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Posts tagged Guitar
Strange Dreams and MTV

The modern millennial focused society has the advantage of being bombarded by video and audio at an almost constant rate. The MTV Generation is gone, and so it seems are the precious moments of just sitting down, and being engulfed in a music video or two. Thanks to YouTube and the avid success of Ready Player One that might be changing. 

The best way to expand your ability and repertoire as a guitarist (or with any primary instrument) is to not f***ing listen to other guitarists. Listen to new and different genres, from different eras in music, and from artists who are widely separated from your normal tendencies. It's always a popular practice routine to play along to a vocal melody on your instrument, and improvise as if you're singing... but I challenge you to dive deeper into your analysis.

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Volume Swells and Jeff Beck

One of my favorite musicians to study (and teach my students) is Jeff Beck. In my opinion Beck is one of the most skilled electric guitarists alive, and has well adapted the instrument to push its boundaries. Of his many “sealable techniques” that everyone can learn and incorporate into their own playing, the one I teach the most is his use of volume swells. Of course, Jeff Beck isn’t the only guitarist to have made this technique a signature part of his playing— but the vocality in which he is able to achieve due to the technique is somewhat unique. While vibrato from the fretting hand and minute pitch shifts from the tremolo bar are fundamental to this vocality, the manipulation of the instrument volume is easily enough mimicked and learned. 

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Spice up your Blues

Like most guitar players I’ve met, I started playing (and had my first lessons) around middle school age. Walk into any local guitar shop that hosts instructors and lessons and you’ll see plenty of 10-15 year olds walking into and out of their classes and learning Blues playing. In fact, most electric guitar players learned Blues and Pentatonic scales and Dominant 7th chords before anything else. It makes sense, since so many Classic Rock, Metal, and even some Rock/Pop songs incorporate aspects of Blues improvisation and chord progressions. However, people grow up and advance in their proficiency and begin to study the specific niche genres and styles they prefer individually… and sadly the Blues often gets left behind. 

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Gear Review: Neon Guitar Strings (for Halloween)

For me, and most people I know, Halloween is a holiday that inspires more decorations and costumes than all others. The Neon colored strings by DR have been around for a while, and have a reputation for looking pretty killer under UV lighting. I'd written them off as more of a gimmick than a serious alternative to normal strings-- so I was pleasantly surprised at their performance and quality. 

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Quick Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Your Playing

1. Practice Makes...

It's fairly difficult to learn how to be a better musician by simply reading about it. The best, and fastest, way to improve is to PRACTICE; this means devoting time to do so. Hours of regular practice, and play, will allow you to 'get better' automatically. Practical experience always trumps theoretical knowledge.

2. Just Play

Practice isn't enough. A consistent practice regimen is fundamental, but doesn't do much unless your routine is assembled into useful format. Instead of repetitive scale and modal runs, create MUSIC and PLAY tunes which illustrate the subject matter and technique. A modern analog: "you don't 'practice' a video game for hours to get to a higher level, you 'play' it." If your guitar routine isn't fun to play, it won't be beneficial. Far too many instructional books, videos, programs, etc. forget to emphasize the the whole point of music: having fun.

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