Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

These guys to a pretty good job jammin’ the 12 bar blues.  It’s a lot of fun and beginner guitar players should learn how to to this and have some fun with it.  The chords involved here a B-E7-F#7 (I-IV-IV).  As far as soloing over this chord progression, your first approach should be to try the B Major Pentatonic.  The nice thing about this scale is that you can play it all over the different chords without ever changing.  Now over the course of the tune, it’ll start to get a little stale so you’ll want to mix in some other tricks.  I would add some B Minor Pentatonic at just the right spots.  It’s best to put on a backing track in a 12 bar blues pattern and practice, practice, practice!

If you really want to get jazzy with it ala Wes Montgomery…

Play the blues scale a fifth up from the root of every chord.

On B you play F# blues
On E (this could be E7 as well) you play B blues
On F#7 you play C# blues


For anyone trying to learn to play guitar the Homespun Instant Access program is absolutely great. I have used Homespun Tapes for many years and find them to be of the highest quality and very usable.

Once in a while I order materials from other companies in my never-ending quest to learn how to play guitar better. Some are quite good, others are just recycled materials that are really not that useful. Homespun Instant Access, however, is always a good choice.

Their catalog features primarily acoustic music, though there is a good section on electric guitar as well. This is due to the fact the Happy Traum and his wife are long-time folk music enthusiasts.

You can pick from many different genres: bluegrass, country blues, folk music, Hawaiian music, classical, rock and roll, rockabilly, flamenco and much more.

For a guitarist just starting out, Homespun Instant Access offers very basic instruction. In fact, if you have fingers, a guitar, and a desire to learn how to play guitar, you will find their courses very suitable.

For intermediate and advanced players, the selection is almost endless. Beware though, that the advanced is really advanced and made for somebody who is truly dedicated to mastering this amazing instrument.

The acoustic guitar is quite simple to play and yet exceedingly difficult. If you want to strum and play so you can sing along the guitar is quite easy to learn. Yet, if you want to flatpick like Tony Rice or fingerpick like Jerry Reed, well you have some years ahead of you!

Learn more about the Homespun Instant Access program.

I was surfing around looking for common chord progressions that I can solo over using my RC-20 looper pedal.  I found a site that had an interesting chart that I’ll be “playing” with for a while.  The first picture below is the Major chord pattern flow.  You can start from anywhere on the chart, just pick a chord within the key your playing and then follow it from left to right.  When you get to a bracket, you need to choos whether you’re going to go with the upper chord or the lower.   Now when you’re done with the I chord and you get the the *.  The astericks means you can then go to any chord.  If you’re doing a repeating pattern you may likely go to where you started. 

Below is the Minor version of the above chart.  Note that it adds the VII chord and shows that the best way to get there is from the iv which means the minor iv chord (lower case is minor)

Let’s play with these for a minute and see what sort of progressions we can come up with.  Let’s start with the easiest which I think is the key of C Major which means we’ll be using the upper chart.  Lets pick E to start and see where this takes us…

Em (which is the iii) which means it really needs to be Em
Am (vi)
F (IV)  I chose the lower path in the brackets
G (V) (I chose this route rather than the diminished becuase I’m not so good at grabbing a diminshed chords…need to work on that)

You’ll have to grab your guitar and give this a quick play to see how it sounds.  I’ll grab my ukulele since it’s sitting here next me.

But that’s how it works folks.   Hmmm…before I go…what sort of scales can we play on this progression?  Sounds like a topic for another post in the near future!


The ability to play a spontaneous, improvised guitar solo is a truly impressive skill. Whilst anyone can pick up a guitar and play a song using three chords, playing a guitar solo, on the other hand, requires a lot of hard work and practice. I have therefore decided to write a short article on guitar playing to share with you 4 tips which have certainly improved my guitar soloing and improvisation skills over the years.

Tip #1 – Learn More Licks
In order to play a good guitar solo you need to have a good vocabulary of guitar licks. Most beginners don’t realize that only 30% of what good guitar players play during an improvised guitar solo is improvised – the other 70% are actually licks which they have pre-learnt and internalized. Too often, we run into the problem of playing the same licks over and over again when we solo – which is boring! Having a good number of licks stored in memory will make you a more versatile guitarist. Guitar licks can be learnt from a variety of books, websites or by listening to your favorite guitarist and figuring out their licks. The resources are there, so there’s no excuse not to learn your guitar licks!

