Archive for January, 2009

Jazz guitar – Jazz chords

Having read our piece on Jazz chord progressions you’ll need some chords to go with this. Whilst it’s true that any chord can be used in Jazz, as we’ve discussed – most jazz chords go beyond the usual triad chords found in rock and blues and are usually extended to make the sound more interesting for example by adding a seventh.

In our examples we’ll look at a series of bar chords which can be played in any position along the neck – just move your fretting hand to the appropriate position to get to the root of the chord.

Try these chords with a metronome and remember to try and get that swing sound in your rhythm when you play.

This article series will be in 3 parts – in this first part we’ll look at traditional Jazz Major chords.

Jazz Major Chords

By Peter Edvinsson

When I was a fifteen years old guitarist playing rock solos and classical guitar pieces I remember that I had a desire to be able to improvise on my guitar in a classical manner.

Nowadays I have developed this skill and I love to improvise in the style of composers like Sor, Tarrega, Paganini or others or just trying to find myself somewhere among the notes. These special moments are a form of meditation. They clear my mind and also helps me as a composer to stimulate my creative abilities.

The most important reason for learning classical guitar improvisation is that it’s fun!

If you learn classical guitar improvisation it will benefit you in many other ways too:

1. It will be easier for you to memorize classical guitar sheet music.

2. You will find it easier to compose your own guitar pieces in a classical guitar style.

3. You can make up your own techniqal exercises on your guitar on the go.

4. You will understand your guitar better.

There are many ways to develop classical guitar improvisation. How?

You can start with major scales, experimenting with easy chords, or easy classical guitar pieces. The most basic requisite is that you want to learn this art and with this desire you will find ways to practice classical guitar improvisation in all your guitar playing.

I will just mention using classical guitar pieces in this article. But how do you begin?

May I suggest that you begin with an easy melody with just one voice or maybe a two voice piece with bass notes on open strings. Learn a couple of bars by heart and play the melody over and over again and try to change the melody slightly without losing the classical touch.

The ultimate exercise is to use advanced classical guitar solos.

If you think about it you will realize that classical guitar pieces are filled with wonderful licks, more or less complicated.

These licks can be developed and added upon to give you material that will help you developing your improvisational skills.

For example, take a two bar passage in a classical guitar piece that you like and practice it until you master it and then memorize it.

Now you can play around with the passage, break it down, change it, analyze it and so on. If you want to improve as an improvisational guitarist and musician you can regard classical guitar pieces as collections of very musical licks just waiting to be used.

I hope these hints will motivate you to reap the benefits from improvising the classical guitar way.

Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn to play resources at

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By Peter Edvinsson

I guess it is an established fact that guitarists often are poor sight readers. Maybe not you but the rest of us!

One reason why it is difficult for many guitarists to read sheet music is that you can find the same note on different strings. It is pretty easy to master the notes on the first four frets on your guitar but when you reach the fifth fret you have to decide on which string you are to play a note and you also have to find the fret. Making decisions has never been easy!

Do you have a good ear? Can a good ear be your enemy when trying to read guitar sheet music?

Pupils with a good ear, like you and me, can develop strategies to find notes without really learning the exact position on the fretboard. One strategy is to listen your way around until you will find the right note on another string.

This strategy will of course work but you will not develop your sight reading skills. A good ear is an asset but nevertheless you will have to make a conscious effort to learn the fretboard in order to be able to find the notes automatically when looking at the sheet music.

Many guitarists when playing sheet music are continually looking at the fretboard in order to put down their fingers on the right fret. This is not good for your sight reading skills. And not for your neck!

One reason for always looking at the fretboard is that you are used to it. The remedy for this is of course to practice reading the sheet music without looking at the fretboard.

Practice this skill with easy pieces in the first position and pay attention to correct fingering which will help you finding your notes without looking.

Just an honest question: Do you learn to sight read when you sightread?

When you practice sight reading you have to be aware of the fact that you cannot use the same piece of sheet music many times, maybe just once, else you are just kidding yourself!

After having practiced on a piece of music it is of no use for developing sightreading skills anymore. You need new fresh material to work on. Play a lot of easy pieces that you can play accurately the first time without looking at your fingers.

You can download my easy guitar compositions if you want some free sheet music to work on.

Hopefully you will find these easy tips helpful when making the effort to become a better sight reader!

Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn to play resources at

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Guitar Lessons – Hammer-on, Pull-offs

br>By Bill McRea

One of the primary legato techniques all guitarists must learn is the hammer-on, pull-off. This technique is important because it allows for nuances in tone and expression, and it allows the picking hand a “break” since it does not have to pick the notes on the hammer-on or the pull-off. This results in a faster progression of notes, sometimes called licks.

The hammer-on is accomplished when you pick a note and then using another finger hammer down on the same string. The sound of the hammered note is less pronounced than the picked note. For example place your first finger on the 5th fret of the 3rd string, and the hammer down your third finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd string. Don’t use your just quickly strike the second fret position with the tip of your 3rd finger. This would be described in guitar tab as 5h7 or 5 hammer 7. Keep your first finger on the 5th fret because you are going to pull-off of the 7th fret in the next example.

The pull-off results when you release a plucked note with enough force such that the second fretted note rings. This may require a slight side way motion to create enough friction to cause the string to ring out. The sound of the pulled-off note is less pronounced since you aren’t using your pick to create it. This would be illustrated in guitar tab 7p5 or 7 pull 5.

If you combine these techniques you can create very fast note runs or licks. Imagine how this sequence of hammer-on, pull-off’s would sound when played very quickly 5h7p5h7p5. In deed the hammer-on, pull-off technique is the cornerstone for legato and most speed playing techniques.

It takes time to perfect the technique but it is worth the effort.

Bill McRea is the publisher of and their blog at

Also and

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Guitar Lessons – Guitar Vibrato

By Bill McRea

Playing a guitar without vibrato is like eating Mexican food without salsa. Vibrato is one of the most definitive techniques in defining your musical style, your own personal unique sound. No two players have the same vibrato sound. Some play slow and wide while others play narrow and fast, and that’s the beauty behind spending a lot of time learning different vibrato techniques. It’s like eating different salsa’s every time you go to your favorite taco stand. Enough talk about food, lets talk technique.

Vibrato is sometimes confused with tremolo. Basically it is just a technique of vibrating the string sharp and flat around a root note. For example if you are playing the 7th fret on the 3rd string with your 3rd finger on your fret hand you can just push the note up slightly and them pull it down slightly. Do this in quick succession so the over riding effect is a “wobbly” tone around the root note you are playing. Use your hand, wrist, and arm to make the movements. Never just wiggle a finger. Some people use a technique of pulling the string down towards the floor and then releasing back up.

Try this in a variety of speeds and levels of bending during your vibrato. The trick is to be consistent and smooth with your motion. If you are playing a slow blues riff then you may want to slow down and make a wide circular motion with the string, or if you are playing a fast rock lick you may just ad a fast narrow vibrato to accent the final note in a run.

It is possible to add vibrato using any finger you play with, but it is most commonly done with the first and third finger on the fret hand. Using your first finger is a bit trickier. I usually use my first finger for fast vibratos similar to BB Kings style. I will literally lift my other finger far off the fret board, press down and just “vibrate” the string as fast and as open as possible. That’s funny the work vibrato is a lot like vibrate, because that’s actually what you are doing vibrating the string.

When you combine vibrato with string bending, harmonics and legato techniques you begin to discover the musician inside of you. Playing guitar is about discovering your inner flow of creativity and having the techniques to be able to express them. Vibrato is one of the more personal and effective techniques. As with all aspect of playing guitar you need to experiment with these techniques, and most of all have fun!

Bill McRea is the publisher of and

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Guitar finger picking

Aside from guitar strumming, another popular playing style is that of finger picking.

Popular with folk music, finger picking involves using the fingers to pluck the strings rather than making sounds by using a pick.

In this playing style, usually the thumb is used to play the bass notes using the lowest three strings, while the fingers are used to sound the highest three strings. (usually the index and ring fingers are used for this.).

A finger picking style is ideal for arpeggios and adding subtleties to chord progressions (e.g. a walking bass line).

A good exercise to practice when learning finger picking is to pick a chord sequence (say C major, A minor, F Major), and finger pick your way through try playing the top 4 strings for each chord. Use a metronome and sound a note for each beat. Concentrate on getting a smooth picking style and ensure you stay in time.

Many famous artists who use this style they including Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins. Picking provides an interesting variation to simply strumming chords and enables you to play simple chord sequences while making them sound quite complex.

Beginning Guitar Strumming

One of the very first techniques guitarists need to master is that of strumming. Strumming can be defined as brushing across your guitar strings in a rhythmic up and down fashion appropriate to the song being played.

