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  1. #1

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    Share your favorite guitar exercise! Videos/links help too. I've recently begun a daily practice routine to improve my playing and I'm looking for ideas for things to work on.
    Edit: Wow, you guys really came through. There's a lot to digest here, but I'm going to take my time and try to make it through everything, see what suggestions already parallel my routine, see what I can add, and hopefully get some ideas I would have never come up with before. This subreddit is the best. Thanks!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It is not a particular exercise, but helped me instantly to get more control over what comes out:

    (I use strict alternate picking) So take any scale or pattern exercise, and pick it inverse, I mean start with up pick. The goal that it must sound indistinguishably compared to the start with down pick version.

    Benefits:

    - It makes your picking hand more like an execution slave of your original intention, and what comes out (the sound I mean) is more independent on the picking hand's situation, and more dependent what you hear internally and what you want to execute dynamically.

    - It instantly doubles your picking hand exercises. All string switch are inverted what was down/up becomes up/down and vice versa.

    - It forces you to slow down, and do things "nicely". You really must listen to the executed sound, and that must sound good.

  4. #3

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    I use IRealPro as follows.

    Pick a tune. Set the app for 13 repeats with a key change by a 4th every chorus.

    Then, comp the tune (I use the mixer to make the piano pretty quiet). 12 keys. Then solo over it. 12 keys.

    Do it slowly enough that you can get through it. Or, just slow down the parts that give you trouble.

    You can decide to hang around specific positions which forces you to find the right notes in a position (fret) that you might normally avoid for that chord or key.

    Best practice tool I ever used.

  5. #4

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    Alternate picking 3nps in 16th notes is an absolute must.

  6. #5

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    The best thing for my playing which is still very much at a beginning/intermediate level is learning the solos in the Jimmy Raney volume published by Aebersold. Vol. 20. There is so much bebop vocabulary, conception, solo logic, and technique in those 10 solos, of which I learned 8 (not all at the full tempo). It is slowly os-mosing into my other playing (I'm not as smart as most) but it is the most helpful and indeed, the most enjoyable and satisfying work I've done with the guitar.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    The best thing for my playing which is still very much at a beginning/intermediate level is learning the solos in the Jimmy Raney volume published by Aebersold. Vol. 20. There is so much bebop vocabulary, conception, solo logic, and technique in those 10 solos, of which I learned 8 (not all at the full tempo). It is slowly os-mosing into my other playing (I'm not as smart as most) but it is the most helpful and indeed, the most enjoyable and satisfying work I've done with the guitar.
    Having only just barely completed one of these with you a while back , I've got to say that I really admire this accomplishment. A lot of work in that , and a lot of great music covered I'm sure.

  8. #7

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    Taking Dave Stykers ii v i lines from his artistworks course and playing them endlessly over Autumn Leaves, a blues and Tune Up and then interpreting them my own way.

    now I can really hear and feel the “cycle” as Foreman says. Feel I can weave or float and land my resolutions.

    the journey continues
    “When you’re creating your own ...., man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
    Miles Davis

  9. #8

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    Turning off the cell phone and the computer

    time on the instrument

  10. #9
    Smaller subdivision playing over given material/tunes.

    I started doing this a few years ago with chord melody, and it kind of seeped into everything. If a tune's main "currency" was eight notes, I would shed the whole thing with eight note triplets, simply playing something in between everything. If it's a 12/8 blues and the currency was mostly eighths, I shed 16ths etc.

    For me, this had the cognitive effect of slowing everything down for me. The more I thought smaller/faster subdivisions, the easier everything seemed to be. It also sped up my right and left hands and helped a great deal with overall feel. My left and right hand "hearing" sharpened in focus a great deal in a relatively short time.

    All of this began by accident, shedding chord melody fingerstyle, but now it's mostly pick playing for me. For CM, it really helped with left hand planting and moving between voicings. You basically figure out that your ears don't think in terms of speed (milliseconds) as much as they do subdivision.

