Improve Your Speed for Beginners and Intermediate Students

Before I go into why you should want to work on your speed let us first have a listen to some guitarplayers who can dance all over the fretboard:

First here is Charlie Christian: Clean Sound, most of his notes are picked, he plays in position, does have lines where he plays over one string, does have an amazing feel for that swing.

Okay now here a more modern version of some fast playing: Edward van Halen from a recent 2013 show. Very good video to get an insight in some of his techniques: Watch his stiff wrist when he plays the very fast picking with pick at the beginning. Watch how he keeps first finger in place. When he taps with his left hand he uses his right hand to mute the strings, in this way he can keep the sound clean without any rumble from resonant, open strings. Lots of false harmonics to get that bell-sound, also a lot of pinched harmonics. Knowing where you go on the fretboards is a must, especially when you are improvising. Listen to the studio recording of Eruption and to this version with all the little ideas in between. Observe the violin-like sounds from the volume swells. He does have amazing control over his sound.

Here a video of Joe Satriani, which give a great insight into his playing as well: Lots of melodic ideas and impros over one string which he shifts to positions or move up into a different registre, observe his Wah pedal technique he uses to get his notes to come out in the mix a bit better. Great to see those harmonics he gets when he depresses the Whammy bar, sometimes he uses the pick-up as extra fret, and uses the tremo bar to get those notes to come up better. Again observe the position of the first finger, it never leaves the fretboard! Once you start practising your excersices your fingers will get used to some of these habits, but you may need to sit down and spent some serious time with the guitar.

Okay now for something different, this is just about some fun, not really about guitarplaying. Had not seen this one before, you may have…At the end of the day your guitarplaying should just be about fun and something like this may inspire…………….

Another one in the same category: Playing very fast is alright, but can you dance is the question?

Okay maybe enough videos to illustrate the idea what fast playing is all about. You may think : “Fast playing is not for me, I will never be able to achieve what some of those guys do” Well you will be surprised at what you can achieve when you start working on this issue serously. It is also one of the reasons why I want to highlight some of this: To play guitar well you need to work on your playing, the faster you can play the better you will be at playing at a slower pace. A little bit like driving a powerful car: You do not need to race all the time, but having all that power in your car makes driving very comfortable ( Yes I know, let us not talk about your fuelbill but really, that is another matter)

Why would you want to be able to play fast? To create variety in your playing. The danger is wanting to do it all the time, which will reduce its effect. Variety in your sound can be achieved through use of effects and being able to play fast is just another techniqual tool you may want to use to add variety and drama in your playing.

Fast guitarplayers may not be in fashion at the moment, but you do not just play guitar to be in the latest magazines. Trends do change all the time and having some fast chops can never harm you, it may cost you some time to achieve them but see it as part of your journey with the guitar through the land of music.

                  Work approach:

There are many ways you can go about in achieving speed in your playing, but most guitar players will try something like:

                    @ Play slow at first
                    @ Hear and think about every note, serious business I know, but it will help you
                    @ Be patient, your playing ability will grow over time, but this is for life, just do not give up after two weeks of work, see this as a long term goal, or better, as something which can be worked on in all stages of your guitarplaying development, depending on what you go for at the time.
                    @ Use warm-ups and slowly build up your playing from there, try avoiding to rush things too soon.
                    @ Use a metronome to keep a mental check of where you are within the bar. Once you start using them you will get used to them and start to feel the beats.

                  What Material to Use for Building Up Your Speed?:

Anything really, from scales to set patterns, your own riffs you may make up, short phrases. Anything you can concentrate on to get your actions and timing in good shape.

I mentioned the use of metronome before somewhere on this blog.

When you are relatively new to the guitar you may have wondered what it is when your playing is not always the same every day: Your muscles do feel different at different times of the day, warm ups do help when you have not played before, use them!. There is also the fact: “Some days are better than others”  Even when your technique is good you have to accept there will be moments you can play faster and better than at other moments. It is quite a common thing for players to tense up when they go for fast solos, the better your are a keeping yourself relaxed the better your notes will come through.
Constant work on your technique will make your fingers work more consistently.

