Playing What You DON'T Know

Advancing as a guitar player is never seen as a slow and steady climb. It is more like a series of steps with pretty long spaces in between. While it might seem like you don't get better for weeks or months at a time, one breakthrough can lead to months of inspiration. Continue Reading

My Favorite Pickups for Fender Stratocasters®

I was a humbucker-kinda guy for years. Sparkle, chime, glassiness and notched tones? Not my thing. I needed power, aggression, tightness, harmonics, articulation! But when I finally got a great Strat I understood the attraction. Personally I still can’t cope with the standard bridge pickup in a Strat. The way I use a Strat and my amps (I only use single channel amps, set up with […] Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

Chords of the Harmonic Minor Scale

In the last music theory blog article, I introduced you to the odd and sometimes dissonant chords derived from the melodic minor scale. This time we’ll look at the prettier-but-slightly-aloof older sisters of the melodic minor chords: Chords of the Harmonic Minor scale. This article will explain how to derive the chords from this dramatic scale, and provide some ideas for chord progressions using those chords. Continue Reading

Finding the Right Guitar Teacher

Say you find yourself playing the same things over and over again, or you're at the beginning and you don’t know where to start. Books, magazines and YouTube are confusing, so you go to seek out someone to make sense of it all. It is time to look for a guitar teacher! Hopefully this article can give you something to consider when choosing someone who can not only show you what you want and need to know, but who can inspire you to create things you never thought you could. Continue Reading

Cage Match: Standard Notation vs Tablature

In this series of articles, I will attempt to encourage an open dialog about very polarizing viewpoints regarding standard notation verses tablature, but in a more or less positive manner. Some people know only one, some know both. Usually guitarists have pretty strong views on why one is better than the other. The great thing is that both, as written languages, are widespread no matter what […] Continue Reading

Tension and the Economy of the Right Hand

While talking to students and trying to assess problems they may have while playing, I am constantly looking inward and trying to figure out why I play the way I play. This includes looking at the position of the guitar on the body, the type of pick, the angle of the wrists and the force needed to accomplish any task I wish to overcome. Continue Reading

In Defense of Small, Low-Wattage Amps

After reading Adam Gotch’s excellent case for using 100 watt amps at gigs big and small, I am compelled to come up with a counter-argument. There is simply no sonic reason outside of tight, riff-based metal to use a stack these days. Even then, I’d argue that there are probably plenty of instances a well-defined metal tone can be had that is quieter, in a smaller […] Continue Reading

Breaking Down the Barriers: Chords in Every Key

Songwriters and improvisers usually pick chords and scales based in the 12 keys we use in music. This time we will focus on triads, or 3 note chords. These are the basis of Western harmony.The guitar is capable of playing in all of the 12 keys, but for some reason, many guitarists are stuck playing and writing in the basic ‘guitar keys’ of E, A, C, […] Continue Reading