    People always ask how to make chord changes "faster", especially in CM, and I've come to think that the easiest way to shed this is to practice moving fingers on triplet or sixteenth rhythms by simply arpeggiating, even at very very slow tempos. Once your fingers are able to "hear" smaller subdivisions very slowly, you basically get the same as higher tempos "for free".

    Anyway, it began with fingers and eventually became a pick thing as well. It can't be described in words very well at ALL, and I have largely been misunderstood in the past as to my meaning of "practising subdivision." It's not some cerebral clapping exercise with different rhythms, disconnected from actual music. For me, it started with shedding actual TUNES in a slower, more deliberate way.

    If anything it's a hack for slow practice. Beyond that, it taps into the kinesthetic/rhythmic understanding that pianists and drummers achieve by playing against the opposite hand. All rhythm becomes a tessellation. The greatest personal/musical benefits for me have been in my playing OUTSIDE of jazz, but I learned it in the living room trying to shed standards. There are tremendous implications for developing feels and new head arrangements on the fly.

    Anyway, again, it's not something to be understood in text form. Sorry to be long, butt this it's towards the top of my list of things I wish I had developed a very long time ago.

  11. #10

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    Uncle Ben (your real biological step dad) and his favorite exercise.


  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I use IRealPro as follows.

    Pick a tune. Set the app for 13 repeats with a key change by a 4th every chorus.

    Then, comp the tune (I use the mixer to make the piano pretty quiet). 12 keys. Then solo over it. 12 keys.

    Do it slowly enough that you can get through it. Or, just slow down the parts that give you trouble.

    You can decide to hang around specific positions which forces you to find the right notes in a position (fret) that you might normally avoid for that chord or key.

    Best practice tool I ever used.
    This sounds pretty cool.......how does one set the key change? I thought I knew iReal pretty well, but was not aware of this feature.

  13. #12

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    As usual, i'm confused. Is iRealpro free? Was just at their web page briefly and i didn't see anywhere where any pricing was indicated. So what gives? Thanks, from a technologically challenged old guy.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob P. View Post
    As usual, i'm confused. Is iRealpro free? Was just at their web page briefly and i didn't see anywhere where any pricing was indicated. So what gives? Thanks, from a technologically challenged old guy.

    Boy... talk about an app that doesn't want you to know how much you paid for it.

    I finally dug through my old PayPal receipts and I have a $12.99 paid to Google around the correct time frame. That's probably me buying IReal Pro.

    If you go to place you get phone apps, you can probably find the price listed.

    .
    The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar; now that's my idea of a good time - Frank Zappa

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob P. View Post
    As usual, i'm confused. Is iRealpro free? Was just at their web page briefly and i didn't see anywhere where any pricing was indicated. So what gives? Thanks, from a technologically challenged old guy.
    If you go to the store (App Store in case of IOS or Google Play in case of Android) you will see the exact price.
    You can see the price clicking the irealpro website links even in Windows browser (though it can not run in windows): currently $13.99 in App Store

    iReal Pro on the App Store
    or
    iReal Pro - Music Book & Backing Tracks - Apps on Google Play

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatPick View Post
    Uncle Ben (your real biological step dad) and his favorite exercise.]
    Hhm, I'm going to give that one a go. Thanks for posting the video.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    If you go to the store (App Store in case of IOS or Google Play in case of Android) you will see the exact price.
    You can see the price clicking the irealpro website links even in Windows browser (though it can not run in windows): currently $13.99 in App Store

    iReal Pro on the App Store
    or
    iReal Pro - Music Book & Backing Tracks - Apps on Google Play
    So does that mean i can't use it on my Dell computer? Again, challenged old guy.....lol

  18. #17

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    I have used this when forming "new to me" chords. or a new tune.

