Total Guitar Workout

author: Donkey Fly date: 10/03/2007 category: correct practice
rating: 8.2 / votes: 80 
We all at one time in our guitar playing 'careers' come to the point where we feel we are not improving, you suddenly come to a stand still. This is where I'm at right now. I've been playing a mere 2 years now and I am struggling to see where I can go with my playing. I was talking to my dad who used to play guitar, infact, he still occasionaly does and he told me, 'Just keep playing and playing, practise'. Lets face it, practise is boring unless it is something you enjoy. I have come up with some workouts for lead playing and rhythm alike. Sweep picking, alternate picking, stamina, speed - it's all here. Recently I've found these to be very useful so I thought I'd post them is this lesson. My aim is to take you away from playing scales over and over again to improve your playing and to try and make your practise time a little more fun by experimenting.

Rhythm Playing

When I practise rhythm I usually play chords. I'll start of with major to miner to chords with 7th's and 9th's. I'll then add extra notes to them, to make them into like funky riffs and licks. This can really improve your chord playing and help you make what would normal boring chord patterns into exciting riffs.
Ex. 1
Under The Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
|----------------------------|
|-9--9---7-(7)-7---7---------|
|-9--9---8-(8)-8---8h9p8---8-|
|-9--9---9-(9)-----------9---|
|-7--7---9-(9)---9-----------|
|----------------------------|

|-------------------5h7p5---|----------------------------|
|------9----9-4---5-------5-|-9--9---7-(7)-7---7---------|
|------9----9-4---6-------6-|-9--9---8-(8)-8---8h9p8---8-|
|-9s11-9-11-9-6---7---------|-9--9---9-(9)-----------9---|
|-9s11---11---6---7---------|-7--7---9-(9)---9-----------|
|---------------------------|----------------------------|

|---------------------5-----|
|------9----9---5-(5)---5---|
|------9----9---6-(6)-----6-|
|-9s11-9-11-9---7-(7)-------|
|-9s11---11-----7-(7)-------|
|---------------------------|
Hammer ons and pull offs are used here aswell as broken chords. This makes them sound more technical and it really livens up the riff.
Ex. 2
|----------------|-------------------|--------------|-------------------|
|----------------|-------------------|--------------|-------------------|
|-9-(9)---9---9--|--(9)-9------------|--------7--6--|-(6)----(6)--------|
|-9-(9)---9--11--|-(11)-9--9---9S=7--|-7-7--7-7--7--|-(7)----(7)--------|
|-9h11-----------|--------11--11S=9--|-9-7--7h9--7--|-(7)----(7)-----7--|
|-0-(0)----------|-------------------|--------------|------------7-9----|

|----------------|-------------------|--------------|--------|
|----------------|-------------------|--------------|--------|
|-9-(9)---9---9--|--(9)-9-11------7--|--------7--6--|-(6)----|
|-9-(9)---9--11--|-(11)-9--9---9S=7--|-7-7--7-7--7--|-(7)----|
|-9h11-----------|--------11--11S=9--|-9-7--7h9--7--|-(7)----|
|-0-(0)----------|-------------------|--------------|--------|
This is an intro to a song a made up. I took the same kind of ideas that Frusciante used in 'Under The Bridge' and mixed them with some bluesy chords. You can use different techniques like Stacatto or different rhythmic ideas. An example of a stacatto based riff would be Franz Ferdinand's 'Take Me Out'. For rock and metal players, rhyhtm playing is a lot more about speed than it is about making chords sound 'good'. A lot of metal players nowadays uses pedal notes and make use of drop D. If you at bands like Trivium or older bands such as Metallica and Alice In Chains, you can see you use of detuning in most of their songs. Tuning down to drop D is a great way to speed up the playing of power chords.
Ex. 1
Them Bones (Alice In Chains)
||----------------------------|----------------------------|
||o-6-------------------------|-6--------------------------|
||--5-------------------------|-5--------------------------|
||--0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0-|-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0--|
||o-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0-|-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0--|
||--0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0-|-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-0-0--|
This a typical drop D riff.
Ex. 2 
Slither (Velvet Revolver)
||-------------------|------------------||
||o------------------|-----------------o||
||-------------------|------------------||
||-------------------|------------------||
||o-0-3-4-0-6-7-0-10-|-0-6-7-0-5-0-3-4-o||
||--0-3-4-0-6-7-0-10-|-0-6-7-0-5-0-3-4--||
This is an example of using Drop D to speed up your power chord playing. It is a lot easier to play this riff like this than it would be to playing it in regular standard tuning power chords. Pedal notes have been ued since the birth of metal and before in various blues pieces and organ music. A pedal note is a drone which is a note sustained for a length of time or played in a unwavering rhythm to provide an anchor point for the chords played over them. Pedal notes are almost tremelo picked depending on what the tempo of the song is. More often than not, very fast in terms of metal music. Practise pedal notes can help increase your stamina if played regularly. It will also slowly improve your accuracy which in the long term could help your lead playing.
Ex. 1
Can I Play With Madness (Iron Maiden)
|------------------------------------|-^3--------------------------------|
||o-^3-------------------------------|-^3--------------------------------|
||--^2-------------------------------|-^x--------------------------------|
||--^0-------0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-^2-------0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0--|
||o----------------------------------|-^3--------------------------------|
||-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
 
