Category: For Lead Guitarists Archives - Jim Bowley

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…)

December 9, 2014

Money Guitar Tip #10: The 2nd Finger Crossover

Today I want to spread the word about one of my favorite lead guitar moves.

I call it the “2nd Finger Crossover”.

Of course, I can’t say that’s a legit, Google-searchable term; I made the name up when working with my students.

But whatever you choose to call it, it will make your playing more efficient, more fluid and just a little more awesome.

The 2nd Finger Crossover works especially well in rock and blues pentatonic patterns, and you can also use it to add a little flash to your lead chops. After all, if it’s good enough for Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and scores of other rock icons, it should be good enough for me and you too. Highly recommended! (more…)

October 1, 2014

Guitar Exercises for the Real World: String Skipping

If my website statistics are correct, people are on a constant search for guitar exercises to improve their playing technique.

The only problem, as I see it, is that many guitar exercises are way too complicated. They challenge you as much on your ability to mentally comprehend the exercise as they do on playing it.

Complex coordination exercises are certainly good, but they’re probably best suited to those players who deal with highly technical music. On the other hand, your average, everyday guitar hero will flourish with “meat and potatoes” exercises that meet the requirements of mainstream musical styles, like pop, rock, blues, country, and fingerstyle.

So in this series, Guitar Exercises for the Real World, I’m going to present some highly-applicable, totally-useful drills that I’ve derived from actual song material. (more…)

August 19, 2014

The Root Note is King

The most important note in any scale is always the root note.

Unfortunately, many guitar students have to think much too hard about the location of the root note. This is especially true when rockin’ a guitar solo.

The root note – also known as the “1” or the tonic – is the “home base” sound of a scale, that scale’s main chord, and often the entire song. So it’s critical that you know how to find that note to keep things sounding strong and focused.

What’s the result of NOT knowing and using your “home base” root notes?

Unfocused, meandering and amateurish solos. The kind of stuff that sounds like you’re firmly entrenched in the “noodle zone”.

Don’t be that guy (or girl). Always remember that the root note is king. (more…)

June 24, 2014

The Golden Rules of Bending Strings

Bending strings is one of the most unique and awesome things about playing guitar.

Other instrumentalists may try, but guitar players are legit note-benders. We can bend a note a little or a lot or anywhere in between!

However, with great musical power comes great responsibility, so we six-stringers are responsible for making our bends as excellent as possible.

The only problem is, bending strings is hard work. And many players simply never learn the guitar technique to get ‘er done the right way.

If you’ve been frustrated with bends that are weak, shaky and out of tune, then this lesson is just what the guitar doctor ordered!

Armed with three main technique principles – I call ’em The Golden Rules of Bending – you can be confident that your bends will be strong, controlled and accurate. (more…)

June 4, 2014

Applying the Two Pentatonic Paths

In the last installment, we covered a topic that I call “Two Paths”. It’s a relatively simple, yet profound, idea for playing pentatonic scales.

In a nutshell, we learn to navigate each octave of a pentatonic scale along two separate paths. This gives us more flexibility in our approach and opens up our fretboard vision.

Today’s lesson features some practical exercises for developing your Two Paths skills. These exercises should not only help you to develop more vocabulary for your lead guitar improv, but they should also help you to understand why some of your favorite solos are played the way they are. (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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