Whenever you listen to some music ask yourself: “Where is this particular idea played on the guitar?” “Are the phrases played in position or is it mostly over one string?” This approach does not only help your with analysing someone else’s playing, it will also give you a better understanding of the different ways of playing the guitar. Hopefully when you play yourself, you will have a choice of how you want to sound like, or what you want to do musically with the guitar.

Let me leave you with another guitarplayer who gives us an insight in some of his guitartechnique. Some very useful tips for beginners about playing patterns over one string: You do not really need to know the notes (yes it helps but………….) just remember the shape and repeat it over other strings.  Some sweep picking ideas ( which I will highlight in another article)  Watch his right hand wrist: Very small, neat movements when he picks through some of those fast scales, great insight for any beginner!! Also a bit of a rolling movement with his thumb (Close ups towards 4.50 minutes in video)

Hope to catch you soon again,

Peavy Dirty Dog Revised Review Sept. 2013

Two years after I wrote my first review about the Peavy Dirty Dog it is time to update my previous review. The previous review is underneath this article. Just scrowl down your mouse the see the full review from May 2011.
What is new and what is not new? In 2013 there are still not many reviews about this pedal, and most of the reviews are negative, the people who like it, really dig. Similar as in 2011.

As a musician you change, in 2011 (and years before) I used to play through several amps, using EQ’s and treble boosters to give smaller amps a kick-up.
These days I tend to play with just one amp without the support of any extra EQ’s or treble boosters.
Having tried the Dirty Dog on its own through one amp I can only say: It sounds fabulous, very open, nothing artificial, pedal sounds like it is part of your amp.

Here is a good pointer I totally overlooked in my previous review: Anyone who uses Boss SD-2 does gets the idea what the Dirty Dog sounds like: The Lead Channel is a dark and can remind you of an older Marshall. The Crunch Channel is lighter in sound. The idea of what sounds this pedal can create is similar to the Boss SD-2, but whereas the SD-2 is artificial and takes over your amp, the Dirty Dog’s sound sits next to your amp, forms part of it.

The SD-2 is really compressed, Dirty Dog is not. When the gain is opened a lot further than the Volume you do get that tube-sag feel, changing the settings can quickly resolve this.

What I wrote in previous review about using Dirty Dog as adding more brightness is still true. Overal, what I mentioned before is true, but using this pedal on its own is great as well, and it really can be a distortion pedal if you want it. It is very open and organic.

Other open, organic pedals, in my opinion, are MXR Dist.+ and Boss DS-1, both these pedals become part of your amp sound. Personally I prefer pedals of this kind as they leave your ampsound in tact instead of taking over the sound of your amp.

Pedals which can take over the sound of your amp are: SansAmp Classic, Boss HM2, MT2, DS2, SD2 just to mention a few. Do not get me wrong, these pedals have their place, and I enjoy them as much as anyone else, just mention them to give you an idea how different the Dirty Dog is in terms of sound.

If you get a change, give one a try.
Hope to see you soon again,

Check out the video I made which demos most of the sounds available from this pedal.

Peavey Dirty Dog: Review and User Guide May 2011

Today a review for the Peavey Dirty Dog pedal. It is classified as a distortion pedal, but there are many people, please read some of the reviews here: who are somewhat confused by what this pedal can do.

The pedal does contain two channels, one for “Lead” and one for “Crunch”.
The controls for both channels read like:

                Bark               Bite            Growl
           (Post Gain)        (Treble)      (Pre Gain)

Funny names, for some people downright annoying, but I think it should not be too hard to get used to them  as their function is pretty standard for the guitarplaying crowd.

Furthermore, on the “Lead” Channel there is a “Boost” button, which does not need any further explanation as to what this one does. On the “Crunch” Channel there is one more control left: a button which is called “Trash”, this one reduces the mids, when you switch it on it gives you a warmer sound, more tubby feel if you like. I will come back to this button with a video to back up its sound.

