I find it hard to practice gypsy jazz guitar music without a band. I play rhythm guitar and it is difficult to motivate oneself to play fast rhythm guitar for an hour with just a metronome for company. The other members of Djangoism are busy professional musicians with a lot of touring commitments so we don't get to rehearse very often. Fortunately help is at hand with a great practice CD from Dave Kelbie called The Sauce. The CD has the excellent rhythm section of Dave Kelbie on guitar and Pete Kubryk-Townsend on double bass playing 13 tracks of gypsy jazz tunes. All the tracks last normal gig length – usually around five minutes and are at the usual fast tempos, apart from the ballads of course. I put the CD on loud, play along and it feels as though I am on a gig – I get all the usual effects like cramping hands and tired arm muscles. I imagine that it is also very good for lead gypsy jazz instruments.
The choice of a plectrum with which to play gypsy jazz is personal and I am sure most guitarists have boxes of different plectra which they have tried and rejected. There does seem to be a general preference for thick plectra which do not flex at all when they hit the strings. I used to use plectra made by Clayton out of a smooth plastic material which were 1.8mm thick and didn’t flex. They were good and I used them for many years. I had two problems with them – they didn’t last long, half a gig of rhythm guitar, and they have smooth sides so occasionally slip out of my grip when playing a hot gig. I now use the handcrafted Wegen gypsy jazz picks which are even thicker, 3.5mm. and have ribs on both sides that stop rotation in your grip. Fortunately, since they cost 15 Euros each, they have a very long life.
This is a blog about everything to do with gypsy jazz guitar music. I have been a fan of this music for years and I am fortunate enough to play rhythm guitar in a band with some great musicians, we call our selves Djangoism.