View Full Version : master the instrument

07-21-2002, 01:21 PM
i had a very breif word with a guitarist at a party just the other day. i had never met him before but he said something that made me curious just as he was leaving. he said that if you want to master the instrument you have to learn what the jazz guitarists learn. you dont have to learn any jazz music but follow their learning procedures. i didnt get the chance to ask him what he meant. can someone elaborate???

07-21-2002, 03:56 PM
Jazz guitar players make every effort to understand harmony, melodic development, rhythmic variation, etc. In other words, educate yourself as much as possible. Be able to cleanly articulate your ideas. But take it a step further; jazz players have a tendancy to learn a bunch of 'lines'. Practice in such a way that you can actually improvise instead of mix and match licks, etc...

07-21-2002, 11:44 PM
thanks mate. your last sentence has got me thinking a little. you see when i improvse i mix and match licks and try to blend them together to sound good. so can you give me an example of how i could learn to actually improves instead of mix and match?

07-21-2002, 11:50 PM
Sure! I wrote a couple of articles that started touching on the subject. You can find them here:


and here:


Give them a read and if you want some more of my thougts I will get them to you.

My next writing is going to be on "how to take the licks you know and turn them into something new"


09-22-2002, 11:12 AM
Originally posted by MAttButler
Jazz guitar players make every effort to understand harmony, melodic development, rhythmic variation, etc. In other words, educate yourself as much as possible. Be able to cleanly articulate your ideas. But take it a step further; jazz players have a tendancy to learn a bunch of 'lines'. Practice in such a way that you can actually improvise instead of mix and match licks, etc...

I just re-read this older thread, and some things come to mind...
I agree about educating yourself as much as possible.
I am by no means a jazz player, and when I started out, I was influenced by rock-, metal- and blues-players much more than I was by jazz-players ( although I always liked the music and learned a lot about it at the MI ).
But even back then, I was impressed by rock musicians who really educated themselves. Not for the purpose of showing off, but to explore new stuff.
For me, that is one of the most amazing and inspiring elements of playing the guitar... that you can always find soemthing new to work on, that you can still learn new stuff. It´s still fun to sit down and experiment with unusual scales or sit down for hours to learn a piece by Bach or adapt it for electric guitar etc.
Some of the guys that really influenced me regarding this were dudes like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai... I mean, Satriani plays lots of songs that have simple but great melodies, and often are based on the Major-scale. And there´s nothing wrong with that. But I always was fascinated to read about him learning about unusual asian scales, or experimenting with hybrid scales.
And sometimes, you can hear him use that, too.
Same with Vai. I really don´t know whether I wanna hear an whole album played with his "Xavian Scale" ( the scale he made up on a guitar with 16 frets in an octave ), but it´s very inspiring to see him explore that area.
That´s why I still like to sit down, look into some old GIT-papers and then try to jam on scales like Hirajoshi or Kumoi.
I might not be asked to use it in the studio, but it is very satisfying and inspiring to learn about it.

Some thing I am not too fond of was the "ear player"-thing that came up in the early 90´s ( after grunge hit and the press seemed to focus on players who really didn´t care that much about theory or technique... I think by then the "He ´plays fast, so he has got no feel"-thing became a common thing to say about some guys with a good technique )
I mean, I remember reading an interview with Steve Lukather, and he said something like "I don´t know any theory, I am an ear-player". I mean,gee !!! He has played on hundreds of records, he had to sight-read, and in the 80´s, he sometimes analyzed his solos with all the theory-terms necessary... he once explained playing over changes and really showed a bunch of knowledge about modes etc.
And all of a sudden it was not cool anymore, everyone was an "ear player". Same goes for Marty Friedman. I remember him saying "Most people think I know about a lot of theory, but I don´t... I play by ear and know nothing about theory"...
Well, I remember an old review of his Cacophony-stuff, and the author mentioned that Marty had a thorough musical education and knows a lot of theory and also is good at orchestration and arrangement.
What now ? Theory or none ? Well, I really don´t wanna say that you really HAVE to know a lot of theory and study that, but I wish some people would STICK with it instead of all of a sudden denying it...
That was my rant for today... blah blah

