Micro Lesson 204: "G Major" Country & Western Lick

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 204"

This Micro Lesson runs through a speedy, "Albert Lee," style Country Western Lick in, "G Major." 

The lick begins on the 5th string and descends chromatically before ascending across 4th, 3rd and 2nd guitar strings. 

Once at the upper 1st string, we use embellishments around the tones of a "G Major" arpeggio moving into the Root, 3rd and 5th chord tones of a "G Major" chord. 

The movements happen quickly and operate with a majority of pull-off's across the chord tones. The lick isn't exactly complex, but rather the challenge revolves around building speed with the part. 

Developing the quick-pace at where this lick should be performed is where a metronome comes in as being vital to the aspect of speed building. Begin at a slow pace at first, (where you can play the part perfectly). Then turn up the tempo until you gradually achieve the right pace with the line. Be sure that you have memorized the lick prior to pushing up the tempo of the parts. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 204: "G Major" Country & Western Lick

5 Things Serious Musicians Should Do Every Day

When you desire to improve upon a skill, regardless of what the skill is, consistency is key. Practicing your instrument for 90 minutes every day will produce much better results than trying to fit six hours of practice into two days per week. This holds true for every aspect of the music industry.

Consistent, daily work will be much more efficient and keep you much more sane than trying to fit a week's worth of work into your single day off.

If you've got a number of tasks that you need to invest time into on a daily basis, you'll need to prioritize. Now, that said, obviously everybody's priorities and daily schedules will vary, but here are a few ideas that should get you thinking about what you need to be doing every day.

1. Play your instrument
If you want to be a professional musician, you've got to get your hands on your instrument every day! Practice, practice, practice.

There are plenty of folks who just want to use their instrument as a creative outlet, as well as players who don't enjoy "practicing" in an organized way. There are plenty of people in this camp who have made music their career. However, even if you aren't into organized practicing, you should still get your hands on your instrument in some way on a daily basis.

When it comes to playing, the phrase "use it or lose it" absolutely applies! Just as all muscles atrophy when they aren't used, your hands and muscle memory will begin to deteriorate when you start neglecting your instrument for long periods of time.

If you're in a rut, or are unsure of what to practice, there are plenty of resources on the internet that can help you to figure out where to go next (ideally, seeking out a private instructor will drastically reduce the frequency of this situation).

If you aren't into serious practicing, there are plenty of ways to have a good time just playing your instrument. You could always just sit with it and see what comes out; many great songs have started this way. Or you could just work through some of your band's material or try to write some new stuff. As long as you're playing something, you should be able to keep your chops in working order.

2. Critically listen to music
Listening to music regularly is essential for serious musicians! I'm talking about real, deep, critical listening, as opposed to listening in the background of something else you've got going on.

There are a huge number of things to be gained by listening to music. First of all, it's enjoyable! Isn't that the reason you want to do music as a career - because you love music? Listening to really incredible musicians is probably what inspired you to want to play or write in the first place. If you're in a rut or feeling uninspired, it might be that you just need to listen to more music!

Of course, listening can inspire you in more specific ways as well. You might hear a particular lyric that gives you a burst of inspiration for your own music, or perhaps you'll hear some beautiful chord or transition that you just have to figure out. Maybe you hear an incredible melody idea, riff or a solo that you connect with and want to learn, or even just a funky sound that you want to learn how to make.

Learning things from recordings is hugely helpful in the development of your ear. You can't go wrong – listen to music every single day!

3. Tackle your emails
The music industry moves fast. Oftentimes, if you leave somebody hanging, you can miss out on some serious opportunities. If you aren't the type of person who enjoys communicating and is slow to respond to texts and emails, you're going to have a hard time making things work in this business.

We've all probably been guilty of this at times but hopefully you've been developing or have since found a solution. Pick a time every day (I prefer mornings after waking up) to sit down and respond to any emails that need attending to. If you let them pile up, this could take forever.

However, if you spend a little time every day responding to messages, you should be able to easily take care of them all within 30 to 60 minutes. This way, everybody who messages you is getting a response within 24 hours. That may not be ideal, depending on the nature of the email, but it's preferable to just letting the message sit forever.

4. Take care of business
If you want to do music as a career, then you've got to treat it like one. In other words, you have to show up for work if you want to keep the job!

Whether or not you have a day job, think of music as its own job. If the only "work" you're doing is showing up to rehearsals and gigs, you're probably putting in less than 10 hours a week. That wouldn't get you very far in any other field, and it's not going to get you far in music.

