Blog Archives

Yngwie Malmsteen

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1963 Yngwie Malmsteen is the guitarist credited as being the first of the neo-classical rock guitarists popular in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Discovered by Mike Varney of shrapnel records he was flown to the U.S. in 1982 and had brief recording stints with the bands Alcatrazz, and, Steeler before releasing his first solo album, Rising Force, in 1984.

Rising Force won the Guitar Player Magazine’s award for Best Rock Album and was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Rock Instrumental’, achieving #60 on the Billboard album chart. The guitar playing on the album was like nothing that came before. Rapid fire arpeggios, dark sounding harmonic minor scales and modes combining to produce a totally unique, dynamic, and exciting sound.

Malmsteen is famous for his use of Fender Stratocaster guitars and Marshall amplification and has signature series guitars and amplifiers. His guitars have scalloped fretboards and brass nuts to improve playability and sustain.

Malmsteen spawned an almost new style of playing and as such influenced many guitarists to learn theirs scales and improve their technique. His influenced can be heard in a lot of guitarists from the late 80’s and 90’s and continues to this day. He has released a number of studio and live albums and continues recording and touring as a solo artists and also as part of the G3 tour.

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Vinne Moore

Vinne Moore was discovered by Mike Varney after playing professional gigs since the age of 12.  His connection with Varney led to him featuring in a Pepsi advert and then releasing the albums Minds Eye and Time Odyssey on Shrapnel Records.  He has since appeared on albums by Alice Copper, Vicious Rumours, and, UFO.  He is currently playing for UFO who released their latest album in 2012.

Moore is known as one of the earliest “Shred” guitar players and his early albums feature a neo classical style utilising fast picking, sweeping, and, some pretty cool acoustic playing.  Check out the track above for a wide selection of Moore’s techniques and also his compositional skills.

Leo Kottke

Blues, Jazz, Folk, Fingerstyle, slide,  syncopation, and much more.  Leo Kottke is a truly innovative and one-off guitarist.  He hasn’t had it easy in his playing career and has had to overcome a number of obstacles along the way.  A partial loss of hearing, and, tendon damage in his right hand resulting in him having to alter his technique.  Leo Kottke is a recognised master of the guitar.

Kottke has focussed on composing and recording instrumental music but has also been known to sing as well.  He has also collaborated with many other artists including.  Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Margo Timmins, Mike Gordon, and Rickie Lee Jones. He has recorded tunes by Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Carla Bley, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Jorma Kaukonen, Kris Kristofferson, Randall Hylton, and many others.

2. Naming the notes

Musical notes are named using the letters of the alphabet.

A B C D E F G

The lowest sounding note would be the A on the left with the notes gradually getting higher towards the G. After the G the pattern would start again at A and continue getting higher, likewise it could continue getting lower before the A on the left like this.

A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G

These notes are known as natural notes. If you look at a piano keyboard the natural notes are the ones in white. If you pick any note from the list above and count along the line till you reach the same note again you should have hopefully counted to eight. If you got to seven make sure you counted every note including the one you started on. This distance is called an octave.

Example

A to the next A is an octave

B to the next B is an octave

C to the next C is an octave
Etc

Octaves

If you find the open E string on your guitar, this is the first or sixth string, then look for a double dot on the neck, this dot Indicates the 12th fret. If your guitar does not have a double dot count up to the 12th fret. Play the open E string and listen to the note produced, this is an E, then play the E string again but this time pressing down with your fretting hand on the 12th fret, this note is also an E and this is what an octave sounds like. The double dot is to indicate where the notes start again, or in other words is one octave higher than the open string.

Flats & Sharps

You have hopefully noticed that we have said that an octave is eight notes apart but to play an octave on the guitar we have had to climb up twelve frets. This is because in between the natural notes there are other notes. These notes are called sharp or flat notes. The symbol for a sharp is #, and the symbol for a flat is b. To avoid confusion I will always put the note names in capitals and the flat sign in lower case. For example Eb would be E flat. F# would be F sharp.

