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“You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven”
– Jimi Hendrix
“I was impressed by Hendrix. His attitude was brilliant. Even the way he walked was amazing”
– Ritchie Blackmore
Do you know what it feels like to have the crowd in the palm of your hand when you take center stage? Wouldn’t it be great if you could make a crowd of loyal rock 'n' rollers go wild the moment you start “strumming” your stuff with your guitar? Do you want to know what it feels like? It is your actions that will determine whether you’ll get there or not! So let the “action” of reading this book be the next step closer to that dream!
“James Bond has a license to kill, rock stars have a license to be outrageous.
Rock is about grabbing people's attention”
– Gene Simmons
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to guitar solos, the trick to getting a crowd’s attention isn’t to start banging the strings in the hopes of getting out a tune or two or smashing your guitar at the end of your “routine.”
Rock 'n' Roll might seem to be the most aggressive of musical art forms.
Rock 'n Roll: “The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear”
– Frank Sinatra
However, the fact still remains that it requires great discipline and the right techniques to make any form of music something memorable and anticipated.
Your guitar solo should be no different.
In other words, a certain level of skill isn’t the only thing that you will need. It takes technique and a lot of persistence if you are planning on making it big as a guitar (solo) player.
Playing any musical instrument to perfection isn’t a cakewalk. However, some perseverance on your part will help you take your talent to new and unfathomable heights! “It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice.”
It might be tempting to throw caution to the wind and bang it up on stage on your own. The reality is though, it won’t help your prospects if you do not take the time to take a lesson or two on how to properly handle your instrument. Even the pros were amateurs first, that is, before they perfected their art and became rock legends.
“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you'll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you're gonna be rewarded”
Why Play Guitar Solos?
First of all: It is COOL! Period!
A solo means putting yourself out there and making the world acknowledge your talents as an independent
artist. A good solo has the
potential of setting the
tune for your entire band.
In other words, a revved up
solo is the one high point of
any song, one that is sure
to bring the crowds to their
feet. Your job will be to
steal the entire show, not
stand behind the lead
singer and strum to a few
tunes! The spotlight should
be on YOU! The crowd will
go wild as you take center
stage! Haven't you ever
dreamed about that? Maybe,
“Sleep my friend, and you will see that dream is
– James Hetfield
“Gene sometimes... well, he has his dream list”
– Paul Stanley
Be your Own Person
“He (Marilyn Manson) has a woman's name and wears makeup. How original”
– Alice Cooper
“I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to”
– Jimi Hendrix
“I don't want to jump through hoops for people”
– Nikki Sixx
Of course, it won’t be a guitar solo if you don’t wing it on your own once in a while.
Remember, the aim of any solo is to assert your own unique personality. Sure it’s important to keep the rest of the band in mind, but if you don’t take the liberty to tweak the track once in a while you might as well be a fly on the wall. The crowd must know that it is YOU that has managed to ruffle up their feathers so easily.
You have to make sure that it’s YOU that they call out for!
“What I always try to do is to respond to the song;
I've always rebelled against theory”
– Mark Knopfler
This does not mean that you start plucking the strings every which way in the hopes of getting out a tune or two, especially in the middle of an important gig, (and ESPECIALLY if you are not good at improvising.) Sure, you might get a rush as your band takes center stage but it won’t help matters if you get too carried away.
There are limits to how far you can go in your performance during a live show.
There is nothing that puts off a crowd more than a solo gone totally wrong.
Your band is liable to get booed within the first 5 minutes of the show. The last thing your band would need is a bad review because you are the trigger happy lead guitarist who can’t contain yourself. Needless to say it is better that you practice any tracks you decide to implement beforehand. Remember, you do not need to be “the perfect guitarist” from the get go. All you need to do is to FEEL it in your gut.
“Rock is about finding who you are. You don't necessarily have to play your instrument very well at all. You can just barely get by and you can be in a rock band”
– Gene Simmons
Got it? Okay let’s get You started!
I can't even read notes. But I can teach someone how to make a guitar smoke.
– Ace Frehley
Guitar Techniques and How to Use Them
You can start off by making your own jam tracks, like record a beat and a rhythm guitar which you can play and improvise to. You can find good free audio recording software that you can download from the internet to record your tracks, or you can simply use your computer microphone. Use whatever works best for you.
Now, before you decide to make your lead debut, it is best that you keep the following tips in mind –
Tips That Will Help You On Your Way To The
STEP 1 – HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION
“You can't wait around for destiny to give you what you think you deserve, you have to earn it, even if you think you've paid your dues”
It is easy to fall into the same white washed routine as you practice especially with jam tracks. You could end up playing the same tunes countless times and overlook the most important aspects of your training.
