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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    A question I’m often asked, aside from, “How can you possibly be that good looking?” is, “What do you do to warm up?”

    Personally, I don’t think about warming up that much, maybe not as much as most players do. But we’ve been touring a lot lately, and, especially in Europe, there just aren’t any heaters anywhere.

    So, basically, I am freezing all day long. Then I’m given a guitar five minutes before we go onstage, and I’m expected to be able to burn right from the start! And there I am, frozen to the bone. So I will usually grab my guitar a few minutes before the show and play through a bunch of the riffs and patterns illustrated in this month’s column.

    It’s good to have your fingers warmed up a little for when that first solo comes along in the first song, so one of the things I like to warm up with are legato exercises, where I’ll pick the string once and then sound a long series of notes in a repeating phrase using only hammers-ons and pull-offs.

    A good example of something I’ll warm up with is the lick shown in FIGURE 1, which is a repeating six-note sequence performed entirely on the high E string. Play the lick over and over, speeding up and slowing down while striving to articulate every note as clearly as possible. The first note, G, 15th fret, is fretted with the pinkie, followed by a pull-off to D, 10th fret, fretted with the index finger.

    I then hammer onto the 12th fret with my middle finger to sound E, followed by another hammer up to the initial G note, and then a double pull-off back down the string to E and D. The sequence then repeats on each subsequent downbeat, but I hammer-on back up to the initial high G, so that the rest of the phrase is performed entirely with hammers and pulls, which is great for developing good fret-hand “traction.”

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    Last month, I detailed several of the primary riffs in the Revocation song “Labyrinth of Eyes,” from our 2014 album, Deathless. Those riffs, as you recall, are played in 12/8 meter.

    This month, I’d like to show you the song’s remaining primary riffs, which introduce an unexpected twist by shifting to two bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4.

    One could alternatively count these phrases as being in straight 4/4 time, as two bars of 4/4 totals the same number of beats, eight, but once you play through these figures, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the rhythmic merit of utilizing the shifting meters, which correspond to the phrasing in a more logical way.

    While maintaining the inherent eighth-note triplet feel of 12/8 meter—three evenly spaced eighth notes per beat—I begin with a phrase based on Afdim7, as shown in FIGURE 1.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    In the previous two String Theory columns (March and April 2015 issues), I introduced a pair of hexatonic (six-note) scales that are comprised of the same six notes and may be thought of as opposing sides of the same musical coin—the dark, serious-sounding E minor hexatonic (E F# G A B D) and its one useful mode, the beautifully bright D major hexatonic (D E F# G A B).

    I’d now like to turn you onto another interesting and appealing hexatonic scale that shares five of these scales’ six notes, C Lydian hexatonic.

    C Lydian hexatonic is formed by taking E minor hexatonic and raising the fifth, B, one half step, to C, and reorienting all the notes to a C root: C D E F# G A.

    FIGURE 1 illustrates this metamorphosis and the close relationship between the two scales’ fingerings in seventh position, with each note’s function indicated, relative to the E and C roots.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

    Additional Content

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    Back in the Eighties, during the heyday of metal, bands like Van Halen, Judas Priest and the Scorpions were releasing incredible, killer albums packed with amazing guitar playing.

    Today, I feel that the majority of metal is more focused on rhythmic parts with less harmonic movement than what I think of as the approach representative of Eighties-style metal. It is from that perspective that I put together the three “classic” metal-style riffs featured in this month’s column.

    During the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) days of the late Seventies and early Eighties, bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were forging blazing, melodic metal earmarked by powerful and memorable song riffs.

    FIGURE 1 is indicative of Iron Maiden’s style: above the progression of three different pedal tones, shifting two- and three-note chord shapes create the melodic content that keeps this part interesting and moving forward.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    When Joan Jett recorded the title track to I Love Rock ’N’ Roll, which was a cover version of a song originally released in 1975 by the British band the Arrows, little did she know that this pagan battle cry would in time earn her status as one of rock’s most iconic figures.

    Upon its release in 1982, the song stayed at Number One on the Top 100 chart for seven weeks and has since been named Billboard’s 56th greatest rock song of all time.

    Now, more than three decades later, Joan is still rockin’ hard, and rock and roll is still alive and well. In this extended edition of In Deep, we’ll examine the roots of true rock and roll guitar and its essential, foundational elements that were chiseled into stone by the style’s founding father—the immortal Chuck Berry—the man whose playing would inspire and inform many of the world’s greatest rock bands, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to AC/DC.

    One of the small handful of records regarded as the “first” rock and roll song is “Rocket 88,” recorded in March 1951 by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Brenston was actually a horn player and singer in guitarist/keyboardist Ike Turner’s band, the Kings of Rhythm, and he is credited with writing “Rocket 88.”

    roduced by Sam Phillips in Memphis and released on the Chess label, “Rocket 88” went straight to Number One and it’s incredible success enabled Phillips to launch Sun Records.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

    Additional Content

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    These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the May 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.

    When Paul McCartney came calling in 1978, Laurence Juber scrapped a lucrative career as a London-based studio musician and joined McCartney’s Wings as lead guitarist.

    When that band folded in 1981, Juber moved to the U.S., resumed his session career (playing guitar on TV shows like Happy Days and Family Ties and film soundtracks like Splash and Dirty Dancing) and also found success as a film composer (World Gone Wild, Little Sweetheart, A Very Brady Christmas).

    From 1990 onward, however, Juber channeled most of his energies into solo acoustic guitar playing, resulting in an incredible string of creative-arrangement albums (LJ Plays the Beatles, Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar) and original compositions, nearly half of which he performs in DADGAD tuning, for which the low E, high E and B strings are tuned down one whole step. Let’s examine some of the ax man’s awe-inspiring “unplugged” output.

