Mar 4 2011

Practice, iRig, John Mayer and more

by Josh

How quickly a month goes by!

Amid the frenzy of preparation for our new baby, I have found the time to practice on a handful of songs and techniques that have helped me progress (or at very least remain the same).  I have been working on some fingerstyle techniques lately, thanks to my cousin John I found this YouTube video of Dale Turner explaining Hole Notes in the style of James Taylor.  I found the focus on the formation and ornamentation of chords to produce a more interesting song very helpful.

On the electric side of things, I have been continuing to play with my iRig which has succeeded wildly in letting me explore the more rock/metal leanings of my Les Paul.  My stratocaster has not been neglected, thanks to the discovery of this tutorial (with tab!) of John Mayer’s “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”.  I am growing to appreciate John Mayer’s guitar abilities… he is one of those artists that I’m not a crazy fan of but I do see that he has talent.  The blues infusion in this particular song and the mellow groove really keeps my interest.  I am by no means good at playing this song, in fact it is a giant struggle to get through the intro but it is helping to practice moving up and down the neck and practicing hammer-ons.

If you like the look of John Mayer’s Black One guitar, John (my co-contributor on this site) operates Custom-Relics.com where he makes a fantastic reproduction of that guitar (among many others).  I have personally laid hands on many of the reproductions that he offers and can tell you that a lot of care goes into making them look “just right.”  Check it out!

Over the next few weeks, I am going to continue working on these songs primarily.  I have a few other projects in the works, but that will have to wait for another time!

 


Sep 21 2010

Chromatic Scale Drills

by Josh

My friend Paul turned me on to an easy drill to do in order to get yourself accustomed to proper picking technique and movement around the guitar neck.  Paul discovered this drill from another coworker of ours who is quite accomplished on the guitar and used to do this drill “every time he picked up a guitar”.  He also runs SongInspire, where you can purchase backing tracks to help your playing.

The drill is fairly simple and based on the chromatic scale.  You start at the first fret on the E string and play each of the first four frets, one at a time taking special care to use proper picking technique.  Then you move over to the A string and repeat the same process.  You continue in this fashion until you reach the high E string, and then do the exact same steps backwards.

Once you reach the first fret on the low E string, you move your hand down to the second fret and repeat the process.  You continue on in this way until you reach the 12th fret, and then work your way back up the neck until you end on the first fret.

It doesn’t take that long (I can get through it in about 15 minutes going at a fair pace) and it really helps to get you used to picking without thinking about it and moving comfortably across, up, and down the guitar neck.  Once you get comfortable with the mechanics of the drill and things begin to flow a bit more naturally, you can augment this by tapping your foot to keep time or using a metronome to work on that aspect of your guitar playing as well.

I hope you get some value from this drill, I know I am!  Thanks to Paul for turning me on to this, and Dave for turning him on to it!


Apr 27 2010

Learning by jamming…

by Josh

I have the notable pleasure of working in an office environment with a bunch of other amateur musicians, so once in awhile we get together and have an office jam. The latest of these was last weekend, and we tend to prepare a new song each jam session and then go back to some old favorites.

I ended up arriving to the jam session late (as usual) and joined in with the group on a long rendition of Hey Joe.  After that, we made a few aborted attempts at Layla by Eric Clapton and quickly just fell into a blues session. A coworker of mine is fairly experienced with the guitar, and I picked up a simple little blues shuffle by watching him which ended up being my main contribution to the song.

Just as with anything, it seems to help if you surround yourself with more experienced players and just try to pick up a thing or two each time to work on.  It was fun getting to learn a few new licks, and that led me to seek out  this YouTube tutorial on a simple 12-bar blues that I’ve been working on lately.  I hope you all enjoy it.


Mar 7 2010

Common Chord Progressions and you…

by Josh

Over the last two months, I’ve been working on a lot of song practice.  Most recently, I have discovered the newest offering by one of my favorite bands: Barenaked Ladies.  For some reason, their new song “You Run Away” has burrowed into my brain and I have been listening to the single I purchased from iTunes frequently.

