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You can't plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
Personal Info
Ben Higgins
30 years old
Born Feb-26-1985
Guitar (surprise!), Karate, cars (American and European), reading, weightlifting (sometimes), horses.
Joined: 11-March 10
Profile Views: 33.076*
Last Seen: Yesterday, 06:00 PM
Local Time: Nov 29 2015, 06:59 AM
13.303 posts (6 per day)
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Ben Higgins

GMC Instructor

Practice Agenda
My Content
27 Nov 2015
Hi all, thought I'd throw down another little ditty for you. This one's a bouncy little pop number.. ok, who am I kidding. It's not. It's got distorted guitars, battering drums and dirty bass. If you like it, sit down and eat smile.gif

24 Nov 2015
I've finally got around to creating my own website... makes sense, seeing as I've been focusing on solo material for a couple of years smile.gif

1 Oct 2015
Whenever we take to develop a new ability, it requires us to learn skills that were hitherto unknown to us. One thing that we often do to try and make this easier on ourselves is to scour the net, or chat to others, for advice.

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Advice is both good and bad. You've got to realise that everybody's experience of life is personal to them and what works for them may be because their circumstances allowed it. Maybe they already had tons of experience under their belt, they were in the right head space, it appealed to their unique way of learning and so it worked for them. 'Them' being the key word. Anecdotal evidence is great and all but it isn't proof of anything and it most certainly isn't a magic bullet to set you on the road to success.

What it can do is make you aware of something you might not have realised. It could be something to do with technique or how to arrange your time spent on it. It could be to do with gear / equipment. It can make you look at your own approach and give you ideas of things to try out. 'Try' being the key word here.

It will always come back to trying stuff out. Physical action. The amount of words consumed can't make up for time spent doing something. At some point you'll have to put hand to fretboard, foot to tarmac, hand in pocket - whatever it may be.

Going back to the idea of having unique ways of learning, people definitely do have different ways in which they judge whether something is working for them or not. Some people have a very logical, methodical way of working. Others tend to be more about feeling it and going on intuition. This is important to remember when you take advice from people. You may read a cool sounding quote from your favourite guitar player but is this guy someone who is more of a methodical, logical type or someone who just 'feels it'?

For example, someone like John Petrucci or Guthrie Govan have immense knowledge, both technical and musical, to impart to anyone who wants it. Yet someone like Jimmy Page, EVH or Keith Richards may have more of a 'it's rock n roll - just play your guitar' approach. Depending on what guitarists you like or what genre you prefer, you may choose to embrace certain soundbites and ignore others - often due to the source. But I say give all advice its fair due. Be wary of all extremes and be aware that the answer is usually a combination of everything. These guys all had different ways of learning things. Some of them were more instinctive and accidental, some of them understand more of what they do while others are just thankful that whatever they do seems to work.

So, when taking advice, consider the source. But don't discount it out of hand either. There are loads of ways of doing things and the chances of one guy having the exact answers you need are very rare indeed. You could spend years on forums looking for the best ways of doing something or you can go and try them for yourselves now. Having some knowledge is good because you can often avoid mistakes such as over training injuries caused by too much, too soon or bad technique. But the rest of your knowledge will come from your own endeavours and will eventually become your own wisdom.

Trial and error - it's the story of life. When's the last time you put this into action? It could be guitar playing or anything else smile.gif
27 Sep 2015
I saw a tv programme the other night and it was about scientists exploring what happens in our brain during moments of inspiration. They used equipment to capture the neurons firing in the brain during different tasks. Sadly, I can't recall enough info or find any supporting text to fully explain the findings but my layman's understanding was that the pre frontal cortex, which is the part of our brain dealing with rational decision making and planning, has a decrease in activity whilst an increase in neuron activity occurs in the right side of the brain, the area associated with creativity.

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An increase in activity in the creative side of our brain is nothing surprising but what was interesting to me was the suggestion that our frontal lobe basically shuts itself off in order to allow the flashes of inspiration to occur.

