When it comes to playing guitar, the word, “mode” can become a four-letter-word. For those of us who have had musical training outside of the guitar, such as general music theory, learning how to apply modes isn’t so daunting. But for the guitarist where scales and key relationships are something of a foreign language, modes can seem like something from which to shy away.
Dave Eichenberger has posted a blog over at Seymour Duncan where he dives into just a little bit of theory, but for the novice, he’s posted SoundCloud files of seven different modes with backing tracks so that you can hear how these all interact with one another.
A Gibson Les Paul is capable of creating a wide variety of tones just by dialing in the volume and tone knobs in conjuction with the toggle switch. To illustrate this, Guitarist Magazine got Joe Bonamassa on camera to run through several of these setups. Using a Gibson Collectors Choice #12 1957 Les Paul Goldtop and no pedals, Joe starts by demonstrating Eric Clapton’s woman tone. You can change the volume, pluck with your thumb, and create a Wes Montgomery feel. Make a slight adjustment and your on to a clean blues rhythm guitar sound. From there, you can disengage your front pickup and start soloing like Johnny Winter, Freddie King, or Larry Carlton. Then, Joe changes the pace and dials up some twangy chicken pickin’ lead country. Try leaving the pedals and amp alone for a practice session and see what you can create with just your guitar.
If you already own some guitars and are looking for an excuse to buy more, why not use them as home decor. This expensive undertaking is exactly how one Chicago loft created it’s unique look. The owner has what appears to be over 20 feet of vertical space on the wall over his tv that needed to be filled. Hanging nine different guitars from the wall created a very chic and awe inducing sight. Judging from the rest of the pictures, he has more guitars around the apartment that are located in friendlier positioning for regular practice. Once you’ve gone this far, you may as well add a guitar shaped pool. See more photos of the loft at freshome.com.
Have you heard of Jason Becker? Have you seen the documentary on his life and music? If you’re playing guitar, you need to. Jason was a virtuoso guitarist who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1990 as he was preparing for a tour with David Lee Roth. While the disease robbed his body of the ability to move, and doctors gave him three to five years to live, his mind remains sharp and he continues to compose music with the aid of a computer system and language chart that is controlled by his eye movements.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is a testament to the power of music and the strength of the human spirit. Find out more about Jason at his website, JasonBecker.com.
Does one note say more than a hundred? This subject always brings with it a heated conversation between the advocates of “shredding” and those who oppose such. Al Di Meola was interviewed in Guitar World last year, and while the interview covered several topics, one question was regarding speed and musicality.
The question is, “What’s more important: learning to play a lot of notes fast or learning how to get the most out of a few notes?”
You need both abilities: to be able to sing a melody and play with space, and also to have the requisite technique to play the most intricate music. That makes you more complete, and able to play a wider variety of music. It’s a bunch of bullshit every time guitarists say, “One note says so much more than 100.” I always laugh at idiots who make that claim. Tell that to a flamenco player or a classical player and see what they say. It’s almost a defensive reaction. They take something they lack, attack it and claim they never wanted it in the first place. Sure!
While I completely agree with Al Di Meola’s answer, I’m curious how you feel about this topic. Either way, you’ll be biased. But what are your reasons for your opinion? What sort of musical education do you have? These and other questions can easily shape your opinion.
And in pondering this, you might even raise your level of musicianship.