There are two toggle switches, one for “Bypass”, and one to switch from “Lead” mode to “Crunch” mode. There are LEDS to show you in which mode you are. The “Bypass” is not true bypass but it is very convincing and a great feature in itself.

Okay that is about it as far as the layout of the controls goes. Pedal works with a 9 volts powersupply or a battery. If you are using Boss type of plugs you will need a adaptor plug to get the same kind of socket as what most Boss pedals use. The polarity is similar to those of Boss pedals which means ( if you do use an adaptor socketplug) you can daisy chain your powersupply and run all your pedals of one powersource.

I tested this pedal with both Single Coil guitars (Fender Strat.) and Humbuck guitars (Gibson Les Paul), used both valve amps and transitor, small amps and stage amps. In all my testings the results were similar as in that the Humbuck guitars were exaggerating the sounds more (as one would expect), gave less detail ect. The stage amps made everything louder but not really different in sound.

                        Dirty Dog Used on its Own:

Using the Dirty Dog just on its own with no other pedals to interact, the “Lead” channel can produce a somewhat disappointing sound: With the Pre Gain on 12.00 0’clock the pedal produces a lot of bass, you need to work the Treble control to get a workable sound. When you are expecting a lead sound you will be in for a shock as this mode just adds more gain but not really a good strong, solo sound.
The “Crunch” channel is much better in this respect: It does what it tells you on the tin, but it can do it much better read on………….

As far as giving you distortionsounds right out of the box this pedal may be somewhat disappointing but heh, let us reduce the Pre Gain control, work that Treble knob a bit and make up for it with the Post Gain control. Now you are talking!! as this pedal does clean up wonderfully in both the Lead Mode and Crunch Mode, dial in more Treble and it still remains clean, does get a little grainy but does not add any more distortion as what so many other pedals will do when you add on treble.
Why is this so good? Isn’t this supposed to be a distortion pedal?  Read on………………..

                      Let Us Now Bring In Your Favourite Distortion Pedals:

Place them in front of the Dirty Dog and let the Dirty Dog do its trick on your pedals: In the “Crunch” mode the pedal can add a lot of extra treble, in the “Lead” mode it can add a lot of bass, adding more body to almost any pedal. I tried it with some of the most populair pedals like the Boss BD2, SD1, OD3, HM2 and the Ibanez TS9, all of them being stock, not modded or anything, and the Dirty Dog makes any of these pedals so much better: The SD1 sounded very creamy in the “Lead” Channel, the TS9 did get more body in both channels (Stevie Ray Vaughan, anyone???), The Boss OD3 gave extra shine on the Dirty Dog, more colour, especially when the tone control was opened up more. The HM2 in the Lead Channel could give me a real convining Marshall JMC 800 sound on both channels.

                     Overal Conclusion:

The pedal is designed to give a kind of Valve sound, it does this in the Power amp stage. When you play your chords hard you will experience that “dint in your sound” as any Valve amp will do when pushed hard. When you place any distortion pedal after the Dirty Dog this feature will be less noticeable. Experiment with the placement of your pedals, in any way you do it, the Dirty Dog will make your pedals and amp sound better!

This pedal can best be viewed as an enhancer for your sound, not a distortion pedal on its own. However as a clean bass/treble boost I would be quite happy just to use the Dirty Dog on its own as it is excellent in this mode

Its biggest selling point? The fact that it turns a One Channel amp into Three Channels. Cool! Combining this with any of your favourite pedals this does give you a lot of sound to work with from your amp.
One of its weakest points must be the fact that using this pedal as a distortion on its own it can be somewhat of a disappointing experience. 
What about the whining sound mentioned in some of the Harmony Central reviews and other posts on the net? Good question! Yes, that can be a problem, I had it too, but it can be repaired by any amptech, and after that you will be happy with a good working pedal which will last you for a long time to come. Heh what can go wrong with distortion pedals eh? 

                     Last But Not Least:

The one thing I was going to mention but have not done so far is the Trash contol on the Crunch Channel: When you push this button it does give a less direct, somewhat warmer sound. Listen to this song here. The guitarsolo which starts at 2.07. A TS9 and the Crunch Channel with the Trash button switched engaged will get you close to that sound!

