Monday, December 27, 2010

End of the Year

It's the end of the year 2010. So many things have changed, for the good and for the bad. I would like to do a little year end wrap up and thank everyone who has made this blog a success. This blog is something I started for my students as a place where they could get a little extra something with their lessons and learn about things that go with being a fresh musician.The blog has done very well and has readers well beyond the 40-50 students I have. We regularly get 300-400 hits per week and on lots of occasions we will have 400+ hits a day and in the case were T.C. Electronics picked up on the product review of the Polytune 1000+ a day. We have regular readers all over the globe. I would like to thank the guys who write here. Stoney Cannon, he has wrote about how to get your butt in gear with promotions and press packs, something I would have never even thought of doing and its a VERY IMPORTANT part of being a musician. Micheal "Dork" Dinkins has brought on incite into being original and how bands work and how the people interact with each other, again something I would have never thought of writing about that has benefited my students and many others. Mr. Eric Rinker who has given an insight into how things sound and come up with an awesome multi Media "Spotlight Lick." Thanks to all the guitar players who have contributed to "spotlight Licks" so far. There are people and press who have helped spread the word of the blog Jordon Zeh, Coco Rubio, Verge , Metro Spirit and everyone who "shared" on facebook. Look forward to many new things in the coming year, more guest writers, product reviews, more rock star interviews and many many new things. I would also like to thank Rock Bottom Music and Jonathon Karow for being ultra supportive of students and their musical education. As a student you should also make some New Years Resolutions to become better players and reach for your goals. You students have achieved alot this year and 2011 will be even better! Most important I would like to thank my students. All of you have been very loyal and hardworking. You guys make doing all this fun and exciting. I look forward to working with you all in the coming year. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spotlight Licks: Eric Rinker

I've been noticing a lot of cool guitar "licks" and "riffs" here on JohnJohn's blog, so here's my contribution.

This is a guitar line I wrote for my band Artemia. The song is called "Love you Crazy". It's fun, interesting, and probably a bit challenging.
Each section has something a little different in it, so pay attention to details! It's what brings a little style to the table when you play.

To make it even more fun, I'm including the drum tracks for the song so you can play along with it by yourself.
I've also included one with me playing it so you can get an idea of what the final outcome should be.
The tabs are in PDF format, so hopefully you have a reader. You do. But If you don't,

This may not be just a lick, but I promise you'll have a lot of fun playing it once you get it down.
Wanna hear the rest of it? Of course you do, and you can if you come see Artemia play!

The song with me playing it...

Here's just the drums. ( 4 count on the hihat and then start rockin')

And finally the TABS:

I really don't like putting my 2 cents on someone's "Spotlight Lick" but i have to on this one. What Eric has done here is simply amazing. He supplied a track of what it should sound like ( he wrote, recorded, mixed, and EVERYTHING!), he supplied a drum backing track for you to play along with ( which he also did everything on) and he supplied the TABS and STANDARD NOTATION for his piece. I am floored and you guys should be too. I am gonna get working on this along with you guys! Thank you very much Eric Rinker!!!

p.s. Eric is known around our area for being an incredible drummer. This piece shows how talented a guitar player, writer, audio engineer and all around amazing musician he is. He doesn't even try to be badass, he just is.

p.s.s. this lick is in standard pitch tuning with a drop D low string (in other words...DROP D)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Importance Of..................Proper Picking Technique Part #1

The "Importance Of" having a proper picking technique can not be understated. I was having a conversation with a musician buddy this weekend, one who's opinion I greatly respect, and he was talking about someone he knew who needed help with some picking techniques. The way that they were picking in a particular song or two was making it difficult to get the passages played cleanly and evenly. This happens to alot of players. When a guitar player first starts reading about inside, outside, alternate, etc. picking being used by their favorite players, they want to apply it to all aspects of their playing, even when it might not be called for. I am gonna go over some different picking techniques, give examples and do my best to explain them. First let's go through and give definitions of each.

