A Great Tip For Rock and Blues Guitar Improvisation

Rock And Blues Guitar Improvisation

Have you ever wanted to go to a music store and get a book that had the best information on how to play rock and blues guitar solos, explained in ways that were easy to understand and made sense, and not know which book to buy? Ever go out and get that book, only to discover that it had a bunch of information that you didn’t need and didn’t make a good deal of sense after all? Ever wonder whether the get chops quick guitar methods so prevalent on the Internet today are really ripoffs? Well, no need for further frustration, help is here.

I’ve been playing guitar for quite some time and understand these situations because I’ve been there. I used to wonder how the great rock and jazz guitarists learned what they learned in order to play the way they play. I was curious to know: What was their secret? What is the key that unlocked all that great playing and all that musicianship, and what is the easiest and most painless way for me to begin to approach that level? It is my goal in this article to begin to provide answers to these questions. That way, you won’t have to navigate the same musical maze that I did. These answers should, in effect, help make your musical experience that much more enjoyable. Incidentally, in spite of all the struggles, I still play music fervently and havenít quit playing even when it became difficult, a testimony to the power of music.

Blues Guitar Improvisation

 

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As many of you have, I have gone into music stores and on the Web looking for the best and most helpful books and methods to buy for the musical arenas I wanted to pursue. This is important of course because these books and methods are expensive (especially these days) and a budding guitar player shouldn’t have to go out and buy every book on guitar that’s out there. I’ve also noticed that there are quite a few guitar books that start off by throwing tons of scales at the student without ever even explaining clearly why all these scales need to be learned in the first place, or worse, how the scales should be used for blues guitar improvisation or which chords to play the scales over and why the scales sound good over a particular chord or series of chord changes (as opposed to sounding terrible). In contrast, we will begin the subject of learning to improvise lead guitar for rock and blues (while including concepts applicable to all guitar styles) with a very simple approach

Step 1: Learning The Names of The Individual Notes On The Fretboard

This is vital because in the art of improvisation, one has to know where one is on the fretboard at all times, regardless of what type of music is being played or improvised. Without knowing all the notes on the fretboard, it becomes easy to get lost and fall behind on the tune (while the chord changes the other musicians in the band are playing just roll on by). The natural shortcut, or the easy way out, is to only learn some of the notes on the fretboard. This approach will have at least two undesirable results: (A) the limited ability of only being able to improvise in certain keys (like A and E), and/or, (B) the limited ability of only being able to improvise on certain areas of the guitar neck. Jamming with other musicians and having these types of situations arise tends to lead to a good deal of embarrassment.

blues guitar improvisation

For beginners, there are three types of notes in music: Natural, Sharp, and Flat. So for example, the note G on the 6th string 3rd fret is also called G Natural. A note that is sharp is always one fret or one half-step higher; a note that is flat is always one fret or one half-step lower. Thus, G Sharp would be on the 6th string 4th fret; G Flat would be on the 6th string 2nd fret. Since A is the next natural note up from G, this means that G Sharp and A Flat are exactly the same note. This can be confusing at the start until an understanding of keys and key structure comes into focus later on.

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I realise that the prospect of having to learn every note on the guitar neck can cause feelings of dread and uneasiness; indeed, it may take some time to learn blues guitar improvisation. Learning the notes on the guitar academically is one thing, but getting that knowledge to work instantaneously under your fingers while improvising is something else. Easy and instinctive methods of learning the notes on guitar do exist, however. One method to begin with is to learn the basic open string chords common in every chord book (like A Major, E Major, and D Major) and take these movable chord forms (often called bar chords) up the guitar neck, simultaneously being conscious of the roots in those chord forms. Another helpful tip is to realise that any note played on the guitar twelve frets higher is going to have exactly the same name. So for example, the note on the 1st string 1st fret and the note on the 1st string 13th fret are both going to have the same name (in this case, the note F). Thus, all the guitarist has to do is to learn the notes of the open strings and the first eleven frets and then practice playing simple chords and note patterns in both the lower area (open to 11th fret) and the upper area (12th fret and above) of the guitar neck.

