NICK JOHN­STON

Video Mas­ter­class

Guitar Techniques - - CON­TENTS -

We are de­lighted to wel­come this fab­u­lous Cana­dian rock gui­tarist to GT. Nick is a great player and an en­thusuias­tic teacher.

GT is very ex­cited to have this fan­tas­tic gui­tarist of­fer­ing us rare in­sight into his tal­ents. We open with a bril­liant track chock full of Texas blues and in­stru­men­tal rock vo­cab­u­lary. Nick says that play­ing over the track was a chal­lenge, so our video cap­tures a spon­ta­neous per­for­mance without too much over-think­ing. The first thing to note is that Nick is tuned down a

(Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-Bb-Eb) semi­tone on all strings This was pop­u­lar with play­ers like Hen­drix and Ste­vie Ray Vaughan as it fat­tens the tone and re­duces string ten­sion. If you wish to learn the licks and play along us­ing the tab then you will need to tune your gui­tar down or it will sound a semi­tone out with the au­dio.

Nick ex­plains that phras­ing-wise he likes to mix up the rhyth­mic sub­di­vi­sions and the rhyth­mic feel. If you take a look at the tran­scrip­tion you can see that pretty much all the rhyth­mic con­ven­tions are used at some point. In ad­di­tion to this Nick plays ahead and be­hind the beat to add feel.

A key part of his sound is the use of sin­gle-coil pick­ups and a rel­a­tively low gain amp set­ting rem­i­nis­cent of blues gui­tarists like SRV. This al­lows the pick­ing dy­nam­ics and changes of feel to re­ally shine through. For the faster lines Nick uses the hy­brid pick­ing tech­nique (pick and fin­gers) and this fa­cil­i­tates ear-grab­bing in­ter­valic leaps, string skip­ping and chro­matic pas­sages. It is well worth watch­ing the video to see which notes are picked with the plec­trum and which are plucked with the fin­gers.

A help­ful part of the video is where Nick ex­plains that his arpeg­gio-based ap­proach al­lows for in­ter­val­lic em­bel­lish­ment. We have tabbed this pat­tern for you to check out (see Arpeg­gio Se­quence). We have also in­cluded a cou­ple of scale boxes to get you started with

(A-C-D-EbE-G) your own solo. The A blues scale is a gui­tarist’s favourite and a great choice for this track, while A Nat­u­ral Mi­nor (A-B-C-D-E-F-G) will help you to play some of those more melodic lines. The back­ing track and chord chart is in­cluded for you to prac­tise over in ad­di­tion to a full tran­scrip­tion of Nick’s per­for­mance from the video.

A quick re­cap: the tab is ex­actly what he plays if you watch the video, but you will need to tune down a semi­tone for it to work.

Hope­fully, there will be a new tech­nique, lick or phrase in here some­where for you to per­fect. If you find one that you like, then mem­o­rise it and use it in the fu­ture, es­pe­cially if the semi-qua­ver or six du­plet feel is what’s re­quired. Once you have mas­tered some of the con­cepts in Nick’s solo, why not try cre­at­ing a solo of your own over the very same back­ing track in­cluded on the disk - it is sure to both chal­lenge and in­spire. So check out the chord chart for the chord changes.

I USU­ALLY THINK OF MY LEAD PLAY­ING AS ARPEG­GIOS, AS OP­POSED TO MODES OR THREE-NOTES-PER-STRING SCALES Nick John­ston

NEXT MONTH Part two of our se­ries with Cana­dian rock vir­tu­oso Nick John­ston

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