Category: The Definitive Lesson Series Archives - Jim Bowley

February 15, 2014

The Definitive Lesson: Pick-style Arpeggios

Playing fingerstyle arpeggios seems to be fairly intuitive for most players.

On the other hand, playing arpeggios with a pick is one of the techniques that is absolutely abused by guitar students.

I think it’s because pick-style arpeggios offer too many possibilities.

Since they can be handled in various ways, an educated guitarist should have some sort of guideline for taking care of this common playing situation.

In this Definitive Lesson, we’ll put you on the path to arpeggio awesomeness by detailing the two main approaches for picking through these jingle-jangly lines! (more…)

September 27, 2012

The Definitive Lesson: Chord Changing Strategies, Part 1

Jack Black in "School of Rock"

I spent a few years teaching the Monday night Guitar I class at Harford Community College here in Maryland.

It was fun, I met a lot of great people – some of whom are still my students to this day – and I learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t work for absolute guitar newbies.

Without a doubt, the most common question was…

“OMG, why is this sooooooo stinkin’ hard to do???”

I, of course, translated this to mean: “How do I change chords more quickly and accurately, Mr. Schneebly?”

Luckily for my Monday night School-of-Rockers, I had the answers. (more…)

December 14, 2011

The Definitive Lesson: Thumb Placement

Thumbs up

Wanna solve a host of guitar playing issues in one shot?

Learn to place your thumb properly.

It’s really that easy. And yet I see so many guitarists place their thumbs in positions that actually hurt their technique more than help it.

I’ve learned a few things in my 30+ years of playing this fine instrument, but few concepts have become more profound to me than this: If you place your thumb properly OFF the fingerboard, your technique ON the fingerboard will instantly improve.

For better or for worse, few things have as much direct impact on your playing as thumb placement! (more…)

December 13, 2011

The Definitive Lesson: Bending Strings

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Learning to bend strings is essential to our progression as guitarists. Along with hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, these types of slurs will give your playing nuance and a more legato, professional sound.

Bent notes lend a “vocal” sound to your playing, adding bluesy, “in-between” sounds to your riffs and solos. Although jazz and classical players do not typically use the technique, string bending is a critical part of the vocabulary for pop, rock, blues and country guitarists.

Bends can make your lines sound groovy, but they require an enormous amount of fine motor control to sound confident and in tune. This translates to a lot of practice! But if you roll the JB way, you’ll be bending strings like a pro in no time.

In The Definitive Lesson: Bending Strings, we’re going to learn proper bending techniques that will immediately add a bluesy, legato character to our single-note lines. Let’s rock! (more…)

December 1, 2011

The Definitive Lesson: Pull-offs

Joe Satriani

Learning to play pull-offs is essential to your progression as a guitarist.

Along with hammer-ons, slides and bends, these types of slurs will make your playing instantly quicker, smoother and more professional-sounding.

When you hear a guitarist playing blazing fast lead lines, they are often using slurs to facilitate their movements instead of picking each note. Top-notch pull-offs will enhance your speed and help your playing sound legato, or connected – two things most players strive for.

Almost all guitarists use a mixed bag of picked notes and slurs. Some world-class players – Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Allan Holdsworth immediately come to mind – have even built their entire style on copious amounts of hammering, pulling, bending and sliding. Whereas picking gives your notes more attack, slurs make your lines sound a little looser and groovier, less rigid.

In The Definitive Lesson: Pull-offs, you’ll learn proper pull-off techniques that will immediately take your lead playing up a notch. Let’s rock! (more…)

December 1, 2011

The Definitive Lesson: Hammer-ons

Eddie Van Halen

Learning to play hammer-ons is essential to your progression as a guitarist.

Along with pull-offs, slides and bends, these types of slurs will make your playing instantly quicker, smoother and more professional-sounding.

When you hear a guitarist playing blazing fast lead lines, they are often using slurs to facilitate their movements instead of picking each note. Top-notch hammer-ons will enhance your speed and help your playing sound legato, or connected – two things most players strive for.

Almost all guitarists use a mixed bag of picked notes and slurs. Some world-class players – Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Allan Holdsworth immediately come to mind – have even built their entire style on copious amounts of hammering, pulling, bending and sliding. Whereas picking gives your notes more attack, slurs make your lines sound a little looser and groovier, less rigid.

In The Definitive Lesson: Hammer-ons, you’ll learn proper hammer-on techniques that will immediately take your lead playing up a notch. Let’s rock! (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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