Learning different strumming patterns and being able to play rhythm guitar in a variety of styles will enable you to play a wide range of musical genres and enable you to broaden your repertoire.

Strumming Exercises

Using a metronome to keep time play any chord ensuring your playing on the beat (four down strokes per measure).

Now try adding upstrokes firstly between the second and third beats and then between fourth and first beats. Try your strumming patterns with different chord sequences up and down your guitar neck. Once your comfortable with this try it at different tempos.

Your strumming should be generated from your wrist with a controlled movement allowing the hand to move back into position ready for the next stroke. Your arm should stay relatively still when strumming.

When strumming make sure that you have you position your pick correctly to get the right sound from your guitar when you strum. Also practice your strumming at different positions and alternate the number of strings that your strum on each stroke.

Listen to plenty of different guitar music and listen closely to the rhythms being played – try to practice these playing close attention to whether the guitar player is using up or down strokes.

Rickenbacker 620

The Rickenbacker 610 electric Guitar is essentially a Rickenbacker 620 with some minor differences. The 610 has dot fret markers, no stereo output and no binding on the body

Manufactured in American the Rickenbacker 610 has two high gain pickups, which make it evoke classic early Beatles sound, a “Cresting Wave” solid body, Classic Rickenbacker tailpiece. The neck features a 21 Fret Rosewod Fretboard and a classic Rickenbacker shaped headstock.

The guitar is fairly light to play and has that iconic Rickenbacker vibe. Great for Pop, but versatile enough for Rock and Jazz – the guitar sounds great strangled with a light touch of overdrive. A lot of the versatility comes from the Rickenbacker blender control – this allows the bridge and neck pickups to be mixed and allows the player to dial in a wide variety of tones from thin to fat.

As usual these Rickenbacker’s are a quality instrument with great attention to detail and component selection – problems with them are few and far between however changing the strings on a Rickenbacker can be quite problematic – the Classic R Shaped tailpiece makes it difficult to access the strings or to adjust the “seat height” to correctly set intonation.

No – longer in production – check out the usual auction sites to pick one up – still a great guitar – with a great range of sounds – well worth checking out.

Check out more at

Line 6 ToneCore Tap Tremolo

The ToneCore Tap Tremolo pedal couples that classic tremolo
sound with some great modern features. Using the Tap Tempo feature,
along with adjustable dynamic speed control, peak setting, depth,
and shape, you can configure some fantastic and diverse Tremolo

THe pedal has the following features:

Model Switch – You get different types of tremolo depending on
the model selected – these are

  • Opto – Here’s a vintage circuitry-style tremolo sound
    like you’d find built into mid-60’s American amplifiers.
  • Bias – This model creates a vintage bias circuitry style tremolo
    sound you’d find in late 50’s and British amplifiers.
  • Pan – This model makes your sound pan back and forth between
    left and right outputs.

Additional controls include:

  • Speed, depth and peak
  • Shape – Turn the knob toward the left for a smooth sine wave
    tremolo that gradually varies your volume up and down, or left
    for a for a hard-chopping square wave that dramatically switches
    from loud to quiet.
  • Tap Tempo – Using the pedal, you can tap a couple times and
    have the pulsations match your tempo.

For more information visit

Line 6 ToneCore Liqua Flange

The Line 6 ToneCore Liqua Flange effects pedal Delivers classic
studio flange and benefits from an exhausting range of controls
– the pedal features a model switch that allows the user to select
from 3 preset models

  • Digital – Flat frequency response
  • Liquid – Dual Delay lines with offset modulation
  • Analog – Replicating classic analogue devices

The Liqua Flange pedal also benefits from a raft of other features

  • Polarity switch – create dramatic effects by selecting negative
    or positve phase for the delay
  • Wave selector – featuring
    • Saw Down
    • Saw Up
    • Envelope Down
    • Envelope Up
    • Sine
    • Step
    • Random
    • Vintage
    • Chorus
    • Trigger up
    • Trigger down
  • Time Knob – set the delay time
  • Speed Knob – Rate of Delay
  • Feedback Control – Set the rate of feedback
  • Depth knob – Set the depth of Flange
  • Tap-Tempo – Use the footswitch to match your tempo.
  • 3 warm overdrive models
    • Blues
    • Pop
    • Crunch
  • Built in Noisegate
  • Controls to cover – Drive, Level, Bass and treble
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