But what if we learned the structure and the music theory behind those chords first? What if we put the time into gaining a complete, academic understanding of what we’re playing?
People shy away from music theory because it’s hard. And I’m not going to tell you otherwise.
Quite the opposite, in fact; music theory is incredibly difficult.
But if you take it one piece at a time, theory isn’t nearly as daunting, and it eventually comes together as you understand why you’re playing what you’re playing.
It’s a better alternative to raw memorization because it provides structure.
Learning and memorizing, though they can cross paths, are not the same and certainly don’t benefit the human mind in the same manner.
So we’ll tackle some real, substantive learning by looking at the theory behind seventh chords. We’ll learn how to build them from the ground up.
Step 1: Learn the Formal Definition of Chords and Triads
To begin, we need to know the formal definitions of a chord and, more importantly, a triad.
Chords are straightforward, either two/three or more notes depending on who you ask. Now, a triad:
Howard Hanson and Carlton Gamer, 20th-century music theorists, expanded the term “triad” to refer to any collection of three different pitches, regardless of interval. While that definition is more palatable, we need to stick with the formal definition here.
Thus, our triads are constructed in three parts:
01. A root note 02. Third interval (major or minor) 03. Fifth interval (diminished, perfect or augmented).
The following is an example of a triad.
In order to find each interval, we have to count semitones (frets) from the root note. For example, a perfect fifth is seven frets from the root, a major third is four frets from the root and so on. For help counting, refer to this guitar interval chart or the full article at Guitar Chalk.
If you’re comfy, we’re ready to define and build our seventh chord.
Step 2: Learn the Formal Definition of a Seventh Chord
Yes, they have a “bluesy” sound, but what does that mean? A seventh chord is a triad with an added seventh interval from the root. That seventh interval can be either major, minor or diminished, and is typically what makes the chord sound bluesy.
Thus we need the following components to build our seventh chord:
When building our seventh chords, we want to focus primarily on the root note and the three additional intervals. To do that, we’ll build two common (tertian) seventh chords:
Interval Pattern: Major Third - Perfect Fifth - Major Seventh
Consider the following root note:
Per the interval pattern, we can start by adding a major third and perfect fifth. The major third is four semitones above the root while the perfect fifth is going to be seven semitones above the root.
If you count straight up, seven spots from the second fret on the sixth string, the note you fall on is C#. That means the same C# note at the fourth fret on the fifth string will suffice as our perfect fifth. The same reasoning can be applied to the major third (third string and third fret).
We can use the same counting tactic to place our major seventh interval.
Our major seventh interval (an F) falls on the fourth string at the third fret. How did we get there?
If we know that a major seventh interval falls 11 semitones from the root note (from this graphic), which is an F sharp, we count up 11 frets giving us our F, which can also be played at the fourth string on the third fret.
2: Minor Seventh
Interval Pattern: Minor Third - Perfect Fifth - Minor Seventh
Start with the following root note.
Per the interval pattern, we add a minor third and perfect fifth.
The perfect fifth is easy, since it forms a power chord shape (fifth string, seventh fret) with our root note. Since a minor third on the fifth string falls at the third fret (three semitones above the root) we can use the octave of that note on the third string at the fifth fret, to grab our minor third.
Lastly we add our minor seventh interval, falling ten frets up from the root.
Ten frets up from the root note (A) would be a G, which can be played by your pinky finger on the second string at the eighth fret.
Other Chords and Resources
Some other tertian seventh chords would include the dominant, diminished and half-diminished, all of which are covered in the full article. Now that you know how to build a seventh chord, it’ll be a great deal easier to understand and memorize others.
Epiphone has introduced its new Epiphone owners newsletter app, also known as EON.
It's the first official app designed especially for new and longtime owners of Epiphone instruments.
The app is free to fans that own Android and IOS devices. EON owners will receive daily updates of Epiphone artist news, exclusive interviews, product demonstration videos, product updates and special offers and giveaways, as well as tips and techniques for acoustic and electric guitar and bass players.
"The EON app is a new and exciting way to unite our fans both young and old from around the world," says Jim Rosenberg, Epiphone's president.
"We wanted to make an app that would not only be the premier source for Epiphone news and information but would also be a useful tool and companion for our players on the road, at rehearsals or gigs or just practicing at home."
In the video below, Guitar World's Paul Riario discusses the new app.
Why do session guitarists need a variety of guitars?
Reason 1: Be prepared. Just like a plumber or carpenter, the right tool for the right job goes a long way to making the music we are playing sound more appropriate for the situation.
When you walk into a session, you never know, or most of the time, are unaware of the style you will be asked to play that day. A jingle can span the realms of classical to country to metal to jazz. And sometimes all in the same cue if you are playing a soundtrack!
