I teach group sessions for guitar every Wednesday from 5.30 pm.
The session lasts for one hour and they are at the premises of Music Shop Fairbank and Harding, 38 Chapeltown Pudsey LS28 8GL
Price per session is £12.50
There are still spaces available for anyone who wants to improve their guitar skills. The group is of mixed ability in terms of skills, it will be easy to fit in for anyone interested.
It is possible to come and check it out. The group sessions may not be for you but I may have other options for you to improve your guitar skills.
If you have any questions just call me on 07796 808633 or just come to any of the sessions to have a chat and see if it is for you.
Most people reading this will have dedicated guitar gear like guitaramps and effects such as distortion- and reverb pedals.
What about using some of that gear for different purposes? Distortion pedals may work very well for bass and keys or maybe even vocals if you like that kind of sound. The key is to experiment and look at what you need and see if any of your exhisting gear will give you the results you are after.
Have a look at any of the following and see if you can try it for your own purposes:
Work only well for guitar? Well yes and no, the thing is the speakers: Most guitarspeakers do carry a lot of mid. Guitar comes alive in the midrange hence guitar speakers being heavy on midrange. Try playing a bass through any of your guitar amps and you will find that the sound is not as low as through a dedidcated bassamp. You can acutally tune the speakers with an EQ. Parametric EQ’s are great at doing this job since they are simple and usually a little twist will do the trick. Once you have tuned that guitaramp it may sound fine for vocals and anything else you may have planned to amplify.
A few small guitaramps may even work as a little P.A system. Do use a mixer if you plan on using the amps for vocals since microphones need a little more power and the preamp on your mixer will be able to give those vocals a lift before they hit the guitar amp.
Most types you use for guitar may be fine for vocals as well. Dedicated reverb effects for vocals usually have a lot of different reverb patterns, typical guitarreverbs will have less variation. Try the sound of your guitar reverb and if you like it for vocals you have a winner!
Mixers can be used for a lot of purposes, once you start using one you will find a lot of different applications for it. Try it for your guitar: Just plug in straight into the mixer and use it as a guitar amp. True, a guitaramp does colour your sound a bit, a mixer may give you a dryer sound but you may like that sound at the same time. All of these variations will make you appreciate all the different ways there are to amplify your guitar.
For this article five practical tips to help you along to get better with playing coversongs. These ideas will work both for the solo singer/songwriter or the singer/guitarplayer who plays in a band set up.
The first thing to think about is the key of the song: Once you have the taps, chords and lyrics for the song you may still find the song hard to sing and/or play. Transpose the song to a different key, go down-or up half a step and see how the song now plays and sings? Does the song have any parts you cannot sing comfortably? Work on it and find out if it is the key of the song or maybe it is you who is doing something wrong?
Changing the key of the song is not a crime! Sometime musicians feel they need to stick to the original key to stay true to the song. This is all fine as long as you can sing and play in the same key, if not, change key and see how things go. The key of the song will not drastically alter the character of the song. Better to sing and play in a key which is right for you instead of battling on with the song in a wrong key.
Once key is right check out the recorded version of the song against your version: Do you have all the riffs, chords and little arrangement ideas? Sometimes a song only needs the words, melodies and chords to carry, sometimes you may need to put in a few extras to make the song work.
If you are playing on your own you may have to make your own arrangement to give the song a better feel, again this is not a crime since it will only make the song sound better!
The next thing to think about is tempo: You may actually want to speed-or slow the song down to get a better feel. Experiment with how the song plays and feels like, see what you like best. Relatively inexperienced players may want to stick as much as they can to the original tempo of the song, but sometimes this tempo may be wrong for you. You only find out when you play the song and try various tempos. You can record yourself and listen to how your version sounds like.
The next idea is related to what I mentioned before about arrangement and little ideas. Try to play the song as much as you can with your style of playing, this will make the song sound natural to you and your audience. Experiment with feel, tempo, stops and arrangement. It takes time to find out how you may want to play the song. Even if you decide to stick to the original, your version will still sound different because of difference in voice and difference in equipment being used during recording of original song.
