Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


6 Pieces of Guitar Gear I Can’t Live Without

Hey Gang!

I was just peeking through the mountain of “Fanbridge”  questions that I have, and I came across a recurring theme…

Question:  “Adam what guitar / strings / gear do you use?”

I get asked about this 10 times a week.

With the “mountain”  of gear that one sees in catalogs & stores it is easy to get confused.

Since I carry most of my stuff myself (no car – yep, I’m a a New York guy), it has to be portable, easy and sound great.

All of what I am listing fits in a backpack (except the guitars), and I am ready to play any size concert hall or festival.

Keep in mind, this list WILL change, and “there is more than one way to do it” – but this has been working for me.

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How to Kick Butt on Guitar – Creativity Plus Discipline

Being a guitar player is not that different from being an author, photographer, magician or pizza parlor owner.


In actuality – it’s only ONE field…we’re all self-employed entrepreneurs getting our creations out into the world, providing value for people, and earning something in return.

As an entrepreneur, you have to self motivate.  It’s the “long haul”  tactics and daily habits that build into something worthwhile, over time.

Short bursts of inspiration can’t build musicianship or a great career, but a little bit of work every day – towards a worthwhile goal, most certainly will.

I just read an article by my one of my favorite information marketers, Fred Gleeck, and he talked about the writing process…this quote rang true to me as a creative musician.

He says…

The one thing I suggest you do is that you MAKE yourself sit down and start writing every day for a given block of time. Writing is an act of creativity AND discipline.

This is exactly the process  I use in regards to practicing guitar… I use “creativity AND discipline.”

You are the CREATOR, not the CONSUMER

As a CONSUMER, and lover of music – when you listen to your favorite musician or band, it’s as if you are getting the most delicious dessert at a fine restaurant, served to you.

Mmmm yummy!

No work is required.  You sit back, hit play and enjoy watching and/or listening.  Easy as pie.

As the CREATOR of that dessert, you will not likely “feel the feelings”  that the consumer feels!

This is precisely the spot where, for example, little kids at music lessons realize they need to practice and “it’s no longer fun.”

The shiny new thing loses it’s luster, you see the errors and really have to polish your work of art.

A Recent Real Life Example

I recently did a stretch of arranging, videotaping and uploading 9 Beatles tunes  to YouTube. Here’s one of them for your enjoyment – “In My Life”

The Discipline:

As the musical “dessert chef”  I spent, on average

  • 2-3 days creating the guitar arrangement & practicing it
  • 1 day video taping & recording
  • Maybe 1 day more recording the video again after “sleeping”  on the problems of the first taping
  • For each of these 5 day projects I have a delicious 3 minutes to present to the world.

The Creative:

Even though it’s “covers”  some serious “creativity” went into choosing this stretch of tunes, before I even picked up the guitar.

  • I felt it was time to inject some new life into my repertoire, and I love hitting the “bullseye”  musically for my audience.
  • Almost everyone loves the Beatles – so it’s as if I am coming “back from the bullseye”  like a Zen archer. (See my C + Y = R post)
  • With a nice set of Beatles songs, I can maybe do a Beatles DVD
  • I can offer to now teach a Beatles class at a guitar workshop
  • Of course I’ll have more GREAT tunes to play on concerts
  • If people like the videos, they’ll share them socially
  • Maybe a Beatles CD is worth doing…
  • I strove to  get GREAT versions of these songs onto the guitar that really convey the music, better than I’d ever heard…

When I saw what I wanted to achieve, I determined that it would be well worth the discipline and time needed to whip these tunes into shape and make videos, upload etc.

Is there “Luck” involved?

It makes me almost want to barf when someone says “oh you are so lucky – you get to do what you love…”

Are you kidding?  I work my tail off and claim it….it ain’t luck!!!


Hopefully this gives you some “inspiration”  to be disciplined, put the time in daily, and stick to a plan – and achieve your dreams!

Now….git to work!

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If Paul McCartney Can’t Read Music, Why Should I?

I hear this often from students and guitar fans.

And I am into a 2nd Venti at Starbucks.

I am Venti-ing.

I get very disturbed when a young student tries to “shirk”  away from the work because one of his or her heroes can’t read music.

Often, accomplished musicians who can’t read music will “put down”  musicians who can read – and bolster their own position  of illiteracy with the voodoo of…

I know something’ because I don’t know nuthin…and if I learn too much, I might lose the sumthin’ I gots….

I have played with many great musicians who thought their illiteracy made them special.

It’s their musicality that made them special – not their inability to read!!!

Let’s review the options….

  1. Yes, you can be a great musician and not read. DISCLAIMER:  Some of my favorite musicians couldn’t or don’t read music.
  2. You can be a musician who reads and misses the point of music, YET strays from the “feeling aspect”…not good!
  3. But – how’s about option 3? – Be a GREAT musician AND READ!!!  Like Bach, Mozart, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Beethoven, Chopin, Andres Segovia….yeah, all those dudes and dudettes! (the list goes on….)

