Repeat a note to get more mileage in your guitar solo.

Every guitar player wants to fly all around the fret board hitting a bazillion notes. This is cool, but this will get very boring. Most of the amazing guitar solos you hear have fast lines in them, but they sound very fast because they are mixed in well with melodic ideas and concepts that bring in the listener. The whole idea behind creating an awesome guitar solo revolves around the listener. Always ask yourself: if I was listening to this would I like it? Listening to blazing lines all the time will get mundane.

One way you can create a phrase in your guitar solo that allows the listener to catch up with you is to hang on to 1 note for a moment. You may find that play a quarter note triplets using only the G note gives that sound that brings you back to earth. You can vary the rhythm in any way you find that you like. Playing quarter notes of 8th notes with 1 note might sound good to you. You can also vary the length you hold on to the note. Some people hold on to one note longer than others. Use your ear to find what really works well. Your ear won’t lead you wrong.

Another way that this idea can be applied is using a technique called pedal tones. In a pedal tone you have a tone that is repeated while other notes change. For example you play the note G, then you play D, then G, then A, then G. Sometimes pedal tones can be a repeated 2 notes. There is an unlimited amount of things you can do with pedal tones. This is a busier version of the first idea suggested. You have the repeated note; you just add more color to it by adding extra notes.

You don’t want to rely on just one of these techniques. Use them both. The more options you have available to you, the better you will sound in different situations. Each technique is equally valuable, and you may grow to like one more than the other. However, learning to use both will give you more options. Some styles may sound better with pedal tones and another may sound better with just 1 repeated note.

Playing a lot of notes and playing fast is fun, but the listener won’t grasp your story line if you never slow down and lay it out in simple terms. Adding repeated notes can help the listener grasp what you are saying and help them understand it more. Making music accessible is one factor that makes an average musician different from the great musician.  You can repeat one note by itself or repeat notes within a phrase by playing pedal tones. Both will add interest and make it easy to grasp.

How to solo over dominant chords

Dominant chords are one of the most enjoyable chords to solo over. Some styles of music rely strongly on the dominant chord. The dominant chord has so many options that you can use to play over it. However, because the chord is so flexible there are challenges to it. We will discuss how you can play over dominant chords and what options you have available to solo over it.

The most common scale that people use to solo over the dominant chord is the Mixolydian. This scale fits to that chord perfectly with hardly any tensions. This is the go to scale for dominant chord. However, this chord can be much more complex than this scale. Typically in jazz you will find people pushing forward and trying new sounds over the dominant chord. If you consider the dominant chord a little bit different, your whole world of soloing will change.

Most dominant chords are part of the altered family. An altered chord is a chord that has chord tones changed. The unaltered dominant chord is 1 3 5 b7 9 11 13. However if you play a dominant chord most of the time any alterations will fit well. If you make the 9th flat or sharp, make the 11th sharp or the 13th flat you now have an altered chord. This means that every single note is available to use to solo over the dominant chord. The hard part, you can play any note and make it sound good, but if you play any notes you want it will sound bad. You need to play those altered notes with a purpose. The best way to do this is to play with a scale.

You have many scales available to use to solo over dominant chords besides the Mixolydian scale. You have the Whole Tone scale, Diminished scale, Phrygian Dominant (5th mode of harmonic minor), Lydian dominant (3rd mode of melodic minor), and many more. These scales mentioned already take up practically all the notes possible. A common scale that is used a lot in jazz is the bebop scale. The Bebop scale is very similar to Mixolydian and allows for more chromaticism in your playing. The Bebop scale would be a great place to start after you are comfortable with the Mixolydian scale.

Dominant chords are a joy to play over and there are so many option that you can use to solo with.  Most dominant chords belong to the altered family which makes virtually every note acceptable. The Mixolydian scale is the go to scale for dominant chords, but there are many other options you can use. Some are similar and others are way different from the Mixolydian. Experiment with different scales and find what works for you.

