Do This Every Afternoon - Virtuoso Memory!

If there was one time of day that you could do your practicing to insure the best memorization of the material (even on your off days), then what I have to explain to you in this video would be worth more than gold...

In this video, I’m going to show you and explain to you the number one time of the day that you should get some practice in - every day. If you do follow this, it will help you improve your ability to memorize information on a much deeper level.

The best part is the methods that I have to share in this post cover everything from interest level, to incorporating visuals, to using Learning Maps and memorizing through association.


Today we’re going to cover several methods for helping to improve your guitar playing memory. If there’s one thing every single guitar player hates, it’s forgetting how to play something – especially when it happens live up on stage – it can be incredibly frustrating.

A world famous memory expert who's name is; David H. Roth, (not to be confused with David Lee Roth from Van Halen), used to say that your memory is like a muscle and the more you use it correctly the better it gets.

But, he also was highly aware of the value of VISUALIZING everything that you want to remember. In fact, one of his most famous quotes was, “You have to visualize in your mind what it is you are trying to remember.” 

That really is the "secret key" to a better sense of recall. So, let’s get started here with a collection of ways that you can start using right now - to build what the experts call a “Magnetic Memory,” for anything that you’re studying on guitar.

Our first idea will center around being sure that you always consider your level of interest and amalgamate that interest level alongside of a defining visual characteristic related to what you’re studying.

This area is very important because, if you’re not interested in a certain topic you won't absorb the information very well.

For an example... if I said to a student that we were going to spend the next 30 min. talking about intervals, and the student had no interest in learning about intervals, the chances are that the student would not remember very much of what we would talk about in that 30 min.

In fact, those 30 min. would probably end up being pretty boring for both of us, because the students lack of interest would affect my presentation.

When interest levels are low, the learning levels are low.

However, think about what it would be like if you were highly interested in a certain topic like acoustic finger-picking patterns. And then, as your teacher, I said we were going to learn a very popular and very easy to play acoustic finger-picked riff.

Two things happen right away. You get motivated to comprehend the possibility of learning something of interest and you start to prepare for what you'll do with those types of ideas.

At this point, the chances are that you’ll have a ton of interest in doing the work on those topics, and you’d get a lot more out of it. Plus, it would also mean that you’d commit those ideas to your long term memory more quickly and more easily.

As we just discussed, “Interest-Level” is the first motivating factor, and it truly helps support your concentration and thus memorization, but also remember that I did mention that there’s a defining visual characteristic related to what you’re studying.

When I went to music-college they didn’t show us our scales on a music staff, they handed-out work-sheets with visual diagrams showing the geometrical layout of the scale.

That approach works extremely well with guitar training because it keeps a visual shape in your mind as your primary method of recall. Visuals promote a far better future use and application of your scales, licks, riffs, and basically anything you’d ever play on guitar.

In fact, you’ll notice that most of the guitar lesson books over the last 40 years have used this exact system to help relate lesson material.

In the video for this post at [03:25], I show viewers one of my old Jazz Licks method books (Guitar jazz licks - Paperback – 1979 by Jay Friedman), and how it uses a diagram system for relating each guitar lick.

This book was published way back in 1979! And, every example uses fingerboard diagrams to relate the layout of each lick onto the fingerboard.

So, again this visual referencing system works fantastic. Try using it next time you’re learning something, and draw things on blank fingerboard diagram sheets. That extra visual reference is incredibly powerful for deeper memorization. 

The next idea is excellent for building a better connection to anything that you’re learning which is composed of a larger learning task.

In fact, I’ve used this method here in the studio for decades now. Whenever I’m creating my curriculum for the courses that I teach here at Creative Guitar, the concept of the program is mapped first. Memory experts will tend to call this system a Learning Map, or sometimes it’s called a, “Learning Tree.”

The system focuses on how the material that you’re working through will be related to both the progression of topics, and how each topic relates over to other ideas as well.

