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"Guitar isn't a skill, it's a way of being."
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Todd Simpson
Age Unknown
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Birthday Unknown
Teaching guitar, learning new styles and techniques, meeting musicians from around the world online, practicing as much as possible.

*Check out all of my Lessons so far in the WIKI!
Joined: 23-December 09
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Todd Simpson

GMC Instructor


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1 Aug 2020

In this video, Youtube guy RHETT SHULL admits that he is closed minded to certain types of music. Even the great RICK BEATO gives him a small dressing down about not being open to other styles of music. Rhett admits that he has been playing the same exact stuff for about 5 years.

If a player doesn’t embrace styles that are outside of one’s comfort zone. It’s really hard to advance as a player. Rick Beato mentions that at first, certain styles seem to be off putting, but one can find some element of something in stuff one doesn’t listen to, that may be attractive. From that root, it’s possible to find new music that one can be attracted to.

Rhett says he is fascinated by old/vintage music and things. As a result, he loves old guitar rock. Led Zep, Blues, etc. Stuff that is older. Bands that are older. Even the modern bands that he listens to are throw backs to older bands and styles of playing. As a result, this has become his prison, so to speak. It’s become his excuse not to grow as a player. He admits that he can’t play modern styles of music. He simply lacks the technical ability to play more modern styles as he’s just not attracted to listening to it, and thus not attracted to playing it.

In this video, he finally recognizes that he is in a RUT. A very big RUT. This happens to all of us at some point. He admits that he doesn’t practice that much, because there is no reason to, since he only plays stuff he has always played.

He does admit that he had a jam session where he could not keep up with the rest of the band since they were playing technical things that he couldn’t do. This is all very important for every musician. Without learning the ability to be open to other styles of music, and be able to appreciate other styles of music, we end up getting stuck playing the same things over and over and over. You may notice that some of your solos sound very similar. This can be very frosting for any player. Once you notice that you are playing the same guitar solo over and over, how to do you break free from this? Also, what is the difference between having your own “style” and just repeating yourself musically over and over?

If you notice you are starting to repeat yourself musically, it’s time to add some new things to your back of tricks. One thing to try is to go to the lessons section right here on GMC and look for lessons in styles that are very different from what you normally play. If you are a Metal player, try to look for lessons on Blues and Jazz, if you are a Blues or Jazz player, try some of the more Metal Lessons, etc. Look for things that sound very different from what you might normally play. The great thing about this is that once you learn the lesson, you can submit a REC, and get feedback from the instructors. Passing the REC is not the point of the REC, it’s more about extending your abilities and getting feedback so don’t feel bad if you need more than one try to get a pass. The REC program can make you a better player.

31 Jul 2020
A lovely version of some overwatch music smile.gif Her other vids are quite well played as well.

28 Jul 2020

This is something that everyone agrees on. You can use a plugin analyzer to see what is happening in your mix. Your Parametric E.Q. plugin will show you what is happening in your mix. It’s a quick way to find problems. However, your ears are always more important than your eyes when mixing. Learning to trust them is a process. It takes time just like learning the guitar takes time. Just because something looks wrong on your computer screen, doesn’t mean it’s always wrong and needs to be E.Q.d out. No matter what you see on screen, shut your eyes and listen to it again. Trust your ears to tell you what to do. Sometimes things can look wrong, such as a track peaking too much, but it might sound correct on the track.

Not every track needs compression. Hard Rock guitars don’t respond that well to compression. The distortion is already compressing it, so putting a compressor on it makes it sound smaller. Let it be dynamic. Use some E.Q. just be careful when deciding to use a compressor on rock guitars. Also, Drum samples are not the same as real drums. Real drums simply behave different. A real drum kit might need a bit of compression to get all of the hits to sound just a pinch more linear. Sampled drums lack the same dynamics and don’t need as much compression. The same thing goes for virtual instruments. A real violin has more dynamics than a virtual violin. It’s more dynamic (great difference between soft and loud strikes/notes)

Not every track has to be in stereo. Sometimes, you might have a stereo source, like two microphones on a piano used to make it sound wider, you don’t need to pan hard left and right automatically. Trust your ears again. If you pan everything hard left and right, you actually reduce the overall stereo feel on your track. Find the right spot for each track. Given your overall mix, which tracks need more stereo width and which need less? Also, you can automate your stereo width, for example, on guitars, say just on the chorus, to make the guitars wider. This will change how the overall track sounds just for that one part. Not every instrument needs a bit stereo reverb for example. The more careful you are about how you use stereo, the more impact it will have when you do use a hard right left pan.