Budgets are usually tight and you may be required to do an instrumental choreography to switch in the middle of a cue from acoustic, to classical, to electric and back again...all in one take...while sight reading. THANK GOD I do not get called for those! Well, never say never...but you never know, and it is important to be prepared. By the way, often enough, a certain guitar is often requested by a client! If it worked for them before, they know it will work for them again. I rarely sell guitars. You never know.
Reason 2: Attitude. I find that I play completely different on each of my instruments. They tend to sway my attack, attitude, feel. When I pick up a Strat, I tend to do more chimey chordal things. My playing is bluesier. My feel is looser. I play fewer notes, but find I play with more emotion.
A polar opposite is a Les Paul. On a Paul I tend to play with a harder edge, more attitude. I dig in deeper and play heavier, more in your face. On an Ibanez RG I play faster, want to shred more. I use a more modern approach, dial in more distortion ... actually as much as I can get! And those are only three. I have some specialty instruments that may not get used often, but when they do, I know exactly what's going to happen. I pick up my 1949 L7 and it's nothing but jazz. Old school bop. I pickup my custom made Ted Crocker Hot Rod (Thanks again, Robbie Sambat!) and I am down south in Mississippi and playing the dirtiest deepest low-down blues and wishing I were a better slide player!
Maybe it's the history, or maybe my own influences, that cause me to play differently. I see a Strat and I think Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Johnson. I see a Paul and I think Joe Perry, Jimmy Page and Paul Kossoff. I see and Ibanez and I think Steve Vai and Paul Gilbert. These players are burned into my guitar mind and they aren't going away. Maybe you see things differently. It's all good.
But the way I play is seriously influenced by the guitar. Or maybe it's the wood, the neck, or the sound of the pickups. I am certain they all contribute greatly. So when I am playing on a session, I want to give it the best I've got. Not only the right notes, but the feel and appropriate sound.
Reason 3: There is one final reason we carry, own and cherish so many guitars. BECAUSE I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING BETTER THAN BEING SURROUNDED BY A BUNCH OF BAD-ASS GUITARS AND GETTING TO PLAY THE HELL OUT OF THEM EVERY DAY!
Till next time …
Ron Zabrocki on Ron Zabrocki: I’m a session guitarist from New York, now living in Connecticut. I started playing at age 6, sight reading right off the bat. That’s how I was taught, so I just believed everyone started that way! I could pretty much sight read anything within a few years, and that aided me in becoming a session guy later in life. I took lessons from anyone I could and was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors, including John Scofield, Joe Pass and Alan DeMausse. I’ve played many jingle sessions, and even now I not only play them but have written a few. I’ve “ghosted” for a few people that shall remain nameless, but they get the credit and I got the money! I’ve played sessions in every style, from pop to jazz.
Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family.
Alyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together.
Friends since she was 7 and he was 9, they became a couple in their teens, then husband and wife.
Somewhere along the way, they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo who’ve married their love of adventure with a desire to build on foundations laid by their musical forebears.
Their first song-crafting expedition, along the Mississippi’s Great River Road, became their 2013 debut, Riverman’s Daughter.
For its follow-up, they rode the rails — and wound up recording not only a studio album, but a documentary and live album on the move and in venues from Sun Studio to Amtrak’s famed City of New Orleans train.
Their new long-player, the explosive and aptly named Glory Bound, was helmed by Grammy-nominated producer Wes Sharon (John Fullbright, Parker Millsap) at his 115 Recording studio in Norman, Okla., and will be released on May 19, 2015 on 12 South Records via RED Music (through Sony Music).
Here’s “Mama,” a track from this fantastic collection. An Americana, gospel-tinged plaintive tune with some great harmonies and a simple accompaniment.
The Grahams share, “Elvis’s, ‘That’s All Right Mama’ was cut in 1954 at the now legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. Thanks to Cody Dickinson, we had the incredible opportunity to record our song, “Mama” live in the same space, standing in the same spot (marked by a piece of tape on the ground) as the King. Not only were all the ghosts of American music watching over us and cheering us on but we know beyond a doubt that Sweet Adeline (Mama) was beaming with pride from up above. If these walls could talk” takes on new meaning performing in this small magical space in the heart of Memphis.”
Recording in Oklahoma holds special significance for a couple raised as Dylan-loving New York City suburban kids who spent weekends strumming campfire songs in the Adirondacks. Like many Dylan fans, they traced their way back to his greatest inspiration.
Simultaneously, the band will release Rattle the Hocks, a musical documentary focusing on the live recording and the relationship between the railroad and American roots music. Both film and album (which will be released digitally on May 19) were directed and produced by Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. The Grahams debuted the film at this winter’s Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City.
