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My lawyer told me to say that. Look at me sounding all fancy and official…
- Chapter Number 1: Introduction
- Chapter Number 2: The Course
- Chapter Number 3: The Videos
- Chapter Number 4: A Note on Gear
- Chapter Number 5: Repetition & Right Hand
- Chapter Number 6: The Rake
- Chapter Number 7: Suggested Gear
- Chapter Number 8: "Pain, No Gain"
- Chapter Number 9: Closing Statements
- Chapter Number 10: Whats Next?
Chapter Number 1
Me and my hope for you
Thank you so much for buying my Guitar Course! My name is Jamie Harrison and I'll be guiding you through the various elements of this course to try and help you get the most from it.
Chapter Number 2
My approach to helping you
While the course is primarily centered around video lessons, I have also included some extra resources to supplement them. This book is one of those resources and is designed as a quick “Go To” for this course. It is basically a primer to get started with learning this song. Over the next few pages, I want to share everything I can about this song, the gear that will help you get the best sound for this song, and the techniques you should be aware of before getting started. That doesn't mean everything will be explained within the book, but it is just designed to give a high-level overview of what is required, and also give you a good groundwork of the psychology I feel is important to not only learning the guitar, but also just learning in general. The rest of the teaching material will be found within the videos themselves.
Please note: I am Irish. Us Irish people tend to be very informal and pretty easy going. I myself very much dislike scripted videos and lessons, and this is reflected in my teaching style. I have planned every lesson in great detail, but speak freely as I go, without a line by line script of what I will say. This will give a more informal feel to my lessons (some would say 'friendly' or 'personal' - if we're to be 'glass half full' about it) than others that you might have taken, but I feel this is a more effective way to learn, and is the way I like to consume and learn myself. While 99% of my previous students have also felt this to be a much more enjoyable way to learn, I know that it is not for everyone (nothing really is), so please, as with everything in my work, if it's not for you, please let me know. I only want to take money from those who have a completely positive and satisfactory experience with me. It's not in my nature to do otherwise 🙂
So without further a do, let’s get started, and the very best of luck!
Chapter Number 3
As a quick disclaimer, I am not necessarily against tabs (you may get that impression from this course), but for this style of playing, I don’t think
tabs are a good idea. For learning a riff, for example, that has definite
notes and is MEANT to be played a certain way, tabs are irreplaceable, but this style is a very improvisational style, and hits notes all over the
place, different every single time. It is not meant to be ‘perfect’, it is just meant to feel good. On the topic of 'feeling', one of the biggest things to help you to achieve that is practicing with and working on your right hand (or your strumming hand, whichever that is), which I will speak about in more detail later in the course. But for now, let me also remind you that tab completely neglects the right hand and has absolutely no instruction for it. Some highly detailed tabs have up and down strums included, but even then, trying to follow patterns like this can sometimes do more to tense you up and play with less feeling rather than allow you to play with more freedom. All in all, tabs are a tool and should be used as such. They are not a means to learn songs or pieces of music, in my opinion, and should be only used as a tool (while staying very aware of their limitations) and not as an exclusive way to learn something.
Chapter Number 4
A Note on Gear
Aren’t we all just a little obsessed??
Oh gear.. gear, gear, gear.
What a beautifully seductive layer of everyone's guitar journey that can be so good, but yet so bad...
I have seen more guitarists waste time obsessing over tiny aspects of their rigs than I've seen them actually play, and I've seen more money spent on gear than actual education time after time. I love it, you love it, we all love it, but let's not forget about this fact: Gear will not make you sound good.
Repetition & Right Hand
Technique no. 1
The style of Hendrix, Mayer and SRV won’t come quick to you, that I can almost guarantee, but once you 'get' it, you are going to see that it is very repetitive and actually very simple. The same “types” of licks are used over and over again, and the same basic structure is followed in almost every song. There are many techniques and tricks in the left hand that we will go through and discuss throughout the course, but I would say that probably the most important thing
in making the difference between those who play SRV, and those who
PLAY SRV, is that right hand. Right hand, Right hand, right hand.