                      For Who is This Pedal?

If you are into enhanced, expansive sounds from your amp and you like pedals and tweaking you can not go wrong with this one. You can use it for studio or live playing. If you are a “One Amp and Guitar” kind of guy you my not like this one.
What kind of guitarstyle? Any really, as this pedal puts a nice shine on any moderate- or more extreme gain pedals.

Have a great blast making music and playing guitar and hope to see you soon again,

Feel the Beat, Improve How You Use Your Metronome!!

How many different ways are there to use a metronome you may wonder? “Stick it on and play along with it”: You may say. Yes and no, once you get more experienced as a guitarplayer and musician you may see some other things you can do with your metronome.
Before I’ll give you some ideas how to use your metronome in other ways let us first have a look why it makes sense to use a metronome: A metronome does not lie, it will tell you when you play in or out, it is accurate and does not speed up. Some of you may find it annoying to listen to a click. Once you will get used to it you will no longer hear the click as a sound but will start to experience it as a beat.

Typical use of metronome is to play on every beat. Most electronic metronomes will let you set the tempo of the click. Often you will be able to set the number of beats in a bar as well, you may even have a choice of eight and sixteenth beats. All very good but……………………Playing on every click is a good habit for when you are new to playing with a metronome. Most people will be able to do this fairly accurately. Try using a metronome when you are playing with a friend. What will happen is you lock in to the pace of each other rather than the metronome.

Okay so what can you do to feel the pace of the beat rather than hear each click? 

                      Use very slow tempos on metronome:

~ Use, for example, 40 beats per minute, but actually play twice the speed. When you are doing it right the metronome will click on beat One and Three, you yourself feel beat Two and Four. When you are playing scales in this way you actually play double tempo with regards to the metronome. You can play the notes with straight eights. Once you can do this well start playing on the beat of the metronome, so your playing will have come down in tempo, after a while go back to playing double tempo with regards to the metronome. Playing solos in a band in this manner does have a great effect, it adds more drama and animation to your solos. Using the metronome as described before will prepare you for this kind of playing.

~ The next step is to play sixteenth notes to every beat of your metronome. Sixteenth beats sound like 4 notes played against every beat. Make sure you are using very slow tempos. The metronome will still click on beat One and Three. Once you can do this without too much concentratation start playing sixteeths to every beat you hear, again, your playing will have slowed down, bring it back up again after a while to experience that shift in tempo.

~ Instead of using sixteenth notes try same idea with triples (3 notes to every beat). Again set metronome to click on beat One and Three while you play and feel beat Two and Four.

If all of this is causing your trouble set the number of beats of your metronome to TWO, set metronome to higher tempos, 100 beats per minute and above. Once you are comfortable using metronome in this way, bring down the tempo to half the setting you had before (in this example it will be 50 beats per minute) and bring the number of beats back to 4. The tempo of your playing will be the same, but you will actually only hear beat One and Three clicking on your metronome while you play yourself on every beat. Go back to the tempo of 100 beats per minute and bring back the number of beats to 2 if you are still struggling.

                       What to Play?

Usually players will use a metronome for particular excercises and scales, but you can also use the metronome as a tempo guide for playing a whole song.
Most excercises to improve your speed and accuracy will focus on four-or six notes patterns per beat. You can create solos out of stringing some of these ideas together. Once you understand how it works you can make your own excercises. Your ultimate goal should be to string together a chain of patterns into a longer solo. The hardest thing will be to break up these patterns with other ideas. Breaking up the ideas will make your solos more interesting.
Patterns which employ playing over one string are the easiest, patterns which skip strings will be harder to achieve. Some people start using sweeppicking (plectrum gradually falls on next string to play the next note) when they want to play fast patterns which skip strings as strickt picking with the plectrum may become harder.

Next article will go into detail about Speed, Why You Should Work on It and How You Can Improve It.
See you next time.