It was while watching and hearing the data that it occurred to me that this is probably what is going on when we're "in the zone." I'm sure we all know what it feels like to be in the zone. You lose that annoying, restraining self consciousness and are able to let go and get on with the task, whether it's playing guitar or whatnot. Time ceases to be a factor and things just happen.

This is obviously a state that we're all able to access, although it's not always forthcoming by us trying to attain it. But what makes it possible?

Is it the relaxing of the frontal cortex that controls decisions, rationale, planning? That's the part of our mind that would normally tell us what can or

cannot be done, what is appropriate or not. You could say that perhaps this limits us when trying to think outside of the box. But if this part of the brain is temporarily out of the way then we're suddenly allowed to accept incoming thoughts and ideas that normally the frontal cortex wouldn't allow through, like some gatekeeper of rationality.

I find it fascinating how science is slowly identifying real world phenomena that can begin to explain what is going on in certain situations. Before, we only had feelings and beliefs to go on. Such inspiration would normally be attributed to something approaching the supernatural. It still has a way to go in understanding the whole "inspiration" thing but the state of being "in the zone" is something that may soon be demystified and understood as just another state, rather than something that just happens every now and then.

What do you think?
24 Sep 2015
During the process of our guitar learning, we may be unaware of certain elements that may be making us sound like ass.

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Ideally, we don't really want to sound like ass. That's a deep statement, I know. Take some time with it, if you like, before moving on with the rest of the post.

So, what are some of the common things that can make us sound like gorilla butt?

Bad Tone: The ultimate in making you sound like A.S.S. The difficult thing is that good or bad tone is subjective - it is a matter of personal perception.

However, some common things to avoid are:

-Tone that is too muddy and indistinct. Having too much bass frequency below 100hz and/or excess boominess between 200-400hz can give the guitar too much space in the mix and drown out other instruments, not too mention not cutting through.

-Tone that is too shrill. On the opposite end of the frequency spectrum, people can often have too much high end. The more gain you use, the more of a noticeable issue this will be.

-Inappropriate tone for the context. People often use way too much gain, coupled with too much high frequency, on tracks that don't call for that type of sound. Try to avoid an overly metal tone if you're playing a laid back ballad or a blues track.

Another thing that shouts "ASS!" is:

Poor hand coordination:

Many a time people can be adept at shifting chords but when there's a riff that uses a few single notes back to back they often lose track of which finger is doing what and the pick doesn't match up with the finger movement. What we want to aim for is the pick striking the string at the same time the finger frets the desired note. Having both your picking and fretting hand work together will massively improve your overall sound.

One thing that is related to hand coordination is....

Poor finger independence:

You know that feeling when you want to move your 3rd finger and your 4th finger moves along with it? Yeah, we've all been there. Freeing up the fingers so that you can use each of them confidently is an absolute must for any guitarist in any genre. We all need it.

Good finger independence along with good hand coordination is the foundation of being able to play guitar.

Along with..

Timing gets talked about a lot in the REC board and for good reason. It is so integral to music and we've got to be able to confidently handle our timing.

Often we can be playing way in front of the beat or lagging behind. Sometimes, in phrasing, you may consciously desire these effects but before employing them as a musical tool you've got to be able to play on the beat. In time. Not before, not after. Playing along to backing tracks is one of the best ways of doing it - unless you have the ability to jam with a real drummer. Even if the drummer isn't the best timekeeper you can still hone your skills by keeping in time to whatever it is that he or she is doing.

Failing that, backing tracks and playing along with recorded artists is the best way.

So, all together we have:

Bad tone
Poor hand coordination
Poor finger independence
Bad timing

We all started out with those ass-like attributes. After a while, we shake them off and we start sounding less and less like ass. If you devote just a little bit of your practise time to improving each of those aspects (maybe pick one of those to add to your practise a day and choose a different one each time) then soon you will be removing the 'ass' part from your playing!
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27 Nov 2015 - 23:45

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Todd Simpson
Welcome! :) Great to have ya!
9 Jun 2010 - 2:11
Ben Higgins
Thank you man !! :-)
5 Jun 2010 - 15:24
Welcome to GMC!!!!!!! I hope you enjoy your stay and I look forward to cool lessons! :)
5 Jun 2010 - 0:14


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