30 January 2008

Practice Guitar On Your iPhone


I recently started a series of tips about practicing without your guitar. Today I came across this fun way of practicing on an iPhone. Now you can fit a practice guitar into your your pocket.

28 January 2008

Blues Guitar Lick #12: IV Chord Major Pentatonic

Today's lick shows you an example using the I major pentatonic scale to play licks over the IV chord. The lick is played over a D IV chord in a blues in A. Here's the lick.


D (IV) D (IV)
& 2 & 3 & 4 1 & 2 & 3 & 4
e------------5--------|---------------5----------
B------5--7-----6s7~~-|-------7--7p5-----7~~~~~~~
G--4s6----------------|--4s6---------------------
D---------------------|--------------------------
A---------------------|--------------------------
E---------------------|--------------------------

The lick uses notes from the A major pentatonic scale within the A bar chord form at the 5th fret.

In the first bar the lick climbs up the major pentatonic to the F# note at the 7th fret of the B string, the scale's 6th. This note is also the major 3rd of the D chord. The example slides up to this note, but you could also use a bend or play the F# directly. In any case give the note a little vibrato for emphasis.

The second bar echoes the lick using notes from the same position. The ending note is again the major 3rd of the D chord.

Ending phrases on the major 3rd like this supports the harmony. This technique helps to give your soloing a feeling of movement as it follows the progression's chord sounds.

If you'd like to read more about playing licks over the IV chord, and others, then sign up for the site's RSS feed.

24 January 2008

Blues Licks Over The IV Chord Part 2

In part one of this series you learned minor pentatonic notes to play over the IV chord. This post shows you a note from the major pentatonic scale that really makes the IV chord sound stand out. Using this note will really make your licks sound good.

Major 6th

The 6th note of the I chord's major pentatonic is a note you must make friends with when playing over the IV chord. Because this note is also the major 3rd of the IV chord the it sounds great. It not only sounds good but also shows that you know where you are in the progression.

You can bend, slide or walk to the 6th note or play it directly. Here are a couple of examples using these techniques.


G(I) C(IV)
& 3 & 4 & 1 2 3
e-|------------------|-------------------
B-|------------------|-------------------
G-|--3h4-------------|-------------------
D-|-------5--4--3--2-|-------2~~~~~~-----
A-|------------------|--3----------------
E-|------------------|-------------------
I notes 6 4 6
IV notes 3 R 3

Note the chromatic walk down to the 6th note at the end of the I bar. This sets up the following IV chord nicely; your listeners ears will be primed and ready for it.

D (IV)
& 2 & 3 & 4 1 2 3 &
e-|-------------------------------------------------
B-|-------------------------------------------------
G-|--3h4--3--5--5s7--5~~~--(7)b9--(7)b9--7p5--5~~~~-
D-|-------------------------------------------------
A-|-------------------------------------------------
E-|-------------------------------------------------
I notes 4 4 4 6 6 4 4
IV notes R R R 3 3 R R

Cranking It Up

You can obtain a great effect by bending or sliding up to the 6th from the fret below it. This note is the the minor 3rd of the IV. You'll instantly recognize this distinctive blues sound; now you know how it's done you'll recognize it on many blues recordings. Here's an example showing a bend up to the major 3rd.

D (IV)
e-|--5----5----5---------------------
B-|--6b7--6b7--6b7-------------------
G-|-----------------7~~~~~~~~--------
D-|----------------------------------
A-|----------------------------------
E-|----------------------------------

This post has shown you some ideas using the major pentatonic scale of the I chord. Now it's your turn to try them out and make up some more of your own. Remember to target that 6th note.

In the next part of this series I'll be taking a look at some more approaches to playing over the IV chord. Be sure to subscribe to the site's RSS feed so you won't miss it. In the meantime, happy practicing...

21 January 2008

How To Read Guitar Tab

The other day I came across this short introduction to guitar tab notation over on ABC learn guitar. If you're not already familiar with this notation then it's a good place to start.

Tab is used in many examples in this blog, and elsewhere. You'll almost certainly use it at some time in your guitar learning.

Check out the link and if you have any tab questions please leave a comment on this post.

15 January 2008

Blues Guitar Lick #11: IV Chord Minor Pentatonic

Today's blues lick builds on Blues licks on the IV chord part I to show another minor pentatonic lick over the IV chord. It's in the key of A with the lick over the D chord. Here's the lick.


A7 (I) D7 (IV)
3 & 4 1 & 2 & 3 & 4
e--------8------|--10p8--10-x--8-9-10~~~~--
B--8s10-----10--|--------------------------
G---------------|--------------------------
D---------------|--------------------------
A---------------|--------------------------
E---------------|--------------------------


The lick starts on the A chord in the 2nd position of the minor pentatonic.

In the first two beats of the D chord it plays between the min 3rd and the 4th of the A minor pentatonic. These are the b7th and root notes of the D chord and serve to establish the IV chord sound. These two notes are common to both the minor pentatonic and the D7 chord. They form the basis of this lick.

I suggest playing the D note at beat two of the IV chord staccato. Aim for a snappy sound; you'll find it gives the note extra punch.

The lick finishes with a short chromatic walk up to the D root note to reinforce the IV chord. Give the final D note some vibrato for added emphasis.

