April 12, 2013

Inspiring Guitar Poster is awesome, nearly perfect

PopChart Lab Guitar PosterJust ran into this history of modern guitars poster by Pop Chart Lab. It displays many of the iconic guitar designs from the most basic and still used regularly today like the Stratocasters and the Les Pauls to the downright outrageous such as Rick Neilson’s 5 neck guitar.

This really is a fun look into the history of guitar design. Although there are a few curious omissions and little mistakes, I’ll still be picking this poster up. Fair warning, I’m not much of a gearhead, so if anyone wants to split hairs about model numbers, series, or really technical details, go for it.

Here are some of my favorites…

The Jimmy Page Les Paul with violin bow,
Jimmy Page Les Paul
the Jimi Hendrix guitar on fire,
the Spinal Tap guitars,
and the air guitar.


(Very) Minor Gripes

GuitarP_KurtCobainWhen I initially wrote this blog post, there were two little mistakes that I caught right away. This first one is arguable, but it is the Kurt Cobain guitar. Ask anybody in the know what guitar Kurt Cobain played and they will inevitably answer either Fender Jaguar, Mustang, or Jagstang. While Kurt Cobain owned that Mosrite guitar, it really wasn’t the guitar he made iconic. A google-image search of “Kurt Cobain Mosrite guitar” brings up only two images of him actually playing this guitar and a slew of images of him playing various Fender guitars. This one is debatable I suppose, as I admittedly don’t know the history of Kurt Cobain and this obscure guitar.

Kurt Cobain’s guitar. Sure, he played this, but what guitar do you think of when you think about Kurt Cobain?

OLD_Guitar_Chart_wBoxesThe second mistake was a pretty blatant one, but has since been corrected! The James Hetfield signature guitar from 1992 had a shape that was almost identical to a Gibson Explorer. The guitar they originally showed on this poster was the James Hetfield “Snakebite” which premiered around 2011. They have since changed it to the ’76 Explorer, so the Metallica nerd rage inside of me has been quelled. It looks like they changed the year of the Jimi Page guitar too, which I didn’t catch (again, not a gearhead!).

The old chart, with blue boxes for the ones I like, and red boxes around the Hetfield model (bottom of poster) and the aforementioned Kurt Cobain guitar. Sorry about the quality here, but you can tell it’s the new model of the Explorer.

GuitarP_Hetfield_Corrected…and Corrections for All! That’s what I’m talking about! METAL!!!

Curious Omissions…

Willie Nelson’s guitar (the one with the sound hole that is getting bigger because it’s so busted up), GuitarP_Willie_Nelson
Jimmy Page’s Danelectro (although plenty of other guitars Page used are mentioned in the poster), GuitarP_Jimmy-Page-Danelectro-dc59
Buckethead’s guitar with the killswitch, GuitarP_BucketheadKS
John Petrucci’s 90′s guitar (on the right, artful, but ugly as sin), and the modern (on the left, much better!),
GuitarP_PetrucciModern GuitarP_Petrucci_90s
Joe Satriani’s chrome guitar, GuitarP_Satch_Chrome
and the new trend of 8-string guitars. GuitarP_8string

Overall, this poster kicks ass, and I have to have it. It is laugh-out-loud funny and a fascinating look at the wonderful variety of guitars over the last 100 years. I had more to say about my minor gripes and curious omissions, but really they got the basics right. I don’t know about you, but I really feel like playing some guitar right now, which makes this a perfect poster for my new studio! If you find any other mistakes or guitars you would have like to have seen let us know!

Posted by in Nick and tagged as ,

March 29, 2013

Shredding with Semeron: Warming up with Songs and Riffs

Welcome to the first installment of Shredding with Semeron! A common starting point for many ongoing guitar lesson columnists and bloggers is the topic of warming up. Warming up properly before attempting guitar heroics is crucial if you want to play effortlessly and fluidly. One can avoid injury as well, and who wants to explain how they hurt their hand to their band mates? I was practicing my Gb7sus4 sweep arpeggios at 200 bpm, I swear!

