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Speed Picking Exercise 1

Category: Guitars

Learning to speed pick can be quite difficult. Many guitarists do it different ways from circular picking to stiffening their arm and wrist. I recommend trying to keep your arm and wrist as loose as possible and let the movement come from the wrist. Try to minimize the range of motion.

The following exercise is done in 3 parts. Each one should be repeated starting on the 12th fret and working down the neck until you hit the first fret. Then you should move to the next string and repeat until you have played the exercise on each string. I also highly recommend using a metronome to stay in time and focus on keeping the notes even. Find the starting metronome tempo by seeing at what speed you can comfortably play 16th notes, then go back and start with the 8th notes.

8th Note Speed Picking

First, start with 8th notes, just two picks per note.

   1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +    1  +  2  +  3  +  4  + 
e|-15-15-12-12-13-13-12-12-|-14-14-12-12-15-15-12-12--|
B|-------------------------|--------------------------|
G|-------------------------|--------------------------|
D|-------------------------|--------------------------|
A|-------------------------|--------------------------|
E|-------------------------|--------------------------|

   1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
|-14-14-11-11-12-12-11-11-|-(etc.)-|
|-------------------------|--------|
|-------------------------|--------|
|-------------------------|--------|
|-------------------------|--------|
|-------------------------|--------|

8th Note Triplet Speed Picking

Now increase the complexity a bit by adding a third note to each beat and play 8th note triplets.

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Major Scale and Arpeggio - Shape 3

Category: Guitars

Illustrated in A Major

The Shape 3 Major Scale is an alternate moveable root-6 (meaning that the 6th string contains the root of the scale) major scale. This example is illustrated in A major and should be practiced in all available positions.

Major Scale Shape 3

Scale Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 3 Fingerings

Scale Tones

Major Scale Shape 3 Fingerings

Arpeggio Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 3 Arpeggio Fingerings

Arpeggio Tones

Major Scale Shape 3 Arpeggio Tones

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Major Scale and Arpeggio - Shape 2

Category: Guitars

Illustrated in C Major

The Shape 2 Major Scale is a moveable root-5 (meaning that the 5th string contains the root of the scale) major scale. This example is illustrated in C major and should be practiced in all available positions.

Major Scale Shape 2

Scale Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 2 Fingerings

Scale Tones

Major Scale Shape 2 Tones

Arpeggio Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 2 Arpeggio Fingerings

Arpeggio Tones

Major Scale Shape 2 Arpeggio Tones

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Major Scale and Arpeggio - Shape 1

Category: Guitars

Illustrated in G Major

The Shape 1 Major Scale is a moveable root-6 (meaning that the 6th string contains the root of the scale) major scale. This example is illustrated in G major and should be practiced in all available positions.

Major Scale Shape 1

Scale Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 1 Fingerings

Scale Tones

Major Scale Shape 1 Tones

Arpeggio Fingerings

Major Scale Shape 1 Arpeggio Fingerings

Arpeggio Tones

Major Scale Shape 1 Arpeggio Tones

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Warm Up Exercises Part 2

Category: Guitars

I'm already adding Part 2 and, just as before, there will probably be more to come. If you missed the first part, you can find it here: Warm Up Exercises Part 1

Here are a few more patterns to practice for warming up.

Linear Patterns

Legato Ascending Pattern

I learned this pattern from some video I saw with Joe Satriani where he was talking about working on legato technique. This is good both for legato lines and for working on the extension between your index and middle fingers on your left had as you should play each triplet with fingerings 1-2-4. Pick only the first note and then hammer on the next two until you change strings, then pick again.

e|-------------------------|--------------------1h3h5-|
B|-------------------------|--------------1h3h5-------|
G|-------------------1h3h5-|-------1h3h5--------------|
D|-------------1h3h5-------|-1h3h5--------------------|
A|-------1h3h5-------------|--------------------------|
E|-1h3h5-------------------|--------------------------|

e|-2h4h6-------------------|--------------------------|-(etc.)-|
B|-------2h4h6-------------|--------------------------|--------|
G|-------------2h4h6-------|-2h4h6--------------------|--------|
D|-------------------2h4h6-|-------2h4h6--------------|--------|
A|-------------------------|-------------2h4h6--------|--------|
E|-------------------------|-------------------2h4h6--|--------|

After you complete this 4 bar pattern, move up to the next fret, which will actually be 2 frets above where you started, and repeat the pattern. Try to be as smooth and even as possible.

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Warm Up Exercises Part 1

Category: Guitars

I'm calling this post "Warm Up Exercises Part 1" because I suspect that I will come up with other warm up exercises later, so this will be the first installment. I'd like to share these because, while these are not difficult, challenging, or groundbreaking, had I known how to use them years ago, I would be a much better guitarist today.

Stretching

Just like any athlete, you shouldn't attempt an exercise without first loosening up your muscles and joints. This may seem silly, but there are many guitarists who swear by this, including John Petrucci, and I've found that it really does make a difference. Here are a few stretches that you can use to loosen up BOTH HANDS:

  • Forearm: bend your hand at the wrist as far forward as it will go until you feel a stretch in your forearm; similarly, do this the opposite way bending your hand backwards until you feel a stretch across the inside of your wrist and forearm.
  • Wrist: make a fist and rotate your fist, bending at the wrist, clockwise and then counterclockwise.
  • Fingers: use your opposite hand to spread your fingers far apart until you feel a stretch; do this between each set of fingers on each hand and do it in all directions (v-finger/Spock stretch, YellowPages walking fingers position and reverse).

