Inventory your playing and list your repertoire to get prepared for gigs and evaluate areas for improvement.
There are two kinds of practice: repertoire practice, and the other kind. We’ve examined the other kind here in months gone by, and there will be plenty more of that to come. This time, however, let’s get some repertoire practice underway and start booking some gigs.
“Wanna play some tunes?” “Sure, what do you wanna play?” “Uh, I don’t know, what tunes do you know?” “Oh, I don’t know, I know a lot of tunes, really. What do you like to play?” “Well, do you know Stella?” “Uh, let’s see… (noodle noodle)…Um, how ‘bout a blues? Do you know any blues heads?” And on and on it goes.
It turns out that knowing a song and being able to play it are two entirely different things. As a jazz guitarist, it’s important to know the following four aspects of a song: 1.) Melody (playing “the head”); 2.) Chords (comping); 3.) Melody and Chords Together (playing a chord-melody solo); and 4.) Improvising (taking a solo over the chord changes or harmony of the tune).
These four aspects of a tune are all related and helpful to each other. While not all tunes will fall neatly on the neck as a chord-melody solo, learning to express at least some of the chord quality behind a melody will give you the best understanding of the song. The more fully you understand a song, the better you will be able to improvise on it. The better you have the melody down, the better you can interpret it freely and refer to it in a solo. The better you know the chord progression, the more confident you can be while soloing and playing a chord-melody solo.
Write it down
There’s nothing like seeing something in writing to make it seem so much more official. To illuminate exactly which songs you “know” and enjoy playing in different ways and in different ensemble contexts, let’s get a few lists going. It might start with one song in one category, or you might find that you have several songs already at your disposal, but the important thing is to begin. I recommend one piece of paper with three column headings across the top: HEADS, CHORDS, CHORD SOLOS.
Take an honest inventory of your playing. We’re talking about memorized melodies and chords here. Songs you can play if you have a chart in front of you can go on a separate list—that’s worthy, too, but not quite in your repertoire. It will be a good feeling to discover that you actually can play the head to “Stella,” for example, and you just didn’t realize it. You might surprise yourself to know that in fact you do have the chords to “Donna Lee” memorized quite easily, you just need to work on the melody some more. Write it all down in the proper place. Watch your list grow.
Go through fake books and try playing songs you’ve heard for many years, but you’re just not sure if you know the changes. Try not to look unless you really get stuck. Then try it again. Write it down. Just learned a new song last night on the bandstand by someone calling out the chords to you? You’ll probably never forget it. Write it down in your comping category. So you worked out a comfortable fingering for the head to “Billie’s Bounce?” Write it down. Then go over it a few times every day to be sure. (That’s likely one you can add to the chord category, as well, if you know the modified 12-bar blues form).
It seems that if we learn a song without having read it from a written part, we will never need a chart for it. If, however, you have always used a chart for a song that you’ve played again and again, you’ll need to wean yourself from it. Try going chart-free during a practice session. More often than not, you’ll impress yourself by knowing at least one part of the song: the chord changes or the melody. You’ll be able to visualize the phrases and the form as you play. You’ll gain freedom and a deeper understanding of the tune by playing it intuitively rather than relying on exactly what’s on the page.
I used to watch and listen to jazz guitarists play tunes all by themselves as if they had just decided to pick up the guitar that moment and see how it goes. I couldn’t imagine how those gorgeous voicings and reharmonization ideas were just flowing out so effortlessly. Then, dawn broke. There, as if written on the sky, I saw so clearly what had been going on: they had practiced! Be creative and reach for the unexpected harmony when making choices in a chord-melody solo. Take your time and craft it and let it build in a way that you like. Listeners will appreciate that, too, when the time comes to perform the piece.
Make notes to yourself as much as you need to. Many players and arrangers for solo guitar performance write out their chord-melody arrangements in notation for other players to use and perform. Again, the power of visual representation is considerable. Write your ideas down for future reference, either your own or someone else’s. Then play it, play it, play it. Add it to your chord solo list. The longer that part of the list gets, the more comfortable you will be at playing solo gigs, duo gigs and even trio gigs. Whatever role you are called upon to play as a guitarist, you will be prepared. It will say so right there on your list.
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.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
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.