|-3-------------------------------|-----3---2-------3---2-------3---|
|-3-------------------------------|-----3---3-------3---3-------3---|
|-0-------------------------------|-----2---2-------2---2-------2---|
|-0-------0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-----0---0-------0---0-------0---|
|-x-------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|-3-------------------------------|---------------------------------|

Ex. 2 
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
||----------------7---------|-5------------------------||
||o-------5-------5---------|-3---------2-(2)---------o||
||--------6-------4---------|-2---------2-(2)------2---||
||--------7-------6---------|-4---------2-(2)------2---||
||o-0-0-0---0-0-0---0-0-0-0-|---0-0-0-0-0-(0)------0--o||
||--------------------------|------------------3s4-----||

Ex. 3 Pull Harder... (Trivium)
drop D
||------------------------------|-----------------------------|
||o-----------------------------|-----------------------------|
||------------------------------|-----------------------------|
||--7-------------------------7-|-8-------------------------8-|
||o-5-------------------------5-|-5-------------------------5-|
||----0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0---|---0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0---|

|-----------------------------|---------------------------------||
|-----------------------------|--------------------------------o||
|-----------------------------|---------------------------------||
|-8-------------------------8-|-7-------------------------------||
|-6-------------------------6-|-7------------------------------o||
|---5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5---|---7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7---||

Lead Playing

Lead guitarists are always looking to find new ways to help build their speed and improve technique. In this section I am going to look at rock and metal and guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen and newer guitarists such as Matt Heafy. Warm Up - Prepare For A Gig Or General Practise. It is extremely important to warm up before a gig, to reduce the risk of injury and to increase the risk of pulling off a good solo. There more ready your fingers are, the more willing they will be. This is an exercise I found off a video interview with Matt Heafy (Trivium). It is all alternate picked (down, up, down, up). Start off slowly and eventually you'll be playing this at decent speeds. This is a pretty simple one, my fingers seem to fit nicely with this riff.
Ex.
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-12-14-15-14-12-14-15--|
|-12-14-15-14-12-14-15--|-----------------------|

|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-12-14-16-14-12-14-16--|
|-12-14-16-14-12-14-16--|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|

|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-14-16-17-16-14-16-17--|
|-14-16-17-16-14-16-17--|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|

|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-12-14-16-14-12-14-16--|
|-12-14-16-14-12-14-16--|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|

|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-11-12-14-12-11-12-14--|
|-10-12-14-12-10-12-14--|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|-----------------------|

|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-12-11-------11----------|-------------------------|
|-------14-12----14-12----|-14-12-------12----------|
|----------------------15-|-------15-14----15-14----|
|-------------------------|----------------------15-|
Remember! Alternate Picking! Tremelo Picking. Tremelo picking is a popular technique used is a lot of style of music. Basically Tremelo picking is playing notes at superhigh speeds by picking as fast as you possibly can. Just like pedal notes, tremelo picking can improve spee and stamina greatly. Tremelo picking is one of the most easiest techniques to master because it is usually just on one string. But players such as Yngwie Malmsteen have incorporated string skipping.
Ex. 1 
Eruption (Van Halen)
|--12----16-19-17--16--17---14--16---12-------------|
|--\\----\\-\\-\\--\\--\\---\\--\\---\\-------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------|
This is a very melodic piece of tremelo picking.
Ex. 2
String skippig with tremelo picking
|---------------------------------------15----------|
|----------------------------13-12------\\-----15b--|
|-------14----12-------------\\-\\----------14--\\--|
|-------\\----\\--------15----------14------\\------|
|--12--------------15---\\----------\\--------------|
|--\\--------------\\-------------------------------|
This is a lot harder to play than example one because you are changing strings regularly. This is a great warm-up however because it tests your picking hand and your fretting hand. Tapping. Tapping was revived in the late '70s by Edward Van Halen and his brainchild that is 'Eruption'. It is the tapping masterpiece at the end that is played so cleanly and smooth that has made tapping an essential part of a lead guitarists. Not only does it sound awesome it is also relatively easy. The best workout would be eruption but I am going to take the idea of it to make some simpler tapping runs for you.
Ex. 
|-------------------------------------------------------------|
|-7h10-12-7h10-12-7h10-12-7h10-12-6h9-12-6h9-12-6h9-12-6h9-12-|
|-------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------------------|

