Archives: June 2011 - Jim Bowley

June 28, 2011

I’m Bringing Groovy Back

Strumming is at the heart of all guitar playing.

So we have to learn to play our chords and make ’em groovy – it’s that simple.

Or is it?

In my experience, there seems to be two types of guitarists: the type who learn to strum with almost zero coaching, and the type who require some strum coaching for quite a long time before nailing it on their own.

If you find yourself in the first group, I congratulate you on being a natural born groovemeister. You are in the top 5% or so and can go to the head of the class. Unfortunately for the rest of us mere mortals, strumming needs to be coached. And coached. And sometimes coached some more.

And lest you think this post is designed for only the guitar newbies, let me assure you that I’ve witnessed many an “intermediate” guitarist whose strumming technique was nightmarish, and that’s being kind.

Here are three essential tips guaranteed to crank up any guitarist’s strumming technique! (more…)

June 21, 2011

Pinky Power!

Odds are that when you first learned the most important chord in rock music – the righteous power chord – your pinky finger was not even an option.

Instead you probably learned it in the traditional way, with fingers 1 and 3.

That’s certainly the way I learned it, with the thumb back, fingers spread, and using the familiar “one finger per fret” concept.

For intermediate players, though, there are some real benefits to playing power chords with fingers 1 and 4. The “pinky power chord”:

  • minimizes tension in the hand
  • allows us to play across a wider fret span
  • allows us to use finger 3 when necessary
  • eases the challenge of making fast lateral power chord moves.

It’s comfortable and highly practical – a win-win!  You may even find that you like this grip so much, you rarely go back to the traditional method (just like me). (more…)

June 7, 2011

Be the Pick


“Be the ball.”

Ty Webb knew a thing or two about golf. His sage advice to Danny Noonan in Caddyshack has stood the test of time.

Ty understood that in order to be a great golfer, you have to engage the forces of the universe, relax, and let things happen.

As it turns out, the same thing happens in guitar. Sort of.

Just as golf begins with the strike of the ball, guitar playing begins with the strike of the pick to the string. So the type of pick you choose, the way you grip it, and the way you attack the strings with it are critical to your success. 

You must “be the pick”. (more…)

June 1, 2011

Two Red Chairs

by jim — Categories: General Music — Tags: , , 3 Comments

"Two Red Chairs" by Jeffrey Becom


A couple of years ago, we had the basement finished in our house.  One of the main reasons for the renovation was to create a more professional workspace for me – a combination recording and guitar studio.  We painted the walls in what I seem to remember was called “Grecian Marble”, a cool, gray-green that just begged for a strong color in contrast.  My wife suggested the red family, with the promise that it would really “pop” against the neutral background.  So we found some deep red vases and some red silk pillows for the couch.  We created some red, black and gold striped sound panels to absorb echoes and give the room some flair.  And we found two red chairs – two bright red chairs – for my student and me to sit and play guitar.

Not long after, I set out to look for some art for the walls.  I was adamant that not everything in the studio is “music themed”; it was important for the room to look sharp but elegant, with a groovy vibe that was apparent as soon as you walked in.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I’d know it when I found it.  And then I found it. (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.

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