Saturday, January 26, 2019

A Great Tip For Rock and Blues Guitar Improvisation

Have you ever wanted to go to a music store and get a book that had the best information on how to play guitar, explained in ways that were easy to understand and made sense, and not know which book to buy? Ever go out and get that book, only to discover that it had a bunch of information that you didn’t need and didn’t make a good deal of sense after all? Ever wonder whether the “get chops quick” guitar methods so prevalent on the Internet today are really ripoffs? Well, no need for further frustration, help is here.

I’ve been playing guitar for quite some time and understand these situations because I’ve been there. I used to wonder how the great rock and jazz guitarists learned what they learned in order to play the way they play. I was curious to know: What was their secret? What is the key that unlocked all that great playing and all that musicianship, and what is the easiest and most painless way for me to begin to approach that level? It is my goal in this article to begin to provide answers to these questions. That way, you won’t have to navigate the same musical maze that I did. These answers should, in effect, help make your musical experience that much more enjoyable. Incidentally, in spite of all the struggles, I still play music fervently and haven’t quit playing even when it became difficult, a testimony to the power of music.

As many of you have, I’ve gone into music stores and on the Web looking for the best and most helpful books and methods to buy for the musical arenas I wanted to pursue. This is important of course because these books and methods are expensive (especially these days) and a budding guitar player shouldn’t have to go out and buy every book on guitar that’s out there. I’ve also noticed that there are quite a few guitar books that start off by throwing tons of scales at the student without ever even explaining clearly why all these scales need to be learned in the first place, or worse, how the scales should be used or which chords to play the scales over and why the scales sound good over a particular chord or series of chord changes (as opposed to sounding terrible). In contrast, we’ll begin the subject of learning to improvise lead guitar for rock and blues (while including concepts applicable to all guitar styles) with a very simple approach.

Step 1: Learning The Names of The Individual Notes On The Fretboard

This is vital because in the art of improvisation, one has to know where one is on the fretboard at all times, regardless of what type of music is being played or improvised. Without knowing all the notes on the fretboard, it becomes easy to get lost and fall behind on the tune (while the chord changes the other musicians in the band are playing just roll on by). The natural shortcut, or the easy way out, is to only learn some of the notes on the fretboard. This approach will have at least two undesirable results: (A) the limited ability of only being able to improvise in certain keys (like A and E), and/or, (B) the limited ability of only being able to improvise on certain areas of the guitar neck. Jamming with other musicians and having these types of situations arise tends to lead to a good deal of embarrassment.

For beginners, there are three types of notes in music: Natural, Sharp, and Flat. So for example, the note G on the 6th string 3rd fret is also called G Natural. A note that is sharp is always one fret or one half-step higher; a note that is flat is always one fret or one half-step lower. Thus, G Sharp would be on the 6th string 4th fret; G Flat would be on the 6th string 2nd fret. Since A is the next natural note up from G, this means that G Sharp and A Flat are exactly the same note. This can be confusing at the start until an understanding of keys and key structure comes into focus later on.

I realize that the prospect of having to learn every note on the guitar neck can cause feelings of dread and uneasiness; indeed, it may take some time to accomplish this task. Learning the notes on the guitar academically is one thing, but getting that knowledge to work instantaneously under your fingers while improvising is something else. Easy and instinctive methods of learning the notes on guitar do exist, however. One method to begin with is to learn the basic open string chords common in every chord book (like A Major, E Major, and D Major) and take these movable chord forms (often called “bar chords”) up the guitar neck, simultaneously being conscious of the roots in those chord forms. Another helpful tip is to realize that any note played on the guitar twelve frets higher is going to have exactly the same name. So for example, the note on the 1st string 1st fret and the note on the 1st string 13th fret are both going to have the same name (in this case, the note F). Thus, all the guitarist has to do is to learn the notes of the open strings and the first eleven frets and then practice playing simple chords and note patterns in both the lower area (open to 11th fret) and the upper area (12th fret and above) of the guitar neck.

This simple approach outlined here is conceptually simple, but not easy. Good things sometimes take time. It takes a few more words and a bit more effort to explain concepts clearly. My hope is that the information in this article will help make your musical experience less mysterious and more enjoyable, and that the next time you go into a music store or on the Web looking for guitar books and methods, you’ll know exactly what to look for.