    In 1990, LJ issued his solo acoustic debut, Solo Flight, which features “In Your Arms,” a composition built around an A minor chord with different harmonic colorations, not unlike FIGURE 1.

    For the rest of this column, including the tabs, check out the May 2015 issue of Guitar World.

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    Some more incredibly rare video of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan in action has suddenly become available on YouTube.

    Below, watch Buddy Guy jamming with Vaughan on July 30, 1989, at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago.

    The event? Guy's 53rd birthday party.

    This video mysteriously appeared on YouTube March 19. We think the top commenter (on YouTube) puts it best:

    "Wow is all I can say!!!!! I've heard this was video taped from a few people, even saw a couple grainy photos from said video. But I never thought any of this would see the light of day! Please tell me the whole thing was recorded!!?"


    Additional Content

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    Great guitar solos are sometimes romanticized to the point of mythical proportions.

    It's one of the few areas where it's still considered acceptable to concede to yourself, "You can't teach that."

    While this might seem like a harmless idiom to utter when you're filled with a sense of awe, it can also be detrimental to your longterm growth as a musician.

    Jazz musician and author Mark Levine opens up his book Jazz Theory with the following statement: "A great jazz solo consists of: 1 percent magic and 99 percent stuff that is Explainable, Analyzable, Categorizeable, Doable."

    Even though he is specifically discussing Jazz, this mentality can be applied to any genre and seems to refute the wisdom of that previous expression we were discussing.

    Does this mean we should no longer be awe-inspired when listening to a great guitar solo and only focus on analyzing it like some kind of a science experiment? Of course not. You shouldn't think too hard about why you like a piece of music the first few times you hear it. Just enjoy it.

    But instead of feeling inferior or intimidated by the piece, let yourself become motivated by it. Thinking to yourself, "That sounds incredible. I want to learn how to play like that" Is far better than, "I'll never be that good — that stuff can't be taught." The latter is self-defeating and boxes you in with imaginary boundaries.

    A revelation I had as a beginner guitarist was when I became aware of the existence of scales. Before that moment, I had always thought the opposite of Levine's quote. But once I realized there was a road map that could help guide any musician through lead playing, I had officially become enamored with the instrument.

    So is that the secret to great guitar solos — knowing scales? Unfortunately, no. But it's definitely a good start.

    From that point, you should take the time to find out what type of player you are. Do you feel impelled to improvise on the fly? Or do you prefer sitting down and methodically crafting a guitar solo? These are two sides of the same coin but can definitely spark some intense debate among veteran players. Many believe guitar leads should be improvised and felt "in the moment." I'm sure some of the best rock guitar solos of all time have been recorded in the studio using this approach. However, I'm also confident that a decent amount have been labored over meticulously with almost every detail accounted for and thought out.

    Again, both of these approaches can be taught, learned and practiced. But is either one better than the other? I think that depends on your personality as a player and the results you're looking to achieve. A spontaneous performance can potentially breed mistakes but can also add a raw and authentic dimension filled with surprisingly good results.

    Conversely, a deliberate and calculated solo section can sound like every piece fits almost perfectly together but might lack some "soul." In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to go. What matters is the end result.

    The similarities can be likened to that of other creative works such as stand-up comedy or acting. Some comedians have pre-planned jokes and bits they're constantly perfecting so that they can effectively deliver the punch line to an eager audience. Whereas other comedians might do better when they feed off of the spontaneity of the moment and ad-lib a substantial portion of their set.

    Likewise, some actors and actresses feel more comfortable on stage performing in a more improvisational environment (as opposed to acting in a movie where scenes can be done over and over again to obtain the perfect performance). As long as the final product is of high caliber and the audience is entertained, it's up to the performer to decide which approach is best for them.

    So this is where we'll leave it for Part 1 of this column. In the next installment, I'll discuss specifically how both approaches are very similar to each other in their theoretical explanations and applications. Except that one is accomplished in real time while the other is composed before the actual performance.

    I'll leave you with a fascinating video from researcher Charles Limb, where he discusses the neurological effects that musical improvisation has on the brain. Enjoy!

    Photo: Dani_vr via photopincc

    Chris Breen is a New Jersey-based guitarist with 14 years of experience under his belt. He, along with his brother Jon (on drums) started the two-piece metal project known as SCARSIC in 2011. Due to a lack of members, Chris tracked guitars, bass and vocals for their self titled four-song demo (available on iTunes, Spotify and Rhapsody). They have recently been joined by bassist Bill Loucas and are writing new material. Chris also is part of an all-acoustic side project known as Eyes Turn Stone. Chris teaches guitar lessons as well (in person or via Skype). If you're interested in taking lessons with Chris, visit for more info.

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    Keller Williams’ 20th official album release, Vape, finds the prolific singer/songwriter/guitarist offering up 10 original tracks — some road tested and some brand new.

    The album goes on sale April 20, 2015, but fans can pre-order Vape now at and be automatically entered into Keller’s “Get All Good at All Good with Keller” contest.

    With a hugely successful career spanning two decades under his belt, the music on Vape somehow finds Keller more confident delivering his signature, often off-the-wall storytelling.

    Backed by a variety of fellow musicians including Samson Grisman/bass, John Kadlecik/guitar, Ronnie McCoury/mandolin, Rob McCoury/banjo, Alan Bartram/bass, Jason Carter/fiddle and others - Keller’s playing has never been more precise and versatile.