The last idea may sound obvious to most of you but you will be surprised how many people actually keep reading chord charts and lyrics when it comes to playing songs. Learn the song as much as you can, it may take time, but playing from the heart gives a much better feel than playing and reading from a sheet of paper. Once you know a song you will feel how the song plays and you will become one with the song.
As 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.
If you like your distortion pedals you may like this article. I will give a short outline why distortion pedal where created and why some distorted amp tones still sound better than any pedal can ever do.
Before we look at the pedals we first need to look at the amps: The most common guitar amps today do have a distortion channel and a clean channel but there was a time when guitar amps only had one channel, even those vintage JTM Marshalls of the 1960s!
The need for a pedal to create somekind of overdrive was normal considering the amp could only give you clean tones. Those clean tones could be manipulated by turning the amp’s volume at max. Now what about creating a device which would actually do the same without turning the amp’s volume up? This is were the early treble boosters came into the picture. Treble boosters were the early overdrive pedals of the 1960s. The pedals did get better during the years and gave you more tonal options to create whatever you wanted, but the amps got better as well: The early amps were still single channel, and you still had to turn them up to full to get some kind of overdrive. Around 1976 Marshall added a Master volume to their amps………………………………….. now it was possible to get distorted tones at listening level. Well not everyone agrees but from that moment onwards most amps started to come out with options of various channels to create different amp tone at a much lower volume level.
Okay now back to the pedals: Most amps today are more sophisticated than the ones guitar players used in the early 1960s, so why actually bother with a distortion pedal? Good question. The obvious answer is: The pedal may produce a distorted sound which augments the sound of the amp or………….it may produce a sound which makes the amp sound worse.
To check how well your distortion pedals work with your amp do this little test for yourself: Check any distortion pedal you like through your amp, see how tight the distortion is compared to the distortion of your amp. Dial in as many variations of distortion your amp has and listen. Now do the same with your pedals. What you will find is: A typical pedal may sound weaker and less tigtht compared to the sound of the amp on its own. When you do this test, try the same but now with a different kind of amp. Similar results? Probably not, so keep those pedals as some do sound great with a particular amp, while others do not.
For next blog: Which distortion pedal sounds good through Marshall JCM 900 SL-X
The typical approach to playing guitar solos is to react to a chordsequence. Nothing wrong there, it is a skill to play the right tones over the right chords. Instead of reacting to a harmony created by the chords why not play a melody which is independant from the chords? Creating a melody where you do not have to think about the chords gives you the freedom to play whatever you want to hear. Once you have a melody you can start thinking about which chords would support this melody, but let us for now focus on the melody first:
How do you create a melody you may wonder? You can play a riff you know and add some new notes to this riff which will turn the riff into something of your own. Instead of this why not start with material from fresh? Just play a few notes, hum these notes and see if you can expand these notes with something new which will turn the whole thing into a melody. Whatever you do you cannot go wrong as long as you play something you enjoy you are on the right track.
Once you have your melody the next step is to change this melody from time to time since we are playing a solo and not just one single vocal melody. Start your melody and then progress with same melody in a higher position on the fretboard. As you progress change the notes from time to time, you can add little crazy twists to spice up the melody, things like harmonics or some bends, anything you can think of really. Listen to Jeff Beck who is a master at this game. Jeff’s playing is not so much about chords, it is all about melody, riffs and how to manipulate the melody with all kind of sounds. Sometimes these sounds come from effects, but most of the time the sounds come from his inventive use of hands and whatever he can think of the guitar can sound like. Try some of his ideas for yourself, get into the mindset of what to do and work on whatever you need that you cannot do at the moment.
Once you have some melodies and variations of these melodies look at how to expand the solo. One way of doing this is by adding some new harmonic ideas: Add in a few chords to spice up the melody, see how this changes the rhythm of the solo. Adding a few extra chords will turn the solo into a small composition. Small compositions are often more fun to play compared to a handful of riffs which do not have any musical connection. Small compositions do have the feel of a short song, they are also easier to play to an audience since they can hear something of a song.
