Home: 2006 |
Your Discomfort! Why Are
So Many Guitarists Masochists?
By Jamie Andreas
Okay, Iím going to explain some powerful things for anyone who
wants to see RESULTS from their guitar practice, and really learn
how to play the guitar well. In other words, the guitarist who
wants to do what I call CORRECT PRACTICE.
Have you ever had trouble playing something on the guitar? Have
you ever seen or heard someone play something, tried to do it
yourself, maybe practiced it for a long time, and ended up with
only frustration and bad feelings about yourself as a player? Be
honest now. Iíve been playing for 30 years, and giving guitar
lessons for 27 years, and I have never met a player, including
myself, who could honestly answer no to that question.
There are a few things that are always true when we are unable to
play something we want to play on the guitar.
One of the things that you will always find, if you look for it,
is what Aaron Shearer called, in his first book, uncontrolled
muscle tension. Many, many players have in fact commented on this
fact, mainly because this fact becomes obvious to anyone who plays
for awhile, pays attention, and starts to discover the path to
gaining increasing ability on the guitar. Many people mention it.
The problem is they never tell you what to do about it!
Oh sure, youíll hear people say "play S-L-O-W-LY", or "RELAX"! I
asked, ordered, screamed, and pleaded with students to do that for
probably 20 years, before I realized that almost no one was
listening to me, or maybe they didnít believe me, or maybe they
thought I was kidding (well, his face is turning purple, but, nah,
I donít think heís serious)!
No, it seems most people would rather try to play that bar chord
or that scale with their shoulders tensed up to their ears, their
pinky tensed up and pulled 2 inches from the neck as they
dislocate their shoulder trying to get it to itís note on time,
practice and play that way day in and day out, and then wonder why
they find that scale hard to play, that it breaks down at a
certain speed. Or maybe they wonder why they have a pain here or
there. Hell, they may be really persistent and keep at it till
they qualify for this new disease Iím always reading about,
Repetitive Strain Injury.
I got a new student about a year ago, weíll call him Tom. Now Tom
had been teaching himself for a few years, is very musical, very
intelligent, and managed to learn fingerstyle guitar well enough
to attempt some rather challenging pieces, including some
classical repertoire. In fact, he would play for friends and often
However, it was also true that he knew he never played anywhere
near his best in these circumstances, and the piece would often
break down somewhere. It was also true that he had a growing pain
in his left shoulder when he practiced.
Tom has two very important qualities that a player must have in
order to overcome problems, and make what I call Vertical Growth.
Those two things are Desire, and Honesty.
Tom doesnít have the pain in his shoulder anymore, and his playing
is getting better and better. This is because he has learned a few
things. He has learned about the incredible state of muscular
relaxation that a player must have as they play. He has learned
how difficult it is to actually make sure you have that relaxation
as you play. He has learned about Sympathetic Tension, how every
time you use one muscle, others become tense also, and how if you
are not aware of it, and allow it to be there, it becomes locked
in to the muscles through the power of Muscle Memory.
Tom is also learning, over time, that by always making the effort
to focus his attention on this muscle tension, he can always
eliminate some part of it, and by consistently doing this in
practice, things begin to feel easier and easier, because he was
really fighting his own muscle tension, which made it feel so
Tom inspired me to invent a phrase, something for him to always
keep in mind when he practices. In fact, I told him to do what I
do. Write it out on a sign and keep it somewhere in front of him
as he practices. On the music stand or taped to the wall like I
do. The phrase is "DISCOVER YOUR DISCOMFORT". Pay attention;
notice what happens in the body as you play. How does it feel?
Good players are not experiencing that discomfort when they do the
thing you struggle to do. If they had to struggle they wouldnít be
Now as usually happens, I began to use the phrase myself, and
began to discover new levels of my own discomfort. And I began to
see my playing improve, I mean fundamentally improve. You see,
there is no end to this process.
Why do so many of us allow such discomfort when we practice and
play? There are many reasons; Iíll go in to them at another time.
