Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

Fretboard Visualization is the way I organize and visualize the notes on the neck. Which also reflects how I think about the notes and order them for improvising.

In a guitar solo a note is not just a note: It can be a chord tone, a passing tone or extension or even a chromatic passing note. The way I try to think about the notes on the guitar I try to take this into consideration and have a way of thinking that will help me solo and categorize the notes in a useful way.

List of Contents:

0:00 Intro — Fretboard Visualization for Jazz Guitar 

0:35 3 Layers of note priority 

0:43 Layer 1: The Chromatic scale 

1:16 Layer 2: The Key or the Scale 

2:02 Layer 3: The Chord and the Arpeggio 

2:24 Practical Example on a (very) simple song 

2:59 The Key of the song 

3:30 The Arpeggios of the Progression 

4:23 How to play all modes of all scales 

4:36 Practicing towards this way of thinking 

5:07 Seeing a Scale on the neck 

5:20 Learning Positions ( I use 7) 

6:07 Examples of Scale Positions 

6:19 Learn the scales and the notes in them! 

7:01 Connecting The Positions 

7:32 Learn the Arpeggios in the scales (Literally!) 

8:49 All Arpeggio notes in a position 

9:46 The advantages of this approach 

10:13 No Modes! Just Diatonic Arpeggios and subsets! 

11:54 Further Perspective on this approach and the next level 

12:36 What is your approach to view and organize the notes on the fingerboard 

13:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Allan Holdsworth Chords – Voicings and Inversions

Allan Holdsworth is famous for his very beautiful but also quite difficult and advanced jazz chords. In this video I am going to start with some voicings that I checked out from Holdsworth and apply them to a II V I. I then go over how to invert them and demonstrate how you can generate more great chord voicings from this material.

Taking a voicing and inverting it is probably the most efficient way to find more chords and it is also a great exercise to check or improve your knowledge of the fretboard.

The II V I example

The main example is a II V I using some of the voicings that I picked up from Allan Holdsworth.

The focus of this lesson is on the larger voicings with 4 notes spread out over 2 octaves. The starting point is shown here below with two chords per bar.

When I made this I was just planning to make a few examples of how to apply voicings like this to a II V I. When I made this example I realized that the Cmaj7 chords were inversions of each other and that made me take this approach to the lesson.

This type of chord voicing is to me is most useful for sustained voicings. The point of playing a structure like this is to really show case the way the combination of notes sound. That means that when I use these voicings I am not trying to convey a groove or work with them. 

You could in that respect argue that Holdsworth doesn’t really have a voicing vocabulary that allows him to comp in that way, which he also never really did.

How to make inversions – Inversions for the Cmaj7 voicing

Strictly speaking this is a C6/9 voicing since the notes are G,A,D & E., but since maj6/9 and maj7 chords are pretty much interchangeable I have notated it as a maj7. I guess the thinking is that it is just a tonic chord in a major scale.

When inverting voicings the idea is that you have to order the notes in pitch within an octave and use that as a reference to find the inversions.

For the Cmaj7 this is shown here below. 

The original voicing is (from low to high) G,D,A,E. If we order those in pitch we get: G A D E (as shown in the 2nd bar)

This yields a way of moving to other inversions.

 The original voicing is G,D,A,E. If we move that down an inversion (using the same strings and the row of notes) we get E,A,G,D and in that way the rest of the inversions are created.

Inversions for Dm7

The Dm7 voicing is a Dm7(9,11) and the notes are F,C,G and E. 

Notice how stacks of 5ths seems to reappear in these voicings.

If we order the notes in pitch it gives us the row: E,F,G,C

With this row we have can produce the 3 other inversions of this chord. In the 2nd voicing I move one of the voicings from the 4th to the 3rd string to make it easier to play.

The Altered dominant inversions

The Altered dominant chord in this lesson is a G7(b5b13) voicing, as shown here below.

When we order the notes in a pitch row we get: Eb,F,B and Db.

Again this is used to create the other inversions by moving up and down in the tone row on each string.

Using the inversions

The goal with making the inversions is of course also to put the voicings together in new examples of II V I voicing sets.

In the examples below combines three different inversions in a II V I.

The first one is using a descending top note melody from G to E. It is often easier to move from chord to chord while descending since the voice-leading is naturally moving down. 

The 2nd example is going against this and has a top note melody that moves up.

One of the things that is an advantage with these voicings is that the way the notes are spread around the octaves makes them less obvious for voice leading. 

This makes it easier to make other choices as shown here below:

Inversions of everything

The idea of making inversions of chord voicings is useful on several levels for your jazz guitar skills.

