For this article a short brief about Joe Satriani: His style of guitar playing, his tone and the kind of songs he writes.
Joe Satiani became well-known to the world of guitar and music in the mid 80s. He was (and still is) one of the main players of the instrumental Rock style which was dominated by over the top guitar solos played at very high speed. The style was also responsible to give instrumental guitar music a boost and demonstrate all what is possible within that style of music.
Instrumental guitar style of albums have been known since the 1970s, think of Jeff Beck and the Jazz Rock kind of albums he produced in the early to mid 1970s. Then Van Halen came along later on in the decade to showcase a whole new style of guitar playing with a lot more swagger then what was usually seen in the style of heavy Rock guitar. Eddie van Halen made people aware that you could compose whole songs using the Two Handed Tapping Style. In the 1980s a lot more Rock guitar players started to use this approach for their song writing. Some of those players mainly used the style to demonstrate their guitar technique and showmanship, but some of those guitar players made fantastic and credible compositions. One of those players was Joe Satriani. His style of playing is not only loved by guitar players as such, his music speaks to a large audience of music lovers.
Let me now break down some of the elements of Joe’s unique guitar style.
Listen to any of Joe’s albums and you realise straight away that this music sounds different: His songs are full of bright guitar sounds which sound fresh and unique. Think of any typical guitar band of the 70s and most songs will sound the same tone wise. It is almost like the term production was overlooked in those days, bands seemed to concentrate on the songs and the riffs but how the recording sounded was not high on the list of priorities.
Better production makes for timeless music. Some of the 80s recordings may sound dated to today’s standards but the listeners can still hear that the artist cared for the sounds which were recorded at that moment.
Joe goes go for a clear and bright lead tone for most of his melodies and solos. Chords are usually played with a clean or slight, distorted sound. For variation in lead sounds he will use a Wah or a Pitch Shifter at times.
Most of the melodies sound like simple, vocal like melodies which can easily be hummed back. Those melodies are often treated with guitar embellishments such as slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and a touche of the Whammy Bar.
They can be seen as variations on lead melody of the song. The solos are there to demonstrate Joe’s technique but they also add extra depth and emotion to the songs. Most of these solos are very diverse in nature. Some of the key ingredients of Joe’s style are: A mix of major, minor and diminished scales which add extra colour and emotion to the songs, Playing over one string, Use of Whammy Bar to enhance melodies or to create special effects, Two Handed Tapping to extend the playing range of melodies and riffs, Playing Harmonics above the fretboard (Jeff Beck does this as well!) to create special effects and new sounds.
Most of the chord structures are set up to bring out the best of the melodies and solos. Songs vary from straight Rockers such as “Surfing with the Alien” using mainly powerchords, blues-kind-of-songs, ballads and experimental songs which demonstrate Joe’s composition and guitar style. The depth of the emotion of his songs lie in the combination of Joe’s composing and guitar skills and his overall musician ship.
Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,
Anyone’s guitar playing can simply be improved with a touch of some simple techniques. For this short article I will take you through some of those simple techniques which will enhance your playing style quickly.
Okay so you may have been playing for a little while now and you are able to play all your chords confidently. Next time you are about to play some chord sequences of your favourite songs why not try any of these:
Play some of the chords you play and enhance them with some hammer-ons. The simplest idea is to play a hammer-on on the same note. Repeat the hammer-on for all the chords involved. This technique can give your playing a pro edge. It will make any sequence sound better since there is a little embellishment in the chord. Once you get the idea of it you may want to explore the technique more in detail. You may want to try various Hammer-ons for the different chords involved of your song.
Basically a Hammer-On in reverse. Once you get good you may want to try them both into your chord sequences to add more spice to those songs.
When you are into guitar solos, a lot of guitar solos are build up from Hammer-Ons and PUll-Offs. Check out Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption, the song is full of Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs.
Strings bends are always a lot of fun to play, you can play them on both the acoustic or the electric guitar. A lot of Blues guitar players do use String bending, but the technique can be used in any guitar playing style. As with so many guitar techniques, the art is to use whatever technique you come across and use it to enhance your own unique and individual style of playing.
String bends can be used to create simple riffs in between your chords. As what I mentioned before about the Hammer-On, you can simply use the same bend to create a simple idea, repeat this idea all throughout your chords. If you are new to String Bending your pitch may be slightly off. It does take practise, time and patience to be able to bend any string at will. Hang in there and make the technique work for you!!
Finger slides are simply a slide over one string: Slide from one note to the next one. The technique gives you the idea as if you are using a proper Glass, or Brass Slide (Bottle Neck). It is a great technique to give simple melodies a lift.
