A Quick "Top 5" List of "Must Learn" Improvising Concepts

Andrew answer's the question:

"I am totally stuck when it comes to improvising. I have spent a lot of time practicing scales and also learning about keys and Music Theory. I have also worked through several books that teach guitar licks all over the fingerboard. I have good technique, I have learnt how to play fast lines, tapping, sweep picking, etc. but, I still just cant seem to play a nice long melody during a solo. When I listen to top-notch players like Steve Vai or just good all around guitar players such as David Gilmour they seem to have a flow to their playing that I just cant seem to obtain. Can you please help me with a few tips on this topic."

Thank you,
Donald - Las Vegas, NV.

Andrew goes over a quick "Top 5" list of Improvising Concepts:

1). Learn scale patterns as well as octave templates. Practice for hours to gain a solid technique for them all over the guitar neck.

2). Listen to the solos of great guitar players, and try your best to understand their use of space and economy in their solos. Also, spend time listening to other instruments as well as vocal melody lines. Do a good deal of Transcription work also.

3). Understand that feelings and emotions play a huge role in developing solos that capture a listener’s attention. When you feel inspired... PLAY GUITAR!

4). Master the use of phrasing devices such as; slides, bends, legato, vibrato, double-stops, harmonics... etc.

5). Understand the relationships between scale degrees and the chords being performed at a given point in time. Work very hard at developing the ability to target specific notes as you play. It takes awhile to learn how to do well... but it's worth the effort once you begin to see the results!

Dorian Mode Masterclass - Part 3

This video lesson will cover further analysis of the Dorian Mode. The focus of this video will be upon the appearance of non-functioning minor chords.

Reggae Guitar Lesson Style & Performance

I have been asked to join a reggae band, but I have very little experience playing reggae guitar. I would like to know the following…

- What is the correct strum direction? Is it up or down, I’ve heard
differing opinions on this. Can you please clarify.

- When it comes to soloing what are the main scales that players
use in this style?

- Sometimes in Marley tunes I hear a muted scratch technique.
Can you please explain this technique.

- What are the main chord types used and how many strings are
usually played? Some of the songs I have to learn have thin
sounding chords, but other songs have very full sounding chords.

Any help you could give me on this subject would be very much appreciated including artists I should start paying attention to.

Thank you,
Jared from Flagstaff, Arizona U.S.A.

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio covers "How to Play Reggae Guitar Style."

GEAR REVIEW: Acoustic Guitar Amplification

Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio goes through his acoustic guitar rig in response to:

"I hope you can help me with my acoustic amplification. I have been playing amplified acoustic nylon string guitar at a few banquets and wedding ceremonies over this past summer. And, I have had poor results overall with amplifying my acoustic guitar. I play a Nylon String Yamaha CGX-171. It has a piezo pickup & a condensor mic with an built-in onboard pre-amp. I have tried playing it through a few rented Fender Acoustic amps; (the Fender Acoustasonic 30), which is a 30 watt amp with an 8 speaker. I also tried renting the Fender Acoustasonic Junior; which is a 40 watt amp with two 8 speakers and I even once rented the Fender Acoustasonic SFX II which is an 80 watt amp and has an 8 driver a tweeter and a 6 side-mount speaker.

While the Fender SFX-II sounded the best out of the bunch - overall the quality of my live sound (to me personally) still does not come across as very full and/or rich sounding. I was wondering if you could go over your acoustic guitar set-up and let me know what gear you use for doing your acoustic guitar gigs.

Thank you very much,
Donald Calgary, Alberta Canada

Andrew covers everything from passive transducers to his speakers, pre-amp and rack gear.

Common Jazz Situations

Q: Can you give me a good idea of what is involved with learning to play jazz. I’ve read that there are common chord changes to jazz music and to get good at the style there are quite a number of chords to know. A video on what chords are important, as well as what chord progressions I can begin to practice would really help me a great deal.

- George

Andrew examines the most popular practice directions for practicing jazz chord types and voicings. He also explains what students new to the world of jazz guitar can do to develop a good sense of the popular chord progressions that are used in jazz music.

EAR TRAINING Level 1 - Memorizing Intervals

Andrew answers this weekend's question about how to understand and practice relative pitch as well as the differences between Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch...

Viewers Question:
Q: What is relative pitch - is it the same, or different than perfect pitch. Also, which one is best to learn as a guitarist and can you give any tips for practicing ear training techniques.

- Martin

A: Perfect Pitch is the ability to recognize the actual tonal name of a note from only hearing the given note being played; i.e., Knowing that a note just performed was actually an "Eb."

Relative Pitch is the ability to recognize the intervalic distance between two notes; i.e., Hearing an "F" note then hearing an "Ab" after one another, and knowing that the interval between them is that of a Minor 3rd.

Andrew discusses the way musicians can develop a keen sense of relative pitch through a series of association exercises.

GUITAR THEORY: Scale Degrees and Modes

Andrew answers this week's question from off of his website about how to memorize scale degrees and modal ideas...

1). What, if any, is a logical, expeditious way of memorizing scales and their degrees for both soloing and playing chord progressions.

2). How do modes work with chord progressions?

3). How can you mix modes with scales to create interesting improvisations over progressions?

- Christian

Music Reading: Reading a Notated Melody

Andrew discusses the principles of reading a notated melody from off of the music staff. Included topics covered in the lesson are; Clef sign, Key Signature sign, Time Signature symbol, Note layout, pitch relationship to the guitar, and fingerboard concepts involved in learning to read music notation (no tab) on guitar.