When I was in high school, at times I would sit in class and mentally practice the guitar. I would do this by drawing a guitar grid on a piece of paper and then begin “practicing” by drawing notes, scales, or chords. By mentally reinforcing musical information on the fretboard, I would be a better guitar player.
I was never content with just knowing that a chord or a scale was somewhere on the guitar just because my instructor or a book said so. I wanted to know why the notes, chords, and scales looked the way they did on the fretboard. After regularly doing this, I began to mentally “see” chord and scale shapes on the guitar’s fretboard. When I did have a guitar in my hands, I had experienced greater accuracy in my playing since I could see the notes in my mind.
As I learned more musical information in college, I would apply the same grid drawing technique to make sure that I mentally owned that information.
The guitar’s fretboard can be compared to a computer keyboard with the letters removed. It takes a certain amount of deductive reasoning and memorization to learn the guitar’s fretboard. When I started teaching guitar, I noticed that many of my students had difficulty remembering where the notes were located on the fretboard.
Knowing how I dealt with this problem, I could not just simply tell my students to start drawing guitar grids in class. I was constantly trying to think of ways to help my students understand the layout of the guitar’s fretboard. Working with guitar students has helped me in trying to tackle this problem from many different viewpoints.
With the growth of smart phone technology, I saw a new way to help my students remember where the guitar notes are located. The Apple iPod has been a regular tool in my guitar lessons for some time. Recently, a greater number of my students have been bringing iPhones and iPods to their lesson in order to show me a song they wish to learn.
I also noticed how many apps they had on their devices. I realized that if I could create an app similar to my guitar grid exercise from years earlier, teaching fretboard concepts would be much easier. My pencil and paper exercise would now exist in a format that my students were used to looking at.
With the help of my two sons (one who does graphics, one does programming) and my daughter (who has an “eye” for presentation), we were able to create the Guitar Note Workout App. It is now available at the iTunes app store .
Sheila E. was a guest artist at Saddleback Church’s Night Of Worship. During my solo time, I decided to break off into a little of Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va”. Being of Hispanic descent, I figured I could take some liberties. This was being done to Rick Muchow’s song “I’m Set Free”.
Sheila E’s conga work is absolutely incredible. In this short video, she is literally giving a clinic on Latin poly-rhythmic rudiments. Try and clue in to the different pattern’s that she uses.
I love it when the Christmas music comes out for the church services. It reminds me why I pursued a degree in music. It also makes me appreciate my college Musicianship Instructor (Robert L. Becker) all the more. The first day of class he declared “I am going to teach you what you need to know so that your butt doesn’t get thrown out of a session”. He forgot to also mention church service rehearsals. My thanks to Mr. Becker for delivering me from the old guitarist joke, “How do you get a guitar player to be quiet…put music in front of him “….(ba-doom-pshhh).
I also love getting to play the old Christmas songs because then I get to squeeze 6 to 8 chords into a 4/4 measure. You’ll never see that in a Tomlin/Baloche/Wickham worship set…. although, you will always see that in a Houghton worship set any & every Sunday of the year (Thanks for keeping us on our toes Israel).
Above is a version of “We Three Kings” that absolutely rocked (even though it had a 3/8 feel)! This was from this year’s Saddleback Church Christmas play, The Gift.
As many of you prepare for Christmas services this year, remember to give your gift of excellence to your Audience of One…. and in doing so, your congregations will be blessed!
Merry Christmas & Happy Counting!!
The Lord spoke to me this morning and told me to record this song for a friend of ours who is fighting a tremendous fight of faith.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness 11-25-10
On this particular weekend, Natalie Grant & her husband Bernie Herms (two very genuinely nice people) visited us at Saddleback Church.
Natalie Grant is one of the most seasoned singers I have ever played for. During the rehearsals, she flawlessly executed singing at 50% – 60% with full “intensity”.
In other words, she is in total control of her instrument. When she came out to sing, she took it to another level of incredible performance (at 6 months pregnant!).
The other great part about this weekend was playing with a stellar band; Rick Muchow (MD & Acoustic), Tom Brooks (Piano & Keys), Dan Bailey (Drums), Dylan Wilson (Bass), Dominik Michalzik (Guitar) & a bunch of great singers!
One of the songs we played was Ricardo’s “Power Of The Cross”.
This wonderful song has many layers both musically and lyrically. I enjoyed listening to this song just as much as I enjoyed playing it with him.
My favorite line in the song is;
“Nothing is missing, Nothing is broken, Now it is finished, His blood has spoken.”
“Power Of The Cross” is an incredible proclamation of the complete
redemption we have through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Thank you Ricardo for getting up in the middle of the night to write this tune.
Andrae´ Crouch’s 1995 European Tour began with an appearance on German TV.
