Technique: Are you Holding That Guitar Right? – Posture, Wrist, Thumb And More

Holding Guitar

This article was originally written for Guitar-Muse -

Getting the basics of technique down

For beginning guitarists, establishing good technique is important. If one starts with bad technique it could mean spending hours of practice down the road to correct bad habits, or in some cases developing repetitive stress injuries.

But what exactly is good technique? We guitar teachers tend to talk about it in absolutes: “Always keep your wrist straight,” and “Never put your thumb over the neck.” But really, it’s a bit tricky. For every technical rule there’s usually one exception, if not ten. And really no two people play exactly the same way. We’re all built differently, so technique from person to person varies in the details, but there are some generalities that can be followed to set yourself on the right path.

To me, good technique is simply that which is ergonomic, efficient and effective. That is to say, what ever you’re trying to do on the guitar, do it with the least amount of effort and strain possible. In this article I’ll go over some general tips for developing good basic technique and perhaps even dispel some myths.

Review and Demo On The EHX Crying Tone

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This article was originally written for Guitar-Muse -

The EHX Crying Tone – A Rocking Wah Pedal

The first wah pedal was introduced in 1966 and since then the design has not changed much: a bunch of moving parts and potentiometer that eventually wears out over time. In the 90s the wah got its first upgrade in design with switchless optical sensors but still remained fundamentally the same. Well now after over half a century of same ol’, same ol’, EHX has changed the game completely with the Crying Tone: the first wah pedal with absolutely no moving parts.

DESIGN

Technology is a wonderful thing! And the same technology that allows your smartphone to automatically switch over from portrait to landscape view is what allows for the Crying Tone’s innovative design.

From the top it looks like a normal wah pedal but flip it over and you’ll notice the pedal mechanism is totally different. The bottom of the Crying Tone is beveled to allow the user to rock it back and forth with their foot. Movement is sensed by an accelerometer inside, which controls the frequency sweep.

Since there are no moving parts, it’s built like a brick. Constructed as one solid piece with some pretty hefty mass to it, the Crying Tone won’t fly all over the floor when you use it.

On either side of the pedal you’ll find the calibration button (for when the Crying Tone is not on a flat surface), a 9V DC input (also takes a 9V battery) and the in and out jacks, which are strategically placed at the fulcrum point so not to interfere with operation. Finally, on the top of the Crying Tone is the EHX logo which lights up and blinks red so you actually know when the pedal is on! That’s really all there is to it – innovation in simplicity.

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Review and Demo: EHX Superego Synth Engine

EHX Super Ego

This article was originally written for Guitar-Muse 

Review and Demo: EHX Superego Synth Engine

The Superego Synth Engine by Electro-Harmonix is a unique new guitar effect pedal that combines elements of sampling, synthesis and infinite sustain. The pedal allows the guitarist to freeze sounds and sustain them indefinitely, gliss between frozen sounds and layer sounds on top of each other. With its user-friendly and compact design, the Superego lets you create some truly, unique “non-guitar” sounds that might get your audience to wondering where you’re hiding that keyboard player.

The Video is at the bottom of this page, but first we’re going to look at some of the functionality.

The Superego has 4 control knobs: Speed/Layer, Gliss, Dry andEffect. The Dry and Effect knobs each control the level of the dry and wet signals coming from the pedal. The Gliss control sets the speed at which sounds morph into one another; this is similar to a portamento setting on a synthesizer. Lastly, the Speed/Layer knob controls either the speed of the attack/decay of the frozen sounds (Auto and Momentary Modes) or how loudly previously frozen sounds mix with new ones (Latch Mode).

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6 Ways To Keep Your Guitar Rig From Sounding Like An Amateur

6 Ways To Keep Your Guitar Rig From Sounding Like An Amateur

This article was originally written for Guitar-Muse 

The Be All End All in Sounding Like a Pro

Intonate Your Guitar

Nothing screams amateur more than a guitarist who’s out of tune. Unfortunately, just getting your tuner to light up green when you play each open string may not be enough to make your guitar sound in tune. Intonation matters a lot and the cheaper the instrument, the more potential there is for your intonation to be bad.

