Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nothing Like Summer Strummin'

Staying In Tune Consists of a Few Key Elements

Properly stretched strings--basically this means that when putting on a new set of strings, you need to tug on the strings to stretch them out. you cannot simply tune the new set up to pitch and expect it to hold--you have to yank on the string and then keep retuning until it no longer goes flat after you yank. I prefer to use an electronic tuner for this--not because my ears stink, but because more often than not I find myself doing the stretching in a very noisy environment, such as a club or during sound check when the drummer is whacking the snot out of his snare drum.

A well-cut nut--this means a nut that is just perfect for the string gauge that you use. if it's too tight, when you use the tuner, the string will get pinched in the nut, and then when you bend or play, this pinching will give, causing the string to go flat. Normally, with a mid to high range guitar you'll not have to worry.

Stable tuners--this is not as big of a deal, since most tuners--even the really bad ones don't slip.

Proper tuning technique--this sounds really STUPID, but it's EXTREMELY important. When you tune, always tune in the SHARP direction. let me give an example:

Suppose you are trying to tune the fifth string to A. currently the string is flat. In order to tune properly you need to turn the tuning gear until you hit A. If you go SHARP, the WRONG thing to do is to turn the gear down until you hit A. The reason this is incorrect is because there is still a minute amount of slack in the tuner--no matter how good the tuner is, there is ALWAYS some slack.

for those of you who would doubt this, try overshooting your target note and then tuning DOWN toward the note. Once you hit the note, take your finger and give the string a big yank. now check your tuning again--I GUARANTEE it's going to be flat, if only a few cents or so.

If you go too far sharp, the PROPER way to tune is to turn the gear so that the resulting note is DELIBERATELY flat. In other words, going back to our example, if you overshoot your A note, then turn the tuner so you are FLATTER than A. now give the string a tug as you would do when you are stretching. The slack in the tuner will give. Now tune towards the A, being careful not to overshoot. If you overshoot, repeat the process. The key is to tune in the SHARP direction only!

If you fail to observe any of these points above, you're going to be in a mess, because stable tuning requires all of the above elements to be in place. Likely you're going to find that your tuning problem is the result of a combination of the above factors--after following all of the above guidelines, I usually find that even the worst and cheapest guitars stay in tune just fine.
Remember... you can be the best guitar player... but if your guitar is out of tune... NOT GOOD!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lesson 5 - jammin with the Minor Pentatonic

Now that you are getting a good feel for the 12 bar blues and its chord changes, I have included a couple of videos (pentatonic looping part 1 & 2) that will introduce you to a pentatonic scale and will enable you to play lead guitar as someone plays the (12 bar chord progression) rhythm part with you. If you'd like... after listening to the videos and learning your first pentatonic
scale, click on the audio below and where I
have recorded a rhythm part so you can jam as
you play lead guitar.
(pentatonic scale at the 12th fret)

Notice the Tablature fingerings in the above photo are as follows:

10 ----12

If you have questions with this fingering, please watch Pentatonic Looping (part 1) and follow me as I show you the proper fingering for playing this scale.

I will also place the Rhythm track for jammin on my podcast...
have a blast playing lead.

12 bar blues -

Lesson 3

Lesson 3 (Written Assignment) - Send me an email ( and tell me what are the similarities as well as the differences between the acoustic and electric guitar.

Lesson 4 - 12 Bar Blues

Learning the 12 Bar Blues...
In order to learn this new "blues progression" you will need to add two new chords to your chord vocabulary... check it out.

Lesson 4 will begin learning two more chords. The first of the two will be this E7 chord. Notice that it is eeeeasy. Just play your E chord and then take off the third finger.

The second chord you will learn in this lesson is the B7 chord. The B7 is a chord that will utilize all four fingers on your left hand. I tell my students that the B7 is the "skip-skip-behind-chord". If you place your pinky first on the 1st string/second fret... and then skip a string and place your 3rd finger/second fret... and then skip a string and put your 2nd finger/2nd fret...this leads you to the behind portion of the shape and that is to place your 1st finger on the 4th string/1st fret. The primary bass note is the ''B" in the 5th string. Do not strike the 6th string while playing the B7.

Now, when you have these two chords down... We can look to learn the 12 Bar Blues. We will play this version of the 12 Bar Blues in the key of E. There will be four chords that will be used, they are E,E7,A and B7. Make sure that you know all four chords before trying to play this 12 bar blues progression.

E / / / / E/ / / / E/ / / / E7/ / / /
A/ / / / A/ / / / E/ / / / E/ / / /
B7/ / / / A/ / / / E/ / / / B7/ / / /

If you notice that there are 12 seperate measures (bars) with 4 beats per measure. Again, with playing any chord progression, make sure that the tempo you chose is consistant and the transitions you make from chord to chord will not break the rhythmic flow of the song. 12 bar blues are awesome, because once you learn the progression, you will notice this progression played in many style of music and then you will recognize the progression and be able to play. The next lesson will deal with playing lead guitar with the 12 bar blues...stay tuned.

Now when you think you're ready...

Click on the audio player below... and let's jam.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Subscribe to pbrening podcast in itunes

Pentatonic Looping Video (part 2)

Pentatonic Looping Video (part 1)

FYI - Playing Lead Guitar

Hammer – on / Pull – off

These are the four tools that a lead or rhythm guitarist has at his/her disposal when creating variety. Please listen to the “Pentatonic Looping videos” and you will see and hear how they are used. Improvise and learn to be creative while using these tools.