LESSON: Free yourself from painful barre chords

Y’know what’s always kinda baffled me? The emphasis placed on barre chords for beginners. They hurt, they’re hard and the majority of pro players only use partial versions anyway – letting other instruments share part of the chord – so players who learn those songs with full barre chords could be playing them wrong! I’m not saying they’re not important, because duh, but I think they needlessly stress out a lot of beginners.

So what can you do if you’re struggling with barre chords but you really, really want to play a particular song? Well here’s a helpful method which will:

a) Get you playing the song in a recognisable, listenable fashion;

b) Increase your confidence and finger strength so that when you actually do want to play a full six-string barre chord, you’ll be in better shape to do so; and

c) Make you really cool.

To start with, here are four common barre chord shapes, presented here in the key of A.

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My latest for Guitar World: Synesthesia & The Musical Mind



Here’s my latest for GW. Check it out! It’s about synesthesia (when one sense triggers perception of another) and how to apply it to music even if you don’t naturally have it.

Oh and that guitar in the pic is my Ibanez RG550MXXRFR (Roadflare Red) with a DiMarzio neon strap. [geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]DiMarzio does a lot of cool neon stuff. ClipLock straps, instrument cable, patch cords, standard straps like mine… [/geo-out]

The most evil musical intervals ever

Here’s my latest for Gibson.com: a lesson on the most evil musical intervals ever.

A snippet:

Today we’re going to look at some of the most evil musical intervals known to man – some of the most dastardly, unsettling, creepy, ghoulish musical notes ever. Notes so dark, so twisted, so evilthat they lay awake at night formulating new taxes, new places to hide your guitar picks when you need them and new ways to make you late for work. Notes so malevolent that Ozzy himself can but cower and tremble in their ghastly presence.

I’m talking about the minor second, the minor third and the flattened fifth.

Scared yet?

No? Well, you will be. Crank up your amp and lay into Figure 1 at around 50 beats per minute.

Click here for the rest!

Making Mistakes Makes You a Better Guitar Player

Here’s my latest for the Guitar World website. It’s a lesson column kinda thing about how to accept your mistakes and learn from them, instead of being so freaking scared of them that you keep making them. And the image that goes along with the article – of me rocking out onstage in The Upperhand with my buddy Rohan Drew on bass there – is representative of learning from mistakes because I won’t dye a blond streak in my hair again.


My lesson on Gibson.com: seven-string primer

As many of you probably know (maybe), I’m a 7-string nut. I currently play three 7-strings, and every time I pick up my first one I think about the tricky learning curve when I wanted to expand beyond just chugging out on the lowest two strings (which was pretty soon since I bought it to shred like Vai on Passion & Warfare, not to be a nu-metal dude). This week my feature on Gibson.com is a lesson, an introduction to 7-strings, including a few little hints and tricks for playing stuff that’s not just chugga-chugga-djent-djent-djent.

Here’s a snippet:

“Generally, the technique for seven-string guitar is much the same as for six-string guitar, but it can take a few days for muscle memory to adjust to the additional string and the extra fretboard width that goes with it. Many players find that the easiest way to adjust is to spend a few days exploring the lowest two strings by chugging out on low power chord riffs in the standard seven string tuning, B E A D G B E. This helps orient the fingers and ears towards the expanded range of the seven-string. Below is a simple power chord riff (with a few well-placed palm-muted open note chugs) to introduce the lower register.”

CLICK HERE to read the full article, complete with pics of me riffing out on a Gibson 7-string Explorer thanks to the kind folks at Gallin’s in Fitzroy, who let me come down and rattle the windows.

[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]You can preorder the new Gibson 7-string Flying V from Musician’s Friend