Electric Blues Lesson: Using A major and E major Scale for Blues in E major

For this article a short brief about improvising over an E major Blues.

Most guitar players may start improvising over an E major blues by using the E major Pentatonic Scale.
Why not try using the A major Pentatonic? The scale will give you the same A, B, C#, E, and F# notes but for some reason you may feel you do get a different sound. The E major Pentatonic does have a G#, which is the third in the scale, the A major Penta does not have this note.

As far as the sequence goes you may play: E7  A7  and B7 in any order to create a 12 bar sequence.

When you play E7 the D (7th) resolves to the 3rd of the A7 chord. Try using those notes to see what effect they will give you.

When it comes to the A7 chord you may like the sound of the G resolving to the F# which is the second of the E major Pentatonic scale.

Play around with the notes to see what they can do for your phrasing.

Enjoy and hope to see you again soon,
Eddie

Ukulele Lesson: 12 bar blues basslines in key of C

20111117111343eddie For this lesson I will introduce you to a 12 bar bassline groove in the key of C. When you play the idea you will recognise it as it does have that typical blues sound you will hear often on any electric blues songs. The Ukulele is a C friendly instrument, which means we can play the basslines in position instead of having to play them over on one or two strings and having to move up and down along the fretboard. Here are the basslines, played for one bar per chord.

 

C7                                                F7                                                   G7

A   ——————–0-0-         ——-0-0—-3-3—–5-5—–       ——0-0—3-3—5-5—

E  ——–0-0–3-3———         -1-1——————————-   –3-3———————-

C   0-0———————-          ————————————    —————————-

G   ————————–           ————————————   —————————–

 
Here are the chord shapes:

            C7        F7       G7
A  —–1——–3——2—

E  —–0——-1——-1–

C   —-0——–3——2–

G  —-0——–2——0–

Play the progression in the following manner:

C7     F7    C7   C7

F7    F7   C7    C7

G7    F7   C7    F7

The chords work well with the basslines. The basslines should be played with shuffle feel. Count them like 1 e 2 e  3e  4e.   The chords can be strummed with a shuffle feel as well.  Ask a friend to play the chords for you while one of you plays the basslines, in this manner you get to hear how the song idea works.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

 

 

Electric Blues Guitar Lesson for Beginners and Intermediate Students: Checklist for your Solos

 

For this article a short checklist to improve your improvising over Blues songs. The checklist can be used as a guide to improve your own guitar solos.

Pentatonic Scales:

Learn both the minor and the major Pentatonic Scale in various places on the fretboard. Play them in position as in the usual block form. Once you know them play them as an arpeggio over two or three strings. The arpeggio idea is good for breaking out of the box, it will also make you think more about the notes.

Phrasing:

Listen to your favourite players to hear how they put their phrases together. Playing Blues is more than just running your fingers across a Pentatonic scale.  It is the phrasing which gives players like B.B King their particular sound. When you listen to any of your favourite guitar players try to understand how they get their sound: Do they use any blue notes? Do they mix major and minor scales or do they use any chromatic notes? Phrasing can give you a characteristic sound to your solos and it is this you want to understand to improve your own playing.

Structure and Arrangement:

Not all Blues songs are simply written in twelve bars, listen to your favourite blues songs to hear what their structure is based on. Some songs just use a two bar phrase and the whole song is based on this idea. A lot of Howlin’ Wolf’s music works like that.
Listen out for also any unusual turn arounds. Turn arounds can give a song with a traditional twelve bar blues feel a different twist.

Have a listen to B.B King’s Album  “In London” to hear many songs which break away from the traditional 12 bar sound. Most songs are played with a full horn section and harmonica which play behind the regular band of drums, bass, organ and guitar. Listen to B.B’s phrasing, he does not use many notes, repeats many. Can you make it sound like that?

Michael Bloomfield’s First Solo Album: “Its Not Killing Me”

Michael Bloomfield’s first Solo album is a mix of Soul, Gospel and Blues. It is fascinating to see that even today the critics are not positive about this album. Personally I think it is a fantastic album which shows more about Bloomfield than just blazing guitar solos.  The guitar solos are there but they are immersed into songs which give the song a lift and add some drama.