    Get a first listen and free download of the new track “Mantra.”

    Keller’s “Get All Good at All Good with Keller” Vape pre-sale contest offers his fans another unique opportunity for an amazing hang with Keller (Keller is known for hosting epic fan contests – previous winners have joined Keller skiing/snowboarding in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, won a private house party with Keller performing, enjoyed a trip to New Orleans during Jazz Fest and more).

    This time around, a lucky fan and a guest will get the opportunity to hang with Keller at the All Good Music Festival and Camp Out in West Virginia on July 9-11, 2015 – flights, VIP tickets, backstage access, golf cart tour (with Keller in the driver’s seat) all included. Details HERE.

    Keller Williams is on tour this spring/summer. The complete list of Keller Williams confirmed tour dates is as follows:

    Friday, March 27 Track 29 Chattanooga TN - Wild South Tour
    Saturday, March 28 The Orange Peel Asheville NC - Wild South Tour
    Friday, April 3 - Saturday, April 4 Alyseka Resort @ The Sitzmark Bar & Grille Girdwood AK
    Friday, April 17 Sweetwater Music Hall Mill Valley CA
    Saturday, April 18 - Sunday, April 19 Earth Jam Three Rivers CA Keller Williams Solo + Keller &
    The Keels
    Monday, April 20 Terrapin Crossroads San Rafael, CA with Phil & Friends
    Thursday, April 23 - Friday, April 24 Pour House Charleston SC
    Saturday, April 25 Georgia Theatre Athens GA
    Friday, May 1 - Sunday, May 3 Republic New Orleans LA Voodoo Dead - 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead w/ Steve Kimock, Bill Kreutzmann, Jeff Chimenti, George Porter Jr.,
    Saturday, May 9 Chics Beach Festival Virginia Beach VA
    Friday, May 22 Summer Camp Chillicothe IL Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass plus Keller Williams Solo late night
    Saturday, May 23 Dark Star Jubilee @ Legend Valley Thornville OH Keller & The Keels
    Friday, June 5 Mountain Music Festival Minden WV
    Sunday, June 14 Huck Finn Jubilee Ontario CA Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass
    Wednesday, July 1 Summerfest Milwaukee WI Keller Williams Solo
    Saturday, July 4 Highberry US Festival Ozark AK
    Saturday, July 11 All Good Music Festival Summit Point WV
    Sunday, July 12 Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival Felton CA Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass featuring Michael Kang & Keith Moseley
    Friday, July 17 Northwest String Summit Northern Plains OR Keller Williams with The Travelin' McCourys plus Keller Williams Grateful Grass
    Thursday, July 23 Floydfest Floyd VA Keller Williams Solo, Keller & The Keels, and Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass
    Saturday, August 8 Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival Alta WY Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass
    Sunday, August 16 Peach Fest Scranton PA Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel featuring John Kadlecik
    Saturday, September 5 Backwoods Music Festival Stroud OK
    Sunday, September 13 Lockn' Arrington VA Grateful Gospel
    Saturday, October 3 Homegrown Music Festival Mebane NC
    Sunday, October 4 Luna Light Festival Darlington MD Keller & The Keels

    Additional dates to be announced. Tickets and Info available at

    For two decades, the ever-prolific Keller Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his 20 recordings tell only half the story. Launching in the early 90’s as the original one-man-band, Keller’s ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band quickly became the stuff of legend. Today, Keller’s reputation as an exciting, unpredictable continues to be as relevant as 20 years ago.

    As a very early adopter of the technique called live phrase sampling or looping, Keller’s solo stage show is constructed around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs while accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar and creating samples on the fly in front of the audience.

    More recently, Keller has also become known for his multi-genre musical projects involving an always-stellar backing band — such as the bluegrass-leaning Keller and The Keels, Grateful Grass, and Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys, and his original funk outfit Keller Williams with More Than a Little, among others.

    No matter what the configuration, Keller always reveals himself as an artist of great stylistic breadth and infinite imagination on a continuous quest for the new. Keller Williams has never followed the prescribed path laid out by the conventional music business but rather one of his own making. It’s a path that has served him well.

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    Here's a quick lick or technique that will work nicely in any guitarists "trick bag."

    It's not very musical, but it's something I often use in my rhythm and lead playing. I'm not entirely sure if there's a name for this technique, but I like refer to it as "rolling harmonics."

    The basic idea? You trill on a string with your fretting hand, then use your picking-hand pinky to catch harmonics. You can move your finger back and forth over the pickups, and you will catch different harmonics at different points along the sting. You have to be very gentle with your picking hand, otherwise you will "choke" the string and won't produce harmonics.

    This technique can be performed on any string and not necessarily with just trills on an open string. You can trill anywhere on the neck, but generally speaking the higher you go the harder it is to catch the harmonics. As I previously stated, it's not very musical but it's a cool effect and a great substitute for pick scrapes.

    I recorded a quick video demonstrating this technique using a 1959 Les Paul Reissue through an Orange Tiny Terror amp. That particular combination creates a very decent tone, and although there isn't a lot of gain, the harmonics come out very easily. I made a TAB for my video example — but any trills will be fine for you to try.


    I've heard many players use this technique, most notably Eddie Van Halen. Play around with it and see if it fits into your playing. It's not for everyone, but you might find it useful every once in a while. Next week I will begin a new classical study similar to my previous Paganini series.

    Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Like the headline says, here are seven habits — habits you'll need to get into — that will, simply put, make you a better guitarist.