Linear Patterns

After stretching, I like to begin with some linear patterns that stay focused on one string and adjacent frets.

1-2-3-4

The 1-2-3-4 pattern is really simple. You start on the 12th fret, play ascending chromatic notes until you land on your fourth finger, then you slide down a fret and do it again. Repeat this until you get to the 1st fret, then come back up the neck with the same pattern except sliding up one fret after each series of 4 notes.

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Simplifying Chord Changes For Soloing

Category: Guitars

One of the things that overwhelmed me when I first tried soloing over changes in jazz was how fast the chord changes often pass. How could I change scales that quickly and express anything? An instructor I worked with years ago taught me a way to simplify a series of changes by looking at what key the chords are implying. Here's how you do it.

First, let's look at the A section (the head) of Line For Lyons by Gerry Mulligan:

|    G6    G7(b9)    |    Cm7    F7    |    Bm7    E7    |    Am7    D7   |

|    GΔ7    E7       |    Am7    D7    |    G6     E7    |    Am7    D7   |

If you aren't familiar with jazz notation, Δ means "major".

We can reduce some of these chords down to their base forms:

|    G               |    Cm     F     |    Bm     E     |    Am     D    |

|    G      E        |    Am     D     |    G      E     |    Am     D    |

Knowing that ii-V is the most common chordal movement in jazz, that's one of the first things we can look for and identify what keys those ii-V movements occur in and then use that key as the scale:

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Eternally Up To Date Copyrights

Category: Web Development

I can't tell you how many times, both personally and professionally, I've come across web sites that have out of date copyright dates. A living, breathing, up to date site should have a current copyright date somewhere on the page, usually in the footer. Changing the year is easy enough if it's static, but it's one of those things you have to remember to do (and you have to know how to do it). If your code isn't modularized (that is, if every page has the copyright date hard coded), then having to change these dates each year could be a very laborious process, even if you're savvy enough to use a global find and replace.

Why should you even have to make this update by hand? The web page should know that the copyright year is always the current year. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on what you have available on your web server.

Concept

The concept behind this technique is very simple. You simple replace the year with a dynamically written number pulled from the supporting language's date functions. Here is the static code that we will start with:

<p>Copyright &#169;2007 Your Web Site</p>

By the way, &#169; is the © symbol.

Client-side Code Method

If you don't have any access to a dynamic server-side technology such as PHP, Java, Python, Perl, .NET, or some other programming language, then you will need to use Javascript. Here's an example of generating the year dynamically with client-side Javascript:

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Finding A Jazz Guitar Sound

Category: Guitars

Oddly enough, much like with the modern country tone, a basic jazz guitar tone eluded me for a long time. Now, I fully admit that I don't tinker with knobs like I should. I tend to set the knobs on my amps, pedals, and guitar where I think they should be and then just leave them as opposed to tweaking knobs and listening to the results. This is probably why a basic jazz tone eluded me for so long.

Before I get into the specifics of finding a good jazz tone, let's look at what a good jazz tone is. Take a listen to this version of "How Deep Is Your Love" by Russell Malone and take careful note of where the guitar's tone fills up the tonal range.

You probably thought of words like "full" and "mellow" when you heard his tone. The difficult part for me to translate was that the tone was "full" in regards to the mid-range with balanced bass and treble. The hardest part for me to hear was that, in relation to how I typically prefer my guitars to sound for other styles, the tone on the guitar is rolled off (it's not on 10 or 11, if you're in Spinal Tap).

Guitar

There are some essentials and then there are some nice-to-haves. You can get a good jazz tone with pretty much any guitar and you can get a better jazz tone with some great guitars, but don't feel like just because you have an Ibanez RG or a Tele that you sound jazzy.

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Spam-proof MailTo Links

Category: Web Development

I like providing links for e-mail on web pages, but I hate that spam-bots scrape sites looking for e-mail addresses linked in the usual manner. There are many hacks to try to avoid spam-bots

The Cander Method Version 1 (AKA: "Make The User Do The Work")

Named for a friend that I learned this from, one way to avoid this is to use ineffective links that require a person to modify address before sending it. Here's an example:

<a href="someuser_AT_somedomain_DOT_com">someuser_AT_somedomain_DOT_com</a>

...which appears as...

someuser_AT_somedomain_DOT_com

While this isn't spam-proof, it's spam-resistant. However, as I said, the user would then have to replace _AT_ with @ and _DOT_ with . in order for the e-mail address to be valid.

The Cander Method Version 2 (AKA: "Promiscuous Links, Strong Immune System")

The theory behind this method is "ah, screw it". Well, kinda. This method, also gleamed from the same friend, employs a standard mailto link that is completely vulnerable to spam-bots. Rather than try to trick spam-bots, you just resign yourself to the fact that spam is part of life and it's more important provide users with a good link. The spam protection is then handled by a good spam filter or by redirecting all your e-mail to a Gmail account, which is famously known for it's fantastic spam filtering. While I understand this approach, I still think that a good offense is the best defense.

The Corporate Method

Form e-mail is also a good option if your server supports it. That is, you can setup a script to take text from a standard HTML form and submit it via e-mail to you. This requires a bit more code and monkeying with the server to make sure that the web server is up and functioning and some web hosts may not even allow for this.

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