This simple approach outlined here is conceptually simple, but not easy. It can take some time to become good at blues guitar improvisation. It takes a few more words and a bit more effort to explain concepts clearly. My hope is that the information in this article will help make your musical experience less mysterious and more enjoyable, and that the next time you go into a music store or on the Web looking for guitar books and methods, you’ll know exactly what to look for.

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Have A Great Day

Claude Corry – TheBluesGuitarist.net

Flying with a Guitar: 7 Tips You MUST Know For Keeping Your Guitar Safe

7 Tips For Keeping Your Guitar Safe On Planes

These days, things aren’t so simple when you’re flying with a guitar. The dynamics — and the overheads — of airplane travel have changed so much that keeping your guitar safe, close by, and in one piece has become a lot more difficult than you may think.

Sometimes you will get away with putting your guitar in the overhead cabinet; other times you’ll get a stern communication from an overworked flight attendant instructing you to commit your precious guitar to the frigid no-man’s-land of the airplane’s belly. On that occasion, by all means, make a case for flying with a guitar in the cabinet or in a coat closet. Just remember that a taser to the throat is the TSA’s signature response to passenger disobedience, and it leaves a mark. You may realise still this is not keeping your guitar safe so how do you protect your precious axe.

Yes, in some situations all you can do is swallow hard, send your guitar to the bottom, and brace yourself for the impending stomach ulcers. To help you avoid that situation, we offer these seven tips for flying with a guitar and keeping your guitar safe, with special mention to international expert, producer and session player Jeff McErlain for his insights.

p.s. If you enjoy the quick tips and advice offered below, join free for more!

Keeping Your Guitar Safe On Planes

Flying with a Guitar

1. Loosen the strings on your guitar

Temperature and pressure changes in flight can put enough strain on your guitar to snap that perfectly angled mahogany neck — unless your strings are loose. Whether you can fit your guitar in the overhead bin or have to nervously watch as it slips out of sight on the luggage belt, you should always loosen your strings before you go flying with a guitar. Taut guitar strings have over 300lbs of tension – you don’t want that to work against you.

2. Stuff it like a turkey.

Guitars are fragile. Most of us know this. But a lot of people don’t. It’s a good idea to give your guitar some extra padding and support by stuffing a few t-shirts, socks or hotel towels into the cavities of your guitar case. Pay special attention to the headstock and neck – these are the most common break points, especially when flying with a guitar. You want to minimize movement of your instrument within the case and at the same time provide some cushion to soften blows from the drops, falls, and throws of disgruntled airport employees.

3. Know which airlines allow guitars as carry-ons.

Keeping your guitar safe is mandatory if you want to play it at your booked gig. To make it easier for you, we put together this list of airlines that are guitar friendly. If an airline is not on this list it’s because they don’t make stated carry-on exceptions for instruments or we couldn’t find any info on their site. It’s still a good idea to call ahead after checking airline websites for carry-on policies about flying with a guitar this will go a long way to keeping your guitar safe. They often have provisions for instruments.

American Airlines 
United Airlines
Delta
Southwest Airlines (Southwest accepts instruments on a “conditional basis”; i.e, proceed at your own risk.)

* Knowing in advance what type of aircraft you’ll be flying in will help you decide how to pack your guitar. If you’re flying with a guitar in a small commuter plane you should pack your guitar in a sturdy hard case because you will most definitely have to stow it below deck.

4. Get a travel guitar.

Why? Flexibility. Travel guitars aren’t just novelties anymore: you can get gig-worthy travel axes ranging from custom boutique jobbers to penny-pincher models. Here are a few brands to get you started:

Traveler Guitar.com ($299+)
Best Travel Guitars.com voted the Speedster model a 9.7 out of 10 for best travel guitar. Though it’s not recommended for gigs or serious sessions, Jeff McErlain says, “When I go on vacation for more than a few days, I’ll bring my Speedster, a pocket Pod and a pair of headphones. That’s all I need to survive, it’s great. ”

Voyage-Air Travel Guitars ($399 +)
Their motto is “go anywhere with Voyage-Air,” and they’re right. These fully featured electric and acoustic guitars fold in half (fitting into a specially made backpack) and are easily unpacked for your gig. Thom Bresh never leaves home without one.