Your Practise Time: Work on Your Weaknesses and Self Assessment

Playing is fun and practising your guitar can be fun too but there is a difference between working on things you cannot do and playing just for fun. For this article a few tips and highlights about what you can do to get yourself more focused on what your own playing needs at the moment.

If you are a beginner it makes sense to play as often as you can to improve your guitarplaying but also to reinforce your relationship with the guitar. As guitarplayers get better and more experienced there is a tendency to play just for fun: Play during bandrehearsals, have the odd blast at home through the amp etc. Great, but there may be a lot of issues you may need to work on to improve your own playing, work you may not get time for when you play with your band. The time on your own with the guitar should be well-spend-time since you do not want to spend your time too much on things you can already play.
Okay, so how do you find out what your playing needs? Here a few ideas which can get you into the zone:

                        What Does My Playing Need at the Moment?

This question can be anwered from different angles, let me focus on the playing you do at the moment, not on the things you would like to learn for the future. No, practise-time is daily work, so what your playing needs (or lacks) is anything you do at the moment which is not that smooth. They are the riffs and solos which sometimes sound great and flawless, but not always. Would you not like to make them sound good all the time? What is lacking at the moment may be certain techniqual issues with your stlye of picking, your stringskipping or…………………
To find out how your playing sounds and what it may lack, play spontaneous for a little while, record yourself and have a listen and be honest to yourself about what you hear. Listen out for stutters, broken up phrases which should be smooth. All sounds perfect? You are God! Do it again, there will be things you can not do very well, and that is what you should try to overcome.

At the moment you may work with Scale excerscises, fingerexcercises ect. all material which you may have collected from the net, material which comes from someone else. Good, really good stuff, as it may all be material you do not know yet. You own playing will give you feedback. In your own playing will be the answer to what you need today. Most of the material you practise from other people is good for tomorrow, the long term goal, but have a look at what it is you cannot do today, the things you can do but which do not flow smoothly.

Once you can see what it your playing needs your next step should be to find a way to iron out those issues. You may be able to do this yourself, you may have some friends who can offer help, maybe someone who has more experience than yourself, or maybe you can contact a local teacher to help you overcome some of those issues in your playing.

If you can help yourself you are probably experienced enough in your playing, but you may need to be honest with yourself that your playing could benefit with a little work at home from time to time.

Most of the well-known players will admit that they play excersices or particular ideas which they do not really use in their day to day playing. All good and well, but maybe you should work on things you use daily. Even the well-known guys do admit that some of the things they practise may not be all the relevant to what they need.
Andy Summers mentioned in an interview at one point something about speed and the state of guitarplaying at the time (it was around ’93) His comment was along the lines of: “You can spend a lot of time of getting faster and faster, but at the end of the day you have only achieved one goal: Getting faster. But you have no songs to play these fast solos over, you could have spend your time on making songs and working on unusual chordvoicings etc.”
I think anyone, if you are honest, can see the point of this remark. It really pays off to work on different things in your playing all the time. Start with what you really need for now. Keep it fun and light, no need to run yourself in the ground, especiall if you have been playing for some time, but at same time, be honest and dilligent on what it is your playing needs right now.

Next to your daily practise routines there is something like bigger,longterm goals. One of those goals could be: “I would like to play faster solos” Usually these goals are not something you can do right now, they are something you may want to work toward to be able to do it at a later stage.

For next article I will look into speed, oh yes, we guitarplayers cannot get enough of it, and you can never overdo it, but there are quite a few things you can do which will speed up your progress with getting on the speed-highway.

Catch you soon,

Use Fingerexcercises to Inspire and Improve Your Solos, Songs and Compositions

For this article I will give you a few tips as how you can use fingerexcersises as a musical tool rather than only a mechanical devise to loosen up your fingers.


Combine Linears and Stringskipping ideas:

   Example 1    E –3—-3——-3——-3—      ——————-3—4—5—6
                      B —-6—–6——-6——–6-    -3-4—-5–6——————- 

        Count:        1 and 2 and 3  and  4   and   1 and  2  and   3  and  4 and 

The example above shows an excercise which is played over the high E and B string.
To get more milage out of the excercise play as: 

                             @ Written

                             @ Play first bar, repeat half first bar then play second bar twice

                             @ Play first bar as written, play second bar then move up two frets to repeat second bar

                             @ Treat  the eight notes of the second bar as two small phrases where you play hammer-ons for the second third and fourth note of each phrase.

