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Guitar Shred – Don’t Ignore the Rhythm

In the world of guitar shred, too many times people are ignoring their rhythm guitar playing. I’ve seen countless players who can jam on Yngwie and Steve Vai all day, but can’t play too many chords. That’s bad.

One thing that great players like Jimi Hendrix, SRV, and Eddie Van Halen all have in common is that they are great rhythm players as well as soloists. Learning some of Hendrix’s rhythms is just as challenging as learning anything else. However, rhythm is still being ignored by some players who spend all their time working on speed and whatnot.

Set aside some time each day during your practice sessions to work on rhythm playing. Learn new chords, new voicings for chords you already know, and new rhythms. Get some good books on rhythm guitar, preferably ones that come with CD’s so you can hear how it’s supposed to be played. More important, make sure you have the “feel” for the rhythm you are playing. It’s one thing to just learn the chords and play along with the track, but more important to really get into the groove of what your doing.

One thing to know is that better rhythm playing equals better soloing – it’s just the way it is. I hope you will add this area of playing to your guitar shred sessions if you haven’t already.

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Guitar Shred – Ritchie Blackmore an Early Shredder

Ritchie Blackmore – An Early Shredder

If you are a student of shred guitar, it’s extremely important to go back beyond your current favorite players and check out their influences. Learning from your influence’s influences is one of the most important things to do as a musician. It gives you a look into where your favorites have come from and why they sound like they do. You should do this with all your heroes.

One example is Ritchie Blackmore – a huge influence to Yngwie Malmsteen. If you are into studying the guitar playing of Yngwie, you need to go back and check out Ritchie Blackmore –if you haven’t already.

Ritchie Blackmore, best known as the guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow was an early shredder. He combined elements of blues, jazz and classical into his rock guitar playing. There is so much more to his playing than just the main riff of “Smoke on The Water”.

For a taste of his playing check out the solo’s to “Highway Star” from Deep Purple and “Gates of Babylon” from Rainbow. Both of these solos will show you what he was doing before the whole shred thing started. One thing that may be interesting to do – As you listen to say, the solo from “Highway Star” look around the web to see what other guitar players were doing during that same period in rock guitar. You will see how Ritchie separated himself from the pack quite a bit with his use of arpeggios and the Harmonic Minor scale.

These days Ritchie is playing renaissance music with his group, Blackmore’s Night. blackmoresnight

I highly recommend to anyone studying guitar shred to search around the web for Ritchie Blackmore and listening to his huge catalogue of music spanning a very long career. He is an amazing guitarist who has influenced directly or indirectly just about every shredder out there!

I would love to hear your thoughts on Ritchie Blackmore!

Guitar Shred – Take it Slow!

Too many times when I see someone practicing some type of guitar shred, they are in too much of a rush to succeed. They are playing faster than they are really capable and it sounds pretty sloppy. The cure for this is to take it slow.

I am sure you have already heard a zillion guitar players say to practice difficult stuff slow. I know I have. But it is something worth repeating again and again because it is so true. You have to practice tough stuff slow and practice that way a lot. Don’t just practice a lick slow a couple of times and then go right back up to full speed. Be honest with yourself, if you are playing at a fast tempo but it sounds bad, slow it down and make it sound good.

One good way of doing this is to practice with a metronome at a speed you can play the lick perfect. Again, be honest with yourself. If it isn’t perfect, slow it down some more. Once you get it write down the date and the metronome setting. Do this everyday. You will be inspired as you can see how far you have come after a few weeks or months. A good rule of thumb is to only go up a couple of metronome settings a week.

One last thing that is really important. Don’t always practice with your gain on 10. Spend time each day practicing your licks and stuff with a clean guitar sound as well a guitar sound. You may hear little things this way that you may have been covering up with distortion.

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