At this point in the set, Andrae´ would start singing from his amazing repertoire of past hits. Of course the band, nor the singers knew which song he was going to start singing. We just had to be ready for anything. When I first started doing Gospel dates, L.A. drummer, friend and mentor Billy Hill told me, “Always watch the director because you never know what is going to happen.”
At 1:17 in this video, Andrae´ tells Rickey Grundy “C’mon” (take a solo). At 1:56, he then tells me to “C’mon”. Not only was this the first performance of the tour, but it was my first performance with Andrae´ Crouch. Being that this was one of the impromptu songs, I can’t say I was entirely ready for “C’mon” but I knew what to do if the occasion arose. I didn’t respond with my first note until 2:01.
This pause in my response at that first show was just enough to receive a little “ribbing” from Andrae´throughout the tour.
The picture below shows Andrae´s perspective of my “pause” (that’s him holding my guitar saying “Who…me!”).
Word to the wise worship guitarist..always be ready for “C’mon”.
I have finally replaced the stock tremolo on my MIM (Made In Mexico) Fender Strat with the Wilkinson/Gotoh VSVG Vintage Tremolo.
I ended up purchasing it for $110.00 (shipping included) on Ebay from a seller in Virginia with a 100% positive feedback rating.
Right off the bat, the installation was a piece of cake. I just simply swapped out the stock tremolo unit.
Not only was it easy to replace, but the intonation was set perfectly right out of the box. I did not have to adjust one saddle. In no way can I guarantee perfect intonation if you buy the VSVG tremolo unit. This particular case was a flat out miracle.
Before taking off the stock tremolo unit, I plugged the Strat directly into ProTools and recorded some chords & licks. After installing the new Wilkinson/Gotoh trem, I went straight back to ProTools and recorded the same chords & licks.
The results were quite revealing. At fist glance, the waveforms of the stock tremolo appeared to be larger than the waveforms of the VSVG tremolo. My first thought was “Oh great, I’m losing volume with the VSVG”. But that was not the case at all.
I tend to be a pretty “percussive” guitar player which means that I regularly “hit” the the guitar as I strike the strings. If I’m doing R&B (which is real common on a Strat), I hit the guitar harder with my right hand than if I do jazz.
Upon closer scrutiny of the audio, the stock tremolo was picking up my right hand movements and transferring that onto the strings. When listening to the Wilkinson/Gotoh VSVG audio, I just heard more of the guitar without the right hand “hits” against the body. The Wilkinson/Gotoh VSVG Tremolo filtered out the “percussive” hits and let more of the guitar tone ring through. The stock trem was picking up the low end of the “thuds”.
The next day, I played the Strat at the Saddleback Church services with guest country artist Billy Dean. At the end of the service, we played a “Country 10 Step” blues jam for the congregation to walk out to. Somebody told my wife, “I didn’t know Dave could play Country”. I normally do not…it was the Mexican Strat finally being able to speak correctly.
I absolutely love to tune down a whole step (especially my Les Paul). A Les Paul does really well with alternate tunings. For some reason, the intonation stays pretty much in tact (maybe somebody out there can explain the science behind this Les Paul phenomenon).
Another great aspect of tuning down is hearing (and feeling) your guitar and amp “growl”.
You “metal” players get to experience the “growl” thing on a regular basis by dropping your low E to a C.
Tuning down does things to your tone that pedals just can’t produce. Having a little more “slink” in the strings ain’t so bad either.
I recently had the opportunity to tune down when we (The Saddleback Church Orchestra) performed the Miley Cyrus song, “The Climb”.
This song had more of a “Nashville” drop tuning, open chord vibe.
As you can see, it’s always a pleasure to play with the Saddleback Church Orchestra.
One of the things that I thoroughly enjoy is playing with an orchestra. It usually takes a little more concentration than just playing in a rhythm section. Tempos are usually set and maintained by the Conductor…unless you are playing to a click track.
When playing guitar in a standard worship setting, one personal rule that I have is “always stay with the worship leader or singer”.
Of course, as a musician, a primary rule is to always play in rhythm.
When playing in an orchestra, the rule is, the Conductor rules.
In one particular selection from the Journey (which used a click track with additional recorded material), the vocalist decided to sing very expressively (translated; she sang way behind the beat). Of course this caused the Conductor (the masterful Bob Barrett) to conduct somewhere between the click and the singer.
So here were my dilemmas;
If I follow the singer, I will not be in rhythm with the click.
If I follow the click, the singer is out on her own never to be rescued.
If I follow the conductor, I will have to violate my own sense of hearing & rhythm in order to be in rhythm.
I followed the Conductor because when playing in an orchestra, the rule is, the Conductor rules.
I like to get callbacks.