As you can tell from my previous blogs, learning and knowing the fretboard to the best of ones ability is of the utmost importance to me as a guitarist and something I stress to all of my guitar students. How much do I stress this point? So much that last week one of my students wanted to know why is it so important to me. I thought about it for a day or two. Thats why I love teaching; it gets me to reevaluate all that I know. The reason it is so important to me is because I feel that the more knowledge you have about your instrument and how to get around on it, the more beauty you can create with it. You will be able to summon any possible combination of notes and phrases to emote the exact feeling you are trying to convey. It is my job as a teacher to come up with interesting, unique and cool ways to master this task.
With that being said here is an interesting, unique and cool major scale exercise to help you learn and eventually master the fret board.
This exercise is based on the six notes of any major scale played in three octaves up and down the neck starting on different notes of the scale in order diatonically. This exercise is played in the key of F major. It is actually moveable but for the constraints of space we will use F major. The first six notes of the F major scale are F, G, A, Bb, C, and D respectively. We will play these notes in that order in three octaves across and up and down the neck. Once that is done we will then play the next six notes of the major scale starting on the second note. These notes would be G, A, Bb, C, D and E respectively. We will play these in three octaves across and up and down the neck also. We will follow this series and pattern until the last note of the scale. You will notice that each series has the same symmetrical finger pattern for each octave. But don’t let those similar patterns deceive you. This is a very challenging exercise for a few reasons. Firstly, the rhythm pattern is very difficult, sixtieth note triplets played at about 120 bpm. I highly recommend NOT playing with a metronome at first until you get the stretches and proper fingerings down. After that is accomplished I would then start with a metronome slowly gradually building up to a fast speed. Secondly, although the finger pattern are similar for each note group, they do change as you switch the starting note of each phrase. So you have to really think about what you are playing quickly at a fast tempo. If you really want to take this exercise to the next level, say each note as you play them. Your significant others, parents, roommates and pets may think you are crazy but hey you will be learning the fretboard in an expeditious manner and becoming the master of your chosen instrument so its all relative! After you master this exercise in F major, move it around to other major keys and when you are jamming and soloing, remember this lesson. These phrases will sound killer with an amp on 11 and a wah pedal. Just saying.
Now get out there and pick up that guitar and play, just like yesterday. As always, any feedback and comments are welcome
Hey everyone. In my last two blogs for Guitarworld.com, I discussed arpeggios and how to incorporate them into your playing to learn the fretboard and add some color to your leads. In this blog I would like to discuss some really cool major and minor scale exercises that will help your overall guitar playing on many different levels.
Examples 1 and 2 are a major and a natural minor scale respectively over three octaves spanning from the 6th string to the 1st string. At first look it seems harmless enough but when we analyze it, this exercise presents a few challenges. The rhythm starts out as triplets played legato with hammer ons. But in the second measure the rhythm changes to sixteenth notes played legato with the pinky slide into the next triplet. Although this may seem simple, it is not easy.
This little exercise works on accuracy. I suggest playing without an amp so you can really dig in and hear those legato phrases and slides. Make sure that the dynamics of every single hammered note and slide are even. It helps to improve your rhythm playing. The changes from triplets to sixteenths are really challenging especially when played with a metronome. Hint hint. This exercise also helps to improve your position switching. The fingerings change with some of the phrases so you will have to think and look ahead to the next phrase to be accurate. One of the overlooked aspects of lead guitar playing I stress with my students is knowing the fretboard like the proverbial back of your hand. This exercise will also help you to connect the fretboard from one end to the other and break you out of “the box” positions we all get so comfortable with. And last but certainly not least, you can incorporate a sections of these exercises into your lead work for some added flair.
These examples are in G major and G minor respectively but since they are moveable scales I suggest you learn then all over the fretboard using the notes on the 6th string as the roots. Practice them with a metronome of course.
Now get out there and pick up your guitar and play, just like yesterday people. Thanks again for reading and as always any feedback is always welcome and encouraged.
In this blog I would like to discuss one of my favorite exercises to learn the fretboard and add a little mojo to your lead playing.
