Category: Intermediate Archives - Page 2 of 10 - Jim Bowley

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…)

September 5, 2014

The 3 Biggest Mental Battles Every Guitar Player Faces

Today’s post is directly inspired by another post that has nothing – and everything – to do with guitar.

As a matter of fact, I shamelessly ripped off the title and substituted “guitar player” for “blogger”.

It was just too perfect.

The post in question is written by Michael Hyatt, a top blogger in the field of leadership. His latest post hit my inbox just one day after a conversation with an adult student who was having a tough time.

As I was reading his article, I kept substituting the mental battles we face as guitar players for Michael’s blogging experience. In my head, I was agreeing, “Yes, yes…and YES again!” (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…)

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…)

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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