New Here and New to Gypsy Jazz

Ryan RheaRyan Rhea Memphis, TN✭✭ '02 Lehmann Eclipse
in Welcome Posts: 27
Hello all!

I'm new to this forum (as a member, anyway) and very new to Gypsy Jazz. I just got my first GJ guitar, a 2002 Lehmann Eclipse, a week ago today. I promised myself that I would get a Dupont when the time came, but I happened to be in Nashville last week and popped into Gruhn's, picked up the Lehmann (it was on consignment) and I couldn't stop playing it. :) I had no intentions of spending that kind of money on that trip, but this guitar just grabbed me. I've been playing guitar (and collecting them) for 25 years and it's fairly rare for me to get that excited about a guitar right off the bat. Anyway, not sure if I made the best decision in terms of "traditional" tone and esthetics, but since I plan to keep playing other styles of music in addition to GJ, I think having a slightly more tonally versatile GJ box suits me better (if that is even true... I'm sure a Dupont could cover most things, as well). I will have a D hole Dupont one of these days, though... and soon! :)

Here is my my Lehmann. It needs some work done on the neck. I think it has a slight twist, but it's nothing that Joe Glaser and team can't fix for me. It plays incredibly well and sounds (to my inexperienced-in-GJ ear) very rich, warm and LOUD. Heysoos is this thing loud! :) This particular guitar used to belong to guitar virtuoso, Rolly Brown. In fact, Bernie Lehmann made it specifically for him. I'm proud to have it. Maybe some day I'll be a fraction as good as that guy. :)





I also did a quick down and dirty iPhone vid of my progress (audio captured using an SM57 fed into my AER 60 as a DI box fed dry into my Zoom H4N... it's the best setup I have for now). I am hoping to get some feedback on my technique (such as it is) so I that can make some early adjustments for the better and potentially fix any glaring mistakes before moving forward. I learned some of this stuff last week, but most of it I picked up yesterday... so I'm still very green and it's a great time to know if I'm making any serious errors and how to fix them. Any help or advice would be so greatly appreciated!

I am very excited to be here and to learn from all of you! I really love this style of music and I listen to it all the time. Apart from Django I particularly like listening to Stochelo, Jimmy R, Bireli and perhaps my fav of all, Joscho. I am a brand new fan of Yaakov Hotter and the Swing de Gitanes... I am learning soooo much from his video site, too. I just subscribed to GJ Secrets magazine today... lot's of great stuff in there, too.

Looking forward to many great future discussions with you all!




  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Hey Ryan, welcome to our common obsession and I hope you enjoy it for a long time to come!

    My first advice to you is to not obsess over gear. Enjoy your guitar and don't move on to another until you have tried a bunch and can really feel the difference they make. Same for picks, strings, bla bla bla. The number one way to sound better is to play better... not that crap gear doesn't exist, but until you play better nothing will sound better.

    Second, rhythm is the heart and soul of this music. You clearly know some jazz chords and good voicings so those shouldn't be a problem. You've got some work to do with the sound, though. Luckily there are loads of good instructional materials available (and threads with examples already on this forum) so find them and put your ears to work. Make sure you are using a reputable source (you mentioned a few players who already have instructional stuff out there).

    Have fun!

    Ryan Rheaadrian
  • edited August 2014 Posts: 3,707
    Hi Ryan and welcome. A great bunch of fanatics hang out here including some real experts on the styles, the techniques, the history and the performers.

    Depending on how you learn some great teachers. Best advice I can offer if you like to learn live with feedback, is to get some online or local instruction if there are any in your area. Feedback you get for free is well, free, and may not be the complete package of info you need.

