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Slow Blues Jam Track in “A”

Sometimes I spend hours just jamming with jam tracks like this one. They're such a good tool for developing your solo, I don't know of anything quite as powerful. Having the chords on-screen is also very useful for developing your ability to target individual chords with your riffs on the fly, right in the middle of a solo. 

If you're interested in learning the solo at the beginning of this video, checkout the Slow Blues Solo in A here. 

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An Awesome Little Blues Lick

In today's lesson we're looking at one little blues guitar riff that you can literally use anywhere you want to. It's a short lick, so you can fit it in between vocal lines if you want, or you could use it as part of your solos - anything you want. 

The trickiest part of this guitar lick is the very first note. We're bending the string up, but then abandoning it. Making that transition from the bend to the other two strings will probably be the hardest part for you. It really helps if you walk through it slowly though, paying attention to your various muting techniques. I like to use my right thumb to help mute that string, and I also use my left index finger to catch it as it comes back down. That finger really only just butts up against the string, it doesn't depress it or anything like that, but it serves to deaden any further vibration and end the note. 

Hopefully you recognized right away that we're in the A Pentatonic Minor scale. If you're not familiar with that scale pattern, I really recommend you start working there, first, then come back later on to learn some riffs that come from the scale. 

If you're looking for ways to take your soloing to the next level, checkout my course, Secrets of Tasty Riffs & Solos. We'll not only dig into many more great riffs, but we'll also look at what makes them work, and discover the principles of how you can improvise amazing, progression-fitting solos on the spot. 

Welcome to Nerdville

Here’s a fun half hour for all you gear lovers. Joe Bonamassa is not only one heck of a guitar player, he’s also quite the collector too.

My favorite line:

“Hi my name is Joe, and I’m a guitar addict. This is what happens when addiction coupled with a modicum of success in the music business meets, and there’s no authority figure to say no and please stop!”

Joe has take Guitar Acquisition Syndrome to a whole new universe. Enjoy!

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How To Use A Guitar Tuner

A common question beginners often ask is “How to use a guitar tuner?”

So I thought I would make a quick lesson here on how to use a digital guitar tuner to tune your guitar.

Tuning your guitar is incredibly important. If the guitar isn’t in tune, you’re not going to want to play it, because it will sound terrible. It’s pretty much that simple. So if you’re just getting started, there’s nothing that’s more demoralizing than sounding terrible all the time, so that’s something you need to fix! Strangely enough, this is still one of the most often-overlooked issues that beginners face. Simply taking the time to tune your guitar before you play it will make for a much more enjoyable practice session… and don’t even get me started if you’re planning on performing! It doesn’t matter how good a person is on the guitar, tuning the instrument is ALWAYS the first step.

As a side note, if you’re really struggling to get your guitar properly in tune, and you already know how to use a guitar tuner, then there is a very good possibility that the intonation is out on your guitar. If so, I recommend bringing your guitar to a music store or guitar tech and get it checked out. Oftentimes it will need a re-intonation, which isn’t difficult, and can make a world of difference.

How To Use A Guitar Tuner

You might also want to check out a related lesson that I did on How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear. Hopefully this lesson will clear up any questions on how to use a guitar tuner.

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Song Surgeon Review – Slow Down Music Easily!

Have you ever wanted to slow down music so you could actually figure out what was going on? 

Song Surgeon does exactly that for you – just like a surgeon, it allows you to slice and dice and manipulate any audio file in almost any way you want.

4 Reasons Why You'd Want To Slow Down Music Or Change Pitch

There are a few common reasons I can think of why one might want to slow down music, or alter its pitch:

To learn a new riff that’s too fast in the original.
Let’s face it, some great sounding riffs simply have to be learned at a slower pace, and then brought up to tempo through practice. It’s difficult to really decipher exactly what is being played without being able to slow things down to the point where you can identify individual changes. Song Surgeon allows you to do this – without distorting or changing the pitch of the song. This means you can play along at half the speed, or even a quarter of the speed of the original, but still in the same key.

