Sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win the race.



• Develop a better sense of shred.

• Understand how to phrase in odd-numbered groups.

• Create blistering pentatonic lines in the style of Joe Bonamassa and Eric Johnson

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Since blues playing and improvisation is based around vocabulary, you can’t just throw in intervallic fusion lines or neoclassical sweep arpeggios and expect them to fit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for experimenting with sounds from different genres, but you’ll want to pick the right moments to work in these ideas. Having a strong foundation in the blues will ground the listener and make the experiments pop out more without alienating them. So, let’s look at a handful of shreddy blues licks that you can throw down at the next local blues jam without (hopefully) drawing the blues purist’s wrath upon you.
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Look beyond playing the “right” notes.

Chops: Advanced
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Understand how to phrase “outside” notes.
• Learn how to add tension to speedy passages.
• Strengthen your alternate-picking technique. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

In my earlier years as a guitarist, I was intimidated by the idea of expanding musical lines with notes that weren’t in the scale that was diatonic to the progression or chord I was playing over. What helped me get pass this fear? Studying how some of my favorite players incorporate non-diatonic notes in a systematic way. In this lesson, I’ll share some of the ideas I discovered. We’ll explore the concept of chromatic playing and see how you can include non-diatonic notes in your phrases. I’ll examine how a couple of my favorite players have used the chromatic concept—Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs and Deep Purple) and Ian Thornley (Big Wreck). I’ll also show you an example of how I incorporated chromatic playing into a solo from one of the songs on my latest album. Okay, let’s get started.

First off, let’s define the term chromatic. A quick internet search gives us this definition: Music relating to or using notes not belonging to the diatonic scale of the key in which a passage is written.

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Rethink your approach to pentatonic shapes by pushing the limits of your picking.



• Visualize different string groupings for pentatonic scales.
• Understand the basics of economy picking.
• Learn how to create lines in the style of Eric Johnson, Shawn Lane, and Joe Bonamassa.

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When I first heard about economy picking, the simplicity intrigued me. The concept is relatively straightforward: After a downstroke, if you're moving to a higher string, you make another downstroke. If you travel to a lower string, that requires an upstroke. Many beginners often intuitively do this. It wasn't until a bit later that I adopted a regimen of strict alternate picking for scales and sweep picking for arpeggios. But the idea of economy picking echoed in my mind. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have one picking style that could fluidly transition from arpeggios to scales? As time went on, I explored players like Django Reinhardt, Frank Gambale, and George Bellas, and economy picking naturally found its way into more of my technique.

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