“After we recorded Riverman’s Daughter, we were listening to a lot of Woody Guthrie,” Alyssa explains. “The song ‘Farmer Labor Train’ kept sticking in our minds, so we wanted to write a song about trains. We wrote ‘Glory Bound,’ then decided that we really wanted to ride the trains in honor of Guthrie, Lead Belly and other old folk legends who used the train system to bring voices together. We had to go to Oklahoma, obviously, because Woody was our mentor.”
The late Static-X frontman Wayne Static's cause of death has reportedly been revealed as “mixed prescription drug (oxycodone, hydromorphone, alprazolam) with alcohol toxicity (hours) due to chronic prescription drug and alcohol abuse (years).”
"On November 1 , at approximately 0700 hours, [Wayne] and his wife went to bed. His wife stated that just prior to going to bed, he crushed one-half of a 30 mg oxycodone pill and consumed it.
"The oxycodone had been prescribed to his wife. He also drank an unknown amount of alcohol. His wife awoke at around 1530 hours. She found the decedent dead in the bed and called 911 at 1547 hours. Paramedics arrived and confirmed death at 1600 hours, noting rigor mortis and lividity. There was no evidence of foul play or any indication a struggle had taken place."
"[Wayne's] wife said he took oxycodone, Xanax (alprzolam) and alcohol to relive panic attacks. He took Xanax on a daily basis and was compliant with the prescribed dosage. His wife stated he would occasionally have his own prescription for oxycodone, but he would usually take hers. The decedent also had a history of gynecomastia … His wife stated she and the decedent had a history of cocaine and ecstasy abuse, but they stopped using illicit drugs in 2009.
"The decedent's mother stated he was a self-admitted alcoholic. She believed his drinking had been a problem for about two years. His wife and his mother stated he was not suicidal."
Static, whose real name was Wayne Richard Wells, was just getting ready to head out tour with Powerman 5000 and Drowning Pool when he was found dead at his home in California November 1, 2014, at age 48.
We will update you when more information surfaces.
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the April 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.
PLATINUM AWARD WINNER
Maple is the tonewood of choice for the back and sides of most acoustic archtop and jazz guitars, but relatively few flattop guitar models have maple bodies.
Part of the reason is that attributes like impressive volume projection, bright treble and exceptional individual note definition that make maple ideal for an archtop are not always ideal for traditional flattop acoustic tones. However, these problems are less the fault of the materials and more due to construction techniques.
Simply put, bracing patterns and other construction details that work fine with rosewood or mahogany backs and sides aren’t always ideal when the back and sides are made of maple.
Maple has enjoyed popularity as a tonewood for jumbo flattops, but most players generally prefer these instruments for strumming loud rhythms and little else (which is why maple jumbos have been the flattop of choice for players from Elvis Presley to Pete Townshend).
Here's your chance to win a one-of-a-kind, custom-built Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar! The guitar, which you see in the exclusive video below, was designed and built by Yamaha’s master luthier, Pasquale Campolattano, at Yamaha Artist Service in Burbank, California.
Here's your chance to win a one-of-a-kind, custom-built Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar!
The guitar, which you see in our exclusive demo video below (featuring Guitar World's Paul Riario), was designed and built by Yamaha’s master luthier, Pasquale Campolattano, in Burbank, California.
It's based on the Yamaha Pacifica 611HFM ($979 MSRP), which boasts great stock features such as an alder body with a flame top, vintage tinted maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, Gotoh locking tuners, Tusq nut and GraphTech saddles.
In addition to the usual appointments, this killer one-off custom model also comes with Lollar pickups (Silver Foil neck and SCFH bridge) and a stunning Blue Denim Burst finish.
Don’t pass up this rare opportunity to be the only person in the universe to own this awesome, one-of-a-kind guitar. Enter now! Just fill out the form below the video.
For more about Yamaha's guitars and basses, visit yamaha.com.
All entries must be submitted by April 30, 2015.<p><a href="/official_contest_rules">Official Rules and Regulations</a>
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Justin Hayward—whose career has spanned a staggering 50 years—has played a huge role in modern music history.
Whether it’s his tasteful guitar playing with the Moody Blues or as a solo artist, or his endless catalog of classic songs—including “Nights in White Satin” and “Question"—Hayward is a true living legend.
Hayward recently assembled a five-DVD package, The Ultimate Collection, which can be yours when you make a pledge to PBS. Included is Spirits…Live, a DVD taken from a recent tour in support of Hayward’s 2013 solo album, Spirits of the Western Sky.
Also included are Justin Hayward Live at San Juan Capistrano and Justin Hayward Live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, both of which have been long out of print. Hayward rounds out the collection with two more DVDs, Watching and Waiting and The Story Behind Nights in White Satin, both of which are exclusive to PBS.
I recently caught up with Hayward to discuss the PBS project, his music, guitars and, of course, the Moody Blues.
GUITAR WORLD: How did this PBS project begin?