If you get into the habit of treating everything you study like this, you’ll find that you won’t just learn things at a deeper level, you’ll better understand how the subject matter relates to other topics.

Let me explain this further by using a popular topic like “Key Signatures and Scales” to demonstrate this within more of a context.

The Musical Keys /Scales

1). When most students who are studying music theory will have a music key related to them, they will most often be given a staff indicated key signature like this.

However, this does very little for teaching a student what a key is on the guitar.

2). When it comes around to the fact that a key is actually a scale, the student will get this shown to them.

This layout is helpful for learning about the key as a scale, but it unfortunately doesn’t help a guitar student understand what the scale becomes on their guitar fret-board.

3). The next diagram (below) begins clearing things up a lot more in relationship to the actual guitar neck. In this fingerboard layout, we can clearly see the shape on the fingerboard and we start to gain a better understanding that this is the pattern of the scale on the guitar fingerboard.

However, we are still getting the scale as a very linear idea and it would be difficult to play this in solos or melodic lines without a lot of lateral movement of the hands.

4). Here's where a new learning limb is extended to the student so that they can understand a more useful and manageable way of seeing what the key and the scale can provide them with.

By taking this key signature topic from a basic key signature indicator located upon a music staff, to an "in-position" neck scale pattern, a student can more fully comprehend the idea of the key as a scale and they can finally start to apply it in more useful ways.

That "Learning Tree" procedure took four steps along a road-map to our eventual placement of the key as a scale pattern in position onto the neck.

But, every one of those steps was valuable and each step progressively lead the student to a greater understanding of the concept and that will take them to eventual application of both the key signature theory and the scale itself.

The next area that I want to cover is referred to as learning through “Association.” This area of memory building is all about relating everything new (that you’re learning), to something older that you already understand.

For example, take that “Bb Major” scale pattern that we had just seen in our previous example off of the 6th guitar string.

Here’s the 6th-string pattern on guitar:

This geometrical design of the "Bb Major" scale pattern can also be performed off of the 5th guitar string. It is the same shape, but it is located in a different region of the neck.

The 5th-string’s layout is directly associated to the exact same shape from the 6th string. They’re identical to what we had off of the 6th string.

Through association, we can take this idea one step further. We can also associate that original geometrical shape off of the 4th string.

And, with a small modification, (on 2nd string), it can work in the same key, as the same scale quality but now it would be located with its root off of the 4th guitar string.

 Association is a powerful memory tool that works quickly to link older well know information to new less familiar ideas.

The final idea I want to pass along to you is really the very best one. This one’s made the biggest difference in my own studies and if you apply it I’m positive it will work wonders for you too.

It has to do with the time of day that you decide to commit your music and your guitar work to memory.

Now, even though you may identify yourself as a "morning person" or an, "evening person" there have been several studies that suggest that a human being’s ability to memorize isn't influenced as much by what time of day that you perceive yourself to be most alert.

Rather, it’s actually based upon the time of day that you do the work. One of the biggest studies was done through the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brasil.

They (along with other researchers), have done extensive science based research on this subject, and they’ve clearly determined that the AFTERNOON appears to be the best time of the day to build deep memorization.

So, be sure to try and incorporate at least some time during the afternoon (through your week) to work at things which will require solid memorization.



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Turn Your Worst Licks into PERFECT Licks Within Seconds...

When it comes to building perfect licks and riffs, there are a few mistakes and disadvantages that are common occurrence for students in their practice routine. These problems make it less fun to play guitar, and in the long run they just add more frustration. The system outlined in this lesson will help solve these issues and add more fun to your playing in no time at all...

In this video, I start things off by teaching a simple lick and I go on to show you exactly what those disadvantages and mistakes are that lead to making your daily guitar practice frustrating.

In the lesson I explain a step-by-step process that demonstrates how to address practicing licks in a way that will create smooth perfect ideas every time. These guitar lick workout mistakes are not limited to licks only.

They can be used to help correct and build better rhythm guitar playing too. In fact, I think anyone will be able to take something away from this video that will help them instantly start having more fun playing the guitar.