Why Learn to Read?

(By the way, I will always include tabs on my DVD’s – so don’t worry…I’m just trying to push you to new heights….)

You have to be able to “see music”  in your inner vision. Stevie Wonder is a perfect example of a guy who understands the HECK out of harmony & melody without reading (for obvious reasons.)

Back to the Beatles…..Paul McCarntey and John Lennon have (and had)  a super-duper musical IQ, and PLAYED THE PIANO.  And they heard and sang melodies with shapes, arcs, and that told a story.

So – Why is playing just a little piano important?

Once you play chord voicing and harmonies on a piano – you’ll start to see them moving as “melody lines”  not chord grips the way a guitarist would normally think of.

Listen to the backup vocals that the Beatles use.  That’s the piano influence!

The piano can cure many many ills – and your music will have an intelligence in it.

You should strive to know music on all these levels:

  • Your Ears
  • Your Voice
  • Your Eyes
  • Your Touch
  • Your Intellect

Can Adam Walk the Walk?

Hear for yourself – and you be the judge!

I did not “write”  this arrangement on paper  – but this is highly informed by the ability to read and understand music – and understand harmony in a pianistic way.  A typical “guitar chord approach”  would never produce this result.

Please compare the sound of these 2 videos shown below.

I was able to listen intently to the Beatles original, hear the melody, the band orchestration, the backing vocals – (and by the way, there are choir harmonies in just the backup vocals, each verse with a different chord inversion!  Those pesky Beatles!)

Many people with can of course sing along with the original Beatles melody in their car, or even strum & sing this one….but if you want to be the nutty professor of fingerstyle (like I do) ya gotta dig, dig dig deep and pick apart the “parts.”

Reading music is just a way to have a “birds” eye view of what’s happening.

What Should You Do Next?

  • Find a piano or keyboard  and start plunking on chords – ASAP.  Don’t try to be the best, or perfect – just get started.
  • Get an easy reading book and just do 5 minutes a day.
  • Keep making music that sounds and feels great.

Now…git to work!!!


What’s More Important – Musical Essence or Technical Perfection?

Here’s a peek into my mind as to how I craft something musically for solo guitar.

I recently arranged the Beatles “Michelle” for solo fingerstyle guitar  and while I feel it could be way better ‘technically’….it looks like people are digging it, from the comments.  (thanks Youtubers!)

It is very far from perfect – but it feels good!  There’s a different “perfection” in the good feeling I am talking about.

I am not tooting my own horn, please understand!  I  am talking about the overall sound and feeling of the piece, and I wouldn’t have posted online  it unless it had that “little piece of magic.”

Of course, guitarists will ask me for sheet music, because they want to learn the arrangement, and that’s all fine and good….it’s very good!!!

But there’s a secret as to where the answer lies.  To get the sound of the song….well, it ain’t on paper!

It’s not in the chords, or where I put my fingers.

First, I listened closely to the original Beatles version for the songs “essence”…the life, the personality and gut feeling for this musical “entity”  called “Michelle.”

Inside, I am singing the song…and every note, bump scrape, slap and mistake I make – has to aligned with the “Michelle” essence.  I had to “become” the song…and wait patiently until the fingers tell the story.

(Further proof that life is an “projecting”  outwards of our inner vision! )

Actually I don’t even see what I am doing as an “arrangement” …I’m just trying to sing you the song – with my fingers.

It’s the same thing as when a painter steps back from the canvas and takes the whole thing in.  It’s almost like you have to look with fuzzy blurry vision, rather than obsess on the “perfect shadow cast by the cherubs little finger.”

Get it?

In regards to “essence vs technique”….

  • Essence wins – with the “people” –  They can hear the SONG!
  • Technique wins in school.  You get a good grade, and then reality strikes!

Gut, intuition and exploration are the tools needed!

Wow…it only took me 37 years to figure this out – that something  imperfect can have a deeper perfection ….when we see (or hear) it in terms of the big picture.

Rock on!


The Musician’s Cure to Social Media Madness


This last week, I spent a lot of time online, doing my research, keeping up with  social media, new (to me)  sites like and

(does this sound familiar?)

Sites like Facebook, twitter and Youtube are helping me reach fans and book gigs…so I wanted to see “what I’ve been missing”  and how I could ramp things up, career wise.

Oh boy…all I did was make myself nuts!

Like many musicians, or managers or “labels”  I’m scratching my (bald) head wondering what’s next, and will the sites I’m signing onto even last?

Some sites will be here to – stay (for a while)  while others will bite the dust like Myspace.

My head started to hurt.