What I want to do now is give you some ways of discovering your
own discomfort, and begin to minimize it.
Hold the guitar as comfortably as you can.
Allow your left arm to hang limp at your side.
Place your right hand fingers on the strings, keeping them very
loose and relaxed. If you use a pick, float the pick in between
two strings and keep it there.
Focus your attention on your shoulders, as you raise your left
hand slowly. Raise it straight up without extending it, and place
all your fingers on the sixth string, around the tenth fret. Keep
them on the string so lightly, you donít even press the string
down. (Not easy at first)!
Do you feel anything in your right shoulder as you do this? Do
you feel any tightness come in to the pick hand, perhaps you are
gripping the pick tighter, or tensing your wrist? Be honest now.
Keeping your left hand fingers on the string lightly, begin to
move your hand down toward the first fret. You must do this VERY
SLOWLY. Notice what happens throughout your body. As I have had
students do this, I have seen everything from tense ankles or
belly, to practically falling off the chair!
I hope I have provided a starting point for further investigations
and insights for you. Take anything you find hard to do, stop
yourself in the middle of it, and check out what is happening in
your body. You will be amazed.
Copyright 2000 Jamie Andreas. All rights reserved. Used by
permission. Free! 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Become a Better Guitarist!
ďThe Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar,Ē the Perfect
Start for Beginners, the Answer to the Problems of Players. Start
to play the
guitar without getting bad habits, or get rid of the bad habits
have, by knowing how to do "perfect practice" with the Principles
Practice for Guitar.
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90, Wins Grammys
9th February 2006
innovator Les Paul won two Grammy Awards for an
all-star album marking his 90th birthday.
Unfortunately, due to hospitalisation with
pneumonia, he was unable to pick then up in
person. In a radio interview however, he sounded
bright and chirpy, vowing he would be in better
Paul, famous for his
name on a brand of guitars used by rock stars
since the 1950s, won his trophies in the pop
instrumental performance category for the track
Caravan, and in the rock instrumental
performance category for the track 69 Freedom
Special, credited to Les Paul and Friends.
The tracks come from
the album Les Paul & Friends: American Made
World Played,, his first release since 1978's
Chester & Lester with late Nashville icon
Chet Atkin which marked the only other time he won
The new CD features
such guitarists as Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and
Keith Richards accompanying Paul on classic rock
and R&B songs.
Ill-health also forced
him to pull out of a recent all-star tribute
concert in Los Angeles, featuring the likes of
former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash, Aerosmith's
Joe Perry, and bluesmen Buddy Guy and Hubert
Sumlin. He did however appear via satellite feed.
Paul has been a dominant force
in the music business since World War II. He and wife Mary
Ford enjoyed a string of hits in the 1940s and '50s with
such million-sellers as Mockin' Bird Hill and
How High the Moon.
In 1941 Paul designed
and built one of the first solid-body electric guitars
(though Leo Fencer also independently invented his own
solid-body electric guitar around the same time, and
Adolph Rickenbacker had marketed a solid-body guitar in
the 30s). Gibson Guitar Company made a number of
these guitars for Paul, but insisted that their name be
left off of the instrument. In later years, they would
change their mind. These days, Gibson Les Paul
guitars are used all over the world, both by novices and
In 1947, Capital
Records released a recording that had begun as an
experiment in Paul's garage, entitled "Lover (When
You're Near Me)", which featured Paul playing
eight different parts on electric guitar. This was
the first time that multi-tracking had been used
in a recording.
recordings were made, not with magnetic tape, but
with wax disks. Paul would record a track onto a
disk, then record himself playing another part
with the first. He built the multi-track recording
with overlaid tracks, rather than parallel ones as
he did later. There is no record of how few
'takes' were needed before he was satisfied with
one layer and moved onto the next.
