Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Carols for Solo Guitar - Hark the Herald Angels Sing

In the final week before Christmas I thought it would be fun to look at one more Christmas Carol arranged for solo guitar. This is an arrangement of 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' by guitarist Jim Nailon. Jim has kindly allowed some of his work to be used on this site. You can find more of Jim's work at the Liturgical Guitarist  This arrangement is copyrighted by Jim Nailon.

I've included a video of myself playing this on electric guitar with views of the right and left hand. I am not really an experienced fingerstyle guitarist but posted the video to give you some idea of what the piece looks and sounds like when played. My version is tuned down 1/2 step.The scorch audio is standard tuning. I would strongly recommend trying this piece on an acoustic and utilizing a more classical left hand neck placement. I am only a beginner at reading standard notation so I would recommend you listen to the audio in Scorch for a more strict rhythmic interpretation.

You'll note this video was recorded for my old website. I will be transferring most of the guitar tab and video over to this blog in the new year. You can send me a direct message on twitter @jimifan if you need guitar tab from the old site for one of my youtube videos.  Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A not so Fingerstyle - Silent Night

Ok I seem to be on a Christmas Carol roll so here is a new video of Silent Night on guitar. This arrangement is by Jim Nailon at the liturgical guitarist. Used with permission. I couldn't get the open strings to ring out properly so I adapted the piece a little and tried to capture its essence while playing with a pick. You can check out Jim's page for the score in Sibelius Scorch format for a more correct rendition. I hope the video gives you a few ideas about the piece and I encourage you to try and learn it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fingerstyle Guitar - Time for some Carols - O Come All Ye Faithful

As I stated in my last post I am moving my guitar lessons and tab into this blog. Given the time of year I thought it would be appropriate to start with some Christmas Carols arranged for guitar.This is a look at an arrangement of 'O Come All Ye Faithful' by guitarist Jim Nailon. Jim has kindly given his permission to use some of his work on this site. You can also find more of Jim's work on his website Liturgical Guitarist. This arrangement is copyrighted by Jim Nailon.

I've included a video of myself playing this on electric guitar. I am not an experienced fingerstyle player but posted the video to give you some idea of what the piece looks and sounds like when played. My version is tuned down 1/2 step like  a lot of video on this blog.The scorch audio is standard tuning.I would strongly recommend trying this piece on an acoustic and utilizing a more classical left hand neck placement. I am only a beginner at reading standard notation so I would recommend you listen to the audio in Scorch for a more strict rhythmic interpretation. This is a beautiful song. Try to let the emotion of the song come alive in your playing. I hope you enjoy practicing this piece as much as I do.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Video Guitar Lessons Site

My main video guitar lesson site host is moving servers so I plan to close the site and migrate content into this blog. I will be incorporating guitar lessons, licks, songs and tab from my old video guitar lessons site into this blog. I hope the transition will not be too confusing to existing users. I will reference course titles and descriptions so guitarists working on a specific course topic can locate them easier. Thanks to for hosting the site in its original incarnation.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

True Fire Tag Jam#1 - Blues Guitar Jam

The folks at True Fire have a new series going where you can jam with instructors from their site. Basically they get users to jam along with backing tracks on guitar and then are going to create a mash up of all the players together. The first track is with Larry Carlton over a blues in A similar to Stormy Monday. Here is my submission to the True Fire Tag Jam.
If you want to grab your guitar and give it a whirl you can check out the details here. Hurry though submissions wrap up in two days but you can still practice your blues guitar licks with this great backing track.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And A cow Jumped over the Moon: Guitar Exercise

OK here is the second part of the guitar exercise. Not really jumping that far around the fretboard but the intervals can be pretty large given the repeating open high E that is used as a pedal point in the second part. Again strive for an even tone, rhythm and volume between the open and fretting notes. To give the lick a little bit of a neo-classical tinge I've added the G# from the ever popular ( see Yngwie and 80's and Yngwie in the 80's) A harmonic minor scale. Cheers.