To bring an older recording into standard pitch.
Some of the older recordings, especially those done on tape, were edited so many times that the end result was slightly sped up, or slowed down from the way things were played. Due to lack of technology at the time, this actually changed the pitch of the recording, putting it out of tune if you tried to play along with it. With Song Surgeon, you can make those adjustments to bring the song back into tune with your guitar. Some artists even sped the tapes up on purpose, just for kicks! Song Surgeon makes it easy to learn from these types of recordings.

To shift a song from Eb or another key into E standard.
Ever tried to play along with a song, only to find it is in Eb? That means you have to tune your whole guitar down a half step, which takes time. Maybe the next song you wanted to practice with is in standard tuning. Then you have to re-tune again, or, have two separate guitars. Song Surgeon allows you to simply change the pitch of the song you’re playing with to where you want it to be.

To change a song to a different key so you can sing along.
Want to sing or perform a song, but can’t do it in the same range as the original, due to your own vocal range? The easy answer is to change the key you play the song in. But which key works best? Song Surgeon let’s you quickly change keys so you can sing along to find out which one works best with your vocal range. Once you know which key you’re working with, then you can transpose the chords. Why go to all that work before you know which key you want to end up in?

I have experimented with Song Surgeon, and found it to be quite powerful and easy to use for all the above situations. I’m sure there are other uses for it as well, I just need time to find more problems to solve with this software!

What Else Can Song Surgeon Do?

  • Analyze the key, tempo, and chord changes and display all that on-screen for you. Yes, it overlays a visual chord chart on top of your song! 

  • Allows you to export the chords to a text file. 

  • Can slow the audio to as little as 10% of the original speed, all without changing the pitch so you can figure out what's being played. Audio quality is not affected at all. 

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    Can transpose the song to a different key with 1 click (this is great if you want to learn a song in a different key to match your voice better)

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    Easily create loops, so you can practice a riff or a portion of a song over and over without interruption. 

Conclusions

Song Surgeon is a powerful piece of software, there’s no doubt about it. The presets on the Tempo and Pitch sections are incredibly handy, and the layout is intuitive and easy to learn, and the sound quality is great. Creating easy-to-work-with loops is child's play. 

It’s true, there are free ways of performing some of these tasks, however for anyone that does this kind of thing on a regular basis, it makes sense to have a tool that is designed specifically for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Song Surgeon offers a free trial download, so if you’re unsure, or even just curious, I recommend downloading it and giving it a try. You don’t need a credit card or anything to get started, simply download the software to your computer, fire it up, load in a song you want to learn, and start using it. You’ll find out pretty quickly how cool it is.

Bottom line: If you learn a lot of songs or portions of songs from recordings, then this software will make your life easier. There’s no two ways about it.

How To Make a Simple Midi Jam Track in Logic Pro

The other day I found myself building a simple midi jam track so I could practice a particular 4-bar turnaround lick with it. I wanted something I could easily change the tempo on, because it was a complicated lick and despite learning it really slow, like around 50 beats per minute, ultimately my goal was to play it at 100 bpm, or even 120 bpm.

So, I built a little track, and after using it to increase my speed on the lick from 50 to 135 bpm (it’s best to practice past your target bpm, because then playing it at the target will feel effortless), I realized what a powerful little tool that was.

So today we’re going to look at how you can build these for yourself. I’m using Logic Pro X, but the basic process using other software would be similar, I just can’t tell you exactly how.

The track we’re making is going to be really simple – just drums and bass, and I’m pulling the drums from a Groove Monkee pack I like using.

If you’d like the file that was created in this video, you can download it here. You’ll have to unzip it first.

12 Bar Blues

Here’s a real quick refresher on 12 bar blues, if you need it. Basically, you’ve got 12 bars, and you can do with them what you want. How’s that? ?

That’s actually true, but what is also true is that there are “classic” ways of using 12 bars that you bump into all over the place. The following diagram represents one of those:

To use this, you’ll need to know a little about the numbering system, but if we applied it to the key of G major for instance, the I would be G, IV=C, V=D.

In the video, I used the key of A, so I=A, IV=D, V=E.

You could play these all minor as well (Am, Dm, Em) or you could add additional chords from the key, or you could change up the placements. It’s a very flexible tool, so don’t let yourself get caught in a box by it (har har).

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