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Beyond The Realms Of Conventional Guitar Thinking

Part 1 - Experiment!
Welcome to my first WN article, and the first in an ongoing series I plan to contribute under this thread. Basically put, I am not much of a theory cat (although I wish I were), so what you'll get from me in this series and in future lessons I plan to publish is a more straightforward, jargon-less approach. Hope you dig it, but if not... well, let's just say I won't lose any sleep over it. J

So let me ask you... "How long has it been since the last time you just plugged in and got really in touch with your instrument and rig?" I mean, knowing it all inside and out what makes 'em tick and what their quirks are, like: Which plank gives you the best controlled feedback, how to control a loud amp in small room, how to grok (i.e., emulate) all the tones you love, seamless channel/efx switching in live applications, etc., etc. Not only do these things need to be known, but some (like the live switching cues) should really be rehearsed over and over just like the parts you perform. Only until you truly know and "master" your gear can you get the most out of it on a moment's notice, which to me, is one of the trademarks of a true professional. Granted, my focus here is mainly towards my fellow gigging musicians out there, but even session cats and home studiophiles need to know what they can and can't get out of their setup in order to make maximum use of their time.

I'm a HUGE fan of improvisation it is The Most liberating feeling that this musician has ever experienced. Like drinking the nectar of the gods, baby! But if I didn't know the capabilities and limitations of my gear I'd probably be too afraid to try anything new and different on-the-fly (which is a big part of the "magic" of improvisation). It's only until we constantly experiment and tinker around enough with our gear that we begin to know it's idiosyncrasies like we would those of our family members, friends and/or spouses. And through knowing them we can exploit them to the best of our advantage when it counts!

So go home, plug in, and try EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine. Tweak knobs until you're blue in the face and your ears are fried if you have to. Sure, this isn't anything you haven't heard before, but these are the types of things one should think about when trying to advance to that "Next Level" in their musicianship. Until next time...

Craig Smoot — Musician, Web Site and Info Systems Developer — is 1/2 of the guitar team for Black Label, and also runs Hellecasters.com and Rivera.com in his spare time.