To flatten a note you need to go one fret lower down the fret board. For example, if we took the E at the 12th fret on the E string and moved it down one fret to the 11th fret this note is Eb.

To sharpen a note we need to go one fret higher. For Example if we took the D on the tenth fret of the E string and moved it up one fret to the 11th fret this note would be D#.

In the two examples above we ended up on the same fret but with two different note names. This is because D# and Eb are the same note. Every sharp note has an equivalant flat note.

There are sharps and flats in between every pair of natural notes except B and C, and E and F.

So if we put all the notes down now we end up with this.

A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A

If we transfer this to the guitar using the E string again we can play the notes using the following frets

Fret       Note
0               E
1               F
2           F#/Gb
3               G
4           G#/Ab
5                A
etc .

Try counting up the frets on the E string and naming the notes as you go along. You should be at E again when you reach the 12th fret.

Tones & Semitones

A distance of one fret on the guitar can be called a semitone and a distance of two frets can be called a tone. For example if we play the fifth fret on any string then move it up it by one fret, to the sixth fret, we could say we have raised the note by a semitone. If we raise it by two frets we could say we have raised the note by a tone.

Exercise

Try naming all the notes on one string by starting with the open string and then working your way up the string. You should end up on the note name you started with by the 12th fret. If you dont something has gone wrong. Dont worry. Try again.

Next up:  Lesson 3 – Finding the notes.

Andy Mckee


Andy Mckee started playing at age 13 but it was only when his cousin took him to see Preston Reed that he became serious with his guitar playing.  His style involves making use of the guitar as a percussion instrument, whilst playing bass notes with his left hand and melody notes with his right hand amongst other techniques.  Have a look at the video.

Andy Mckee found fame when the video of “Drifting” became a featured video on YouTube and MySpace and achieved over 48 million views.  Head over to his website http://www.andymckee.com for more information on this amazing guitar player.

Jaco Pastorius


Jaco Pastorius is probably the most influential Bass player of all time.  Playing a Fender Jazz with the frets removed Jaco had a unique and instantly recognisable style making use of harmonics, false harmonics, legato, and punchy lines .  Jaco recorded with Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, and, Joni Mitchell amongst others as well as recording his own solo projects.

Jaco had two Grammy Award nominations for his self-titled debut album. He won the readers’ poll for induction into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1988, one of only four bassists to be so honored (the others being Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton, and Ray Brown), and the only electric bassist to receive this distinction.

Andres Segovia

Andrés Segovia, was a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist from Linares, Jaén, Andalucia, Spain. He is widely considered to be one of the best known and most influential classical guitar personalities of the 20th century, having a considerable influence on later guitarists, particularly because of important guitar works that were dedicated to him by composers such as Federico Moreno Torroba.

Segovia is credited for his modern-romantic repertoire, mainly through works dedicated to him by modern composers, but he also created his own transcriptions of classical works that were originally for other instruments. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive (often instantly recognizable) musical personality in tone, phrasing and style.

Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads was most famous for being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist on the albums “Blizzard of Oz” and “Diary of a madman”, Ozzy’s first albums since splitting with Black Sabbath.  Randy played guitar for the band “Quiet Riot” before joining Ozzy’s band and was also a dedicated classical guitar player and would seek out classical guitar lessons whilst on tour.  Randy was one of the first “schooled” rock guitarists and had a deep knowledge of music theory, composition, and guitar techniques.  This coupled with his natural musicality combined to make him one of the greatest guitarists ever.  Randy was tragically killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982.  In 1987 Ozzy released “Tribute”   a live recording of Ozzy and Randy in concert plus some studio out-takes.  Have a listen to the clip above to hear Randy playing both in a classical style and also some great lead guitar.  The solo at around 2 mins 40 secs is a masterpiece.  Enjoy.