Banish Your Unwanted String Noise, Part 2

Banish Your Unwanted String Noise, Part 2

February 08, 2019

In our previous article, we learned five essential techniques for string muting with the fretting hand. Now we will examine string muting with the picking hand.

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Banish Your Unwanted String Noise, Part 1

Banish Your Unwanted String Noise, Part 1

February 01, 2019 1 Comment

As your playing improves over time, at some point you will want to turn your focus from simply playing the notes to playing them with impact, authority, and enhanced dynamic control. Dynamics will enhance everything you play, and for them to work, you must have total control of everything that comes out of your guitar- intended and unintended. Time to Banish Your Unwanted String Noise!

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Leaving Space to Breathe in Your Playing

Leaving Space to Breathe in Your Playing

January 18, 2019 2 Comments

In a recent article, we talked about how to compose an effective solo. As a great teacher once taught me that means "speaking in sentences" with your instrument. At first, I found his advice difficult to understand, but with time, I found myself listening to the great blues and jazz vocalists and trying to capture their words and expressions with my guitar. I never have quite figured out how to make my guitar shout the way Aretha Franklin did in her song "I Never Loved a Man" as she sang that heart-rending lyric, "How could you hurt me so bad?!?" But I learned a lot of ways to make similar statements in my own playing- and isn't that the point of trying? Therefore, learning to speak with your instrument is crucial. And knowing when to be silent is equally important. Let's talk about music in space- not the 'outer space' kind, but the space between words.

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Using Overdrive Pedals as Amp Simulators and Supplemental Tone Devices

Using Overdrive Pedals as Amp Simulators and Supplemental Tone Devices

January 11, 2019

Have you ever heard a demo of an overdrive pedal that sounded so good that you immediately purchased the pedal, only to find that it sounded nothing like the clip you heard or the musician you heard playing through it? In cases like these, it’s oftentimes not the fault of the pedal demo that the sound coming out of your amp is so different, and has to do more with the fact that your amplifier, guitar, strings, and playing style are also different. An overdrive pedal is just one link in your tone chain, so it goes without saying that simply purchasing a pedal in hopes of instantly sounding like your favorite rock star is an unrealistic expectation.

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How to Compose a Great Solo

How to Compose a Great Solo

January 04, 2019 1 Comment

While many musicians specialize in playing "cover" music (written by others), at some point most players find they are interested in writing and recording their own music. If you are a guitar player, chances are that you will be called on to play some kind of original solo or interlude during the recording. You probably already have a broad repertoire of "chops" that you reach for on a cover song, but maybe you want to make a musical statement that distinguishes this recording from your normal working style. This raises the question, "How can I write a great solo?" Of course, that question is one that only you can answer. But how do you decide where to start? Let's look at some fundamental methods of creating original solos, which you can apply to your own specific situation.

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Four Types of Vibrato You Should Know, Part 2

Four Types of Vibrato You Should Know, Part 2

December 27, 2018 2 Comments

In our previous article, we learned the two most common forms of finger vibrato. In the conclusion of our series, we will discover two more forms of finger vibrato that can really add a lot to your phrasing.

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Four Types of Vibrato You Should Know, Part 1

Four Types of Vibrato You Should Know, Part 1

December 26, 2018 2 Comments

When you first get started on guitar, learning the notes, scales and chords takes up most of your left hand practice time. Fortunately, if you are persistent, these are fairly easy to master. However, once your skill improves, you start to notice that your solos and riffs seem a bit flat compared to those of more experienced players. You are playing all the right notes, and after diligent practice, you can play them cleanly and confidently. Yet, what often makes the biggest difference between a seasoned player and a beginner, is phrasing. How you play the note is nearly as important as which note you choose to play.

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Guitar Setups for Players - Pulling it All Together, Part 2

Guitar Setups for Players - Pulling It All Together, Part 2

December 21, 2018 1 Comment

In this article, we will continue our guide to Guitar Setups for Players. Be sure to check out our previous article for valuable information.

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Guitar Setups for Players - Do It Yourself, Part 1

Guitar Setups for Players - Do It Yourself, Part 1

December 18, 2018 3 Comments

If you are serious about your guitar playing, a little bit of guitar repair knowledge will serve you in good stead over the years. You'll glean the benefit of playing an instrument tuned precisely the way you want it. Not to mention, you will obtain the skills and knowledge you will need to contend with the way humidity changes and the road affect your guitar. You will still probably want to bring your instrument to a good repair luthier for major repairs and maintenance, but minor adjustments will no longer require a trip to the shop (or a frantic search for someplace out on the road you can trust with your guitar).

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What to Do When You're

What to Do When You're "Stuck in a Rut," Part 2

December 13, 2018 2 Comments

The traditional advice often given to the bride when selecting her wedding attire, was, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." I have no idea what that could possibly have to do with music. But since you can literally do just about anything to break out of a rut, let's apply the old adage to our current situation and see what happens.

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What to Do When You're

What to Do When You're "Stuck in a Rut," Part 1

December 05, 2018 3 Comments

One of the most common frustrations most musicians experience is the dreaded "Stuck in a Rut Syndrome" (I just made that up, but you get the idea). Because of the incomprehensible amount of time one must invest to master a musical instrument, it is easy to work your way into practice habits that can interfere with your advancement. You worked so long at getting it right, that it became a habit. But even though you have mastered it, you continue drilling the exercise. Worse yet, this can even happen with exercises that you haven't yet mastered, locking you into endlessly practicing badly. You know you need something fresh, but it can be hard to know what to change. So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, look to one of these easy techniques to help you get back on track fast.

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What's in a Guitar Pick?

What's in a Guitar Pick?

November 16, 2018 7 Comments

If I were ever arrested for being a guitar player and they searched my house for evidence, they'd probably come up with a few hundred guitar picks. Years worth of them in gig bags, junk drawers, pocket change and sofa cushions. Chances are most guitar players could say the same. Usually there is at least some variety in most "private collections," but eventually most of us find something we're comfortable with and settle down, seldom making another change unless the style demands it. Yet many players have never really studied picks and the nuances of each type. A new pick can inspire a different way of picking or help the player to get a better feel for a challenging technique, such as alternate or sweep picking. Every once in a while, exploring a handful of new picks can lead to new avenues of playing, for only a few cents... okay, dollars. Forgive me; I've been at this a long time.

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