    kevingcoxRyan Rhea
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 874
    You are where I was about 14 months ago. While some people think it is optional and others say it is not while doing Gypsy picking, which you have started to do, floating the wrist becomes an important decision. I still play electric and float now but bring my wrist back down when I mute on electric, but never on Gypsy. Watch the right hand position of almost all Gypsy guitarists. Your hand position looks correct when doing rhythm and if you could keep that for position for lines it would "look correct". If you have not checked it out, this recent thread has some nice info.
    Ryan Rhea
  • adrianadrian AmsterdamVirtuoso
    Posts: 545
    Completely agree with Kevin. Don't be That Guy who talks only about the gear but doesn't actually work on the playing. Gear (type of guitar, type of strings, type of microphone) really doesn't matter compared to playing ability. Practice practice practice!
    mwaddell000Ryan Rhea
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited August 2014 Posts: 3,320
    Hi Ryan, it looks like you are off to a good start. At this point I would recommend really focusing on right hand technique. It's hard to evaluate your right hand from that camera angle but watch the guys with really good technique (Gonzalo, Stochelo, Nousche, Bireli, etc, etc) and try to copy that. Play slow and relaxed. If you need to, play in front of a mirror and see if your technique looks like theirs.

    Interesting guitar too.
    Ryan Rhea
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    +1 on Adrian's comments, even thought I am a guy with too many guitars (not sure if I am That Guy or not). Christophe Lartilleux played a concert at Django in June on a Cigano. Paulus Schaeffer last year on a Gitane. I don't hear anyone complaining!

    Your ear will tell you when and if it's time to move on to a new guitar. For now, just play what ya brung, and in no time, you'll be better than me!
    Ryan Rhea
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Ryan RheaRyan Rhea Memphis, TN✭✭ '02 Lehmann Eclipse
    Posts: 27
    Thanks for the advice, guys! I have certainly been on a gear tear lately, but now it's time to knuckle down again and hit the woodshed. As a couple of you guys mentioned, the right hand is definitely my focus at the moment.

    I love GJ for its rigid technicality. I sometimes prefer just sitting with scales and exercises for a couple of hours than to sit and play music. It appeals to me, for whatever reason. As a very humble student of the violin, the well established bowing techniques are a real comfort since, as a self-taught guitarist, I was never really given any set rules for picking (which resulted in many years of flailing about with little to zero progress). I feel that for the first time I have something akin to an established "bowing school" of techniques for guitar picking. Very cool.

    One huge weak point for me is theory. The idea of creatively improving over changes is daunting to say the least. Most of the fusion improv stuff I do on electric doesn't necessarily require targeting chord tones or use lot's of modulating, etc (though I'd certainly sound better if I could do it). I think really digging into GJ classics is going to help me out with this a lot. I learn stuff like theory best when I already know some tunes and can relate the theory to stuff I can already play and have in my ear.

    I still need to educate my ear when it comes to the tone, though. To me all the guys I listen to sound great... Angelo, Oberg, Stochelo, Yaakov Hoter, Joscho, etc. I've read here where people have definite preferences on who they feel sounds the best, but I think all those top players sound fantastic and I don't really have a standout favorite when it comes to tone. I do really like Joscho's style, though. He may be my top favorite at this time.

    Much to learn! Thanks again for the welcome, guys. I checked out some of you guys on this thread and I'm so impressed with your music and abilities! Wow.

  • JSantaJSanta NY✭✭✭ Dupont, Gaffiero, AJL
    Posts: 262
    Welcome to our great forum! I'm fairly new to the style as well. If you want to improve your picking technique (I certainly do), check out both Gypsy Picking and Gypsy Fire both available from this website. Whenever I start to get into a funk with my technique I break out these books and work through the exercises again. I actually have Gypsy Fire opened up on my music stand right now on page 8!
    Ryan RheaMichaelHorowitz
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Joscho and Adrian (who replied above) actually did a fantastic video lesson recently, maybe you want to check it out. He has lots of intelligent things to say about right hand technique, and you get to enjoy Adrian's grimace when Joscho demonstrates poor technique for the audience's sake :) I hope this works, I don't do code...

    He also plugs his website which could be interesting as you start out. I think that all the info out there has probably become overwhelming to a newbie when really there are just a few basics to focus on.

    Ryan Rhea
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Besides what everyone else said (all good advice), don't worry too much about theory. Some grounding in theory won't hurt you, but most of the top GJ players (including Django) did/do not know squat about theory. Use your ears, as Kevin suggests, and find instruction, either live or through the many resources now available. If you can manage it, a trip to Django in June next year would be just the ticket. You'll get intensive small group instruction from world-class teacher/performers and a chance to jam with and learn from your peers.
    Ryan Rhea

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
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