Treating finger excercises as musical phrases is a good habit, it will help you to become fluent and rapid with your solo ideas all across the fretboard.

Playing Scale-ideas, and linear ideas for too long will tire the listener’s ear. Break up your notes from time to time to introduce new ideas.
The following example is great to cut out of that linear rut:

Example 2

                                                        P                   Play last bar twice
      E –3—–3——3—-3—          ———————————
                                                       ^        P
      B —–6——6—-6—–6         –3–2—————————
                                                                 ^         P
      G —————————       ———–3–2——————-
      D —————————       ——————-3–2———–            
      A  ————————–        —————————–3—–

      E  ————————–        ————————————

Count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and       1 and   2 and  3 and       4

Observe that the last note of second bar is a whole tone instead of an  eight note.
The first bar is same idea as from previous example, the second bar break away from the idea. It creates a feel of keychange and movement. Playing the last bar twice adds to  the feel of drama.

                    Pentatonic Scales:

Who does not use ’em eh? Playing the pentatonic in position (block playing) can often make you sound like any other guitar player around the block. Break up your position playing by using phrases which only move over one string. Go back from time to time to postion playing to create a feel of stability and tradition.

                   Picking Hand:

Avoid playing long phrases where you use only alternate picking. It is very easy to play fast and automatically by using alternate picking. It is also a good way to make you sound like an automatic robot. Break up your alternate picking with heavy downstrums (downstrums do have more power—-it is a good habit to be able to play any of your riffs/phrases using down/up and alternate picking—-) You can even put some chord ideas in between your phrases to create extra spark, fire and drama. Playing similar ideas for too long gives the listener the idea of: “Heard it all before”. 

Breaking up your patterns with different ideas will add new information to your previous melodic statement, it will make your solos stand out more from the crowd.

              Are these ideas only for the Improvising Guitarist?

No, if you are strickly playing pop-songs in a cover band you can still use any of these ideas to add more individuality to your solos. 
When you start using the ideas you may feel you may start to sound too much that your are playing out of key and that whatever you play does not work any more. Get a feel for how far you can go with “playing outside the box”
When you are playing blues you may feel you go too far against the tradition. Obviously you want to stay in the boundaries of whatever style of music you play, but within these boundaries there is a lot of potential to make you sound like you rather than a copycat who is able to play phrases we have all heard too often before.

Hope to get some videos done soon to demonstrate some of what I mentioned here.
Stay tuned and hope to see you soon again.


Open Tunings for Intermediate Students

For this article a short, introductory brief about open tunings. Open tunings are achieved by simply tuning the guitar into a particular chord. When you have been playing the guitar for about two to three years you may think: “That really sounds complex and is way above my ability at the moment”  You may be wrong there, if you like being creative and like messing about with your guitar, open tuning can open up a world of music which you may not have thought of before.

Why do we use open tunings you may wonder?. Open tuning create a rich pallette of sound, it gives the guitarist the ability to play single string melodic ideas while it still possible to play chords at the same time as well. Imagine that you play a riff, and in between the notes of the riff you strum your open strings to add body to your riff.
Open tunings do not require complex fingerings to create different chords, often it is enough to barre your first, left hand finger to get the sound of another chord.
Open tunings are a favourite for slide guitar players as open tunings make changing chords easier.

Is it true that open chords are mainly used in folk, country and blues guitar styles? Well there is certainly some kind of truth in this statement, but open tunings are used by guitarplayers of any genre. Think of  heavy rock where guitarists often tune down their low E to a D. This idea is not really using an open tuning, but it is a step towards changing the tuning to achieve a particular sound you may like. Bands like Sonic Youth make up their own tunings (Simply take a chord and tune the guitar accordingly to this chord), they even used to have certain guitars modified and set-up for particular tunings. 
Once you start experimenting with your tunings you will start to see so much more about what is possible, and no, you do not need to be an expert guitarist to use them. All you need to have is a desire to explore different sounds which are hidden within the guitar.