    01. Visualize: You don’t just have to practice when there’s a guitar in your hands. There’s plenty of time in the day being wasted that you can use to improve your playing. Whenever you have a spare few seconds to daydream or are zoning out in class or at a meeting or waiting in line at the DMV, etc., use the time to go inside your mind’s eye and ears and visualize yourself perfectly executing the lick, riff or song you’ve been working on.

    See and hear yourself playing the part with an expert ease, gliding as one with the strings, “virtually” feeling your fingers and your pick in precise synchronization. Repeat this whenever you can and you’ll find you’re better than you were before the last time you picked up the guitar and that the experience of the real guitar in your hands is enriched for the process.

    An added bonus of this is that when you get better at connecting the disparate experiences of the imagined and the real, you’ll find that the accuracy of translating what you hear in your head through your fingers to the fretboard will significantly improve, as will your ability to transcribe things you hear while away from your guitar (if nothing else, you’ll be floored at how realistic your air guitar playing will be!).

    02. Learn Something New Every Day: This is one of the easiest things you can do to enrich your guitar playing, musicianship and, most importantly, your discipline and motivation. Simply put, find one guitar-related thing a day that you didn’t know already and learn it. And play it. It can be a riff, a lick, a chord, a scale, an exercise, a song, a melody, an altered tuning, a strum pattern, the part of a song you know all of the cool riffs of but never bothered to learn the “boring” connecting transition sections of, whatever.

    The discipline of seeking out, playing and internalizing a new piece of guitar knowledge on a daily basis will feed your subconscious musical instincts, add new concepts to your muscle memory and ultimately aid in your ability to express yourself and perform effortlessly on the guitar.

    Make this a part of your day and you’ll find that as you continue on your journey, one thing will become two, then three, and on and on until you are devouring as much as you can absorb on the guitar, every day!

    03. Jam! While it’s awesome to have perfected that ripping 128th note shredfest in your bedroom or basement, perhaps the most important thing for a guitarist to do is to play along with or to some sort of accompaniment.

    Obviously, playing with another live musician or group of musicians in the same room is the perfect situation (And you should put yourself in those situations as often as possible), but there are many alternatives that can be just as beneficial. Today we have innumerable options, such as virtual backing bands and tracks through the Internet, computer programs such as EZ Drummer (highly recommended for its ease of use and versatility) or Garageband loops, plus apps on our phones that can act as stable backdrops against which we can hone our performance skills.

    Playing with accompaniment such as this will greatly improve your consistency, your endurance, your improvisational ability and your feel for locking into a groove.

    As another fun and educational option, jam along with your favorite songs. You can play along with the song note-for-note as written and improve your chops by executing the nuances and fitting in seamlessly with the rhythm, or you can use the track as a launch pad for exercising your improvisational muscles and integrating the licks you have been practicing. Play along with songs outside of your comfort zone of style or technicality to gain further benefits from this. Jamming along with TV, commercials or movie soundtracks while you’re relaxing with a guitar in your hands can be fun and rewarding.

    04. Record Yourself: There is no better way to see your guitar playing objectively and to motivate yourself to work to become a better player than to record yourself. There are countless affordable media for recording yourself on your own, and when you record, you can listen to yourself with fresh ears and hear the things you like and dislike about your playing. You’ll find it’s infinitely easier to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and focus your practice accordingly.

    Record yourself playing rhythm and then record other complimentary parts such as leads, melodies, counterpoints and complimentary alternate rhythms and you’ll learn about composition, production and ensemble performance. When you begin to focus on these complimentary parts, you’ll find that your vision and scope expands, as do your goals, and as you work to create complete songs, your abilities grow exponentially while you work to write and perform to the best of your ability.

    The other benefit of recording yourself is that you will consistently maintain a record of your growth as a player. The journey of a guitarist is always (or should be) one of constant growth, and recording yourself is an awesome way to measure how far you have come.

    05. Take Lessons: As a guitar instructor by trade, I am clearly biased, but the most obvious and productive thing any guitarist can do to improve their playing is to take lessons. While there is an ever-expanding universe of Internet resources, books, instructional videos, etc., available, nothing can compare to the one-on-one interaction with the expertise of a skilled guitar teacher. A teacher will identify your strengths and weaknesses, sharpening your skills and eliminating your flaws. A good teacher also will help you save time in your development by helping you sift through all of the information out there and lead you on the right path toward quickly realizing your goals as a guitarist.

    Guitar teachers get paid to make you better, and spending the money will make you take your study seriously. Every story of a “self taught” guitarist still involves some part where they learned a lot from someone they knew who was more proficient and knowledgeable than them who helped shape their development, and even the extremely educated and virtuosic Randy Rhoads (who was a guitar teacher himself) was known to seek out guitar teachers whenever he had available time while making history touring and recording with Ozzy Osbourne, so break out of your rut, accelerate the evolution of your playing to the next level and get some lessons!

    06. Focus your practice time: We’ve all heard stories of guitarists with marathon 12-hour or daily three-hour practice sessions, but for most guitarists, a tight, focused 10 to 30 minutes of consistent daily practice will prove more efficient. There is a difference in “practice” and “playing” time, and oftentimes the two get confused.

    Practice should involve (after warming up) maintenance exercises to keep up your chops and emphasize your strengths, and focused work on specific goals that deal with integrating new knowledge and technique. Keeping the time spent on practice to an intelligent minimum, breaking up the topics to be addressed into small chunks, will help avoid wasted effort and will leave time to play.

    In an ideal world, we’d all have three to six or more solid hours each day to spend with a guitar in hand, but for most of you reading this, the time you have available is substantially less. Oftentimes, setting out to practice for an extended period of time becomes a chore for some, and then the practice gets put off if something else comes up. Planning for at least 10 minutes of consistent daily practice time isn’t much of a chore for anyone, and if you get into the habit, you’ll find that you find ways to make more time to practice more.