Paul even built his
own wax-cutter assembly, based on auto parts. He
favoured the flywheel from a Cadillac for its
weight and flatness. Even in these early days, he
used the wax disk setup to record parts at
different speeds and with delay, resulting in his
signature sound with echoes and birdsong-like
guitar riffs. When he later began using magnetic
tape, the major change was that he could take his
recording rig on tour with him, even making
episodes for his 15-minute radio show in his hotel
Paul was injured in a
near-fatal automobile accident in January 1948 in
Oklahoma, which shattered his right arm and elbow.
Paul spent a year and a half recovering. Paul
instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle
that would allow him to cradle and pick the
In the early
1950's, Paul made a number of recordings
with wife, Colleen Summers (known on
record as Mary Ford ). These records were
unique for their heavy use of overdubbing,
which was technically impossible without
Paul's inventions. In 1954 Paul, continued
to develop this technology, by
commissioning Ampex to build the first
eight track tape recorder, at his expense.
His idea, later known as "Sel-Sync," in
which a recording head could
simultaneously record a new track and play
back previously recorded ones, would
further establish the future of
early radio shows, Paul introduced the
mythical "Les Paulverizer" device, which
was supposed to multiply anything fed into
it, like a guitar sound or a voice. This
even became the subject of comedy, with
Mary Ford multiplying herself and her
vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish
the housework faster (a typical joke in
the pre-feminist era). Later Paul made the
myth real for his stage show, using hidden
equipment which over the years has become
smaller and more visible.
uses a small box attached to his guitar -
it is not known how much of the device
remains off-stage. He typically lays down
one track after another on stage, in-sync,
and then plays over the repeating forms he
has recorded. With newer digital sound
technology, such an effect is available
Despite arthritis and hearing
problems, Paul remains an indefatigable musician. He holds
court every week at Iridium, a New York jazz club, often
trading licks with youngsters who want to prove their
He often remarks at shows
"When I introduce myself to people, they are always
surprised to learn that I'm not a guitar and I'm not dead!"
Sources: Newspaper reports, Wikepedia
(The Free Encyclopedia)
Your Growth As A Guitarist: Vertical Or Horizontal
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Learn Guitar By Not Playing Guitar
suppose you think that you learn guitar by playing guitar. Well,
do you learn to say the right things by talking all the time?
Let's take a look at the art of not playing guitar...
you learn to play guitar by not playing? Is it really possible to
develop as a guitarist without touching the instrument?
weight training it is an established fact that muscle growth takes
place during rest, for example when you sleep. It doesnít mean
that you will become a famous muscle builder by sleeping. Sleeping
is just a part of the overall picture called muscle growth.
ever think that you will become a good guitarist by not playing
guitar at all!
define a good guitarist as a good musician. A good musician can
convey his musical emotions to somebody else and this ability
takes more than just practicing moving the fingers among all those
can you do to become a better guitarist and a musician when you
don't play? Let me give you a few suggestions:
you play classical guitar, get into the habit of often reading
guitar sheet music without your guitar. This practice gives you
training in the art of hearing the sheet music in your head and
also gives you a better chance to really learn notational symbols
in the music and rhythmic subtleties.
a week off from your guitar playing every now and then and use all
your musical energy listening to good music or just being a good
citizen. Learn to spot musical and artistic heights in the music.
Listen to all types of instrumentalists. With concentration. My
best listening position is laying flat on my bed with headphones
on forgetting the rest of the world. Maybe you have another
feel and enjoy musical and artistic expressions in the music these
will probably be implemented in your own guitar playing sooner or
3. Be a
good musical friend by helping somebody else to play. It will help
you become more unselfish and like people more. Well, maybe you
already like people sufficiently but to learn to like people is
part of our development as musicians as we are supposed to give of
ourselves to others when we play.