Here is the guitar tab with both parts.

A Total Eclipse of the Moon - Guitar Exercise

Ok this guitar lick has nothing to do with the Lunar eclipse today other than the fact that I came up with the lick while watching streaming coverage online of this event. The guitar lick makes a great alternating picking exercise. It is played with 16th notes solely on the high E string. Strive for an even tempo and practice along with a metronome.

Here is the guitar tab:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paint By Numbers Creative Guitar Part Two

In our last post we looked at a piece of guitar tab with no notation and I asked interested guitarists out there to create their own guitar licks using the notes provided. Here are a couple licks using the notes and sequence of notes from the first part of this post.  If you want the powertab notation you can DM me on twitter @jimifan

Here are a couple of different licks using the previous notes:

Win Win - Guitar Tab From Songsterr

Guitar tab gets a bad rap sometimes. I know I am guilty of taking shortcuts and don't spend enough time ear training but sometimes it is nice to pick up a guitar, grab some tab and just play a few songs. I think as with many things in life and music moderation is sometimes the best choice. A primary deficiency with a lot of internet guitar tab is the lack of rhythmic notation. Modern rock guitar can be notoriously difficult to correctly convey the appropriate rhythm. Songsterr is a relatively newcomer to online tab that solves this problem by tabbing out the rhythm and also giving you the option of hearing the tab. This makes the guitar tab much more useful. If you use this referral link below you  (and I) get two free weeks of their PLUS service that allows access to added features on the site.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Paint by Numbers - Creative Guitar

Ok in this guitar lick I'm going to force you to add your own rhythm kind of a musical paint by numbers. So here is the guitar lick but with no rhythmic instructions or notation, or slurs or legato notes.

See what you can come up with and I will post the notation indicating my original guitar lick based on these notes later.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Guitar Exercise 8ths and 16ths

This guitar lick expands on a lesson Paul Gilbert wrote in the latest Premier Guitar see a few posts back for the link. In this guitar exercise I am using just four notes notes D and C and A and G  in two different locations on the neck. The first set is the D at the third string 7th fret and the C on the 5th fret the A and G are on the same frets just on the fourth string. The second position for these notes is the 7th fret G string and 10th fret 4th string for the D and C and again up to the 4th and 5th string for the A and G notes. Now in this exercise you are going to play D,C,A,G first in eight notes with a downstroke and then the same combinations for 16th notes. Then you switch to the next position and do the same just begin with an upstroke. Start slowly with a metronome and see if you can alternate two beats with eighth notes and 2 beats with 16th notes.

A great lick that starts off with the first sequence is a solo section from the live version of "Suicide Solution" by Ozzy and Randy Rhoads. A more recent song that also uses a similar sequence is "Ravenous" by Arch Enemy.

Ok here are the notes in the two positions shown in guitar tab:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Guitar Exercise: C Major Scale & Legato

This is a great guitar exercise for learning the fretboard, scales and practicing legato at the same time. I used the B string and C Major scale as an example but you can apply this exercise to different scales, strings and positions on the guitar fretboard. Basically you use all legato no picking. The sequence is hammer on from nowhere, pull off hammer on hammer on and then pull off pull off then move up to the next sequence of three notes and keep going within the notes of the C Major Scale. The tab notation should make this clear but let me know if anyone needs more explanation. In the guitar tab example below I started with the C note at the 13th fret B string and moved the sequence down the neck. Once you get used to this guitar exercise try moving the sequence up a few times then down at random while staying within the notes of the scale.

Pole Vaulting with Paul Gilbert

Thought I'd share this article from the latest Premier Guitar issue. Paul Gilbert gives some great exercises and licks to develop string crossing picking and legato guitar playing.