  1. It is very useful to be aware of exactly what notes you are playing in a chord voicing. 
  2. The process is a great way to solve problems with fingerings for chords
  3. You stay training your knowledge of the fretboard
  4. You get some new voicings that might be extremely useful

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Allan Holdsworth Voicings on a II V I

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Jazz Blues Analysis – The Variations you need to know

The 12 bar Blues is probably the most common song structure or chord progression in music! In this video I am going to analyze some of the common variations of the Jazz Blues and cover what you need to know to make have a strong chord progression adn chord substitution vocabulary for playing over a jazz blues.

I am going to talk about how the jazz blues can contain IVm progressions, #IV dim chords and also some other parallel II V options.

Hope you like it!

0:00 Intro – Jazz Blues – the most common progression in Western Music

0:34 Example: The Basic Jazz Blues form

0:57 The Main Structure and parts of the form

1:35 Analysis of the harmony

2:20 A bit of history of the Blues Harmony since Charlie Parker

3:50 The options for altered dominants and Tritone II V’s in various places

4:07 Examples of possible cadence to IV

5:25 It’s all about the subdominant!

5:40 #IV dim chord

5:50 Example: Blues with a #IV dim chord in bar 6

6:18 Scale choices for the #IV in the blues

7:07 Blues themes with #IV in the progression

7:20 #IV bonus: The Blue note!

9:02 The IVm chord

9:34 Scale options for IVm or bVII 10:24 IV in Blues themes

11:21 Cadence to II chord

11:56 the chromatic II V chain

12:22 example with the Chromatic II V’s

12:45 How to deal with the parallel motion in a solo

14:21 Tritone sub for the II chord

15:00 Do you know any great Blues Progression harmonizations?

17:00 Like the video? Then check out my Patreon page!

My secret arpeggio and 3 places I use it!

Sometimes it is great to look beyond the diatonic arpeggios for some rich or more colorful sounding arpeggios.

This video is about one of these arpeggios that I really use a lot for melodic minor, altered or Lydian dominant sounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXowsZvR3Mk

Finding the arpeggios

Usually we find arpeggios by stacking 3rds in a scale, but in some cases we can get some really great sounds by building chords in other ways.

The arpeggio I want to talk about in this lesson is the dom7th(#5) arpeggio. The A7(#5) is shown here below:

Where does the dom7th(#5) chord belong?

There are a few places where you can construct this arpeggio.

It is of course found in the whole tone scale, and a can be constructed in both harmonic major and minor.

In this lesson I will focus on it in the context of melodic minor. Purely because that is where I use it the most.

The dom7th(#5) can be found in two places in the melodic minor scale.

If we take the A7(#5) as an example then it can be found on the 5th degree of D melodic minor:

And also on the 7th degree of Bb melodic minor:

Using the arpeggio

If we look at the A7(#5): A C# F G  then it is worth noticing that it is in fact an A augmented triad and an A.

The fac that the augmented triad is a part of the arpeggio is probably one of the reasons why it is so useful for a lot of different chords in melodic minor. The augmented triad sound is a big part of the melodic minor sound. Just think of an DmMaj7 where the upper part of the chord is an augmented triad.

The Altered dominant

When using the arpeggio on an altered dominant we have two options.

The altered dominant in this case is a Db7alt. The two dom7(#5) arpeggios we have available are then A7(#5) and C#7(#5) (or Db)

In this example I am using the A7(#5). If we relate the A7 arpeggio to a Db root we get: A(b13) C#(root) F(3rd) G(b5). So there is a lot of color in the arpeggio.

The Abm7 line is a descending Bmaj7 sweep arpeggio followed by a small turn with a leading note on before the root.

On the Db7alt the line is really just the A7(#5) arpeggio adding a B to resolve to the 3rd of Gbmaj7 in bar 3.

Tonic minor

In the second example I am using the line on a tonic minor chord. The A7(#5) related to D would be: A(5), C#(Maj7), F(3rd), G(11).

The first bar is really just a simple Dm line with a leading note under the root. The 2nd bar is coming from the A7(#5) arpeggio that finally resolves to the 9th(E) of Dm6 (or DmMAj7)

Lydian Dominant

The Lydian dominant example is using a IV IVm progression in F major. In this case it is in fact II bVII I that is being used, but the main idea is of course subdominant, subdominant minor to tonic.

The line on the Gm7 is first encircling the root of the chord and then ascending a Gm7 arpeggio with an added A. 

The Eb7 bar is first the A7(#5) arpeggio followed by Bb and C to resolve to the 3rd(A) of Fmaj7. The ending is tagget with a small pentatonic turn.

