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Chris Breen

Guitar World Member For: 2 years 23 weeks
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Beyond the Fretboard: Why Musical Purity is Overrated

Rock, pop, metal, alternative, blues, jazz and hip-hop have die-hard fans who firmly believe the best aspects of their favorite genre lie in its purest form. Mixing these styles together can be thought of as blasphemous by some, an attempt to dilute their purity. But is this really the case?

Beyond the Fretboard: The Double-Edged Sword of Guitar Idols, Part 1

It's hard to imagine how rock or heavy metal music would have evolved without this essential cast of characters. However, it's important to be objective and to look at both sides of the fence when evaluating the impact these players' fame and reputation have had on future guitarists as well as their own musical growth.

Beyond the Fretboard: Visualizing Your Own Scales, Part 1

Think about the minor pentatonic scale; almost immediately, the mental image of that familiar box shape is probably conjured in your mind's eye. The fact that we can instantly recall various patterns due to their spacial layout over the fretboard is a great thing. But what if we're relying too heavily on existing scale shapes?

Beyond the Fretboard: Why Guitar "Noodling" Might Be Underrated

First off, what is noodling? Well, it depends on who you ask. But for our purposes, I'll say it is generally the act of unorganized or undisciplined practice. Those of us who have been playing for a long time know it takes dedication and sometimes sacrifice to accomplish a certain goal.

Beyond the Fretboard: Knowing "a Ton of Scales" Made Simple, Part 1

We all know the true measure of an accomplished guitarist is not dependent upon how many scales he or she can blaze through. Instead, it's much more enjoyable to hear a player who has great command and control over just one or two scales. Many of the greats did not possess encyclopedic knowledge of music theory, and it didn't seem to hinder their progress or creativity.

Beyond the Fretboard: Improvising Vs. Soloing, Part 1

Great guitar solos are sometimes romanticized to the point of mythical proportions. It's one of the few areas where it's still considered acceptable to concede to yourself, "You can't teach that." While this might seem like a harmless idiom to utter when you're filled with a sense of awe, it can also be detrimental to your longterm growth as a musician.

Beyond the Fretboard: The Harmonic Hierarchy of a Scale

This feeling of "hitting a wall" is something we've all gone through as musicians. Our initial reaction might be to quickly slap a Band-Aid over the situation and learn more licks or new scales. Sometimes that approach can help us get out of a slump. But in this situation, are we really addressing the student's concerns? No.

Beyond the Fretboard: The Double-Edged Sword of Guitar Idols, Part 2

Many of the greats have that unique quality to their playing that can be instantly discernible from others. Sometimes it's the way they vibrato a note or their particular phrasing style. This generates a powerful sense of familiarity with listeners, which is similar to recognizing a singer's voice.

Beyond the Fretboard: A Guide to Practicing ... Minus the Guitar

There are only so many hours in a day, and most people don't have access to a guitar for a good portion of that time. But that doesn't disqualify the average person from becoming a great musician. What can you do to actively "practice" while you're driving in your car, riding on the subway, stuck on an airplane, at the gym or on your lunch break?

Beyond the Fretboard: Dealing with "Tedious" Practice

I wasn't fully aware of the concepts of muscle memory, but I intuitively recognized (like most people) that the more you do something, the better you get. Some people hate the idea of going on a diet or starting a workout regimen. But if you stick with it, you will start to notice changes in your mood, energy levels and physical appearance that can further fuel your motivation.