It really started with Red Rocks in 1992 when a promoter, who assumed [the Moody Blues] had always played with orchestra—when actually, we had not—pitched the idea to PBS about having us perform with the Colorado Symphony. We had never played with an orchestra before, so we decided to give it a go. Then during my recent shows with Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins, a few people from a big PBS station in Minneapolis came down to see it and loved it. They put together this idea, and I really liked it. It's been a lovely relationship.
In addition to your Spirit’s…Live show, there’s a DVD in the package called Watching and Waiting. What can you tell me about that?
Watching and Waiting came out last November. I did quite a lot of songs on that tour that I had never done before. Even things the Moodies had never done that I had written. They worked well in this acoustic format and were really lovely.
Can you give me the story behind “Nights in White Satin”?
When I joined the Moodies, we were doing cover versions of rhythm and blues and weren’t very good at it. At the time, I was writing and Mike Pinder [keyboards] was writing, and Mike had written a song called "Dawn Is a Feeling." I started thinking about writing a counterpoint to that song about the night.
I remember I was at the end of one big love affair and the beginning of another and came home from a gig one night, sat on the side of the bed with this big 12-string Lonnie Donegan had given me and wrote the two verses of the song real quick. I suppose it was just the random thoughts of a 19-year-old kid who was mixed up in love, had just been dumped and was in love with someone else. It all came together pretty quickly.
I’d like to ask you more about your writing process, particularly as it pertains to your 2013 album, Spirits of the Western Sky, and the song, “In Your Blue Eyes."
I tend to write at night and have a writing room that has a view over some rooftops and out to the sea. That sea is constantly changing and moving and in motion. One night, I was thinking about that and a particular person in my past and it was again on a big Taylor Leo Kottke 12-string that I’ve got. The chord sequence sounded really nice and just seemed to flow. I went down the next day and demoed it and put all the guitars on it immediately to capture all of the ideas I had for it.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Moodies' performance at the Isle of Wight Festival. What was that experience like?
I remember it was a disturbing kind of festival because the fence came down and the security that was there got pissed off and left. The numbers just grew tremendously. It was already sold out with a quarter million people, and there must have been at least another 150,000 around the edges on the hill.
At one point, all of the people on the hill decided they wanted to come down by the stage, and it was chaos. We were extremely lucky, though, because we just had a Number 1 record with “Question” and the audience was really up for us and were very warm and welcoming.
It was also Jimi Hendrix's last gig in England, and he was on a few acts after us. As I was leaving and driving away in a van with the roadies, I remember listening to him. He was such a nice, gentle man. Not anything at all like people would think about a “rock star” who would die in that kind of way.
What are your tour plans for this year?
We start on the road next week with the Moodies and we'll be out for a few months in North America as well as some European dates through June. Then I'll be doing a solo U.K. tour with myself, Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins. Then I'll be back in the U.S. at the end of August. It's going to be another busy year.
I want to ask you about the Moody Blues' 1967 album, Days of Future Passed, which was a milestone. Was it always intended to be a concept album?
It was a lucky series of accidents with the people that came together. The truth is, you don’t sit down and plan a 50-year career and every move and how it’s all going to work. To be honest, in the early days of the Moodies, I didn’t even know what was going to happen next week, let alone planning anything. But we had a debt to Decca Records and they called on us to try and get their money back. They wanted to make a demonstration record that would demonstrate stereo because, in addition to having a recording company, they also had a consumer division and were selling stereo units.
Back in 1967, no one in rock and roll was making records in stereo. It was all done in mono. They approached us about doing a rock version of Dvořák, and the idea was to have people say, “Oh, this classical music sounds beautiful in stereo—and so does rock and roll!” We had nothing else at all at the time and said, “OK.”
The original concept was that in between our rock versions, Peter Knight [orchestral composer/arranger] was going to play the real Dvořák. But one night, Peter came to see us play and after the gig said, “You know? Why don’t we do it the other way around? You’ve got all of these new songs [including “Nights in White Satin” and I believe “Tuesday Afternoon”] and I’ll do orchestral interpretations between them.” So that’s what we did. I remember Decca wasn’t pleased when they received it, but they put it out as a demonstration record. It just took off from there and became a landmark in our lives.
When did your fascination with the Gibson ES-335 begin?
There was a famous English guitarist in the 1960s named Joe Brown who was one of my guitar heroes. He played a 1958 ES-335 Dot Sunburst and I would go see him in my hometown as a kid. It just sounded so great. I really wanted to get that Gibson sound, so I saved up while I was at school and bought a 1962 Gibson ES-335. It was the one I played when I was with Marty Wilde. Marty eventually moved on, and it wasn’t long before I found myself just writing songs and running out of money. I really needed the money and the only thing I had was the 335, so I had to let it go. I’m not sure what ever became of it.
