Jane gives us some exercises for staying in time and experimenting with unfamiliar beats.
Dedicated guitarists will stay up working on hip chord voicings and progressions until the birds begin to chirp and hardly notice the hour. Practicing improvisers will happily spend all of a gorgeous summer day indoors shedding licks and scales over changes. Add to that a similar level of enthusiasm for committing to tempo and groove, and you’ve got yourself good time. Playing with good time helps musicians in a band communicate with each other on a high level. Notice in conversation when someone chimes in with all of the right words, but it’s apparent that they are missing some key implied point that the others are in on? That’s a little like rushing a phrase musically, or comping in a way that just doesn’t get what the drummer and bass player are talking about, however cool the melodic idea or harmonic tensions may be. This month’s practice idea will help you to feel time reliably, and get you having more fun with the band.
Get the Machine
Working with a metronome is essential for checking yourself out during individual practice time. It’s like using a tuner to get your guitar in tune as accurately as possible. Even if you could find a human being with freakishly metronomic time, it would be asking a lot of them to click away for you while you practice all afternoon. Make friends with the metronome, and it will be appreciated by all concerned.
Here’s a daily routine that I developed for myself—and my students—after being intrigued and inspired by conversations with Mick Goodrick and Emily Remler about the importance of working with a metronome. Plan on spending about forty-five minutes or so with this.
Pick a Tune of the Day
It can be anything: a standard tune that you feel comfortable with, a tune that is new for you, something you have memorized, something you have to read, a new original piece you’re working on, a blues, something in an odd meter. Just stay with the same tune throughout this exercise and make it your tune of the day.
Choose Four Different Tempos
I like to spread them out. For example, start with 48, 66, 84, 112.
Play two or three choruses in each of the following categories:
1. Melody alone
2. Comping alone
3. Bass line alone
4. Chords and bass together
5. Chords and melody together
6. Improvising: steady eighth notes; steady eighth-note triplets; steady sixteenth notes; anything you want
7. Go back to the tune in some way (melody, comping, bass, etc.)
8. Repeat the process for next tempo
At what tempo do sixteenth notes get difficult? Do you notice any speeding up or slowing down at the point of transitions between, say, playing chords and improvising? What transitions are smooth? When you finally allow yourself to play anything you want in the improvised section, when do you leave space? What rhythms do you favor most? Do you feel as though the metronome is too slow sometimes or too fast sometimes?
Adapt this exercise to fit your needs once you get comfortable practicing regularly with the metronome. Try it twice a day. I spent one summer warming up with the routine in the morning and then going through it all again at night with the Red Sox games on TV. Maybe you need a quiet space. Maybe you need someone else in the room. You might find that it’s great practice for focusing on the time above all else by having some other distraction in the room, like a radio.
Working with a slow tempo, such as 48, you can make each click represent a quarter note, or you can decide that each click represents beats 2 and 4 in 4/4 time. That’s a useful way to practice a swing feel. It takes practice to feel it that way, but it is a very rewarding groove to catch on to. Listen to swing drummers to hear the 2 and 4 emphasis. It will become a natural thing to play against, around and with. On the other hand, if the groove is straight eighth notes, such as Latin or rock grooves, assign the clicks to be on 1 and 3.
For slow tempos in 3/4 time, you could hear each click as a quarter note. But the slower metronome settings also give you the chance to experiment with other time values for each click. Try thinking of each click as a dotted quarter note in 3/4 time, so that you will feel two evenly spaced clicks per measure (a two-against-three feel). Try just one click per measure in 3/4 to feel each click as a dotted half note. The longer the time is between clicks, the more challenging it will be to land on the next one in time.
This sort of rhythmic awareness can bring a deliberate sense of authority to your playing. In soloing, you will find yourself paying more attention to your choice of rhythms and probably will want to mix them up in some interesting ways. If you’ve had “triplet-itis,” you might start intentionally using more eighth notes or sixteenth notes instead. If you’ve loaded up every possible space with sound, you may find yourself now wanting to frame your ideas with a rest on each end to make them stand out. As an accompanist, you will be particularly sensitive to the tempo and groove in a way that best supports the melody player, and you will get those very cool nods from the drummer and bass player.
Jane Miller is a guitarist, composer, and arranger with roots in both jazz and folk. In addition to leading her own jazz instrumental quartet, she is in a working chamber jazz trio with saxophonist Cercie Miller and bassist David Clark. The Jane Miller Group has released three CDs on Jane’s label, Pink Bubble Records. Jane joined the Guitar Department faculty at Berklee College of Music in 1994.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.