I must (slightly belatedly) congratulate Bath Guitar Lessons student Huw, who passed his Rock School Grade 6 the other day with merit.
I just want to say congratulations and good luck to Bath Guitar Lessons student Ash, who is starting this week on the Royal Northern College of Music’s new foundation degree in popular music practice. Ash has been a great student since I first taught him at IGF in 2007.
If you’re viewing this, you must know that the new Bath Guitar Lessons website – www.bathguitarlessons.co.uk – is now online.
To celebrate the launch of this shiny new website, I’m offering free one hour introductory guitar lessons until the end of October. That’s a free guitar lesson, just in case you thought your eyes were deceiving you the first time.
Call 07929 911092 to book one up!
In this week’s lesson, I want to look at vibrato. If you’ve got a great one, everything you do will sound professional. Without a good vibrato, you’re a rubbish lead guitarist. Fact.
I’ve never really seen vibrato taught well, so I’ve developed a system to help my students with it. Most of the time you’re just told “it’s a feel thing” and left to wobble the string in the hope it sounds good. That normally ends up with an uncontrolled, out of tune mess. It’s better to think of vibrato as a series of bends. If you can bend a string in tune, you can do a good vibrato. In this video (and part 2, coming next week), I’ll show you some of my system for building up your vibrato.
Don’t forget to visit my website at www.bathguitarlessons.co.uk
String bending is the most important lead technique for electric guitar. There are hardly any great rock, blues, or metal solos that don’t use this technique. Yet many guitarists do it wrong, not getting the bends in tune or having poor control. So I made a video to show you how it’s done, because I know everything.
I would love to take your money from you, and in return I would happily show you how to bend strings and do many other exciting things on guitar which will make you happier and more desirable to the opposite sex (and the same sex, for that matter). Check out www.bathguitarlessons.co.uk, and be aware that I am currently offering a free introductory lesson for new students. That’s right, a free guitar lesson (in Bath).
Apologies for the lack of new lessons. I have at least three more lessons written and ready to go, but I haven’t had time to record the video, and now it’s too dark.
So while you’re waiting, I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on guitar tone, because most guitarists have a crap tone and that’s kind of the fault of guitar mags (and I speak as someone who writes reviews for a guitar mag).
The trouble is that when we review a multi-fx unit like the new [I was going to name a specific brand here, but I've chickened out because I want to keep my job] pedal, we have to consider in mind of a) what it’s designed to do, and b) the type of person that might buy it. And budget multi-fx pedals are meant to be a cheap way for new players to get a bunch of fun sounds, find out what the different effects do, and sound good playing on your own in your bedroom. And most budget multi-fx do that reasonably well, so they get positive reviews.
But that doesn’t change the fact that they actually sound horrendous, and will break almost immediately if you subject them to any kind of real gigging. And that swamping your sound in tons of gain and effects at once is great way to guarantee that the drummer will drown you out.
The reason that some guitarists have a rubbish tone is the same reason they sound crap improvising over a 12 bar blues: they’re not listening. They’re not listening to the chord changes when they land on an Eb just as the chord changes to D, and they’re not listening to the sound when they set up their amp. They’re just going, “Well, I like a lot of bass, so I’ll turn the bass control up high, and I don’t like too much mid, so I’ll turn that down.” I often see guitarists do that before they play a note through the amp. Which is crazy, because all amps sound different, and every time you move an amp, the acoustic space changes and it will sound different. I had a Laney AOR50 for a while, and the only place to set the treble control on that thing was zero. Whereas that setting on a MESA/Boogie would sound like it was under a duvet.
And another thing: Don’t set the gain based on how it feels. It’s easy to do that. A certain amount of gain makes the guitar feel different when you’re playing. But guess what? You’re audience can’t feel the guitar, and they don’t care. So go with how it sounds, which is almost always less gain, even for metal. If that makes your licks harder to play, learn to play them better.