Just make sure that you do not start off with anything fancy. Determine how much time you will give your practice sessions, what you will play and with what tempos.
Remember, the key to super stardom is persistence and timing. You will want to make sure that you land all the right tunes on stage without missing a single beat.
“Session work makes you more strict. You can't hit notes all over the place.
You've got to make each one really count”
– Ritchie Blackmore
STEP 2 – THE BEAT
Music sheets will only get you so far. What will really set you apart is hearing the beats by ear and modifying them according to your own tastes.
In other words, you need to be susceptible to how the beats turn out as you play them. Do this by observing where all the main notes land and by hearing the accents.
You need to imagine that a beat is there even if you do not hear it at the moment.
Picking up where a beat leaves off and landing on it is what timing your beats is all about. For example, say that you want to play a 4:4 beat by playing a scale over it.
The scale itself will include both the notes that will land on the beat as well as those that will be in between it.
STEP 3 – TIMING AND PICK ATTACK
After you have determined your beats it’s time to work on your pick attack. In general terms, a pick attack is simply the level of speed and the consistency of which the pick strikes the string. Pick attacks are fairly easy if you are casually strumming out a slow tune. A basic chord progression means that you are applying a loose hand on the string which means that timing your strums won’t be an issue.
However, the real test will come when you are jamming it up on stage.
“The way I look at it you can always get better”
Your pick attacks need to be sharp if you are soloing with single notes and with more speed than what you are used to. In other words, the faster you want to play, the tighter your pick action needs to be especially if you want the crowd on their feet.
“Excuse me while I kiss the sky”
– Jimi Hendrix
This also goes for slow tunes.
Having deft fingers is integral if
you want to dish out tunes that
are nice and clean. So it is best
that you master such techniques
before blending your own tunes
to the mix.
However, it doesn’t matter if
going fast isn’t your style. You
have to train your fingers at your
own pace if you want to grow as a
solo guitarist. The more you
assert yourself during play, the more unique your tunes will be. So it’s better that you play from your heart. Trust me! You will be more adept with tunes that you are up to speed with rather than with those that you can’t keep up with at all. Who knows, this might just separate YOU from the amateurs. Think about it for a moment! Really, carefully!
“It's about what happens on stage, whether we can deliver it in a hungry way that is who we are in our hearts”
– Nikki Six
Exercise Techniques to Build your Stamina
Remember, it pays to iron out those kinks beforehand. One of the last things you would want is for your fingers to lock or cramp up during a gig, cramping your style (no pun intended). So make sure that you stretch out those fingers once in a while.
This will make you better suited to play any type of solo no matter how complicated it is. The aim of such exercises is to develop your playing techniques but most importantly of all – the strength of your fingers. Not everyone is equipped with agile fingers that are capable of plowing through notes at the speed of light.
Pros, like Jimi Hendrix, weren’t born with this gift either. It took years of nurtured care and the right attitude that made them great. You can start off by keeping the following tips in mind –
• If you are new to playing solo, you will find that your fingers easily get tired as you play a tune. Even professional lead guitarists have the scars to prove their greatness. You will have to play through the pain if you want to belt out consistent tunes. Your perseverance will make this easier to bear over time.
One way you can do that is to practice playing scales on a regular basis.
The best thing about playing scales is that it gives you a “feel” of where the notes on your guitar are positioned. This will not only prevent you from hurting yourself but will also improve the speed and dexterity by which you play. The crowd loves a show. Your job is to make sure that they get what they expect from you! ;)
“When I'm on stage the savage in me is released. It's like going back to being a cave man. It takes me six hours to come down after a show”
You can also play trills to exercise your playing fingers. Try fretting a note with your ring finger and trilling the next highest note with your fourth one by playing hammer-ons and pull offs. It’s also better that you use a metronome to keep time during this exercise. As
you feel your finger
increasing your speed.
• So why do your
fingers need to go
routine? You hav
to remember that
the little finger of
your fretting hand is
the most important
one you can work
on if you want to
play better. A buffed
up fourth finger will
also allow you a greater reach as well as a large number of vibrato techniques. However, it also happens to be one of the weakest of all your fingers and one that cannot work independently like the rest. A short 5
minute workout each day will gear it for some killer tunes.
• Remember to stretch your fingers out before going through any warm-up exercise. Before stretching your fingers out, play a few scales to get the www.guitartrigger.com Page
blood flowing through your hands. You don’t want your finger cramping up before a gig!
• Clichéd blues licks might be a good way to warm up. They might come in handy if you want to get rid of the jitters. In fact, they may actually make for good practice especially before a major live performance.
