Category Archives: guitar tips

How to Improve Your Guitar Playing

These So many guitar players want to improve their guitar playing but ignore some fundamental things.  Here are some tips that are easily missed by inexperienced players.

  1. Learn the notes on the fretboard
  2. Learn the sound / texture of chord types
  3. Learn how to hum and play simple melodies
  4. Learn something new every day
  5. Listen to all styles for inspiration
  6. Play music not theory, it might be clever but if it sounds terrible, why bother?
  7. Learn to play slowly and in time
  8. Learn each song in a couple of keys if possible
  9. Learn to memorise songs
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others or criticise

These things may seem simple  but they are things that are highly worth considering

Tony Hogan

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Tommy Emmanuel Youtube Tutorial for Guitar

Here’s Tommy Emmanuel doing an Acoustic Guitar Video on Youtube. This has some great practical ideas on how to practice.

So simple and sensible

And here’s Tommy reinventing Classical Gas Tommy Emmanuel Youtube Classical Gas

Tony Hogan

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How to Get Back into Playing Guitar After You Forgot You Had One

 

Martin 000 Acoustic Guitar

Martin 000 Acoustic Guitar

Over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of guitar players start playing, then they hit points in their life where other things take over and music drops to the background, their guitar that they so passionately treasured just sits in the corner of a room to gather dust.  

I’ll side track a little. I discovered an easy way to get around this happening in the first place, it was something I arrived at due to teaching guitar to a lot of kids over the years.  I had always tried to get the parents to NOT call music practice HOMEWORK.  When people call music development ‘homework’, the kid suddenly sees music as a chore, or maybe even the ENEMY, instead of being the beautiful gift it is which they can carry through their life to express themselves.  So, the underlying thing here is about the thinking; if we can’t see the benefits and only see the work involved we lose sight of why we’re doing something in the first place. 

What I found with kids learning music was it was important to take time out from their music practice.  The ultimate goal, as I see it for a music teacher to do is to get the student to the point when they fall in love with music.  Once this happens it’s easy to teach, until then there’s often a bit of a pull in all directions.  What’s needed is to be able to get the student to be organised enough with their time, that they can comfortably do enough for their music skills to gradually increase and then become a natural part of their life.  

My understanding, which made me rethink a lot of things about playing was when one day, a kid asked me “Do I have to practice in the holidays?”.   My reply was “no, I think it’s good to take a break, this will help your return to music a little fresher, go swimming, ride your bike, fallout of a tree, eat ice cream, break a leg or something crazy, but you’re going to need to set a date to get back into some organised pattern again”.

I’m pretty sure, the reason why a lot of players leave the guitar in the corner and don’t return to it is because they don’t organise their time and don’t have the right resources and inspirational material close at hand, and then it all seems too much  

The best way to reenter music after time of is:

  • Set a return date and stick to it
  • Have plenty of resources around to inspire you
  • Clean the guitar and change the strings, even go a gauge lighter 
  • Play a few simple things to warm yourself up a but, if you try and play things that are a little complex you can end up frustrated 
  • Tell the world to go away, you’re busy because music is important to you

Tony Hogan

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How to Improvise on Guitar – Part 3 of 6

More Very Cool Guitar Improvisation Tutorials to Help you navigate through some chord changes.

 

Amaj to Dmaj7 Improvisation for Guitar

Amaj to Dmaj7 Improvisation for Guitar

Here’s Part 3 of How to Improvise on guitar. The TAB and Guitar Music Notation above  relates to soloing over two simple chords an A Major 7 to a D Major 7 chord.  

  • These chords are common and they fall into the key of A.  
  • The key of A has 3 sharp notes (one note higher) .  
  • The sharp notes are F# G# and C #. 
  • The A major 7 chord consists of A C# E and G#
  • The D major 7 chord consists of D F# A and C#

The simple improvisation which I have done is totally within the key of A, it has a certain jazziness about it but I I’ll tell you what, if you nail this stuff and have it in your musical toolbox,  it could open your playing up a little instead of just playing Pentatonic (5 note) scales or Blues scales.  If you want a blues scale to play over this , use F# Blues, it’ll sit beautifully over it.  

