April 4, 2014

Bottleneck Slide DIY

OK folks.

As a keen fan of slide guitar music, I thought I’d talk you through the art of making your own bottleneck.

Bottleneck 2 slider

But first, a brief history. (more…)

Posted by in Blog, Blues, Guitars and tagged as , , ,

March 28, 2014


Soon you will be able to buy all kinds of Billi Stryng merchandise, from T shirts to plectrums and everything in between.

Watch this space!


Posted by in Guitars, Video and tagged as , , ,

March 27, 2014

The embarrassing plectrum.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is nothing more embarrasing than standing in front of a festival audience of 100 thousand people, going for the mega solo and ……..ping! Your plectrum jumps out of your fingers into the 3rd dimension. Where else would it be? You look down and it’s nowhere to be seen. And you look for your roadie (sorry, I meant guitar technician) and he’s busy taking down the email address of a beautiful blonde.

Plectrum slider

So what is the solution? (more…)

Posted by in Discussion, general, Lessons and tagged as , , , , ,

March 18, 2013


If I remember correctly, the first piece of music that I ever learned to play on guitar was “House of The Rising Sun”. It was the version by The Animals that was a big hit in the UK in the late 1960’s. I was hooked on the opening, played in an arpeggio style. just a simple little chord progression, but to me it sounded miraculous.

So me and my mates all got down to working out how to play it. There weren’t no internet or mobile phones in those days. Not even CDs. I had to play the vinyl continuously by walking over to the record player and lifting and repositioning the needle. Then pick up my guitar and try to get it bit by bit.

These days, practically everything you want to learn is available instantly via tablature sites, YouTube teachers, books, websites etc. Do you know how lucky you are?

And think about how some of the greats of folk and blues guitar learned their craft. They sat and watched other players and worked out how to do it. Or if they were lucky, they would get a lesson from that player.

One of my guitar heroes is the great Stefan Grossman.

stefan grossmanStefan Grossman

Stefan fell in love with the music of great players like the Rev. Gary Davis, a superstar of finger-picking acoustic guitar. Gary Davis was blind from birth and needed a “lead boy” to help him from show to show etc. Stefan took on the job, and as Gary Davis played, he transcribed what he heard. Eventually he had a large amount of material which he published. Studying Stefan Grossman’s books was how I learned to finger pick. We have to thank pioneers like Stefan for their commitment to making the work of great players accessible to us all.

Another magic guitar moment for me was hearing the brilliant opening to Day Tripper by The Beatles. What a killer opening riff. Great guitar sound too, presumably played by George Harrison.

So I’d love to know what magical guitar moment inspired you to get a guitar and learn to play.



Posted by in Discussion and tagged as , , , ,

March 18, 2013


Some of my favorite players, and therefore some of my influences, are not technically very good!! There, I’ve said it.

They are not technically proficient so they compensate for lack of technique by being CREATIVE. And that’s my kind of player.

For example, I’m a big fan of Marc Bolan. Now, nobody would put him up there with all the great guitar gods, but just check out tracks like “Elemental Child” or “Mambo Sun”. Really great guitar music.

Marc Bolan Marc Bolan

And what about some of the old blues players we look up to? Many of them had no formal training and were not particularly proficient players. So what made them GREAT players? I think it was “feel”. They didn’t need to play a flurry of notes in order to make a statement. If 2 notes did the trick, that was good enough for those guys.

And in the field of folk music, often “simple” is best.

On the other hand, I’ve seen players who are unbelievably fast, have all the music theory, know all the tough chords etc, who leave me cold because there’s no passion in their playing.

What do you think? What is it about your favorite guitarist that sends a shiver down your spine? Let us know.



March 18, 2013


One of my favourite pieces of gear is my old Ebow. These days it comes in 2 varieties.


The name Ebow is a shortened form of Electronic Bow. It’s inventor, Greg Heet, wanted it to enable guitarists to create unlimited sustain. I’ve used mine on countless recordings. Once, on a German session, I was able to create the sound of an orchestra by doing a vast amount of harmonised overdubs.

It can be used in all sorts of ways. Soon I’ll be posting a video of great Ebow techniques. In the meantime, here is the official Ebow website.




Posted by in Ebow, Electric, Gear, Guitars and tagged as , , , , , ,

March 18, 2013

Back in the Day.

Did you know modern guitar has very ancient roots? There are 3000 year old stone carvings showing stringed instruments that can be seen as the ancestors of the Strat and Martin, but the origins could be older than that. And many different cultures have contributed to the story.

Greece, Persia, North Africa, India, Scandinavia, Germany, Spain. All of these countries and civilisations have used stringed instruments not dissimilar to the guitar to make music. (more…)

Posted by in Acoustic, Electric, general, Guitars and tagged as , ,

March 18, 2013

My beautiful Blade Guitar.

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me about my Blade guitar. It’s a black Levinson Blade R3. One of the first ones that came into the UK. I’ve used it on hundreds of gigs and recording sessions.

I don’t like changing guitars through a live performance. My old Blade guitar gives me lots of different sounds at the flick of a switch. Apart from the 3 pickups (2 standard Levinson single coils plus a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail), there’s an onboard pre-amp with different settings. So I can flick a switch to get an acoustic guitar sound, then flick it the other way to get brilliant overdrive. And it plays beautifully! Gary Levinson is an American living in Switzerland where he constructs his growing range of guitars. Check out Blade guitars here.  I’d love to know what you play and why you chose that guitar.




March 18, 2013

Favourite guitar moment?

Can you remember what it was that inspired you to start playing guitar? Was it something you heard on CD or YouTube? Did you see a great guitarist in full flow and say to yourself , “That’s what I want to do”?

A great inspirational moment for me was quite recent. I saw Tinariwen play at a festival. They are Tuareg musicians from North Africa.

The guitar playing was very simple. No big show off solos. Everything the guitarists did was stripped down to bare minimum. And I know that has had an impact on my playing.

And if you want to know which guitarist I most wanted to play like when I was starting off….it was the great Peter Green.

Peter Green

Peter Green with his Gold Top Les Paul.

So what about you? Who inspired you?


Posted by in Discussion, Guitars, Uncategorized and tagged as , ,

March 15, 2013

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