Master Class(4)

July 1, 2004

Killer Comping: Kevin Eubanks on the Fine Art of Accompaniment
By Jude Gold

Let’s face it: Harmonically, dynamically, and rhythmically speaking, if you’re a rock guitarist stepping into a jazz ensemble for the first time, you carry with you nearly as much damage potential as a bull trotting through the front door of a china shop. Luckily, when you’re ready to open your eyes and ears to higher level of musical interaction, help is available from one of the most experienced, versatile, and gifted guitarists on the planet, Kevin Eubanks...While Eubanks may be best known for his monstrous Wes Montgomery-meets-Jimmy Page lead guitar chops, if anything, it’s his ability to accompany—that is, to comp—that has been the bedrock of his remarkable career.

“When you comp, you want to give the music some lift so it’s that much easier for soloists to get their ideas out. You’re putting air under their wings. If you get too heavy beneath them, then you’re directing them when they should be directing you. You have to get in there, yet you can’t get in the way. How do you do that?”

Eubanks is about to answer his own question. By focusing on a hypnotic chord progression from his entrancing new acoustic album, Angel [InSoul, available online at], Eubanks will share some ways you can become a better accompanist and, by extension, a better soloist.

preview    download mp3 Beginner

EZ Street - Demystifying Artificial Harmonics
By Andy Ellis

We explored natural harmonics last month, so now let’s explore the world of artificial harmonics. Like their natural siblings, artificial harmonics are bell-like overtones that add sparkle to your sound. But because they can be played anywhere on the fretboard, artificial harmonics are even more versatile. Once you get the hang of how to set up and attack artificial harmonics, you’ll find ways to weave their chimey timbres into lead lines, arpeggios, and even chord voicings.

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Rock Guru - Steve Morse - Melodic Harmonics
As told to Jude Gold

Many guitarists know how to play harmonics, but far fewer realize how easy it is to create fully developed melodies using them. Distorted or clean, few sounds on the guitar are as pleasing to the ear as a melodic string of harmonics. The hypnotic effect of successive harmonics is further amplified when each new pitch is sounded on a different string from the previous one, allowing the earlier harmonic to remain ringing. When harmonics overlap in time, you can get majestic sounds such as these three examples...

preview    download mp3 Intermediate

How to Play Like... Duane Allman
By Andy Ellis

In the late ’60s, Duane Allman’s blazing slide work with the Allman Brothers Band inspired a generation of rockers to explore bottleneck guitar. While he may not have been the first to slam Delta blues licks through a cranked 100-watt Marshall stack, he certainly exposed more ears to that fat, squawky sound than any guitarist before him. Today’s slide-wielding rockers, including Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth, Eric Sardinas, and Warren Haynes, all owe a debt to Allman. Skydog—as he was known to his bandmates, friends, and fans—relied on open-E tuning for much of his incendiary soloing. Check out his formula...

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Blues Guru - Popa Chubby - Busking the Blues
As told to Jude Gold

I bring lots of styles to the blues, probably because when I started playing guitar, I wanted to be able to play every genre well enough that I’d always have a gig of some kind. I never wanted to be chained to a day job. There’s even a country influence in my playing, and I’m from the Bronx! Figure that one out. There’s also some rap, hardcore, and dub reggae in there too, so I guess I’m all screwed up. Like many guitarists, I got my start as a sideman. My first solo gigs were probably when I was busking in the subways of New York, playing a beat-up, pink B.C. Rich acoustic that I bought for 99 bucks on sale at Sam Ash. Busking can be a great learning experience, because when you’re playing for the general public, the results are immediate: If you’re good, you get money. If not, you don’t—simple as that.

When you’re busking, it doesn’t take long to figure out which songs work. I’d play blues tunes, Beatles songs, folk songs, bluegrass, and country, but right away, I discovered that people liked high-energy flatpicking grooves like the one in this lesson...

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Acoustic Guru - Peter Huttlinger - A Dash of Flash
As told to Andy Ellis

Here’s a cool lick Chet Atkins used in “Cascade”—a tune he first recorded on his 1977 album, Me and My Guitar. I like this repeating phrase because it’s fairly easy to play, yet it sounds deceptively tricky. Featuring a recurring pull-off, it also contains a chromatically descending melody line and some snappy fingerpicking. The lick is a head-turner that offers a musical way to improve fretting- and picking-hand coordination.

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Hip Grips - David Bloom's Minor-Blues Magic
By Jude Gold

Chicago’s innovative Bloom School of Jazz was founded in 1975. What better way to celebrate the acclaimed institution’s 30th anniversary than with an inspiring blues lesson from the school’s founder, David Bloom? In just 12 measures of music, Bloom demonstrates how colorful minor-blues changes can be on guitar. Progressions like this—which are, as Bloom puts it, studies in “melodic chord linkage”—are sure to increase your command of harmony, inspire new chord-melody riffs, and make you a better accompanist.

preview    download mp3 Advanced

Metal Guru - Rusty Cooley - Hellacious Arpeggios
As told to Jude Gold

When it comes to arpeggiating chords, few approaches are more efficient than sweeping. On a standard 6-string, you can hit six notes in a row with blinding speed by simply raking the pick across the strings. Not much different from a single strum, a sweep takes a minimal amount of energy from your picking hand. The challenge lies with your fretting hand and how well it can keep up with your picking hand.

As with all sweeps, your brushing motions should be connected—almost as if you’re painting a fence—rather than delivering individual strokes of the pick. Don’t force your sweeps. Take a light approach and let the pick do most of the work.

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Hot Guitarist Alert  - Goncalo Pereira
By Jude Gold

It is Pereira’s knack for seamlessly shifting gears from soothing, diatonic, cruise-control riffage to unpredictable, harmonic off-road rage that makes him such a mesmerizing player. Warm up your hands and try the whole-tone sonic mania created by Pereira’s exercises in this lesson.

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