Shred Your Enthusiasm: How to Practice Pole-Vaulting

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guitar Exercise - Alternate Picking Altered Tuning

Today's guitar lick is in the same detuned guitar tuning we have looked at for the past couple of days. Check the other posts if you need a further explanation but the tuning is detuned from low to high DGDGGD. This guitar lick has a kind of piano sound to my ears. It is all 16th notes and makes a great alternate picking guitar exercise. Start slowly and work through the lick with a metronome gradually increasing the speed as you can play perfectly at each successive tempo. Try to use strict alternate picking. Here is the guitar tab:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Altered Tuning and Chromaticism

Ok not sure if this is much more musically relevant than the last post but I think this guitar lick is really fun to play. I just came up with it and it is a bit of a twisty lick. It sounds best if you get it around 120 bpm. I'm well under that at the moment but it does make a great practice lick for finger independence. The tuning for the lick is the same as the last post the guitar from low to high is detuned DGDGGD. The 6th, 5th and 1st strings on the guitar are dropped a whole step and the second string is lowered to a G to match the third string.

If this type of guitar lick appeals to you I would recommend practicing with a metronome and strive for consistent 16th notes. Ok here is the guitar tab.

The guitar lick starts off with a funky 16th note intro using muted strings and hammer ons.The lick then progresses to a descending patterns on the second and third strings. Next there is a sequence of ascending notes played on the first three strings. I play the first string with a down stroke and then upstroke for the next two notes. In the final bar there is a real tricky sequence. Experiment with different fingerings to see what works for you. I use one finger per fret until the notes on the 15th fret which I bar with my middle finger. The lick ends with a flashy little pull off section and repeats back into the intro.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Altered Tuning Guitar Licks

Usually when I try altered tuning guitar licks I am trying to emulate the feel and or sound of middle eastern music and instruments. A great Canadian band ( now broken up) to master this was the Tea Party. Jeff Martin has continued to explore middle eastern influences with his new band and solo career. However today's guitar lick has absolutely no connection with this genre. I was playing around with an altered tuning on guitar and came up with a little lick that sounded more like a happy cowboy lick from the 50's or a really syrupy tv jingle.Anyway here it is. DM me on twitter if you need the powertab @jimifan. Here is the guitar tab:

The tuning for the lick is DGDGGD. All altered notes are lowered. So the 6th,5th and 1st strings are lowered a whole tone and the second string B is lowered to a G. You'll note that all you end up with are two notes D and G. This guitar lick was a little bit sappy but the next couple days will look at this tuning and see if we can't extract some more relevant musical ideas from this tuning.
Happy trails.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Drop D Clean Guitar Lick #2

Here is another guitar lick in Drop D tuning that uses a clean sound. This a more of a pop rock style guitar lick. If you have a delay pedal or some chorus use that to color the clean sound of the guitar a bit. The guitar lick alternates with a simple pattern that is played in different octaves. The lick relies heavily on the open D strings on the 4th and 6th strings to ring out. If you like this like try extending the pattern with more notes that sound good to you. The guitar lick uses all eighth notes and repeats at the end. Let the notes ring out especially the open string ones. Here is the guitar tab:

Drop D Clean Guitar Lick

This is a clean guitar lick in Drop D tuning that uses a droning open D string and two slight variations on a movable chord shape. This lick is meant to be played slowly and let the notes ring for their full duration. The rhythm is all eighth notes. The chord shapes can be a little tricky so warm up and start slowly. If the chord shapes are difficult for you try everything an octave up - don't try to force anything and remember stop if you feel any pain or discomfort - don't force your hands to do anything they are not ready for. Here is the guitar tab via tinylick:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Drop D Metal Guitar Lick #3

Here is another guitar lick in Drop D tuning. This one is a little faster than the last two but shouldn't be too hard with a little bit of practice. The bulk of the guitar lick is played with a 16th note rhythm. Try to make the pull-offs smooth and practice the chromatic descending part in the last bar to make it the same speed as the open string part. Try different degrees of palm muting to alter the intensity of the open string parts. Try repeating the guitar lick a few times and work on building intensity as it progresses. Again if you have a drum machine or drum pattern that matches try to play along. Ok here is the guitar tab:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drop D Metal Guitar Lick #2

Here is another metal guitar lick in Drop D tuning. For guitarists who have not played in drop D and don't have a tuner handy a quick way to drop the 6th string E note down to a D is to detune ( lower) the 6th string until it the note sound like the the D string but an octave lower. This guitar lick starts out with a quicker opening line played with 16th notes has some muted open string riffs with some 16th note rests and ends with an eighth note sequence that switches to 3/4 time. If you  want the powertab you can DM your email on twitter @jimifan.