The Bash
09-22-2002, 12:16 PM
Well Put,
Ya Know what Amazes me is the Hendrix, Lennon/McCartney, Page, etc. School who may not “Know Theory” in a conventional manor, but, come on. They Knew what they were doing in a sense. This is probably a bad analogy but I love Herman Hesse and I waited a long time, in fact until just last week to find an English Copy of Das Glasperlenspiel (which I assume means glass bead game) simply cause I can’t read German. Don’t mean I can’t read. Now that I found it in a format that makes sense to me I can actually read it just like anyone who reads German can. I mean look at any of the above players they new they liked it when this note fell to that note, when this chord resolves to that chord, And, They remembered those things because they tended to dot it again. Several Beatle tunes use modes, Plagel Cadences, Resolve a minor tune to a Major Chord (G. Martin? Maybe.) cycle 4/5 progressions. They all learned Theory in sum manor maybe just with there ear rather than there eye. But come on how do any of us learn theory, really. The paper eye stuff is nice but did any of it really make any sense to any of you without actually hearing it. I mean aren’t all musicians really ear players and anyone who can play even on a minimalist level KNOWS Something. Besides being a long haired musician I kinna like destroying people preconceived stereotypical notations about us all being a bunch of Idiots.
Guess that was rant number 2 :)

NP-Metallica- “Kill Em’ All”
Btw that no way reflects on the above statement I’m really a pacifist, really I am…

09-22-2002, 12:38 PM
Wow, really good points here.
I never meant so say that there hasn´t been an amazing amount of great songs by people who never could tell a paradiddle and an accidential apart.
I love music by the Beatles or Hendrix a whole lot.
What I was referring to was that IMHO, for a while music theory was promoted as something that was only for bigheads. At least that is how it felt, how I perceived it reading through interviews etc.
You certainly don´t need to know the enigmatic scale to write a song. But in the long run, I find it very satisfying and motivating to delve into some theory to learn something new and explore. YOu sure can find new stuff by noodling around sitting in front of the TV, but I always was interested to know WHY something sounds the way it sounds, WHY those few notes sound so good over that chord etc.
I just wanted to know that, maybe just for the sake of understanding it, maybe because it helped me to explore other stuff.
Some people might not care why a minor chord is a minor chord, or why the III chord in major is a minor chord etc.
I wanted to know why, that way I learned about harmonisation. Then, when I got into the Japanese scales the first time, I was able to harmonize it quickly. I made up a chord progression, programmed it and started using the scale over those chords.

Also, it helps to communicate I think, when you get together with other musicians.

But we´re drifting off into the whole "Is Theory necessary"-thing ( beating a dead horse, I guess )
However, to sum it up: There´s lots of great music, written by people who had no clue about what they were doing. I just think that theory can help you find new stuff once you are into a rut, and it helps to understand why something sounds good.
And I think it sucked that for a while, it was considered "not cool" if you knew what exactly you were doing when you played.

The Bash
09-22-2002, 01:13 PM
I agree, I always like to know, as u said Why? Did that work. It may have just happened, as it does 90% of the time when I write, but how can I use it again. Sometime I get something in my head while I’m writing I can’t put my ear on and stop and think, “Well It’s kinna like what happens in waddever song, and I can think my way to what I wanted. I did that once with a tune I was stuck Knew I wanted Something, couldn’t make it work. Then I recognized it in sum perverse way It was the Nowhere Man thing that iii-IV movement. Then boom I had it.

Another example is, last night after working on the Perpetual Motion, really working on the floating hand thing, etc,etc, (Intense practice) I sat down to relax with just my nylon string and a piece of music. Ok so I ain’t seriously played Classical in like 14 years and my Tech is to say the least is way out in Left Field (besides I was no great classical guitarist in the first place), But in spite of all the Clucks I could site read slowely through it. Hey it wasn’t pretty technically, but point is the beauty of the piece (the composer’s Bach in this case, not mine) came through. Reading is like ESP to me, the ability to communicate across not only countries but Centuries. It’s like a little piece of magic.
OK after my rant, I guess this is my inspirational message for the day. :)

09-22-2002, 01:30 PM
True... just like it is a great tool to communicate with other musicians, sight reading really is great because you can take any piece, evn if you´ve never heard it, and play through it... I had that when I got my hands on the sheet music for the "Well Tempered Clavier" by Bach... I knew only the prelude, and hadn´t heard the other pieces.
It took me a while, but I played my way through them, and it was great, kinda like discovering and exploring new stuff.

BTW, how is the "floating hand" thing coming along... is it working for you, feeling comfortable ?

09-27-2002, 04:35 AM
I have been working on the floating hand thing too and using Jazz III (donlop ) Picks. I am only usoing these because I can 't find my purple tortex donlop jazz picks. I have a much more difficult time with these Jazz III's and am kind of curious why.
Has any body else used the purple tortex ones and then switche d and noticed this? I usually file my picks before using them to make them shaped like they have worn in from my picking angle, the Jazz III's are harder to file than the tortex ones. It just basically feels like the pick is made of much harder plastic.

