Our music editor Jason Sidwell introduces this lessons section with more great advice.
Have you ever been told, “You can’t do that!”? If the person was more advanced than you (especially a tutor), it’s likely you would have corrected yourself. The thing is though, sometimes with enough focus and application, a ‘wrong’ can end up being great.
For example, using a thumb over the neck is completely unacceptable in the world of classical guitar - it’s a dreadful approach due to how it positions the fretting hand so is banished from a student’s playing as soon as it appears. But watch jazz icon Pat Metheny and his often visible thumb over the fretboard is a big part of his chord and soloing playing (his sixth and fourth strings are often fretted this way). Jimi Hendrix favoured the thumb too for both licks and chords (just check out Little Wing!). In the world of electric guitar, this ‘wrong’ is perfectly acceptable, especially for string bends and fingerpad (not tip) fretting; but neither of these options is hugely common among classical guitarists.
Another example: I heard a great tutor state to a class, “Never follow the major 3rd (3) (b3) with a minor 3rd when soloing over a dominant 7th chord. He was both right and wrong but, in the context of the class’s ability, he was right. Why? Because learning the most frequently occurring aspect first is best. So in b3-3 this case the movement is by far the most common option in blues and other styles (it’s a satisfying resolution). So get those developing students to recognise and use the preferred option first; then, with experience and insight, address how to approach the lesser used option. Want to hear this ‘wrong’ in action? Check out Brian May’s solo on Queen’s Tie 3-b3 Your Mother Down; he plays a couple of downward bends that not only sound great but present a lesser-travelled road in rock soloing. So the ‘wrong’ has resulted in something great. As you work through this issue, you’ll see GT focused on the common, the popular and the great. You’ll also find a few ‘wrongs’ being championed too. Stop and dwell on these as you may find they marry well with your own tastes. Indeed, they may even give you an extra dash of uniqueness, and who doesn’t want a little more of that? Enjoy!