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Set Number: #3 - June-July 2006
Guitar Guru: Joe Stump

Question: Hey Joe, I am 15 and mental about guitar. I was wondering, i have been playing guitar for 3 years now and i have been practicing to get that shred metal sound but i have aways ended up with a more blues rock / classic rock sound. Do you have any tips on how to get that sound? Also, I am looking into going to Berklee when I graduate, what are some of the advantages of going there?
Thanks, - Brennan, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Guitar Guru: Well Brennan, to get those shred and classically influenced types of ideas in your guitar playing you have to develop that type of playing vocabulary. You have to listen to the players that excel in that style. Learn things from them, transcribe their tunes and solos, find out what players or composers influenced them and listen to them as well. Pick up dvds , cds and start to go at it. Take things from everyone and start to try to make them your own. Also Berklee is a great school , one of the best in the world, so of course there are many advantages to studying there, but it`s certainly not essential in becoming a killer rock/metal player.

Question: what is the correct way to hold a plectrum as I have tried many ways and I am unable to find a position that I like best, and feels most comfortable? please help, - Josh Rutherford

Guitar Guru: I hold the pick the very standard old fashion way with my index finger tucked in a little, the wide part of the pick across the top joint of that finger and my thumb on top over the writing.

Question: Hi! Speed and technical accolades aside, I was wondering how you go about working out a solo. I think you're the guy to go to for this, because you do the longest solos in your albums, yet they never lose coherence or inspiration. Thanks mate! Joe S. (yes, we share the same initials, go figure)

Guitar Guru: An excellent question Joe and thanks for the nice words about my solos. All the players that inspired me (Blackmore, Gary Moore , Uli-Jon Roth , Schenker, Malmsteen) could all really build a solo and many of their solos were like mini compositions within the track. So taking things like contour, structure and how a solo builds are great things to take from your favorite players and heroes as well as things like inflection, note choice , vibrato, etc. When I work on a solo I just loop the groove and chord sequence and then start to play over it. As I`m improvising I come across things I play while being very inspired and I end of keeping them then tidying them up technically. Then I continue to play and take ideas and connect and marry them to each other. So when I`m done the end result is a somewhat worked out scripted solo comprised of many things I came upon while improvising. That`s one way I go about it , but in many cases I`ve just flown by the seat of my pants just letting it go and doing it off the cuff and letting inspiration take over. That`s what rock guitar is all about using your hands , your heart and your ballz together not playing hot lick number 62 and connecting it to difficult arpeggio number 26.

Question: Hello, I am currently taking distance lessons from a guitar teacher on improvisation and while I feel I am learning a lot from these lessons it has become somewhat apparent that to make the most of these lessons, I need to “learn the fretboard”, but I find that while playing exercises I find it incredibly hard to recognize notes I have previously learnt. Do you have any strategies for learning and recall for all the notes on the fretboard? Thank you and Regards, - Vaughan

Guitar Guru: Many of the students at Berklee that study with me don`t know the neck very well at all. If I had an exact formula for you guys I`d bottle it and make a fortune. But one way is by doing things in octaves, , also taking scales , easy melodies and other types of single note phrases and trying to play them in the same octave but in different areas of the neck and on different string sets. And also in different octaves. Start by learning and familiarizing yourself with the neck in sections ,(from the nut to the 5th fret, then 7th to the 12th, etc.) Don`t rush ... better to learn the instrument well in sections then to try to take on the entire neck and still be shaky in many areas.

Question: Hi Joe! I just wanted to ask you, - Would you recommended extra light guage strings (.008 )for a shred beginner ? Thanks !

Guitar Guru: String guage is a personal preference type of thing and has much more to do with bending and vibrato due to the tension on the neck , than playing fast or shredding. You don`t get a heavier tone by using heavier strings on the higher strings. For example an .010 high doesn`t sound fatter than a.008 high e. But you do get more ballz when it comes to the three lower strings by using heavier strings. I`d say experiment with different guages and see what works best for you.


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