Before we begin, let me define what an arpeggio is. An arpeggio is a broken chord. We can play a chord 2 ways: the first way is to play all the notes at the same time and the second way is to play the notes one at a time consecutively. This latter is called an arpeggio. The following exercise is all the chords/arpeggios in a C major scale over the the first two strings. One of the things I stress to my students is to learn the fretboard like the back of your hand, maybe even better. This exercise will definitely expedite that process and it sounds really cool to boot. Continue reading
Hello again everyone. In my last blog, I discussed and demonstrated a cool exercise to add some zest to your lead work and to help you to learn the fretboard by using arpeggios derived from the major scale. In this blog I would like to address the same topic but instead of using the major scale I would like use chords, specifically 4 types of chords that all guitarists and musicians should be familiar with. Continue reading
Happy New Year! I hope that the year has started off on a good and positive note, pardon the pun, for all of my readers and I wish you all nothing but success and happiness in 2013. The one thing that I am most proud of in my career is the fact that I have always gotten the gig I wanted. Without fail. Whether it was passing the audition for a band, getting accepted into a conservatory, creating a successful teaching business or getting shows, I have gotten the job done. These accomplishments did not come by accident. Some say I am lucky. But all successful people, musician or not, know that luck=hard work+opportunity. In this blog I will discuss some of my personal philosophies and strategies that I have used over the past 30 years to get and keep the gig that you have always wanted. Continue reading
When one of my guitar students wants to learn lead guitar I usually show them the minor pentatonic first. Once that scale is down in all keys, I play different and familiar chord progressions and have my students solo over using the scales they just learned. Almost always the same thing happens: the students leads sound like a continuous scale. I call it the musical equivalent to a stomach virus: the notes just keep on running out with no end in sight. The same thing occurs when they advance and learn the extensions of the minor pentatonic and the modes. They know the notes and the connections very well but it just sounds like one big run on sentence. Sometimes I’ll see cover bands in which the more experienced guitarist will do the same. In short, there is no phrasing. Here are some methods I have used to make lead playing more melodic and dynamic. Continue reading
Before I go any further I would like to say I am sorry to my all my past teachers and instructors. After writing this blog I realized how for the first 15 years of my career I never really followed the advice I am sharing with all my readers. Please accept my humble apologies and I realize now that if I would have followed my own words, I would have saved myself a lot of time and grief over the years. In my previous blog, I wrote about how to be an effective teacher. In this weeks blog, I would like to discuss the flip side of this topic: how to get the most out of your teachers and become a better student , guitarist, musician and ultimately a better person. Continue reading
The following are true stories. No names have been changed to protect the guilty. Have you ever played a gig in which your gear inexplicably went dead in the middle of a face blistering lead? Have you ever been on your way to a show and have the back of the van pop open and watch a drum set and keyboard spill onto the New York State Thruway at 70mph? Have you ever watched the singer of your band run a bar tab so high that it exceeded what your band was supposed to make that night? Have you ever had your drummer pass out drunk behind the drum kit halfway through the 3 sets you were scheduled to play that night? Has your band ever broken up on the way to a gig? Have you ever had your drummer throw a heart attack 5 days before your first gig? At first glance these events look like the new script for Spinal tap 2, 3 and 4 but all these events happened to me throughout my 30 years of playing in bands and gigging around the tri- state area. And I’m still standing. At the time, these seemed catastrophic. But looking back I can say with certainty that they made me a stronger performer and musician able to deal with any adversity thrown before me. This blog is dedicated to different ways we can deal with difficult gig situations. Continue reading
Hey everyone… thanks for the amazing feedback and checking out the website. Keep the comments and discussions coming. Are there any topics you would like to see written or spoken about on this site? Let me know. Also chcek out my online blogs at guitarworld.com under the complete guitarist and at guitaraficionado.com
Teachers. Every single one of us, musician or not, has had them. Some of inspired us, some have bored us, some have twisted us but all of them have one thing in common: they have all changed us in some way, for better or for worse. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, we need to seek out instruction. There is no way to get to the next level without it. As a teacher, we have an immense responsibility to the students growth as a player and as a person. It is one I take very seriously and I hope you do also. We are entrusted with the authority to shape a students musical future. This is not to be taken lightly. The rewards are incredible. To watch a student walk into a first lesson not having any clue about how to even hold a guitar and to watch them progress into fine players and fine young men and women is a joy to behold. I have seen firsthand how learning an instrument can change a students life by helping their self esteem, overcome shyness and using the discipline it takes to get better at an instrument to take other areas of their academic life to the next level. But just how to we as educators maximize every students potential? Here are some steps on how to do it. Continue reading