First Act 34” Acoustic Guitar ($39.99)
Yes, this is a children’s model acoustic. Which means it’s small, lightweight, and dirty-faced affordable (in case it breaks or gets lost). Not to mention it has decent tone for the casual player. I’ve been known to take one on camping trips and to potentially dangerous field parties.

5. Pack it up and ship it out.

Shipping is not always ideal for the uber-transient guitarist, but it’s a safe and viable option when flying with a guitar is not an option. If you’re going to ship your guitar within the continental United States you can expect to spend about $25 (ground) with insurance. You definitely want insurance.

6. Invest in a good guitar case.

A good, sturdy guitar case will last you a long time and it’ll pay for itself the first time your guitar makes it out alive from the wilderness of the airport luggage bay. We’re not just talking dollars and cents here – peace of mind is a valuable commodity when flying with a guitar. Take a peek at these sheaths to see what’s out there:

Gig Bags

The strength of a gig bag isn’t in its nylon fabric; it’s in the negotiating power it gives you when you’re pleading your case to a stewardess.  Says Jeff, “The slim, smaller size of a gig bag means you can politely ask the flight attendant to put it in the coat check, which almost always works when flying with a guitar. And it’ll lend you extra sympathy points when you’re working the airport authorities: ‘This is a $3,000 guitar and there’s no doubt it will perish if you send it below! Couldn’t you please ask someone else if they could send their suitcase full of clothing to the bottom? Pretty please?’ Be polite, but don’t give in either.”

Also, carry a gig bag like a suitcase; you want to keep it inconspicuous, especially if it will be out of sight during the flight. BEWARE! Take a gig bag at your own risk. There is no guarantee that you will be able to sweet talk your way out of every situation. If you’re forced to send your guitar below deck in a gig bag, you might as well have stuffed it into a pillow case.

www.casextreme.com
These guys throw their guitar flight cases off roof tops and pummel them with iron hammers to prove their ruggedness. Not to mention, the company boasts a clientele of pro players as well as the U.S. military. While you could probably never take these cases as a carry-on, they do offer protection from the indigestion you’d otherwise suffer worrying about flying with a guitar in the cargo hold. Get one of these and leave the Pepto at home.

SKB
SKB has been around for over 30 years and makes some of the best hardshell cases out there for transporting and protecting guitars. As a rule, form-molded, plastic cases will give you the most flexibility when flying with a guitar — just don’t expect to stow it as a carry-on.  But if you have a good case, it’ll be rugged enough to go toe to toe with the burliest of luggage handlers.

Affordable-Cases 
These are road cases, the kind you see roadies hauling out of tour buses and stacking backstage. Solid, rugged, and TSA-approved, they’re perhaps the best protection you can get when flying with a guitar. Like those mentioned above, you’ll never get it past as a carry-on. These babies are stow-away only and are best deployed with a foul-mouthed ex-pat Briton roadie lugging it around for you.

7. Always be polite.

No matter how much you prepare, you can’t be ready for every scenario. Your guitar could get stolen or the flight might be too full to accommodate your carry-on case. But in those rare instances of doom and desperation, the best thing you can do is keep your cool and get smart.

Jeff says: “Sometimes I just lie. I’ll say, ‘They told me at the front desk that it was fine…’ Or I’ll make sure that I get a seat in the back of the plane so I can get on first and hide my guitar behind my neighbor’s bag in the overhead bin. No matter what, flying with a guitar is a nerve-wracking experience. But when all else fails I explain that I’m willing to put it anywhere on the flight so long as it doesn’t go below. If you’re polite, respectful and make sure you stand your ground, you can get through almost anything.”

And remember, if you’re flying with a guitar that’s not replaceable then you should get evaluated by a psychologist as to why you are traveling with it in the first place.

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