Go to the Playground and Swing Music

Swinging music is used in many genres. It is a great way to add rhythmic variation to your rock solos and it is the primary rhythmic source used in jazz. A lot of people tend to get all philosophical when they talk about swing, but in this article I will explain practical thing you need to know about swing. What is swing and how do you do it? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

Swing is a style of music based on the triplet feel. There are different ways you can swing, but all swing is based on the triplet. All triplet options work for the swing feel. You can play quarter note triplets, 8th note triplets or 16th note ones.  If you are not sure what a triplet is, an 8th note triplet is 3 notes per beat. The way I think of it is saying tri-path-let each beat. The tri being the first beat of each beat. All these notes are exactly equal in length. What are some different ways to swing?

You can swing a couple different ways. First you can play the normal triplet. However you will need more options than just that. So you have 3 equal notes per beat. The first way to swing, and is the most common, is to play the 1 and 3. You do not play the middle note of the triplet. In jazz music all written 8th notes are played like this. Another way you can swing music is to play the 1 and 2 and skip the 3. This isn’t as common, but is still used a lot. Both of these options are usable with all options of the triplet. Quarter note, 8th note and 16th note can all use these 2 options.

Swing is the primary rhythmic option in jazz. Everything in jazz is based on swing. Swinging music is not just a jazz concept though. There are examples of rock guitarists that swing, and swing is used in country music all the time. Swinging can add that extra little spice to your playing. Being rhythmic is always a good way to improve your solos.

Swing music is all based around the triplet. There are different ways you can swing, but they all revolve around the triplet feel. You can count triplets by saying tri-pa-let. You can also count it by saying banana or any other 3 consonant words. It can be used in virtually any style of music and can spice up your playing if used well.  Blessings!

Introduction to Sweep Picking On Guitar

You have probably come across this term before in your musical career. It is a popular technique because many rock musicians tend to use this technique. This technique can be used in any style of music; however sweep picking is emphasized more in rock guitar than any other style. In this article you will discover what sweep picking is and what it is not, and you will learn how you can start doing it for yourself.

Sweep picking is a technique that was created to play arpeggios with the most speed and least amount of work on the picking hand. This is accomplished by playing 1 note per string arpeggios and picking in the same direction. Say you are playing an ascending arpeggio, you will pick downward on the low E string, downward on the A string, downward on the D string etc.

Be careful not to strum your guitar. You are not strumming, you are picking the guitar. Sometimes when you see someone doing it fast it may look as if they are strumming, but they are not. Practice just the right hand picking for now, but after you pick each string rest the pick on the string next to it. You will continue to rest the pick on the string lower than the one you just plucked, but you will gradually gain speed.

The best way to start sweeping is to start simple with 3 strings. Learn to sweep these ascending and descending in pitch. Work on ascending and descending separately until you are comfortable. Before long you will find that these are easy and you will then want to combine ascending and descending. Start slow and push yourself faster slowly because the slower you play the more likely you will create good habits. If you play fast and sloppy you will continue to play fast and sloppy. Here are some shapes you should practice sweeping.

Sweep Picking Shapes

The numbers are labeled to show which note should be played first. The colors indicate the different shapes. You will need to hammer on to number 4 and pull off from number 4 while you are sweep picking these.

Notice these shapes are all triads with an extra note hammered on. You can practice sweeping with any triad you want on any set of strings, but for now I suggest you start on the highest strings. These shapes are the foundation for progressing in sweep picking. Spend the time to learn these well and you will thank yourself for it later. Sweep picking is designed to get the most speed with the least amount of work. To start learning sweet picking it is best to start slow with 3 notes per string ascending then descending and finally combining the two. Once you are comfortable with these you can move on to adding extra strings and creating more interesting ideas.

Shell Chords the Power Chords for jazz guitar

Power chords are the simplest way to comp in a band setting, but regular power chords don’t work in jazz. There is a set of chord voicing’s known as shell chords that are used in jazz. Shell chords are the simplest type of chord used in jazz, and it is a foundation to be used to build your own guitar chords. In this lesson you will learn what makes a jazz power chord, how to finger them and how to use them to create your own new chord voicings.