You can check your intonation very easily. First use a guitar tuner to tune all the strings. Then check the pitch of the 12th fret harmonic against the note at the 12th fret of each string. They should both be perfectly in tune. If the 12th fret is flat or sharp against the harmonic, then you have problems.

Adjusting the intonation of a guitar isn’t all that difficult but could be daunting if you’re a novice. In that case, seek the help of a professional guitar tech. If you’re adventurous, here’s a helpful how to article on wikiHow. Beware, I’ve encountered on many occasions cheap guitars that just cannot be intonated properly. Basically, their craftsmanship is so poor that no amount of saddle adjustment is enough to compensate. If you find yourself to be in this position then, unfortunately, if you want to play in tune you’ll need a better guitar.

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What Do You Call An Act Like That? The Aristocrats! Album Review

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If you already know who Guthrie Govan is, then you were probably just as excited as I was to hear about the new Aristocrats album released back on September 13th this year. If you don’t know who Guthrie is, then it’s high time you learned. A quick YouTube search and you’ll see what I mean.

After all, that’s all it took to convince bassist Bryan Bellar (Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Dethklok) and drummer Marco Minnemann (Adrian Belew, UKZ, Necrophagist, Paul Gilbert) that Guthrie would be a good last minute fill-in for a trio gig they had booked at the Annual Anaheim Bass Bash…[READ MORE]

A Novice’s Guide to Recording Guitar Amps

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Are you recording a guitar amp for the first time or just looking for some guidance in the process? This article will give you a general overview of what’s involved when recording guitar amps and help you start recording some killer guitar tracks.

Get Your Sound

Before you even bother grabbing a microphone, set up your guitar amp to get the sound you’re looking for. I know you’re eager to get recording, but this is the most important step. Don’t be afraid to spend some time on it. If your amp sounds awesome when you’re sitting in front of it, it will sound awesome on the recording…[READ MORE]

Plexitube Tonebone by Radial – Review

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Radial Tonebone – Plexitube

The sound of a Marshall amp at your feet! The Plexitube from Radial features a real 12AX7 tube and a unique multistage solid state circuitry that combines to create authentic British distortion.

This pedal features two distinct distortion channels, each with it’s own level control. Plus, 8 different knobs and switches give you a ton of ways to tweak your tone. The high and low EQ knobs affect both channels, as do the top end boost/cut and mid boost switches. In addition to the global EQ adjustments, each channel has it’s own contour control and voicing switch, which boosts or cuts mid frequencies…[READ MORE]

How to Play the Guitar Solo in “The Wind Cries Mary”

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Guitar Solo Lesson: The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix |

In this video lesson I break down Jimi’s solo in his song The Wind Cries Mary. This is probably my favorite Hendrix solo. I find it’s pretty easy to teach because each phrase is short and melodically memorable. It’s also a great example of Hendrix’s unique soloing style, which as you’ll see uses chord shapes as the basis behind many of the melodic ideas.

As far as Hendrix’s solos go, this is probably one of the easiest ones. So even if you’re a beginner, don’t be too shy to try and tackle this one. If you’re an intermediate player, you may not find playing the notes themselves all that challenging, but playing them with good tone, vibrato and timing will be.

You can practice soloing over this backing track that I found, available for free: Backing Track

How to Play the Guitar Solo in “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers

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Here you go, by popular demand, a lesson video for you on the guitar solo in China Grove by the Doobie Brothers.

I originally posted a video of this solo on YouTube about 2 years ago for my adult students at School of Rock. It was part of a series of videos I made on the song and I had just ran though the solo quickly knowing I could give my students a TAB later. Anyway, I left the video public and to my surprise it got roughly 4,000 views. Not bad for hardly trying, eh?

But the video did leave some people wanting more. Since the demonstration was so brief, I got some comments from people asking for a more in depth lesson. Well it took me two years but I finally got around to recording a new lesson video. Enjoy.

Top 11 Overplayed Cover Songs

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Written for Guitar-Muse.com

I like to think I know a thing or two about cover music. I’ve been playing in cover bands for a few years now and I live in the cover band capital of the world, New Jersey, where cover bands out number original bands by the hundreds.

Today it seems that the cover bands, at least in my area, all play the same stuff. There are a ton of great Top 40 hits to choose from, yet bands stick to a short list of tired, worn out tunes…[READ MORE]