If you want it badly enough, you can find the time and energy to make it happen. Clock in to your "music job" every day and try to get something done, whether it's contacting new promoters or venues, following up on leads for cool opportunities, reaching out to new potential connections, writing new material, or researching better ways to approach your marketing strategy. The difference between five hours and 15 hours is huge, and if you're working smart, you'll start seeing real results as you put in more time.

Solo artists have a ton on their plate, but if you're in a band, you can be even more efficient. If you could only handle 10 hours a week doing your "band job," results might come slower than you'd like. However, if everybody in your band puts in 10 hours a week, that stacks up to your band being a full-time job! If you're in a band, divide and conquer. Figure out what the strengths of each member are, and let everybody take a different responsibility in order to work quickly and efficiently.

5. Take one small action in service of your bigger goals
This goes hand in hand with getting business done, but stretches beyond it. Taking care of tasks associated with your music career can seem like a total grind if you forget why you're doing it in the first place!

Take time to regularly review your short and long-term goals, and decide your daily plans of action with those goals in mind. Also, periodically take the time to reevaluate your goals. Are they still relevant to what you ultimately want to achieve? Is it time to change them?

Your goals and actions won't always be business related, of course. Though the business stuff is vital, try not to let it completely bog you down! You might have goals that revolve around practicing and becoming a better player, or getting better at writing catchy hooks. Whatever your goals may be, take time to work towards them on a daily basis.

A little bit of additional advice on this: Make sure your to-do list consists of specific, actionable steps, or you'll find yourself procrastinating because you haven't actually taken a few moments to determine what your next actions truly are.

For example, "get better at writing hooks," as noted above, is a goal – it's not an action step that belongs on your to-do list. The questions you have to ask yourself now are: How can you get better at writing hooks? What can you do right now to start making that happen? Perhaps "research songwriting books on Amazon" is the action step you want to take today to achieve your goal of getting better at writing hooks.

Every time you complete an action in service of a project or goal, make sure you always sit down and figure out what the next action has to be so that you keep up your momentum! This will help you put your day-to-day into perspective so that you can achieve a nice balance of focusing on the tasks right in front of you as well as the big-picture view.

Micro Lesson 203: "E Minor" Pop-Rock Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 203"

This Micro Lesson works through a Pop-Rock style breakdown of an eighth-note riff in the key of "E Minor." 

The riff is centered around an open 6th string "E" bass note and uses mostly "E Minor" Pentatonic scale to operate the connecting runs between the initial strike of the open "E" bass-tone and the turnaround chord changes in measures two and four. 

The open "E" string starts the riff at the up beat of four of our pick-up measure. The "E Minor Pentatonic" scale fills the gap into measure two where open position power-chords of "G5 and A5," are helping to turn around the riff. 

A modified line similar to the one from the first measure brings in measure four where a strong turnaround boosts the return of the top of the riff using "G and D" major triads. 

Overall, this riff is not particularly difficult to perform and can be learned fairly quickly up to speed. However, it is important to pay close attention to how measure three moves into measure four. A fast position shift is required to jump into those triads at the last bar of the riff. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 203: "E Minor" Pop-Rock Riff

5 Tips for New Music Students...

Learning a musical instrument can be a really great thing for anybody. Sure, it can be a challenge, but challenging yourself is a good thing. 

We probably don't do it enough on a daily basis... Learning music will not only allow you to step back from your daily grind and do something refreshing music will offer you a new perspective and it will improve your mental abilities in other areas as well.

There are countless studies proving that music training is great for our mind and it will helps us to become more creative in our other ideas of our life. And, if you already play an instrument, learning another new one is also very inspiring too.

Learning a different instrument will give you a totally new perspective that you wouldn't have had on your main instrument. Plus, if you get good at a second instrument, you might even be able to use it to get more gigs!

Of course, learning any instrument can be made a lot easier if you already have a musical background, and becoming a multi-instrumentalist can present its own set of challenges.  The bottom line is that, this is also work and requires a lot of personal discipline.

Listed below are five tips that should help anyone who is developing their skills on an instrument. And, keep in mind that these concepts will not only help people who are trying to learn an instrument for the first time, they will also help people who want to learn how to play on a new and different instrument as well.