    Break up your practice regimen into skill sets and techniques, practice them daily, and then use them more efficiently when you’re playing. Let a guitar teacher mentor you through the process of designing a suitable practice routine for your schedule, or do your best assessing yourself and create your own. They key is consistency and brief, yet physically and mentally intense sessions.

    Twenty minutes every day of truly focused practice is tremendously more conducive to development than a two-hour session every once in a while. And if you keep up with a reasonable, steady schedule, you’ll find that those occasions when you have time for an all-day practice session are all the more fruitful for it.

    More importantly, keeping a consistent, intense practice regimen will leave all of your other free “guitar time” available for jamming, improvising, recording and experimenting, all of the while being able to do so with your skills at the highest possible level.

    07. Track Your Progress The growth of any guitarist can be greatly improved by the simple awareness of the development of that growth. As you develop the discipline to be learning and practicing on a daily basis, it is extremely important to keep a log or diary of the process of your improvement in order to further maximize growth. The easiest way to do this is to keep a consistent log of your daily routine.

    While this may seem a bit obsessive, you’ll find that keeping track of your daily practice will help you focus future practice sessions, maintain and continue awareness of steady progress, and also locate particularly fruitful practice phases in your past that can be replicated and upgraded when you feel your growth has stalled.

    Create your own daily “workout log” or click, save and use the example below:


    Scott Marano has dedicated his life to the study of the guitar, honing his chops at the Berklee College of Music under the tutelage of Jon Finn and Joe Stump and working as an accomplished guitarist, performer, songwriter and in-demand instructor. In 2007, Scott developed the Guitar Strength program to inspire and provide accelerated education to guitarists of all ages and in all styles through state-of-the-art private guitar lessons in his home state of Rhode Island and globally via Skype. Visit Scott and learn more at

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    Washington, D.C.-based singer/songwriter Tomás Pagán Motta is rooted in the traditions of Americana and folk.

    Previously recording under the moniker The Petticoat Tearoom, Motta recently released his eponymous debut record, out earlier this month on 8 Gang Switch.

    Motta is now sharing the video for one of the album's standout tracks, "Up and Away," premiering today.

    Directed by Zambia, the video captures the song's wistful essence. “We then improvised the shoot in a national park outside of Baltimore at the ruins of an old religious private school which burned down many years ago, affectionately called 'Hell House' by locals," said Motta. "The shoot echoed the song's turn of phrase, which is about internal dialogue and the power of imagination in changing your circumstance.”

    Tomás Pagán Motta is out now on 8 Gang Switch.

    More at

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    An automatic tuner that connects to your smartphone might sound gimmicky.

    Which is why it's surprising that Roadie is such a practical tool.

    The Roadie automatic guitar tuner, which was created by Seattle-based startup Band Industries, interfaces with your mobile device via Bluetooth and automatically tunes your guitar by physically rotating the guitar’s tuning pegs.

    To tune up, you simply attach the handheld device to a single peg, select a tuning (standard, open G, etc.) on the Roadie app, pluck the string and let the handheld device do the rest of the work.

    Roadie is sleek, easy to use and, most importantly, extremely accurate.

    What really sets Roadie apart is its mobile app, which listens to a plucked note using your phone’s internal microphone before communicating with the tuning device. Despite a smartphone mic’s obvious limitations, the app is as responsive as a high-end floor tuner. Within the app, you can select alternate tunings for a number of stringed instruments, including violin, banjo or mandolin, or even create your own custom tuning.

    Switching between different tunings is a huge pain in the ass. For intermediate to advanced players, this is where Roadie comes in most handy.

    I’d been meaning to learn John Fahey’s classic rendition of “Poor Boy a Long Way From Home” for a few weeks, but the thought of getting into open-D tuning always convinced me to put it off for another day. When I got my hands on a Roadie, however, not only was I able to quickly get into tune to learn the song, I found myself jumping between open D, G and standard quickly and without any of the frustration that often accompanies alternating between tunings.

    Roadie could also be a hugely valuable tool for guitar techs. It’s hard to overestimate how accurate-to-the-cent Roadie really is. That, coupled with its customizable tuning presets and an automatic winder button for changing strings, makes it well worth the investment for anyone needing to maintain a number of guitars.

    The only real fault I could find with Roadie is that it doesn’t recognize any note lower than A1, meaning it’s not applicable for bass or many seven-plus-string guitars. It’s easy to imagine an update to the app that could make this possible in the future.

    $99 might be too high a price point for some, but after trying out Roadie myself, it’s hard to imagine wanting to change strings or switch tunings without it.

    For more information, visit

    Ethan Varian is a freelance writer and guitarist based in San Francisco. He has performed with a number of rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass groups in the Bay Area and in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter.

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    On March 22, more than 30 effect, guitar and amp manufacturers and retailers descended upon the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys, California, for the 3rd Annual LA Pedal Expo.

    Guitar World was on hand to check out all the gear. Yes, we left a little deafer and a little poorer, but we also left with a bone-shakingly awesome rig.

    The LA Pedal Expo, which is open to the public, draws guitarists and bassists of all genres who are eager to add to their effect-pedal arsenal. Since most manufacturers have their own room at the expo, it provides the perfect opportunity to crank up the volume and put each pedal or amp to the test without pissing off passers-by with bits of "Smoke on the Water."

    I mean, er, we definitely didn't play "Smoke on the Water." We'd never do that. We ripped through Angus Young riffs all day ... because we are cool.