After some discussion with John, he pointed out that the guitar parts of this song are pretty easy.  I was somewhat skeptical, knowing that Ed Robertson’s guitarwork is on average far more advanced than what I would consider pretty easy, but I asked John to get me the chords for it anyway.  He quickly hit me back with details that as far as he could tell, the song used a capo on the 2nd fret and the chords were G, Dsus4/F#, Em7, and Cadd9.

That sounds like a mouthful, I thought… but I tried it out and quickly realized that these were the EXACT same chords that I use to play Eve, The Apple of my Eye.  I was but a few hours of strumming practice away from getting the pattern and with little effort I had another song in my repertoire!  John pointed out that this is one of the more common chord progressions in pop/rock music today and there is probably 100 more songs that follow the same pattern.  We’ve started work on a list that we will post up here, but it’s fun when skills from one song directly transfer to another!

Thanks to John for the chord tab and to Barenaked Ladies for a great song that inspired me to look deeper.  Their new album arrives in Canada on March 23rd and the US on March 30th, so be sure to check it out!


Nov 29 2009

TotallyGuitars.com

by Josh

Over the long holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to watch Paul McCartney’s concert on TV.  That led me to YouTube, looking up guitar lessons on how to play some Beatles hits and I stumbled upon this video instructing some of the basics about Yesterday along with some history on the variety of ways that the song is played.  I was pretty impressed by this mini-lesson, so I ventured over to TotallyGuitars.com and looked around some more.

After signing up for a free account, I’ve been devouring the lessons taught by Neil Hogan.  He is a very clear instructor, however at times he does excitedly descend into some rather complicated explanations (for my experience level) how different chord or patterns fit together.  So far my favorite lessons have been his “campfire songs” where he takes some popular music and makes them easily strummed, suitable for singing with friends around a campfire.

Neil also goes into some detail with his basic lessons and tips that I really wish I would have had when I first started learning the guitar.  I was always sure that mechanics existed that could be taught to aid with understanding basic strumming, how to hold a pick, and how to form chords more easily and Neil teaches these elements in a concise and easily understood way.

As I mentioned, I have been working on his campfire song versions of Tequila Sunrise and Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  I played the latter without telling my wife what I was playing and she said “hey, I know that song, that’s Green Day right?” which meant I got it close enough to be recognizable!  TotallyGuitars.com has something called the TARGET program which provides much further in-depth song lessons and an Acoustic Genius program that takes you from having never picked up a guitar to being able to do advanced songs and techniques.

Since I’m traveling the last half of December, I intend to continue devouring the free content but after the first of the year I’m definitely signing up for their TARGET program when I can focus on learning and applying his lessons.  I highly recommend heading over to TotallyGuitars.com and signing up for their free account to test-drive some of Neil’s lessons.  If you like it, sign up for their TARGET program and report back how successful you have been!


Jul 19 2009

Barre Chord Practice with Paul

by Josh

It’s been nearly a month lacking of updates, but I have been busy practicing!  I’ve been working on the songs that I have mentioned previously here almost daily.  This has caused some measurable improvement.  My friend Paul recently picked up a Fender Super Champ XD Guitar Combo Amp and we spent an evening putting it through a workout.  In the process, he showed me some Sex Pistols tunes including God Save The Queen.

This song is comprised of a variety of different barre chords, including the G major barre chord played at different locations up and down the neck.  I focused the bulk of my practice on this since that night, but Paul did a good job of walking me through the rest of the song so I can practice it once I get better at the mechanics of forming and transitioning the barre chord.

I’ve got a bunch of updates built up since the last time I posted, so you’ll see a little more activity here over the coming weeks as I unpack some of the interesting resources I have accumulated.