People who may know Michael Bloomfield from Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited may like the album. Dylan’s album does not contain any straight Blues songs whereas “It’s Not Killing Me” does actually have a few blues songs.

Listening to the guitar, you can hear clearly the B.B King influence on Michael’s playing, there are also traces of T. Bone Walker, who is not often mentioned as a influence on Michael Bloomfield’s playing.
The guitar sound is fairly clean with a healthy dose of reverb from time to time.

The songs sit in a mix of Gospel, Country and Blues. The album does also sound a bit like some of the Flying Burrito Brothers in some places: Michael’s singing is not the strongest but it is honest and you can hear what he is going for which gives it that authentic sound. When he plays a blues he also adds some different ideas to give it his own sound.

Give it a try to hear something different from a guitar player we should not forget.

Hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Electric Blues Guitar Lesson for Intermediate Players

20140222153811IMG_5187As far as blues playing goes, most beginning guitar players seem to be happy with playing Minor Pentatonic Solos or Riffs.
Once you get more experience with your Blues playing you may want to try some different ideas.

Have a look at the following Chord Sequence:

 

 

 

 

A    D    A    A

D    D    A    A

E     D    A     E

This is a typical major Blues sequence.
To play solos and melodies over this sequence you can use Major arpeggios for the A, D and E chord.
You can also use the A major scale. You can play the A major Pentatonic, but it is also possible to play the A  minor Pentatonic is some places. The A minor Pentatonic does have a grittier sound compared to the Major Pentatonic Scale.

the notes for the A minor Pentatonic are: A  C   D  E  and G

the C and the G are the crucial notes in the scale: the C is the minor 3rd and the G is the dominant 7, both notes will give the scale that particular gritty sound.

The notes for the A major Pentatonic are:  A  B   C#    E   and F#

The C# and the F# are the crucial notes in this scale: the C# is the major 3rd, which creates a somewhat sweeter sound compared to the minor third in the A minor Pentatonic Scale.   The F# is the major 6th which is responsible for the less gritty sound compared to the G —dom 7th—- of the A minor Pentatonic Scale.

Experiment with both scales.

A way to remember both scales is: Treat the A minor Pentatonic as the first three notes of the riff of “Smoke on the Water”. Those three notes are the start of the minor Pentatonic Scale.

The A major Pentatonic can be remembered by the first three notes of the song “My Girl” by the Temptations. Those first three notes form the beginning of the Major Pentatonic Scale.

Try playing those first three notes of both those songs in any place on the fretboard to see where your positions are.

Good luck and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Learning about Guitar Sound: Fender Silver Face Twin Reverb and TS 808 Tubescreamer

The Fender Twin Reverb is mainly known for its clean sound. Some of the Silver Face Twins came with a push/pull knob for the Master Volume section. This control  can provide you with a bright distorted sound. You can hear this sound being used by 60s bands such as the Byrds, Creedance Clearwater Revival and you sometimes also hear it on some Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.

The distorted sound produced by the Push/Pull Master Control knob is very similar to the sound a TS 808 Tubescreamer produces when you use this pedal in combination with a Twin Reverb amp. The nature of the TS808 is that it reacts with your amp, and each amp will respond differently to the pedal.

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again for more,
Eddie

Learning to play the Guitar from Books: What Kind of Books Are There?

For this article a short brief about what kind of books you can use for learning to play the guitar. Let us have a look at the kind of books you may find:

Tutor Books:

These are the kind of books which teach you how to read music. They will teach you how to use the open strings and they will get you to play in the first position. There are often sections about basic music theory such as simple rhythms and rests and names of various notes.
The song material found in these books often contain traditional songs and well-known classics. Often songs are given different titles for copyright reasons.
Most tutor books are aimed at the complete beginner and anyone who wants to brush up on their reading skills and music theory.