Most jazz chords are built off of the shell chord. It is a 3 note chord that contains the root, third and seventh. This chord style originally came from a big band guitar player named Freddy Green. These shapes are typically played on lower strings with the root on the low E or A string. These chords are not extremely useful in non jazz music. So how to you play these?

Typically the lowest note is going to be the root note, and the 2 higher notes will switch depending on the chord shape. These are played with the index, middle and ring fingers. Most of the time shell chords have their root on the low E string or the A string. On rare occasions you will find a shell voicing on higher strings. This is just the typical. If you find that shell voicings in higher registers sound better to you then you should use them.

 

a Shell Chords shape for a major 7th chord.

A shell chord for the major 7th chord.

Shell chords shape for major 7th chord.

A shell chord for the major 7th chord.

Shell voicing shape for a dominant 7th chord.

Here is a shell chord for dominant 7th chords.

A shell chords voicing for dominant 7th chords.

A dominant 7 chord shell voicing

Shell voicing for minor 7 chords

A shell voicing for minor 7 chords.

Shell voicing for minor 7 chords

A jazz power chord for minor 7 chords.

These jazz power chords can be played by themselves, or you can use them to build more complex jazz chords. How do you build upon them? You can use your pinky or hold down one of your fingers to add-on notes. With this you can stretch with your pinky, or skip strings. To get the most benefit from these chords I suggest you memorize which notes are what scale degree. Here are some examples that use these chords and build upon them.

Extended shell voicings

An extended shell voicing.

Extended shell voicings

Another example of extended shell voicings

If you need to comp with a jazz band, or if you need to play a complicated jazz chord, shell chords are a great place to start. They consist of tones 1, 3 and 7. You can build upon these chords easily to make any chord you need. Memorize all the chord tones to get the most benefit from it. This will be a base for your jazz chords so you can rely on these whenever you need a new chord. Discuss this topic below.

Guitar exercise that will help your guitar stretching

Are you trying to play a chord that you just can’t quite reach? Does stretching up 5 frets while playing a scale feel awkward to you? There are exercises that can help you build up your flexibility on the guitar. There are many different exercises to help with flexibility, but in this lesson I am going to show you one that I like to use. With this exercise you will find those hard to play chords get easier.

Before we begin I want to warn you against pushing yourself too hard. You want to get a stretch, and when you are done with this your fingers may be a bit tired. What you do not want is pain. If you stretch too hard you should stop to prevent injury. Just like stretching any other part of your body, you should not push yourself too far. You may not be able to complete this exercise at first, but with some patience you will be able to. The First step is to put your fingers in the starting position.

guitar exercise position 1.

Guitar exercise shape 1 with the pinky on the D string.

 

guitar exercise position 2

Guitar exercise shape 2 with the pinky on the high E string.

There are 2 of these positions you can start in. The concept works the same way in both, and I suggest you practice both positions for the best results. In both positions the pinky will start on the 12th fret. In position 1 the pinky is on the D string, in position 2 the pinky is on the high E string. Now that you are in the starting position and ready to stretch let me explain how this works.

Hold all the notes down and strum them 1 by 1 to make sure they are not muffled. Move your first (index) finger down 1 fret and strum the strings again. If all the strings are played perfectly you can move your middle finger down 1 fret. The middle finger and index finger are now sitting next to each other. Make sure every note is played and not muffled. If all the strings in the shape are played you can now move your third finger down a fret. Repeat the strumming process. Finally you move your pinky down one fret and you will be in the exact same position that you started in.

How this works is that as you move down the fret board, the frets get wider. This will create more tension in your fingers which causes the stretching. By the time you get all the way down you will be struggling to make the stretch. It is even harder when you play it on a classical guitar which has even wider frets. So don’t worry, there is always a challenge. The hardest part of this stretch for most people is the stretching between the middle and ring fingers. Make sure you play these notes clearly, especially between these fingers.