You can build on creating a handful of these small compositions, play them from time to time and develop them into something even bigger, some of them may even become complete songs.
Good luck, keep listening and hope to catch you soon again. Eddie
A treble booster can turn your amp into overdrive, this kind of overdrive tends to be natural and is basically created by adding more treble and volume to the amp. Trebleboosters used to be populair in the late 1960s and early 1970s at a time when most amps where single channel amps The only form of distortion available then was Fuzz or turning the volume of your amp on full. Using a treblebooster gave you more control over the volume and overal distortion sound of your amp. These days, when most amps will come with some form of distortion and/or channelswitching, treble boosters can still be useful as they can give you a, somewhat, natural kind of overdrive.
Looking at trebleboosters, it is possible to turn your overdrive pedal into a treble booster, all you need is a pedal where you can control the amount of gain, volume and tone and you are there. Some overdrive pedals may be better at this function than others For the next few articles I will review some overdrive pedals which work well as treble boosters, the pedals I will review will be the Boss BD-2, Boss OD-3, The MXR Distortion +, DOD FX 55-B and the Peavy Dirty Dog
When looking into treble boosters for yourself consider the amp you are usings, the pick-ups of your guitar: Singles or Humbucks and the kind of sound you want to achieve. Some of the pedals I will review work well using valve amps or transistor, some pedals actually preformed very similar while using these different kind of amps. A bonus some may say?!
Stay tuned for next few articles about treble boosters, Cheers, Eddie
When you read this you probably have a lot of riffs you play daily, riffs from any of your favourite bands and maybe some of your own riffs. No doubt you can play those riffs as how they should sound like but what about using those riffs in another setting? Make them come alive with other solos and other riffs so those orginal riffs become actually a piece on their own. For this article I will give you a handful of ideas what you can do to improve your riffing power and how it will make you sound a more professional guitar player.
When it comes to playing music it does help if you can break down what you are doing: Get to know the key of the riff (or song) you are playing. Once you know the key you may be able to play the same riff in another position, or you may even be able to change the key of the riff. Why would you want that? By changing the key you may be able to play your riff with open strings. The sound of open strings may make the riff sound more jangly or heavier or whatever. Being able to give your riff the sound you like is a good idea, it means you are on top of your game instead of just using any old tablabture which shows you were to play the riff.
Now that you know the key of your riff what about your technique? Are you using down pick or alternate picking or…………..? Is this important? It is good to play the riff with the sound you want, and the kind of technique you use for your picking will make a difference to the sound of the riff. Down picks do sound heavier compared to upstrokes. Try to break down your technique, find out what you are using and get your sound as smooth as you can. The opposite is guessing, and not using an consistent technique. The downfall of this is that your playing will not always sound as good as it can be. If you notice any shortcoming in your playing work on it, break it down and iron out any weaknesses.
Now that you can play the riff with the right technique, and all sounds how you want it to sound like, let us move on to changing the riff. Changing the riff you may wonder? Yes, we want to use that riff, but we also want it to open you up to something more: Once you know the key of the riff, it may be possible for you to add lib. at some point in between parts of the riff. How will I do that you may wonder? Without giving you any tab. or examples, just find a riff which does contain several parts. You may be able to play first part, then get to improvise a bit with some of the notes of the riff (and scale) before you plunge into the second part of the riff. In this manner you will be able to keep on playing your riff without it getting to sound all the same each time.
The next step is to change the style of the riff: This idea will make it possible to use parts of the riff for something which you have made yourself. Once you start working with this idea do not feel too precious about the original riff, just change whatever you need to get the new riff to sound how you like it, including style and rhythm. You may end up with the original riff being played in a completely different style. That is fine, but try also to get some of your own notes in there as it will help you to see how to create new ideas out of exhisting material.
Keep on playing and hope to catch you soon again, Eddie