Tip #2 – Practise Smart, Not Hard
A lot of guitarists either practice too little or practice too much. Whilst being lazy and only picking up the guitar twice a week is obviously not going to get you very far, playing your guitar for up to 8 hours a day can be bad for you. I have a friend who developed carpal tunnel syndrome because of playing the guitar too much. Having a sensible practicing schedule, and sticking to it, is the key to success. In my opinion, it’s better to learn a little everyday then to cram everything in one day. For example, why not promise yourself that you will learn one new guitar lick a day? Seems like nothing, but that’s seven guitar licks in a week, and 365 guitar licks in a year!

Tip #3 – Practise over Backing Tracks
OK, so you’ve learnt your licks. The only way you are going to learn how to apply these learnt licks in a guitar solo is to play them over a backing track and practise joining the licks together. There are numerous free backing tracks available over the internet which you could use to practise soloing over. Backing tracks for the 12 bar blues are the most readily available, which is great because the blues is the best place to start when learning to guitar solo. Alternatively, if you want more exotic chord changes, it may be a good idea to buy some professionally-made backing tracks or even create your own backing tracks. Software such as Band-In-A-Box allows you to input a chord progression of your choice and it literally creates a backing track for you.

Tip #4 – Be Self-Critical
The only you are going to improve, especially when it comes to guitar soloing, is to be critical to yourself. Unfortunately, when we are playing the guitar, how we think we sound is often quite different from how we actually sound. Recording yourself play and then listen back, is a great way of self-evaluation. Often times, you might even be shocked at how bad your playing sounds but don’t despair – continual practice using the tips outlined above will polish things out. It may even be beneficial to get a friend or bandmate to listen to your playing and get them to critique on you. You might find that you’re not very good at taking criticism – but it’s the best way for you to grow as a guitar player.

About the Author

Lex Robben is a guitar enthusiast who is on a path of musical enlightenment. For more FREE guitar tips, licks and lessons, visit The Shadow Guitarist Blog.

Changing your guitar strings might make you feel a litte uncomfortable if you have never done it before, but it’s really quite simple and should become a regular part of your guitar care routine. Before you do anything, first take time to make some personal observations such as:

1. Which way do you have to turn the tuning keys to tighten or loosen the strings?

2. How are the strings aligned from the nut to the bridge?

3. Which is the heaviest string?

Taking mental notes will probably save you some frustration and make the job much easier.

Below you will find some helpful steps to follow for changing your strings. Once you’ve changed your guitar strings a couple of times your confidence should begin to grow and you won’t need to refer to these steps any longer. I like to remove all of the guitar strings in order to give my guitar a thorough cleaning, but you can remove and replace them one at a time if you prefer.

Guitar Care and Maintenance Tools:

– Needle-nose Plyers (to cut string ends)

– String Winder

– Soft Cotton Cloth

– Guitar Cleaning Polish (do not use furniture polish, oils, or wax)


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Using the string winder , begin slowly loosening the string(s) until completely slack.

2. With the needle-nose plyers, carefully grab the string from the capstan (the part it winds around) and pull through the hole until it is free.

3. Taking the string winder again, use the cut-out at the end of it to grab the pin at the bridge. Gently pull the pin until it comes out of the hole.

4. Continue this process until all the strings are removed.

5. Clean guitar surface thoroughly.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

Follow steps one and two above. When you come to step three, take your needle-nose plyers and carefully loosen the figure eight knot at the bridge. Pull the string free.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for an acoustic steel string guitar. However, if you have an electric guitar with a movable bridge you may want to take it to your local music store and have them show you how to do it safely. If the bridge is moved from it’s correct position you will not be able to tune your guitar after restringing it.


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Bend the ball end of the string slightly and place it inside the hole below the bridge. Some steel string guitars do not have pins. When this is the case, just pull the string throught the hole.

2. Line up the string with any grooves in the pin. Insert the pin into the hole, making sure it is secure.

3. Take the other end and insert into the hole on the capstan.

4. Pull the string through leaving a fair amount of slack between the capstan and the bridge.

5. Bend the string at the point it comes through the capstan to keep it secure.

6. Watching out for your eyes, begin turning the key with your left hand. Once you get it started it may be easier to use the string winder. (For safety reasons, you might want to cut off any excess string. I usually wait until after they’re all on to do this).

7. As you are winding, apply some tension to the string with your right hand to help keep it taught. Make sure you are winding in the right direction! On the bass strings you will be winding counter-clockwise (away from you). On the treble strings you will go the opposite direction.

