Tag: technique Archives - Jim Bowley

January 11, 2015

Guitar Goals for a New Year (2015 Edition)

Happy New Year to all my guitar ninjaz out there!

The first guitar lessons of a new year always find me asking my students what their goals will be in the upcoming months. It’s nice to feel freshly inspired and to get our minds right in January.

Some of their goals will be stylistic (“I’d like to learn how to play blues better”), some will be technical (“I need some serious practice on my string bends”) and most will be repertoire (“This year I’m gonna learn the entire Led Zeppelin catalog note for note”).

Those three things are “big ticket items” to me; you can never go wrong with this approach and you’ll get lots of bang for your musical buck here. But there are a number of other, less obvious, things that you can resolve to learn as well.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started – a dozen big and small ticket items, if you will. It’s a grab bag of stuff to inspire you and give you some clear direction in the months to come. (more…)

February 21, 2012

Technique Spotlight on Finger Rolls

Dr. J finger roll

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 his schooling of Kurt Rambis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the photo. 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? (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…)

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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