1. Start slow, and be patient
Oftentimes, when we pick up a new instrument that we aren't proficient on, it can be frustrating to be unable to execute the ideas you hear in your head. It takes a lot of time to build the pathways in our mind to proficiency. And, this is also true once we know the feeling of proficiency on one instrument, it's difficult to recall what it was like to be a beginner.

In this scenario, the instinctual response is to try and force the ideas out and push to play beyond your limits on the new instrument. This is a very dangerous approach; at best, you'll develop a lot of bad habits, and at worst, you could develop performance injuries that might restrict your ability to develop on your new instrument, and possibly even damage your abilities on your primary instrument.

Take it slow. You're a beginner; relish it! Play your scales at painfully slow tempos and shed on "Mary Had a Little Lamb" until your ears bleed. It'll be worth it.

2. Use your existing technical knowledge
If you're playing an instrument that's in the same family or similar to your primary instrument in any way, there will likely be some crossover as far as technique goes. You can use this technical background to help you develop faster on your new instrument.

Obviously, if you're a clarinet player who's trying to learn the drums or a bassist who's trying to learn the bagpipes, you're out of luck here. Picking a new instrument to double on that has similarities to your primary instrument is going to lead to the fastest learning and even potential gig opportunities. For example, many violin players double on mandolin and/or viola, sax players often double on flute, drummers learn hand percussion, guitarists learn banjo or lap steel… the list goes on. It's the technical stuff that you'll have to build up on your new instrument, so you'll already have a leg up by leveraging some of the skills you already have.

If you have no prior technical knowledge, you are at a very weak disadvantage. You'll need to get used to the fact that everything you approach will be on a very slow bell-curve. Hopefully, you have the personality to accept this snails-pace. If not, things will very likely not go all too well. 

3. Study up on music theory
Anything and everything you know about music theory can and should be applied to any instruments that you choose to pick up. Your knowledge of theory will likely allow you to pick up many concepts on your instrument that might take the average beginner years to understand or master. And, if you know nothing, music theory will start to explain a lot of the basics. Regardless, theory is the key to unlocking music and its application.

Once you get a general idea of how your instrument works, it should be a fairly simple process to use the knowledge you've learned on a different instrument to start figuring out basic scales, chords, or arpeggios on your new instrument. Once you're able to start grasping these, it shouldn't be too hard to start picking out songs or parts of songs that you've learned on your other instrument.

Again, starting slow is essential, but your development on any instrument will be drastically hastened if you've got a music theory background to fall back on.

You'll also find that going through this process will actually strengthen your grasp of theory as well. Since you have no (or limited) technical background on the instrument, you're relying on the theoretical knowledge you've developed. This will show you quickly where your knowledge is weak and will help you to strengthen said knowledge.

4. Get in a group
Playing with other people is one of the fastest ways to get better at your instrument. You probably realized this as soon as you started playing in your first bands, or when you did music class in middle-school. If you're new to music, then get into a group that will support your slow-pace. But, whatever your level, get together with others - it really helps.

If you're learning another instrument, once you've had a little time to develop your secondary instrument, the first thing you should do is try to get involved with a group at your skill level. Different levels exist and if you are with the wrong people, it might do you more harm than good.

It can be a little nerve-wracking to try to join up with a group when you aren't fully developed on your new instrument, but if you find a supportive group of players, it's a lot of fun. You might even be able to rope some of your friends into it!

Try to organize a weekly jam where nobody is allowed to play their primary instrument! I've done this in the past, and it's a total blast, and it helps everybody improve on whatever secondary instruments they are working on.

Alternatively, try looking at some of the local music schools in your area. Oftentimes, in addition to lessons, they'll offer "band"-type performance programs that you can get involved in. These aren't free, of course, but they'll offer you a safe and supportive environment in which you can grow and play with other musicians.

5. Take lessons
This is a bit of a given, but it's still an important reminder. Getting lessons with a good teacher will allow you to learn any instrument faster and more efficiently. Having somebody to guide you and show you how to avoid bad habits early on will save you a lot of backpedaling and relearning down the road.

If you have a friend who plays the instrument you’re trying to learn, you can always ask to trade lessons with him or her; your friend will give you a lesson on your new instrument in exchange for you giving him or her a lesson on your primary instrument. There are ways to make it work – and it is so well worth it.

Micro Lesson 202: "A Lydian" Legato Speed-Lick

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 202"

This Micro Lesson runs through a Major Tonality Legato influenced speed-lick using the "A Lydian" Mode. 

