How’s it going, Premier Guitarist? Thanks for tuning in to another installment of Intense Guitar! I have to say thanks to all the folks who have been emailing me with comments on the column. I’m ecstatic that everyone seems to be enjoying the column. For those of you who have questions, comments, or future topic ideas, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or Toshi@ToshiIseda.com. For you MySpacers, it’s myspace.com/toshiiseda. But for now, on to the show.
I recently did a series of clinics for Spectraflex Cables, Morley Pedals, Ernie Ball Strings and DigiTech at quite a few Sam Ash and Guitar Center stores that went over great. In preparation for the clinics I had to get my chops together rather quickly as I was in the studio in Nashville weeks before, producing a group called Reckless Celly. Now, I have several different kinds of exercises that will get your chops up to speed. One of them, which we have discussed before, is practicing scales in a cycle of 4ths. Although I won’t go through all the modes doing this (due to lack of time), I will go through the Ionian and Aeolian modes in this fashion.
Guitar playing, when broken down, essentially consists of playing in three different realms: scalar playing, intervallic playing and chordal playing. When practicing in a scalar fashion, I will sometimes try to practice things that are a little more musically interesting, rather than playing scales straight up and down, which can get boring – especially when you’ve been doing it like this for years and years.
This month I’d like to take a gander at a picking exercise that’ll whip your chops into shape in no time. Again, this exercise is directed towards scalar playing but we do have a few intervallic jumps in bars 5, 6, 7 and 8. These patterns are all directed towards three note-per-string scale patterns. When you practice this exercise, you should start with a downstroke, and then do it again, beginning with an upstroke. If you are not used to starting lines with an upstroke, it can be rather challenging. Interval jumps can be especially tricky when having to jump to a lower note from a higher note, using an upstroke.
This exercise is a staccato exercise very much in the vein of Steve Morse, Al DiMeola, Vinnie Moore, etc., but if you’re not interested in getting your picking hand together and are more of a legato player, try utilizing hammer-ons and pulloffs ala Allan Holdsworth or Joe Satriani. For example, hammer the second note from the first and then pull-off from the second note to the third note in the sequence. Ultimately, you are picking only eight times per measure.
I wrote this out in the key of E natural minor (E Aeolian)/G Major (G Ionian). Practice this exercise in sextuplets – that’s six notes per beat. Make sure to use our buddy, the metronome, when practicing this as well. These eight bars will surely get you prepped for “game day” and it sounds pretty cool too.
In closing, I’d really like to say thanks to everyone at Spectraflex, Morley, Ernie Ball and DigiTech for all their support! Until next month, as always and forever, “who dares wins!”
Toshi Iseda is an Alumnus of the prestigeous Berklee College of Music and the American Conservatory of Music. He has been featured in Guitar Player, Guitar World and Guitar/Guitar One Magazines, and is a former instructor at the National Guitar Workshop and former instructor at the American Institute of Guitar.