This stretching exercise will make your fingers more flexible so that playing stretchy chords or scales that require a stretch you will be prepared and capable of executing them. This also makes a great guitar warm-up. Guitar stretching is important so your fingers are not limited in their abilities. I have attached a video below of me playing this exercise so you can see it being played. I apologize for the poor lighting.

 

 

Guitar Scales – Melodic minor modes and their shapes

The modes of Melodic minor are very similar to the modes of the major scale. The only difference between the modes of the major and the modes of the melodic minor scale is the 3rd. Both scales contain exactly the same notes, except the melodic minor has a lowered third. Each of these scales are their own identity, but for this lesson I am going to teach them how they relate to one key across the neck.

This scale is not used much in musical genres other than jazz and classical. There are differences between the melodic minor scale in jazz and the melodic minor scale in classical. For this lesson I am going to show you the jazz melodic minor scale. The difference is in classical music the melodic minor scale ascends with the melodic minor scale and descends with the natural minor scale. In jazz the melodic minor scale is the ascending part. They exclude the descending switch. The guitar Scales you will learn in this lesson are the jazz melodic minor. Let’s dive in and learn these.

guitar scales

This is the Melodic Minor Mode

guitar scales

This is the Dorian b2 Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Lydian Augmented Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Lydian Dominant Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Mixolydian b6 Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Semilocrian Mode.

guitar scales

This is the Superlocrian Mode.

As you can see there are some stretches in the fingerings. I suggest you finger those with the first (index) finger, middle finger and pinky. This is the easiest stretching. If you use your ring finger you will have a huge stretch between your ring and pinky fingers. Most people find stretching their first and middle fingers the easiest way to play those stretches.

Transpose these melodic minor scale shapes to all 12 keys. Make sure you know them well before you move on. These guitar scales are known as the jazz melodic minor scales, because they ascend and descend the same way. A great way to become familiar with these scales is to make up licks with them, play around with them and start using them in your playing. Below are all of these scales listed in order for your convenience in learning. Try to memorize their name with the shape; this will make further learning easier.

Melodic minor, Dorian b2, Phrygian dominant, Lydian dominant, mixolydian b6, semilocrian and superlocrian

Introduction to guitar tapping part 2

By now you know the very basics of guitar tapping. I suggest you read the introduction to guitar tapping before moving on to this lesson. This post continues on exactly where the first post left off. In this lesson you will learn how to move your hands during 2 handed tapping and incorporating more notes in your left hand. Let’s dive in and get to the meat of it.

You are now playing one note of each hand. The next step is to add a second note on your left hand. Also keep in mind that you should be considering what notes belong to that key while practicing. Just picking random notes isn’t going to sound good. How you incorporate a second note in the left hand is by adding a hammer on. So you tapping with your right hand pull off to the first finger of your left hand and hammer on the third finger of your left hand, complete this with another tap. I will give a tab example to show you what this looks like.

guitar tapping

A guitar tapping lick in the key of G. Tap on the 7th fret, pull off to your first (index) finger on the third fret and hammer on your ring finger on the 5th fret.

After you are comfortable with adding the second note to your left hand you can add a third note. All you need to do is hammer on with your new finger and you note have 3 notes in your left hand. Typically when you hammer on 3 notes they are stretched out. Experiment and see what you can come up with.

How can you improve your right hand? You can start to move it around on the neck. Say you start tapping on the 7th fret. Next time you tap you can tap then 8th fret. Then you can tap the 10th fret. Keep your tapping in the key signature for now, but you can move the note to any note in the key of G. One of the great things about this technique is that it lets you hit some very wide intervals easily. So don’t be afraid to move your fingers up the neck as far as you want.

guitar tapping with a moving right hand

The same guitar tapping lick except you are moving your tapping hand around.

Take your time going through this material. Learning a few things well can take you a longer distance than learning a lot poorly. Now that you have the basics down you can start jumping into more advanced tapping techniques. You can start moving your left hand, and switching strings. There is a whole world of guitar tapping available to those who want it. Practice hard, but most importantly enjoy it.