Make you own lines with these arpeggios

The examples I went over here are of course only a glimpse at a quite vast amount of options available with this arpeggio.

The best way to get this arpeggio in to your playing is to use it in different situations in songs that you already know so that you can explore the sound of the arpeggio. 

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

My secret arpeggio and 3 places i use it!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Jazz Comping is NOT only Chords and Voice-leading!

Comping is a lot more than just what chords or chord voicings you play. It can be very difficult to practice, but there are some things you can be aware of to perform a lot better when comping in a jazz setting. In this video I will try to highlight and describe some of these approaches.
 
I will also go over why being a great at comping will make you a much better soloist!

 

Content: 

0:00 Intro — Comping practice? 

0:19 It’s not about the voicings! 

0:55 Your Function when comping in a band 

1:09 Your Responsibility with comping 

1:24 Comping Example: Harmony 

1:52 Conveying the Harmony in comp 

2:32 Comping Example: Groove 

3:01 Conveying the groove 

4:15 Comping Example: Interaction

4:42 Discussion on Interaction — the subtle art of… 

5:36 Not playing as a form of interaction (Scofield and Jim Hall) 

5:57 Interaction vs Groove comping

6:19 Responsibility within the band 

6:30 Roles within the Rhythm Section 

6:55 Learn by listening and analyzing 

7:06 Bill Evans/Scott La Faro/Paul Motian — example of roles 

7:28 Herbie Hancock/Ron Carter/Tony Williams — example of roles 

7:53 Serve the music! Check you ego at the door 

8:37 It will make you a better soloist! 

8:59 Why the Piano solo is often the most fun! 

9:25 Coming Philosophy 

10:09 How do you think about comping, like to comp? 

10:34 Like the video? Support my videos on Patreon!

Look Mom No Root! Jazz Chord Survival Kit Part 2

You are probably familiar with reading basic jazz chord shapes and you can work your way through a tune without too much trouble. The next logical step is to take that knowledge and then turn the basic jazz chords into rootless voicings and start adding more melodic variation and interesting rhythms.

In this video I am going to go over how you can take a set of jazz chords for the song Lady Bird and then reduce them to rootless 3 note voicings. Then I will try to cover a way you can add more options for top note melodies and play an example of how you can use this.

A basic set of Jazz Chords for Lady Bird

The chords we start with are a set of voicings that you would get if you went over this progression using the material from my lesson How to play jazz chords

You can check out that lesson if you are not familiar with any of the chord voicings.

Look mom no root!

Taking away the root is a fairly simple task since it is just removing the lowest note.

This transforms the voicings in example 1 to the jazz chords shown here below:

Notice how most of them are in fact triads. The mighty triad is there in every aspect of music…

More Melody and more rhythm!

Now that we are using one finger less it is going to get easier to come up with some melodic variations by changing the top note of the chord.

Once we have more than one melody note available for each chord it also starts to make a lot more sense to playing small riffs and explore more rhythms while comping.

In example 3 here below you see the different options. I ket it quite simple so that everything is fairly easy to use and relate back to the original chord shape. For each of the chords there are 2 or three choices for top note.

You can of course work on the different chords isolated to get started with making small riffs and then later try to combine them in the progression. I actually expect that once you have tried to make a few riffs with each of the chords you should quickly be able to do so.

In the video I also show a chorus where I comp through the progression with this material improvising a melody through the changes.

Taking a more sytematic approach.

Besides the advantage of putting the ideas directly to use on a song it can also be very useful to take the concept through some of the exercises you may or may not already know for the standard chords.

This will help you keep the overview of the chords even if you don’t play the root and also just open up for more options when playing the chords in terms of passing chords etc.

In Example 4 I have one of the exercises from the How To Play Jazz lesson, the rootless version i shown in example 5

 

Putting it all together

Playing the more compact rootless voicings is a much more efficient way to play chords in an ensemble. The chords you play will sit much more in a register where they don’t interfere with the bass player and that also makes it much easier to get complicated rhythms to sound good.

You should try work on this both on tunes and once in a while take voicings through a scale or inversions and work with the rootless versions.

The place you could go if you want to continue from here would be to start working on Drop2 voicings: Drop2 playlist

Get a Free Ebook

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Look Mom No Root! Jazz Chord Survival Kit Part 2

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Overlooked SKILLS for Learning Jazz

There are two important skills you can work on to get better at playing better solos and most of the time we never talk about them because they are either forgotten or under developed. Yet they are both essential parts of what we end up playing.

In this video I will go over how you can use harmonic analysis and compositions as tools in developing your ability to play better lines and also how to increase your vocabulary. The examples make use of both Charlie Parker licks as an inspiration and a way of implementing an arpeggio in your lines.

