Further your music theory knowledge with this video lesson explaining the difference between quavers & semi-quavers and how they're represented on the musical stave.
One of the biggest challenges for any aspiring player is nailing your bending pitch. It’s so easy to take the shine off your killer solo with a few badly pitched bends. Imagine if the first bend in the Stairway to Heaven solo was sharp, or picture Slash, cool as can be, leaning back outside that church in the November Rain video pouring all his emotion into a solo with badly out of tune bends. It doesn’t quite add to the guitar hero dream does it?
What can we do to remedy this? Well there are 2 key elements to great string bending. Your fingers and your ears. Training these 2 things should come as a package, you need your fingers to be strong enough to make those all-important bends but you also need your ears to be listening, so you know where your pitch is heading.
An exercise I think is highly beneficial for string bending and ear training is to take the notes of the A Natural Minor Scale (A B C D E F G) and play them in ascending groups of 3 from the 2nd fret of the G string (Ex. 1). This first part is not to get your bending strength but it’s to get the notes into your ears and the pitches of every note of the scale familiar to you. The first 2 notes of each bar are played as ¼ notes while the third note is played as a ½ note (This extra length is what you should be listening to – get that pitch in your mind).
Once you’ve gotten those pitches in your ear, you can then start to work through the 3 note groupings again but bending each 3rd note in the group (Ex. 2). You’ll be bending the following:
The big thing to watch out for here is over or under bending. You want to really get the pitch of the target note in your ear by playing it, then bend the note up to it (Ex. 3).
This will help you hear what you’re aiming for with your bend.
Once you feel comfortable with gradually bending the note from the note you play to the target note, we can introduce the concept of pre-bends (Ex. 4). A pre-bend is when you bend the string to the desired pitch before picking the string. This will make the exercise more challenging as you’ll be testing your strength and muscle memory rather than your ear. Your ear will act as your guide when you play the note to tell you if you’ve hit the mark or if your sharp/flat. For this exercise, you’ll be pre-bending the note you were gradually bending before.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with playing the scale ascending with the pre-bends, we can flip this around and work backwards from the top note to the root. Play the scale in descending groups of 3 (Ex. 5) to get the pitches into your ear.
Now, we are going to work backwards, the first note is going to be your bend (From the middle note of each 3 group to the highest) which will then be followed by 2 picked notes (Ex. 6). Play the middle note first before gradually bending up to the target note.
As with playing the scale ascending order, the trick is to still use your ears to hear the target pitch. Bending gradually up to the target note will allow you to hear when you’ve hit that pitch. It will also boost your finger strength and fluidity of bending. As with the ascending version, it will also make great finger and ear training to apply pre-bends to the descending run (Ex. 7). You’ll be playing the pre-bent note, followed by 2 picked notes.
Finally, we will try this again in a descending fashion, but this time we’ll be playing the middle note of the grouping before we bend it. Then we will bend up to the target note and then whilst keeping the pressure on the note, release the tension back to its original state. This bend and release motion will give us the note you play, up to the target note and back again (Ex. 8). If you are doing this grouping with a metronome you can adjust the timing of this exercise to make it all ¼ notes. Your first beat will be picking the middle note of the grouping and bending it up to the target note, the second beat will be the release of the target note back to its original pitch, the third beat will be that original pitch note picked again and the fourth beat will be the lowest note in each grouping. You may note that beats one and two are achieved with a single pick stroke.
Whilst all these exercises run the length of the scale, you can break them up into small chunks. If you’re finding it difficult to move up or down the full range then start off with 1 or 2 bars and get those fluent, then add a third bar and slowly work up to the full scale.
About the Author
Leigh Fuge is an experienced guitar tutor and professional musician from Wales, UK. He has taught hundreds of students in both face to face and via online guitar lessons.
He has a passion for sharing information and practise routines to help students develop their own voice with the instrument and achieve their full potential.
Here's a lesson on the rhythm guitar part of the infamous blues track, 'Johnny B. Goode' by Chuck Berry.
This tune is essentially just a standard 12 bar blues progression and whilst it was originally played in Bb, I've transposed in to the key of A for this lesson - the holy grail of keys for all guitar players!
