Paul Reed Smith hung out with the folks at Guitar.com during NAMM 2015 and spent some time demonstrating his favorite guitar-playing techniques and chords.
It turns out that one of the famed luthier’s favorite tricks is to play a melody a half-step flat and bend up to the correct pitch. He demonstrates this in the video below, beginning at 00:20, by playing “Amazing Grace” and hitting the correct pitches with half-step bends.
It’s not just a pretty sound—it’s also great practice for training your ears and fingers, and building muscle memory so that you can bend in pitch.
Smith says he got the idea after hearing a low-D Irish whistle in a performance of Riverdance, the theater show of traditional Irish music and dance.
“It’s an Irish thing, where the guy lifts his little finger off the bottom [hole],” Smith says. He found the effect so moving that he decided to integrate it into his playing. “It ripped my heart out,” he says. “I went home and practiced my ass off.
“So try to play the line a half step flat.”
Paul also shares some soloing advice he learned from his longtime pal (and client) Carlos Santana. We’ll let you find that one for yourself.