    Form the chord,
    Play it
    Remove left hand from fingerboard and place your hand flat on some surface
    Form the next chord
    Repeat

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob P. View Post
    So does that mean i can't use it on my Dell computer? Again, challenged old guy.....lol

    They don't offer a Widows-based version, unfortunately. You're stuck with Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android.

    .
    The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar; now that's my idea of a good time - Frank Zappa

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry View Post
    They don't offer a Widows-based version, unfortunately. You're stuck with Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android.

    .
    Ok. Got it. Thanks !

  21. #20

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    The best thing for my playing is that which takes care of everything. The goal is to play music so at a certain stage taking a tune and playing the melody note for note in tempo with metronome. Then added a few chords and making simply arrangment that stays on the melody but keeps rhythmn going. Finally playing the tune and comping sections followed by melody/chordmelody, then simply increase speed or manange to be very much a good time keeper.

    Doing this handles everything at once. I makes your technique fit the situation and you have to adapt depending on the requirements of the tune. You learn and tune and build on foundation. The final product would be if you want to burn a nice solo and outline the changes.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  22. #21

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    Trying to improvise on a tune using the same melodic rhythm as the melody, but different notes.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  23. #22

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    I use IRealPro on an Android phone. I think I paid $10 through the google store.

    To use the key change feature you click on the mortarboard (the Professor hat with the tassle) and use the slider labeled Transposition.
    Use an interval of a fourth or fifth to get all 12 keys. You can also do it by half steps, but that allows you to slide up a fret, which is too easy.

    You can also change the tempo every chorus, but I don't find that very helpful. You can click on the Style and change it. You can also click on the mixer icon to change what you hear.

    You can download some "songs" which are just specific chord progressions and practice over those in every key, but I prefer real songs.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I use IRealPro on an Android phone. I think I paid $10 through the google store.

    To use the key change feature you click on the mortarboard (the Professor hat with the tassle) and use the slider labeled Transposition.
    Use an interval of a fourth or fifth to get all 12 keys. You can also do it by half steps, but that allows you to slide up a fret, which is too easy.

    You can also change the tempo every chorus, but I don't find that very helpful. You can click on the Style and change it. You can also click on the mixer icon to change what you hear.

    You can download some "songs" which are just specific chord progressions and practice over those in every key, but I prefer real songs.
    Thanks! Not sure I ever noticed the professor hat.......or maybe I was subliminally trying to ignore it ???? Should be challenging, but fun, and it's skill I really need to work on.

  25. #24
    Playing a standard like that: keeping the bass note ringing while soloing on the upper strings with the leftover fingers.

  26. #25

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    Playing/transposing tunes in different keys, without charts.

  27. #26

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    I spent a lot of time a lot of years ago learning arpeggios - ascending, staring with the root, running thru I, ii, iii, IV, etc. chords in each of the 6 common scale patterns. A little while back I came across a sample lesson somewhere online suggesting practicing descending arps starting with chord tones other than the root. I've found that playing descending arps starting with the 3rd, 5th or 7th of the chord - I, viib5, vi, V, etc, has been a more helpful exercise than I expected it to be.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    It is not a particular exercise, but helped me instantly to get more control over what comes out:

    (I use strict alternate picking) So take any scale or pattern exercise, and pick it inverse, I mean start with up pick. The goal that it must sound indistinguishably compared to the start with down pick version.

    Benefits:

    - It makes your picking hand more like an execution slave of your original intention, and what comes out (the sound I mean) is more independent on the picking hand's situation, and more dependent what you hear internally and what you want to execute dynamically.

    - It instantly doubles your picking hand exercises. All string switch are inverted what was down/up becomes up/down and vice versa.

    - It forces you to slow down, and do things "nicely". You really must listen to the executed sound, and that must sound good.
    I've been doing this with exercises for a while, and I found that I could only get it up to 16th notes at about 128 bpm. Above that, I feel like a 'brake' comes on my picking, and I have to go back to down up picking. Does this happen to you?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    I've been doing this with exercises for a while, and I found that I could only get it up to 16th notes at about 128 bpm. Above that, I feel like a 'brake' comes on my picking, and I have to go back to down up picking. Does this happen to you?
    I am not sure what tempo do you mean? The tempo you are referring is for example Donna Lee (8th notes) with 256 bpm, which is pretty impressive, I wish I could play that tempo.