Prepare your body and mind for playing guitar by learning the art
of relaxation and stretching your muscles. You can of course find
articles on these subjects on the net. Performing in a relaxed
manner will help you enjoy your own music more and will help your
public to relax and enjoy your music too.
time to sit down, or stand up if you like, and ponder about what
guitar playing means to you. Is there something that you would
like to develop in your guitar playing that will give you more joy
and happiness. Set a realistic goal and write down what you can do
every week to accomplish that goal.
believe in practicing on my guitar of course but I hope that these
pieces of advice concerning not playing guitar will increase your
love for your guitar and the art of playing and giving musical joy
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit
Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn
to play resources at
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the Rivera Knucklehead Guitar Amp
I've owned my Rivera Knucklehead since 1998. It's
a small part of my guitar amp collection which consists of more
than 5 amps. I'll tell you how the Rivera Knucklehead performs
both on stage and in the studio.
Not surprising, Rivera is owned by some guy named Paul Rivera. I
guess it's a little surprising that his name is Paul, but that's
about it. While I hate to spread rumors about facts I don't know,
this is press, and that's that the press is all about. The rumor
on the street is that Paul Rivera worked for both Marshall and
Fender for years modifying guitar amplifiers for the rock stars
that could afford to have them modified. If this is true, it will
explain a lot about the Rivera Knucklehead.
The Rivera Knucklehead is a 100 watt, all tube, 2 - channel guitar
head. Each channel has a gain boost. Both channel switching and
the gain boosts can be controlled by the footswitch. As with every
100 watt head, this thing is ferociously loud. It contains an
effects loop with control of input and output for effects and
whatnot. The Knucklehead uses 5 12ax7 tubes for the preamps and 4
EL 34 power tubes. Each channel contains tone controls and a Focus
and a Presence knob are global, which means they effect both
channels. It would have been nice to have a spring reverb on the
Rivera. That's the only feature that it's lacking.
American Channel (Clean Channel) First off, I must say that the
clean channel isn't so much like a clean channel, necessarily.
It's more like a Fender channel. I mean that if you crank up the
gain on the clean channel, you will have a very distorted sound in
the way that a Fender distorts. This sound is not going to be what
you want for metal in most cases, although it might pull off an
Iron Maiden type of sound. Turning the "Ninja Boost" off and
backing the gain down brings you back down into Fender territory.
It's not an exact clone of the Fender sound, necessarily. The
tubes used are not typically found in Fenders and even if you had
the same tubes, the Fender sound is quite different from amp to
You have tremendous options in your tone. I mean
TREMENDOUS!!! You have the typical bass, mids, and treble. By
pulling out the treble pot you engage the "bright boost" and when
you pull out the mids you engage the "mid scoop". The tone
controls are the most sensitive that I've ever seen on a guitar
amplifier. In fact, the tone knobs can be too sensitive.
Plugging a strat or tele gives you the real deal tone. It's pretty
much a Fender amplifier. Plugging a Les Paul or PRS is a different
ball game. The tones are absurd on this channel. You should be
able to get anything you want out of this Fender side that you
would expect a Fender to do. This amp is very sensitive to
different guitars and it's tone will change more drastically than
Distortion Channel (Marshall Channel) Alright, I called this side
of the amp the Marshall channel. The tone is not exactly a
Marshall. I own a 1971 Marshall Super Lead. It's sound is quite a
bit different than what you hear in the Rivera. I wouldn't say the
tone is necessarily better or worse, but different. When you get
to this caliber of guitar amplifiers, they are all good, it's just
a matter or preference.
The distortion channel has a gain boost, bass, mids, and treble.
Once again, these tone controls are as sensitive as you will ever
find in a guitar amp. It's stupid how much control you have over
your tone. This amp has too much gain, if you want too much gain.
With a Les Paul, I don't think I've put the gain past 12 O Clock,
ever. You would not believe how different this amp sounds when you
take the mids to 0 and then up to 10. It's a night and day
difference. With the gain boost turned off, this thing feels like
a good medium to low gain distorted amplifier.
As I said, choosing
the right guitar and tone settings can be time consuming, but
getting whatever you want is a possibility. It's worth trying all
your guitars with this amp. There will be some that obviously
shine more than others. In this setting, it's no problem at all
pulling off tones such as AC/DC and other 70s tones. I'd probably
go with my 1971 Superlead first for this application though, just
because of the tone differences, but I could make a guitar player
looking for that tone very happy as well.
