Archive for the ‘Free resources’ Category

Our latest issue (Issue 129) of Unicorn Magazine is now out:

Unicorn Magazine Issue 129

Unicorn Magazine Issue 129

Download the free electronic version here, or visit our main website for more details >>

You can also download the full-colour A4 poster here, designed to encourage people to take a copy of the magazine… (or just collect the set for your wall!)

Issue 129 A4 poster

Issue 129 A4 poster

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It’s nice to receive feedback on something, even when it’s pointing out one’s own omissions or short-comings!

One of my guitar students was saying (or complaining. . . !) the other day about my free neck diagram PDFs… Although said pupil used them a lot and was very thankful for them, they didn’t really meet her needs very well. Being a beginner to the guitar, she really only plays things on the instrument that are located at the very top of the neck, well within the first five frets (and, to be honest, mainly in the first three frets)

To have a diagram that goes all the way up to 24 frets is therefore next to useless – she only fills things in on the uppermost portion (rendering that particular chart full) and only has three more available charts on that page. What is more, to fit the complete length of the 24 fret version on the page, the diagrams (through necessity) are rather small.

Oh, and the devices I had used to indicate the fret board numbers were too dark and made reading and writing on the lines hard….!

So, rather than being discouraged I have now produced the following set of diagrams, both showing just the top-most portion of the neck up to and including the fifth fret. The first has as total of 16 of these diagrams on one page (surely enough for any burgeoning student!) and one with single, yet massive, example

I have also reduced the intensity of the fret board marker device. . .

Guitar First Positionx16

Guitar First Positionx16

Guitar First Position Single

Guitar First Position Single

Click the links below to download the PDF files:

Guitar First Position x16 >>

Guitar First Position Single >>

Iteration is always part of any design process (ask my excellent designer friend AK about this!) and I now feel well and truly iterated-out!

Hope people find the new sheets useful – comments and feedback always appreciated.

I am now off for tea and a hot bun in the UK snow!

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Here’s a little template that I use all the time in The Shed…

120 degree template

120 degree template

It’s really useful for welding legs / support structures together – I used it in the making of the legs for my Heavy Metal Flute stand for example, to make sure the legs were arranged at just the right angle.

Click here to download the 120º template >>

Here’s my preferred way of using the template:

  1. Print it out on a sheet of A4 (or any size that suits)
  2. Spray Mount this (or use sellotape etc, whatever works best for you!) onto a flat board, sheet of metal, bench surface etc.
  3. Find a way of fixing the items you want to join together, directly onto to the template. I tend to use largish metal ‘U” staples to fix round items (banging the staples astride the items into the surface of the supporting board), or using heavy weights to hold the bits and pieces down (I have made my own set of weights by filling a old tin cans (of a variety of sizes) with concrete)
  4. Then, with the items held firmly down to the template, simply weld away!
  5. The template obviously gets destroyed in the process, but who cares – simply print another one out!

I’ve also got a 90°  template that is also really useful – if anyone has a need for one at a specific set of angles, let me know and I’ll knock one up for you!

90 degree template >>

90 degree template

90 degree template

Hope they are of use? Although they are PDFs, they should be editable in most illustration programs such as Adobe Illustrator etc.

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Two years ago this month (amazing – I can’t believe how quickly time has flown!) I posted some downloadable PDFs of various instrument neck diagrams.

These seemed to go down really well (looking at my blog stats it was one of my most visited post, in fact ). . .

So, to mark this anniversary, here are some more downloadable sheets – this time some blank music staves, with guitar tab lines added underneath…

Guitar Tab sheets

Guitar Tab sheets

To complete the trinity, I’ve included a mandolin and bass version too… simply click the links below to download them:

Guitar Tab sheets >>

Bass Tab sheets >>

Mandolin Tab sheets >>

I’ve used these for all sorts of things over the years – again I hope they are of use?

In addition, I even thought I’d add a new Category to the old blog for ‘Free Resources’ – I realise I’ve got a whole load of things lying around in the archives that might be useful for people – stay tuned for more updates/content…

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Rather rashly last week, I somehow seem to have taken on yet another short-notice dep gig… My local ceilidh band (containing a load of friends of mine I’ve wanted to play with for ages) has temporarily lost their mandolin player through ill health. Although everyone hopes he’ll be up and about again as soon as is humanly possible (all the best Andy if you are reading this…) they urgently need a dep for a couple of gigs in a fortnight.

Unfortunately I’ve no idea how to play any of the tunes, which are all fiendishly fast and, on first listening at least, sound pretty much the same (but aren’t of course!!).

The learning process isn’t helped of course by my total inability to read music – the band has kindly presented me with a folio of hand written dots, but they may as well be in Martian for all the help they are to me! What I do have however is a cd of live material ­containing about 15 tunes (or ‘sets’) in all. As is the wont with folk dance music however, each set is made up of 3 different tunes – so that leaves me approximately 45 tunes to learn in less than a fortnight…  Did I mention that the gig is also on the mandolin which isn’t exactly my first instrument!?

So, with headphones at the ready, I’ve ‘set to’! One thing that’s really helping are some sheets I drafted up ages ago of fretboard diagrams. I’ve always found them invaluable for jotting down all sort of notes, patterns, bits of tab etc, etc. So, I thought I’d post them up as downloadable PDFs in case anyone else needs them – I’ve got a version for both guitar, bass and mandolin so simply click on the links after the image below to download them (about 700Kb each).

Guitar fretboard diagram

Guitar fretboard diagram PDF >>

Bass fretboard diagram PDF >>

Mandolin fretboard diagram PDF >>

Hope they are of help/interest – I’ll let you­­ know how the first ceilidh gig goes! Wish me luck…



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Rather unexpectedly, I’ve recently got hold of some spare boxes of a CD I recorded a couple of years ago when playing in an acoustic folk/roots duo. I doubt I can sell the CD any more so I thought it was much better to get them ‘out there’ rather than leave them mouldering away under the bed for another 10 years!

Entitled ‘G-Force Trousers’ (don’t ask, it’s a long story!) the CD is a combination of both original and traditional tunes, written for guitar and mandolin. It went down very well at the time – we got a few good gigs out of it, got it on the radio, and also received this very favourable review from FRoots Magazine:

‘Very nice set of tunes on guitars, mandolin and banjo, plus assorted pig and cat friends. The duo switch from fast bluegrass picking to gentle Irish airs, with the virtuosity element strongly to the fore, but not overwhelming the tunes. Bet they’re blinding live.’
FRoots Magazine, December 2006

So, I’ve got 100 copies here, free to anyone in the Blogosphere who fancies one! Simply send me an email to freecd@cbatkin.plus.com with your name and address and I’ll bung one in the post to you (first come, first served). In return, I’d love to know what you think of it so please add a comment to this site (or email me, or visit my guitar site at www.cbatkin.plus.com) – you can hear some snippets of the tracks on the CD at this page >>.

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