In this lesson I’m going to talk about ways you can apply to help rid yourself of the frustration that comes from playing licks badly.

I’ve had the unique experience of spending years sitting in front of hundreds of guitar students who’ve come through the doors of Creative Guitar Studio and if there’s one consistent problem that all of them have had it’s being able to clean up their guitar licks and get them up to a level of perfection.

Now, the good news is that it’s a lot easier to do this than you might think. And, to prove that to you, we’re going to run through four things in this lesson.

First we’re going to establish a guitar lick for you to learn. Then, we’re going to run through mastering the way that you would fret and finger the idea on the guitar.

Then, we’ll discuss how to master the rhythmic flow of the part in your guitar playing. And, finally, we’ll break down how to take the lick up to a much "higher" level of control.

First of all, let’s run through the guitar lick that we’re going to use throughout this lesson.

Lick Example:

One of the first things to realize (with any idea that you’re trying to master on the guitar), is that as you’re trying to reach more perfected levels of playing, the fingerings that you go with early on will be the ultimate decider of how fluid the part evolves.

When it comes down to correcting anything to do with bad playing and technical problems - your number 1 solution will come out of learning the best and most well balanced fingerings.

The bottom line is that; with poor fingerings, you’ll almost always suffer with having awkward clumsy playing. But, with well-designed (well thought out) fingerings, your execution of any guitar idea will end up feeling much easier, more flowing and more balanced.

Designing the most economical fingering might not always feel like the easiest way to play a line, but it will tend to always lead to an increase in speed along with the ability to have a lick or riff sound far more natural in the long run.

When we explore what the most efficient fretting hand fingerings would be for our guitar lick, we need to take several things into consideration.

The first confirmation of fingering organization needs to be the overall position of the melodic line. In our case, the example lick is located in the 7th position.

However, the first idea is a grace note slide. So we need to think about the position of how we begin with how we will end up after our grace note.

In other words, how will you work to attain the slide and then after playing the slide, how will you be ready for the upcoming notes?

Another idea to consider is the bend that occurs near the end of this lick. Bends (like this one that head up a whole-step), require multiple fingers on the same string and they are best approached with the ring finger.

When we approach the bend like that, the bend becomes easier, more directed, with greater note accuracy and better control. So, this means that we need a position shift. And, in order to achieve that bend with the ring finger, we’ll have to move into the 8th position.

Once we’re out of the bend and we’ve completed the arch of the whole step, the remainder of the licks notes can still be performed in the 8th position.

Here’s how everything comes together:
Take notice of the Left Hand fingerings notated under the TAB.

The next area I want to move onto has to do with getting a lot more rhythmic “Feel” from your guitar parts, and it all comes down to groove and mastering the level of control that you have over the technique for what it is that you’re playing.

Once you have the technique, and the rhythmic control, you’ve really moved up to a new level. And, one of the best things to consider starting with is using a drum machine over the use of a metronome.

One of the best things about working with a drum loop is feeling the time and developing the sense of being able to come into the beat at the correct pulse.

A drum machine will work the best to be able to train you to count in and feel groove, plus it also allows you to speed up the beat and get more technically proficient at every idea you practice.

In the video I demonstrate this using the drum machine here in the studio so you can fully understand how all of this can come together.

I also mention a popular online drum-machine web app called "Drumbit." And, a free drum loops download available over at "Goran Grooves."

Plus, I also discuss the value in owning a table-top (studio) drum machine and I break down a few popular types like the highly functional, "Alesis SR-16," as well as, the more complex "SR-18," and the "Boss Dr. Rhythm," as well as the, "Beat Buddy," pedal. 

The final area I want to discuss has to do with recording yourself. There’s something amazing that happens when you set up any sort of recording device, and then hit that record button - and that red light comes on.

Once that happens and the record process is in effect, you’ll find that you get a little more nervous, your heart-rate jumps up a little bit more and the level of focus that you have over what it is you want to play shifts into a much more serious light.