This fast-paced lick applies both sixteenth-note triplets, as well as, thirty-second notes to produce a very quick flurry of notes that operates around the tonality of an, "A Major," sound. 

The lick begins from the 7th position on the 4th guitar string. It applies a, "double hammer-on," legato concept from the root of, "A," and runs up through the 3rd string highlighting the raised 4th degree of the Lydian mode. 

The lick then applies a very quick "thirty-second note" to "sixteenth-note triplet" phrase (over just one beat) from off of the 2nd string in the ninth position.  Another phrase, (using the same rhythmic pattern), occurs immediately after that from off of the 3rd to 4th string and completes the wrap-up of the first measure. 

The completing idea, (which works to finalize the lick), applies a sixteenth-note statement in the last bar of music. Keep in mind that this lick is meant to be played very fast. So, be sure to take your time committing each part of the run to memory. Once fully memorized, use a metronome to build up your speed to a manageable - but quick tempo. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 202: "A Lydian" Legato Speed-Lick

Harmonic Minor Scale Application

GuitarBlog: Harmonic Minor Scale Application...

This week's GuitarBlog covers Harmonic Minor Scale application and focuses on the specific use of the chords from this scale, how they're used in progressions and how to approach playing lead on these sounds. 

The application of Harmonic Minor scale is different compared to how other scales, (such as the Major and Natural Minor) are applied. The other scales are used across a group of chord changes and will generally balance out to all of the chords found within an established key center. 

Harmonic Minor will tend to be applied specifically onto unique chords from the Harmonic Minor harmony. These chords will show up within the minor key harmonies, but will not fit with the overall key. 

These unique "Harmonic Minor" chord types will include; Major, or Dominant 7th chords built upon the 5th degree of a minor key harmony. Another popular place will be on the raised seventh degree of a key, used as a diminished chord. Also, on the tonic chord when it is converted from Minor triad or Minor 7th into a, "Min./Maj.7." 

In each these above situations, the Harmonic Minor is only used during the period for which those chords are present. This does take a little getting used to, (since this is not a very long period of time), however once you can apply the Harmonic Minor scale, it is a very useful sound when the harmony of the song allows for it. Enjoy!

Harmonic Minor Scale Application

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Micro Lesson 201: "Key of E" 1950's Blues-Rock Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 201"

This Micro Lesson runs through a 1950's style "I-IV-V" Blues-Rock Riff in the Key of "E." 

The overall feel is a very Blues-based groove with a slant toward the 1950's rock direction from the filler (piano-like) parts that surround the main riff. 

In measure one, the groove begins with a low open "E" string played against the top-half of the "E Major" chord. This is counter-balanced with a nice filler-lick idea leading, "G# to D to the root of E." 

This single-note effectively generates the sound of the "E7" chord. The IV-chord of "A" arrives in measure two but gets highlighted with another phrase after the down-beat which brings in the "b7" tone of the "A7" chord. 

This is a repetitive style idea that loops our part back to the root chord of, "E." The final measure focuses on the V-chord of "B7." This measure opens by arpeggiating the "B7" chord in 1st position and adding a turnaround phrase. 

The phrase effectively supports a return back to the top of the progression for a repeat of the entire 4-bar riff. As always, memorize the riff and work toward building speed with a metronome or drum machine. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 201: "Key of E" 1950's Blues-Rock Riff

Up-Grade the Sound of Your Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic sounding tired? Here are a few ways to breathe new life into your guitar with simple, inexpensive upgrades...

It might seem like your options for upgrading your acoustic are somewhat limited. After all, solid woods and bracing rely on craftsmanship rather than aftermarket tweaks...right?

Well, actually there are a few simple things that you can try, and they will have an affect toward to your acoustic guitar's overall sound...

Before you rush to buy a whole new instrument, you might want to consider some simple, effective and affordable upgrades. To guide us, we'll rely on the help of two knowledgeable acoustic guitar builders: Martin’s Dave Doll (manager of Martin's Guitars Customer Repair Shop) and Taylor Guitar’s Andy Powers (master luthier for Taylor Guitars Corp.).

Andy Powers: “One of the most simple and most interesting upgrades that you can do, for a guitar, is to get a different guitar pick."

“It’s ‘just a piece of plastic’, but that piece of plastic is what you’re using as a tactile connection to articulate the string. and... It’s hugely important to the sound.”

Andy: That thing needs to be set up correctly, and if you have real low-quality material, you’re going to hear it.

