I want to let you know about my latest evolution on how to become a better rock, metal or blues soloist. After teaching and playing for 40 years, I’ve determined six areas; Scales, Timing, Expression, Licks, Apply and Repeat: “STELAR”. These principals will help you play better leads, refine your own signature tone, improve your all-around musicianship and just plain have more fun!
-Scales are a road map of notes available in any given soloing situation. It’s a fact, you could play any note you want, but having a map helps you negotiate over the fingerboard and gives you reference points.
-Timing is the way you fit those notes into the music. You can play anything over any rhythm but being aware and trying all your timing options helps you decide how you want to play the notes.
-Expression gives what you play meaning! What makes a melody so compelling, or a performance? It’s the human quality you add. Expression is unique to every individual. Expression is what gives your music meaning.
-Licks are the vocabulary in the language of rock, metal and blues. From BB King to Eddie Van Halen, we all use many of the same basic, essential, classic vocabulary. Like speaking, although we all use the same words and phrases, we each have our own individual style.
Apply the scales, timing, expression and licks over jam tracks at different speeds at least twenty minutes a day. This sounds simple but it’s the most powerful thing you can do to build your skill. Like going to a foreign country being forced to speak the language. You get better at something by doing it.
Repeat. Repetition is the secret weapon of mastering anything from martial arts to cooking. If you repeat the principals above regularly, say five times a week, you will become a master!
The Improv section at shredguitaronline.com was the first part of this site that I created. The time has come for an upgrade. I’ve been working hard on STELAR, the Improv section’s replacement for about six months and it’s almost done! About thirty videos and hundreds of pages of tabs. There are five segments, each including jam tracks at different speeds and tabs. STELAR roughly follows the original improv section and each segment includes about six new, short, hi-def videos. Each video is based on one of STELAR’s principals: scales, timing, expression and licks.
The Licks videos and tabs are very extensive because guitarists come in so many levels and styles. Something brand new is a lick category that you’re going to love, “Essential Classics” or “EC”. These are phrases that are universal to rock, metal and blues. They are not hard to play but they are ubiquitous. Virtually all soloists use EC licks, they will make you sound authentic and pro! In addition each segment contains a video on timing and a video on expression. Rhythmic phrasing, vibrato, raking, sliding, harmonics, bends, and putting emotion into your playing.
I am almost done and STELAR will be at shredguitaronline.com soon. If you are a full member you will get STELAR for free. I will also be selling a complete DVD set of the STELAR system. Here is the Scales video from STELAR’s Phrygian segment. Rock on!