Blog Archives

Joe Pass

One of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century Joe Pass was known for his chord melodies, walking bass lines, and, outstanding knowledge of chord inversions and progressions.  New York Magazine said of him, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business. He’s called “the world’s greatest” and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. There is a certain purity to his sound that makes him stand out easily from other first-rate jazz guitarists”.

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Eric Roche

Eric Roche was an awesome guitar player.  Acoustic finger style, tapping, harmonics, slapping, and many other amazing techniques, but most of all some truly beautiful guitar playing.  He also taught at the academy of contemporary music and wrote the brilliant “Acoustic Guitar Bible”, get it.  Eric Roche sadly died in 2005 but his music and influence still live on.  Head over to the official website to find out more about this amazing guitar player.

 

Wilko Johnson

 

Wilko Johnson played guitar for Dr Feelgood and the Blockheads amongst others.  He has an unusual style of playing particularly with his right hand, no pick, which allowed him to play an aggressive punchy style of guitar whilst combining rhythm and lead.  He also had a long curly lead which allowed him to follow his guitar around the stage.  Check out Wilko explaining his style to BBC show rock school and then watch him perform the whole song in the bottom video.

Eddie Hazel

Eddie Hazel was the guitar player for Parliamant-Funkadelic putting down some seriously funky grooves and psychedelic guitar.  Have a listen to “Maggot Brain”, recorded in one take in 1971.  Legend has it that George Clinton told Eddie Hazel to imagine he had been told his mother was dead, but then learned that it was not true.  Enjoy the ride.

How To Read Guitar Tab

Guitar tab is a method of getting guitar music on paper without having to read music. The advantage of tab is it is relatively easy to learn and you can be learning songs very soon after learning to read it. The disadvantage is tab has no rhythm notation so can be tricky to learn songs you are not familiar with.

Example 1

The horizontal lines represent the six strings on the guitar. The thickest E string is at the bottom up to the thinnest E string at the top. You read tab from left to right so the first three notes in the above example would be played one at a time.

The numbers on the lines tell you which fret to play. The first note you would play on the above example is the 3rd fret on the A String.

A zero represents an open string, so the second note on the above example is an open D string. The third note would be the second fret on the G string.

When the notes are stacked on top of each other like at the end of the above example this means you play the notes at the same time. Hopefully if you play the last stack of notes together you should end up with an A Major chord.

There are many more symbols associated with tab but we will learn these as we go along.

Guitar Chords For Beginners

These are some of the most commonly used beginners chords.  You will often see these chords on sheet music and guitar tabs.  The chords are the same on acoustic and electric guitar.  The fingerings I have put on them are the ones I normally use and teach but feel free to use your own if you prefer.

Next: How to read guitar tab

Thoughts on Guitar Practice

In this lesson I will show you how to master the guitar in twenty minutes. Learn all the tricks , techniques and scales the pro’s use.
We have all seen the ads that claim to show you how to do this.  Well here I am going to show you how to do it for free.
OK now for the truth.
You cant master the guitar in twenty minutes.  To learn to play an instrument takes time, a lifetime in fact, there will always be something that you can do better.  You will reach different levels of playing along the way but once you reach one level you will find there is a higher level to aim for.
The only way you will improve your playing is practice,and good quality practice. Speak to guitarists you admire, the guitarist in you favourite local band, your teacher, or read articles by your guitar heroes and you will find one common thread running between them. They all practiced, a lot.

Some thoughts on practicing. 

You should practice as often as you can.  Twenty minutes a day is better than two hours every Sunday.  If you practice infrequently you may find that the improvement you made in your last session is gone by the next time you pick your guitar up.
Order Your Practice. Put together a routine with your teacher which focuses on the areas you want to improve on and sustains the areas you are currently happy with.  If you practice nothing but sweep arpeggios for six months you may find the rest of your playing suffers.
Set Targets.  By setting targets you can clearly see how much your playing is improving over time.  Seeing your improvement provides good motivation for further practice.
Practice Slowly and Accurately.  If you practice at a speed which is too high for you, you will end up making more mistakes and playing sloppily.  In the long term you will succeed in becoming a very good sloppy guitarist who makes lots of mistakes.
So there you go.  Master the guitar in twenty minutes….a day.

Why Learn Guitar Anyway?

There has never been a better time than now to take up the guitar.

My first electric guitar was a white strat copy.  At the time it was a reasonable quality beginners guitar.  The action was so high you could have driven a truck between them and the neck, the frets so flat it had a fret less feel to it, and tuning pegs that Arnie at his prime would have struggled with and I loved it.  The choice of beginners guitars was quite limited and amps were almost impossible to find at an affordable price.
My amplifier was a RSC combo 5.  Never seen another one like it. It was a 5 watt practice amp with an oval speaker.  I poked holes in the speaker as I heard this would make it distort. It did, but in a rubbish way.  I also used this as a bass amp, it distorted well enough with a bass plugged into it.  It finally died when I stuck a switched on soldering iron into the back of it in an attempt to re solder the speaker wire back on.  I had neglected to turn the amp off and when the iron hit a live wire it went bang.  Thankfully I survived.

This was replaced with a Carlsbro Cobra amplifier.  This was certainly a step up from my RSC as it had two gain controls and a parametric eq and would produce an almost respectable distortion.    It had one channel so a clean sound was produced by backing the guitars volume control off.  I kept this amp until I left music school and started getting some professional playing work when I replaced it with my first Mesa/Boogie.
My next guitar was a Washburn WP50 Les Paul purchased from spectre sound in Bingley.  This was a cool guitar.  I learned to play on this guitar by trying to figure out Mark Knopfler phrases off a old cassette recording of sultans of swing.  Even now my left shoulder is slightly lower than my right due to the hours stood practising with this heavy beast round my shoulder.

Next up came the Ibanez Jem which is still my mainstay.  We used to stand and stare at this Guitar in Peps music shop window in true Wayne’s world fashion.  I couldn’t believe that this guitar was mine after I had bought it.


The point of all this rambling is this.  For around £200 now you can have a starter guitar and amp of good quality compared to the beginners instruments of yesterday.  You no longer have to struggle learning to play on instruments with dubious action, low quality materials, and dodgy finishes.  If you are thinking of taking up the guitar, whatever age you are, get down the music shop or the online store and get yourself a starter pack.  Find a teacher or try some free online lessons and get on with it.  You wont regret it