“Think of the acoustic guitar as a signal chain: the very first thing the string resonates against is the saddle. The saddle is conducting every single note you play, so having quality saddle material and making sure the saddle fits into the slot well is really important.

“If you compare the [Graph Tech] Tusq material to a soft injection-moulded plastic, the Tusq is leaps and bounds ahead. If you get a better material in there, and have it fit well, it’ll be your first big improvement.”

Dave Doll: “The saddle and the bridge pins are two really easy ways to upgrade your sound. Plastic is fine, it gives a really consistent sound, but if you go for brass or aluminum pins, you’ll get a brighter sound, more bell-like tones and more sustain. If you change to ebony or something soft, you may get the opposite: less sustain and more warmth.”

Dave: “Strings can change your guitar a lot! Not just between materials, but between different manufacturers, too. Strings are as much a variant as the guitar itself.

“Even if your guitar has the voice you want, picking a different kind of string is one of the quickest and easiest ways of changing that voice.

“Something like our standard 928 SP wire will give a bit of extra brilliance. They’re bright, but they still have a lot of roundness and mid tone. If you went for say, a 8020 bronze, they’re a little quieter, bright to start out with and then they mellow out very quickly.”

Andy: “Different strings will have different characteristics, and it’s not that difficult or expensive to get a few different brands, even of the same-size string. Get a couple of different sets and work out what sounds best for your playing style and for you.

“If a player has $100 to spend on upgrading their acoustic guitar, the first place I would spend that money is on a few different sets of strings, and a big handful of different styles of picks.”

Dave: “The good thing is that guitars do a very good job of talking to people."

“If it’s buzzing open and you’re not touching anything, chances are that the nut slots are low, and the string is just sitting on the 1st fret."

“If it buzzes in the middle of the neck and not so much elsewhere, it’s probably that the neck itself is ‘round’. If you have a guitar with an adjustable truss rod, you can adjust it and flatten that out.”

Andy: “It can actually matter. There are some subtleties that won’t make a lot of difference, but if you have a huge number of coils on the head-stock that are all overlapping and messy, that can make your tuning unstable, because the metal is always compressing and won’t want to stay in tune.

“I’ve seen strings stretched to the point where they lose intonation and won’t stay in tune, so you don’t want to go too crazy."

“The core wire gives it some stiffness and strength, and along the string path there are a couple of points where it has to make a little bend. What you can do is put your string on, tune it up to pitch and get it set. Then, right behind the saddle, with the edge of your pick, press down a little to seat it against the saddle.

“You do the same over the nut, and then if you press the string against the tuning post, it’ll even out the last bend. The string will go flat in pitch, but when you tune up, it should be pretty stable from then on.”

Dave: “The whole thing with acoustic pickups that people are looking for is to make it sound like your guitar but louder, right?"

“So, to start with, you need to find the system that sounds how you want it to sound. It’s not just something that generates noise; it’s going to have its own characteristic."

“If you spend a couple of hundred dollars on a good electronics system, it doesn’t matter what the guitar sounds like acoustically. The pickup’s are still going to sound what they sounds like. You could put a Fishman Gold Plus on a 2x4, and it’s still going to sound like that Fishman system!”

Select the best electronics you can afford, the sound in the end, largely comes from the electronics "System" and NOT from the guitar.

Micro Lesson 200: "A Minor" Finger-picking Pattern

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 200"

This Micro Lesson takes a look at a common finger-picked pattern in "A Minor" applied within "three string" groups. 

One of the most popular ideas used by folk, blues, pop and rock guitarists is the fingerpicked pattern. Songs like "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas and "Landslide" by Fleetwood mac use these picked patterns to articulate the chord changes in the pieces with a more unique manner than as if a standard strumming pattern were applied. 

Picked patterns offer guitarists a chance to highlight chord changes in a more unique way than strumming can offer. In this lesson, the picked pattern operates within a three string set. This plucked idea pedals between the more driving repetitive lower note on each down-beat, and an upper tone on the highest string. 

This presents a nice contrast that keeps the interior tone of the pattern spaced articulately in between the two outer tones. 

This particular example is in the key of, "A Minor," and outlines the harmony of; "Am to Em to F, (as an Fadd2)," and it has a turnaround moving from, "C to G." 

The most important thing about learning any finger-picked pattern is memorizing how the pattern flows. Make sure you have the flow of notes memorized, then build the speed and phrasing. This pattern can be performed using the plucking hand's, "index, middle and the thumb." Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 200: "A Minor" Finger-picking Pattern

All Guitarists Need Business Skills...

