Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thirteenth Chords on Guitar


Alot of guitar players freeze up completely when they come across thirteenth chords in a song chart. I'd like to give you some very easy ways to finger 13ths so that you can jump to them quickly when called upon.

The actual spelling of a G 13th is, G B D F A C E. This is a dominant function with a flat 7th scale degree also known as Myxolydian Mode. When you look at the spelling of the notes You can think of this as a G7 (G B D F) with an Aminor triad
(A C E) on top (at the same time).

Of course, you only have 6 strings on most guitars, and you need some practical shapes that are hassle free. In this example, I'm omitting the B, D and F notes. These are the third, fifth and seventh. By taking three notes out, you can break down something very complex into alot simpler format (G, A, C, E).

When you think about it, the G, A, C and E notes are really what make this a 13th sound. These notes are the Root (G) and the upper extended notes which are the 9th, 11th, and 13th (In this case A, C, E). If you included the B, D, and F notes, you might as well just be playing a vanilla G7 shape.

You can try adding back in the third or seventh in addition to the simplified shape. Of course, you can get different sounds by experimenting with interchanging or deleting any of the other notes as well.

A way to really simplify the 13th concept is to think of it as a root note with a triad on top of it. The triad, in this case, is built on the note one whole step above the root. For example,in a G 13th, you have a G note as the root with an A minor triad on top. So the notes are G, A, C, E. A cool thing to notice is that this abbreviated 13th shape (G A C E) is really an A minor 7th in 3rd inversion.

One of the common alterations of this shape you will see is the 13th#11. All you need to do is raise the 11th a half step which will be G A C# E. Notice the main difference is you have a root note (G) with a Major triad on top (A C# E) instead of a Minor triad.

I hope this helps you get a hold of the concepts. Drop me a line if you have any questions. See ya next time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Auto Play Music

This is a great way to get your tunes heard! There is no downloading. The selection just plays right off the web. The user does not have to search around the site and figure out which player to use.

First, of course you would upload your sound file (like .mp3 file) to your website. The use the web address for that sound file in your code like the example above.

If you enter 2px for the width and simultaneously 0px for the height, the player will be invisible. One thing to note about this is that the visitor will not be able to stop the music, if they want to, without leaving your site.


If you want your own music to auto-play from your website, here is an example code you can insert.

<embed src="your sound file web address here" autostart="true" loop="true" style="width: 165px; height: 86px">



Very cool. I have just released my new guitar piece. "It's Raining on the Moon!" Brace yourself! I have it set on auto play so all you have to do is click on this link to hear the music..... 

http://www.kevinbennett.us

In the upper left hand corner, on my site, there will be a built-in player box so you can pause the jams or skip to different points in the piece.


I'm hooked on this instant-jam technology and want use this on more of my websites. If you click on the links within my site, you may find even more sonic surprises!


Thanks for rocking along!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guitar Intonation

Balancing the intonation across the entire guitar is critical to getting a professional sound. Your open chords might sound fine and nicely in tune, but when you go to solo on the high notes you find something is not sounding right. This is because the actual string length needs to be adjusted.

Especially on new guitars you should always check the intonation since it's not always right straight from the factory. In order to do a test, first tune your open strings as precisely as you can with a digital tuner. Next, play each string at the 12th fret being careful not to bend the string or put undo pressure on it.

Check each string on the tuner as you play the 12th fret (octave). If the note is perfectly in tune when fretted at the 12th fret, you are done for that string. If the note at the 12th fret is sharp you have to move the saddle down or away from the pickups, and vice versa.

On a typical electric guitar with a "floating" tremolo system, you have a screw that holds the saddle to the bridge. First you want to gently release the tension on the saddle until it's moveable. With your other hand, push the saddle forward or back depending on whether the note is sharp or flat. I use a hex key for pushing gently on the saddle. Just use your finger if you don't want to scratch it.

The only way to find correct position for the saddle is trial and error. Tighten the saddle back up in the new position and check The open string and the fretted octave again. If they match perfectly you are done with that string. If not, you have to keep fine tuning each string until they are perfectly in tune.

Another thing to note is once you adjust the string length on one string, that will slightly alter the other strings on a floating tremolo bar. So double or triple check every string again just in case they went off.

Check again every six months to a year to see if the string length needs adjusting. Besides this, normal tuning is just fine to keep your guitar soulding great.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cubase 6 Review

Hello readers, In keeping with the theory that every guitarist wants to sound great, it's important that we obtain the right tools for the job. What you need is to break away from being dependent on the local recording studios and be able to make real professional quality recordings in your own home.

What I recommend is a recording platform that allows midi and audio to be seamlessly integrated with complete control over the sound environment. In this case, Cubase 6 is my software of choice.

