Learning technique, theory, scales, arpeggios, … all good. But you need to be able to apply that knowledge! These studies apply what you’ve learned in our lessons to musical examples. Each study is accompanied by three different styles of backing tracks. There’s always a primary style (the recommended one) that I think sounds best, but you should play through all of the styles to get a feel for how the techniques and concepts can be applied across genres. This also expands your musical vocabulary by playing styles of music you might not otherwise play.
Here’s the recommended practice sequence:
- Watch the video to see the performance of the study and get the overall feel in your ears.
- Download the transcription and watch the video again, following along with the transcription.
- Play through the transcription in chunks (chunking – like we do in our lessons) without regard for timing. Just start working out little sections.
- Reduce the backing track speed to about 60% speed and play along a few times.
- Slowly increase the speed of the backing track and work up to playing the study at full speed along with each of the three backing tracks.
Throughout all of this, be aware of the chord changes and the scales used for each bar. Knowing the theory behind the music helps to tie it all together. If you can recognize the scale or arpeggio pattern you’re playing, it will have more meaning to you than just playing a bunch of random notes and wondering why they sound good against the chord. Remember to try each of the different styles of backing tracks.
Fretting Hand Studies
Focus on your fretting hand hammer-ons and pull-offs with minimal picking. The main goals are to build finger strength and independence and maintain equal durations of notes.
This study is primarily in C melodic minor, but uses some non-diatonic chords and borrows from C harmonic minor to add movement and interest. The piece is basically two sections with section A repeated at the end with a slight variation. The tab is six pages, but...
This legato study has a pretty cool melody with a nice dynamic octave change at the bridge. As with any legato, the challenge is to play it perfectly in time. It's not particularly fast, but maintaining equal durations across all 8th notes will take practice. Adding...
Picking Hand Studies
Focus on your picking hand. Practice inside/outside picking, down slant/up slant, alternate picking, and economy picking.
This outside picking study in A harmonic minor is carefully composed so that every string cross is accomplished with outside picking - so pay close attention to the pick strokes in the tab. The piece starts on a downstroke and is alternate picked from there. Bar 4...
This inside picking study - as the name implies - crosses every string change with an inside picking motion (as opposed to outside pick strokes). Extra credit if you can figure out what Kansas song I was listening to when I wrote this.Styles
This inside-outside picking study will force you to become intimately aware of approaching a string from the inside or outside, so minor adjustments to your picking hand's wrist and thumb bends will be required. The arrangement for this piece features a 16 bar blues...
Rather than focusing on a single technique, these studies are holistic in that they combine techniques with theoretical concepts.
This advanced solo focuses on shred techniques such as fast alternate picking and legato runs. It's in E Phrygian (C major), but includes a non-diatonic B7 chord which pulls the tonality towards E harmonic minor for a few bars. Scale usage includes C major (to create...