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Create a Cool Riff From Your Chord Progression
August 15, 2011
Hey there,!

Dave Vance's Learn To Play Rock Guitar Newsletter: Resources, ideas, and tips for improving your rock guitar chops.

August 14, 2011

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***Special Note***

Our hearts go out to the families of the fans who lost their lives in the Sugarland accident at the Indiana State Fair this weekend.

Very strange that a similar accident occurred at a Cheap Trick concert last month.

Create a Cool Riff From Your Chord Progression

Have you every finished up a practice session and thought, "Wow, I can rock out a minor pentatonic scale, but how do I use it over a chord progression?"

You know, the age-old quandary, how do I turn it into music, not just a bunch of notes?

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in learning the details of scales or chords that we forget why we started playing guitar in the first place. When we finally step back to take stock of what we've learned, we wonder how to put it all together so it comes out as music.

Have you been over to Guitar Tricks yet?

Here's a great lesson centered around taking the notes from the chords in a progression and creating a cool riff from those notes. This is a key fundamental to tying your various skills together to create some killer tunes. I'll let Neal explain in Guitar Tricks Lesson 29: Chord Riffs.

Like Neal says, get out there and try something new!

Cool Website of the Month

As guitar players, most of the time we don't give much thought to gear outside of guitars, amps and pedals. Of course, there's a whole world of other toys that can help us in our pursuit of the perfect sound.

I recently saw a contest for a pricey ribbon microphone on a site called Recording Hacks. Recording Hacks is the brainchild of Matt Mcglynn, dedicated to recording gear and techniques.

It seems that over the course of building the site, the main focus has become microphones. There is quite a searchable database of microphones, with details of what you might pay for each mic (pronounced like 'Mike') as well as the best situations to use said microphones.

It's a nice website for all musicians, but for guitarists, it's handy to have a resource to guide you in your pursuit of amplifier mics for live and recording sessions. Head over to Recording Hacks to check it out.

Learn To Play "Lick It Up" by KISS

If you are even just a little into rock music, no doubt you've heard of the band KISS. KISS is a classic rock/metal band formed in the early 1970s that still writes and performs today to sold-out shows. You'd most likely recognize them by their face make-up, outlandish costumes and wild back stories. They are known for their hits "Detroit Rock City", "Rock 'n Roll All Night", "Doctor Love" and the ballad "Beth".

KISS are masters at promoting themselves. In the early 1980s, after it seemed like their popularity was dropping off, they decided to "unmask" themselves and stir things up. They had always been seen as their alter-egos in the make up and costumes, so losing these created the hype they needed to re-excite their fan base.

Their second "unmasked" album was "Lick It Up", which was a commercial success for KISS. It was their eleventh studio album, and went gold after only three months on the market. This was back in the day when you had to buy the vinyl album or cassette in a record store. In fact, there was no such thing as a download, mp3 or iTunes!

Released in 1983 (I had just graduated from high school - man, time flies!), the title song got lots of radio play and is considered one of KISS' classic hits. Get a load of this video:

Here are the tabs to play Lick It Up.

Like Songsterr tabs? You can sign up for full access here and see what you get.

Check out all their tunes on the KISS iTunes page.

Cool Guitar App of the Month

Electric Guitar Fretboard Addict Developed by Michael Rylee

One of the challenges we have as guitar players is learning where notes fall on the fretboard. You know, on which frets are the A notes on every string, or the B notes, or the C notes, etc.? Why is it important to know where the notes are? Well, imagine this…

You're jamming with your band at a local rock festival and you are about to take a big guitar solo. The song is in the key of A, and you're going to wing it (improvise). If you don't know where the scale notes are on the fretboard, or you only know one or two scale patterns, you're going to have one of two results...

At best, your solo is going to be pretty boring if you can't rip up the neck and have your fingers land on the right frets. At worst, you'll be hitting wrong notes throughout the solo. Just a bit embarrassing, don't you think?

