If you think you know your scales, think again – your knowledge may be incomplete. A lot of players equate knowing a scale with knowing the patterns and how to find it on the fretboard. This isn’t even half the story, let alone a fifth of the story, as there are at least 5 different ways that I can think of to know a scale – if you think of any more, let me know in the comments.
So, you know the fingering pattern for a scale, but do you know:
If you’ve been practicing the three patterns, you can probably imagine what’s coming next. We’re going to move the whole thing to D, or the key of D Major. D Major is another incredibly popular key for rock and pop music, so it’s well-worth exploring. It also contains other options for soloing over chords we’ve already come across such as Em, G, Bm, and D itself. Let’s dive in.
Another incredibly popular key for guitar-oriented music, and music in general, is G Major. We’re going to see another scale option for many of the chords we’ve already covered in Part 1 and Part 2, which I recommend trying out to see which ones you like. The reason I’m putting up these tutorials is for those that just want to play rather than wading through a ton of theory before allowing themselves to do so, and this is perfectly valid. Due to the nature of the instrument and fact that we’re able to pattern everything out, this is perfectly doable. I understand that not everyone has 6+ hours a day to practice guitar, so the idea here is make the time you do have available as productive as possible.
In Part 1, we looked at soloing in the key of F Major and the three patterns you need to learn to be able to do this. In this part, we’ll look at the exact same concept only this time in C, or the key of C Major. This is a very popular key, if not the most popular key in rock music, so it’s well-worth getting acquainted with its chords and scale patterns.
I was watching a YouTube video the other day where Lee Anderton (aka the Captain) gets a guitar lesson from Ariel Posen. Ariel tries his best to teach him a few things in a very thorough and well-meaning way, but about half-way through Lee says something along the lines of, ‘Just teach me the quick and dirty way to do things, I’m a middle-aged man who doesn’t have the time (or the patience) to practice scales for 8 hours a day’, which is both totally valid and completely doable on guitar as it’s one of the few instruments that lends itself well to a wide range of methodologies, be they theory-based or the other extreme, which is what we’re going to look at in this post.
As guitarists, we tend to practice scales in a non-discriminate way; what I mean by this is that when we’re playing a scale we tend to treat every note the same way which makes for monotonous leads that don’t really sound like music. This can happen with any scale system, but it’s especially prevalent with 3NPS and CAGED System users through no fault of their own due to the massive (and unnecessary) amount of information there is to deal with. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those ‘breaking out of scale patterns’ lessons; in fact, we’re going to stay well within our scale patterns and tweak them just enough to make our lines a little more musical.
A lot of guitarists tend to waste their practice time due to lack of focus, organization and discipline, and most of the time this is completely unintentional. How many times have you sat down to practice and just ended up noodling and/or playing everything you know and putting the guitar down? A practice session should leave you buzzing, or not even wanting to put the guitar down. The main cause of this is not a lack of discipline but a lack of focus, or a realistic goal for your practice time. Don’t worry, this isn’t another long-winded post about setting goals, because that’s only half the problem; the real difficulty here is aligning your goal with the content of your practice session. In other words, will what you’re practicing actually lead you to the goal you have in mind?
The most famous rendition of this traditional song from the Eastern Mediterranean was Dick Dale’s surf rock version, though the song now spans generations thanks largely to Pulp Fiction in 1994, the Black Eyed Peas, ‘Pump It’ in 2006, and Dick Dale’s original outing in the early sixties. Though you might dismiss this eastern influenced number as a tremolo picking party trick, it’s a great song for guitarists for many reasons as we shall see…
One of the great things about the advent of the internet for guitarists is the access you have to virtually any aspect of your favorite players’ approach to the instrument, from their gear set-ups to how they think about the instrument. If you’ve ever studied Slash’s playing in any great detail, you’ll realize that his very simplistic approach has led to some of the most memorable guitar solos and riffs of all time. I was never a huge Guns N’ Roses fan but Slash’s playing back then was like a melodic breath of fresh air. Now, Slash doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you’d find slaving over scale and theory books, and he’s not; what he is though, is a perfect example of how far you can take, and how effectively you can use, a simple improvisation concept.
This little guitar hack is particularly useful if you’re at that stage in your learning where you want to know which scales work over which chords without having to trawl through theory books, or rely on some app to tell you. You want to be able to do this practically on the fly so that you can apply it to any playing situation you might find yourself in, especially when it comes to more complex chords such as 9s, 11s and 13s. Read on…
If you’re comfortable soloing over major/minor and seventh chords, but things get a little shaky when you have to come up with something to play over a scary chord like a maj11, maj13, or a 13b9#11, these quick hacks will save your ass in almost any ‘jazz contingency’. If you find the idea of playing over chord changes somewhat daunting, these tricks will also simplify the process and provide you with one of the keys to playing over changes in the beginning: having something that’s accessible and sounds good up your sleeve for those situations where blowing up and down a pentatonic scale doesn’t quite cut it.