Introduction to guitar tapping

Undoubtedly you have come across guitar tapping before. It is a pretty well-known technique especially in rock music, and it is fun to learn and play. In this lesson you will learn the basics of guitar tapping. Don’t get too freaked out, it isn’t that hard. After this lesson you will understand the basics of guitar tapping, and with a little practice you should be able to start incorporating it into your own playing. When we consider guitar tapping, most people think of the right hand part. In actuality there are 2 equal parts in guitar tapping. There is the right hand and the left hand. I am going to first going to explain how to use the right hand, and then I will explain how to use the left hand.

The easiest part of guitar tapping is the right hand. All you are doing is hammering on and pulling off. For this lesson I am going to assume you are using a pick. All you need to do with your right hand is tap your middle finger down on a note. Do this a few times to see how hard you need to press to make the note sound. Don’t do it too hard, this will slow you down and possibly start to hurt. Just do it hard enough to make noise. When you are comfortable with this you can either pull off upward or downward. I suggest you do it downward, because this will allow for more advanced tapping later on. This is all your right hand does is tap on and pull off.

What is so important about your left hand while tapping? This is easy, it takes 2 to tango. Your left hand is in control of the notes you play when your right hand pulls off. At first for a beginner to two-handed tapping I suggest you play 1 note at a time on the left hand. So what you are basically doing is tap, note, tap, note. Later on you will advance this to more difficult techniques, but for starting out this will take you far.

Combining the 2 hands in 2 handed tapping is a matter of coordination. This is true no matter how advanced you get. Once you get your hands moving in harmony with each other, your tapping will start to flow. Another thing to mention about the 2 hands is that both of them can move. They don’t have to start on 1 note. However for a beginner the less you move both hands the easier it is to play. Keep that in mind.

The very basics of guitar tapping are not hard, and it can be fun to play. If you play rock guitar this is an important skill to know how to use. All your right hand does is tap on with the middle finger and pull off. I suggest you pull off downward. Once you get your 2 hands moving in harmony together it will start to sound fluid and better. If you want to continue to part 2 of this click here.

What is economy picking and how do you do it?

 

Over the years players have always tried to make their playing easier. Getting the biggest bang for their buck was in mind. They came up with this idea of combining alternate picking and sweet picking. This allowed them to gain speed, control and still have that rough picking sound that you don’t get with legato playing or hybrid picking. For some players this is their primary picking style, for others it is just another tool is their tool kit. Either way, it is good to know what economy picking is and how it works.

Typically when people use economy picking it is over 3-note per string scales. This is because of the picking pattern required for it to work. The picking pattern is down, up, down, down, up, down, down for ascending, and when you are descending you have up, down, up, up, down, up, up, down. The ascending and descending patterns are the same except they are reversed.  When you have the 2 down strokes or 2 up strokes is when you switch strings. This is how economy picking is similar to sweep picking.

A good exercise to do when you first start practicing economy picking is to do it without any notes at all. Concentrate 100% on the right hand. You can add notes later, but concentrating just on the right hand will make the process faster. I also suggest that when you first start out, practice switching from 2 strings. When you get comfortable using economy picking switching between 2 strings add the 3rd. gradually build up to all 6 strings. It won’t take as long as you would think.

Once you get a good grip on the basic economy picking 3 notes per string there are some altered patterns you can learn that can give you some really cool new ideas. Some players like Frank Gambale and Derryl Gabel use a lot of economy picking in their playing. This technique is not the end all be all of guitar by any means, but it is a useful thing to know.

Economy picking is a technique that is a mixture between alternate picking and sweep picking and allows for more speed than alternate picking. Economy picking is set up so that when you switch strings you continue in the same direction you were already going. Hence you do 2 down strokes or up strokes at the same time while switching strings. Practice this on 2 strings and slowly build up to all 6 strings. This is another fun technique that you can use to enjoy your music, which is what music is all about.