Electric Guitar Fretboard Addict can help you with this. It's set up as a game to test your ability to memorize the notes of the fretboard. You are progressively moved up one fret at a time to test your memory. It alternates between

1) giving you the note name, which you have to locate on the neck, or
2) places a mark on the fretboard and you have to decide what note it is.

You can also use the app for learning the notes of chords. Technically, chords are made up of at least 3 notes, and when you're soloing over chords, , it's helpful to know what those notes are.

The free version allows you to work within the key of C Major. If you try to change keys, it will prompt you to purchase the full version of the app.

For the iPhone: Electric Guitar Fretboard Addict FREE - Michael Rylee.
For Android: Sorry, didn't find a version for this OS.

You Are Only Limited By Yourself...

I've gotten a number of emails and comments from people who have some physical challenge in their lives. These run the gamut from hand size, whether too big or too small, having a stroke, being overweight, even losing a fingertip. Folks want to know if they too can learn to play guitar, or overcome these challenges and learn (or re-learn) guitar.

You don't need me to tell you that "stuff happens". We're almost never prepared for the garbage life throws at us when we're busy making other plans. But that's life, right. Nothing is ever 100% what we expect it to be.

The question is, what do you do about it. Do you get up, dust yourself off and move on? Or do you get hung up on the challenge and let it get the best of you?

Well I want to introduce you to some pretty famous people that decided to fight back when life handed them a bag of crap. They couldn't hand the bag back and say, "No thanks!" They just had to play the cards they were dealt and succeed in spite of the challenge.

Ever heard of Tony Iommi? Guitarist for Black Sabbath? Tony lost two of his fretting fingertips in a shop floor accident before Sabbath made it big. It actually happened to him on his last day on the job. I can only imagine the pain he must have felt, both physically and mentally. Like watching his dream go down the toilet...

Most people would give up guitar, but he figured out a way he could continue playing. He re-learned how to play guitar using plastic tips on his fingers after a bunch of experimentation.

Or how about Jerry Garcia, Phil Keaggy and Django Reinhardt, all having lost the use of some fingers from various accidents.

These guys overcame their losses and made incredible contributions to music and guitar playing. It was not easy for any one of them to play guitar with their "handicap".

Heck, think of how frustrating it can be when you're trying to learn those barre chords and they sound like mush. These guys had to get past pain, re-educating their fingers, changing technique to compensate for the loss, even battling their own self-images.

But I've saved one of the best stories for last.

How about a man that was born without a right hand? He didn't lose it - it was never there! This guy takes away almost every excuse for not playing guitar. Let me introduce you to John Denner.

John's a pretty innovative guy. He developed a device that allows him to pick the strings - basically a sock with a pick on the end that he pulls on to his arm. He has gotten so good at playing guitar that he's been able to play with many famous guitarists and it's become his full-time profession.

His instructional courses are available at Hal Leonard Corporation and He's an advocate for amputee legislation and travels to public schools to help renew support for music education programs.

These examples are all to say that if you have the desire to do something, do it. Don't let circumstances prevent you from reaching for your goals or dreams. And don't let the difficulty of the task keep you from trying. In short, don't let anyone or anything get in your way.

I truly believe if you make up your mind to do something and do whatever you gotta do, you will make it happen, as long as you don't quit. Like Marvin and Tammi said, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough!"

In the end, you are the magic.



Dave "Eddie" Vance is a rock guitar enthusiast and gear nut. He has been playing guitar for over 30 years and enjoys tormenting the neighbors every chance he gets. When he's not slaving for the man, you can find him rocking out with his B.C. Rich Bich guitar, a cold beer and some sweet tunes.

He also runs, but you knew that already!

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I review products before recommending them. If you buy a product based on my recommendation, I will receive a commission. However, my emails also contain links that don’t require any investment on your part and are jam-packed with "juicy, guitar learnin' tastiness".

We don't rent or share your name with anybody. Feel free to forward this issue to any friends you think would enjoy its contents. They will thank you. So will I.

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