    Exhibitors included The Amp Shop, Antique Electronic Supply, Boss/Roland, Electro-Harmonix, EarthQuaker Devices, F-Pedal, JHS Pedals, Keeley Electronics, Kemper Profiling, Lapdancer Guitars, Menatone, Moog, Mugzey Music, MXR/Way Huge, Nace Amps, Neunaber Audio Effects, Oddfellows Pedals, Red Planet, Seymour Duncan, Solo Dallas, Strymon, Surreal Amplification, Tone Bakery, Tone Fix Pedalboard Accessories, Truetone Music, Wampler Effects and Xotic.

    Visitors also got a chance to witness six pedal gurus—Brian Neunaber of Neunaber Audio Effects, Kevin Beller of Seymour Duncan, Brian Wampler of Wampler Effects, Josh Scott of JHS Pedals, Jamie Stillman of Earthquaker Devices and Robert Keeley of Keeley Electronics—speak about the industry, how they got started building pedals and the trials and travails of running an effect-pedal company.

    Show producer Loni Specter's next event, the 7th Annual New York Amp Show and Custom Guitar Show, will take place June 6 at the Marriott-Hanover in Whippany, New Jersey.

    For more information, visit

    Photos: Anna Blumenthal

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    A reader and fellow songwriter recently asked if I could offer some basic thoughts on the nuts and bolts of creating and recording vocal harmonies for a song (a source of frustration for said reader).

    Harmony is certainly a lengthy and complex topic to distill down to a few paragraphs, but here goes something...

    (Note: I'll be talking vocal harmonies here, but keep in mind the same ideas can be applied when creating harmony lines for instrumental parts—a harmonized guitar solo, a string line, etc.)

    So you just recorded an amazing lead vocal for your song and now you want to add a few direct harmonies to the choruses to make them lift, adding some excitement.

    OK. First off, some semantics; when I say "direct harmonies," I mean a harmony line that follows along with and sings the same lyrics as the lead vocal melody line. I make this distinction to differentiate between lyric-based harmony and, what I would call "pad"-type harmony parts, more famously known as "oohs and ahhs." The basic ideas I'm about to lay out below will use the direct brand of harmony for the sake of example, but the same thoughts can certainly apply in the creation of pad-based harmonies.

    Act naturally. Some folks are naturally very good at singing harmonies by ear, creating lines off the top of their heads. Don't dismiss this method of harmony making as "only for the pros." You might be better at creating off-the-cuff harmonies than you think. Sing along with your lead vocal track and experiment with improvising a direct harmony line. See what you come up with. You might stumble upon something very standard that just plain works, or you might discover a line that also works in a unique and interesting way.

    Of course, technically speaking, there are "right" and "wrong" harmony choices, according to the science of music theory, but that said, if it sounds good to your ear, then it's cool. Plain and simple. The only rule in music is there are no rules.

    Ebony and ivory. If improvisational, harmonic exploration isn't your bag and you just want to create some stock, "by the book" harmonies, grab a pen and paper and head on over to your piano/keyboard (or grab your guitar).

    Now certainly, at this juncture, it would be helpful if you were well versed in the ways of music theory, but if you're not, no worries (although I will be assuming you have a very basic knowledge of what notes populate each, specific key).

    First, find your chorus' lead vocal melody line on piano (or guitar). Get it under your fingers. Sing along as you play it to make sure you're playing exactly what you sang in the octave you sang it. Now write down the melody line notes in sequence (C, E, etc.). Once you have them written down, it's time to find their harmonic counterparts.

    For argument's sake, let's say we want to sing an interval of a third (a common harmony choice) for our direct harmony part. Look at the notes you wrote down for your lead melody line, and one by one, again in sequence, find the third note in the applicable scale from each individual lead note and write it down.

    For example, if your first lead melody line note is C (in the key of C), then count three notes from that note to find your harmonic third. In this case, that would be E. Next, find the third from your second lead melody line note and so on. Once this process is complete, you should have a harmonic partner note written for every note in your lead melody line.

    Now play your newly discovered harmony line. On its own, it might sound odd or melodically challenged, but that's OK. Begin to sing the harmony line, with your lyrics, and try and commit it to memory. Once you have it stored in the old gray matter, try singing the harmony line along with the recording of your lead vocal. See how it sounds. If it sounds cool, then congratulations, you have a harmony part that's record ready!

    However, if you're having trouble singing this "weird" harmony line along with your lead vocal line, or you find yourself loosing your note, lapsing back to singing the lead melody line, etc., no problem, you're not alone (trust me; been there, done that). In order to remedy this situation, head back over to the keys/guitar and your paperwork and re-teach yourself to sing the harmony line. Once you think you've got it down, go back to your recorded track, but before you hit play, mute out your lead vocal. Now, with just the backing track sounding, sing your chorus harmony line as if it were (a slightly odd) lead vocal line. Practice it. Get it in pitch and in time just as you would any other lead vocal, and then, with your original lead vocal still muted out of the mix, record the harmony line on a separate track is if it were an alternate universe lead vocal. Once the harmony line is down, un-mute your lead vocal and blend the harmony vocal with said lead vocal. If you recorded your harmony line in pitch, in time, with the same phrasing, etc., both vocal tracks should match up nicely and, shazam, you have a harmonized chorus.

    Now, of course, there are many other factors to consider (too many to cover in this limited space) when talking harmony. What's outlined above is just a very basic, jumping-off point to get you started. However, before I wrap, here are a few additional points to think about:

    • If you'd like to add another harmony part to the above-described and recorded two-part harmony section, creating a three-part harmony group, repeat the above-outlined, piano-pen-to-paper discovery process. This time, though, instead of a third, find partner notes a fifth away from your lead melody line notes. Again, memorize, record and blend.