Questions like this plagued me this week (don’t worry – this post will end happy…)

Some of my personal issues:

  • How can anyone hope to compete with a Youtube channel with millions of subscribers?
  • To get more hits & views, must I simply play every crappy cover song I can think of, in incredible voluminous amounts?
  • Will Youtube yank my videos / channel, since I still am doing covers?

then…my personal hell….since I get asked for tabs of my covers constantly…

  • How the hell can so many guitar instructors out there sell tabs with ZERO licenses in place, and I choose to go the high road and get licenses, am I an idiot?
  • Will social media change, because right now I don’t want to know about someone’s cat barfing…so I “shut off” and others do too.
  • Where is it all going?  And am I wasting time trying to figure it out?

The irony is…(drum roll please)

By asking these questions I was simply “creating my world”  and seeing the world as “I am”  not the way it is.


What appeared to be “out there”  was “in here.”

This is kind of heavyweight information  when you think about it.

I create my world and you create your world, minute by minute, whether we complain and worry, or whether we rejoice and give thanks!


I picked up the guitar.

I decided to start  learning a new tune….”IMAGINE”  by John Lennon.  It was time to be a musician and not a social media manager for a few hours.

After hours of ironing out an arrangement, I uploaded it to Youtube:

This video was done with NO end result in mind….only “love”  in mind, honest to God.  I wanted my fans to have something nice and soothe them.

I fell completely into the song, the lyrics, the tone of the instrument, Lennon’s voice, intention, and so on.


As I walked out into the street in NYC after uploading the video and  I felt “all my troubles seem so far away” 🙂

The pain, headache, uncertainty and frustration I was feeling were GONE.


I found myself in a “bliss”  state.

Immersion into music, with no thought of “what I’d get out of it”  is what got me there.

I saw after this that I have the personal power to choose one state or the other.

THAT’S BIG!   Do you get this?

What I previously thought “the world was doing”  was MY creation.

My NEW (forgotten) mantra “I am responsible for 100% of my life.”


Once I dropped the video onto Youtube, Facebook and Twitter – it was something useful that people wanted to share.

That’s the way to use social media!  (I.E.  that’s the horse before the cart…)


Social media is a pipeline.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Good meaningful stuff in, good meaningful stuff out.

The lesson….offer something good….really good and everyone wins.

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Which Free Bonuses Would You Want with the Upcoming “How To Play Stevie Wonder Fingerstyle Guitar Volume II” DVD?

Hey Guitar Picker!

What free bonuses YOU would like to get with the new upcoming “How to Play Stevie Wonder for Fingerstyle Guitar – Volume II”  DVD?

I need ideas as to what YOU want. Not what I think you want 🙂

Here are just a few cool ideas – and you can leave an idea too!

This is a SHORT survey, with a few checkbox options – will take you less than 2 minutes!

Thanks a MILLION!

Here is the link:

All the best



The “Tweezer Technique” for Fingerstyle Guitar

Hi Gang!

Wow, it’s been a helluva travel time here…I am now back in NYC after 9 weeks on the road in Germany, Austria Belgium and Holland – and Niagra Falls.

Many loyal fans took video at gigs.  When I saw this,  I thought I’d finally share this “secret” technique with you.

I call it the Tweezer Technique.

Normally I don’t show this kind of stuff casually, as it took years and years to develop.  But, I’ve decided it’s time to make this public – and spread the knowledge and joy to all players, and not keep this a secret any longer.

Enjoy!  The Tweezer Technique can be seen at about 3:04  – but it can only be appreciated if you watch from the beginning and see “musical context”  that it is in.

Feel free to use it in your own guitar playing.

Thanks again!  keep on picking….


P.S.  The Stevie Wonder Vol II Arrangements for Fingerstyle Guitar DVD will launch in about a month…so stay tuned! 🙂

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Michael Jackson Guitar

Hi Gang!

I just wanted to share this little interview with you – it’s the EPK for the new Michael Jackson Guitar Tribute CD “I REMEMBER MICHAEL”.

I speak a little here about my inspiration from MJ & hearing his music as a kid growing up in New York City in the 80’s.


– Adam


“I REMEMBER MICHAEL” Michael Jackson Solo Fingerstyle Guitar Tribute CD by Adam Rafferty – Coming Soon!

Hey Gang, here are some fun videos shot during the recording phases of I REMEMBER MICHAEL, the new MJ solo acoustic fingerstyle guitar CD.

We’re aiming for a release date of August 29, 2011 – Michael Jackson’s Birthday! I will keep you updated, I promise. CD’s are in production now, and will be available soon.

Stay tuned, and thank you!


Adam Rafferty – “Lovely Day” – Bill Withers – Solo Fingerstyle Guitar

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Hey Gang! Here’s the latest funky fingerstyle guitar tune – “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers….enjoy!

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