                    Open C Tuning

Open C is a very useful tuning since you can use to Capo to access other keys by simply moving the Capo up-or down the fretboard.

Here is an example of an Open C tuning:

       Standard                               Open C

    (read tuning as high to low starting with High E going to low E in standard tuning)

           E                                          E

           B     ————————->   C  (Tune string up 1 fret)

           G                                         G

           D     ————————–>  C (Tune string down 2 frets)

           A     —————————> G (Tune string down 2 frets)

           E     —————————> C 

Observe that the Open C tuning carries all the notes of a C major chord (C, E and G).

Strum all the open strings and you hear an C chord. Check the sound against a guitar in standard tuning to hear the difference: The open tuned guitar will sound more resonant and that low C, in particular, sounds very pleasing to the ear.
Barring your first, left hand finger across the first fret will give you a C# chord, barre across fret 2 to get a D chord. Fret 5 and 7 are very useful: On fret 5 you will get your F chord while fret 7 will give you a G chord.

                   Why did I tune the Strings I did to get Open C?

The strings I changed are close to the standard tuned strings. I try to avoid tuning up too far as the string may break. Tuning the B up one fret to C is not too bad, your strings will handle that. When you are using old strings they may break quicker, but it is also a sign that it is time to change your strings.

                  Is this the only way to achieve Open C-tuning?

No, you can leave the low E in standard tuning, since the E forms part of the C major chord. Why did I change low E to C? Because I like the idea of having the Root note at the bottom string, it is great to hear the Rootnote from time to time appearing on the low string.

                 Do you need All the Notes of C major in Open C-tuning?

No, but the tuning may no longer be called open C. I try lots of variations, I like the idea of using C on every string, it give you a lovely sound. Another one I like is using C5 tuning: Tune your strings to C and G to get the C5 chord.


Any open tuning will give you lots of limitations, that is why we use standard tuning because you can get so many different sounds by using your fingers to create different chordshapes. Open tunings are good for certain things but are not as flexible as standard tuning.
Looking at the example of the Open C-tuning, the minor chord may be a bit hard to get since you cannot simply barre your finger to get the sound of a minor chord. You can tune the high E  down to Eb, by doing so you are now using a Cm as open tuning. The minor tuning may be easier to give you the major chord sounds.
When you start playing around with the tuning you will discover what they can do for you, simply explore and maybe make a note from time to time where you are tuning to to keep track of what you are doing.

I hope to get some videos done very soon where I will demonstrate some open tuning ideas.
Stay tuned for any coming updates.

Eddie de Hamer on Radio Leeds Sat. 21 Sept with Jake Katborg

I will be on the Radio Leeds Weekend Show with producer Jake Katborg to talk about the Leeds and Bradford Guitarshow in Pudsey on Sunday 22nd of Sept. Will also be talking about the guitarlessons and will teach Jake to play a song. Anyone who listens regularly to Radio Leeds will know Jake and his sense of humour. Should be great show, may also be able to create a small Jingle Song like the Kate Crudson one I played earlier on this  year.

Show starts and 9.00 am and I should be on around 9.10

Here link to show with Jake and Kay, just in case you have missed it:

Link will work for next 7 days after posting of this blog.


Leeds Bradford Guitar Show Sunday 22nd Sept. Pudsey Civic Hall Leeds

A fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in guitars,guitarmusic, guitarpedals, guitaramps and anything what goes with it, to try out new guitars, pedals and meet other like-minded guitarbuffs.

Here a link to the website for more details:

I will be there myself demonstrating various guitar-and songwriting techniques. There will be a change to meet and have a little jam, talk about guitars, amps, pedals songwriting, tuition and guitarsounds.