Jun 29 2009

Video Lesson: Bell X1’s “Pinball Machine”…

by Josh

This video lesson is brought to you by my cousin, John.  He has been waging an ongoing war against poor Internet tablature and put this video together at my request.

I had been working on Bell X1’s “Pinball Machine” today using this tablature and noticed that while the chords sounded close there was a lot more intricacy to the actual song.  I asked John what he thought about the tablature, and he put this video together in only 45 minutes to help me get straightened out!

I still have to work on the strum pattern and getting the changing fingers more natural, but this certainly helped me on my way.  I hope you all enjoy it!

John specializes in a service that helps aspiring musicians get the unique sound of popular acts.  He’s also darned good at working out simple guitar lessons and tablature as seen above.  If you would like to contact him, you can do so by emailing him at this address.


Jun 23 2009

Practice: Eve, The Apple of My Eye

by Josh

Tonight I decided to work on one of my favorite songs from a band most of you have probably never heard of: Bell X1.  Their song “Eve, The Apple of my Eye” has been featured in several shows in recent years, most noteably on Fox’s The O.C.  I’ve listened to this song a lot, which made it easier to practice with.  I have found that trend to remain true… if you can hear the song in your head as you’re working on it, it plays much easier.

Luckily, this song only appears to be around six chords all together (excerpted from the tablature, provided by Ultimate-Guitar.com) :

	   EADGBe
G	  (320033)
Dsus4/F#  (2x0233)
Em7	  (022033)
Cadd9	  (x32033)
C         (x32010)
D         (xx0232)

The C and D chords are used in the bridge only, which makes switching from the main song to the bridges easy. For the rest of the chords, I learned from my previous experience with Free Fallin’… it makes switching chords easy if you anchor the two fingers on the B and e strings while playing.  That makes it much easier to move just the index and middle finger to form the chords as the song progresses.


May 21 2009

Barenaked Ladies and Death Cab for Cutie practice and research…

by Josh

I’ve spent the last week periodically practicing some new songs: Soul Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie and Light Up My Room by Barenaked Ladies.

For both of these songs, I received some instruction from my cousin John via Skype.  Soul Meets Body is only three chords, its a decent song to work on strumming and switching chords.  I still don’t quite have the strumming down, but its getting better.  Light Up My Room is one of my long-time favorite songs and I really wanted to learn the intro to that one.  It’s much more fingerpick oriented, but its not that hard of a pattern to figure out if you listen to the song while you practice.

My cousin was able to dig up a reference video for each of these songs: Soul Meets Body from an old appearance on Conan O’Brien and Light Up My Room from YouTube’s Bathroom Sessions.  Watching those videos helped work out the chord formations and some of the strumming/picking patterns to get more comfortable with the songs.

I’ll put up a more detailed post about each song after I work on them a bit more, so keep an eye out for those!


May 13 2009

Practice: Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

by Josh

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked up the tab for Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty and gave it a shot.  Free Fallin’ is a song that is well suited to beginners like me because its only three chords and they’re very easy to switch between.

The song is comprised of a D chord, a Dsus chord, and an Asus chord.  The strum pattern is pretty easy to figure out if you listen to the song, and I learned an important lesson from this song: often, a finger or two will remain anchored and will not move as you move from chord to chord.  In the case of Free Fallin’, your ring finger will stay in the same spot on the B string.

You can see this by looking at the chords I listed above:

e|---2----3-----0---
B|---3----3-----3---
G|---2----2-----2---
D|---0----0-----2---
A|---x----x-----0---
E|---x----x-----x---
     D  Dsus  Asus

To move from the D to Dsus, simply add your fourth finger to the e string. To move from the D chord to the Asus chord, leave the ring finger where its at and then shift your index and ring fingers to the D and G string as indicated on the tablature above.  Anchor that ring finger and don’t let it move as you transition your chords, it really helps.

This is a very fun song to play and provides both chord switching practice and strumming practice. With a little work I think I can have this one down!