09-27-2002, 10:09 AM

yes, I noticed that. The Jazz III are well known as one of the most durable picks. Many people do like that.
See, when I use something like a regular Dunlop Tortex ( 1.14 mm, I believe ), I file them to a different shape, and then I do the "carpet-thing" to smooth out the edges. If I do practise or play a lot, I go through a pick like that in a very short time.
I recently played a show where, before showtime, we had a lot of time to hang around. So I sat there and practised and warmed up.
During the show I took a look at the pick and it was completely done...
The Jazz III really do last forever. That´s one thing I like.
The shape is something to get used to, also.

For a while ( in 98 I believe ), I used Dunlop Stubby Picks... 2 mm. They have sharpened edges. I liked that, but I only used those temporarily, though. One day, I just switched back.

Well, using the floating hand-thingy, do you notive an increase of speed, does it make playing easier ? Back when I was introduced to this, it felt awkward at first, but then I really started to like it

The Bash
09-27-2002, 10:54 AM
Hey, Eric
Floating hands coming along great. I did spend (since u mentioned it, like 2 weeks? ago) bout a week just working on getting the feel. For some reason I found string skipping easier to get my hand used to the floating idea. Like fret a note on string 4 then play 3 open D’s skip to string 2 do same kinna ditty. Hopping round like that just made it easier than sitting in one spot where I had a tendency to kinna relax or lull off into the string.
Anyway, I got the first part of the Perpetual Montion cleanly at 100bmp tonight using the floating thing. No Speed record, I know but I was personally pleased cause it took me a while to feel good at 80 using the floating hand and all.
But, yea I Feel Free (not sure just what that means) but that’s how my hand feels less bound down. It’s still a long step to real life playing application (like cranking out something I’ve known for years). But I see lot of potential in it. The Hand Feels Good.

09-27-2002, 12:14 PM
This is the way I used to pick years ago, then I met Michaelanglo ( this was the fastest guy I have ever seen in person) and he showed me his thing with an anchor, so I have been doing that ever since. I have been trying this for about a month and after my speed dropping off to zero it is slowly starting to pick up, I have a very long way to go before I will be as fast at this as with the anchor. I was way faster with the donlop tortex jazz pick also.
How do you mute when using this method?

09-27-2002, 02:26 PM

First of all, one thing I never noticed was how much noise my right hand was causing when I was still resting it on the bridge. I often lightly touched the bass strings or kinda rubbed over them with the palm of my right hand causing noises.
Once I started to "float the hand", that problem went away and many things sounded way better and more accurate than before.

If I wanna mute strings, ( palm muting, i.e. for powerchords ), I put the r.h. palm close to the bridge onto teh strings, not pressing harder than necessary. It took a while to continue picking fast while muting ( the Al Di Meola thing ), but then it eventually worked.
I have way less "sympathetic" noises with the floating left hand, and if I wanna mute strings that are stringing sympatecially, I just touch them with the r.h. palm really quick and then float again, or I mute them with my left hand...

By the way, one essential thing to get the hand to relax while floating, and to really move from the wrist ( to avoid picking from the elbow ) is to put the inside of my forearm onto the guitar... I rest it on the area above the bridge, and then I can relax my hand and pick straight from the wrist

09-30-2002, 05:52 PM
Hi Folks,
I have been reading the discussion with some interest since I also switched recently to the floating hand from an anchored right hand.

My question is the following after reading the pat about picking from the wrist. I understood from Jameys book (which I liked btw) about correct guitar practice you want to avoid wrist movement as much as possible and pick from the elbow and now Eric basically says the opposite.....:confused: Anybody got any thoughs on this except the you-should-do-what-feels-right-for- you-approach?

09-30-2002, 07:30 PM
Hi and welcome to our forums :D

I just watched the Paul Gilbert vid and actually I am using pretty much the same right hand techique - ok, I don't have the guitar that low :-)

Anyway, quite some time ago I wrote an article about techique. Attached is an excerpt about my right hand technique history (as it's an excerpt some stuff might sound out of context ...). Maybe there's something in it that might help.


Personally, I play from the wrist. This gives me the most control over the overall tone.



10-01-2002, 03:26 PM
Hi there...

