These three lesson plans are something that I drafted up for Guitar Player Magazine during my time at Berkleemusic.
I’m going to discuss the main lick that I use in Jibboom. The song has a rock – blues progression and a lot of the concept behind it is pulling off notes.
Whenever I am working on something, I break it down into small pieces and I make exercises out of every little piece. Now when I first started doing that, it didn’t naturally come that easily. What I would do—and what I recommend you doing—is musical meditation. That means really focusing on something until it sounds great to you, until it sounds like exactly what you are hoping for. If you just sit and make that an exercise, every time you do it, it’ll become easier. That’s one of the greatest gifts about playing the guitar; whenever you work on something, it gets easier when you go to do it next time.
With this particular song, what I recommend is not necessarily just learning how to play “Jibboom” the way I do, but taking the concept and making your own piece. Every note has to have its own zipcode, its own life, its own personality. If you meditate on it and you force yourself to stick to one idea, you are going to find yourself going in directions that you’ve never gone and that’s how you develop your own unique style.
Bending Notes Lesson for Guitar Player
Another great technique that the guitar can animate to no end, that no other instrument can do, is bend notes; its just the coolest because you can go to Venus and back when it comes to bending notes on the guitar. You got to definitely focus on the control & technique of bending notes because it can be very precarious when you go to hit a note by bending it and you overshoot or you undershoot but when you bend a note, the simplest way is to take the note you want to hit and just bend to it. That’s a good exercise. It’s difficult actually to hit a note and then bend right to it. Whether you are doing a two-fret, one-fret or even three-fret bend, Why limit yourself? Why do only one bend with one finger? Bend with them all, you know? and you got to get right to the note, you just sit for hours and just do that exercise right there on every string. So sit and meditate on just bending notes. Create a little vamp, always try and make it sound like music, you know, and just practice. Go on & on and break it down if you don’t feel as though you are getting something right on. And that’s bending notes.
Steve Vai Whammy Bar Lesson
I’d like to share some whammy bar ideas with you. There’s quite a lot of things that you can fool around with. Let me start off with some interesting things that you might want to consider fooling around with a clean tone. Now because of the tension of the different gauges and the sound that the different strings create, when you bend one note down and you bend another note, they don’t bend proportionally. In some instances, you can create resolutions with the whammy bar if you find the right notes. One of the ones that I love doing is these fifths that are set up and the D string & the B string. You’ve got to just vibrate it a little bit at the bottom because you know, it’s not perfect in tune but its still got a nice sound. Then you can start experimenting with that concept with octaves, where you bend, you move around and then you release! With a little dirtier tone, there’s a whole different plethora of expressions for the whammy bar. Sometimes it’s just an automatic reaction for me to just grab the bar and make it just part of my melody playing. Find your own. I know there’s not just another way to do something interesting, musical and bizarre with the whammy bar but there’s hundreds & hundreds and thousands and people will be discovering them long after I’m dead.