When you line up all of these things, what you end up with is a far more serious environment that you have to do some of your best playing of the day within.

So, keep this in mind, and always take your guitar parts up to the next level of skill through doing the recording process.

The benefits of recording yourself are well worth the extra time it takes to set-up in your practice day. And, getting started with home recording is a lot easier than you might have thought.

You can purchase something as simple as the Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio Kit Bundle.

It contains:
  • (1) Focusrite Scarlett Solo Interface
  • The CM25 Condenser Microphone
  • A pair of HP60 Studio Headphones
  • All Necessary Cables
With a home studio kit like this one, (above), you'll be able to record in seconds. And, the benefits of having a daily recording routine will be incredible for your skill development.



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4 Easy Guitar Tricks Every Player Should Know!

Are you playing guitar feeling as though you're not at the top of your game? If you are, then relax, this feeling is extremely common, especially if you practice the same way over and over week after week. In this video, I’m going to show you 4 easy guitar tricks that you can do everyday to help loosen up your rhythm and increase your flexibility for playing scales and chords. 

Much of what you are trying to overcome during practice will; often center on the stale repetition that develops from doing the same things over and over day after day during your practice sessions.

Each of the "Guitar Tricks" in this video will help hit several key areas and allow you to do expand your playing style quickly allowing you to increase your playing skills in record time.

In this post, I’ve got Four Easy to Apply Guitar Tricks that are so straight-forward, you’ll be able to work with them immediately, and we’re going to cover them ALL right here – right now!


You can start adding any one of these ideas into your guitar playing to-day, there's no order to learning them! They’re all pretty basic, they cover areas of guitar playing like scales and chords as well as, jamming.

These ideas also relate to guitar neck layout concepts and rhythm ideas. So let’s not waste any time and get started on our first application.

Rhythm Strum-Pattern (Delay /Sustain)

The first idea that I have for you is a rhythm concept, and it’s based upon practicing a delay across the feel of the beat.

Normally most guitar players start learning about rhythm guitar by playing a very straight groove, that goes something like this…

Straight Example:

What is really nice, is to learn how to simply add a delay to the feel of the beat. The delay works by replacing the straight 8th note feel with a dotted-quarter and then playing into a half-note that ends up sustaining into the end of the measure. It sounds like this…

Delay Example:

Once you develop a basic delay rhythm like that one, try applying other delays throughout the beats as well. You can even try mixing the delay with a straight-time feel to create blended rhythms. Now, let’s move onto another trick that’s often referred to as “smooth-connected bass-lines.”

Smooth /Connected Bass-Lines
This "Smooth Connected Bass-Line," idea is all about searching for nice sounding bass-tones that you can add in between chords that are part of the songs you’re playing.

Here’s an example of how this works... Let’s start off by exploring a group of common sounding chords that you might find used in a typical song situation.

Basic Progression:

After learning this progression, most players would quite likely feel that they were all done and they wouldn’t need to take it any further… My suggestion is to take it further! Try to make an attempt to add in passing tones and inverted chords.

Even if you have no clue what you’re doing, just start simple and experiment. Here’s an example of doing this with that progression I just organized above…

Smooth Bass-Line Progression:

Now, that group of chords was pretty involved, but you don’t need to get that complex. You could come up with interesting passing notes by keeping the connections simple.

The main idea is to bring this concept into your playing! …Now, the 3rd Guitar Trick that I have for you involves blending ideas for Blues lead guitar.

Blues Lead Guitar - Scale Blending
Most players don’t know this, but you can have two directions with your Blues Lead playing. You can have a major or a minor color.

Let me demonstrate this over a couple of chords from a key of “A” Blues... Here’s a typical sounding key of “A” Blues jam using A7 and D7 chords…

Short Blues Jam: Key of "A" Blues

Over this Blues sound it’s important to understand that we have two options of playing some lead guitar licks and scale runs.