Throughout the day I will be playing various ideas using loops through a handful of guitar-and bassamps.
Check out these two videos to get a little taster:

If you are interested in having a play together, please bring your own guitar, amps will be there, yes we will need to keep the volume down but it should be fine for you to do a little playing together to get a feel for things.

I can help you with tuition in bandformat: You can play along with a drummer, bassplayer and some other guitarplayers, this to get a feel for how it is to play along with others in a band set-up.
Do not worry about having little experience in this field because: You can be placed in a starter band set-up.
For the more experienced among you: You can play along with people who are of a similar level.

Interested in Rock, Metal, Folk, Funk, Reggae or Pop? Not a problem,you will be alongside people with similar interests as you.

Bar and food are available to keep your juices running, all you need to bring is your enthusiasm and passion for the guitar.
Hope to greet you on Sunday.

2 Ways to Convert Your 4-String Bass to get 5-String Bass Sounds

Really? How can you get 5 strings out of 4. Okay, you will still have 4 strings but they will sound different. Here is what you can do:

Buy 5 string set and put this on your regular 4-string bass. Put the low B where you normally put your low E, next in the set is the E, this one replaces your A, then it is the A which replaces the D and last is the D string which replaces the G on your regular 4-string bass. You have lost the G, but you have gained the low bottom end, which may be the most important part of playing 5-string bass.

Another, simpler way is to retune your regular 4-string bass like this:

           Normal Tuning:                               5-String Tuning

                     G  —————————>          D

                     D  —————————>          A

                     A  —————————->         E

                     E  —————————–>        B

There you go, standard set of strings tuned to 5-String Bass. 

                          What Gauge is good for this?

I use 0.45 to 105 and it works perfectly: The strings loose a bit of tension which you may like, but there is still enough tension to retain the sound.
When you buy a low B you may find it may not fit through the body where the string is treaded through to meet the bridge. All of this depends on the bass you use. A low B may fit, but if you have trouble just retune the low E to a B.

                         Back to Standard Tuning? Use a Capo on the 5th Fret!!

It is a simple as that, just use capo at the fifth fret and you are back to the tuning you normally use. Yes you have lost a bit of fretboard, but you may like the new-sounds and feel coming out of your standard bass.
Using the capo at the fifth is also great for the actual tuning: Place capo on the fifth and use your tuner: Your tuner will read the E string as an E, even though you are tuning it up to a low B, same for all the other strings. Great idea.
Overal you may have a tune a few times before the strings will hold the slacker tension, but this is not really a problem, similar as to when you put new strings on your bass.

                       What About Guitar?

Works for guitar as well! What so many metal guitarists do, they tune the low E to a low B. Why not change the whole tuning to this?

                Guitar Regular Tuning:                                         New Low Tuning:

                                   E  —————————————–>   B

                                   B ——————————————>  G

                                   G ——————————————-> D

                                   D ——————————————-> A

                                   A ——————————————-> E

                                   E ——————————————->

Some people may feel this tuning does not really work for them very well. You will need to bend your ears to the sound, it is also a tuning which is good for certain songs/compositions or other kind of ideas.
For standard, heavy Rock sounds it may be better to tune whole guitar one fret down (Eb tuning) or just tune the Low E to a B.

If you are using this guitar tuning, your bass player will always be in tune if he/she uses same tuning. Again, not all bassplayers may like the sound. My feeling is the low tuning may be better suited for bass rather than guitar.

A side effect of the low tuning for guitar is: Your regular distortions start to sound a lot better, some of them will sound a lot more like a Fuzz. It does help if you use a heavier gauge of guitarstrings when you go for this low tuning. I use 0.11 up to 0.56, and yes, the tension on the strings feels a lot less stiff compared to standard tuning.

For future articles I will go more into detail about using open tunings: Tunings where you tune the guitar into a chord.
Whatever you do, you cannot go wrong really, you can also make up your own tuning: Think about a chord, play it, write down notenames and tune your strings according to notenames of chord. Usually it is better practise to tune strings down to whatever note you need, but this is not a hard a fast rule: You can tune up, but do not tune up a string about 7 frets as you will cause that string to break!

 Thanks and hope to see you soon again.