8. Continue to wind each string until all the slack is taken up. Do not worry about tuning yet.

9. Cut off all excess string length.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

1. Put the string through the top of the hole found just below the bridge.

2. Pull about 3 inches through.

3. Bringing the string up over the tie block, pass it underneath itself at the original point of entry.

4. Come down over the tie block again and wrap the end of the string around itself in a figure eight type pattern.

5. Insert the other end of the string down through the hole on the capstan.

6. Wrap the string around the back and then underneath itself in order to secure it in place.

7. As described above, begin turning the key with your left hand while maintaining some tension with the other until all the slack is taken up. With a classical guitar you will wind clockwise on the bass strings and the treble strings.

8. Keep the string as straight as possible as it continues from the capstan through the nut and down onto the neck.

9. You should not have any excess string length, but if you do, cut it off.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for the acoustic steel string guitar.

I hope you found this information to be helpful. Remember, establishing a good guitar care routine will insure many long years of musical fun and enjoyment!

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit: http://www.abclearnguitar.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kathy_Unruh

Connected learning is the best way to learn anything, the idea is to associate new material with something you already know. Usually guitar players tend to learn one aspect of their craft and then move on to some other project, it’s much better if you can link the various areas of musicianship together.

Here’s a classic way to improve your ear and learn chords on the guitar at the same time.

Theory application – know which scale the chord was derived from by applying the process of stacking a scale in thirds to create either triadic (three note) chords or scaletone seventh (four note) chords.

Knowing the parent scale of a chord will help your ear find the correct notes to play over the chord by identifying the “key centre” of a chord progression sometimes referred to as K.O.M
(key of the moment.)

Some examples…

Let’s say you have an Em chord, if you knew that the Em chord existed in the keys of C major, G major and D major you would have three possible scale solutions to solo over the E minor chord, as you try all three options your ear will select the scale that you are hearing in your head; as you can see already we have accelerated the process of playing what you are hearing by reducing the amount of resource material to choose from.

Here’s how I arrived at the three options.

Triadic version of the C scale would produce the following chords.

C – Dm – [Em] – F – G – Am – Bdim

G scale presented in triadic format would be:

G – Am – Bm – C – D – [Em] – F#dim

The D scale would create the following chords.

D – [Em] – F#m – G – A – Bm – C#dim

As you review these scales notice how the Em chord is chord three in the C scale, chord six in the G scale and chord three in the D scale.

If your chord progression consisted of the following chords we could confidently say that the key centre of the progression would be either the key of G or D; both keys would work because the two chords presented in the progression exist in both keys.

Em /// | D /// |

Now if we had a chord progression like this…

G /// | A /// | Bm /// | Em /// |

We could correctly identify the entire progression as being in the key of D, since the key of D is the only key that contains all of the chords.

To recap: an isolated Em chord could exist in three keys, which scale you choose to play over the Em chord is entirely up to you; as more chords are introduced to the progression a process of elimination takes place, the name of the game is to try and find the key that is the ‘parent key’ to as many chords as possible.

The idea is to stay in one key as long as you can to develop a feel for the music you are playing… it’s difficult to play music with high emotional content when you are changing key centers every two beats.

Music is about story telling and anything that helps us tell our musical story is a plus, our ear can only take us so far that’s when a good theoretical background can come to our rescue and help us play meaningful music on the guitar.

And now I’d like to invite you to get free access to my “How To Remember 1,000 Songs” eCourse. You can download the course for free at: http://www.guitarcoaching.com

You’ll learn about hit song templates, easy chords, simple scales, red hot rhythms, and successful practice strategies in text, audio and video.

From Mike Hayes – The Guitar Coaching Guy & the Express Guitar System.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mike_P_Hayes

If you’ve watched the HBO series The Wire you’re probablay familiar with the theme song “Way Down in the Hole”.  Every season they changed it up a bit and offered different versions of  Tom Waits’ tune.  It was in the second season they played Tom Waits’ original version the debuted on his album “Franks Wild Years”.


After searching around a little bit and and listening to the song on YouTube, here’s my interpretation of how it’s played.  I’m not a lawyer so I hope I’m note violating copyright by posting this here.  For all I know, it’s not even right.  It’s just what I hear. 

