Search My Practice Agenda
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One of the good things of participating in collabs, competitions or shooting out a student instructor class is that you force yourself to practice a little bit more to make it good.
This last weeks I pretty much been involved in making my entry to the latest GMC competition. Here it is:
It's not perfect but I am quite proud of it
It made me practice a lot, specially bending and the wah-wah lick. Not to mention I had to experiment a lot with my voice to find a good way to sing it.
Of course I would like to win one of the prizes (I really really want that wah-wah, because the POD ones only go on full volume disabling the volume pedal), but in terms of practice and fun making the video I am already a winner.
I wanted to buy super light gauge elixir strings (009-042) and by mistake I bought custom light
I thought of changing it, but I decided to give it a try. The gauges of the treble strings are the same of the 009-042 and the gauges of the 3 bass strings are the same of a package of 010-046.
I didn´t like it much the custom light package, but I think it has its uses. It has a little more balance for bending E and B strings, but the overall tension feeling is quite similar to a 010-046.
I think this kind of custom set is good for people who like the extra tension for playing power chords. But, if your main focus is bending, I guess super light strings are a better bet.
It has been hard to keep a practice agenda without real practicing
For those who doesn´t know I´ve a ganglion cyst which was really big and with some pain. Now it has reduced naturally and I feel confident to start practicing again.
As my vacation is ending, I shall start serious practice next week.
For the time being I just practiced a little the last couple of days.
Well, most of you that are reading this are on GMC, so I really doubt you are stuck
You are probably learning much faster than before.
In fact, I was stuck a few years ago. Interestingly enough I just read this article, that actually describes almost precisely how I started having more fun with guitar again and because of that I started improving:
I sold my Epiphone Les Paul custom. I really liked the guitar, but the thing is that I want start saving money for the Gibson one. It´s one of those ironic things: "I liked it so much that I sold it to get the best version later"
I sold it to a close friend. Still I feel a little awkward. Kind of nostalgic...
At least, I am now taking my strat to Denmark.
Lately, I´ve been thinking a bit about what makes a good song.
Well, of course it would be nice to compose a song like November rain , Fade to Black or stairway to heaven, but complex songs with epical solos is not the only way to go.
Recently, I am listening to Jack johnson a lot. His songs are made of simple guitar chords, a few chord melody structure and good lyrics that bring people up.
One of my favorite bands of all time, Legião urbana, had quite simple guitar work.
The beatles also had simple guitar work, yet the vocals were quite complex...
Nirvana, Green day, REM, ... Well, there is a big list of good music without excessive complexity.
I always had in my mind I was not ready to compose things, because my guitar playing is still limited. But when I am gonna actually gonna be ready? Maybe this is the thing that you only learn by doing.
I will stop losing time and starting writing the things I always wanted. If in the future I become more virtuoso, then I can add more complexity to my songs.
Seeing Joe Satriani playing live is actually more rewarding than a good practice session. After all, practicing is also about finding more insipiration and watching one of (if not the) best guitarists in the world is the best thing for that.
I have to say I never saw anything close to that before. His tone is absolutely killer. His techniques are amazing. He dominates every single aspect of guitar playing with majestry. His hand has an amazing opening that he uses for ultra fast legato. His speed picking is unbelievable. His wah-wah use is very insipiring.
The show started with some songs with the new album
In the middle of the show, just his bassist stayed on stage. The guy is a one man band. He played "Going to California" from Led Zeppelin and some other songs just with the bass.
The second part of the show was full of Satriani's hits. When he came back, he started with "Cryin" and that really made the crowd crazy. His guitar really sings! A few more songs and he played "Always With Me, Always With You", with the same feeling of the public.
This session finished with "Surfing with the Alien" and they left the stage for some time. I said to my fiancée "He should come back and play Summer song" The crowd asked for more and they come back with kind of "guitar vs crowd duel" and finally the show ended with "Summer song"
Seeing Joe Satriani live is an absolutely refreshing motivation experience that every guitarist should undergo some day!
Short version: I started messing around to create an Excel sheet to measure speed of playing and here it is:
Guitar_speed.zip ( 3.35K ) Number of downloads: 276
This is very draft, and I think I will turn this into Access database soon. The graph shows an example where sweep picking evolved much more than other techniques, but it´s still the slowest. By the way values are hypothetical My hand is still on recovery.
One of the most controversial topics about guitar playing is speed...
Some people put speed above anything else, the shredder mania. Others say that "emotion" is above everything and going for speed is senseless.
I believe that emotion is far away more important than speed, but the truth is that the latter claim is also used as an excuse, almost a Mantra, not to work on speed and accuracy. Well, we all know that having slow and fast parts can create different sounds that make a song much more interesting.
Watch Muris Mojo Oro as an example of speed lick that creates a deep emotional atmosphere that can not be recreated slowly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAPZCfg8HUo
I just decided to keep track of my speed evolution. So today I was trying to figure out how I could that.
There are so many things that has influence on playing speed, that probably I forgot some:
- Notes per string (2,3, 4)
- Picking strategy (alternate, sweeping, chicken)
- Pattern (horizontal, vertical, diagonal)
- Legato, tapping and sliding
- String skipping
- Guitar you are playing and setup (string choice, action height, ...)
One cannot measure speed of playing by selecting only one exercise. It is simply incomplete. On the other hand, keep tracking of all exercise you make is cumbersome and painfull...
So I decided to take a minimalist worst-case approach: 4 basic skills with challenging patterns. Namely:
- Alternate picking 3 note per string with string skipping (minor scale) - from Muris upstroke focus lesson
- Alternate picking 2 note per string diagonal pattern(pentatonic minor scale) - from Pentatonic Workshop level 2
- Sweep picking 6 string - A sequence with 3 arpeggio types, major, minor and diminished
- Double Bending lick (pentatonic minor scale - first box) - from Muris Advanced rocking tune
My idea is to keep track of the speed where I can play comfortable (no mistakes at all) and the impossible speed. I woud define the impossible speed as: "Anything less than impossible speed can still be played with mistakes"
I will use radar graphs to see how my skill evolves during time. I know that my sweeping is a weakness, and this is an area I will work and therefore the shape of the graph will change with time.
And of course, I plan to post an entry with the new radar graph every week.
Please let me know what you find of this method. I want to improve it over time. And if you like this entry please advertise my practice agenda.
One of my favorite activities is to grab an acoustic guitar and join some friends and keep playing some songs we love while talking, drinking and having fun.
The good part of playing totally for fun is that you don´t have to sing fine. The worse the better ! One just has to know the lyrics and like the song. You´ve just gotta to know a few chords and put your emotion into the guitar. Keep up with the rhythm and let people help you singing. You really play free. I just love it!
Well, I've been in Brazil as a vacation for 3 weeks and there are lots of friends i still didn´t meet. So I invited them to a party this Friday where me and some friends will play guitar for fun. We are taking PA equipment from my brazilian band, making some barbacue, some bottles of beer and stuff for caipirinha. Also playing football on Saturday morning (as we are going overnight ).
If I survive all that I will let you know! Maybe I post some videos and photos (if they are not to be censured )
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