This is a great tune to learn if you're starting out learning the blues. Excuse the singing, enjoy the lesson & have fun!
Check out this great guest blog post from Marc-Andre Seguin on how to pick repertoire when learning jazz guitar.
About the Author
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1
online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional
jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn
the craft of jazz guitar.
Jazz guitar is one of the most fun and also most challenging styles to play on the instrument. It takes lots of rigorous study and there is always a new challenge so it really keeps things interesting. One question I am often asked is “Where do I begin?” In truth, you can play any jazz standard on guitar in one way or another, but here, I will discuss some of my favorite ones and I will talk about why they lend themselves to the instrument. You may encounter some arrangement challenges as well as key changes and modulations, but this will all serve to make you a better musician. I also encourage you to learn these tunes in different keys. This will make you come up with different arrangements to fit the instrument and it will also prepare you to play for a singer who might want the keys changed.
Autumn Leaves is often the first or one of the first tunes any aspiring jazz musician learns. It was composed in 1946 by French-Hungarian composer Joseph Kosma for the movie “Les Portes de la Nuit.” Harmonically, the tune is fairly easy, sticking mostly to the key of G minor - or E minor depending on which version you learn first. It has nice harmonic motion in 4ths which really lends itself to the guitar. The melody also lays out very nicely on the instrument, which is why I’m putting this one first on this list. This tune also gives you the opportunity to explore the famous ii V I progression as well as its minor counterpart. The minor ii V I is typically played as iim7b5, V7alt, and i. This presents a slew of challenges and it is a good idea to learn to tackle this early on.
Here, we have a standard jazz blues composed by Sonny Rollins. It is extremely important to really be able to play the blues form as a pretty large chunk of jazz standards are based on it one way or another. This particular tune does not really lend itself to “solo guitar” renditions, but with some ingenuity, I’m sure you could manage something! Either way, it’s a great tune to learn as it is often called on jam sessions. The jazz blues differs from a traditional blues in that there is a good bit of added harmony. There is also a iii vi ii V turnaround which is another good thing to get a handle on early in your playing career.
Next on the list, we have “Blue Bossa” composed by Kenny Dorham. This is another one of those tunes teachers often give to their students in introductory courses. For one, it offers the opportunity to play over a more Brazilian feel which gets you away from all the swing stuff for a bit. It is not a traditional bossa, but it’s a good start. This tune also presents the challenge of a key change for a short period of time, going from C minor to Db major. Key changes are everywhere in jazz, and it is important that you start tackling them as soon as you feel comfortable playing over one key.
Watermelon Man is an easy enough tune that is also good to have in your repertoire. The form is a 16-bar blues and it makes use of a funky-latin sort of groove, once again, getting you away from all the swing stuff. Harmonically, it is rather simply, presenting more or less the same types of challenges as your standard blues, but the 16-bar form gives you something interesting to play over which is that oscillating V to IV progression. This is easy to tackle in principle, but to really do it in a way that is consistently interesting is the real challenge. This turnaround also tends to fool the more novice players as they expect the turnaround to arrive sooner than it does. Of course, this is easily remedied by knowing and studying the form.
Last but not least, we have another classic Sonny Rollins tune, “Oleo.” The chords to this tune, like many, many others, are based on the classic Gershwin tune, “I’ve Got Rhythm.” Since you cannot copyright chords, only melodies, many musicians and composers over the years have written tunes over this form. Affectionately known as “Rhythm Changes”, the changes offer up the challenge of playing over the classic I vi ii V progression, a IV to minor IV modulation, and even cycling dominants in the bridge section. Being able to play over these changes is an essential and will prepare you for many of the challenges you will face as you learn more tunes and expand your repertoire. For example, the tune “All the Things You Are” also includes a IV to minor IV modulation as does the beginning of the popular standard, “Just Friends”. Playing over these changes is deceptively difficult, so make sure you give it its due attention!
