by jim — Categories: General MusicLeave a comment

You’ll find over one hundred FREE guitar lessons and articles here, all designed to help the beginner and intermediate guitar player play at a more professional level.

The lessons contain highly practical concepts and essential guitar techniques that have been “real world” tested – onstage – for over 25 years. Plus, they are educationally sound, having been developed with real, live students for the last decade.

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March 16, 2016

Songs From the Guitar Studio, Vol. 8

David Bowie songsWelcome to the latest installment of Songs From the Guitar Studio!

This series is dedicated to songs my students have played in guitar lessons. Sometimes we’ll pick a technique or concept and find a song to match it. At other times, we’ll pick a song first and see what we can learn from it.

Listed below are just a few of the songs we’ve jammed to over the last few weeks and months. I’ve tried to make the list diverse, featuring various concepts and techniques. As always, I’ve outlined a few of the main elements and takeaway points from each song.

Hopefully you’ll see something here to inspire you! (more…)

February 9, 2016

My New Facebook Guitar Group: Six String Life

by jim — Categories: General Music — Tags: , , Leave a comment

I’d like to welcome you to join my new Facebook guitar group, Six String Life!

If you dig the lessons and information you’re finding here on my little corner of the web, then I know you’re going to LOVE this community.

I created the group so that guitarists of varying skill levels could share tips, techniques, lessons and stories, build relationships/network, and celebrate each other’s wins.

Anyone is welcome, from beginner to advanced players, hobbyists to gigging pros. And that’s the beauty of it! My vision for this group is a place where less experienced players can learn from the seasoned veterans.

To bump that up a notch, I’m going to have some guest pros – friends who are top players, teachers and technicians/luthiers – to answer questions from the group members periodically, a la Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything”. (more…)

October 7, 2015

The Art and Science of Guitar Pedal Order

I admit. I’m an unabashed lover of guitar pedals.

My live pedalboard may or may not be the size of the Starship Enterprise. <<<<< And I may or may not have somewhere in the vicinity of ten overdrives alone.

But just because I have a rampant pedal addiction doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome tools in our quest for ever-cooler sounds.

And honestly, how can you recreate some of those trippy effects you hear on recordings without a nice flanger? Or phaser. Or echo. Come to think of it, I could really use an octave pedal also…

Clearly it’s become a problem. :)

Having a nice supply of these little guys isn’t enough for sonic greatness, though. There are some basic tonal concepts and gear understandings that we must have to get the best out of our pedals. (more…)

June 30, 2015

My Essential Blues Guitar Recordings

Essential Blues Guitar RecordingsI’ve been a lover of blues and blues-based music for as long as I can remember.

The recent passing of the legendary B.B. King – one of my greatest musical influences, by a long shot – inspired me to go back (“way down an alley” as B.B. liked to say in Live at the Regal) and revisit the blues recordings that shaped me as a guitarist.

To this day, some 30 years later, I quote licks and ideas that I learned while sitting at my record player and painstakingly transcribing what I could discern from that spinning vinyl. And I continue to teach them to my lead guitar students, so that, by extension, they will be shaped by this great material as well.

My essential blues recordings are listed in no particular order and I’ve added a few “quick takes” on each one – personal highlights, fun trivia, and a link for listening. Of course there are lots of great blues tracks that I’ve left out, so please feel free to add your faves in the comments section. (more…)

February 9, 2015

Clean Up Those Dirty Power Chords, Part 1: High String Noise

Power chords are the sound of rock.

As such, they are typically played with a heaping helping o’ distortion. Guitar veterans call that sound “dirty”.

But just because the chords don’t sound clean, doesn’t mean we can’t play them clean.

Of course, by “clean”, I mean not slopped up with unwanted noise. We want the distortion without the extra squeaks, squawks and out-of-tune notes.

Make no mistake, rockers – that beautiful distortion will bring our every technique flaw front and center. So it pays to use the best technique possible.

If you’re having trouble making your power chords behave, then you’ve come to the right lesson. Armed with some simple muting techniques you can get ’em tight and get ’em right. (more…)

January 26, 2015

Travis Picking 101

Fingerstyle guitar – or fingerpicking – is an essential part of the guitarist’s repertoire.

After my students develop a solid right hand setup and technique, I introduce them to what is arguably the most common fingerpicking style in popular music: Travis picking.

Named after the legendary country guitarist, Merle Travis, Travis picking is a pattern-oriented style of fingerpicking that can be heard in songs like “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel (and later Mumford and Sons), “Landslide” and “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, and “Little Black Submarines” by The Black Keys.

Because of the “looped” nature of the picking pattern, the Travis style creates a beautiful bed of sound over which to sing or play a melody. For this reason, it is often used to accompany a singer, (more…)

Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
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