|---------------------------------------------------------|
|-5h8-12-5h8-12-5h8-12-5h8-12-4h7-12-4h7-12-4h7-12-4h7-12-|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------|

|-6-9-13-6-9-13-------------------------------|
|---------------6-9-13-6-9-13-----------------|
|-----------------------------6-10-13-6-10-13-|
|---------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------|

|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------------------|
|-6-10-13-6-10-13---------------------------------|
|-----------------6-10-13-6-10-13-----------------|
|---------------------------------6-10-13-6-10-13-|
The Adrian Smith Techniques. Guitarist Maiden fans may of downloaded or watched the guitar lesson with Adrian Smith. He went through some random stuff and talked about his career. There were two things that stood out from it for me. One was a warm up and one was a legato type technique which I have no name for so I just call it the Adrian Smith technique. The first was a warm-up as I said. He uses it to build stamina in his fretting hand fingers. It is a basic hammer on and pull off lick which could be used for a warm up.
|-5h6p5h6p5h7p5h7p|=5h8p5h8p5h7p5h7p|=5h6p5h6p5h7p5h7p|=5h8p5h8p5h7p5h7-|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
This does work but I reccomend when it starts hurting you should stop for 5 or 10 minutes. The other technique was a classical style kinda lick that goes up and down the neck. It is on 2 strings. He has incorporated into hsi solo for the Wickerman, He does it on the Rock In Rio DVD.
Ex.
|-2-------2-------2-------|-3-------3-------3-------|
|---4p0h4---4p0h4---4p0h4-|---5p0h5---5p0h5---5p0h5-|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|

|-5-------5-------5----------|-3-------3-------3-------|
|---7p0h7---7p0h7---7p0h7----|---5p0h5---5p0h5---5p0h5-|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|

|-2-------2-------2-------|-3-------3-------3-------|
|---4p0h4---4p0h4---4p0h4-|---5p0h5---5p0h5---5p0h5-|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------|

|-5-------5-------5----------|-3-------3-------3-------|
|---7p0h7---7p0h7---7p0h7----|---5p0h5---5p0h5---5p0h5-|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
|----------------------------|-------------------------|
This really does help building stamina and fretboard accuracy and sounds really cool. Sweep Picking. This is going to be the final part of the lead playing section. It is sweep picking. A technique that takes years to master but is really worth the time. I have not yet got much good at this but have got some routines which may help you pick up speed and develop ideas. Sweep picking is used in most metal nowadays. Guitarists like Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen and Herman Li being the most extreme I've ever heard have all used sweep picking in there solos. Sweep picking is basically using a sweeping motion with your picking hand to pick the notes but at the same time not letting the notes bleed into each other. It requires amazing coordination and accuracy. An example of some sweep picking would be at the end of the 'Pull Harder...' (Trivium) solo or in any of the Dragonforce solos. I have got one exericise to show you which uses classical inspiration.
Ex.
Battle Axe (Quiet Riot)
|-------------5-9-|-7-5---5-------------|-----------------------|
|-----------------|-----9---7-9-5-------|---------------------5-|
|---------6-9-----|---------------------|-------------------6---|
|-------7---------|---------------9-6---|-----------------7-----|
|-----7-----------|-------------------7-|-5---5---------7-------|
|-5-9-------------|---------------------|---9---7-9-5-9---------|

|-----------------|----------------------|
|-6---------------|-------------6--6-5-3-|
|---7-------------|---------4-7----------|
|-----7-----------|-------5--------------|
|-------8-5-------|-----5----------------|
|-----------8-7-5-|-3-7------------------|

|-----------------|---------------------------|------||
|-5---------------|---------------------------|-2----||
|-5-5-------------|----3----------------------|-2----||
|-5---5-2---------|----3----------------------|-2----||
|---------3-------|----1----------------------|-0----||
|-----------5-3-1-|-0-------------------------|------||
That is all for this lesson. Everything here if used regularly and if it is experimented with, will help yur playing in some way. This is just a little something different for you to try. If there is a technique you don't understand, look it up.
More Donkey Fly lessons:
+ Neo-Classical Metal Music Music Styles 10/03/2007
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