Udemy is fast becoming the go-to platform for online guitar courses, or online courses in just about anything for that matter. Signing up and accessing your courses is fast and simple, plus the user interface is a dream to work with and every course includes HD video, backing tracks, PDFs, as well as all the resources you’ll need to really get the most out of the courses you take. You can even ask the course creator any questions you might have if you get stuck along the way. Udemy courses are also great value for money and our readers can get a whopping 90% off most courses. In this post we’ll look at five of the newest additions to Udemy’s huge collection of online guitar courses.
I’ve had this one churning over in my mind for a while now and I’ve finally managed to gather my thoughts into a coherent (and somewhat lengthy) article. There are a lot of articles on how to make money as a guitarist (and a lot of get-rich-quick schemes to avoid), but I prefer to see it as making a living because at the end of the day, money is a small part of the big picture. Don’t worry, this isn’t the usual run-down of things you could make money from if you play the guitar as some kind of sideline. What I want to get into here is how to go about it, and perhaps more importantly, how to muster the mental strength to really do this. So, here are ten things to work on if you’re thinking about making a sustainable living from playing the guitar.
Let’s face it, improvisation of any kind on guitar is hard but if you work at it, you’ll be rewarded. Guitarists are notorious for diving in at the deep end when it comes to learning to improvise, thinking they have to learn hundreds of patterns and permutations to be able to solo like a boss. It’s more often the case that too much information leads to a fragmented approach, when the thing to do would be to reduce the amount of information to the level of, ‘just enough to be dangerous’, which is what we’ll look at in this post.
Have you ever watched a Troy Grady video but didn’t really get it? I know I have. You’ll be surprised to know that this is not due to Troy’s rambling nature of explaining things – you’ll never get a short answer from this guy – but it is in fact due to the sheer amount of information he bestows upon us in each video and the brain power required to process it. Most guitarists never give a second thought to the way they hold a pick, at what angle they slant it, string-hopping, downward pickslanting, upward pickslanting, two-way pickslanting, edge picking… You see what I mean? It’s a lot to take in, which is probably why when you go to apply some of these mechanics, you don’t really see any giant leaps forward, or find your fingers can suddenly fly around the fretboard like Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen or Troy himself. In this post, we’ll look at the infamous downward pickslanting technique, derived mainly from Eric Johnson, and how to get past the pitfalls and incorporate it into your playing.
If you’re a fan of three-note-per-string (3NPS) scales, and have gotten all the patterns down, you might want to add in chromatic passing tones to give your improvisations a more fusion or jazzy feel, even if you play mainly rock stuff. I got this idea from watching Joe Satriani’s hand movements when improvising, though I’m not sure whether he thinks about it this way. If you haven’t gotten the patterns down, check out our free eBook which shows you how to use just three patterns instead of the usual (and unnecessary) seven.
As guitarists, we tend to get comfortable with our playing at a certain level and not venture out of our comfort zones too often, especially if there’s no one close at hand that’s better than us. If, on the other hand, you do fancy taking a step outside your comfort zone, how do you go about it? If you’re anything like me, you probably want to do something radical that will give you some much-needed inspiration or insight into your playing. If you’re not like me, and you just want some kind of quick fix, do some ear training – it’s one of the few things that encompasses and improves all other guitar skills. But, for anyone who’s slightly masochistic, here are five things you could try.
Most guitarists get stuck in a scales rut sooner or later; this is somewhat due to learning patterns which, because of their enclosing nature, train our fingers not to stray outside of them and encourage us to play almost on autopilot within the confines of a set of notes. The good news is that it’s not so much the patterns that are the problem, but what we do, or don’t do, inside of them that counts. If you search this blog, you’ll find a bunch of articles on breaking out of scale patterns that involve doing something other than playing a scale pattern, but in this one we’ll look at how to mix it up inside those boxes to get that sense of breaking new ground you might be striving for…
While playing fast for the sake of it is probably not a worthwhile pursuit on guitar, once you’re over 17, it’s nice to have a little speed on-tap for those moments when the emotion of the piece requires it. Playing chromatic scales with a metronome for hours on end to build speed never really did it for me, and if it doesn’t float your boat either, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of other ways to tweak your playing for a quick injection of speed, or simply to get a better tone and more consistent attack.
While you might have been dazzled into thinking that phenomenal technique and a mastery of music are a fundamental part of being a virtuoso guitarist, and they are, there’s an even more fundamental skill that is often overlooked by budding virtuosos wanting to follow in the footsteps of their heroes. What lies behind the blistering technique and the all-encompassing knowledge of music are an equally phenomenal pair of ears, so in this post I want to convince you to take up the lost art of working things out by ear, which is not to be confused with ear (s)training.