The longer I teach guitar, the more I’ve become unafraid to make bold statements.
In a world where everybody’s told not to judge for fear of offending someone – boo hoo – I’m ready to go all Simon Cowell and take a musical stand, unwavering and unapologetic: My guitar exercise is better than yours.
There. I said it. And in the immortal words of James Brown, “I feel good.”
I knew that I would.
Listen, it’s not that your guitar exercises are bad; they’re probably perfectly fine. It’s just that mine is better. Way better. My exercise is the Chris Daughtry to your Taylor Hicks. The Carrie Underwood to your Ruben Studdard.
You can have all the Medieval Finger Torture exercises you can handle and all the Crab Walks you can stomach, but in terms of full-on, bang-for-your-buck value, Finger Combinations are clearly superior.
And beyond the fact that they are absolutely the best exercise for beginners, Finger Combos are also great for intermediate and advanced players looking to maintain or polish up their technique. Not many guitar exercises can boast across-the-board effectiveness like this. Basically, Finger Combos do it all! Continue reading “The Best Guitar Exercise, Period” »
I could try to come up with some cute, snappy intro to this lesson, but in all honesty, it ain’t happening.
Because in the world of guitar techniques, finger rolls are just not as sexy as hammer-ons, pull-offs or string bending. They’re utilitarian, practical. They get the job done and move on. They don’t put on a show for you.
[IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: The great Julius Erving's finger rolls did, however, put on a show, as evidenced by the sweet pic to the left where he is schooling Kurt Rambis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Some of my students call me "Dr. J". Coincidence? I think not.]
But like any good craftsman will tell you, there is a correct tool for every job. And some jobs just require the lowly finger roll.
So what exactly is a finger roll and why should I care?
Glad you asked, young rocker!
The finger roll is an essential left hand technique that allows you to play notes that are on the same fret level and adjacent strings without a break in the sound. By rolling your finger correctly, you can link the notes and maintain that legato character that is so important to a professional-sounding single-note line.
As a bonus, finger rolls are easy to do, once you’ve got the correct approach. So allow your friend JB to take this bad boy apart for you and put it back together. In short order, you’ll be a finger rolling machine! Continue reading “Technique Spotlight on…Finger Rolls” »
Welcome to another installment in the Unsung Guitar Hero series – articles dedicated to spreading the word about phenomenal guitarists who aren’t household names, but probably should be. In some cases, these players are not even well known to your average guitarist!
Nothing says “unsung” like being the only guy in a remarkable rock trio that is routinely left out of the conversation when it turns to the best players on their respective instruments. But for Rush guitarist, Alex Lifeson, it’s gotten to be the norm.
Best rock bassist? Check. Geddy Lee is always in that conversation. He’s in the Guitar Player Magazine Hall of Fame with six consecutive awards for Best Rock Bassist and has been cited as an influence by some of the top bass names in rock (mainly of the metal, hard rock and “progressive” styles).
Best rock drummer? Double check. Neil Peart is legendary among drummers, and even among music fans that don’t really know his name. “Great drummers? Definitely that guy in Rush.” Modern Drummer Magazine Hall of Fame (the “Honor Roll”) with nine wins for “Best Rock Drummer” and four for “Multi-Percussionist”. Fourteen wins for “Best Recorded Performance”. Four-time “Drummer of the Year” for Drum! Magazine. You get the point.
But Alex Lifeson is the other guy. Continue reading “Unsung Guitar Hero: Alex Lifeson” »
In Part 1 of The Only Theory Lesson You’ll Ever Need, we covered the foundational elements of music theory: the musical alphabet, the concept of whole steps and half steps, and the use of accidentals (sharps and flats) to fill in the blanks between natural notes.
In Part 2, we used that information to take the next step forward: constructing major scales and understanding keys.
Here in Part 3, we’ll take the final step and use our knowledge of major scales to harmonize them with chords.
This is where music theory really starts to come alive because it gives the musician insight into why certain chords work together to form complementary sounds. You can use this knowledge to empower you to learn songs by ear or to write your own songs. You can also use this knowledge for transposing to other keys, which is essential when applying capo strategies. Rock and roll! Continue reading “The Only Theory Lesson You’ll Ever Need, Part 3” »