For the most part, the music business skills guitarists need to build aren’t that different from skills other musicians should be equipping themselves with. Communication and networking skills. Marketing, image and branding. Punctuality and professionalism. Money and time management.

However, there are also some obscure or counter-intuitive skills that guitarists should take the time to develop, like the ability to teach, write, or speaking clearly about music.

Punctuality and Professionalism
If you want to be seen as a professional (and get paid like a professional), you need to show up on time to all of your engagements; recording sessions, live gigs, industry parties, and so on. Being late doesn’t leave a good taste in other people’s mouths, and it also leaves them wondering whether or not they can depend on you to fulfill future commitments.

One gig or business meeting can easily lead to another, so long as you make a positive impression on the people you work with. If people like working with you, your clients may want to hire you again, and you just never know how connected they might be. They may have plenty of projects in the works that you could potentially play on. Treat every opportunity with respect, and deliver on your promises.

Guitarists Need Great Communication Skills
It isn’t just what you know that matters. But rather who you know and how they perceive you. This plays a big part in getting you to where you want to go in your career as a guitarist.If you hardly know anyone, and hardly anyone knows you, then... good luck.

This isn’t to say that playing skills aren’t important, but if others don’t know you as a spot-on professional, you’ll find it difficult to build trust with them. People tend to do business with those they know, like and trust, so you have to be thinking about how you can develop a rapport with everyone you meet; not just industry gatekeepers and people of influence, (although they are definitely important too).

It can take time to feel comfortable networking, but if you make it a part of your lifestyle, you’ll be meeting people everywhere you go, and it will become a habit. Reach out to potential collaborators on social media and YouTube, go to local Meetup groups, workshops and open mics (offer to play lead with others), and attend concerts put on by other local musicians. Get to know people everywhere you go. And, communicate well. This will always end up as being positive for your future career endeavors.

Crafting An Image/Personal Brand
Image matters. If you’re a metal guitarist that looks like a country bumpkin, you’re going to have a tough time getting the kind of gigs you’re looking for (and you’ll also end up disappointing people at the gigs you do get). If you're a teacher, but you look like a homeless hippie, you'll likely have serious troubles getting students to take you professionally.

You need to have a professional, congruent image that matches the type of music or music business direction you play in your career. This does not mean that you can’t adapt as necessary, especially if you’re versatile and you find yourself playing with a variety of different artists, but it does mean that you should have a pretty good feel for what you’re good at, and an image that reflects it.

You may feel like you are limiting your opportunities by branding yourself, but in the long run, this is not true. Whether you’re a folk or jazz player, be proud of the style of music you play and show it in how you conduct yourself. This will get you the kind of gigs that you’ll enjoy most.

Marketing Is Important For Guitar Players
Whether you’re looking to record your own album or play on another artist’s project, you have to know how to market and sell yourself to others.

You’ll see more gigs coming your way if you’re able to effectively market yourself to fans and artists alike. It’s important to focus on both, because if you can market your music to fans, other artists looking for guitarists will see the fact that you have a fan base as an asset. Meanwhile, if you can market yourself to other artists, you’ll be able to drum up more session playing gigs.

Guitarists can’t neglect the importance of marketing, no matter what their focus is. They have to be able to get their name out there and be seen in as many places as possible.

Money and Organizational Skills
Let’s face it. While it is certainly possible to make a good amount of money as a guitarist, money tends to come in spurts and bursts rather than in the form of a monthly paycheck (no matter what stage your career is in). If you aren’t good with your money, you’ll be suffering in the down times, and spending way too much when business is good.

It doesn’t matter how good you are; there will be ups and downs in your career. If you’re good at managing your money, you’ll make it through the slower times with flying colors. The implication is this; you need to be better with your money than employed people generally are with theirs. This is a business skill, and it can be learned.

As for time management and organizational skills, it should be pretty obvious why these are important. You need to leave an adequate amount of time to go from one gig to another, schedule time for practice and administration, and take on as many gigs as you possibly can to keep the money coming in.and, if you teach, you better respect all of your students. They have lives too, and they need to be thought of with a highly professional outlook. Otherwise, you'll get a bad reputation that will impact your success for years to come.

Teaching and Writing Are Important Skills For Guitarists
If a guitarist can teach, they can build a student base, release instructional DVDs, create their own online guitar lessons, represent different brands to showcase their gear, or even lead workshops and clinics.

