Monthly Archives: February 2008

Guitar Fretting Hand Exercise

My last article was about a simple but worthwhile fretting hand exercise.  But really, if you want to be a better guitar player, you’ll need something just a little harder.

I’ve put together another exercise.  This exercise will require a bit more effort because the first finger is not used.  The first part of the exercise you’ll use fingers 2 and 3 across the fretboard, followed by 2 and 4 , then finally 3 and 4. 

 Some guitarists get a little lazy and never develop all the fingers, particularly the 4th finger. 

 Guitar Exercise Left hand strengthening technique

Click theLink to download the printable version Guitar Exercise Left hand strengthening technique

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Guitar Lesson – Left Hand Exercise

I’ve uploaded a left hand (lefties the other left) guitar exercise, it is designed to strengthen the fretting hand, there is TAB and musical notation available in print format. It is quite simple to do this guitar exercise because it is just using fingers 1 and 2 across all  the strings, and then fingers 1 and 3, and lastly fingers 1 and 4.

 The Secret to this one is to keep the fingers that you AREN’T using, very close to the fretboard without touching the strings.  To be quite frank, I don’t think that this is a very musical exercise but it is one of the best ways I know to develop speed in the left hand.

 Once you have done the whole exercise at the first fret on the guitar, then move up one fret to the next one and so on.  I guarantee that if you do this exercise properly everyday for a week, your left hand fluency will develop incredibly.

Guitar Lesson - Left hand Exercise for developing speed

Click the link to download the printable version

Guitar Lesson – exercise to develop the fretting hand

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E Minor Blues Guitar Tutorial in Flash

I’ve written a very good guitar tutorial in Flash format. 

It’s a simple minor blues in E but it’s very very straight forward.  give it a trial and tell me what you think by leaving a comment here.  This format is still in the testing phase

http://www.the-guitarlesson.com/

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Learn Guitar Warm Up Exercises

Guitar warm up exercises can be extremely annoying if you approach them from the wrong angle, with the wrong attitude. And when it comes to wanting to achieve anything, attitude is everything.

warm up guitar exercise

 I have uploaded a guitar scale / exercise that is very useful if you need to warm up quicklly before performing or if you are just starting out, it’s good for strengthening the fingers and getting comfortable with the fretboard.

Most players have a lot of trouble using their 3rd and fourth fingers (ring and pinky) when they start out. In fact, even some  great players don’t or didn’t use their pinky.  Leslie West, the truly brilliant sounding electric guitarist that played with Mountain in the seventies didn’t use his pinky, and I read in a guitar mag a few years back that he had regretted it.  Regardless of his feelings, I and many others are quite satisied with his Nantucket Sleigh Ride.  Also, I was shocked to see Santana in the seventies play and barely use his pinky.

But, using all the fingers available on the fretting hand is a good idea.

In the exercise:  play the open string. then first fret, second fret, third fret, 4th fret and then move to the next string and repeat the sequence. You’ll notice that when you hit the 3rd string, you’ll only need to play open, one, two and three.  And then return to the previous sequence for the final string.

The secret to playing this exercise PROPERLY, is by holding down the PREVIOUS finger as long as possible.

Once you go up the neck, then play it backwards, work back down.  Where a lot of players go wrong is they try and play too fast too soon and don’t worry so much about clarity and timing

Most important RELAX your hand

 To download the printable version How to practice guitar warm ups

for more exercises go the the-guitar.net

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Guitar Secret – Playing guitar duets

I remember a few years ago reading a great quote by a famous musician, it went something like, ‘the only thing more beautiful than one guitar is two’. 

Apart from the aural beauty of the sound of the guitar for the listener, there are also a number of other benefits for the player of the instrument.  Throughout my guitar life I have played in numerous guitar duets; these duets were for me, more beneficial than playing with a lot of other larger musical line ups.  The reason for this is because of the nature of the guitar, it’s flexibility in the roles that the player needs to take on and the broader opportunity for experimentation.

Most musicians would have probably realised that the more instruments there are in a musical group, the  ‘tighter’ the playing needs to be, as  many of the musical frequencies will be covered by the other instruments.  There is lot less room for the player to work in when playing in a larger group setting.  And by ‘tighter’ I don’t mean being stricter with the musical basics such as timing, I mean less adventurous with your harmony and chord voicings for fear of clashing with the other instruments.

Playing in a guitar duet will give you the opportunity to play all roles; you get the chance to play melody, to phrase it just the way you like, or play a harmony or some type of counter melody, to be the soloist or accompanist.  By having just two guitar players playing a few sets per night, you very quickly realise that there is a need for diversity in your repertoire.  This will really force you to dig deeper and develop a lot of different ways to play accompaniment, such as arpeggios,  moving bass parts, fingerstyle as well as plectrum rhythm parts (if you are not just playing classical), maybe more percussively or very openly.  And something else that you probably will find yourself doing as your playing gets stronger, will be playing solo arrangements of tunes.  As I’ve said in previous posts, when working with a singer I learn to play all the songs solo, meaning a complete guitar arrangement of the tunes.   This is a very nice way to start some songs and build them, one guitar begins and will hold it together by themself and then the other one starts later and it turns into a duet.

Guitar duets don’t necessarily need to be complex, they  can be very simple and still be effective, they seem to work in any style at all.  It is a great way to learn to create complimentary musical parts.  I highly recommend working in a guitar duet for some period of your musical life.

To name a few of the great guitar duets over the years have been:

Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn
Larry Corryell and Philip Catherine
Pat Metheny and Jim Hall
Strunz and Farrar
 John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner

But my favourites ones have been the ones I’ve played in with two of my good friends Bill Stewart and Robin Chambers.

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