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Question of the Month: Polish Here, Shine Over There

Question of the Month: Polish Here, Shine Over There

Breaking Benjamin's Keith Wallen

Photo by Courtney Dellafiora

For this month’s question, Breaking Benjamin guitarist Keith Wallen chimes in with reader Benoit Champagne and PG staff on where they’d like to see themselves grow in their musical pursuits.

Question: What’s one area you’d like to improve on in your music?

Guest Picker - Keith Wallen

A: I think there is always room for improvement for myself musically. The moment you stop trying to improve or stop caring about ways to innovate your skills or approach, you’ve kind of given up or resolved yourself to the level you’re at, even if it’s unconsciously. Playing guitar is such an amazing form of expression, but it can go hand in hand with writing, so I think songwriting is what I’d most like to improve upon. Finding that perfect combination of chords, melody, and lyrics is not easy, but I think all of us songwriters strive to come as close as we can. I know I do!

Current obsession: My newest obsession is my new signature ESP Custom Shop guitar that I got this fall. It is, for all intents and purposes, my “weapon” to go into battle with for all my solo/non-Breaking Benjamin shows. Shout out to Tony Rauser at ESP for helping me to create my ultimate dream guitar! It’s basically a souped-up E-II M-I, which is another ESP guitar that I’ve owned for almost five years now and absolutely love. I now have my own version of my favorite guitar, complete with Seymour Duncan Jeff Beck pickups, a unique crow design, a matte finish, and my logo set for the inlays.

Reader of the Month - Benoit Champagne

A: I’ve been working on practicing scales and modes at 40 bpm and lower. 60 bpm and higher is a lot easier. If you start very slow and gradually speed up, that’s where I see a lot of improvements and ease reflected in my playing—no matter the fingering pattern or speed involved.

Current obsession: Expanding on two-handed tapping. That’s something I have put aside for many years, but am currently getting back into with the scales and chord knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years. I find that this allows me to expand on my fretboard mapping knowledge with a different point of view.

Editorial Director - Ted Drozdowski

A: I’d like to establish a better, more disciplined practice routine, for chasing inspiration. When I was touring, everything flowed like water; now it’s more like pancake batter.

Current obsession: In almost every spare minute of the past two years, I’ve been working on a feature-length film called The River: A Songwriter’s Stories of the South with my cosmic roots band, Coyote Motel. Now, it’s screening at film festivals, winning laurels, and the soundtrack is coming out. I am obsessed with getting this trippy film into the world and having as many people experience it as possible.

Associate Editor - Jason Shadrick

A: It’s always a struggle to turn the microscope inward on your own playing. Plus, the target you are aiming for is always moving. Currently, I want to not focus so much on the craft of guitar playing, but more the art. A friend recently told me that I should look for the vulnerability in my playing—and I don’t disagree.

Current obsession: I’m binging on the original Broadway cast recording of School of Rock. My daughter recently was cast in a production, and it has become her gateway into the world of loud guitars. Next stop: AC/DC.

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