There is a concept in guitar playing that is based on the idea that the left hand (or the fretting hand) brings the 'brain' of the music, and the right hand brings the 'soul'. And this makes a lot of sense. Your right hand (or your strumming hand), is probably the biggest and most effective tool that you have, and has probably been used throughout your life more than any other limb. Aside from maybe sleeping and breathing, is probably the most integral 'physical' part of you (aside from your brain, of course). As you play, the right hand is likely moving the most (in a strumming situation) and it is in 'motion' that you find 'emotion'. Your right hand 'represents' your physical being and how you do things better than any other body part, and let's not forget that it is your closest companion in your most... <cough>... ahem... 'intimate' moments 😛
The point is that while every other guitarist (and guitar teacher for that matter) is off drilling themselves with exercises, scales and practice routines that solely focuse on the left hand, you can spend your practice time concentrating on both. And honestly, once that right hand 'clicks into place', you won't even need to think about it. Only at that point should you start to focus on your left hand. I would MUCH prefer to hear a well strummed two chord pattern than a note perfect, but rhytymically questionable guitar solo, no matter how flash or impressive it was.
Don't neglect that right hand. It is responsible for so much more than you realise. Hold the pick correctly from the start when it's easy to develop good habbits. Learn to relax the fingers, wrist and arm to get good movement, and most importantly, once you have a part of a song down, try to let your right hand 'transmit' the music into your body so you can really 'feel' what you're doing. A little but cliche, and 'woo woo' I know, but believe me, I'm a pragmatic guy, and if I say this, it's because I've realised that the cliche is is actually true.
I talk a bit about the difference between 'impressive' and 'good' and from my experience I have found that people respond infinitely better to a really solid rhythm (right hand) that makes them move involuntarily than an impressive display of 'flash' on the left hand
Technique no. 2
There is one more technique that I should mention to you before you get started on the videos, and that is the 'Rake' technique. This is a technique that is used almost excessively in this style. It is a difficult technique to explain, but I'll try to give you a brief overview here and develop on that throughout the videos themselves.
Usually, the way we think about guitar is that we use our pick to play a chord, or else we use our pick to play a note. When we play a chord, we obviously play multiple strings, but when we pick a note, we're aiming for ONLY the string that note is on. So if we have our finger on the 10th fret of the 2nd string, for example, then we will do our best to cleanly pick that second string and avoid all the other strings. This is a very valid approach to most styles of guitar, but the 'Rake' adds a 'Layer of Mayer' (Sorry, I had to...) to that approach. Basically, the way it would work in this scenario is that instead of hitting the 2nd string only, you would strum all the strings above the 2nd string (so strings 6, 5, 4, and 3), but the side of your palm (and parts of your left hand which we'll get to later) would mute those strings. So in the end all you hear is the note that you are aiming for. Now, you might ask why would one do such a complicated thing to just hit the same damn note, which in the end gives will give the same result? Well, even though the note that rings out is the same, the overall sound is actually quite different. The sound feels much fuller, much heavier and feels like it can stand on it's own without a band. It almost sounds like a chord in terms of it's 'fullness', and so can sometimes confuse people because it doesn't sound like one note is being played, but it also does... if that makes sense.
The more traditional approach of playing a note by hitting only that string that the note is on, tends to need a band to take up the slack in the low-end (bass) sounds. With the rake, you can almost sound like a drummer and a guitarist all in one. It adds a sort of depth and a rhythmic element that playing a single note simply can't achieve. Playing in this way also allows you to make bigger movements of the right hand (because you don't have to be really specific with where you are strumming like the more traditional way), and as we've established in the previous chapter, the bigger movements allow you to 'feel' the music and the rhythm with a little more ease.