1. Downstroke- picking only going downward
2. Upstroke- picking only going upward
3. Alternate Picking- using upstrokes and downstrokes together
4. Outside Picking- using two string runs so called because as you cross from one string to another the pick strokes come from the outer side of each string pair
5. Inside Picking- using two string runs, so called because the pick, when crossing from one string to another, strikes the area between or inside the two strings
6. Hybrid Picking- using a pick and your fingers
7. Finger Picking- using your fingers to strike or "pick" the strings
8. Sweep Picking- used most of the time with arpeggios. you use the pick to "rake" the strings; the pick "sweeps" the strings. think of the pick falling up and down the strings
9. Legato- means tied together:picking the string one time then doing hammer ons or pull offs on the string smoothly: going note to note only picking once.

example #1 is an example of using downstrokes only. Metallica are the kings of using only downstrokes in their playing. Used with palm muting it can make a riff more powerful. This is a riff that is kinda Metallica-esque. Use all DOWNSTROKES.

example #2 is using only upstrokes. It's based in A minor diatonic. Use all UPSTROKES.

example #3 is using alternate picking. Try and play any Slayer without using alternate picking. Try it . I dare you. You cant do it! This is a Slayer-esque riff. Use ALTERNATE picking.

Just "Click" on the tab paper to make it bigger, if you have trouble reading it.

This is just Part #1 of a two or three part series on Picking Technique. I will have more examples and uses of each kind coming up and a special "Sweep Picking" article in the future by a surprise guest writer. Even though my picking examples so far have used heavy metal type example the techniques described apply to all and every style of music. Have fun with this and see you soon for part #2!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finger and Joint Pain

Anyone who has known me for any extended period of time knows i have rheumatoid arthritis. At times it can be crippling. Walking and moving, let alone playing is impossible. I have had more than normal the amount of students ask me about what to do for their pain. I am gonna give some answers the best i can.

If you are suffering from finger cramps sometimes its just low potassium. Eat a banana or take a supplement. It will help in most cases. Eating a multi vitamin cant hurt either. If you keep your body vitamin levels up your brain works better which lets you play better, your body has its nutrients and it performs better.

I have alot of students who are not kids and/or are senior citizens who have some form of arthritis. If you fall in this category make sure you consult with your doctor for some good meds. Celebrex, prednisone and various drugs are great for relieving inflammation. Some great over the counter advil or Tylenol arthritis can help too. There are some great glucosamine supplements that can get your squeaky joints moving. Wall Mart carries them on the cheap.

Another thing for finger stiffness is those bell sounding "chinese" balls. Whenever i feel stiffness starting to set it i roll these things around in my hand. They have no pressure being put on your hand and they feel like they are massaging it. You can get them at any flea market. Another thing that is great for working your fingers are those "finger grip" finger exercises you can pick up at any music store.

Doing finger exercises regularly help keep your fingers and hands limber too. Stretching your arm muscles help your hands too.

If you are experiencing any pain and it becomes severe you just need to stop playing. It will only makes things worse if you push it too far. The more you try things the better you know when it is time to lay back and let your body get the rest it needs to get back in shape. I made the mistake of doing 2 hours of finger exercises after i felt an IMMENSE sharp pain in my forearm. The arm swelled up the next day and i could not play for 3 weeks. The doctor said i tore a tendon.

Alot of musicians do some form of construction work where they put their hands at great risk. Be careful on the job. I cant tell you how many times i smashed a finger with a hammer while doing a roof job back in the day. It always happened the night of a big show too. If you have one of these jobs, be careful.

Other musicians have jobs where they type on a computer all day and get "carpal tunnel" type symptoms from typing all day. These can be greatly painful. The only thing i can tell you here is to go see a doctor.

The best advice i can give is to eat right, treat your body right and listen to your body. It will tell you what you need to do. A good doctor is a must. A good doctor can get you fixed up and back to playing in no time (if thats what you need). Alot of times eating right, exercise and regulating what substances go in your system can make you go from "crampy" and "tight" to loose as a goose and playing all you want. Be safe and happy holidays.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spotlight Licks: Chris Livingston

This "Spotlight Lick" comes from Chris Livingston. He is a salesman and professional guitar instructor at Rock Bottom Music. He is also the guitar player for local band 48 Volt.This lick is built off the 3rd position of your a minor pentatonic scale. It is short sweet and to the point. It sound cool slow and it sounds cool played fast and repeatedly. 48 Volt is slated to play at the 12 Bands of Christmas this year and just had a new cd come out. Check out 48 Volt here

For info for guitar lessons from Chris, stop down to Rock Bottom and see him or call at 706-589-2112.