There is a lot of money to be had in each of these areas, because there will always be a never-ending supply of beginners that want to learn how to play.

Teaching makes sense, but why do guitarists need to know how to write? And, just to be clear, we aren’t talking about songwriting here. Writing is an important skill because it can also open up more opportunities in the teaching field.

From columns in popular guitar magazines to guest posting on known blogs, you can increase your online an offline presence considerably by being seen in a variety of different places.

Final Thoughts
As a guitarist, seemingly unrelated skills can sometimes work in your favor. No matter what you aspire to be, if you’re looking to succeed, it will take everything you’ve got. Use your creativity, and leverage what you’ve learned throughout your life to further your career.

Micro Lesson 199: "A Minor" Pop-Rock Lick

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 199"

This Micro Lesson takes a look at a pop-rock style guitar lick in the key of "A Minor." 

This is probably one of the most popular key's in guitar music. And, pop-rock music applies the use of this key in many hit songs. One common fingerboard position involves the use of the Minor Pentatonic Scale up at the 10th and 12th positions. 

This lick sets up the, "A," minor shape off of the 12th fret of the 5th string. This area of the neck is used in many licks and song sections where lead parts get performed. 

The lick begins from this area and follows the, "along the neck Pentatonic," into the 12th position with a resolution into the chords minor third, at 2nd string 13th fret. 

The second part of the lick applies double-stops in the 13th, 12th and 9th position between the 3rd and 2nd strings. The final resolution again occurs upon a, "C," note. This is a popular resolution sound used by guitarist, "Jimi Hendrix," to finish many of his licks. Experiment with completing runs in this way to achieve a similar sound. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 199: "A Minor" Pop-Rock Lick

6 Simple Tips for Better Guitar Playing

Tip #1. Learn Something New Every Day
Find one guitar-related thing a day that you didn’t know already and learn it—and play it. It can be a riff, a lick, a chord, a scale, an exercise, a song, a melody, an altered tuning, a strum pattern, the part of a song you know all the riffs to but never bothered to learn the “boring” connecting transition sections of, whatever.

The discipline of seeking out, playing and internalizing a new piece of guitar knowledge on a daily basis will feed your subconscious musical instincts, add new concepts to your muscle memory and ultimately aid in your ability to express yourself and perform effortlessly on the guitar.

Make this a part of your day and you’ll find that as you continue on your journey, one thing will become two, then three, and on and on until you are devouring as much as you can absorb on the guitar, every day!

Tip #2. Learn the Major Scale Intervals
The major scale provides the building blocks of many of the chords and scales you'll come across as you make your way through your career.

By understanding the structure of the major scale, we can then begin to harmonize it in various ways to form triads, seventh chords and extended chords, as well as understand the modes that accompany them. The major scale has seven intervals: the root, major second, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth and major seventh. The interval distance between each interval forms the pattern W-W-H-W-W-W-H, where W is whole step (2-frets) and H is a half step (1-fret).

Tip #3. Learn FIVE Locations for Chords on the Fingerboard
How many ways can you play a C major chord? A good guitarist knows of at least five different places on the fretboard to play it, courtesy of the CAGED system. Practice playing four bars of the chord, and in each measure, play the chord in a new place on the neck. Of course, this could easily apply to the E chord or B7 or A9. We think you get the idea. But start with C.

Tip #4. Run Through Chords You Do Not Know
This tip is from Joe Satriani: It seems silly, but if your fingers don’t go to a certain place it’s because you haven’t challenged them to move in those ways through training. If you decided that you were going to learn every chord in a Joe Pass chord book, it would take awhile. Therefore, you'd need to work on it every day; there’s no substitute for bonehead repetition. The great thing is, once you get used to this type of daily disciplined exercise, you’ll literally force your fingers to go from chord to chord to chord — soon you'll be able to play lot's of chords that have no relation to each other — and over time, great things can come from this type of practice.

Tip #5. Learn Your Favorite Guitar Solos Note-for-Note
Eddie Van Halen has mentioned how he spent the early part of his career playing along with various records until the sound of what he played matched what was on the record he was playing to. Doing this will not only boost your vocabulary as a musician, but it will also improve your delivery, feel, stylistic awareness and your sense of soloing skill overall.

Tip #6. Track Your Progress
The growth of any guitarist can be improved by the awareness of that growth. As you develop the discipline to be learning and practicing on a daily basis, it is important to keep a log or diary of the process of your improvement in order to further maximize growth.