“Simplicity is the key”
However, just because they have been around for a while doesn’t mean that you belt them out at every performance. Your fans are liable to get bored of the same tunes in time. The trick to making them stay put is to come up with your own melodic bag of tricks. This will all be part of building up your own musical vocabulary.
• Learn to play by ear. When you learn to play guitar by ear you will find your accomplishments more rewarding as you are completely self-taught with no help from teachers or books. In the entertainment industry, guitarists who learn to play guitar by ear are well respected and often called upon for their expertise and experience. Improvisation and creativity will help you interact with the rest of the members in your band as well. Playing by ear can also help you fine tune (no pun intended) your playing skills even more. Not only that, but strumming it up by yourself will also give you a chance to improvise and come up with your own tunes. The more you improvise, the easier you time you will have finding the right tunes. A lot of freedom in your playing will come with that.
• Remember, as a guitar player it is your fingers that kill, so make sure you keep them fit for the fight to the top!!!
“This is the most powerful weapon I've ever seen”
– Clint Eastwood
Are You Qualified For Success?
Of course, when it comes to rocking it out on stage, it is the crowd that really matters. Don’t be afraid to strut your stuff on stage. You will want to make sure that the fans are hooked the moment you start your solo. A few antics won’t do you any harm.
However, it’s best that you perfect your solo techniques before you decide to amp your antics up a notch. There is nothing worse than a guitarist that prefers clowning around on stage rather than keep in tune with the rest of the band. In other words, make sure that you don’t leave the band behind. This doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything to rev up your fans at all. Just make sure that you don’t get carried away as you’re up on stage.
“I like leaping around on stage as long as it's done with class. None of this jumping up in the air and doing the splits”
Don’t be afraid to have an attitude. I don’t mean that you need to have a bad attitude. Your attitude is reflected in your body language and is important when it comes to learning to play a lead guitar. Attitude and body language go together to give you the confidence you will need to perform as a lead guitarist. Successful lead guitarists manage to rile up their fans through their rocker attitudes alone.
Watch successful lead guitarists and see how they always look so confident .In other words, they know what they are doing! That's attitude!
Choose your “Moments” Carefully
Make sure that you time your tricks appropriately. This will work best if you take action according to the music. One of your “cues” can be before the beginning of an explosive chorus. Tricks have a way of bringing the right kind of attention. They usually work best if you want the audience to focus on you.
“When you look at Clark Kent when he's working at the Daily Planet, he's a reporter. He doesn't fly through the air in his glasses and his suit”
– Gene Simmons
“The hippies wanted peace and love. We wanted Ferraris, blondes and switchblades”
– Alice Cooper
Always have fun with whatever you decide to work on. Whether it is your jam sessions, finger exercises or making up your own tunes, the process has to be fun.
“Life's a journey, not a destination”
– Steven Tyler
Your efforts will be in vain and will start to sound dull if you don’t. Remember, the audience will sense that something is wrong the moment you get bored with it all.
Being professional doesn’t mean that your happiness takes a back seat. Joy is the key to everything! If you feel bored or stuck on something, go watch a rock show, listen to some of your favorite songs, go watch your favorite band documentary, read this book again or whatever makes you inspired and motivated! Get inspired!
Think big and kick some ass!!!
Four “Lost Secrets” To Become A
Successful Guitar Trigger
To be a true Guitar Trigger, this is wisdom:
“You have to test yourselves everyday gentlemen; once you stop testin’ yourself you get slow, and when that happens they kill ya!”
– Billy The Kid
This goes for ladies too ;).
Now, keep your mind wide open and I’ll introduce you to some “weird” but yet POWERFUL exercises!
One of the best motivators I have studied is Earl Nightingale. He came up with the following definition of success –
"Success is the progressive realization of a worthy idea."
Isn’t that what it’s all about? However, I love that definition! What’s important is whether this means anything to you? Let's talk about that for a moment. Let's create your vision of success!
What is success for YOU? Please spend a few minutes writing down what the words success or "worthy ideal" mean to you. To me it is my vision of perfection, a vision of how I would ideally like things to be. It is a vision that I find inspiring and energizing!
If success with your guitar is important to you it should depend on working towards a worthy ideal. Doesn't it make sense that you first need to figure out what YOUR
worthy ideal actually is? I sure think so! You need to know what you should be www.guitartrigger.com Page
working for/towards. Most people don’t do this, but think about it, do most people get a chance to get a taste of success?
No, absolutely not! So, we can learn from that. How can you progressively realize something if you don't know what it is? This is more important than you may think, but again, it is what is sadly lost on most.
