Todays lesson is some valuable tips for great rehearsals:
1. Do your homework: This applies to all genre and to all instruments. You don´t hear the flutist in a great orchestra struggling with his/her parts, beacause the hard work has been made at home before rehearsing. And this should also be the rule for any guitarist - come to the rehearsal well prepared. Classical, Jazz or Rock, it doesn´t matter in which genre you play. Your bandmates doesn´t want to wait for you to practice that fill that you should´ve already nailed at home. They don´t want to answer stupid questions like "where in the song is the solo?", "what key are we playing in?" or "is this the right note?". And they don´t deserve to do this as well. They deserve to play with someone who´s committed to the music, who knows the parts and can contribute to the song. Do your homework, come prepared and enjoy playing!
2. Rehearsing is not a concert. This is the time where you should try out ideas, arrangements and weird shit. Don´t reject an idea before you´ve tried it. But also, pay in mind that you want the piece of music to be as good as possible. Sometimes the ideas that comes up can be cool, but do they serve the song well? All ideas are worth a try, but not all ideas are worth keeping. To let go of one of your ideas might be hard, but before you argue too much, think once more "do this serve the song?". Don´t forget, killing your darlings are almost always the best in the long run.
3. Take a break. Don't rehearse too long. Your brain, and your ears, will get tired. Take a break and get back to it later. Don´t do marathon-sessions and later think "wow, I don´t want to play any more". Stop while it´s still fun to play.
4. Get there on time. No-one wants to wait for a guitarist that´s always late. Or a drummer, or a violinist, or a singer, for that sake.
5. And the last tips for this time - Pay respect to your bandmates. Treat them as you would want to be treated. Many of the tips above deals with respect: Don´t be late, listen to each other, be well prepared and put the music you make on a higher piedestal than that two and a half minute long solo which doesn´t fit in at all. Treat your fellow musicians the way that you want to be treated by them. Don´t act like a cliched rockstar that only cares about his/her image. Be a real star by doing your best to contributing to the music and by paying respect to your colleagues.
Pedals. Essential tools for many electric guitarists. Great tools for sonic textures and cool sounds, as well as a pain in the ass. It´s really a jungle out there, and no-one but you can know how you want to sound. And then there´s the long road to finding the gear to get you to sound the way you want to.
There´s a few classic pedals, and many of them are classics because of how they sound - good. Nowadays you also have the advantage of Internet. Thanks to Youtube, most gear is tested (in better or worse ways) and just a click away from you. If you´re unsure how that Boss CE-2 sounds, just search for it and most likely several videos where it´s reviewed will pop up. But of course, you need to try the pedals out yourself, and you will most likely buy one or two by chance that later on will prove that they´re not right for you. And even when you think "that´s it, I´ve got exactly what I want", some other gear will come your way that most likely will suit you better, or just complement your rig, than that old flanger you carry around.
I´m myself a real pedal-junkie. I´ve got loads of those suckers, and I like most of them. This installment and more further on will deal with how I look at guitar effects. Not so much what to buy, that´s really down to you, but how to use your pedals. In what order they should be placed, how you build your pedalboard and how to power it up. So let´s start with this:
- Get a shitload of pedals. Ok, get as many as you think you need. But buy them with in mind "what do I need for my sound?". If you don´t need a phaser, don´t buy one. If you really like flangers, make sure you buy the one that suits your style of music best. Some of you will surely imitate what your favourite guitarist is using. And thanks to Internet, it´s easier to do this nowadays than ever before. If you want to know what kind of pedals Graham Coxon uses in Blur, make a search at Google. My favourite resource for this kind of business is called Guitargeek and can be found at http://www.guitargeek.com/. Here´s where the real nerds hangs out. And they know a lot about guitar effects. Search for gear, search for what your guitar god uses, or anything else geeky and you´ll most likely find it here. Use it as a reference, but still, buy the pedals you want, not what other tells you to buy. And remember, all of Graham Coxon's sound isn´t in his pedals, or his guitar, or his amp - it´s just as much in his hands.
When I think about it, maybe you shouldn´t get a shitload of pedals. Just get the right amount of pedals for what you want to achieve. And if you are on a limited budget, try to get them on the second hand market - they will be much cheaper that way. On the second hand market there´s also the possibility of getting effects that isn´t made anymore, the ones that for some strange reason has been discontinued. There´s loads of great effect pedals from the past, call them vintage if you want, which not seldom are likely to outclass newer pedals. Some of them come cheap, some of them is hot stuff on the market and will make your account bleed. But some of them are really bang for the buck, and that what counts in my world.
Next blog entry about guitar effects will deal with in which order you should put them. Or more in which order I would have put them.
Here´s some of the pedals I used while recording with indie act Rooni a while ago:
There are so many guitarists out there and still, so few of them knows how to practice in a good way. Many will say "oh, I play for a while and then I´m fine". But you won´t be fine doing that. Or maybe you will, if your goal is to get to a decent level where you´ll get stuck forever. But to get really good at playing guitar, or any intrument for that sake, is to practice in a good way. I´m going to give you some tips now and then on this blog, and here are the first one´s:
- Practice every day: Yes, this is the key to getting good at playing. It´s better to practice just some minutes every day than doing two hours on one day once a week. Why? Well, that´s how the human being works, it needs consistence. And this is not really just a matter when it comes to guitar, or music, it´s a key to getting good at everything. A great athlete trains every day, a great writer writes every day and a great salesman sells stuff every day. And they don´t do it without thinking "how can I get better?". They do it being aware of what they do and how to do it. They might not use the same procedure every day, instead an athlete works out in different ways from one day to another, but he/she will do it with an awareness of progression. And this is what the guitarist also should do. If you want a better legato, you´ve got to work. Hard. And with concistence. And yes, sometimes it will be boring and sometimes it will be frustrating, but then it´s even more important to practice. You must earn your greatness. Practice that legato every day, or at least every second day, to get better. And do it thinking "what must I do to get better?". Don´t fool around for a bit and think "oh, it sounds ok now". Ok isn´t good enough. Good is good, yes, but great is better. And you will only get great of you practice in a good way.
Start out slow, do the exercise or the lick or whatever you need to improve at a slow pace where you make no mistakes. Then, increase the speed, but not too much. You still need to have full control, be relaxed and play without mistakes. Then you can move on in an even higher tempo and in the end, you will nail what you practice in the speed you desire. A metronome will come in handy, so you have something to measure your progress against. It will also be a great tool to check if you really play the lick tight. It´s also good to write down the highest BPM where you can play this exercise flawless, so you will know where to pick up next time you´ll practice. Another good tool is a little recording device, so you can listen afterwards. Do you play flawless? Are there any mistakes? Is it sloppy as hell? Why? A third tool is a mirror, where you can check if your body is tense. Check your shoulders, are they relaxed or are they tense while you play? Are your fingers moving in a relaxed way? Of course, a video camera could replace the recording device and the mirror. You can watch yourself on a video and both listen to your playing and watch your body.
So this is the first installment of this blog, and the first one to focus on practicing. There will be more in the future, a lot more, and it will be complementing the tips in this entry. But for a quick summary, this is today´s focus points:
- Practice every day.
- Practice with an awareness.
- Use tools as a metronome, a recording device and a mirror.
- Start out slow and increase the speed gradually
- Write down and keep track of your progress
- Think about why you´re not getting better
- Great is better than good
- And finally, don´t give up! If you practice properly, you will get to where you want to be.