The easiest way to do this is to keep a log of your routine. You’ll find that keeping track of your practice will help you focus future practice sessions, maintain and continue awareness of progress and locate particularly fruitful practice phases in your past that can be replicated and upgraded when you feel your growth has stalled.

Create your own daily “workout log,” or use this example:

Micro Lesson 198: "G Major 7" Rhythmic Embellishment

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 198"

This Micro Lesson explores the idea of applying rhythmic embellishments around a "Major 7th" chord. 

The Major 7th is commonly used in; Pop, Funk, Jazz and Soul /R&B music. Often times if the guitarist just strums the chord, its sound will blend along with the keyboard and become lost within the mix of the music. 

A useful way to overcome this problem is through applying embellishments that will highlight the chord and allow for the guitar to stand out. 

Embellishments can take on the form of many different concepts. We can insert single-note phrases and articulate their effect with hammer-ons, pull-offs or slides. We could use arpeggiated picked patterns instead of strumming. We could work out specific scratch rhythms around our strumming or arpeggio work. And, we could also use double-stops to approach chord tones from above or below. 

The "G maj7" chord in this lesson is highlighted using nearly every one of the above techniques. There are picked arpeggiated concepts present throughout. A 16th-note triplet figure appears with a hammer-on pull-off involved. And, there is also a scratch pattern with double-stop slides occuring in measure two. 

Try getting a good feel for this two-bar phrase on its own, then experiment with taking the ideas shown here on to other styles and chord types as well. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 198: "G Major 7" Rhythmic Embellishment

Lead Guitar Soloing Basics

GuitarBlog: Lead Guitar Soloing Basics...

This week's GuitarBlog covers the basics of learning how to play guitar solos. 

When it comes to learning the basic principles of using any scale to play a solo we need to have decent skills with; familiarity of the scale pattern on the neck, physical technique for being able to play the scale, as well as, a relaxed application of; licks, scale fragments and melodic phrases. 

Additionally, we need to have a good enough ear for making different types of melodic resolutions into specific scale tones that properly affect the chord of the moment. Well placed use of scale tones including; chord tones, suspensions and scale extensions will make a big difference in your solos. 

Of course, this is obviously a lot of stuff to develop, but I'm going to break it all down into a system that you can start working on right away to help you learn the basics of ,"Lead Guitar Soloing."

Lead Guitar Soloing Basics

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The Amazing "BluGuitar AMP1" Pedal...

"Super-Charged" Guitar pedal... the BluGuitar - AMP1... If you've never heard of the revolutionary Amp1 by Thomas Blug, (he's a killer German guitarist who’s engineered and invented for Hughes and Kettner for 20 years), you're really missing out.

Thomas has invented what is essentially a 3-pound, 4-channel, 100-watt vintage Marshall that you can toss in your gig-bag pocket. The killer distortion comes from a nano tube.

Famous Los Angeles based session Guitarist, "Jennifer Batton," say's, "My sound has improved 1000-fold."

Watch his video below to learn more...

Recently, Thomas has started his own brand BluGuitar which will bring instruments and effects to guitar players with the utmost tonal integrity and all of Thomas' experience and knowledge. His feature product is the BluGuitar AMP1 - 4 Channel 100 Watts Tube Amp Power - all in a very smart travel friendly package with no tonal compromise.

Micro Lesson 197: "C Dorian" Lick for Minor 6 Chords

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 197"

This Micro Lesson runs through a fast-paced lick from the "C Dorian" Mode that works perfectly to cover the sounds of a "C" Minor 6 chord. 

The Dorian mode is the second degree mode of the traditional major scale. When playing any major scale off of the 2nd degree, the new scale takes on the Minor Tonality. 

This Minor sound is different from our typical Natural Minor in that the 6th degree of Dorian Mode is raised up to a major 6th interval. 

This makes the Dorian Mode excellent for applied use over the "Minor 6th" chord. The lick in this example begins from the "C Dorian's" major 6th tone of "A" to highlight the Minor 6 sound right from the start. 

A busy effect is generated with how this lick applies both 16th-notes and the 16th-note triplets. The use of all of these 16th-notes makes it very important that this lick be developed slowly and perfectly with all fingerings well memorized prior to building speed. Once this is done. Use a metronome to increase the speed up to the desired pace. Then try transposing the lick into other "Minor 6" chords. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 197: "C Dorian" Lick for Minor 6 Chords