Using a Glass or Brass Slide:
Using a Slide on one of your fingers is one of greatest things you can do to explore another territory of guitar playing. You do not have to be an expert at the guitar to try this technique: Simply get yourself a Glass or Brass Slide and put it on one of your fretting fingers and start playing. Once you get the hang of it you may want to explore the style more into depth. You may want to try alternative, or open tunings whilst you are using your Slide. Start exploring and just have fun!!
Hope to see you soon again for more!
There is a guitar group at St. Peter’s Church in Bramely. The lessons will be from 5.30 until 6.30 pm on Thursday. Price per session is £10,- per individual.
At the moment the group is of mixed ability. Lessons are open for anyone who has an interest in learning to play the guitar. Give me call on 07796 808633 to express your interest or just come along on Thursdays and bring your guitar!
St.Peter’s Church, Hough Lane, Bramely, LS13 3JF
For this article an overview about what alternative tunings are and how to use them to get the best out of them. I will not provide you with particular tunings as there is enough info out there about this matter.
This article can be seen as the bigger picture about alternative tunings: Once you understand how certain tunings work you can use them for yourself and start experimenting with making up your own tunings.
What is an Alternative Tuning ?:
Any tuning which is different from the standard tuning E,A,D,G,B and E. Very simple eh? A simple example of an alternative tuning is Dropped D: the low E is lowered to a D. This tuning good for playing heavy riffs since you can play your powerchords by barring with your first finger of your left hand. Most guitarplayers who are into that style of music will already use that kind of tuning. Dropped D is only the beginning of your alternative tuning journey.
Tuning Your Strings Into a Chord:
This kind of tuning is often called Open Tuning Open tunings are simply your open strings tuned into a certain chord, like a G or D or C or whatever chord. This kind of tuning is used a lot by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Open tunings are easy for changing from one chord the the next one: Simply barre one finger and move up on the fretboard to create another chord. It is also a good tuning for playing a simple riff combined with a chord.
Create Your Own Tunings:
Open tunings are a way to introduce yourself to alternative tunings.
Okay let us explore the chord idea and tunings a little further: Try one of your favourite chords, find out what notes are in the chord and now tune your strings according to this chord. Once you have tuned your strings according to this chord you may feel you can no longer play as you used to: All the common open chords may no longer sound as they did before. Part of using alternative tunings is to get you into a different mode of playing. You can work out what you do, but you can also explore the tuning and get inspired by what your ears hear and simply just play.
Using a Capo:
A Capo can work magic with your alternative tunings. You may even want to use a Capo to bring you back to standard tuning while the guitar is still tuned to a particular chord. Work out what you have done and figure out where to place the Capo to bring you back to standard tuning.
Sometimes using a Capo you may stumble upon a different way of playing with the alternative tuning. There are times you may feel you are not getting anywhere with the tuning, try using a Capo and see if you are getting better results. Sometimes using a Capo will give you more inspiration. It is simply a matter of keys and tonality and the Capo can speed things up to get you into a different key.
If you are completely new to alternative tunings and also do not have too much playing experience with the guitar you may like this approach:
Change one string, either low E, or the A. Just tune it into one tone lower ( be careful with tuning up—yes it can be done but be careful, breaking strings…….) while keeping the rest of your strings tuned in standard tuning. Use the one string, of which you changed the tuning, as a dronetone. This string will be your new homekey. Play this string, and start improvising against this string. This approach is often used in Indian Music. You can even play chords against this string, just see if you like the sound.
Once you get the hang of it you may want to detune a few more strings to explore things a little further. Remember to make of note of the strings you detune, this will make it easier to get you back to standard tuning without any trouble and breaking too many strings.
Strings will break it you tune too far up. Tuning up two frets ( one whole tone) is fine, tuning up 4 frets may get tricky, it all depends. Using new strings always helps, they are more flexible and forgiving. When you are using old strings be careful. If you retune often you will develop a feel for what is possible, you can also listen to the sound the string makes as you are tuning up. Breaking a string is not a problem, but it may be a hassle if you are in a recording situation, or if you are just tuning up before a gig……….. Make sure you have spare strings around and get to know your guitars as they will all react differently. No need to be scared but just be prepared that is all.
Where to Use Alternative Tunings?:
A lot of singer/songwriters use alternative tunings on their acoustic guitars to get a fuller sound, also to play melody/chord style at the same time. The tunings will work fine on any guitar, particular resonator guitars and acoustic guitars. You can use a Slide to enhance your riffs. Just see what you like and make it work for your playingstyle.
Alternative tunings also work very well in bandcontext where the rest of the band is in standard tuning. Standard tuning works often better against an alternatively tuned guitar because of the contrast in sound. Just explore and have fun.
Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again for more,
There are these moments when you try a well-known guitar player’s gear set-up and you actually feel you are on stage jamming with the actual band.
For this article a short brief on Hendrix’s pedal set-up. His set-up is not complex and it is not too hard to make those pedals work for you to get that Hendrix sound. The one thing you now need to do is to play like Hendrix……………………..
Well even if you just riff about you will still get the vibe.
The pedals are run in the following order: Gtr–> Wah–> Octaver–> Fuzz–> UniVibe.
Hendrix used mainly Strats with Single Coil pick ups but the set-up works amazingly well with other guitars as well.
The Wah can be used for clean sounds, or while the Fuzz is on. Once you will kick in the Fuzz your Wah will start to sound very organic.
The Octaver does add depth to anything your will play, you can use it as a special effect or to add depth to the Fuzz.
Fuzz will add some frenzy to your chords and single notes.
The UniVibe adds swirl and space to the overall sound.
What Kind of Brands?
Wah: Use any kind of older style Dunlop Wah such as a Cry Baby. These pedals may not be perfect but they will get you close to Hendrix’s feel and sound. Any Wah will work, just experiment with your favourite ones.
Octaver: Use any simple one including all the warps and fluctuations, remember Hendrix’s pedals were not perfect. You really want a simple Octaver nothing too modern or flash.
Fuzz: You can either use a dedicated Fuzz or any Distortion pedal with a maxed out gain setting. As with the Octaver, your Distortion should be simple and basic. Hendrix’s live sound could be quite ugly from time to time. Once you know how to play simple gear will quickly get you into the zone.
UniVibe: A UniVibe can give you similar sounds as a simple chorus pedal. UniVibe does have more options, but have a good listen to some Hendrix live recordings and decide for yourself if you need a dedicated UniVibe unit or if a Chorus will do as well. I have been using some older Electro Harmonix style chorus pedals and they can get very close. Hendrix did not go for traditional chorus sounds (dedicated chorus pedals came into being in the late 70s and early 80s) he mainly used the UniVibe as a Leslie kind of effect to move the sound around and to create the idea of space (dedicated delays were not yet being manufactured in the 60s!). Avoid digital chorus pedals as they will clean your sound up too much. You want your sound to be as organic as possible.
Playing and Use of Pedals:
Hendrix may have been one of the first guitar players who started to combine various effects. Most of the effects are used to create variety in the sound. The main playing comes from his riffs and chords and the kind of songs he played: Souped up heavy blues dressed up with riffs! Keep this in mind all the time.
Get good with the Fuzz and your chords and riffs. Be able to mute at will but do not be afraid to create sonic havoc as Hendrix so often did. Bands like Sonic Youth took this noise idea a lot further, started thinking about it and specialized in it. Hendrix did not, it was part of what he did, but he could also play beautiful, clean chord style of playing.
You do not have to play Hendrix’s songs, it may be an idea to get inspired by his sound, create something of your own and start playing with the Octaver and Chorus to add variety to your overall sound.
Have fun and hope to catch you soon again for more,
You may have a Ukulele sitting somewhere in your cupboard, or it may have been just bought for you as a birthday present. Now you have that Ukulele what do you actually do with it? How do you make it sound to entertain some of your friends? Do not worry, help is on the way: A new Ukulele group is about to start in Farsley. Lessons will be in a small group on a Thursday night. Next to getting introduced to playing the Ukulele it is also a change to meet new friends.
Hope to meet you soon,
Happy to announce the fact that a new Ukulele course is to start at Farsley. This course will be held at the premises of Music Nation which is located at the Cape Industrial Estate, Coal Hill Lane in Farsley.
The course will run from early June until mid July.
No need to have any previous experience, anyone with an interest in learning to play the Ukulele is welcome.
Students will get introduced to different playing techniques such as strumming and picking.
The lessons will take place in a small group. Once students will get comfortable with the Ukulele they will be encouraged to play simple songs together. Check out further updates on this website or musicnationleeds.com
People who are interested in coming along can get in touch by calling me directly on 07796 808633 or leaving a message through the contact page or leave some feedback here.
For this article I will give you a handful of simple tips how you can get closer to the John Lee Hooker sound.
The key is to set up a rhythym, keep this rhythm going with a bassline played with your thumb while the rest of your fingers play a partical chord (or riff) in between the bass line. Keep the bass line at first simple to keep your playing smooth. Once you are comfortable with holding the bass line you can experiment with getting its sound more complex and change its feel.
Use a simple Open E-shape chord to get started, to change the key you can use a Capo while playing the same idea.
This style of playing is a great way to introduce you to more acoustic style Blues players. Once you get the idea you will be able to transfer some of its features into your own style of playing.
Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again for more,