These are excerpt from the book : How To Make Your Guitar Talk

- Technique vs. Feeling

- String Skipping Arpeggios

- Johann's Kitchen (Excercise)





  These are two very important factors of soloing. A lot of players go for either one or the other, but actually being able to marry both is what makes a great player.
  •    Technique is important so you can execute your ideas.

Let's say you hear this sixteen note run in your head on a fast tune and you can't play any faster than eighth notes. You will either loose your continuity or deliver a real sloppy version and stumble over notes. That will really break your concentration.
On the downside practicing too much technique can have a bad influence on your ideas and your feel. Players that practice technical exercises several hours a day tend to suffer from 'note diarrhea' when they improvise. The problem is that 'you sound like what you practice' .
The answer? Well, that's a tough one, it's like a catch 22. I think to a certain degree you have to go through a phase of overplaying to get it out of your system. You will need to spend the time to improve your technique and get your chops together. A good balanced diet of practicing the concepts discussed in this book should help you to minimize the danger of sounding too technical.

  •    Feeling is what captures the audience.

Some say you can't learn it, you either have it or you don't. I don't quite agree, but it is certainly the hardest thing to learn. This book is designed to help you in this aspect as well.
What is feeling? Well, there I need to get a little philosophical for a moment. Music is a language without words (never mind the lead singer). We communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions through sound to an audience. For them to feel what you feel they must first be able to follow you. That's why an over-technical player, who plays 100 notes/sec for 5 minutes straight will never be considered a great feel player (although he might be admired for his execution).
And you also must have something to say. But don't say things like: 'look how well I can play exercise # 357'.

  •   To play with feeling means to communicate.

You need to keep the audience's attention. You want the listener to anticipate your next note, rather than trying to comprehend what you just did before. That's why  phrasing, continuity, touch and structure are very important to a player with feeling.
Don't forget the choice of notes , your melodic ideas are what will capture an audience. These ideas come from the different tools you use. I consider our tools to be the repertoire of scales, arpeggios and intervals and the knowledge of how to use them.






I like to use the following fingerings, which are a combination of arpeggios and string skipping. Notice that the fingering stays the same whether the root is on the E or A string.

The interesting effect about these fingerings is, that they cover a big distance very quickly.

These arpeggios can be easily altered to become min(maj7), dom7#5 or maj7#5 like shown in the last example






Here is a fun etude for you. It uses the string skipping arpeggios from the page before. I call it Johann's Kitchen, because it has somewhat of a Bach character in the way it modulates. The etude is a cycle of six chords: II mi7  - V 7 - I maj7 - IV maj7 - bV dim7 - V maj7. The V maj7 then  becomes a II min7 chord, which starts the next cycle a fifth down from the first.

Practice with a metronome set to one click per quintuplet. Watch out for the eveness in your notes. If you play it on an electric guitar you can start maybe on Ami7 (12th fret) and play all the way down until there is no more room  or your fingers cramp up.  Above all have fun !