‘Pro Skills’

PostHeaderIcon Using Guitar Speed Goals

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re not advancing at the fastest possible rate? How about the sensation that you’re really not 100% positive if you are improving or not?

I have been using speed goals for many years. They are one of the most effective weapons within my guitar training arsenal. Let’s take a look now at what they are, and exactly what benefits you are going to gain through setting speed goals.

What Are Speed Goals?

A speed goal is a target that you determine to achieve a specific metronome setting. As an example, you may say that your speed goal for the particular sweep picking exercise will be sixteenth notes at 160bpm (beats-per-minute). You would practice that exercise daily until the actual target speed has been achieved.

A powerful speed goal possesses these types of elements…

1. No Deadline. Unlike traditional goal setting techniques, there are no due dates with speed goals. This is because you must allow your technique to develop in a relaxed and natural way. In the event you set a deadline, you may be tempted to boost the metronome speeds at too fast a rate so that you can meet the deadline. Result? You’ll fundamentally program tension into your muscles and most likely get discouraged.

2. Challenging. Your speed goal must be challenging. It ought to be fast enough to make you grow as a player. For example, if you’re able to currently play an exercise at 120bpm then something like 144bpm might make a good goal. When you reach 144bpm, then you might set a further speed goal of around 160bpm. Observe how this works?

3. Realistic. Do not set your speed goal too high. If you’re able to at present only play an exercise at 120bpm, then 240bpm would probably be too high. I normally set speed goals we believe I can achieve inside a month or two.

Benefits of Speed Goals

1. They give you something to work towards. This enables you to remain motivated and enthusiastic about your guitar practice.

2. They give you a feeling of progress. You will feel great every time you achieve a speed goal. These small wins enable you to feel like you’re progressing steadily towards your larger goals you have set for your guitar playing.

3. They tell you when you can STOP practicing an exercise. When you have achieved your goal you will be able to move onto something else. The speed goal prevents you from mindlessly practicing an exercise that you have already mastered.

4. They provide you with measurable results. If your speeds are increasing then you have quantitative proof that you are improving. You KNOW for sure that you are improving. This helps you become more confident about your guitar playing.

5. Developing Listening Skills. Using the Metronomes really enable you to develop listening skill. When you practice you will also have to be listening to the click of your metronome. If you don’t, you will quickly be playing out of time with it! Obviously, you would develop this listening skill a great deal more by playing with other musicians, but playing with a metronome will definitely help as well. It’s a great place to start and can often can help you build your confidence to play with other people.

I really encourage you to set a few speed goals today. If you set them regularly, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how quickly you’ll progress.

PostHeaderIcon How You Can Solo Over Chords Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale

Soloing over guitar chords is simple whenever you know how to make use of the minor pentatonic scale. Put spice and power to your solo’s with these easy but highly effective techniques.

The Trouble isn’t understanding how to use the scale it’s using them to the best potential. Here, I’ll explain to you a good way to use the pentatonic scale to solo over the three most common guitar chord types: Major, minor and dominant 7th chords.

1. Major Chords

A Major chord has a relative minor chord. The easy way to find the ‘relative’ minor associated with any major chord on a guitar is to take the note 3 half-steps (3 frets) under the root note of the major chord.

For instance: a C major chord – the root note is C. On a guitar, the note 3 frets under a C note will be A. As a result, A minor is the relative minor of C major.

So to solo over a C major chord, use the A minor pentatonic scale and you can’t make a mistake.

Another example: F major chord – three frets below the root of F, you will find D. Which means you use the D minor pentatonic scale over an F major chord.

One more example: G major chord – three frets under the G root note you’ll find E. So… you use the E minor pentatonic to solo over the G chord.

Now, you may have realized that I detailed C, F and G major chords here. Coincidentally, These are the 1, 4 and 5 chords in the ‘KEY’ of C Major. This applies to all instruments, not just for guitar.

More regarding this later…

2. Minor Chords

These tend to be easy… just use the minor pentatonic of which ever minor chord is. E.g. Use D minor pentatonic for the D minor chord, an E minor pentatonic with an E minor chord, an A minor pentatonic for an A minor Chord.

Now, notice I used D, E and A minor chords as the example? Did you also observe that these chords are the actual 2, 3 and 6 chords of the ‘KEY’ of C Major?

More about that later, also…

3. Dominant 7th Chords

You have a couple of choices here. However basically, you would use the relative minor pentatonic, or the minor pentatonic a tone under the root of the dom7 chord.

For instance, over G7, you can use either E minor pent (relative minor), or else D min pentatonic.

The reason you can use the D minor pentatonic over a G7 chord is because the Dmi chord and G7 chord usually go together inside chord progressions. Driving a Dmi sound over a G7 chord delivers a G7sus sound.

4. Thinking From a ‘KEY” Perspective

Alright, what we have looked at is the KEY of C Major. And basically you can use only the A minor pentatonic on it’s own for ALL the chords in C, or you can even make use of the D and E minor pentatonics to provide some color and more conformity of the chords being used at the time.

Remember, these principles apply to whatever chord you’re using at any moment, but can be applied on a KEY basis, which is a more encompassing picture.

The Key of C Major has these chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G7, Am, Bmin7b5.

Ami pent may be used over them all, or just the C and Am chords.

D min pentatonic may be used over the F and Dm chords.

E minor can be used over the Em and G7 chords.

We didn’t mention the 7 chord (Bmi7b5) simply because it is not used very much. Yet a good choice may be the Dm pentatonic. In reality, although, you can utilize any of the 3 pentatonics from the C Major scale – Am, Dm or Em. Test them, observe which you enjoy best.

The idea of using pentatonics for different chords is really a powerful idea, you should not overlook the cool sounds you’ll be able to create with such a simple device.