I've been playing guitar off and on for about 30 years, but in the past six months, I've taken up the instrument again with a passion, and during that time, I've collected a number of great resources for learning the guitar and extending one's knowledge of music theory.
Most of the programs listed below are either Mactinosh or cross-platform.
- Guitar Tuner - an extremely accurate guitar tuner from Laidman & Katsura.
- Fretboard Warrior - a flash-card style program to help students learn the guitar fretboard.
- Guitar Shed - the "Swiss army knife" of guitar programs: tuner, chord library, tablature organizer, metronome, and "jam machine," which allows you to load iTunes songs into looped snippets which you can slow down for learning licks.
- Guitar Pro - a great tablature composing program that allows you to map tabs to fretboard movements in real time. Thousands of files available from sites like GProTab.
- RiffBook - interesting app for organizing musical ideas via audio and video.
- GarageBand - Apple's very slick multi-track recorder. To capture voice and analog instruments, you'll need an input device like M-Audio's FireWire Solo.
- Music Theory for Guitarists - one of the best books on basic theory anywhere. No fluff, no crap -- just the basics.
- Musictheory.net - a great website containing numerous tools for exploring music theory in general (some guitar-related).
- Chordie - there are hundreds of chord/tab websites on the internet, but this is one of the best.
- Dave's Guitars - the best shop in the Iowa area (actually located in La Crosse, WI).
- California Vintage Guitars - one of the best shops a musician could ever find. Great, great selection of vintage pieces in excellent condition.
The Oracle Speaks
As I mentioned on my homepage, I'm a big fan of analog sound and often spend Friday evenings in my garage listening to old albums from the 1960s and 1970s. Even with all the pops and scratches, I can hear a quality absent from the sanitized expression of digital sound.
Last year, while discussing the difference between analog and digital with a graduate student in our program, I heard a great explanation of the difference between the two. The student told me about a guy nicknamed "the Oracle" who hangs out in a bar up in Decorah, IA. They call him the Oracle because apparently he knows something about everything, and people come up to ask him questions all the time.
So one day, the student asks the Oracle, "What's the difference between analog and digital music?"
"Analog is like the ocean," the Oracle responds, "and digital is like a marriage."
"What?" asks the student, slightly puzzled.
"Yeah, analog is just one continuous wave after another," the Oracle says, "whereas digital is just a series of yes and no decisions."
And there you have it, folks -- no finer technical explanation exists about differences between the two.