Dave Matthews is renowned not just for his soulful voice and poetic lyrics but also for his distinctive guitar style that's as unique as his music itself. When it comes to Dave's guitar playing, rhythm is the name of the game.

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It’s not easy. But it’s worth the work.



  • Demonstrate a variety of Frank Zappa-esque guitar licks.
  • Examine Zappa’s chord progressions and use of modes.
  • Discuss Zappa’s guitar tone and rhythm sections.
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While there may be countless books, magazine articles, websites, and videos concerning Frank Zappa and his music, I have found that there are few that demonstrate how to solo like Frank. Even the amazing, though at times inscrutable, The Frank Zappa Guitar Book (transcribed by Steve Vai) features only transcriptions of Zappa solos, not a specific “how to” section. With more than 100 releases it can be almost impossible to know where to begin. Paradoxically, I do not suggest starting with the Shut Up ’n Play Yer Guitar series. Those guitar solos are out of context (and for diehard fans). So, where do you begin?
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With a few minor fingering adjustments another world of musical expression can be unlocked.



  • Look at the pentatonic scale in a new light.
  • Understand how to navigate diagonally across the fretboard.
  • Use this newfound knowledge to create more musical phrases.
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Likely the first melodic device any improvising musician learns is the pentatonic scale. It’s a simple pattern to learn on guitar, it’s easy to play, and it always sounds “correct.” It contains mostly the “good” notes and usually you don’t need to think too much about which notes to avoid. What’s not to love? After a while, however, a certain sameness begins to emerge, and one begins to wonder, “Is there something more here?” Well, it has much more to offer than what you see on the surface.
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