Friday, July 27, 2018

For Guitar Players : 5 of The Best Tips of All Time

Here are the 5 greatest tips of all times made by famous people and how they can apply to guitar playing. I've heard and read these tips over the several years and all of them have  earned their weight in gold : 

1) “What You Think, You Become.” –Ghandi

I came across this quote in the book entitled “Fearless Creating”, which is written by Eric Maisel . It emphasized the possibility that the things we try to make all begin in our ideas, and imagination. I cast this quote on my wall, my notepad, my hand, everywhere for a number of years to remind myself to keep my purpose present in my mind, and it always assisted me to not give a whole lot of attention to uninvited negative thoughts and my automatic ones, such as..SEX!

2) “There is Always a Way” -Vinnie Colaiuta

I've read this in an interview with Vinnie in a friend’s magazine some years back relating to drums. The entire gist of the article was that when he was faced with a abstract problem, or when he was trying to pick up something especially challenging, or new, he was of the mind that there was “always a way” to get it, be it an adjustment of posture, a new way of looking at the execution of it, a new way of playing the blues guitar instrument, something to change to accomplish what was previously believed to be “impossible”. I always try to use this when moving up the food chain, trying to get to the succeeding level. It has resulted in some great results, if not necessarily technical prowess, certainly something creative and unique.

3) “Poor Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal” -Picasso or Stravinsky

I have overheard that it was either one of these extraordinary artists who said this. Also a corollary…”To be a really good guitarist, you must copy the styles of other blues guitarists.”-Frank Gambale.

Well, first what can we steal? Chord progressions, tempo, groove, melodic phrase, (backwards melody!) Expressive style, mental attitude. What is the difference between that and “borrowing”? I think the great artist turns his thievery into something entirely his own, perhaps by unabashedly admitting the theft and developing it into a whole new foundation. Think –The Beatles, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Page, Clapton, Ornette Coleman, Elvis. Whereas the “borrower” is feigning to us that his original work has never before been heard and they have a contrived quality. This can be a very fine line.

Prior to ever reading the interview with Frank Gambale, saying that imitating styles was a invaluable tool, I was entrusted to some obscure concept of “being original”. When I acquired the accuracy of that affirmation, I set about to work, and it has changed my life. I embraced the point of view that I was a student, and had a great deal to learn from those who preceded me, that music and its history was outside of myself, and was greater than I was. I am now a firm believer that both of these aspects expand one’s growth to an immense degree. They give the player completely fresh languages to speak, and once you speak new languages, you will be able to create your personal great stories. Stories with depth and richness.

4) “The Impossible Can Be Accomplished Through Meditation and Concentration” -The Cup and Saucer Guy

I recall being kind of trapped on a plateau with my blues guitar playing at one point. I had achieved a good deal, but I didn’t know how to really move ahead. I was watching a variety show on television one night. A man came on balancing one hundred cups and saucers. He did this for what appeared to be a very long time and then he allow them to all crash around him. As the audience applauded his effort, the host asked him how he had learned to do this. His answer was that through meditation, he was able to achieve the necessary concentration. I began my own meditation methods, first applying a easy technique of being still, which I had discovered in the pieces of writing of people like J. Krishnamurti, and Tara Singh. Nothing which requires years to master, but a simple way of continuing to quiet the mind, increasing concentration, focus, and listening, just being in a very calm and relaxed state, paying attention. I now carry this stillness and relaxation to all my guitar performances.

5) “The Three Month Rule” -Roger Mckinley

Roger Mckinley was a associate student at Berklee. Roger was also a very gifted rock and blues guitarist, who, when I first came across him, was imitating Pat Martino. Just 2 years later, had created his own explosive unique style. ( see tip#3!) He left the jaws of many around him agape (and he never seemed to be committing any effort into it!) I was surprised that he befriended lil’ ol’ me and was willing to jam with me. I understood and learnt so much from him on just a single jam session. One of the things he told me is that it takes a good 8 weeks to bring an element of originality into your playing. This has saved me a good deal of frustration, and tempered my natural impatience. I have come to a conclusion that no matter how much I practice something, it is usually the better part of 8 weeks  before I actually can master it.

I hope you can use these practical and inspirational quotes to bring your music and guitar playing to greater heights.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Play Blues Guitar Licks - A Comprehensive Review of Peter Morales' Blues Jam Session Package

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently come across a system that not only teaches you how to play guitar, but specifically, blues guitar licks. This is my own review of that system which is called Blues Jam Session.

