Blog

How To Use The Capo

Howdy Folks, I want to give you guys and gals a few tips about using the capo and when/why we might choose to use it. Many beginner students ask me what the capo is all about and what purpose it serves. There are several reasons for using the capo and I want to cover a few of the most common. The long and short of it is this: You can use the capo to switch keys all while using the same “first position shapes” you know and love. So, the biggest and I feel probably the most common reason is that we use it to transpose or change keys for the vocalist but still work out of familiar positions such as “G” or “C.”  This will allow you to play in different or odd keys such as Bb, Db , or which ever key best suites your voice.  Then you’ll still be able to keep the same licks, runs, and shapes you know without having to use bar chords. And that leads me to the next big reason on why we use the capo and it’s strongly related to the first one-We don’t have to use bar chords. Bar chords can be fairly difficult for the beginner or even intermediate player and it takes a lot of strength to play bar chords through out a whole piece.  Bar chords also give us a different texture than “open chords” do.  They simply have a different tonality and timbre.  Plus, open chords allow us to do “moves” such as runs and licks that we couldn’t do with bar chords.  Now please understand that I love using the capo but bar chords are necessary for learning the guitar at a higher level and some songs absolutely call for using them.  So, don’t be afraid of learning them!  You can learn more about bar chords here. Some people like to think of the capo as a “cheater” but I like to think of it as a tool.  You may want to work out of D position but your voice sounds really good in the key of F.  Well, if we capo up on the 3rd fret and play the D chord then it’s sounding the F chord.  Now you can use the open strings and play certain lines you just couldn’t do while playing the standard F chord.  It also creates a different texture all together.  Give this video a watch and then begin to experiment with the capo and figure out how you can use it to your advantage not as your crutch. I hope this post and video lesson with help you better understand why we choose to use the capo.  If this lesson helped you, I’d like to hear about it so please leave a comment on the post.  Thanks!!


Read More 

8 Chords in 8 Minutes

Howdy Guitar Players!   I wanted to share this free mini-lesson with you about creating 8 chords in 8 minutes.  Now, the video does last about 11 minutes long but I go over a few aspects about bar chords too.  This lesson should help build your chord vocabulary.  This post is helpful to anyone that already knows bar chords or if you’re just beginning to get your hands around them.  We’ll be working with 2 different “sets” of shapes and all of these will be “movable” shapes.  This means once you learn these basic shapes you then can move them around the neck to create different chords.  The first set of chords will involve using the 6th string as the root (tonic) or the name of the chord and the 2nd set will use the 5th string as the root (tonic) or name of the chord.   This is great to know for a handful of reasons but I think it will help you most with transposing and playing in unusual keys.  Bar chords are essential to learn at some point in your guitar playing but they do take a lot of strength to master.  And when I say strength what it really means is that it’ll take a lot of time and practice.  Once you’re able to understand and play bar chords it will open up many doors for your playing.  So, I strongly encourage you to take your time and begin to learn these 8 common bar chords. I also want to mention that I’ll be working through this lesson at a quick pace.  Many of my lessons move along fairly slow but I know some people out there like it when you get right to the point.  So, this will be a quick one!  If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the video please feel free to make a comment either on the youtube page or the blog post its self.  I would love to hear from you guys and gals out there! Thanks! Ryan —


Read More 

Blues Licks Using E Minor and A Minor Pentatonic Scales

Hey everyone, For this weeks free mini-lesson I wanted to show you a couple of cool scales to help you improvise and create licks.  We’ll be working in 1st position and in the key of E minor and A minor.  First, we start with just the pentatonic scales and then I show you where the “blue” notes are located.  By adding these notes you’ll give the scale a little different sound or feel.  It of course sounds a bit more bluesy and to my ear it can make the scale sound darker.  It largely depends on how you use it in context or in a certain chord progression.  I find myself using these scales all the time.  You can apply these scales to a few different situations too. First, I could use the E minor scale in either a song in the key of E minor, a blues shuffle in E, or even something that’s country/bluegrass in the key of G.  For A minor I could use it in a song in the key of A minor, a blues shuffle in A, or something that is country/bluegrass in the key of C.  How can I apply the E minor scale in the key of G?  Well, you just use all the same notes from that scale but you must start and end on a G note.  So, at this point it may be very important to get familiar with the names of the notes on your guitar and where they are at.  Same goes with using the Am scale in a song in the key of C.  You must start and end on a C note to it give it resolution.  Make sense?  It may be difficult at first to make this connection but give it a try and work on it.  I promise it’s all there I you encourage to get very confident with the scales and memorize them.  Once you do that try to find a jam track or a song in the key of E minor and play along.  Mess around and use hammer-ons, pull-offs, and just begin to explore.  If you have questions about this lesson or found it useful I would love it if you left a comment below!   Thanks! Ryan Print of the tabs here for FREE –  


