More of your insights and opinions.
ON THE LEVEL
First I wanted to say thank you to your team for a fantastic magazine, I’ve been a subscriber for many years and get a lot of enjoyment and inspiration from all the content and features it contains.
The lesson that I’ve got the most from in recent months was the superb ‘4 Levels Of Blues’ by Milton Mermikides - this lit a fire and it’s still burning! Now, I know my limitations on the instrument and the joys and frustrations that this provides me with; however, I’ve been inspired by this article to work through all the solos and understand them. I’m pleased to say that I’ve cracked them (well 90% there, my timing is not as in the pocket as it could be). I think the reason for this is the feeling of progression that I got from the article in terms of playing and knowledge, coupled with playing some great tunes in different feels.
The other element was a clear guide it provided and it’s this sometimes that I think is really hard with learning the guitar - there is so much to learn in so many ways that sometimes you can’t help feeling swamped. I would like to thank Milton for providing an article that really provided clarity, inspiration and helped provide some focus which overall has helped improve my playing.
So, please can we have more of these in different styles and that focus on rhythm playing as well as lead? Furthermore, would it be possible to run some jazz lessons focusing on playing over standards - rhythm and lead? I do think that this is an element missing in recent issues. It’s a great way to learn many different elements of our great instrument including scales, chords, melody, timing, theory etc - as I am sure you know!
Thanks for your time in reading this email and I hope it provides you all with some ideas for lessons, if you haven’t thought of them already!! Alex Beasley We were rather proud of that too – from its initial concept to Milton’s superb realisation of the idea. For those that didn’t see it, it was simple a way to look at playing blues no matter what level you are at – and to show that even the most limited technique can create truly satisfying blues solos. We’re already on the case with transferring the concept to other styles – rock and jazz are obvious contenders – so watch this space, and thanks for the kind words.
Pete Callard spent years explaining how to solo over the common jazz chords, changes and progressions; but now that John Wheatcroft has taken over he may want to look at it again in his own way.
BRINGING UP THE REA
I love your monthly blues column and the artists you cover. I particularly enjoyed the Mark Knopfler cover you did a while ago and was wondering if you was going to cover another North East fingerstyle guitar player, Chris Rea. I love the way Chris plays slide guitar and I have been trying to play some of his songs with little success. I also love the way Chris manages to play the blues and how he incorporates it into pop songs such as Auberge, On The Beach and of course Road To Hell.
So I was wondering if you have any plans to cover this great artist in the future? Mike Dymond I’ve long been a fan of Chris Rea, both as a pop-rock artist and in his later blues offerings. In fact, I remember sitting with Chris in a cafe in Notting Hill in London (I was interviewing him for Guitarist magazine) and I asked him why he didn’t just bring out a blues album, since blues was so ingrained in his style. At the time he said the record company wouldn’t wear it, but of course a few years later things changed and that’s exactly what he did, to fantastic reception. So yes, a look at Chris’s style is perhaps well overdue.
HITTING A SIX
I read with interest the article from Lee Riscoe and agree that playing bass helps [When learning guitar or getting back into it in order to strengthen the hands after an accident, etc - Ed]. Having retired four years ago I have found more time to attempt playing guitar. About a year ago I purchased a Fender Bass VI on which I can attempt bass and melody. Power chords work quite well for me on the bass strings and other chords can be played on the lighter strings. Attempting to play The Shadows’ Atlantis was interesting. I can remember Fender VI’s used back in the 60s.
Thank you for great magazine and keeping an old guy happy. Dave J Smith Thanks, Dave. Yes, lots of bands used six-string basses in the 60s – various members of The Beatles shared a Fender Bass VI, Jack Bruce in Cream played one too, The Everly Brothers songs were peppered with it; and of course The Shadows’ bass player Jet Harris is famous for his use of such a machine. I’m still not sure about bass as therapy after hand or arm accidents; but as a ‘missing link’ between guitar and full-blown bass the six-string or ‘baritone’ bass. It’s a great sound to use when no other effect will work.
Greetings from New Jersey USA. First I’d like to commend you on your magazine. I think Guitar Techniques is the best guitar magazine available today. I wish I had every issue. I have a special request to make for a transcription of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps solo. I’ll understand if it can’t be done based on space constraints as it’s 10 choruses long. I would appreciate it if it could be taken into consideration. Thank you very much. I wish you continued success and all the best to the entire staff. Stephan Solomon That’s not such a nutty idea as it first sounds, Stephan. Giant Steps is a notoriously difficult piece to play; but more especially to solo over, as its changes are deliberately complex and it’s hard to find common tonalities – as you would, for example, in a blues.
You’re right that the original is a bit of a monster; but a typical GT approach might be to transcribe some of Coltrane’s original choruses, then also tab out a version by perhaps Joe Pass, to see how a great jazz guitarist might tackle the piece. It’s in the pot for future perusal.
Chris Rea: soon to be in GT?
Joe Pass: jazz guitar giant