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.
The title of this month’s column refers to the standard minor pentatonic “box” patterns that so many guitar players rely upon when soloing. While they are valuable, they can be restricting if they represent the primary way in which one utilizes these scale patterns on the fretboard. When playing in the standard box pattern, we generally play two notes per string.
As the Black Label Society's leader (and Ozzy's guitarist for more years than anyone else), Zakk Wylde has become infamous for his brew-tal riffage and lethal lead style. Remarkably, though, he also has a soul-stirring softer side.
Guitar amplifiers disguised as effect pedals are nothing new, but most are fairly limiting in one way or another. Usually, the space-related convenience usually leads to an inconvenience in the tone or power department. Then there's the Taurus Stomp-Head 4.SL. Let’s start with the power. The Stomp-Head 4 can be run at 40 or 70 watts.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the big concepts many players tackle is learning licks from famous players and classic solos. When doing so, you can learn the lick as played on the recording, but you also can work the lick around the bar rhythmically in order to give you variations that you can apply to your soloing ideas as well as the original lick.
I'm gonna get right to it today with two words: ergonomics and templates. Ergonomics is how my gear is setup around me in the studio — for minimum movement. Can I reach everything from my seated position in the sweet spot of the control room? Templates are how I set my gear for maximum usage and flexibility, where sound is concerned.
I could never overstate the importance of a musician’s need to develop his or her ear. Actually, I believe that developing a good “inner ear” — the art of being able to decipher musical components solely through listening — is the most important element in becoming a good musician.
Clarence White was a genuine double threat. His brilliant, Doc Watson-inspired acoustic flatpicking, which incorporated lightning-fast fiddle lines played on an already-vintage Martin D-28 guitar, helped the bluegrass world recognize the guitar as a lead instrument. Several masters of the genre, including Tony Rice and Norman Blake, list him as a key influence.
For some of the really fast passages, I could hear that they were using a legato approach—incorporating an abundance of hammer-ons, pull-offs and finger slides—but I had absolutely no idea how to play the guitar in that way or achieve anywhere near their speed and precision. It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before, so I always referred to it as “alien guitar.”