Then a few weeks later, I got a call from Mike Pinder of the Moodies. We met and he asked me to join the band. All I had left at the time was an old 12-string so I went to the local music shop and bought a ’66 Tele, which I still use today.
Then a few years later, when we were in the middle of In Search of the Lost Chord, I decided to get another 335 because that’s what I really wanted. I wound up renting a 1963 model and just fell in love with it. They eventually sold it to me, and it’s the guitar I’ve had since ever since. It’s a guitar that plays me.
I’m sure you must get asked this question a lot, but do you think there will be a new Moody Blues album at some point?
I think there will be audio/visual projects that are done for the band, but I’m not sure about a new album. Right now, I’m making my own records and that’s what I like to do. The three of us in the band now are really enjoying the band’s catalog. The tours have been great and we’re enjoying our own music. The honest answer is, I don’t know but I can’t see it.
Do any moments from your career stand out to you as most special?
There have certainly been some great ones, but one of the most special was in 1972 when we did Madison Square Garden twice in one day.
At the time people still didn’t know what we looked like, and Ray Thomas and I went outside in between shows, bought tickets from scalpers and then gave them away to people on the street. Of course, when they came in to the concert they were like, “Wow! It’s the guys who gave us the tickets!” [laughs]. It was such a wonderful memory. I remember Ray and I standing on the street looking up at our name: “The Moody Blues…Madison Square Garden…Two Shows...One Day!” It was at that moment I think we both thought, “You know? Maybe we’ve made it!"
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.
MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR: Arguing or blasting each other's opinions over stuff like this is a poor expenditure of energy, especially on Facebook, because we all know it takes guts to get aggressive behind a screen and keyboard, right? No. A waste of time, at best. If you comment, keep it kosher. If you disagree, articulate a respectful and thoughtful opposing idea. No profanity necessary. We're just talking guitars.
Modulation is a pristine effect. It’s subtle, not overly aggressive and best employed when it doesn’t substantially alter your raw tone.
Distortion is different.
While often loud and aggressive, distortion warps your signal, completely changing the demeanor of your sound.
So the question is this: Can the two get along?
Specifically, can we use them at the same time without sounding like a chaotic mess? I don’t suppose anyone should say it’s not possible, but what can we do to make it sound palatable?
First, we should define modulation.
In the world of signal processing, modulation is simply the variance of a periodic waveform. In the world of playing guitar, that translates to the following effects:
• Chorus/Flanger • Phaser • Tremolo
The wave variance is most evident in the phaser effect, as you can hear the sound move over top of your amp’s raw signal with relative clarity.
In other words, it’s a saturating effect that changes the flavor of your tone. The same can be said of distortion, which is what makes combining them so tricky.
But when done right, it can sound really good, which makes understanding a few best practices worth the effort. So with a working definition of modulation, let’s look at how to best combine these two effects.
1. Govern the sharpness coming out of your amp’s three-band EQ
It’s not always necessary to have a thick or bass-heavy tone coming from your amp, but if you add distortion and modulation to an already high or piercing tone, it’s going to overload listening ears.
You ought to aim for a relatively benign or “garden variety” amp configuration to preclude your dual use of effects. I’d recommend going with the six-five-four (on a scale of one to 10):
• Bass: 6 • Mids: 5 • Treble: 4
That should give you a full, yet balanced, raw tone.
Avoid tuning in reverb; if you have a presence knob, set that between 4 and 7.
2. If possible, employ your amp as the primary gain source
Distortion is simply the addition of gain to your signal.
When combining with other external effects, you’re better off to dial in gain as part of the single coming from your amp, before you add anything else to it. Most professionals get their distortion from an amp instead of a pedal.
If you’re lucky enough to have an amp with a good distorted tone, dial in gain there instead of from a pedal. If you have to use a pedal, or if you simply prefer your pedal’s sound, make sure to place it after your modulation effects in your effect’s chain.
Good practice for adding effects to distortion is to find your preferred distortion level (gain level), then for every effect you add, drop the gain (distortion) knob by three. Because common sense dictates that we need to cut down the intensity of our distortion to make room for the added presence of the chorus, phaser or whatever modulation effect we decide to combine it with.
This is why heavily saturated distortion is sometimes a tough sell. It leaves no room for anything else.
Think of your tone as a physical piece of real estate, with limited space, that needs to be allocated and divided up amongst you guitar, amp and effects. A pie graph makes for a workable example:
Ideally, an effect should never be outworking or covering up the tone of your amp or your guitar. So to apply this concept, let’s whip up some settings for the Boss DS-1:
Match your volume level with whatever your amp is set to. Perhaps just a little bit louder. Remember, we still want our tone to be primarily shaped and dictated by the amplifier.
Now we move the DIST knob to around three or four (out of 10), and the TONE knob to 12 o’clock on the DS-1.