There are two main applications of the Rake, or more accurately two different types of Rake. They are what I call the 'Stabbed Rake' and the 'Domino Rake' (These names are completely made up in my mind by the way, so don't go trying to search them on Google or you might end up in some strange dark hole of the internet full of overly-adventurous gardeners). The Stabbed Rake is a much faster version of the Rake and it involves strumming all the strings in one quick strum. The pick moves over the string in one quick movement and it sounds like one thick, strong note. The Domino rake, on the other hand, is a much slower movement over the strings, where you can actually hear each individual muted string being played, prior to the ringing out of the targeted note. This is often used in slower songs and is more of an effect to make the note feel like it was 'fallen into' rather than an attempt to thicken the note itself. Both have their own sound and purpose and can be used interchangeably. The biggest deciding factor in choosing which one to use is simply the energy that you feel is required at any given time. And I know, if you're only starting out this probably feels a little overwhelming, but don't worry, it will become much easier as time goes on.
Note: It is also worth noting that SRV was famous for using gauge 13 strings and bass frets on his electric guitar, which gives us an insight into what he was trying to achieve with his sound. He was clearly going for a sound that was as thick and heavy as possible. And he obviously didn't care if his fingers got torn up in the process trying to do big bends. Just gives you an idea of the dedication!
Then compare it to this video, which an entirely different playing style. Eric Johnson, another very well known guitarist uses many more notes, but look at the difference in the movement of his right hand and how much more still it stays than the previous video of SRV. You might have noticed that Johnson is also using his other fingers to pick certain strings. This is known as 'Hybrid Picking' and is used for speed and for certain stylistic traits. Hybrid picking is not something that comes into this style really, but it's just good to be aware what it is.
It’s also highly likely that Eric Johnson is using a smaller and much heavier pick, so he can really get into the strings, and pick very precise notes. SRV, on the other hand (no pun intended), likely uses a larger and softer pick, so there is more ‘slack’ on the strings, and this gives more ‘rhythm’ from the guitar alone.
For low, medium and high budgets
When I was searching for my setup, for a low to medium budget, many people said ‘it all depends what you like – everyone’s different’ and it made it very difficult because I had no idea what direction to go. What I want to do here, is give you an idea of what to buy, and then you go out and play these setups, and then play around with whatever else is available to you in the shop, with this simple foundation in mind.
Bear in mind that when you get to the point of higher budget gear, things can really get overwhelming, so I would see what is available to you (you may need to travel – I did, a lot) and see what you feel is the best, what feels like something you would play a lot (that’s the golden rule really – the gear that is the best, is the gear that you feel you enjoy playing the most – don’t listen to the guitar shop guy telling you how awesome it is, and how special the tubes are in it), and then just get it, instead of waiting around to make sure its right.
You can drive yourself crazy looking for the perfect tone, and I think a lot of guitar players have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with finding ‘THE ONE”, that all your playing problems will be fixed once you find it (sound familiar? – it did to me). You will find something to improve and tweak on EVERY single sound once you get used to it, so no matter what you buy, it’s unlikely to be ‘beaten’ by anything else – as long as you followed the golden rule I mentioned previously.
“The Frying Pan” - The World’s first electric guitar, built in 1931 by George Breed, and further developed by George Beauchamp. Why do Leo and Les get ALL the credit? 😉
1) Lower Budget:
- Fender Squier Strat
- Fender Blues Junior Series (I understand that this is still a little expensive, but the most expensive amp you will buy is the wrong one) OR I personally Really like the Ibanez TS15. This was demoed in My “5 Don’t Need To Knows” Video. Try both of these and decide for yourself which one you prefer. Both have a very different character.
- Medium Picks
- Ernie Ball regular Strings 00.10
2) Medium Budget:
- Fender Standard Mexican Strat
- Fender Squier Classic Vibe
- Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Series
- Medium Picks
- Ernie Ball regular Strings 00.10
The world's largest Amplifier by Full Sail University… Yes this is real, and yes, you can
play through this… though I’m not sure I’d be recording with this!!
- Fender American Standard Strat
- Fender American Deluxe Strat
- Fender Custom Shop Strat Series (This is what I am playing, a 1956 CS Strat)
- Fender Strat Signature Series – This will depend on what your local music store has, try them all.
- Fender Super-Sonic (This amp is very versatile, but I felt it does several jobs very well, and none extremely well. But THAT’S JUST ME. I opted for an amp that had a killer clean tone.