When you engage the gain boost, this thing is all out death. I'm
talking deathmetal death, if that's what you are looking for. In
my opinion turning up the gain to a stupid amount, cranking the
lows and highs, and scooping out all the mids is tremendous
overkill. I'd say it's unusable. The kid down the street may
totally love it, though. I guess that's the great thing about this
amp. You can make the sound too thin or too thick....too bright or
too dull. It's up to your playing, your guitar, and your tone
With the gain boost on and the all settings on 7, this amp is a
full blown rock machine The tones inside this amp are impressive.
You will find a sound that you like. It just takes some time to
find that perfect combination. This takes more time than a
Marshall does. Sometimes the mids on 5 are too much when the lows
are on 6. But lowering the lows down to 5 might require a little
more mids, for example. I'm saying that the tone controls are high
dependent on each other.
This amp would always be my first choice playing out live. It's a
mammoth sound if I want and gives me 4 great sounds with the
footswitch. Going from mega gain to dirty clean is just a step
away. Going from pretty clean to low gain distortion is also just
a click away. I'd say it's one of the best live amps you can buy.
In the studio.... well, this thing gets used on just about every
project I do. I haven't found a project that it didn't work well
on. I've recorded country, rock, and death metal with this amp and
every single one of them was very happy with it.
In conclusion, I wouldn't change a thing about the Rivera. It is
worth every penny.
About The Author:
Brandon Drury's site,
www.recordingreview.com has links to all sorts of free
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Who Else Wants To Sky Rocket Their CD Sales, Fan Base and Indie
By Ty Cohen
If YOU Answered YES,
Then Start An Online NewsletterÖItís Easy, Hereís How!
Iíve always praised the benefits of using a newsletter to promote
your music, but this article give a bit more detail into how to go
First, there are tons of different providers out there that can
send out your email newsletter. Some are expensive while other
like cafepress.com allow you to make one free if you sell products
through them. Although this isnít EVERYTHING you could do it is a
good starting place.
Define the letter Ė is it going to be strictly about your band or
other acts in your genre? You might be able to pick up other
readers/listeners who werenít aware of your music, but know other
acts if you go broader.
Develop a schedule. Are you going to do it daily, weekly, monthly?
Whatever you choose does not matter. The most important part is to
stick to it, once people get to reading and enjoying your
newsletter, theyíll expect to receive it on time, all the time.
How much content will it contain?
Are you going to have one page or six pages? Try to make the
content the same size each issue.
K.I.S.S Ė Yet again, keep it simple stupid. That means staying on
topic and writing in a tone that is both understandable and
Ask for reader feedback. Perhaps someone might have an idea for a
new feature or they may have a hot news tip. Always answer your
readerís requests and emails regardless of if you use their idea
Keep copy short and in the active voice. Avoid passive words if
you can and give your articles some kick. Youíre writing for
people, not Harvard educators so keep your tone to one that people
will enjoy looking at each week.
Extra set of eyes. Always have an extra set of eyes look over
everything you send out. Even with our newsletter and sites,
www.MusicIndustrySuccess.com, www.Order-Yours-Now.com and
www.TheIndustryYellowPages.com we always have someone look the
pages over for typos, spelling, grammar, etc. You want to inform
people, but you also want to come off as intelligent when you do
A newsletter is not a difficult feat, in fact you can easily get
started in an afternoon. If you lack the time and skills then hire
someone to do the task or see that your manager and/or promoter
informs your followers of all the news they need to know.
About The Author: This article was written by Ty Cohen, the music
industry's most recognizable voice! Ty is the C.E.O of Platinum
Millennium Publishing, Platinum Millennium Records as well as
owner of www.MusicContracts101.com and
Some of his work includes: books, directories, mini-courses and
software programs including the titles: "How to Make a Fortune in
the Music Industry by Doing it Yourself" and "How to Make
$500,000.00 "or More" A Year in the Music Industry by Doing it
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What Is Pitch
Correction? - Can Singers Sctually Sing Anymore?
that long ago, record producers and engineers used to spend long
hours with singers in the studio making sure that they got the
best possible take of their performance. It was very important to
make sure that the singer sang everything in tune and that there
was no 'pitchiness' or parts of the melody that were sung a little
flat or sharp. This was critical for it meant that when it came
time to mix the track, there was simply no way to correct a
performance for pitch.
