Post: Guitar Tech­niques, Fu­ture Pub­lish­ing, Ivo Peters Road, Bath, BA2 3QS. Email: neville.marten@fu­ us­ing the header ‘Talk­back’.

Guitar Techniques - - NEWS -


Your re­cent editor’s let­ter about the days you used to jam end­lessly with a friend (GT245), re­ally struck a chord with me as I’m sure it did with many read­ers. When I started play­ing (this is not a sob story, just the truth), we had no guitar mag­a­zines that catered to our tastes; videos and DVDs weren’t in­vented, guitar books were rub­bish with all the songs in F and C (even Stones songs that I knew were in A and D), and no one taught mod­ern rock, pop or blues guitar. The only way a whole gen­er­a­tion learnt to play – and that will in­clude the Gary Moores, the Joe Sa­tri­a­nis and so on – was to knuckle down with a record player and slog at it, try­ing to fig­ure out what you could just by lis­ten­ing. If you were lucky the band you liked were on Thank Your Lucky Stars, Shindig or Ready Steady Go, and you might just get to see where their fin­gers went. Usu­ally the cam­era­man was do­ing pre­ten­tious an­gles, or fo­cus­ing on the bass player dur­ing the guitar solo!

The light at the end of the tun­nel for us was those jams with your pals, com­par­ing licks, laugh­ing at each other’s wrong chords and ba­si­cally striv­ing to get bet­ter to­gether.

I don’t know if any younger read­ers have writ­ten in with their sto­ries, but I’d be in­ter­ested to know if our cul­ture of learn­ing still ex­ists to­day in any form. Or, as with seem­ingly ev­ery other pas­time, it’s turned into a soli­tary event that usu­ally in­volves lap­tops or mo­bile phones. If that’s the case I feel sorry for the gen­er­a­tions that are miss­ing out on such a bril­liant so­cial, ed­u­ca­tional and en­light­en­ing way to spend their for­ma­tive mu­si­cal years. Bill Pad­stow It is in­deed a dif­fer­ent world now, Bill. Learn­ing an in­stru­ment has never been eas­ier, what with schools be­ing more fo­cused on mu­sic, par­ents want­ing their kids to suc­ceed in ever-broader ar­eas and will­ing to stump up for ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties such as guitar lessons. Not to men­tion YouTube and the var­i­ous teach­ing web­sites to which peo­ple have ac­cess. Back in my day, a few kids I knew had pi­ano lessons, but most saw this as a form of pur­ga­tory – like learn­ing po­etry. Ac­tu­ally, we’ve had no letters from young peo­ple say­ing whether they get to­gether and jam or not, but I’d love to hear from any that do. Per­haps gen­uine hu­man in­ter­ac­tion is not dead yet!


I loved the fea­ture on us­ing chord in­ter­vals in blues (GT244). I think I got more out of that than any les­son from any­where in a long time. Peo­ple al­ways talk about hom­ing in on chord tones but I never re­ally knew what they meant. With this fea­ture the penny dropped well and truly. I sup­pose like many older read­ers I’d noo­dled around for years, hav­ing gained a de­gree of fin­ger­board dex­ter­ity and a sort of un­der­stand­ing of scales but I never felt my so­los went any­where. Then I’d hear other gui­tarists, seem­ingly us­ing the same notes as I was, but mak­ing their so­los make sense and sound fan­tas­tic. Go­ing through Jon Bishop’s ex­am­ples the light went on – tar­get the prime notes in the chords as they change! It means you need a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the licks you are play­ing, and where they are go­ing, so you can en­sure you do land on a good note. It didn’t take long be­fore I started to get the hang of it.

This sin­gle les­son has moved my play­ing on dra­mat­i­cally. So, thanks, Jon – and thanks GT! Wil­liam Dono­van When­ever I’ve done any kind of teach­ing, such as IGF or GuitarBreak week­ends, this has been the ma­jor prob­lem for most stu­dents – es­pe­cially those in the older age ranges. Of­ten peo­ple are told, ‘Use such and such a scale over such and such a chord,’ but this doesn’t get to the heart of the prob­lem since, while the scale may in­deed work, it still falls to the player to choose the best note, and put it in the best place at the best mo­ment. Any note in D mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic (D-F-G-A-C) will work over a D mi­nor chord, but in the con­text of a piece of mu­sic that’s mov­ing in 4/4 time the D, F and C will sound strong when played on the beat, and the G and A less so. But you also have to cre­ate a shapely lick or line in which strong notes do then land on strong beats. You need a men­tal road map on which you can plot the licks you are play­ing so this ideal sit­u­a­tion is achieved. Some­thing sim­ple on pa­per be­comes more com­plex in prac­tice be­cause so many ex­ter­nal forces en­ter the equa­tion – ex­pe­ri­ence, taste, tech­nique, mu­si­cal­ity (or lack of it), choice of notes, and so on. The best ad­vice I can give is that prac­tice, and us­ing your ears more than your eyes (ie lis­ten­ing rather than re­ly­ing solely on tab), is most likely to yield the re­sults you are look­ing for. I’m glad Jon’s ar­ti­cle was the cat­a­lyst to your be­com­ing the player you want to be.


First off I ap­plaud your pub­li­ca­tion. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tent and view­points and I try to take in ev­ery­thing I can each month. At my age, I don’t have the rest of my life to get bet­ter grad­u­ally. As a re­sult I re­ally like to work from ac­cu­rate and pre­cise in­for­ma­tion.

In the June is­sue of Guitar Tech­niques, in the ar­ti­cle Dy­nam­ics and Ar­tic­u­la­tions you have a large bold quote: “The first method of de­not­ing the vol­ume of a piece or a sec­tion is by us­ing the letters p and f – pi­ano and forte, or loud and soft’. How­ever, in the ar­ti­cle it states: ‘The first method of de­not­ing the gen­eral vol­ume of a piece or a sec­tion is by us­ing the letters p and f. These are the ini­tials of the words pi­ano and forte; ‘p’ means soft and ‘f’ means loud…’. I don’t mean to nit­pick, as I re­ally do like what you put out, just wanted to let you know that you had a small slip-up. Thanks again for a won­der­ful pub­li­ca­tion and keep up the good work. Danny White Oh dear, Danny! It looks like one of those cases where some­one didn’t write what they meant to (prob­a­bly me since I usu­ally se­lect and cre­ate the pull-out quotes). The var­i­ous peo­ple who read the ar­ti­cle af­ter that, didn’t spot it ei­ther. So slapped wrists all round and thanks for spot­ting the mis­take – ‘pi­ano’ is in­deed soft, and ‘forte’ loud, in case there’s still any con­fu­sion. And, as I’m sure you all know, it’s the rea­son the pi­ano-forte is called the pi­ano-forte, as its ped­als and touch sen­si­tiv­ity al­low it to play both loud and soft!

Jamming to­gether is a great way for all of us to im­prove

Hit­ting a chord tone on a strong beat is a good place to start

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