 3rd strings.

There are other places that you can play these chords once you get these two positions under your fingers, but this is a good place to start as they are easy to grab and sound good right away when you apply them to your practice routine or a jam session.

Check out the following two-note chords over a ii V I in C Major, and then practice taking it to different keys around the neck.

From a right-hand standpoint, it is better to pluck these chords than to strum them. So, if you use your fingers to play, just play the lowest note with your thumb and the highest note with your index finger. If you play with a pick, then use the pick on the lowest note and your middle finger on the highest note.

Once you have these chords down, try practicing them with a steady, quarter-note pulse in the same way that Lenny often did when using these chords in his playing.

Here is an example of that rhythm applied to the lower of the two fingerings, but make sure to practice this same rhythm with both of the fingerings for 3rd and 7th chords that we’ve covered in this lesson.

Adding the Root on Top

Now that you have worked out playing the 3rd and 7th on their own, which you can use in when comping in a combo, especially when there is a piano player, you can begin to add notes on top of these chords to bring new colors into the mix.

The first note that we’ll add on top of each chord is the root, and we’ll do so by placing it on the first beat of each bar. Later on you can experiment with different rhythms, but for now this is a great place to start.

When you are working on these fingerings, try practicing them in different keys and in both positions across the neck. As well, try and make the melody note a bit louder than the lower chords to help separate each three-note chord into a melodic and harmonic component.

This is something that Lenny was a genius at, and it is an easy way to get your chord playing to sound like two guitarists rather than one.

Charleston Rhythm

You can now begin to spice up these chord exercises by playing around with the rhythm of the upper note.

One of the rhythms that I like to use, and that Lenny liked to use, with these chords is the Charleston rhythm.

This is where you place the first melody note on beat one followed by a second melody note on the & of 2, while keeping the quarter note pulse in the 3rds and 7ths below.

Again, I’ve written it out in one key and in one position, so make sure to apply this concept to both positions and to different keys around the neck.

Moving Forward

To take these exercises further, you can practice adding different notes besides the root on top of each chord.

Here is an example of how you could add the 9th of each chord on top of the 3rd and 7th being played on the lower strings.

Once you’ve explored this option, try the 5th, 11th and 13th intervals as well to allow yourself to add any color that you want on top of the 3rd and 7th when comping or chord soloing over a tune.

Lenny Breau was a master player, and his use of 3rds and 7ths was both technically advanced, yet simple in it’s method at the same time.

While there’s no one exercise that will make you sound like Lenny Breau right away, playing 3rds and 7ths, and adding color notes on top, is a big step in the right direction when looking to bring Lenny’s chordal sound to your playing.

Check these exercises out in the practice room this week, and then share your thoughts on these chords, or on Lenny’s playing, in the comments section below.

About the Author

Matt Warnock is the owner of, a free website that provides hundreds of lessons and resources designed to help guitarists of all experience levels meet their practice and performance goals. Matt currently lives in the UK where he is a Senior Lecturer at the Leeds College of Music and an examiner for the London College of Music (Registry of Guitar Tutors).

A Foray In To Jazz Guitar

Well, my guitar arrived a few days ago and I have had the chance to try it out. I have had it running through my birthday present and it sounds very clean, crisp and authentic to what I hope to achieve.

Well, what do I hope to achieve? I hope to get a similar sound to Bucky Pizzarelli – back when Bucky jammed with Zoot Sims on a release in 1976. It is a very warm clear tone – a thing of beauty & a joy forever.

The style which I play my guitar is Jazz Chordal – essentially akin to the rhythm guitarists of rock music. I am the first to admit I am fairly crap at it – but it is a lot of fun and proves to be a welcome distraction.

To say it is a ‘welcome distraction’ may be taking away the healing properties of learning a new skill – and, yes, it is therapeutic to me. I am gaining maximum expression with minimal input (essentially I am just making a noise at the moment) but I am constantly learning new things – this is doing me wonders. I have set myself realizable goals and I am achieving them.