We could play lead using a Major Pentatonic Blues sound, like this…

 Major Pentatonic Blues Lick:

Or, we could use a Minor Pentatonic Blues sound like this…

Minor Pentatonic Blues Lick:

As you can tell, moving back and forth in between the Major Pentatonic Blues and the Minor Pentatonic Blues will sound fantastic. And, all it takes is some experimenting by overlaying one scale against the other to make it all come together smoothly.

But, what’s really cool about doing this is that it won’t feel like work because it’s so much fun to practice! Now, this brings us to the fourth and final idea that I have for you.

The "Human Touch" (Phrasing Devices)
This last guitar trick is one that I’m constantly on about to my own private students here at Creative Guitar. It involves adding the human touch to everything that you play.

What I’ll notice is that students will spend a lot of time learning “about” a lick or a chord idea, or how a riff sits on the neck, (how the notes are placed). But, after doing that there’s usually a gap in the learning of the parts.

After the initial knowledge has been acquired, I like to stress to my students that there’s a whole other side to practicing any idea after you learn the part. Let me give you a quick example of this…

Here’s a fairly common sounding (very basic), key of “A” minor guitar riff, and I’m going to ask that you perform it really straight forward - without any technical phrasing whatsoever…

Key of "A" Minor Riff:

Alright, now let’s start experimenting with how we can use phrasing devices to add more life and a more human touch to this riff.

First let’s focus on adding in some slides along with some vibrato… 
  •  Perform the "A" Minor riff with slides and vibrato
Next, let’s try adding in some hammer-ons and pull-offs along with a few embellishment tones as grace notes…
  •  Perform the riff and add some hammer-ons, pull-offs and embellishment tones
Finally, experiment with adding in some bending ideas. This way we’ll learn to hear how to really color up the overall impact of our guitar riffs in a more unique way.
  • Perform the riff with additional bending ideas included



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Play This Riff for 1 min. and See Why it's so Much FUN!

If you want a fun addictive guitar exercise that's also incredibly melodic to play, (an exercise that will have you spending hours in a day creating awesome riffs), then you have to watch this video. That is not some kind of a joke by any means. This exercise is easy and it's a TON of FUN...

The exercise I'm talking about is called an open string drone, and it's not only great fun, but it's also a great way to invent cool sounding riffs, (plus it's also excellent for learning your key signatures and your scales). What could be better!

If you are able to commit to a consistent (but short effort), with this drone string exercise, you will be amazed at how much better your knowledge of musical keys as well as, all your scales will become.

 In just a short period of time you'll be able to combine more focused attention to lateral scales, key signature theory, (even modes), along with having tons of fun being musically creative... What could be better.


This lesson hits the topic of drone string playing. Performing riffs using an open drone string can be a ton of fun. And, it can be great for your scale and key practice as well.

Doing open string drone riffs involves keeping a constant open low string ringing while playing scale ideas above it.

Inventing your own original drone-riffs using open strings is not only great for creativity and musicianship, but it also works out very well for including all kinds of other guitar playing and music theory skills into your studies too.

It is fantastic for guitar players who are still learning their scales, learning Modes, learning how to hear the sound of key signatures, and learning the neck.

Plus, drone riffs are also great for learning about general harmony, which when you add it all up makes this exercise rank as one of the best exercises that you can practice.

Let’s get things started with a quick explanation about what exactly that it is we are doing when we establish open string drone riffs on the guitar.

When our guitar is tuned to standard tuning, (E, A, D, G, B, E), we have low open strings of the “6th-string “E,” the 5th-string, “A” and the open 4th-string of “D.” This means that we can create Major or Minor tonality sound that is based upon any one of those open strings.

Those open string sounds can then be combined with performing the scale that we want to associate to the open string.

For example, let’s say that we take the open 4th string “D” and we simply play the open “D” string underneath the notes of the “D Major” scale based upon our open 3rd-string. We’d end up with this…

Example 1).
Open "D" drone with  "D" Major Scale

This "drone" sound is obviously a lot of fun to riff out on guitar. It produces simple yet melodic 2-note harmony, and if you’re a student who’s new to learning scales, this will go a long way in helping you understand the notes of a scale on the neck.

