Category: Money Guitar Tips Archives - Jim Bowley

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…)

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…)

August 11, 2014

The Obstacle Course Approach to Changing Chords

obstacle course approach to changing chordsStrumming and changing chords is at the heart of all guitar playing.  And experienced players make it look so easy. 

But changing chords in rhythm is one of the most difficult things for beginner guitarists to do.

After all, there are multiple “moving parts” in every chord change. Fingers move in various combinations with different strings and different placements to figure out. The thumb changes its position. The wrist relaxes or bends.

It’s easy to see why a rookie guitar player would struggle with this: there’s an awful lot to process! 

And we’re only talking about the left hand. :)

While I employ a few different strategies for helping my beginners through the technical difficulties of playing chords, one of the simplest methods to deal with chord changes is more a matter of attitude than technical ability. (more…)

July 15, 2014

Money Guitar Tip #8: “Flicking Water”

One of my favorite verbal cues for strumming the guitar is based on a simple task that we perform every day: we wash our hands.

And what do we do automatically after washing our hands?

We flick the excess water off.

That, my friends, is perfect strumming technique.

“Flicking water” is a highly effective cue that will help you stay loose and relaxed while getting your strum on.

How great – and easy – is that? (more…)

May 22, 2014

Two Paths to Pentatonic Mastery

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on. – Robert Plant in “Stairway to Heaven”

Learning to play pentatonic scales is arguably the most important building block for developing our soloing skills. But many guitarists only really view pentatonics in one way – along one path of notes, up and back.

To really master the fretboard and to be able to play whatever you want whenever you want, you’ve got to have more than one way to move through your scale patterns.

Think of it as having multiple paths to drive home from the store. If you only know one way to get home, you’re limited. But with multiple paths, you have options depending on your current circumstances. Traffic backed up to the left? Go right.

In this lesson, I’ll show you how to visualize two pathways for connecting the root notes of a pentatonic scale. The end result will be improved fretboard vision, longer lead guitar lines and a whole lot more awesome. (more…)

March 19, 2013

Money Guitar Tip #7: “Karate Chop the Bridge”

A great way to coach physical movements – whether in sports, dance or instrumental music – is by giving the trainee a simple, but memorable, verbal cue.

This cuts down on excessive verbiage that might be required to explain the movement. It gets right to the heart of the matter.

Take, for instance, the concept of anchoring your right hand when picking single-note riffs and melodies. The vast majority of accomplished guitarists employ some sort of anchor to stabilize their picking hand.

It takes too long to say, “Place the edge of your right hand palm, near the base of the hand, on the bridge of the guitar to give yourself an anchor position.” Instead, I use a super-simple and instantly memorable cue that is almost impossible to get wrong: “Karate chop the bridge.” (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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