PDF with sheets/tab for the examples available on my Patreon Page!

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0:00 Intro and why I use this method

1:16 The lay out of the video

1:28 A Phrase from the Omnibook

 

1:55 The Charlie Parker Phrase

2:52 Analysis of the components

3:31 Recognizing Stock Phrases and Arpeggios

8:41 Making new material with what is in the line

9:52 Turning it into a II V I in Bb

10:28 Variation of the II V I lick

10:45 Composing to paper? Why/Why not?

11:05 Insight into my way of analyzing?

 

11:44 The Usual Requirements and how to use them

12:27 Use what you practice!

12:43 Develop you creativity

13:30 Example: descending diatonic arpeggio

14:08 Composing a II V I with the arpeggio

14:34 Example 1

15:24 Example 2

16:08 Example 3

16:49 Example 4

18:19 It’s about the process not the lick!

 

19:27 Do you practice this way? Or an alternative?

20:54 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page!

From SCALE practice to JAZZ LICKS – Work towards Music!

If you don’t want to waste your time you want to make sure to turn everything you practice into material that you can use when you improvise.

We all practice scales and work on our technique by doing Scale Exercises, arpeggios, diatonic triads and patterns. In this video I want to show you how you can take your exercises and start turning them into jazz licks. 

The Diatonic Triads in a Scale Position

Let’s just start with an exercise that I am sure you already practice: Diatonic Triads. Here below I have written it out in the key of C major:

Turning this exercise into a II V I is shown here below where it is used on a II V I in C: Dm7, G7, Cmaj7:

I am using the descending version of the exercise above on the Dm7. It is then used with the triads of Dm, C and finally B dim. From here it continues with a G7 altered lick before resolving to C.

Diatonic Triads in Patterns

A great way to practice diatonic triads is to play them in a pattern so that you break up the order of the notes. In the example below I have written out the diatonic triads in a 3 1 5 pattern:

Using this type of exercise in a jazz lick is a great way to add some larger intervals to your lines.

The lick here below is using the F,G and Am triads over the Dm7. It then continues with a G7 altered line that is based on a Bmaj7(#5) arpeggio before it resolves to Cmaj7.

Triads along the neck

Another way to practice the triads is to play them on a string set along the neck. This is shown in a 2-1 fingering here below.

Turning this into a lick is easy. I am using the F,Em and Dm triads descending and then continue the triad idea on the G altered with Eb and F dim triads to resolve to the 3rd(E) of Cmaj7. 

A good variation on this is to use Db and Eb triads on the G7. This idea is shown here below:

Changing the way we practice scales

In the previous examples I had to rely on scale exercises that are stepwise in nature, so the triads are played in stepwise order: C, Dm, Em etc. 

The problem with this is that If you use triads on a Dm7 chord then Dm, F and Am are fine, but Em and G are less strong and therefore difficult to use in a lick.

One way of getting around that is to look at how the Dm, F and Am are a 3rd apart in the scale. This means that we have can start working on practicing the triads in 3rds in the scale to get them together in the sets that work together. An example of how you can do this is shown here:

The lick below is using the triads like this, and they are played in a 5 1 3 patttern. The triads used then are Dm, F and Am which are all closely related to a Dm7.

Beyond the triads: Shell voicings

Of course you can apply this to any type of structure. In the example here below I am doing hte same type of exercise as example 7, but now using Shell Voicings.

Turning this into a lick is shown in example 10 where I use Fmaj7 and Am7 shell voicings on the Dm7. On the G7 I am also using a Db7 shell voicing and combining that with an AbmMaj7 arpeggio before resolving to C.

Putting it all together

As you can see in these example it is not only important to try to use the exercises you do, but it can also be a great idea to try to shape your exercises so that they are immediately easier to use when improvising or composing lines.

It makes a lot of sense to try to work a lot with 3rds because it reflects how we build chords and keep the triads closely related to the chord you want to use them on.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

From Scale exercises to Jazz Licks – Practice Music

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Exotic Scale – Augmented Scale – All The Secrets!

The augmented scale is a great symmetrical scale that you can apply to both maj7 chords and minMaj7 chords. In this lesson I will go over the scale and look at the possible arpeggios, triads, 7th chords and some ideas on how to improvise with them.

I also go over some ideas for constructing voicings for some of the exotic sounding chords that you can construct in this scale like Cmaj7(#9) and Emaj7/C.

 

Hope you like it!