To close, I would just like to point out that each tune presents its own set of challenges. Whether that is a wide-range melody, difficult changes, or a tough groove, there is always something to learn. Therefore, as a beginner - and even as an advanced player - you should spend a good chunk of your time learning different standards. When learning the tunes, make sure you learn the melody as well as the harmony. As guitar players, we are expected to be able to cover all the bases as our instrument can be used in a variety of different roles. In other words, you should be able to play single note solos, the melody, a solo arrangement, comp, and so on. This may seem like a lot, but once you get into the swing of things (pun intended), you will see that it gets easier and easier over time.
In this video I sit down and have a chat with classical guitarist, Alex Hart.
Alex is a graduate of the Royal College of Music and currently works as a performer and tutor, working throughout the UK & Europe. In this video he discusses his own journey and offers some technical tips on technique and effective practice.
Links in video: Giuliani's 120 Right Hand Studies: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004HFR9O...
The Complete Carcassi Guitar Method: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Car...
Steve Hill Guitar Builder: S.email@example.com
Alex Hart Classical Guitarist: https://alexhartguitar.wixsite.com/al...
Despite the modern age providing access to a whole range of options for finding services, tracking down a suitable guitar teacher can provide it's difficulties.
In this video I discuss how you might want to start looking for a tutor, what you should ask and what you shouldn't feel afraid to ask!
Whilst qualifications and experience are important, the attitude and the approach of each tutor can be different. Always consider how you get on with them personally and think about how much of a priority this is for you.
Any specific questions?
Send me an email:
This video lesson teaches the intro to 'Why Georgia,' taken off John Mayer's 'Room For Squares' album. Unfortunately, this tune is no where near as easy as he's able to make it look.
The chord sequence in the intro essentially moves between G Major - Dadd4 and then moves to a C Major 9 chord (with some embellishments).
The percussive 'tap' that he achieves is best left until you've mastered the main section, much easier to execute if you add it later. The C Major 9 chord requires a fair bit of switching fingers so ensure that you've made the shape become second nature before progressing on.
It's a brilliant tune to play on acoustic guitar and more importantly, it's an excellent one to pull out in the guitar shop when trying out new guitars!
This is one for those who wish to be terrified and/or inspired in equal measures!
Some may not know about Mr Guthrie Govan, arguably one of the world's most incredible and also one of the most (incredibly humble) guitar players.
This clip emphasises his absolute ease with the instrument and his ability to move effortlessly between different styles of music. Whilst some could argue that playing a heavy metal solo over a bebop jazz tune is not appropriate, he demonstrates enough musicality to get away with it!
Check out how he uses his fingers to vary the tone and attack, this is an opportunity to watch an absolute master of his craft.
The overdrive pedal is an essential part of every guitarist's kitbag. I wanted to take Fulltone's ubiquitous 'Fulldrive 2' for a spin. I've used it for years and always found it to be able to balance just the right level of overdrive with some decent clean boost sounds - ideal for anyone playing Blues/Jazz/Rock etc.
I think it's always important to explore as many of the settings as possible but inevitably, as guitar players we usually find 2/3 sounds that we like and end up sticking with those! This video demo should help anyone who is interested in hearing a few different variations. I tried to keep things fairly neutral too (clean guitar signal through valve amp).
Clearly, nothing beats trying the pedal out for yourself. Also, don't underestimate the importance of using this pedal through your own guitar and amp (where possible), It's all relative!
Please share any thoughts you have on the video itself and whether you feel there is anything else you'd like to see in my gear reviews.
This is an absolutely masterful take on building rhythm guitar parts.
Paul Jackson Jr is a very accomplished session player, having played on hundreds on records for artists such as Michael Jackson, Daft Punk & George Duke. Check his exhaustive list of album credits here:
The video itself focusses on the following chord progression:
CMaj7 - Bb/C - FMaj7 - Emin9 - F/G - G
Mr Jackson then creates a guitar part around these chords, using intervals to create an incredibly creative and exciting accompaniment. This emphasises the importance of understanding the intervals within the chords and experimenting with them to create music.
This style of rhythm guitar does very much come from a smooth R&B/soul background, notice how he uses palm mutes and slides to add dynamics to the part, not to mention an incredible sense of sitting in the rhythmic 'pocket!'
This video is well worth a watch, as are other clips from his DVD, 'The Science of Rhythm Guitar.'
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