The Art of the Barre

Let’s face it: for the beginning guitarist, barre chords are hard. The idea that one finger has to hold down multiple strings when it has a hard enough time trying to hold down one seems like an impossible task.

Theory Basics: Intervals of the Major Scale

To many guitarists, the major scale is something they simply don’t use. However, in Western music (that is, music that originates from the Western Hemisphere), it is the scale that is the basis of all others. If you learn the notes of the major scale, you can find all sorts of scales lurking beneath just…

Supposin’ You’re Transposin’?

Not long ago, music was less about riffs and more about chords from a particular key circling around. Of course every kind of music evolves, and our musical forefathers probably never dreamed of guitarists with Viking names and scalloped fretboards whipping around the harmonic minor scale at light speed.

There Is No Substitute For Hard Work

This article explains some of the work required to becoming a working professional, and to continually improve our aptitude on guitar, learn about gear, and optimize our tone. Who knew it was going to be this hard?

This Sounds Odd: Understanding 9th Chords

Contrary to where modern guitar has gone, it started life as a rhythm instrument, bashing out chords on a large archtop (or larchtop*) in the back of the band. Yes, it is hard to believe that at one time, the idea of sweep picking lydian-dominant arps at 200 bpm was unheard of, and the idea of having a great chord vocabulary (and being able to improvise with those chords) was essential to be considered a great guitarist that could work steadily and support all of those spotlight-stealing brass players. These days, being an amazing rhythm player is downplayed in favor of other aspects of guitar playing, but understanding some small things about chords will only let our solos stand out more, and give us more interesting things to play over. If you haven’t read it yet, I would also suggest reading my article about 7th chords, as this article will build on those concepts.

Playing in Parallel: The ‘Major’ Modes

If you had checked out any of my previous articles about the modes, you are starting to hear the unique sounds they have. In most of the other articles I went through the modes of the C Major scale. Here, I take a different approach. Keeping C as our ‘root’, I divide the seven modes into major modes and minor modes. In other words, we take each mode, and compare it to the C Major scale. Some modes will sound better over minor chords and some with major chords. Don’t worry though, it isn’t as complicated as it seems. This article will compare the C Major scale with the modes that have an inherently major, or bright & happy sound.

Less Than Or Equal To: The Diminished Chord

As modern guitarists, we are constantly trying to come up with new sounds. We all have heard how Yngwie plays diminished arpeggios at the speed of light and how practicing our diminished scale runs adds some Bach to our rock. Instead of focusing on scales or arpeggios here, I’ve reached back into to time of frilly shirts and harpsichords to check out the harmony which goes hand-in-hand with those shredilicious melodies. If we tire of djentrific root-5th power chords, folky granola-scented open major and minor triads, or murky jazz voicings, we can start by looking at those triads again. This article focuses on the diminished triad, what it sounds like, and how we can use it to break out of patterns where we seem to play the same thing, the same way, all the time.

Dissecting the Augmented Chord

With all of the emphasis on fast soloing online and in guitar magazines, it is easy to forget that working players spend most of their time playing chords. Even the heaviest of metals use more chords and rhythm than anything else, and increasing our chord literacy will help us become better players. This article will focus on one of my favorite types of chords and show us how we might use it to add some unexpected color no matter what genre of music we play. Guitar is generally considered a rhythm instrument, after all.

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