This lick shows two of the most important notes for building your own minor pentatonic licks over the IV chord. Further posts in the series will show you how to create more variety when playing over the IV chord. Sign up to the RSS feed to receive notification of the posts.

13 January 2008

Practice Guitar In The Shower

How would you like some extra time to build your guitar skills? Here's a tip that will give you the opportunity to practice anytime and anywhere, even under the shower. Don't worry about your guitar though, it won't be getting wet...

Extra Practice Time

Imagine the extra practice time you'd have if you could practice while you take a shower or brush your teeth. And what if you could also practice when you're jogging, travelling to work, or cooking your dinner?

Well here's an exercise that you can do during any of these activities. All you need are a few spare neurones working on your guitar playing while the rest of you is doing the other stuff.

Obviously it's not practical to use your guitar in these situations, especially under the shower. The good news is that this exercise, and many others, can be done without a guitar. Read on to find out how...

Practice Without You Guitar

Start by visualising your guitar's fretboard; make sure you have a clear picture of it in your head. Now select one of the strings and name the notes at each fret - you can do this in your head or say them out loud.

You can start with the open string and work up the neck, or start at the 12th fret, for example, and work your way down.

As you do this, try to really 'see' the fingerboard in your mind as you move up or down. Visualise your finger at each of the frets. If you do this you will find that you can instantly recall the frets for any note without thinking about it.

Fretboard Knowledge

This simple exercise will build your knowledge of the fretboard making it available for easy and instinctive recall when you want to play. You can use it anytime, anywhere, and it takes only a few minutes.

Why not give it a try during your next shower or the next time you're waiting at a supermarket checkout, for example. I like to do it while I'm dozing off to sleep at night. I find it a great way to relax.

There are plenty more exercises like this one that you can use to work on other aspects of your guitar skills. If you'd like to read about them just sign sign up for the site feed so you'll be notified when new posts are published.

10 January 2008

Blues Guitar Licks Over The IV Chord

This is the first in a series of posts showing you how to build licks over the IV chord of the blues progression. The key to these blues licks is in choosing notes that reinforce the IV chord.

In this post you'll learn how to choose notes from the minor pentatonic scale. Later in the series you'll learn how to spice up your sound with a few notes from elsewhere. By emphasizing key notes of the IV chord you'll get great sounding licks that give a feeling of moving with the harmony.

So, what are the key notes to use from the minor pentatonic?

Rootin' Around
At the simplest level if you play the minor pentatonic then make them finish on the 4th note, also the IV chord's root note. Such licks will have a strong IV chord sound and fit well with the harmony.

Here's an example in the key of A.


A (I) D (IV)
3 & 4 & 1 2 & 3
e-|-------------|----------------------
B-|-------------|----------------------
G-|-------5---5-|-7~~-5s7 5s7--7~~~~---
D-|---5s7---7---|----------------------
A-|-------------|----------------------
E-|-------------|----------------------

A Little Variety

Using the IV chord's root note - part of the I chord minor pentatonic scale - is a great way to support the harmony. But your licks will get a bit predictable if you always end your licks on this same note.

For a bit of variety you can end some licks on the I chord's minor 3rd or the I chord's root note. The former is the 7th of the IV chord and the latter it's 5th note.

Payin' Dues
This post has shown you a few fundamental techniques for using the minor pentatonic scale over the IV chord. Now it's time for you to make up some licks of your own. Experiment with them over a backing track to see what works well and what doesn't.

In the second part of this series you'll learn about some new notes that really spice up your IV chord licks. Be sure to subscribe to the site's RSS feed so you won't miss it.

8 January 2008

Beginners Guitar Chords: A Chord

If you've followed my beginners guitar chord series then so far you've learned three chords - G, C, D. In this post I'm going to introduce you to the A chord.

The A chord is both simple to play and will allow you to play in a new key giving you access to many more songs. It is fingered as shown below.


e 0|---|---|---|
b |---|-3-|---|
g |---|-2-|---|
d |---|-1-|---|
a 0|---|---|---|
E X|---|---|---|

As usual, start by placing your fingers on the strings very lightly, with no pressure on your fingertips. Your goal should be simply to get your fingertips in the right place. Don't worry about pressing strings or making sounds yet.

Practice placing your fingers, slowly, as many times as you need to get comfortable with the placement.

Once you feel comfortable placing your fingers it's time to move on and make some sounds. Place your fingers and then press down the tips to touch the fingerboard. Strum slowly across the chords and check that each one is sounding. You omit the 6th string in this strum, by the way.

There are two common problems when playing this A chord.

1. The 1st (bottom) string is muffled by your third finger.

2. The E note played on the 4th string by your 1st finger doesn't sound clearly.

The first problem is solved by ensuring that the ends of you fingers are going straight up out of the fretboard. They should be square to it, and not angled.

The second problem is usually due to the 1st finger being too far back from the 2nd fret. Make sure your fingers are as near to this fret as you can get them. You'll need to apply less pressure to make a clear sound.

This post has shown you how to play an A chord. Take your time to practice it slowly. The tips provided should help you to overcome common problems with this chord.

Later we'll be taking a look at how to combine it with other beginner chords to play songs in the key of D. Be sure to sign up for the RSS feed to be notified of future posts.

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