Most guitar courses don’t include this aspect when it comes to training. I believe that is exactly why SO many don’t continue playing. They quit playing because there is no motivation or nothing to look forward to.
What I mean to say is, if you have a goal or a vision, something which inspires you and gives you the chances to keep on playing, it is worth the effort. If you have a strong why, the how always works itself out.
If you ask any rock star, famous guitar hero, artist, or even an actor, I assure you that 99% of them had a vision in mind. They had big dreams and imagined themselves at the top long before they actually reached it. They didn’t let go of their dreams regardless of what happened around them or what other people said. So please, invest a couple of hours by doing the following exercises. They will definitely help you to build a picture of your one true ideal in your mind's eye!!!
I read a book some years ago that was totally awesome by Dorothea Brande that’s called “Wake up and Live! A Formula for Success That Works!” and I was thinking to myself “hmm, A Formula for Success That Works! I got to learn that formula”.
So I bought it and stuck my nose in it. She takes you half way through the book before she gives it to you, and here is the formula: “Act as if it were impossible to fail!” Think about that. ”Act as if it were impossible to fail!” You know what that does? It removes any doubt from your mind, it instills confidence in you and gets you to focus on where you’re going. Now, use that in everything you’re doing or want to accomplish. And in fact, if you do it long enough it will become a habit, and you know how hard it is to break a habit! ;)
“Fake it until you make it”
– Steven Tyler
I believe that’s absolute 100% true!
Guitar Trigger Exercise: 1
Imagine how you would like to play. Imagine what your guitar playing would sound like. How do you look up on stage while playing? What kind of image do you have?
How big is your audience? What guitar techniques have you mastered? How does your improvising sound? What about your song writing? Please write your answers down now. Don’t dismiss it! Do it. You’ll be glad you did!
Guitar Trigger Exercise 2:
Imagine your ideal guitar playing career. Do you dream of being a master guitar teacher? What about a Rock Star? Are you a studio guitarist? What do you TRULY
want to do? Only YOU know! Please write down your vision now.
Guitar Trigger Exercise 3:
Write down your worthy ideal. Write it down in the present tense, as if you have already achieved it. Try to condense it down into a one paragraph.
Guitar Trigger Exercise 4:
Invest 5 minutes every morning and night to reading your worthy ideal. This will help you to stay motivated and focused on what you TRULY want. This stuff really works! You got to stay right on track! This is your chance!
Clarity is essential. Without it you won't be able to develop an effective plan that you will need to work towards your worthy ideal.
As you answer the questions you may sense some nagging self-doubt. You may doubt whether what you write down might even possible or not! This is normal.
Just write down your answers anyway. You don't need to know HOW you will achieve your worthy ideal right NOW. All you need to do is to figure out WHAT it is.
Think about the stars you love and admire. They are no better than YOU! If they can do it and if I can do it, YOU can do it too!
So, now you know it doesn’t take much to become a great guitar player. You just have to set your intention on what you want, how good you want to be and then go for it 100%. When you feel your inspiration drops, and it will from time to time, go get inspired again! If you read this and you’re not a guitar player, of course this applies to every aspect and everything that your wanting to do, be, or have, it’s not something that is unique to guitar players, or is it?!
What will truly set you apart from the rest of the crew are your own unique techniques. Taking the time to hone your skills will not only get you a step closer to the audience, but will also serve you well during the long run especially if you plan on going solo in the future or making a living through it. If you are truly passionate about playing guitar, I absolutely want to encourage you to do just that! Life is very short, don’t waste any of it!
Make sure that you keep these tips in mind! They won’t take long to go through.
Once your body gets used to them, you will start applying them as second nature.
One thing is for sure, they will take your playing skills to a whole other level.
Remember, you have to make sure that the crowd chants your name before the band preps up and takes the stage by storm. Sure the band is important too. But your debut should set the bar for other stellar performances to follow.
Whenever I start to really think about what I'm playing, I may play it better musically, but the feeling isn't there.
– Ace Frehley
“This is the end, beautiful friend!”
NO, actually it is the BEGINING!
Go For It
Final Words from the Author
So don’t stop now!!! Most people do not even get this far! Most people are ‘say-ers’ – You have proved yourself to be a ‘do-er’.
Now it’s time for you to TAKE ACTON with your new and improved mindset.
And you can start RIGHT NOW!
I hope this book has fired up the beast inside you, and started you thinking:
“YES – I am going to do something to improve my Guitar Playing and reach for success”
The very fact that you requested this information says that you have the capacity to Create Your Own Guitar Success, and become a real Guitar Hero!!!
It’s a funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the best –
the best is very often what you get.
Here’s To Your Success,