Master Class(8)

November 1, 2004



The Fearsome Majestyof the X-Y-Z Axis: Free Your Mind and Torch Your Chops with Renegade Rocker Reeves Gabrels
By Andy Ellis

While hammering a series of fast, ascending trills, Reeves Gabrels reaches behind his fretting hand and tugs the vibrating string, drawing microtonal bends and Theremin-like swoops from his Fernandes RG-13. Goosed by the onboard Sustainer circuitry, the sounds blend into an eerie, writhing melody laced with octave harmonics. The regulars at the Family Wash-a Nashville pub known for showcasing singer-songwriters-stare at the spectacle, many in disbelief. Bathed in the stage lights, the sweat-soaked Gabrels peers over his shades at the drummer, nods, and brings the swampy groove to a close in a squall of feedback and tom rolls. As the audience applauds, a young banker sitting at the bar breaks into a grin. "Wow," he exclaims. "I came expecting to hear Americana, but what do I get? Jimi Hendrix!"

The following afternoon, Gabrels is back on the same stage, but this time to share his tips and techniques with GP readers. The Wash won't open for several hours, so we have the place to ourselves.

Listen up...


preview    download mp3 Beginner



Rock Guru: Steve Morse - Lowdown Melodies
As told to Jude Gold

In every chord progression, there is a melody hiding in the low strings, just waiting to be brought to life. But it often seems that more advanced guitar players tend to play melodies mostly on the high strings and frets, well above the chords and harmony. However, one of the most natural places to play a melody on the guitar is on the low strings, and this fact was not lost on classic country players who would often play beautiful themes on the lowest three strings.

Get down with Steve...


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EZ Street: How to Fingerpick Arpeggios
By Andy Ellis

The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music defines arpeggio as "the notes of a chord played one after another instead of simultaneously." It goes on to detail strict rules for executing arpeggios (including note order and rhythm) that as contemporary guitarists, we can cheerfully ignore. Arpeggio is Italian for "harp like," so in a nutshell, when playing arpeggios we're trying to emulate the rippling sound of a harpist plucking chord tones in succession. Once you gain some confidence with arpeggios, you'll find them indispensable for all styles of music.

Viva arpeggios...


preview    download mp3 Intermediate



How Not to Suck: Problem Weak Concept of Harmony
By Jude Gold

Just as a glossy, candy-apple red paintjob will instantly "pimp out" an old, rusty Cadillac into to an eye-catching ride, the right harmony can transform an ordinary melody into a magnificent musical passage. How would you liven up a snoozy riff with harmony? More elaborate arranging solutions might involve contrapuntal countermelodies, droning pedal tones, or melodic echoing via canonic imitation. But the simplest and most effective way to harmonize a melody is through parallel motion.

These 9 examples will launch you on the road to freedom...


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Reader's Challenge: Ring Fingers
By Jude Gold

Clever use of open strings can make any guitar ring majestically. But, as Tony DiPoto of Neenah, Wisconsin, points out, these long-ringing drone tones can do more than just make your 6-string sound like a harp. "Open strings also offer a way to play unique chord voicings that would otherwise be impossible on the guitar," writes DiPoto. The rippling, arpeggiated progression below proves his point.

Open your mind...


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How to Play Like...Elmore James
By Andy Ellis

Born in 1918 in Mississippi, Elmore James began recording his wailing slide riffs in 1951, after serving in the Navy during World War II. James favored open-D tuning (D, A, D, F#, A, D, low to high), and was known for playing a Harmony Sovereign or Kay flat-top tricked out with a DeArmond magnetic soundhole pickup. James died from heart failure in 1963, yet during his tragically brief career, he wrote a handful of blues classics, including "The Sky is Crying," "Shake Your Money Maker," "It Hurts Me Too," and "Dust My Broom."

James was one of the earliest-some claim the first-Delta slide guitarist to go electric and perform with a drummer. Whether he or Muddy Waters led the charge to amplification, James set the tone for blues rock, and as a result, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. His raunchy bottleneck tones and powerful attack inspired Hound Dog Taylor and J.B. Hutto, as well as the Rolling Stones, Duane Allman, Jeremy Spencer of Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Michael Bloomfield, and George Thoroughgood.

Get fresh with Elmore...


preview    download mp3 Advanced



Jazz Guru: Charlie Hunter - Superbad Funk
As told to Jude Gold

Few things are as funky as a good James Brown groove. And although most grooves approved by the so-called Godfather of Soul involve two different guitar riffs and a bass line, I've found that the three parts often lock together so perfectly that it's entirely possible to play them all simultaneously on one guitar-and what an amazing sound that is!

We couldn't agree more...


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Hot Guitarist Alert: Sam Miltich
By Josh Workman

Just 19 years old, Miltich has an astonishing command of the fretboard, and not only was he a featured guest on NPR's Weekend Edition, he also performed at New York's prestigious Lincoln Center with the Robin Nolan Trio as part of The Spirit of Django Reinhardt 50 Years Later-a massive tribute celebrating the golden anniversary of the Gypsy jazz pioneer's death. These days, Miltich tours like mad with the Clearwater Hot Club and the Hot Club of San Francisco.

Check out his finger work...


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