Playing Django Style

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The Basics

If you've got more money than sense then put in an offer for Stochelo's Selmer. If like the rest of us you have better things to spend your money on, then a cheaper route is required. Your old guitar will do, but if your going to take this even half seriously you will eventually realise that you need something that can deliver the sound that all your hard work is striving for. We have our very own Classified adds page where you can put in requests for guitars or even sell your guitar if you've discovered that you really want to play John Denver tunes instead.

THE PICK: - Or the art of tortoise baiting -
That floppy bit of worn plastic will be your worst enemy, lose it now. Your going to need something more substantial. The pick of choice should have NO give whatsoever. So we're talking 2mm minimum. Material can be be most standard pick stuff but the best are those that don't wear quickly and don't "grip" the string.
I myself have played with wood, coconut shell, ivory (old piano keys), bone, Formica, toilet seat and tortoise shell.
If your starting out you should do yourself a favour and avoid the -what pick should I use- scenario, that many take years to get over, and buy a Wegen pick. They play as well as tortoise shell and are replaceable if you lose it. Expensive they are (each is hand made by Michel Wegen of Holland) but an indispensable tool they are. When you've tried everything else most end up with a Wegen.

GET RHYTHM: With audio
Rhythmic Accompaniment This section will get you swinging with a gypsy swing feel. Very important section. Get this sorted first.

The CHORDS PAGE will get you started. This is important, you will never get the right sound until you stop playing those folk/pop chords. Triads are where it's at, well nearly anyway. Standard chords are used, there is no doubt about it, but if you don't know what a triad is then you really need to check out The Chords section.

ARPEGGIOS: With audio
The Arpeggios Page. A vast amount, more than you would believe at first of the soloists art is derived from the arpeggios that he/she has picked up on the way. By no means are they the be all and end all - you can't solo with just arpeggios - but they sure do help.

The Tricks Page will show you some of the simpler embellishments that you will have heard over and again on many Gypsy Jazz tracks.

Surprise surprise I sell these as well, when I've got some in stock that is. I personally use the Argentine string made by Savarez of France. They have been long known as the standard Gypsy Jazz string, giving the tone I demand. They used to have a bad name for wearing out quickly, luckily the New Concept range has overcome this problem and now hold on as long as the rest.

There are some fine books for sale specifically on Djangos music and style. Some cover the basics required by the beginner such as Ian Cruickshanks "Guitar style of Django Reinhardt and the Gypsies" right through to the mighty "L' Esprit Manouche" a book in French that will take you through every step of the style in great depth. If you just want the basic melody then you can do worse than get the "Django Reinhardt Anthology".

Occasionally we get some books from other sites. Highly recommended are the Robin Nolan-Paul Meader productions now into their 6th volume.
All books cover chord shapes required and are essential for anyone starting off as they cover the basics. The second volume covers some slightly more challenging tunes. The third volume covers the Latin style and the fourth, fifth and sixth go back to Django classics.
They have recently released the "Gig Book" a handy A5 sized book that covers all of the tunes released in their play along series and more but without the accompanying CD.
With the help of the CDs, which on the faster tunes has a extra tracks played at slower speed for you to get up to speed, you will flying along and soon become comfortable with those elusive Gypsy chord shapes and playing the melody to many great Django classics.
Contact http://www.robinnolantrio.com for the latest hot poop and purchase from their site.
A new series of books and CD's are now available from Robin Nolans new site. - www.robinnolan.com


The Tunes Page is a stack of tunes worked out by some of the many contributors to this site. In different formats for your ease of use.

The Hotclub Forum. Hosted by yours truly. A right funky forum now with members from all over the globe. Post your questions and get knowledgeable replys- or maybe a load of abuse, either way you should still be there.

The Searchers Page. If your looking for a partner to while away the wee hours playing gypsy jazz, here is a list of people searching for like minded people to play with. Please add your details. We sad gits need to stick together.

www.looknohands.com - Interactive scales/chords etc pages!

www.good-ear.com - Trains and tests your ear with chords (jazz ones a speciality), scales etc.

www.alljazzguitar.com - Terrific site -when available-

gadjodrom.com - French site with extensive chord charts for much of the standard Gypsy Jazz repetoir


TRANSCRIBE - Music analyser. Shareware
Many people have their own favorite methods for learning tunes. Some of us record his solos on cassette, others have been known to hunt down old reel to reel tape recorders and record the solo's on these slow them down (some even slow to one octave below) and learn them that way. The major disadvantage with this method is the pitch change.

If you have a sound card, you can download (1Meg) a shareware copy of TRANSCRIBE. This efficient program will enable you to open or record your favorite solo from a CD in wav, aiff. aifc and mp3 formats and then analyze at your leisure. Advantages of this system is that it is has an inbuilt spectrum analyser which will pull out individual notes from a chord. Very handy I'm sure you will agree. Other advantages include 1/4 and 1/2 speed on the fly with constant pitch for studying the faster riffs. This is what a lot of people have been waiting for. Please register your copy if you find it useful. IT'S ONLY A FEW QUID. This will help the designer to improve upon his design and you get free upgrades.

POWERTAB - Tabbed music creator. Currently Free
One of the best bits of software around for the guitarist and could also be a great sharing resource for those who are prepared to work out their solo's for others to share. It works by you adding your notes on the fret of a guitar not by the notes, so no advanced musical knowledge required, if you can play you can get it down.
We have a page dedicated to the Powertab format where you can upload your files and download some stonking solo's by some of your favorite artists.

Other Stuff - that might help - or not.

  1. A few wise words for the budding Django Style Guitarist
  2. Going to Samois for the first time
  3. So you want to be Lindford Christie
  4. Small Bore rifle shooting for violinists
  5. Zen and the art of playing guitar like Django

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| The Basics | Chords | Resources | Downloads | Powertab | Tunes |