Go in and set the pan on every track, find the right spot in the stereo field for each track in your mix before you start adding plugins. This will get you a bit more familiar with the track, if it’s not one of yours. If it is one of yours, it will give you a better idea of what you need to use effects for on this particular song. It lets you hear what you will need to do once you start adding your plugins. Where to E.Q, compress, use reverb, low pass, delay, etc.


You don’t have to bury your mix under a ton of plugins. You don’t have to put wads of effects on everything. Your goal is to make the song better. Try to make it your goal not to use plugins unless you need to. You can use automation for some things instead of plugins. You can use panning instead of plugins, etc. If it’s a DI track guitar, you need a guitar sim plugin before you can really begin, but that’s not what we are talking about here. We are talking about using too many plugins which can actually end up making a mix sound too busy and overly complicated.

26 Jul 2020

There are a lot of theories on this currently. Some people think you should release an album once per year. Pick the best song and make that the first single. Pick the second best song and make that the second single. This is the traditional method that was used when people used to buy “value added plastic” (CDs). Things have changed a LOT since then.

With the advent of streaming, people are flooded with new content at a level we have never seen before. Furthermore, it’s never been easier to make music. These days, all you really need is a laptop, some headphones (ear buds are often used to start with) and laptop or tablet and you can download enough free software to start making music. You can download REAPER and a free drum program and some other free instruments and plugins and you are ready to go. You don’t even need to know how to play an instrument. You can download VST/software instruments that you can trigger from your computer keyboard or use pre built MIDI. You can download various samples to put together. Etc. You can grab bits of songs you like and mash them up. Many producers don’t play an instrument at all. With technology as it is, you can get away with not even knowing an instrument if you have a good ear and can make use of the technology.

I have released two songs with a musician from IRAN who does not play an instrument. He goes by the name HAMIN. He uses one of the guitar vst programs for the guitar parts. I just come in to play the guitar solo. That’s it. I’m the only real instrument on the track, and so far, nobody has seemed to notice. So don’t think you have to be an amazing musician. You don’t. You just need to be ablet to create something people want ot listen to.

So once you have created a song, now what? Should you wait until you have an album worth of material?


The “New” way of releasing music is to release several tracks over the course of a year, maybe one per month or one every couple of months. This gives you a deadline to work against. What’s better, at the end of the year, you can make a compilation of these songs, and put the most popular ones near the first tracks and non so popular ones near the back. Then you have an E.P. or album that you can put out there as well.

Releasing more songs more often, allows you to be in front of your fans more often. Just one album per year puts you a real disadvantage in the current market. People expect a constant flow of content. So putting one out there each more or so, lets you get more feedback from your audience. It let’s you build your brand along the way.

You can use each song as a way to test your promotional ideas. After all, if you release new music and nobody listens to it, did it even happen?

One thing to try is collaboration. Some collaborators may be way more popular than you are. Collabing with these people can help you get more exposure. However, the other person usually wants to be paid in order to work with you since they are not going to get much benefit out of this. You are. If the idea of paying influencers in your genre to collab with you turns your stomach, try to find people who are roughly at your same level of audience penetration. E.G. similar numbers on socia media etc. At that point you are equals and you can collab if you both just want to. I’ve collabed with people from all over the planet. Each one has been a wonderful experience. Being able to create music with people from various parts of the world is a great part of where we are in terms of technology.

Before you release, pass your song around to people you trust and consider paying a professional in your genre to listen to it and give you some advice on it. Some folks are just not up for paying for pro people to critique their music. You don’t have to, it’s just another pay to play type option.