The software is very easy to install, however, they do require a USB device be plugged in at all times for authenticity. I recommend have a dedicated computer just for your studio so you will easily have a free USB port.

The "device setup" is where you will go in and select the correct sound card or sound device for both audio and midi recording. Also critical is the VST connections area where you assign the sends.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of using midi instruments to support your creative musical environment. I use a lot of midi drums but even for live drums it is great to be synced exactly to a click track. In my opinion playing a song just a few bpm's to fast or slow can absolutely ruin the feel.

Stay tuned to hear about how I integrate the midi instruments with the richest high quality samples that sound as good as the real thing and of course, get the ultimate guitar sound!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recording Tips

Just wanted to break from the music theory aspect and talk about tips for recording your own music at home. Besides playing live, one of the greatest sources of enjoyment for any musician is the ability to capture your greatest moments to preserve for all time.

With today's technology, there are so many great tools at incredibly affordable prices. For only a few hundred dollars, you can essentially have tens of thousands of dollars worth of instruments at your fingertips. The average person can capture a pro-sound that rivals Warner Bros. from the comfort of their own living room.

There are mainly four essential parts to your ideal home studio: Computer, Sound Card, Recording Software and Sound Software (Samples other wise known as Plug-Ins). Take your time and do the research on which is right for you. Hopefully this advice will give you a good head start.

1) Computer - You really want to go ahead and plan on spending around $1000 U.S. for a really fast computer with all the latest features.

2) Sound Card - Go ahead and get the highest sampling rate you can find. The Sound card will make the biggest difference in your sound of anything else.

3) Recording Software - There are many great packages to choose from like Cubase, and Pro Tools. Check out the features to see which is better for your situation.

4) Sound Software - I recommend getting a package with as many sounds as possible like the Komplete series. For a few hundred bucks, you get thousands of dollars of free instruments through virtual samples.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blues Guitar Lessons

Studying Blues Guitar is one of the best ways to learn to play expressively. The guitar is a fantastic instrument for playing soulful lines with heavy vibrato which are perfect for this style. One of the best lessons is to look at B.B. King; he can play just one note in some cases, and put so much feeling on it that it's worth a thousand notes. Stevie Ray Vaughn is probably the best technical player in this genre.

The secret key to the blues that alot of people don't realize is that you are playing in a free space between major and minor key centers. To really get the essence of this, try having a friend play a nice straight major bar chord on their instrument along with a beat (or just record yourself if you are alone). Now you normally expect to play along in a major tonality right? Let's say the other person is playing a C Major chord. What I want you to do is hit a really big strong C Minor chord right on top of that major chord.

The notes Eb and E in the two chords are conflicting with eachother so it may sound unatural at first. Keep playing that minor chord on top of the major and your ear will adjust especially after you do this...

- Stay tune for the rest this part!!!

Below is a graphic of the primary "box" pattern for the blues. You can do a million riffs within this simple pattern. You basically start from the root note on the sixth string and the pattern from low to high in frets is 4-3-3-3-4-4



This example is in the key of F#. You will notice that this is actually a natural minor scale which you can play over a major or minor chord.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guitar Players

Here is a brief introductory list of some of the top guitar players in the world that should be studied.

Joe Satriani - Probably the best overall guitarist in the category of instrumental rock. Incredible tone and intonation. Always has a great rock rhythm, singing melodies and soaring solos. He goes above and beyond to add technicolor to his sound through high "squeals" and heavy use of wah. CLICK FOR VIDEO.

Andy Timmons - Probably one of the best overall players having fused more styles than any other guitarist. Very comfortable playing rock, jazz, country, blues, you name it. CLICK FOR VIDEO.

Eddie Van Halen - Pioneer in fretboard tapping. Probably the best guitarist in a rock band setting. Unmistakable tone. He changed the face of guitar with some of the flat-out fastest riffs in rock in the "Eruption" Solo.  CLICK FOR VIDEO.


Neal Schon - Probably the most melodic of all rock guitarists. His melodies are heart felt and emotional. His leads, presented in Journey songs, are known for their singable lines that go on until they crescendo into a blistering climax.  CLICK FOR VIDEO.

Andy Summers - Definitely the king in the Ska category. Andy is best know for his days with the Police, where he played contrapuntal to Stewart Copeland's neo-reggae drumming and Sting on bass. Key to his style is the use of energetic rhythms and fantastic color chords. CLICK FOR VIDEO.

More names...

Steve Vai
Eric Johnson
Jason Macedo
Shawn Lane
Jeff Beck
Steve Howe
Brian May
Steve Morse
Alex Lifeson
Randy Rhodes
Marty Friedman
Steve Luthaker
The Edge
Vinnie Moore
Tony MacAlpine