    • If your lead melody line is sung in a higher octave, you might consider singing your harmony line in a lower octave, under or below the melody line. Conversely, if your lead melody line is sung in a lower octave, consider singing the harmony line higher, above the lead line.

    Go forth and harmonize.

    Mark Bacino is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his Queens English Recording Co. Mark also is the founder/curator of intro.verse.chorus, a website dedicated to exploring the art of songwriting. Visit Mark on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

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    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column on Wesseh Freeman (a.k.a. “Weesay”) and his oil can guitar.

    He’s the blind artist from Liberia who had a video go viral last December.

    You guys responded so enthusiastically that I got in contact with Freeman. Through his biggest fan/helper in Liberia, Sachin Ramchandani, I’ve been able to become friends with this amazing guitarist.

    What I found was not just a one-trick-gimmick video, but a talented and passionate musician who refuses to let the worst hardships get to him.

    Let’s take a look at his primitive oil can guitar and the details surrounding it.

    Wesseh Freeman full guitar.jpg

    Several years ago, Freeman’s mother told him that in spite of his blindness, he had to find a way to become the breadwinner of his family. Using a machete as a carving knife, he spent three days building his oil can guitar. Coat hangers became frets. Nails served as tuning pegs. He even begged local mechanics for old brake cables from motor scooters and turned them into strings.

    Brake. Cable. Strings. (Let that sink in for a minute.)

    Wesseh Freeman strings.jpg

    After completing the guitar, he holed himself away for seven days to learn how to play it.

    “The first time I played it, I pulled a crowd,” he told me proudly. “And the second day [of performing publicly], there was more people.” By the third day, he was earning enough to call himself the breadwinner.

    I should note: Freeman considers making an average of $4 a day a good job.

    I requested close-up photos and descriptions of Freeman’s homemade oil can guitar, and Sachin delivered. The details are extremely humbling and inspiring at the same time.

    Check out the guitars in the photo gallery below and be astounded at the simplicity of his axe. They’ll definitely make you appreciate whatever guitar you’re playing right now.

    One more thing: Many people have asked if they could donate a real guitar; I’m happy to tell you that somebody bought him one. He's still in need of the most basic necessities, and we’d love to see him eventually get his own home. Sachin just started a crowdfunding campaign to help him out. If you want to do something cool, toss a few bucks into his virtual tip jar. (Don’t mind the high goal that's posted on the page; just throw a few dollars in there. Anything can help.)

    Shane Speal is the "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.

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    Prog-Gnosis,Guitar World's exclusive lesson series by Animals As Leaders guitarist and composer Tosin Abasi, is now available through the Guitar World Lessons App and Webstore.

    It joins the ranks of the hundreds of lessons already available through Guitar World Lessons.

    To celebrate this new release, GW is offering the first Prog-Gnosis lesson, "Animal Instinct," for free! Note that all 13 Prog-Gnosis lessons are available for only $9.99.

    Below, you can check out a video trailer of lessons 1 ("Animal Instinct") and 5 ("Thumbs Up").

    In Prog-Gnosis, Abasi, a true seven- and eight-string guitar phenom, teaches the concepts and techniques behind his brilliant playing and composing, using excerpts from Animals As Leaders' songs to illustrate them.

    Over the course of 13 lessons, Tosin demonstrates many of his signature moves, including alternate picking, economy/sweep picking, hybrid picking, thumb slapping, double picking, playing in odd and shifting meters, devising wide-range chord voicings for eight-string guitar, seven-string arpeggios, two-hand tapping and more.

    The guitarist also offers some effective ways to warm up both hands and practice.

    Prog-Gnosis Contents:

    • 1. Animal Instinct: Getting a feel for picking techniques with the track "Somnarium"
    • 2. Economies of Scale: Making effective use of economy picking, and how Abasi plays his solos in "Somnarium"
    • 3. Inter-Planetary Exploration: How to play the outro guitar solo in "Earth Departure"
    • 4. Double Up: Double picking, and the first solo in "An Infinite Regression"
    • 5. Thumbs Up: How to play the thumb-slapped intro to "An Infinite Regression"
    • 6. Lucky Sevens: Making odd meters feel natural, and how to play "Cylindrical Sea"
    • 7. Six Sense: Playing 6/4, and the hybrid-picked arpeggios in "David"
    • 8. Six of Another: More on playing in 6/4 meter, and how I perform the hybrid-picked arpeggios in "David," part 2.
    • 9. Voicing Opinions: Devising chord voicings on the eight-string guitar
    • 10. Turn on the Heat: Effective ways to warm up both hands
    • 11. Rollercoaster Ride: Seven-string arpeggios
    • 12. Two-Hand Touch: Examining the two-hand tapping and odd-meter phrasing in "Isolated Incidents"
    • 13. Connect the Dots: Analyzing the harmonized melody lines in "Isolated Incidents."

    Regarded as one of the new millennium's brightest guitar stars, Abasi has recorded and released three albums with Animals As Leaders: their self-titled debut (2009), Weightless (2011) and The Joy of Motion (2014).

    For more information, visit the Guitar World Lessons Webstore and download the App now.

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    Modern rock/electronica band Seek Irony arose out of Tel Aviv, Israel's burgeoning music scene.

    But it wasn’t until founding members—and brothers—Kfir and Rom Gov relocated to Austin, Texas, that things really began to change.