Well, I am not sure whether there is only ONE right way to pick. But at the GIT, I was taught to pick mainly from the wrist cuz it is considered more economical.
That way, you move only the hand with the pick, while if you pick from the elbow, you move the whole forearm.
I am not saying that the method I describe is the only one, or the only right one. But to me and many fellow player I met, picking from the wrist seems to be most economical and seems to give me the most control.
I was taught to avoid picking from the elbow. But I saw Vinnie Moore picking that way exclusively, and he sure is fast and has bunches of control.
Others use a technique which was once called "circular picking". It involves pivoting the pick forth and back with your r.h. thumb and index finger. This minimizes right hand movement and seems to be most economical, but I had a hard time when it came to picking fast on two strings at the same time ( double stops ) or fast six-string runs or even string-skipping.
So consider both mine and Jamey´s advice as "suggestions" or different approaches. Try several things, settle with the one you prefer, the one that feels the most natural or comfortable.
And be careful if you try to switch from one to the other after playing for a while. I experimented with the "picking from the elbow"-approach, and I had some problems, coming close to some kind of tendonitis.
To sum this up: I doubt that there is one right way, I am just describing the way I play, the way I was taught and the way I saw guys like Paul G., Thorsten K. and others play.
It´s up to you to experiment and decide what´s best for you.

10-01-2002, 03:31 PM

thanks for posting that pdf. The pics will help a lot to explain things. Also, the three types of movement you describe at the end... that first one is what I referred to as "circular picking", the second one is the one I mentioned in my articles, picking from the wrist, the third one is what Jamey and Vinnie use, picking from the elbow...
About the "hold a lighter in your hand"-way of holding the right hand... I like those kinda examples, they´re a good way to bring over exactly what to do, maybe more so than pics.
I think Abi still plays that way, at least his right hand looks like that.
And BTW, a nice-looking Tele you have there

10-01-2002, 03:58 PM
Hey Eric,

I think Abi still plays that way, at least his right hand looks like that.Yes he does. (We are talking about Abi von Reininghaus btw - great player)

And BTW, a nice-looking Tele you have therehehe, yeah thx. It's really a beauty but more so it is a great sounding instrument. It's a rosewood tele - very heavy and tough to tame :-). Bought this one in Boston and had quite some troubles with keeping an eye on it, as some teachers were really keen on adding it to their collection ....


10-01-2002, 04:05 PM

you started the plug, so I´ll go all the way... here´s a link to Abi´s site, where you can hear soundsamples, too:
www.abi-r.com (http://www.abi-r.com)

Awesome player, great tone, really great guitar sounds...

And about the Tele...
I know what you mean. Abi gave me his Tele ( vintage-style one, as seen on his website under "Gear" and on the cover of his "King Of Heart"-album ) and whenever I take that one with me to a job, people are like "Lemme see that" and I have hard times getting at back.
Great sounding guitar

10-02-2002, 01:01 PM
Thx guys,
I didnt look for a day or so and the page was full of replys...

Just for your information: I looked at Jameys page to get some more insight over this after reading his book which suggested the elbow movement and there he elaborated a bit more to come to the conclusion that a combination of the 2 (wrist and elbow movement) is probably used the most but he recommends to start with elbow movement alone to make sure you position your arm the right way.

Anyway great part of an article Guni. It is very clarifying....(I was only suprised i never saw it before, because I have been reading Guitar4u articles since 1998 and I thought I read about everything you ever put on your site......)

And yes a very nice guitar indeed.... (althoug there is nothing like my own McInturff Taurus.... :) :) )



10-03-2002, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by thesnowinmyhand
he recommends to start with elbow movement alone to make sure you position your arm the right way.I see - yes, this does make sense.

Anyway great part of an article Guni. It is very clarifying....(I was only suprised i never saw it before, because I have been reading Guitar4u articles since 1998 and I thought I read about everything you ever put on your site......) Hehe, this is because it was part of the article "Guitar Technique or How to ...", which was sold through Guitar4u. I am actually thinking of re-releasing it here on iBreathe. We'll see ...

And yes a very nice guitar indeed.... (althoug there is nothing like my own McInturff Taurus.... :) :) )LOL :D


10-03-2002, 02:53 PM
Originally posted by Guni

Hehe, this is because it was part of the article "Guitar Technique or How to ...", which was sold through Guitar4u. I am actually thinking of re-releasing it here on iBreathe. We'll see ...



Hehe aha that explains, I was a student in those days, that meant I didnt have a credit card and the few penny's that came in went straight to 'more important' matters..... (leave that to everybody's imagination :D :D )