I’ve often been associated with players that use specific picking techniques, such as sweep picking, economy picking, hybrid picking and so on. In truth, I have no idea what any of these terms mean. Sweep picking does not appeal to me at all.
To my ears, it’s very unmusical. In my music, you will hear some insane, fast arpeggio-based lines, but it’s never simply straight up and down through the arpeggios, the way sweep picking usually is performed. This month, I’d like to demonstrate some cool ways you can achieve the effect of fast arpeggio-based sounds while avoiding the predictability of standard sweep-picking licks.
The mind of a songwriter is often wired differently than that of a guitarist. Though the two cross paths often, it’s rare to see a pro-level guitar player (particularly a lead guitarist) and a successful songwriter embodying the same human being. Some exceptions might include Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Clapton and Brad Paisley. But usually it takes two.
This lick is in the key of C# minor and starts off with a C#m(add9) arpeggio [C# D# E G#]. The arpeggio in the first beat is actually just a straight C#m triad [C# E G#] played across all six strings in two octaves, although landing on the high D# note [first string, 11th fret] provides the ninth degree.
The exercises in this month’s column emphasize pick-hand techniques that are intrinsic to my style: sweep picking, alternate picking and multiple-finger fretboard tapping. Specifically, I wanted to create a convergence of these different playing techniques within a musical-sounding piece.
I call this month’s column “The Riff Welder” because in it I demonstrate a variety of ways you can bring more melodic content to your power-chord-driven ideas through the use of single-note lines and small two-note chord voicings, often referred to as “diads.” I will take a few fairly “stock” chord progressions and, by moving a few notes and voicings around, show you how to devise much more interesting and effective rhythm parts.
When I was first getting into the guitar, I played it incessantly. I lived it, breathed it, ate it and slept it. I was also extremely self-critical, so from early on, I made sure to develop good playing habits—I constantly strove to sound in tune and have a great tone, and to play cleanly and in time. But I was also very hard on myself. If I played something incorrectly, I whipped myself mercilessly. Whenever I made a mistake, I made sure that I would never allow myself to repeat it.
Hello, and welcome to my new GW instructional column. It’s good to be back! I hope the ideas and concepts I present here in the coming months will give you inspiration and insight into your own path to musical creativity. The most important thing I can say is that you should always strive to make your own distinct musical statement with what you play on the guitar.
For this month’s column, we’re going to focus on a Steel Panther song that is so great and so hooky, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine that it even exists. “Community Property,” from our 2009 album, Feel the Steel, contains a grand total of four chords, which, to me, is a good thing. Simplicity can be great.
Today we’re going to simplify and understand an extremely important part of music theory: chord progressions. Like all the knowledge areas we’ve covered so far in this series, I’m going to explain this in the simplest of terms so you can achieve a thorough understanding and absolute mastery of this concept.
I’ve noticed something about my soloing in the last couple of weeks. First, I’m not what you would consider a “lead guitarist.” I can hang, sure. But it’s not my area and I’ve never really been comfortable playing at higher speeds. That’s alright, because I make my musical living on the rhythm and layering side of the business. But I also noticed that I had some consistent problem areas as I moved across the fretboard.