- Fender Bassman
- Fender Twin
- Toneking Imperial
- Toneking Galaxy
- If possible, try out some Dumble amps, and Two Rock amps, both of which are great amps, but can get very expensive.
- Medium Picks
- Ernie Ball regular Strings 00.10 or 00.11’s for slightly thicker sound
You’d certainly turn a lot of guitarists heads if you turned up to a gig with this old
"Pain, No Gain"
You read that wrong. Read it again
Depending on where you are in your guitar journey, you are very likely to experience pain at some point. The first introduction to this is the callouses, or areas of hardened skin, that build up on the tips of your fingers. These, from a medical perspective, occur when the body part is exposed to repeated 'injury' and it needs to protect itself. In order to do that, it starts to create areas of hardened skin around the affected area. These are called callouses and most of us who've been playing for a while know that they are super helpful for playing guitar and that the pain in the tips of the fingers goes away after a couple of days.
If you watch my video of Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, you will see that I had a band aim on my thumb. There was a poor fret job done on the guitar not long before and the frets had sliced open my thumb as I was practicing this song.
Note: The pain 'going away' is not permanent, and the callouses that you develop can and will soften back to normal, and pain will reoccur if you don't regularly practice. I've been playing guitar for many years and still get pain in my fingertips and have to redevelop my callouses when I stop playing for a while.
However, when we start playing in a new way we might experience pain elsewhere in our fingers, wrists, arms, or even shoulders. This is not something that should be happening and we should address the issue and try our best to eliminate it and not push through. A common issue that occurs in people who take on this new style is tension or pain in the thumb. Because this style is one of the few styles that require the player to grip with the thumb over the top of the neck rather than at the back of the neck like most other traditional styles of playing, you tend to use the thumb in a way that you haven't before. This use of the thumb in a way that it is not familiar with can lead to issues and pain in the thumb. There are certain physical stretches and exercises that can be done to help this slightly, but my experience with hundreds of students who go through something like this is that they are trying to push with the thumb against the fretboard too much or they are twisting it in some unnatural way that is causing unnecessary amounts of stress on the joints and muscles in the thumb. I have a mini-course called 'Mastering the Thumb' where I go over the proper way to use your thumb, but suffice it to say that if you are experiencing excessive pain, you are likely doing something wrong. The best course of action is to simply let your thumb rest for a little time and then come back and try it again in multiple different positions and see which one causes the least amount of stress.
On a much more positive note, this method of using your thumb to play standard barre chords significantly reduces the amount of pressure that would be placed on your wrists. In order to play barre chords in the traditional way, you need to squeeze your thumb and fingers against both sides of the neck and this can often lead to wrist injury or fatigue. The thumb-over approach, while it has a slight possibility of causing some slight thumb pain if done incorrectly, is an absolute godsend for decreasing this pain and fatigue. And trust me, if you had to to choose between a lot of wrist pain or a little thumb pain, you would choose the latter every time.
So while 'no pain, no gain' can be useful to your guitar playing, sometimes pain can be absolutely no gain and should be addressed as soon as possible.
I truly hope this video course and guide helps you reach your goals in learning this song and this style, I’ve given everything I have in terms of how I think about it, play it, and approach the style overall. I hope you feel that it was worth paying for. I know most things are available for free online today, but I don’t think there is anyone online giving away this amount of info for free. I really do wish someone had done this when I was trying to learn this song, but I couldn’t find anything.
Finally, I am an artist, and want to keep making music, so I am reaching out to ask you not to share this freely online. You could, there really is nothing to stop you, I have no protection on this course – I couldn’t afford any big company to monitor it as I’m really just a guy in his bedroom, but I am asking you from one musician/artist to another, to please respect that I put a lot of work and lots of money into this and I need the support to keep making quality music and products. If my stuff starts getting shared, I lose my ability to keep making the best stuff I can make as I need the income to live.
So please don’t give this away for free, I don’t have the support of any company or business behind me.
Thank you so much, and best wishes in all your musical endeavours, Remember; “People don’t fail… they just stop trying.”
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