But, we’re certainly not done! In fact, we’ve only just started with this unique sound of playing drone string ideas. Let’s add a secondary note from the key of “D Major” into the mix and we’ll set out to build another layer of harmony.

When we take our key of “D Major” (3rd-string scale from the first exercise), and we add on more notes from the “D Major” scale that exist on the next guitar string, (for this example, it’ll be the 2nd-string), what happens is that we end up harmonizing the 2nd and 3rd guitar strings into small 2-note chords performed under our 4th-string open “D” drone.

Let me play this for you so that you can hear how this gets organized along the span of the neck. Since this idea is very simple, you can learn it quickly and start jamming riffs with it right away. Here’s how it all works.

Example 2).
Open "D" 4th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Key of "D" Major sound

Before we move into a brand new concept with our drone string practice, I wanted to mention that you could certainly move beyond the 2-note chord sounds from our previous example and add a third tone into the mix.

Adding a 3rd tone (by harmonizing our upper-string scale into dyads), would create a larger sound above the open 4th-string drone note of “D.”

What do next involves opening up a whole new sound using this Drone approach, and what I’m talking about involves the world of “Modal” playing.

Before we get started, I would like to mention that even if modes are a topic that you really don’t comprehend right now, there’s no need to be concerned at this point.

In our next example all we’re going to do is add the 5th-string open underneath the “D” Major scale notes found upon the 3rd-string.

At home, (as you study and expand upon this approach), you can try including any open string that you want, with any scale you want played above it.

If you have some basic theory knowledge, try to use whatever theory knowledge that you do understand right now to figure out the mode that is being performed. Otherwise, there's no reason to worry about any advanced music theory at this point.

Basically, if you don’t know what mode is being played, then just have fun performing the scales and playing the drone note underneath. Instead, focus on making some nice music with what gets created out of the result of doing this.

So, with that said, let’s check out what it sounds like to have a 5th-string open “A” note played under a 3rd-string “D Major” scale and create Mixolydian mode.

What we'll do is keep our “D Major” scale off of that 3rd-string for now, but underneath it, we’ll add an open 5th-String “A” to create the sound of “A Mixolydian,” mode.

Example 3).
Open "A" 5th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Result: "A Mixolydian"

Let’s take our Modal approach even one step further by returning to the sound of our two-note “D” major scale harmony. But this time, we’ll add in our 6th guitar string’s open “E” to establish a brand new sound for the mode of “E” Dorian!

If we include the low 6th-string open “E” in the bass as a drone note, and then perform the sounds of the “D Major” scale above that open string, we end up with the modal effect of “E” Dorian. Here’s what that sounds like with those Two-note chord patterns we had just learned from within our second example.

Example 4).
Open "E" 6th-string drone with harmonized "D" Major Scale
Result: "E Dorian"

Now you have some practice with the sound of these different drone string approaches to using the “D Major” scale drone riffs, and, you also understand how to add a series of small 2-note chords to create an even larger harmony.

During the lesson we’ve also introduced how to make up some different modal effects as well. So, at this point it’s time for you to go and put all of this information to good use.

Carry on with these ideas and start inventing your own original open string drone note sounds.

It's completely up to you where to go from here. Your next move could be something simple like using the key of “A” and the key of “E” with scales performed above the open 5th and open 6th strings.

Most importantly, start taking all of this drone information further into even more directions. For instance, try using a capo on the neck to offer some alternative keys and variations to the open string drone notes.

Plus, we can’t leave out the incredible sound that we would get from tuning the guitar into all kinds of different open tunings. Open string tunings are pretty amazing for this approach, so definitely spend time trying tunings like; "Open D," "Open G," or "Open C."

This approach is not just fun - the best this about it is that you don’t need to train up to a high level of music theory, or posses a crazy technical stage of playing guitar to apply it. All this idea really comes down to - is being creative and having fun!



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