Posts Tagged ‘learn’

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been really getting into Chuck D’Aloia’s “Blues with Brains.” and I’ve extolled the matter-of-fact and easy way Chuck makes learning how to play the blues. With just a few sentences, he reveals some incredible things that I’ve inherently known, but could never really articulate or understand.

The other day, a buddy of mine sent me an e-mail that contained a link to one of Doug Seven’s free videos. For those who aren’t familiar with him, Doug Seven is a chicken-pickin’ master, and he teaches this stuff online. Like Chuck D’Aloia, his stuff isn’t meant for the rank beginner, but if you have some experience in playing, what he presents will boost your technique.

I’ve got one of his courses, though I haven’t spent much time with it – it was mostly learning chicken-pickin’ licks, but this video that my buddy sent me falls right into line with Chuck D’Aloia’s approach; that is, it’s not necessarily technique, but it covers an important aspect to soloing. The cool thing is that a guitarist of any level can benefit from this.

Before I give you the link, I’ll give you the crux of what he talks about. Essentially, when you’re playing over a minor blues progression, let’s say an Am progression – Am Dm E7, for instance – you can play a major scale against it. Doug talks bout experimenting and finding what that major scale is against the root chord, and he shows you how to find it on the fretboard in a single step, without knowing what the major scale is. The assumption is that since scales fall into a pattern, once you’ve got the root note, you just follow the pattern. Very cool.

For a more theoretical answer, what you play is the scale of the relative major to the root minor chord for the minor blues progression. So for Am, the relative major is C. Basically, the notes of the scale of a relative major and minor are the same. They just have different starting points. In any case, check out the video.

Here’s the link: http://moderncountryguitar.com/play-blues-guitar-riffs-blues-licks-solo-blues-guitar.html

Admittedly, this was a bit of a review for me, but I don’t want to discount its value. Yeah, yeah, experienced soloists may scoff a little at this, but I think it’s incredibly powerful. Why? Simply because there are times when you’re gigging where you can’t come up with an idea, and something like this gives you a great fallback position to perhaps stumble upon an idea. And it works both ways! If you’re playing in a major key, you can use the relative minor scale – remember, same scale notes as the major, but different starting point, so it’ll give you a different “color.”

I once was playing a ceremony where the band had to play an instrumental in D for something like 20 minutes – half of which I had to quietly solo over. I did some exploration for about 5 minutes, and was coming up with some great ideas, then suddenly, I hit the wall. Just drew a blank. So, I did a couple of standard licks that I know, then just started noodling a little in Bm. After about thirty seconds, I was able to stumble upon an idea, and used that idea for the rest of my solo time!

I love coming across stuff like this, even if I know it already, because I love sharing it.

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yodaAh, Padawan. Come to receive the wisdom of the ages, you have I see. Into the realms of guitar playing greatness delve deep do you wish; to play among the stars of guitar such as Vai, Satriani, Johnson and others of that ilk. Good for you! Welcome you with open arms, do I. Now dispensed with the pleasantries have we Padawan, it is time to let you down…

  1. There is no magic wand I can wave to make you great
  2. Wish all you want, and you’ll never become a guitar god.
  3. Meditate on the virtues of truly great guitarists – It will do you no good.

Now that sufficiently crushed your dreams of guitar greatness have I, tell you I will the secret to achieving your place among the titans:

There are no shortcuts!!!


Okay, enough of the Yoda talk… 🙂

To be completely serious, if you want to be a great guitarist, there is no other way to get to greatness without dedication and focus. Simply put, you have to practice – a lot! You can learn all the theory in the world, you can take all the A/V classes out there. All of these things are absolutely helpful. But until you apply the things that you learn and master the techniques, you’ll never get there.

Playing guitar, or any instrument for that matter, isn’t something that you can be good at simply by intellectualizing being good. It takes practice – every day – to develop the skills to play well. I look on my own experience with playing guitar. Yeah, I’ve been playing for over 35 years, but I’ve only reached a certain level of proficiency in the last five years when I decided that I wanted to change the direction of my music, which was almost entirely acoustic, to include more electric guitar.

The experience in the last five years has been both rewarding and painful. When I was starting out, it was so frustrating because I could hear in my head what I wanted out of my guitars, but I didn’t have the technique. So I put my head down, so to speak, and started playing and practicing everyday, seven days a week. I’d even bring a couple of guitars and an amp on vacation! I try to play at least a half-hour each day. It’s not necessarily just straight practice of scales, and different techniques, I also spend a lot of time exploring how to express music that comes into my head.

I’m still learning. I feel I have so much further to travel, but I have also come a long way compared to where I was five years ago. Back then, all I knew were chords and playing chords in alternate tunings. I could fingerpick pretty well, and do a lot of stuff with an acoustic guitar – that’s all great, and I don’t want to discount what I could do on acoustic, but my abilities on the electric guitar, especially with doing improv, were sorely lacking. But from constant practice, I can do at least a basic lead in pretty much any key. That’s the reward; having the satisfaction of knowing I’ve made a lot of progress.

I originally got the inspiration for this article from a blog entry I read at GuitarVibe. It really got me thinking about what I’ve accomplished over the past few years, and moreover, how I got to where I am. Like with anything in life, learning is often fraught with moments of despair and discouragement, but it also has its times of complete satisfaction and reward.

So go practice, young Padawan, and may the Force be with you!

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