Here is the tab:

Drop D Metal Guitar Lick

I have had some requests to post some Death Metal guitar breakdowns in Drop D tuning. Now I freely admit I have a limited knowledge of death metal. Listening to some youtube videos showing various guitar breakdowns it sounds  like detuned guitar riffs that use a lot of rhythms with unexpected rests and sometimes odd time signatures. In some of the examples I listened to I could hear a lot of Pantera's influence. I think because Vinnie and Dime were brothers ( and great musicians) they were really locked into each other's playing and really had some strong grooves and powerful rhythmic interactions between the drums and guitars. To me a lot of the breakdowns come alive when they are pared with drum tracks so I would recommend trying to come up with your own against a drum machine or backing track with a good drum groove in it. Anyway here is my first guitar lick trying to emulate this style. It is in Drop D tuning. Be mindful of the rests and use palm muting and staccato playing as indicated. Again no video camera was available for this guitar lick but DM me on twitter @jimifan with your email and I'd be happy to hook you up with the powertab so you have some idea of what it sounds like. Ok so here is the tab:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Drop D Clean Metal Guitar Lick

Here is a clean metal guitar lick in Drop D tuning. Like a few of the other guitar licks posted recently it can be played at a variety of tempos and still sound interesting. The rhythm is all eighth notes so it should be pretty straight forward even without the video or audio but email me if you need a powertab for any of the guitar licks and I'll see if I can't help out. The only trick to playing this guitar lick smoothly is the placement of the fretting hand. I find it is easiest if you finger the D and G strings with  the second and fourth fingers. To me that makes it easier to play the notes that do not remain constant.

Here is the guitar tab:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Clean Triplet Metal Guitar Lick

Here is a clean guitar lick in standard tuning. If you want to play it in a lower tuning just drop everything one whole step to get a deeper bass sound. This guitar lick is based on a triplet pattern where the only thing that changes is the bass note. This guitar lick sounds good at a variety of speeds so try it slow and at a medium tempo as well. At faster tempos it also makes a great piece to practice your alternate picking.

Clean Metal Guitar in Drop D Down a Whole Step

I've had some requests to do some clean metal guitar parts in drop tunings. Absent a working video camera I've just posted the guitar tab. The tuning for these licks is Drop D Down a Whole Step so from low to high CGCFAD.  Here are a couple licks I used finger picking but you can also try playing with a pick and fingers too.

The first guitar lick is pretty straight forward it closes with a kinda classical sounding pattern that I like. A great extrapolation on this type of diad playing at the end is Joe Satriani's "Baroque".
The second guitar lick takes advantage of the drop tuning shape and uses a barre across the top three strings. I've used 5/4 here as a time signature. Try altering the rhythmic values and come up with your own guitar licks using similar patterns.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day Guitar Lick - No Pick Needed

It's been a busy weekend by my standards. The new Dell has finally arrived and I'm deep into loading it with guitar software so I can get recording again. Took a break from the computer upgrade to catch the 8th Annual PEI Guitar Festival 2011 at the Guild last night. A really diverse and talented group of musicians performed. The standout for me was a country singer and guitar player named Raymond Taylor. I had never heard his playing before but his voice blew me away. He was truly a gifted singer I was literally spellbound listening to him.

Brent Johnston performed an improvisational piece to finish his set that drew heavily on the minor pentatonic scale especially on the first high E string. So as a tribute lick today's tinylick will be based around the E Minor Pentatonic scale and played solely on the high E string.