 

0:39 Basic Construction and symmetry 

1:32 Arpeggios in the augmented scale 

 

1:56 Triads 

2:48 Using the triads in solos 

3:16 Different approaches to solo with triads 

4:53 7th Chord Options 

5:17 soloing with the 7th chords 

6:19 Adding further extensions 

7:25 Another way of describing the extended chords 

 

9:21 Finding more useful structures 

9:41 Shell Voicing Arpeggios 

9:52 Line with Diatonic Shell Voicings 

10:03 Spread Triads 

10:09 Lick with Open-voiced triads 

10:16 Drop2 voicing arpeggios 

10:23 The beatiful sound of Drop2 arps in the augmented scale 

 

10:47 Should I make a video on Augmented licks? 

 

10:55 Voicings in the augmented scale 

11:06 Symmetrical maj#5 voicings 

11:44 adding notes to voicings 

12:22 Exotic 7th chord over bass note combinations 

 

12:28 Learn the method not just this scale! 

13:43 No Quartal harmony! 

14:44 Like the video? Support me on Patreon!

Picking Techniques beyond Alternate Picking

Alternate picking is the core of what I use when I play jazz guitar. But there are other strategies that I combine alternate picking with to make it easier to play faster phrases. This video is on how I use sweeping and economy picking to play certain arpeggios and jazz phrases.

In the end a good technique is going to be a combination of several techniques and should be a tool set that you rely on to help you get the phrasing that you like. In the end we have to let the music rule the technique and not the other way around.

 

The construction of the lesson

The way this is build up is that I have three examples with some different techniques that I break down and give you some exercises to work on the picking technique strategy in that example.

Small sweeps for 7th chords 

The first example has two different applications of economy picking or sweeping. The firs is a standard sweep of an Abmaj7 arpeggio. The 2nd is used twice to add some more dramatic movement with the arpeggios in the bar.

Here I will focus on the second approach. The idea is to use a down stroke for the first note in the arpeggio and then add a pull off to give your right hand time to easily make the sweep of the last two notes.

To work on this idea it is probably a good idea to first spend some time with just getting your right hand used to the movement. I demonstrate this in the video as well.

If you want to go on further you can do the exercise shown here below:

The opening of the example is using a slide to make it easier to speed up the phrase. That is another thing that I use a lot in combination with all the chords

Economy picking triads in string combinations

The opening part of the second example is using a pentatonic scale layed out in a 3-1 pattern on the neck. That way of playing a pentatonic scale makes it really easy to play certain types of melodies (for me anyway).

The picking of this phrase is a bit tricky and I start the phrase with an up stroke. If you have a phrase that is difficult to play then it can be a good idea to check what it feels like and how it sounds if you reverse the picking.

In this case it really helps me with playing the phrase fast enough, and I also talk about this idea in the next example.

The main focus in this example is playing triads. The 2nd bar of the example contains two triads, one is 1 note per string and one is a 2-1 fingering (so 2 notes on one string and 1 note on the next).

The Triad Picking strategy

The triads I am concerned with in this lesson are the descending triad arpeggios. The idea in the 2nd bar is to start the triad with a down stroke and play the rest with upstrokes. 

The way I do this it feels like a more balanced way to play them than having to “reverse” the picking if I play several triads.

You can work on the 1 note per string variation using this exercise on the middle string set:

The two string version of this exercise could be something like this.

If you get more used to this approach it is really useful to try to play a scale position of diatonic triads.

Turned Around Sweeps! The surprising solution

The idea in the beginning of this example is to play 3 note patterns with one note per string and then use a specific picking idea that if you try if for the first time seems counter intuitive.

In this example I am using the approach on the first two arpeggios in the example. First an Abmaj7 shell voicing and then a quartal arpeggio from Ab.

I discovered that I use this approach when I was explaining and slowing down an example for a student, but I find that the idea works extremely well.

The strategy is to start with an up stroke and then go down and up on the next two notes. This is in fact all alternate picking, but if you repeat it then we get two up strokes after each other. One at the beginning and one at the end.

The advantage is that the last note is setting us up to move back and get the first note in the next one. This is mostly useful if you are repeating 3 note patterns like I do in the example here below.


To work on this approach you can do the exercise of diatonic shell voicings shown here below:

Putting it all together with techniques

As I mention in the beginning the best strategy for me is to have a lot of different options with picking and then try to find a combination of what is playable and what sounds good. I think this should be the main priority when working with technique. in my opinion.

Of course you can also tell that I also use legato very often as a part of the strategy. If you are interested in a video on this then leave a comment on the video on YouTube. Maybe I should do a video on that.

Get a Free Ebook

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

 

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Picking Techniques Beyond Alternate picking

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.