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    Guitar Expert

    by Will Landrum

    Since I receive so many individual questions ranging on such
    various topics, I realized that some of these questions may
    be on everyone else’s mind too and it would be beneficial to
    publish them here.

    So here are some “questions and answers”, “inputs and outputs”
    that I’ve compiled for your guitar playing edification.



    I just did the exercise on your “Telltale Scale” article
    ( )
    for the major scale in A, F# and Gb and found the following
    errors in your answers:
    – F# – 7th position should be F, you have E#
    – Gb – 4th position should be B you have Cb


    When spelling out the notes in a key, you must follow the
    step rules, (obviously) and also all seven of the note letters
    must be accounted for.

    Yes. F is E# tone wise. But in the key of F#, the E is sharped.
    In other words you can’t have an F and F# in the same key.
    It’s theoretically incorrect.

    Same thing with the Gb scale.



    Hi Will,
    Last night when practicing a Paganini piece, I came across
    a section with a stretch from a horror movie! I consider
    myself a average to good guitarist, but this stretch is
    just impossible and you have to pull off between the three

    I have average sized hands, but it looks like you
    would have to have hands the size of Paul Gilbert or
    Steve Vai to pull this off (excuse the pun). Here’s a small
    section for you to have a look at.

    p = pulloff
    (13) = My suggestion

    [pre]Am arpeggio p p p-12–16–8——————————–(13)-10————————————9————————————10————————————12————————————12–8-[/pre]


    You’re right! It’s ridiculous!

    If you discover something in sheet music that seems just way
    too much of a stretch, try to find the same notes in other
    places on the fretboard to achieve the same results. This
    will allow you to move forward AND keep your sanity!

    If you haven’t already figured it out, you could play the
    first string eighth fret C note on the second string,
    thirteenth fret to accomplish the A minor arpeggio.



    Hey Will I like your site, it’s awesome. I’m glad I came
    across it.

    I really don’t know if you’ll be able to help me or not, but I
    have a problem…I am stuck with my guitar playing right now.

    I taught myself everything I know. I am pretty good I guess,
    but when I try to learn something new like a Malmsteen riff or
    something I can never get it, and I always quit. I don’t know
    where to go, I just wanna get better.

    Got any advice? Thanks.


    I’ve actually addressed this type of question before in
    a previous article called “Recipe For Success”. Here are
    some highlights.

    There are several principles you must adhere to if you are
    to ever get to a level of great playing. Some of these
    principles are not just for guitar players. They apply to
    anything in life that you’re trying to accomplish that’s
    worth accomplishing.

    You MUST devote yourself to the task at hand. This can be
    difficult if you “don’t seem to have the time” to play or
    practice. You will have to sacrifice some things in order
    to make time for your music. For example, Friday nights may
    be reserved as your weekly night to go to the movies with
    your friends. It may be a good idea to forget that for a
    while and use the time more constructively to develop your

    Now that you’ve set aside time for your guitar playing, make
    sure you use it for what it was intended! You’ve brushed
    off your movie friends (who want you to be a famous guitarist
    anyway, right?) and now you’re at home free and clear to
    practice. BUT, you see that the season finale of Star Trek is
    Write out a practice schedule for yourself. Work on specific
    techniques or moves.

    Here’s an example:

    6:00 – 6:15
    Practice changing from Dm to C7 because it gives you trouble.
    6:15 – 6:30
    Practice G Ionian scale at different tempos.
    6:30 – 6:45
    Practice right hand tapping.
    6:45 – 7:00
    Practice 2nd inversion Em arpeggio at different tempos.

    Do you know how many times you can play a G major scale in
    15 minutes? Somewhere around 90! That’s 90 repetitions closer
    toward you becoming an expert!

    You could even break this hour into six 10 minute intervals
    if you want. You will be surprised at how much you can
    accomplish in an hour of structured practice.

    Now that you have dedicated the time, and are using that time
    to practice, make sure you STICK WITH IT! If Fridays at 6pm
    is your time to practice, don’t let other things interfere
    with that time.

    Now, as everyone knows…”Life Happens”. If you see your
    time being violated, make it up Saturday or Sunday. Try not
    to skip your practice time completely because it will “open
    the door” to letting it happen again and again.

    4) FOCUS
    Now that you are devoting the time to practice, you need to
    really concentrate on what you are doing. For example, if
    you’re learning to sweep pick that Em arpeggio, you may notice
    that at a certain point in the sweep, you have a problem
    moving your fingers. Isolate your “problem spot” and just
    repeat that spot over and over. Pay attention to every move
    your hands are making. Also pay attention to your nerves.
    Are you relaxed or tense when trying to do this? You need to
    stay relaxed of course. I have actually helped students play
    better by just having them concentrate on relaxing!

    This is a BIGGIE! You can’t be a guitar hero overnight or even
    after one year. There is so much involved with being a really
    good musician. Just because you see someone play real fast, does
    not make them a good musician.

    – Can they compose a good tune?
    – Can they improvise with others?
    – Do they know how to bridal that speed and mix it up with
    tasteful slow playing as well?
    – Do they have any sense of melody?
    – Can they harmonize their leads?

    Your playing and musicianship will mature with time. Heck,
    I went to dinner last week with Michael Fath and he was
    telling me how he was studying with some guy who was a master
    at a particular style because “there is always something else
    to learn”. “The more you know, the more you realize what
    you don’t know”.

    Oh yeah…patience…”if you practice, it will come”. Give
    yourself credit for being ahead of yesterday’s trials.

    Stay positive. Don’t let others tell you that it can’t be
    done or “your song sounds like two cats in a fight”. You
    have to go through it to get to it. You may have to write
    ten lousy songs before you begin to write good songs. Don’t
    let those ten lousy songs stop you! Learn from them! 9
    times out of 10, a genius is just a person who refused to
    give up!



    Hi Will: I receive your emails on a regular basis, and I
    have to say that they are very good and inspiring.

    I have been playing guitar for about a year now, just as a
    hobby and I just love it. I don’t have time to practice
    everyday because I am constantly on the road, but when I get
    a chance I go for it.

    I was wondering if there any books that you can recommend
    about scales, modes, arpeggios, chords, soloing, etc.
    especially those that show you for example the minor scales
    and their extensions, how to identify them on the fretboard.
    How to identify which key are you playing, how to solo over
    chords, that kind of stuff.

    Most of the books I have seen they will for example concentrate
    only on the pentatonic, and only on one position. Thanks.


    I share your thoughts on that too. We actually have an
    incredible book available by my friend Mike Overly called
    the “Guitar EncycloMedia”. I’m not exaggerating when I say
    that this book has it all! I’ve said before that if I’m
    carrying a product on my site, you can rest assured that
    it’s high quality. You can check it out here

    I’m also writing my own “book” (though it will be software)
    on the very things you’re asking about that will be more
    specific and personal in nature such as approaches to soloing
    and composition.

    I hope this helps!

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