The guitar lick is based primarily on a rhythm based on 16th notes. It incorporates some basic tapping on guitar but nothing that will prove too difficult with some practice. The remaining notes are played with hammer-on and pull-offs no pick is needed. Repeat the whole phrase when done. To me the sound has a Celtic tinge to it so shoot for a light dancing uplifting feel.

I don't normally record tinylicks but thought I'd do a quick video of this one to test out the new computer. Turns out though my webcam is incompatible with Windows 7. So no video until I find a workaround or buy another camera.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun Diversion

Computer woes are ongoing but fingers crossed will be resolved before the next millennia. Found a very cool site for creating music that I wanted to share. Here is a link to a little piece I created now try and create your own.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Changing Guitar Chords with just one note.

I've always been fascinated by the guitar. To me the guitar offers an endless variety of note patterns and sequences. The fingerboard's variety is a lot like the complexity of a chess board. Today's tinylick demonstrates how you can go through a chord progression while changing only one note in the pattern at a time on the guitar. I was inspired by the cool intro to the Kiss song "Rock Bottom" for this example. You can also find this used a lot by the Red Hot Chili Peppers especially on the album "Californication".

The first part begins with a G#Minor chord then followed by what I think of as a B chord with no root and a major 7th. Then a B chord no root with a 6th. The progression ends with an E Maj7 chord.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Computer Blues and a tinylick - guitar lick

Bad News my computer is officially dead. No more recording or music until I get my new one. Good News - my new computer is on its way and hopefully will be here in the coming week. You would think without a computer that works for more than five minutes at a time I'd play more guitar but I've become so accustomed to playing with music and backing tracks and online guitar lessons I really miss my computer when I want to jam or practice guitar. Today's tiny lick guitar lick is based around the E Minor Pentatonic scale. It is a descending triplet run that has been used by everyone from Jimmy Page to Kirk Hammett. Although this lick has reached cliché status you can still find variations of it in lots of songs. Try doubling up notes and using chunks of it within your solos and improvisations. A great way to use licks like this is chromatically. Move parts of the shape up the fretboard horizontally to build up to your next lick. Randy Rhoads does this to great effect with a lot of his live pentatonic based guitar licks. For a more advanced variation of this type of lick check out the solo in "Readymade" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Frusciante really tears up the fretboard with a fast repeating lick.
Ok so here is the basic lick - triplet rhythm.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guitar Lick: Seven Note Groupings

Today's guitar lick is based on the E Major Scale. It uses two repeating patterns of odd note groupings with seven notes per pattern. I find this makes a good alternate picking exercise because to me at least it feels unnatural starting the repeating pattern and picking the same note that the pattern ended on. You can follow along with the tab and slower example in the video. Happy Pickin!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Irish Guitar Lick for St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I thought I'd share a little Celtic guitar lick I came up with. I always think of Irish/ Celtic traditional music as kinda an early incarnation of "Lamb of God" because they use a lot of triplet based rhythms. I love traditional Irish music but honestly couldn't tell you a jig from a reel so I'm sure there are lots of "errors" in this example but I kinda like it and hope other people do too. I slowed down the example in the video and also gave you a right hand picking view as well. I'm tuned down a half step for this is you want to play along. Enjoy the rest of St. Patrick's day. I'm gonna celebrate by learning Metallica's cover of Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey in the the Jar".

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick #7

Our final guitar lick for wah guitar week is a repeating lick that uses muted strings and a D 9th chord. The rhythm is 16th notes. Try this at a moderate tempo with a metronome to start and strive for an even and consistent down up strumming with the right hand. Experiment with the wah pedal and try accenting different beats and combinations of muted and non muted notes. Once you get this guitar lick under your fingers try to create  your own variations using different chords, rhythmic accents and rests.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick#6

Today's guitar lick looks at using the wah to add some depth to a legato lick. This guitar lick is played with the left hand only using pull offs and a hammer on from nowhere for the first note.I synced the video and the audio for the backing track separately in case you find a slight delay with the tracks.
Drums courtesy of Sonoma WireWorks Riffworks Instant Drummer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick #5