    Shortly after their arrival, the brothers welcomed several new band members, including Berklee-trained guitarist Alex Campbell.

    As evidenced by the band’s recently released debut album, Tech N’ Roll, Campbell’s arrival takes Seek Irony to a different level altogether. “Devil in Me” and “Skin 2 Skin” reflect dark themes while still tastefully showcasing the band’s ability to combine electronic elements with inspired, hard-rock riffs.

    Seek Irony features Kfir Gov (vocals), Rom Gov (drums), Mikael Oganes (synths), Adam Donovan (bass) and Alex Campbell (guitar).

    I recently caught up with Campbell to ask him about Tech N’ Roll, gear and more!

    GUITAR WORLD: How did you get involved with Seek Irony?

    Back In 2013, I was doing a solo band while I was on a break from school. I was unsure if I was going back to Berklee and ultimately decided to audition for the band. I went down and met Rom and Kfir, and we really hit it off. They gave me music to learn; I auditioned, got the gig and have been full time ever since.

    How did you approach recording for the band’s new album, Tech N’ Roll?

    Rom and I come from a Dream Theater world in our approach to our instruments. My focus was to maintain that understanding on the guitar and translate some of that into the new music. It’s driven and heavy and a good mixture of hard rock and electronica.

    What was the writing process like?

    Most of the new album was written before I was in the band. Kfir and Rom wrote a majority of the songs. For new material, we’re constantly in pre-production in the studio. We rehearse and write there as well as throw down ideas. Some things work and some things don’t, but that’s part of the fun of being in a band!

    Let’s talk about a few tracks from the Tech N’ Roll, starting with "Devil in Me."

    That track has such a great guitar riff. Lyrically, it’s about addiction. It goes off the blues production of call and response. It’s very busy but maintains a dark atmosphere.

    "Skin 2 Skin"

    That’s the track that made me fall in love with the band. It really has a dark, atmospheric vibe to it. It’s about picking someone up at a club with the sole purpose of forgetting about them the next morning [laughs]. It’s another guitar-heavy track.

    What inspired you to want to play guitar?

    I don’t think there was just one thing. I’ve always wanted to be a musician and took guitar very seriously when I was 12. It wasn’t something I was originally interested in at first, but after about six months of playing and realizing I was making good progress, I started playing more guitar and less video games. It eventually became everything I would do—eight to 12 hours every day for years!

    Who were/are some of your influences?

    When I first started playing, it was David Gilmour. His playing is so lyrical, and I was immediately drawn to it. When I started getting into speed and technique I got more into Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. Then it became guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci and Guthrie Govan.

    What made you decide to pursue a career at Berklee College of Music?

    I knew it was a good school, and it became my dream to go there when I was in high school. I remember going up there to audition and getting accepted. I was beyond excited. Then when I actually got there, it was just as incredible. What you put in is what you get out.

    How important is it for a guitarist to have an understanding of music theory?

    It really depends on the player. For me, it’s in two parts. You have to understand why you play guitar. First is the motion and feeling you have from playing and the reason you picked it up in the first place. If you have that emotion but don’t have a good grasp of theory, you might be limited. But then look at it the other way. Suppose you go toward perfect technique and playing all the notes right all the time. You might find yourself playing around the notes instead of through them with emotion. You should really try to have the best of both worlds.

    What’s your setup like?

    It’s pretty simple. I run two 4x12 cabinets. The first is a Kustom 200 HD, the other is a VK 200-watt. They both run into my Boss GT 100 that handles everything. I have the amps set to be as clean as possible and will occasionally throw in some extra effects, but most of what you hear is straight out of the GT 100. For guitars, I’m using Ernie Ball Music Man JP7 and I’m beyond thrilled with it!

    Now that the album is complete, what are you most looking forward to?

    I’m looking forward to seeing this music get to everyone. It’s good demonstration of the merging of rock, metal and electronica. It’s a good medium and I’m glad people are so receptive to it.

    For more about Seek Irony, visit

    James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.

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    Picture a nice Sunday drive on a one-lane country road ... and that idiot in front of you is going 5 mph under the speed limit!

    Odie by Chellee Guitars began as a Tube Screamer-style overdrive pedal but widened the scope on each end to give you more options, or—to get back to that country road—they hacked down some trees and made a four-lane highway.

    Drive, Level and Tone are all knobs I’m sure you’re familiar with, but the Odie has two additional three-way switches—Texture and Voicing. Texture selects between asymmetrical diode clipping, clean boost and Mosfet clipping. Voicing selects between a flat EQ response, a mid bump (classic TS sound) and a low-end boost (great for making a smaller amp sound bigger).

    Each pedal is handbuilt in the U.S., features true-bypass switching and can be powered by a supplied 9-volt battery or a 9- or 18-volt power supply.

    On to the audio clips!

    Clip 1 is a Strat with the Texture set to diode clipping and the Voicing set to mid bump to get that classic Tube Screamer tone. I had the Drive set low, the Tone around 12 o’clock and the Volume boosted to about 3 o’clock.

    Clip 2 is a Les Paul with Texture flipped over to Mosfet clipping and the Voicing on low end boost. It gets a pretty mean modern rhythm tone.

    Clip 3 is a Strat with everything around 12 o’clock, Texture set to Clean Boost and the Voicing set to Flat. While it’s not 100 percent clean, it really fattens up single-coil pickups.

    Clip 4 is a Strat with a humbucker in the bridge. Texture was back on diode clipping, Voicing was on mid bump and I turned up the Tone and the Drive to about 2 o’clock to get a more classic Marshall-type overdrive with plenty of finger noise.
    Street Price: $149

    You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

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