Read More 

General Left Hand Technique for Guitar – Working with Scales part 2

If you'd like to download this lesson and have access to my Free Member Area go ahead and sign-up now!  There are over 10 video lessons and counting!   Hey Everyone,In this post we are going to work on some basic technique in the left hand.  It’s somewhat of a follow up  from my last post Working With Scales and The Right Hand.  The goal here is to really improve your efficiency with your left hand movement.  What I see from many of my students when they’re learning scales or playing leads is that they make big movements with the left hand.  This is never good.  Example:  If you’re driving from one town to the next you want to get there the shortest and fastest way possible.  Same goes with playing the guitar.  I want to get from note to note the easiest/quickest way I can with little movement.  Besides, guitar is hard enough and if I’m not efficient with my left hand my playing turns sloppy. I’m going to use the same three scales I used from the last post to show you want I’m talking about.  You can download them here for free!  I’m going to concentrate on using the D scale and the G Scale in Closed Position for this video.  There are a couple great tips in the video that I learned from guitarist Russ Barenberg.  One of which is to leave my finger down on the fret when I know I’m going to come back to it.  It seems basic but I realized I kept lifting it off and it took a little while to train my brain to keep the finger down.  I’ll show you in the video!   I always like to work with scales when learning technique.  The biggest reason is that they are relatively easy.  So, once you get them memorized you can really begin to focus on the technique side of things.  Then, once you’re able to apply the technique to the scales and you feel confident about it, you can then apply it to songs.  Once you begin to see what your left hand is doing and practice making it more efficient I really think you’ll improve your playing from this mini-lesson.  If you found this lesson useful please make on a comment below!  I’ll be posting two mini lessons a month so be on the look-out for more free tips!  Thanks! Print the Scales Here   Ryan    


Read More 

Working With Scales and The Right Hand

Would you like to download this lesson and more?  Sign-up to be a free member and have access to my Free Member Area to download and access more video lessons!   One of the most frequently asked questions I get from students and customers regards the use of the right hand either dealing with strumming or single string notes/taking solos.  People are often complaining that they hit the strings to hard or they are just having trouble picking the correct notes or perhaps they don’t like the way it sounds.  In this post and mini video lesson I want to go over some basic technique in the right hand that will allow for smoother playing and better tone.  In doing so we have to start with the use of some scales.  I know this my not seem very exciting and perhaps you’ve tried this in the past or have been afraid to try as even the word scales sounds boring or intimidating.  But, we have to learn the basic technique for alternate picking because if we can’t play a simple G major scale then we’ll never play like “REPLACE your favorite guitar player….”  Believe it or not they had to do this very thing at one time too.  Besides, scales are relatively easy compared to lots of fiddle tunes or solos. I want to work with you today on three different scales, G major, C major, and D major.  Click this link to download the scales for free!  This will give us a start and it’s nice to know a few different keys too.  I want you first learn the scales by memory and use all down strokes to start, treat them as quarter notes.  Once you get that going then begin to use alternate picking and treat each note as an eighth note.  Alternate picking can be very challenging to some.  A few things to remember- 1. Stay relaxed in the right hand as if you were strumming.  The only way you can pick at fast tempos is to stay relaxed. 2. Hold the pick loosely in the right hand. 3. Keep your right hand close to the strings.  Don’t bend at the wrist.  My hand and fingers are often brushing along the strings below my pick. 4.  It’s more important to get a nice tone from each note rather than to play loudly or fast.   There are a couple more things I want you to consider when learning to play scales-  That is the actual placement of your right hand.  Some players will plant a pinkie finger on the pick guard, some keep their wrist on the saddle or bridge while others will keep free and lightly graze along the strings.  I’ve seen every kind of position be successful.  I want you to experiment with this and find what works best.  As long as you stay relaxed and loose you’ll be just fine.  I’ll give examples in the video. Lastly, once you’ve got a good hold on some of these scales I want you to bust out your metronome and begin using it! I’ll go over this in the video but it’s absolutely essential to mastering the technique for picking in the right hand.  Start with something around 50-60 BPM and see if you can play up and down the scale with perfection 5 times in a row.  Once you can do that begin to bump up the speed by 10 BPM.  You’ll soon find your top end and then you can work from there.  One more thing I want to mention is that these scales are just exercises, so treat them like it.  Sometimes you can work hard on them while other times just brush over them.  They can become monotonous and boring, I get it but treat it like you are working out at the gym or training for a competition.  These drills are getting you stronger and making you a more efficient player for your performance or jam session.  OK, get to practicing!   Ryan


Read More