Verse 1
When you walk through the garden

you gotta watch your back
well I beg your pardon
walk the straight and narrow track

if you walk with Jesus
he’s gonna save your soul
you gotta keep the devil
F7                             Bbm
way down in the hole

Verse 2     

He’s got the fire and the fury

at his command
well you don’t have to worry
if you hold on to Jesus hand

we’ll all be safe from Satan
when the thunder rolls
just gotta help me keep the devil
F7                           Bbm
way down in the hole

Instrumental Break

Verse 3

All the angels sing

about Jesus’ mighty sword
and they’ll shield you with their wings
and keep you close to the lord

don’t pay heed to temptation
for his hands are so cold
you gotta help me keep the devil
F7                       Bbm
way down in the hole

Been super busy lately, but if I find the time I’ll post a video of my interpretation.  One of the things I’d like to play with is the solos you can do over this tune.  My first read is that you can play a Bb Pentatonic Minor over the Bbm chord and a C Pentatonic Minor (E Pentatonic Major) over the Eb.  The first one is pretty obvious but the second a little more subtle.  When your talking about Major chords like a E7, you can play the Pentatonic minor using the relative minor which is 3 half steps lower.  Now, I could be all wet here and it may sound like crap.  I just haven’t had time to play with it yet but will soon.

In western music, a chord is said to be in root position when the tonic note is at the bottom (in the bass)  and the other notes of the chord are above it.  You’ll recognize the C chord in the staff below.  The notes are C-E-G with the C being on the bottom.

C Chord

When the lowest note is not the tonic, the chord is said to be inverted.   What that means for the C chord in our example is that the order could be E-G-C (1st inversion) or G-C-E (2nd inversion).

1st Inversion

C Chord 2nd Inversion

2nd Inversion

Now keep in mind that for the C Maj chord we’re dealing with here, there are only two inversions possible because there are only three notes in the entire chord (triad).  If we added a 7th we could do more inversions.  Another thing to pay attention to here as far as naming the inversion, is remember that the 1st inversions is when the the 1st interval (the 3rd) is the root note.  Similarly with the 2nd inversion.  The 2nd interval (the 5th) is the root note.  This, of course, goes on and on depending on how many notes are in the chord.  Most people will only deal with the first three inversions because they are the most popular.  I say thank goodness because this stuff can get complicated quickly!

So what does this mean to a guitar player?  Well, like most new things, it requires new fingerings and shapes.  I’m not going to get into it in the post but there are a whole new set  chord shapes that happen depending on the inversion trying to do.   Look for that in the future and we can work on these together.

Ok, you’ve seen them around and maybe you have a clue that they relate to the chords in a song but what are they really all about?  Well, since I’m trying to figure it out myself, let me share what I’ve found. The first thing to know is what number the Roman Numeral stands for. I know that most people know these but hey, there are plenty of people that don’t so lets just take a moment to get people on the same page.

Upper Case (Major)Lower Case (Minor)Value

We’re going to work with the key of C Major so we don’t get confused with any sharps and flats.  Of course in its most recognizable form, it looks like the scale below where we go from the Tonic (C) up an octave to the next C and then back down.

C Major Scale

The table below relates the “scale degree” that’s associated with the roman numeral.  The value listed can be thought of as an interval or distance from the tonic or root note.  Remember, this interval STARTS on the root note so, for example, to get to IV from I you count…C-D-E-F (1-2-3-4).  F is the IV note in the Key of C Major.

Roman NumeralScale Degree
vii diminished/bVIILeading Tonic/Subtonic

You probably won’t hear some of the terms in the above table in your jam session with your buddies.  If you do, the most likely ones will be Tonic, Subdominant, and Dominant.  That’s because many popular songs and blues progressions use the I-IV-IV chords almost exclusively.  Check out the 12 bar blues which in it’s most basic form uses these three chords.

OK, now your asking yourself, “Now that I know the above information, what can I do with it?”  Well, the beauty of working with the Roman Numerals is that you can talk about songs and song structure without worrying about what key it’s in.  I’m finding that it’s helpful to understand songs this way because it helps me to understand what scales I can play on top of them.  More on that another day, but it also allows me to be able to switch up the key of a song pretty quickly by simply moving the song to it’s new tonic and keeping the intervals the same.  Knowing this stuff gets you one stop closer to understanding what your buddy says, “Let’s play this one in C, the progression is I-vi-IV-V”.  In your head you can quickly calculate that what he means is  that we’re start on C, move up to Am, back down to F, and then up to G.

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