This all changed with the invention of pitch correction software.
Most studio recordings these days are done on what is known as a
'DAW'. This stands for Digital Audio Workstation and has become
the standard throughout the music industry replacing tape based
multitrack machines. Because the process is entirely digital it
means that the recorded audio can be processed in ways that most
musicians never even dreamed of in years passed.
Remember when Cher had a huge hit with a song called 'Believe'?
That strange warbling effect on the vocal is actually created by
the pitch correction software. Someone discovered that by setting
it to over-correct it would actually produce a pleasing effect.
Like all these things it has been over-used since by many artists.
Pitch correction works by analysing the audio and re-sampling it
back to correct pitch. It operates in real time which means that a
studio engineer can apply pitch correction to a vocal where and
when it is needed. Many regard pitch correction as a lifesaver in
the studio. Singers often feel relieved that a great performance
need not be erased and redone simply because one or two notes may
have been a little flat or sharp. Studios often see it as a great
time saver as it reduces the need to record many takes in the hope
of getting a performance that is completely in key.
There is however, a downside to all this. Many studio producers
now argue that singers have become overly reliant on this
technology and have almost forgotten one of the most basic
requirements of great singing - singing in key.
Can you tell when pitch correction has been used on a singer in a
recording? The software is now so good that, in experienced hands,
it is nearly impossible to tell when it is used subtly. Many vocal
recordings made these days on current cd's use some form of pitch
correction. Does that surprise you? From the singer's perspective
it is a very seductive technology. It can certainly make a
"pitchy" singer sound very much in key without revealing any lack
of ability in that area.
We have become so used to the effect of technology on our music
that much of this technological innovation becomes the norm in a
very short while. Remember a band called Milli Vanilli? They
became the laughing stock of the music business and ended their
careers when it was discovered that they had not even sung on
their own recordings! Yet we seem completely comfortable now with
the idea that singers don't need to be able to sing in tune when
The funny thing is that singing in key is just a learned technique
like most other musical skills. It requires practice and solid
singing technique but there are few people who cannot do it at
all. Singing in a recording studio can be an unnerving experience
for the first timer. The studio environment is designed to reveal
all the nuance of the human voice and can tax even an accomplished
singer at times.
Pitch correction is one of the most practical and useful tools in
recording today but remember that it won't make you a great
singer. Only you can do that.
Author: Michael Oliphant is a successful
musician, producer songwriter and web developer.
He is co-producer of Explore Your Voice, the innovative and
successful online singing course that streams to your PC. The Explore Your Voice Show Podcast Explore Your Voice
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Guitar Made Simple
We've been waiting for this one for a while and it's
Brand new and only in its first few weeks of release, Guitar Made Simple was
developed by internationally acclaimed recording artist Chris Standring (who
wrote the proven jazz guitar method "Play What You Hear").
With this method, you can learn to play electric and acoustic guitar
quickly and easily. It's the most amazing step-by-step interactive program
available today. Without a doubt this unique and brilliant method for
beginners and intermediates is the future of guitar instruction.
thoroughly researching the websites, courses, methods and DVDs for
learning guitar, Chris found that most of them discussed particular aspects of the guitar
that the student could not fully absorb. In other words, in order to play this,
one has to know that, and all too often that important knowledge
is not discussed at all. In short, most method were just way too scattered and
not thorough enough.
Made Simple' is an extremely well thought out beginners program, with a very
thorough and personal approach to help you easily learn how to play the
guitar... the right way! So much more than trying to learn alone with just a book,
this brilliant system connects with you as if an instructor is right with you in
your own home. Donít just take our word for it though, take a look for yourself!
here to find out more - don't delay!
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