Here’s the lesson video. Simply click on the links below to the description to see the music notation. It is also included at the end of each demonstration on the video below.

1-2-3-4 Patterns

Many people like to warm up with finger patterns that use every finger. I call these exercises 1-2-3-4 exercises.  These really do a good job of warming up the hand.  Along with warming up, the exercises are good for working on dexterity, but they can get a little stale over time. They are typically nonsensical and not very musical (often computer-like).


Warming up with Music

The idea with warming up is we are prepping ourselves to play music, so it only makes sense to add some musicality to the warmups themselves. With this in mind, here are a few excerpts from songs that use the aforementioned 1-2-3-4 patterns.


“Space Truckin’” – Deep Purple

The first riff comes from Deep Purple. Be sure to play the first half of the riff in 5th position (so 1st finger plays the 5th fret, 2nd finger plays 6th fret, 3rd finger plays the 7th fret, 4th finger plays the 8th fret). Here is a great example of a 1-2-3-4 pattern that is used in a song…easy to play, and good for getting the fingers going. C’MON!!!

(As a side note, J.R., Jeff, Adam, Jesse… this riff might be the reason I like to say “C’mon!” all the time!)



“Erotomania” – Dream Theater

This instrumental track from prog rockers Dream Theater has some really great riffs and licks in it. The intro is a little more advanced as it has a few odd time signatures, chromatics (like 1-2-3-4 patterns), and bigger stretches (m.9-10).  This excerpt covers a lot of ground, uses all four fingers, and even has a little lead playing making it a great tune to warm up on.


Counting 5/4 and 9/8

Let’s start with counting the time signatures. 5/4 is as simple as counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (in quarter notes). The same goes with 2/4 and 3/4, just count to 2 or 3, respectively. The measure of 9/8 can be a little tricky. Here’s what’s going on. 5/4 could be written as 10/8, so 9/8 is essentially dropping one 8th note beat. 9/8 in this context can be counted like this (in 8th notes) 1 2, 1 2, 1 2, 1 2 3 .


“Can’t Take Me Alive” (Verse 1 Arpeggios) – Semeron

This little arpeggio part from my band Semeron’s upcoming album “Breathing Scarlet,” uses mostly sweep picking and a little bit of alternate picking. I like to warm up my sweep picking with this because it is a bit slower, which is ideal for warming up! I follow the same pattern throughout most of the example, but watch for m. 4 where alternate picking is used. This example can also be alternate picked throughout, which gives it sort of a Steve Morse kind of sound, but I like the flowing sound of sweeping here. It’s a good intro to sweep picking if you don’t use that technique much, too. If the arpeggio shapes give you trouble, try looping each measure, so play each measure 2 or 4 times before moving on.


“Jotun” (live) – In Flames

If you play lead guitar, it’s important when warming up to prep yourself to play leads! The melody in “Jotun” includes hammer-ons and pulloffs, bends, slides, and plenty of position playing. Melodies are great to warm up on to remind us to play melodically (hence the word) and not just shred when playing leads. This one isn’t technically a 1-2-3-4 pattern, but every one of these fingers is used.

“Diary of a Madman” – Ozzy Osbourne   

This excerpt, written by Rhandy Rhoads, is a classical study adapted into a rock song. It’s a perfect chord warmup that uses all fingers (again 1-2-3-4), has some good stretches, and sounds pretty! It is played “Rubato,” which means “Flexibility of Tempo,” so you can speed up and slow down to your taste. Rhandy doesn’t go crazy with that, but it’s a little more free sounding that way.



If you need these slowed down, try going to www.soundslice.com and loading our video. Just search “Shredding with Semeron.” You can play YouTube videos from there and not only slow the music down to half speed (without changing the pitch), but you can loop sections, and it’s free!

Good luck with all of these examples, be sure to practice slowly and accurately, and see you next time!

Posted by in Nick and tagged as , , ,