If the gain isn’t too hot, it will give the modulation a little more room to breathe. Out of the two, your distortion should serve as a background to the modulation, both of which should come together as a backdrop for everything else.
In other words, your distortion should take the back-most seat.
4. Slow the speed of your modulation effect
Chorus, flanger, phaser and tremolo pedals all have this in common; they have knobs that control speed.
Sometimes it’ll be called something different. For example, on the Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble it’s listed as “RATE.” But it always means the speed at which the effect cycles through each wave and how quickly you hear the effect play all the way through.
When your speed is high, particularly on chorus and phaser effects, it can just sound messy. Add distortion and you’re going to get tagged with the “hiding behind effects” label pretty quickly.
So while there’s a lot of freedom with modulation, I’d advise to keep the speed down pretty low, so that it’s hard to tell how often the effect is cycling through and so as to avoid beat or timing conflicts. Think around 9 or 10 o’clock for that knob.
That’ll give you a smooth blanket of flavor over your distortion and under the tone of your amp and guitar.
And sometimes it just takes getting used to the cadence of the right gear. For me that’s the Boss DS-1 and CE-5. For you, it might be different.
Let me hear about it, settings and all.
In the meantime, good luck with your pedal mixing!
In this Monster Lick, I'm using the "B pentatonic major 3rd scale." This scale is very similar to the B Mixolydian scale, so keep this in mind if you're ever chasing that sound but want to give it a harder edge.
Why do I adapt the scale like this? As you might know by now, I base all of my playing around the pentatonic scale. By taking this approach with this tonality, I can still finger the scale somewhat like a normal pentatonic but have the added bonus of being able to keep the tough rock sound.
This lick is a real showcase of how you can create legato runs using the pentatonic. Predominantly, legato patterns within the pentatonic consist of two-note-per-string pulls and hammers. I like to adopt a combination of this with a wide intervalic approach to add an extra note to the patterns.
The tricky thing with creating legato patterns using three notes per string with the pentatonic is the that you will find you are repeating notes a lot of the time. But this can be used to add some chaos to the lick! I embrace the repeated notes but also switch between two- and three-note patterns to add some real madness to the tonality.
You'll notice that most of the three-note lines are based around the actual major 3rd note, which in this case is the Eb, the reason being that this extra note enables a more modal-style approach rather than the traditional pentatonic box form approach.
The stretches may prove a little too much for some. If this being the case, I suggest you start the lick in a higher position on the neck. As with all of these licks, just break it down into sections so it's easier to digest and see what's going on. The main thing is that you understand (from a theoretical standpoint) how I approach this. Once you understand the theory, you can go on and adapt it to your soloing and create your own version of this idea.
Note how I use the added note, in this case the Eb. This is the key for setting up the tonality and the runs. Wherever possible, I try to emphasize the note I'm adding to the scale as much as possible. This is what will give your playing a fresh, new sound.
Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com. His latest album — a still-untitled all-instrumental release — will be available in March 2014.
So you’ve spent time learning some arpeggio shapes. Now what?
Arpeggios are a great musical tool that allow you to make melodic statements using harmonic (chordal) information.
When playing over chord changes, using arpeggios is the quickest way to navigate your way around them.
Learn as many shapes and voicings as you can, and plug them into this practice routine, which will help you get from one chord to the next with ease.
When I am practicing, whether reviewing scales, arpeggios and chords to simply keep my chops up, or attempting to get something new under my fingers, I like to practice in a key.
Giving your practice routines a musical context is a smart, practical habit to develop. For those who need a quick music theory review: When you harmonize a major scale, you end up with these chords: I (Major) - ii (minor) - iii (minor) - IV (Major) - V (Major/Dominant) - vi (minor) - vii (diminished).
The distance from one chord to the next gives us the formula for the major scale in increments of whole steps and half steps and is as follows: whole - whole - half - whole - whole - whole - half.
In this lesson, I am going to use six-string arpeggio shapes that are based on the very common barre chord shapes for major, minor, and diminished (Example 1a-1c).
For this arpeggio workout, we will play in the key of G major. Start by ascending the I chord arpeggio, slide up the neck two frets and descend the ii chord arpeggio, then return to the I chord. Ascending the I chord again, when you finish, slide up four frets and descend the iii chord. Continue in this fashion, always starting on the I chord, and coming back via the next chord up in the key (Example 2).
Once you have this routine under your fingers, try the same idea, but starting on the ii chord. Ascend the ii chord arpeggio, slide up two frets, and then descend the iii chord arpeggio, return to the ii chord, ascend it again, then slide up three frets to the IV chord, and descend it, and continue in the same fashion as before.
I suggest trying this for all seven chords, then try it out in a few different keys to get used to how the routine falls on the neck for each. This will surely make getting from one chord to another a breeze.