Resource Books:

These books come in a variety of forms: Some of them may just contain chords in many different shapes, some of them may just contain scale patterns, some of them may have titles like “fretboard basics”. All of these books are resource books, they can be seen as additional material you can dip into when you need some extra help with regards to a type of chord or a different kind of scale. Most of these books assume that you do have some guitar playing skills.

Style Books:

Books which want to teach you a particular guitar style such as blues, country folk or finger style guitar or classical guitar. Some of these books are aimed for beginners, most of them are for intermediate players and more experienced players. These kind of books are often good to get a head start into a new style of music you have never played before. Often these books will start from zero with regards to the particular style they want to teach. To get the most out of these books, it does help if you do have some understanding of basic music theory and also have some reading skills as well. Most books will come with a CD, but still being able to read does help as well as you can both see and hear how a particular musical example sounds like.

   Song Books:

These come in a variety of styles, some of them may contain a whole album of a particular band, others may be just a collection of songs by different artists. Some of these books are aimed at the beginner to guide them with their playing repertoire.
Song books may come with just chords and lyrics, others also show the musical notation alongside the lyrics and chords. If you want to learn how to play songs from your favourite artist I would suggest you using tabs, Youtube and maybe some of the songbooks. Try to learn songs by ear as much as you can.
Songbooks may be good as additional material but they are not good as a starting point, use them alongside other material as an extra. Some of the music notation may also put the beginner off, as these books may not be graded.

Finally:

Experienced players will find use in any kind of book. Some of them may be good for additional sight reading material. Sight reading can be improved by reading any material which contains G-clef, and you can use any material for any instrument, as long as it is written for G-Clef.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,
Eddie

Guitar Tips: Four Reasons Why Students of the Guitar Should Learn To Play Scales

20130119140733eddie Most students will get introduced to scales by a teacher or a friend. Some students may just play the scale once and take its sound for granted. Other people may memorize the scale and learn to play with it. For this short article I will give you four reasons why the playing of scales on the guitar does improve your studies and your playing.

Discipline:

Learning, and memorizing, a fingering pattern such as a scale does take time and effort. It requires discipline to play the notes smoothly. Those of you who are experienced players may not think too much of it but believe me, if you have never played a scale before it does take time to play it well. It is not too hard if you set your mind to it but you do need to concentrate. The discipline matter is not only good for learning to play scales, it is a mind set which will help you with any learning when it comes to playing the guitar well.

  Correct Use of Fingering:

Scales do help students to develop the correct use of  fingering. Fingering is memorized internally and it will help you in any area of your playing. Once you have good fingering habits your playing will sound smoother and you will also be able to play without too much effort.

  Training of the Ear:

Scales do help students with the tuning of their ears: Each scale does have a particular sound, and you will tune in to its sound when you play the scale regularly. It will also help you to play in key as you ears will tell you which notes are in-or out- of key. All sounds very logical and simple for the experienced player, but beginners are new to the whole idea of playing in key and playing the “right notes”.

Navigating Around The Fretboard:

Scales do help you to play in different areas of the fretboard. Once you have learned various fingering patterns of a few scales it will free your fingers up to play freely along the fretboard. This playing freely is useful when it comes to playing solos and riffs.

Finally:

Students who struggle with scales are the ones who can play. Sounds like a contradiction eh? It is true, most of the people in this category are the ones who have good ears and have learned in the past a handful of scales they still use. To progress to the next level they do need to learn some new scales, but because their ears can hear where they need to go they feel they do not need to memorize particular patterns. Wrong, as they tend to trip up themselves when it comes to areas of the fretboard they do not know well.
You know a scale when you can play it freely in any place and any string on the fretboard. In most cases it is a discipline matter, and again, students who need to work harder do develop better discipline since they know they need to work at it. My view is everyone needs to work, but each person has his/her own areas which need work.  The fact that you can reel around the fretboard does not mean there is nothing left for you to learn. Just be honest to yourself and your playing and work on what you need to work on to become a better, overall guitar player.