To download the printable version click on the link  Guitar Improvisation Amaj7_to_Dmaj7

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How to Improvise on Guitar – Part 1 of 6

A lot of guitar players get a little stuck when they go it improvise.   They’ll play scales for hours  to get the fingers going but it oesn’t sound musical.  About 30 years ago I really got stuck into all the modes and scales and became a very fast player, but in the end, that’s what I was, a fast guitar player.

What I’ve done is scrible down some TABS and Guitar Music Notation some simple lines to play over a very common chord pattern.  As you work through it you’ll notice that I have broken out of the standard musical cliques of playing straight scales, if you listen closely you’ll hear a mix of jazz and country/bluegrass  in the lines.  There are a milion things you could play over these chords; I’ve stuck to a straight melodic pattern but have used a combo of fretted and a few open notes and the occassional partial chord.  If you play this very slowly you’ll get a lot from it.

How to Improvise on Guitar

How to Improvise on Guitar

Click the Link to download the printable version of How to Improvise on Guitar Chords

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Locrian Mode for Guitar

Locrian Mode for guitar

Locrian Mode for guitar

This Mode / Scale is mode seven of the mode series.  It’s used over a G minor Seventh Flat Five Chord in the key of A flat,  (G-7b5, Gm7b5 and  also called a half diminished scale).  In truth it’s just an A Flat sclae starting on the G note.  By learning it you’ll be able to solo over those G minor flat 5 chords and know to use the D flat instead of the D natural.

To download the free printable pdf version click locrian_mode_g

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Playing Guitar in Time

Do you have trouble keeping time?

 Here’s some simple but very practical helpful hints. 

Keeping time when playing guitar can be caused by a number of things, sometimes people just can’t feel time, this is not usually the most common cause but if it is, and this will sound a bit crazy to some people but in that case I recommend dance lessons.  But a word of warning, dance teachers, although they can dance in time, their way of counting the beats is often very bizarre and is not the same way as a  musician would count…. But the main issue here is develop a feeling for time, a feeling that moves through the whole body and is not just a mechanical rhythm count in the gray matter above your shoulder region.

Often the issue of timing is about poor or should I say yet to be developed guitar technique, the problem can come from three specific areas (yes there are more but I’ll keep this simple).  

One is the co-ordination of the right and left hand.  This lack of co-ordination is because in the beginning stages of learning guitar your brain sort of has to split in two and multi-process the fingering of the left hand and the rhythm of the right hand.  (Left hander’s I mean the other left and the other right), while you are concentrating on one hand the other one temporarily goes on vacation.

Two, it can be from the left hand (fretting hand); an underdeveloped ability to play chords correctly will cause the player to pause for a moment while they get the fingers lined up.  This can be easily fixed by paying greater attention to the movement of the fretting fingers, in fact one of the best ways that I have used many times with students is to get them to play the chords on only the first beat of every bar, totally forget the picking/rhythm hand and just play one strum on the first beat.  Use simple chord patterns.  If you watch your hand very closely and look at the pathway between one chord and the next you’ll notice there is very little movement required to change chords, the secret to it is to relax the hand for a fraction of a second between chords, and in that moment of relaxation, visualise where the fingers are moving to.   At some point I will create a tutorial on this technique.

Three, the third issue is that the right hand (rhythm) is totally disorganised and has just ended up playing rhythm the best way it new how.  I recommend strumming simple down strokes on very simple chord patterns, or even one chord is fine.  

Count 1 2 3 4 and just play slowly on the beat counting as you go. 

Then use Up and Downs,  1     2 &    3    4 &   1     2 &    3    4 &   etc, the &’s are up strokes and then vary the pattern to 1     2 &    3 &   4 & etc and work through lots of variations SLOWLY, work with a drum machine or computer loop, not too loud, just something that you can hear.

If you work systematically with the ideas above, I guarantee that your rhythm will improve.  The main issue is that most players train and do everything at once, but it is far better to isolate aspects of guitar playing such as right hand and left, rhythm and fretting and develop these areas without have to concentrate on what the other hand is doing.

I’m reminded of the Flamenco player Paco Pena, in an interview he said “I wasn’t good looking enough to be a dancer so I took up guitar instead”.

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