If you want to skip the review and go straight to the download page click here.

Peter Morales, Florida-USA

Occupation: Professional Guitar Instructor


Who put it together?

First of all, Blues Jam Session has a very passionate, dedicated and experienced owner. Professional guitar instructor, Peter Morales, has put in many hours of effort in creating what I call the "Ultimate Blues Guitar Package". It consists of 60 blues backing tracks in every style with video lessons and improvisation guides.

I think this is extremely important because you may have heard plenty of midi-sounding free jam tracks on other sites that are pretty low quality. Some were downright cheesy sounding while others do not come with video lessons or instructions (scales, chords, tips, etc). You know what I mean if you've paid for those lousy tracks in the past.

Well fortunately, these flaws and mistakes can hardly be seen in BluesJamSession.

What does it consist of?

* Over 60 blues backing tracks in every tempo and styles.
* Video lessons, guides, chords and scale sheets
* Step by step instructions guiding you how to improvise
* Great for both electric, acoustic guitar and even wind instruments

The Pros

In my opinion, it doesn't matter at all if you’re beginner who is not proficient in improvisation, as Peter Morales has provided tons of tutorials to guide you along. The instructions are clear and concise, they are straightforward and extremely easy to follow. Even a complete beginner is able to master improvisations and techniques within minutes by following the videos!

Furthermore, the jam tracks cover a wide range of genres, styles, tempo and length for all musicians. Even if you play wind instruments, this package would be suitable for you. Another thing worthwhile mentioning is that they have very good customer support; when I say ‘good’, I mean they are able to reply to all your questions within minutes to an hour with a high degree of politeness and efficiency.

The Cons

Being a comprehensive system there is a lot to digest and it's certainly not something you will get through in a few days. There is a degree of information overload and you will have to pace yourself and follow the system as recommended otherwise it could be overwhelming.

Also the members area has some very large downloads and certain files may take you longer time to complete due to their sizes. However, this is completely understandable as the tracks are very high quality. You can opt for the 2 CD physical edition in the members area which alleviates this problem.


Is Blues Jam Session a worthwhile investment? Honestly, I haven’t seen any other music tuition package that is as comprehensive and that's available at such a low price. Have you?

The quality of the jam tracks and videos are probably among the best that I've seen… and yes, I have nearly missed out one of the most important parts- the variety of the tracks. Speaking the truth, for every single style of blues they have actually prepared several different tempos/lengths. 

Click here to download your 60 blues backing tracks now.

To visit the official site, click here


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I want to learn how to play blues guitar...the right way

Okay, so you've chosen the guitar as the instrument you want to play. You already know a few basics but want to focus on learning how to play the blues. It all looks easy enough, just a few basic chords and some slide here and there. Well, maybe not quite that simple. Every genre of music has its own little idiosyncrasies, and knowing the essentials is what's vital and important when learning to play an instrument.

So, to play the blues you wouldn't be looking for your average "how to play guitar" program, course or system. You want something that will not only teach you how to play guitar, but aim specifically at playing the blues. Many guitar legends will say that they were self taught and just picked it up as they went along. Well, this may be true, but the novice will find they will acquire the necessary skills by learning it from scratch and doing things the correct way. Being over confident is not a good thing as you may skip over certain elements and strategies that are needed in order to master your playing. It may seem tedious at first, but learn the (important) small stuff and the rest will come naturally.

So what you are then looking for is a comprehensive program that will do this for you and one that is reputable and presented by a professional who knows what they are talking about. In my next blog post I will review in detail one such system that I have come across that does what it says it will do.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Can I learn to play a musical instrument? A starting point.

Learning to play a musical instrument can be either a daunting challenge or a real buzz! Once you have decided what instrument you would like to play, you have to then think about how you intend to take the first steps and master the basics

Do you:
a) find a good teacher and pay for tuition?
b) approach an accomplished musician who is willing to give you one on one lessons? 
c) how about trying to teach yourself in your own time using books, videos and whatever other resources are available? 

It comes down to how serious you are about learning your chosen instrument and how much of your valuable time and money you are willing to invest. The choice will be different for the individual depending on their circumstances. The important thing to remember, especially if you are serious about it, is that once you have committed yourself, stay with it, and, when you have attained a good confidence level, take it further and become a master at it. It's all about setting a goal for yourself and having that passionate drive to make it happen.