Enjoy your playing, and hope to catch you soon again,
Eddie

Guitar Tutorial: Learn to Play Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” as Solo Finger Style Piece

For this article we will have a look at Metallica’s song: “The Call of Ktulu” Most of you reading this may already play this piece. I have adapted the piece for playing it as a solo piece, including the basslines to give the sound of the arpeggiated chords more depth.

My version starts after the first intro chords, it is the part which kicks in where the distorted rhythm guitar appears in the piece.

All the notes should be played as straight eights apart from the note on the 2nd fret on the D string in second bar: This note receives two full beats!! You may also have to refinger the fingers of your left hand after you have played this note.
The low notes for the Dm/E   Dm/F   Dm/A part can be held down for 2 beats as well, all depending on your ability. By doing so you will add more depth to the overall sound of the chords.
You can play the piece using a plectrum or using your fingers, all depending on what you are comfortable with at the moment.

Dmsus2

E  ——————-0————-            ———————-0——-

B  ———-1——————0—–           ——————1————

G  ——-2—–2———2————        —————2—————         repeat these two bars several times

D  ————————————-        —2—1————————

A  -0——————————–0—    ———————————

E  —————————————-   ———————————-

Dm                      Dm/E                          Dm/F                   Dm/A
E  ————————————–      ———————————–10–

B  ————6——————-6—–      ———-6——————-10—–

G  ——–7———7———7——-7-     ——7——–7———- 10———

D  —0———————————–       —————————————

A  ———————-7—————–     -8—————–12——————

E  —————————————–    —————————————-
repeat the above two bars several times before progressing to the final two bars of the piece:

Dm                       Dm/E                           Dm/F
E  —————————————–     —————————————–

B  ————-6———————6—       ———-6——————————

G  ——–7——–7———–7——–7—  ——-7——7—————————

D  –0—————————————     ——————————————

A  ————————-7—————–     -8—————–8—7—5—3———

E  ——————————————    ———————————————

Observe how last two bars are very similar as the previous two bars above, apart from the end where the piece just rolls back to the beginning again with those descending notes. When I play this piece I even finish on a Dmajor chord just for fun, but I have not included that one here.

Once you can play a piece of music, experiment with what you can do to make it fit your style or what you want to do with the piece for your own playing.

Most people will probably play the piece like how Metallica does it. When you play on your own you may want to add some more notes to the piece to add more depth and colour. Once you understand the harmony of the music it will become easier to adapt it to your own style.

Many intros of Metal and Heavy Rock songs can be treated like this without losing their identity in sound. Try to add something new to them to amuse and surprise your friends.

Hope you like my adaption and looking forward to see you again soon.
Cheers,
Eddie

Guitartutorial for Beginners: Easy Blues in G

The last article was about a short blues sequence, this article is about a similar kind of sequence, the chords are almost the same apart from the ending: Here is the sequence again

E7   A7    D7     G

Play all chords as one bar and use a shuffle feel for all chords, apart from the G, play for the G on beat one and three as this chord will give the sequence a finished feel.

You could treat the sequence as being in the key of G or in E minor with the sequence finishing on G, which is the relative major of the key of E minor.

Here is a short melodic idea which will work over the sequence:

E —-0–0———-0—

B ————-3———

G ———————-                                    Play this idea over the E7  A7 and D7

D ———————

A ———————-

E  ———————-

For the final G chord you can simply play the 3rd fret of the high E string and let this note ring, it will give the sequence a finished feel.

More experienced players will not have any difficulty creating some melodic riffs which will fit the sequence. Use minor Pentatonic in Em to find any catchy riffs which will fit the chords.

Another thing  you can do is, play the first chord of each bar, then play the melodic idea and progress to next chord. For each chord play just one strum as the rest of the bar is needed to fit in your melodic riff.
Playing in this style you cover both the chords and the melody without having the need for another guitar to play the chords for you.

Next article we will learn to play Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” as a Solo Piece including chords and basslines.

Hope to see you soon again,
Eddie