Learn­ing Zone

Les­sons from the world’s great­est teach­ers and schools...

Guitar Techniques - - LEARNING ZONE -

Many years ago the great Paul Gil­bert told me his licks were start­ing to sound the same to him, re­gard­less of the many vari­a­tions he was de­vel­op­ing. In short, he had re­alised his hands were like a high per­for­mance car - he could blaze for days - but where should he go with it? It’s a fair point; a gui­tarist might cul­mi­nate at some point into a great mu­si­cian af­ter pro­longed study and prac­tice. So what was once mu­si­cally in­spir­ing and baf­fling be­comes man­age­able, mean­ing the grass on the other side is now no longer quite as green. Fur­ther­more, the ini­tial con­text may not mat­ter once that mu­si­cal awe­some­ness has been se­cured. For ex­am­ple, David Bowie’s ’90s gui­tarist, Reeves Gabrels once talked of want­ing to ac­quire tech­nique chops akin to Malm­steen and Di Me­ola but once he fi­nally got into that abil­ity ball park, their mu­si­cal con­texts didn’t re­ally ap­peal. His ap­pre­ci­a­tions had moved into new ter­rains.

For Paul and his metaphor­i­cal flash car, his big road vi­sion was learn­ing reper­toire. Lots and lots of it. On his own al­bums and gigs he’s cov­ered Abba, The Spice Girls and Donna Sum­mer as well as typ­i­cal rock such as Joe Sa­tri­ani, Yng­wie Malm­steen, Deep Pur­ple and Dio. I’ve also spent time with him talk­ing about Ste­vie Won­der’s won­der­ful chord pro­gres­sions (Don’t You Worry About A Thing), Tony Bank’s in­ven­tive key­board parts for Gen­e­sis (After­glow) and Michael Jack­son bass lines (Wanna Be Startin’ Some­thing). From be­ing a macro fo­cused rock gui­tarist that would vac­uum up all man­ner of shred, he evolved into a mas­sive mu­sic fan who found marvel in count­less bands and styles of mu­sic.

I hope this is­sue proves in­cred­i­bly use­ful for your own macro study as you pick, ham­mer, trill, slide, tap and Mixoly­di­ate (if ever there was such a term!) through our far reach­ing ar­ti­cles. So, tune up your own im­pres­sive car but do spend time lis­ten­ing to as much var­ied mu­sic as you can. If a broad ap­pre­ci­a­tion helped Paul to be­come the cel­e­brated vir­tu­oso that he is to­day, it un­doubt­edly will shape you too. Be­sides, Abba’s Danc­ing Queen is too well writ­ten to be rel­e­gated only to wed­ding bands!

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