Try NOT to just spam your new song out to everyone if you can help it. Try not to make the same post every day for a month about the same song. People will just tune out. You can tell your fans you have new music, you can invite them to do a mash up with it. You can have a contest with some sort of prize (one that you buy or one you partner with a vendor to get for free) for people to do a cover version of your song, or the solo etc.
25 Jul 2020

We often hear “Tone is in the fingers” and there is a LOT of truth in that. Ideally, the tone in your amp should compliment the tone in your fingers. Sometimes, folks try to just copy their “HERO GEAR” and seek out the “HERO SETTINGS’. This is perfectly normal. After all, our Guitar Heroes are who motivate us to play and learn. So it’s only natural that we might want to get their signature guitar/pickups/amps/etc. Of course, this is usually early on in a players journey. As we progress, we learn to find our own tone along the way and our gear usually changes a bit as well.

Let’s take it from a ROCK”ish” perspective and I’ll assume you want to have some distortion on a good bit of your playing of lead tracks, as is considered traditional in just about any variant of rock. Clean tones can work as well, but let’s talk about that later. For now..


This is a crucial question. How much Gain/Distortion will you need in order to get to the tone you are looking for. Some people use 3 basic tones. Clean, rhythm and Lead. Other players get way more complicated about it. It’s a good idea to start with the basic 3 tone types though and go from there. It’s a good idea to not over do it with gain. Too much gain can really over compress / squeeze your tone and add a lot of extra noise. So always try to use just enough gain to get what you are going for. How much or little gain you use will be determined by what you are trying to play. The more complicated bits, you may need to back off a bit Don’t just crank it to 10 and go from there.

Tight VS Loose is often describe how much bass is being used on a given distorted tone. If a tone has more bass, it can be described as sounding “loose” where a tone with a bit less bass can be described as “tight”. You will often hear people talking about using a tube screamer to “tighten” up their tone. They use the tube screamer as a “clean boost” which is to say not using much distortion from the pedal, mostly using the volume knob before say an amp head. This drives the input of the amp a bit harder without creating too much bass input which would make it feel “loose’. Also, most tube screamer pedals have a “high pass filter” (letting most of the sound pass through, and trimming out some bass along the way). This helps to tighten up the tone. If you don’t use a clean boost/high pass, and just crank the gain knob on the amp instead you can get a much “looser” tone. DOOM Metal often makes use of this type of loose tone.

With loose tone, the notes can blur together and it can lack detail and clarity. However, if this is what you are going for in your tone, then more power to you.


Dynamic tone is often best used when playing guitar parts that are complex and have multiple layers. Compressed tone, is often best used when playing DOOM Metal riffs that ring out and shift to feedback.


“Modern” tone typically has a bit less fuzz character to it. “Fuzzy” tone, obviously tends to have a bit more. Each one has it’s purpose and sometimes, as with all these, you will blend both to get what you want. Orange Amps tend to be more “Fuzzy” amps. Doom bands LOVE orange amps for this reason. Bands like Periphery have more of a “Modern” tone which does better with fast picked passages/triples etc. Things that require fast stops and where notes running together would not help it sound better

Tube Based Distortion can sound a bit more complex and sometimes more interesting than solid state based distortion but not always. Like everything else here, these are just terms for reference. Getting your own sound/tone will mean working through these variables to find what works best for what you're going for.

So take all the variables into account and start tweaking your settings. These things apply to sims and to real amps. Good sims try to replicate the behavior of a real amp. Great sims to a convincing job of it. Rules are only there go guide you as you move forward in seeking your tone. The rules are there to be broken if that is what best serves your music. Play on!

Before one can start “seeking tone” it’s important to understand some of the terminology that people use to typically describe a given type of tone. Your tone should also match the intention of your playing on a given track.

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16 Jul 2020 - 3:42

I saw your post on Stylus Picks and I was wondering how easy it was to transfer to a normal guitar pick after practicing with one of them. I was also wondering if I should consider the booklet that it comes with. I can AP at 180 BPM(sixteenth notes) and I am still interested in becoming faster. I want to hit the 240 range at the very least.
Thank You,
21 Nov 2011 - 8:26
Great work on the mix for our project! You're awesome!
28 Jan 2011 - 9:13
We really enjoy you at the chats. :) I would be thrilled to have you make some video lessons too! :D
1 Oct 2010 - 2:54


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