Guitarist Adrian Galysh is a solo artist and education coordinator for Guitar Center Studios. He's the author of the book Progressive Guitar Warmups and Exercises. For more information, visit him at AdrianGalysh.com.
In this Monster Lick, I'm using the E-diminished-seven arpeggio and finishing with the pentatonic.
This particular combination works incredibly well for heavy rock or a more progressive style of soloing.
I tend to use this sort of lick to transition between the scales. Because I predominantly use the pentatonic, I find the diminished seven arpeggio is the perfect ingredient to add some ferociousness into the tonality.
The techniques used in this lick are legato, tapping and sweep arpeggios, combined with wide stretches to add to the intensity.
The very start of the lick, I'm using a diminished-seven run that utilizes string skipping and moves up the neck in fourths. If the stretch is too much for you, start the idea from the ninth fret of the G string, for example. As the lick is in the diminished scale, it is always the same pattern or fingering, so it easily can be moved up or down the scale.
There's a lot to take in here, so just work through the lick in parts if necessary. The important thing is to understand the ideas and techniques behind the lick. There's no need to play it exactly as I do or at the same speed; your goal should be to understand the techniques and adapt them to your own soloing ideas.
Whenever I learn anything new, the only way I can retain the idea is if I adapt it in my own way to my own style. This enables me to draw from all styles of players in all kinds of genres.
Ideas don’t necessarily have to come from guitar players. I constantly see musicians doing things I think would be cool to adapt to the guitar. A lot of my ideas come from drummers, bass players, etc. I'm open to being inspired by anything and everything. I suggest you do the same; open yourself up to the amazing musicianship that's out there. If you keep looking for inspiration from the same place, you'll inevitably run out of creativity.
Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It's available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com. His brand-new instrumental album — Ineffable— is out now and is available through glennproudfoot.com and iTunes.
Becoming a country music singer wasn’t high on Thomas Rhett’s list of priorities when he moved to Nashville.
Born and raised in Georgia, Rhett played guitar and sang, and tested the music-industry waters by spending time on the road with his father, singer/songwriter Rhett Akins.
By the time he joined his dad full time in Tennessee, he was focused on attending college and content to gig locally with a cover band.
His father, however, had other plans. He convinced Thomas to perform at a showcase, and shortly thereafter, EMI signed him to a publishing deal. Partnered with other songwriters, including Rhett Akins, Thomas Rhett began landing cuts on other artists’ albums—among them Jason Aldean, Lee Brice and Florida Georgia Line—and signed a record deal of his own in 2011. His debut album, It Goes Like This, was released in October 2013.
Rhett recently became the second solo male artist, and the first since 1994, to land three Number 1 singles from a full-length debut album on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, with “Make Me Wanna” following “Get Me Some of That” and “It Goes Like This.” He is a nominee for ACM New Artist of the Year and is on tour with Florida Georgia Line.
GUITAR WORLD: You are coming off of a very successful debut. How will your second album be the next step?
I think, for every artist, the second album is the most terrifying one to put out because it can either boost your career and everybody can’t wait until your third album, or the second one is terrible and, “He probably hit a plateau on his first one.”
So every artist thinks about that, but I’m so confident in the direction we’re headed, and in the songs we have, that I don’t see how it’s possible for this record to be bad. I think it’s going to be awesome. Just hearing five or six songs from the stuff we’ve already done, it feels big, it feels different and it feels like me for the first time. It feels like every song we’ve done is one that I 100 percent want, and the label 100 percent wants. That’s a good feeling, knowing that your label is giving you the freedom to do what you want to do.
How did you develop your picking and playing style?
Probably the same way a bunch of kids did. When I was 12 or 13, my dad taught me a couple of different chords, and once I learned chords, I never learned to read music, but I learned tablature, like a lot of kids do, and I learned songs that had the chords I knew.
It took me a long time to understand the upstroke of picking and strumming, but once I did, it all fell into place. The next step for me was learning how to sing and play, and that took me a little while, but once I did, it was a pretty natural process.
How would you describe the dynamic between you and your band members? [Rhett’s band features Travis Vance, bass; Eric Borash, lead guitar; Chris Kimmerer, drums; and Josh Reedy, keyboards/guitar.]
Everybody besides my piano player has been with me since the very first day. We were a four-piece band for a solid two years. It was me playing acoustic and rhythm electric guitar, a bass player, a drummer and a lead guitar player. For a couple of years we sounded like the Foo Fighters. Everybody turned their instrument up to 12 and tried to find the best mix out of the PA.
We were a straight-up country music rock band. There was no banjo, no piano, only one background singer and one lead singer. Last year we hired a guy who plays keyboards, synths and guitar, and now we have two background singers, so it definitely added to the dynamic of the band. We talked about, “Do we want a sixth guy for next year?” and we all agreed we have such a cool dynamic with the five of us that we’re set.