The first thing to figure out on my new, left-handed guitar is the strumming. I am pretty clumsy with a pick so Googled the best way to ‘pick’ a Jazz guitar. Apparently, it is to have the thumb on the sixth string, pointy finger on the fourth string, sweary finger on the third string, ring finger on the second string – then you gently close your hand up in a groping fashion, sounding all of the strings.

I am learning Barre chords for my right hand (left-handed guitar) as my right hand is not the most mobile (yet). I have worked my way through the Major, & Minor barre chords and I am working on the Major Seventh Chords. It is proving a challenge – but I am rising to it.

Once I have the hang of how to finger the barre chords, I will working my way to Chord progressions – Figure this is the logical conclusion as I need to play something other than isolated chords.

I have found that Google is my friend on this – there is a massive amount of free literature and videos online that help with Jazz Chordal playing. One of the good sites I have found is Guitar Lesson World. The below Jazz Chord Progression is lifted from that site – I aim to achieve this.

Jazz Progressions are simply common chord progressions in jazz music. One of the most common progressions is the ii-V-I progression. The ii-V-I sounds at its best when you use seventh chords and their expanded voicings, apperently. The ii chord is a minor chord, the V chord is a dominant chord, and the I chord is a major chord. So the most basic Jazz progression is the ii minor 7 – V dominant 7 – I major 7. In the key of C, this progression is Dm7-G7-Cmaj7.

Below, you will find a few examples lifted from the above site that I aim to experiment with.


‘Borrowed’ from Guitar Lesson World

My Gretsch Streamliner

  • Left handed version of the superb G2622 model electric guitar
  • Premium double cutaway, semi-hollowbody electric guitar with V stop tailpiece
  • Laminated maple top, back and sides for a full and resonant sound
  • Baldwin-era small F-holes develop the sound and look distinguished
  • Powerful and versatile Gretsch broad’tron humbuckers
  • White binding with black purfling with a matching black pickguard
  • Bound, late ’50s 6120 style headstock with rock-solid sealed die-cast tuners
  • Flagstaff sunset finish

Yes, I have a new toy – although not just yet. Ordered it from Dawson’s Music on the web at around 10am this morning. Can’t wait for it to arrive! The Gretsch G2622 Semi-Hollow Streamliner Left Handed Electric Guitar complete with a Gretsch “V” Stop Tailpiece is a double cutaway design guitar that not only impresses drastically in the sound department, but will look simply stunning as part of any guitar rig. A clean, vintage design that’s loaded with character, the G2622 is built to impress with modest flair.

Vintage design

The body of the Gretsch G2622 Streamliner comprises of laminated maple top, back and sides that work with a spruce centre block to deliver a clear yet complex fundamental tone that can lend itself to a huge variety of styles of music. The body also has white binding with black purfling that really brings the vintage look home.

The G2622 features a neck crafted from nato complete with a bound rosewood fingerboard that plays home to 22 medium-jumbo frets and large pearloid block inlays. Not only does this look amazing but the level of comfort means you can play this guitar for hours with minimal fatigue. Atop the neck is a 50s style headstock complete with vintage Gretsch logo and die-cast tuning machines.

Powerful hardware

To harness all of that character developed by the body, the Gretsch G2622 Streamliner comes loaded with Gretsch Broad’Tron Humbuckers, positioned in the neck and one in the bridge ares. To effectively shape your desired sound, the G2622 gives you volume controls for each pickup alongside a master tone and master volume control. A 3-way toggle switch then gives you the ability to switch between pickups on the fly.

The G2622 Streamliner hollowbody guitar is certainly not lacking in hardware either. That stunning Bigsby B60 bridge works effortlessly alongside the rosewood-block-secured Adjust-o-matic bridge to give you sustain and intonation that will impress even the most discerning of guitarists.

The Gretsch G2622 Streamliner Electric Guitar is a truly great all-rounder that leaves you wanting for nothing. If you’re in the market for a double-cutaway, semi-hollow guitar, I have been told the G2622 will not let me down.