AL PETTEWAY - CELTIC FINGERSTYLE GUITAR

by Mike Fred

Al Petteway and Amy White

I am not one to rush out and buy an instructional video. For the most part, instructional videos are shallow and offer little of how to actually improve your technique and enhance one's abilities on an instrument. They are generally nothing more than a means to view a favorite guitar player while he or she rips through a few impressive licks. Luckily, there is always an exception to the rule.

I took a chance and purchased a video by a guy named AL PETTEWAY who plays Celtic fingerstyle guitar. My only exposure to Mr. Petteway was through a 3 CD sampler I had purchased from ACOUSTIC MUSIC RESOURCE a month ago so I really had no idea what to expect from this guy. Hey, he had that "Celtic look" on the video cover so how could I go wrong? After viewing the video (over and over to the point where my wife and son groan every time I get near the TV), I can now say that not all videos are a waste of time and money! Not only is Al's playing top notch, but his instructional approach is personable and refreshing.

I almost felt like I was sitting there with "da man" himself (and that is how a video like this should be). Al currently has two videos available and I picked up the one for DADGAD tuning through HOMESPUN VIDEOS. This is the best $30 I have spent in a long long time! I can see now I should have taken HOMESPUN up on their offer to buy both videos and save myself $10, but that is my own fault and a lesson learned. I will have no problem spending the money after seeing this first installment.

On the DADGAD video, Al performs several of his songs and arrangements and then breaks them down section by section, describing the technique used and explains a bit of history behind how he came to write the songs. Al also explains the uniqueness of the Celtic guitar style and how to really embellish a song while also increasing knowledge and personal technique on the instrument.

Keep in mind that I am not the type of guy that wants a bunch of music theory pushed at me because at my age (44) I do not have the time to worry about modes and scales (nor do I really care about such things). I just want to play my guitar. Al tactfully provides brief and to the point descriptions concerning music theory and then it is back to hands on instruction again. He did it so smoothly (actually snuck it in on me), I did not realized that I actually learned some theory. The presentation is 110% professional, educational and user friendly.

The video has a split screen which allows the viewer to see exactly how each piece is played, both on the neck and the right hand finger picking technique that is used. My only complaint about this video is I wish AL's guitar had those little dots on the fret board as it makes it easier to follow where fingers are supposed to be when he is using a capo. My eyesight is not what it used to be you know! :-) Anyone interested in trying DADGAD tuning and/or Celtic style guitar playing, this two video series is a must! Al's other Celtic style video, provides instruction on some other alternate tunings he uses in his repertoire.

Mr. Petteway's personal technique is impressive as he makes each piece look easy and fun to play. His playing style is fluent and graceful and his compositions both emotional and inspiring to listen to. Lots of new ideas can be generated from this video for broadening your own creativity and composing skills. I was searching for a direction in my personal playing style, and thanks to Al Petteway, I think I found it!

Al has the following recordings available; WHISPERING STONES, THE WATERS AND THE WILD, and two others featuring his wife AMY WHITE titled; MIDSUMMER MOON and CALEDON WOOD. There is also a new release due out with the husband and wife duo called: "Racing Hearts".

Al and Amy have personal web pages at: http://www.alandamy.com/al.html.

A few side notes; If this video is representative of the quality of videos that HOMESPUN VIDEOS puts out, I highly recommend them for your next purchase of an instructional video. Also, if they suggest you buy both videos in a series, do not be cheap like I was and buy both of them! They have a web page at: www.homespuntapes.com.

Or call them at: 1-800-33-TAPES

ACOUSTIC MUSIC RESOURCE also gets a mention here too. They have a fantastic supply of acoustic guitar players available in their catalogue. I do not know about you, but where I live it is next to impossible to find quality solo acoustic guitar recordings at a decent price and these guys have a large selection and really friendly service. They have a web page at: www.acousticmusicresource.com.

Or call them at: 1-800-649-4745

Photo of Al Petteway and Amy White by Irene Young

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