For as long as I’m going to be an artist, it’s going to be me and these four other dudes onstage, and I love it that way. There’s something old school and organic about having not a whole lot of people onstage. I’ve come to love it and love the guys I play with.
You also play drums. Does that help you build the groove as a songwriter and recording artist?
Oh, totally. Drums was the first instrument I learned to play, and I can dabble on piano and bass. Sometimes I get on the drums or the piano, follow along and try to be decent at what we’re doing! I love switching it up like that. When I’m writing songs with people who are only knowledgeable on guitar or piano, having that beat knowledge helps my demos a lot and helps on my records.
I’m probably one of the only people that goes in to my producer and says, “Hey, we need to change that drum fill,” or “We need to change the tone of that B3 sound,” or “We need more delay or tremolo on the electric part.” I think it makes me more well-rounded as far as playing shows and, alternately, being in the studio tracking a record or a demo. The fact that I know enough abut all those instruments makes me know how a song should sound and what to put in it to make the song more cohesive. I think it’s made me more of a well-rounded person in the studio overall.
When you write, whether for yourself or other artists, do you have to “think radio,” or think “country radio,” whatever that means now?
Yeah, and I think that’s what’s on every songwriter’s mind. When you finish a song, your first thought is going to be, Is this song a hit? I hate that we think that way, because it kind of takes a little bit of the meaning out of the songs that are being written, but you’re definitely going to think, Can this song be put on the radio? And if not, my second thought is, How is this going to translate in our live show? Where is it going to come into the set, and where is it going to be on the album? Is it going to make the album flow, or is it going to put a weird dent in it? So I just try to write a great song. Whether it’s a ballad or a feel-good song or a melodic song, I want it to be well written.
You’ve been on tour with so many A-list artists. How has that helped you become a better performer?
I’ve been lucky to have toured with people like Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Justin Moore and Luke Bryan. I’ve gotten to play shows with the biggest and best. We played at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden. Watching Jason play at the Hollywood Bowl or headline two nights at Fenway Park—to me, that screams superstar. That means you have officially made it and you are staying around in the big leagues.
Obviously, I learned what a stage should look like, as far as production and lights and pyro to catch your fans’ eyes, but at the same time, one of the big things I’ve learned is the backstage experience, seeing how all of those artists treat their middle-slot and opening-slot acts.
A lot of times, being an opener like we have been, we’re like the freshmen in high school. A lot of people don’t know if they should take you seriously or not, because you’re young, you’re only playing for 20 minutes a night, and you only have one bus. But they have all treated us so awesomely that it’s a great example for me.
If I’m someday headlining my own shows, I know how to treat my opening acts and how to make backstage a very homey place. You can get pretty worn down being away from home, and any way that we can make the backstage experience better for middle and opening acts, we want to do that. I’ve learned a lot from those guys. Production, what to say to a crowd, and how to make backstage a better experience are three of the things.
Alison Richter interviews artists, producers, engineers and other music industry professionals for print and online publications. Read more of her interviews at examiner.com.
In Guitar World's latest edition of Betcha Can't Play This, virtuoso New York City-based "subway shredder" Mike Groisman returns with this blazing tapping lick (with a touch of string skipping) in A minor.
First he plays it (very) fast, then slow. Then he explains the lick.
Very often, Groisman can be found playing "Crazy Train" or "Stairway to Heaven" at various stops along the New York City subway system (as shown in the bottom video, which was shot at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan). If you see him in action while you're down there, be sure to lend an ear. He deserves it!
Stay tuned for two more Betcha Can't Play This videos featuring Groisman, and check him out on YouTube right here.
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the April 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.
This month, I’d like to demonstrate the primary riffs in the Revocation song “Labyrinth of Eyes,” from our 2014 album, Deathless.
It’s a hard-driving song played in a 12/8 shuffle-type feel, and like much of the music I write for Revocation, it moves freely through different key centers.
Personally, I love the sound of dissonance, which may be described as any combination of notes, either in a sequence or played together as a chord, that most people would find harsh or unpleasant.
To me, the sound of unusual combinations of notes clashing against each other creates a tense, turgid musical effect, which is just what “Labyrinth of Eyes” called for.
Kyser Musical Products has launched its new line of American-made guitar straps.
These straps feature a front elastic/leather slip (the "capo-keeper") for secure storage of your Kyser Quick-Change when not in use. The "capo-keeper" also can easily and securely hold a guitar slide or harmonica.
Kyser guitar straps are made of custom-printed poly twill and recycled leather. The strap's unique design features a padded body that leads to an extra-long tail that can quickly be adjusted from 45 to 55 inches.
There are 12 unique, completely custom designs on brown leather and on black leather.
Kyser guitar straps are 100 percent made by hand in the U.S.