Today's wah guitar lick is a more traditional example of the wah's use. It's a 70's kinda funk vibe aiming for a straight ahead wah sound. Using notes from the minor pentatonic try coming up with your own riffs using the wah and some string muting. In a rock context the ultimate example of a wah wah is Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". In that song Jimi uses the wah to great effect on both the muted and non muted notes during the intro.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick #4

To my ears the wah pedal has always added a very vocal sound to lead guitar lines. A great example of this is Joe Satriani's beautiful lead guitar in "Summer Song". I try to demonstrate the vocal quality of the wah in this guitar lick. Notice how it changes the way I phrase the guitar lick. This wasn't conscious I tried to play the lick the same but I find playing with the wah pedal actually makes my phrasing try for a more vocal sound. Sounds weird but hopefully that will make sense when you see the video. In this guitar lick I also used the whammy bar which is not reflected in the notation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick #3

Our third wah guitar lick uses a narrower range of the wah to accent the midrange frequencies and add some depth to a descending chord sequence where only the root note changes.

Wah Guitar Week Lick#2

Our second wah wah guitar lick uses a primarily muted 16th note rhythm where only the last 16th note in each bar is not muted but instead an octave is played. The octave pattern descends from E to D to C and the ends goes back to D. In the wah wah example in the video I start by keeping the wah in the bass position and just accent the last note of each bar with the wah. Gradually I deviate from this pattern a little and just move the wah when it feels right to me. Just for fun try to reverse the pattern and accent the muted notes with the wah in full treble mode ( toe down) and then bring it to full bass on the octave.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wah Guitar Week Lick#1

The wah pedal is a versatile guitar effect and I hope that some of the following licks demonstrate a few of the different ways it can be used. In this guitar lick I play a pretty generic C# Minor Blues guitar phrase and use the wah mainly to accent the bends on the B and G strings.

Wah Wah Guitar Lick Week

I've always loved the wah pedal. It is a versatile effect that has been used in blues, rock and metal guitar playing. Despite it's simplicity it has a wide range of  uses that produce a large variety of sounds. Before I share some guitar licks using the wah pedal I thought I would share a free movie that documents its history. You can stream the whole documentary free on Crybaby Doc's youtube channel.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Country Guitar Lick

This is a little country(ish) guitar lick. I'm certainly not a country guitar player but I am impressed, inspired and awe struck by many of the great country guitar players out there. Brad Paisley is touring my neck of the woods this year and thought I'd post a few country style guitar licks to celebrate. This one is a "tinylick" so no video but hopefully you can follow along with the guitar tab.

The guitar licks starts on the F# note on the 11th fret 3rd string. This note is bent up a whole step and held while the B on the 12th fret 2nd string is played then it is realeased. The "b" under the F# note throughout the notation indicates a whole step bend.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scale Climbing Guitar Lick

This guitar lick uses a pattern ascending the A Minor Pentatonic Scale. Each note is picked twice. The pattern is up four and back two. Try using this pattern for each of the Five Pentatonic Scale patterns and work out the scale sequence on the guitar neck up and down the whole scale pattern. Practice this guitar lick with a metronome and using an alternate picking pattern with an eighth or 16th note rhythm.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blues Guitar Lick in C

A blues guitar lick in C with a wah wah.The backing track is from Pete Anderson
called "Slow Blues". It is one of his contributions to the blues guitar backing tracks for the King of The Blues Competition. Used with permission. You can download the backing track and chord progression here:

To hear some of Pete's great blues guitar playing check out his
Thanks to Pete for letting me
use this great track.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Happy Guitar Lick in E Major

Just messing around with the E Major scale and came up with a little
guitar lick that made me happy and was fun to play so here it is.

*NOTE: I posted the guitar licks early this week
so this is under the Feb23 blog post. Just labelled
like this to keep the files straight.