    ***

    When I am doing this, my max tempo is 90 bpm, using the metronome as 2,4 and playing 8th notes. (this means 360 picks per minute). Of course changing back to normal down/up picking allows more speed me too. However one of the benefits of the exercise is exactly what you described. It forces me to switch my mind from chasing speed to focus on execution quality, the evenness of phrasing, the very accurate tempo keeping, the tone and the synchronization of the left an right hand.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    I am not sure what tempo do you mean? The tempo you are referring is for example Donna Lee (8th notes) with 256 bpm, which is pretty impressive, I wish I could play that tempo.

    ***

    When I am doing this, my max tempo is 90 bpm, using the metronome as 2,4 and playing 8th notes. (this means 360 picks per minute). Of course changing back to normal down/up picking allows more speed me too. However one of the benefits of the exercise is exactly what you described. It forces me to switch my mind from chasing speed to focus on execution quality, the evenness of phrasing, the very accurate tempo keeping, the tone and the synchronization of the left an right hand.
    I can play Donna Lee using down-up, alternate picking as 8ths at 304 to 312 bpm (setting the metronome on 152-156 bpm), but that's not using up-down picking.
    I can only play simple exercises like 1-2-3-4, and scales using UP-DOWN picking up to 256 bpm (16ths at 128). I do this because of the advice of Pat Martino and others, to be able to use 'inverse picking' on exercises that you normally play using down-up picking.

    I was just wondering if you also find it impossible to play exercises as fast as you can using inverse picking as you can when using down-up picking.
    Last edited by sgcim; 09-18-2019 at 02:36 PM.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    I was just wondering if you also find it impossible to play exercises as fast as you can using inverse picking as you can when using down-up picking. I'm talking about the advice of guitarists like Pat Martino and a few others who are also alternate pickers that you
    Yes, when doing the exercise with inverse picking, I can only execute it with 10-25% percent less speed, depending on the exercise itself. I do it for everything, including scales, patterns and even for the arpeggios too.

  32. #31

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    About all this picking speed stuff, one concept I got hipped to during my year of playing drums is that there is "sprint" speed and there is "sustained' speed. It's good to practice both, as they are different...both physically and mentally.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    Yes, when doing the exercise with inverse picking, I can only execute it with 10-25% percent less speed, depending on the exercise itself. I do it for everything, including scales, patterns and even for the arpeggios too.
    Yeah, there seems to be something about inverse picking which limits your ability to play at the same tempos as you can when you're picking down-up, normally.
    When you try to play at faster tempos, I found myself 'cheating', by going back to down-up picking at a certain point. When you're doing it at faster tempos, it's impossible to tell if you're reverting back to down-up, because you can't tell at those tempos.
    I deluded myself for months, thinking that I was using inverse picking at 320bpm, when I was actually reverting back to down-up without being aware of it. I only found out when i slowed the exercises down.
    One guy on another forum claims he can use inverse picking at 400bpm! He's probably reverting back to down-up without realizing it.

    I wonder if Pat Martino's ability to inverse pick at fast tempos accounts for his tremendous facility in his alternate picking.

  34. #33

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    I have so many exercises that have been good for me and I was scanning various things I’ve done while reading this thread. But I thought I’d chime in on the inverse picking thing. Now this is just me but for the last few years I’ve been concentrating on phrasing and how pick direction, left hand squeezes, slurs etc. define the phrase. I used to practice inverse picking too. My rant has been and continues to be the idea that most guitar players don’t think about this other than intuitively.

    I just think inverse picking totally screws up the phrase. Downstroke should, as a rule, fall on the downbeat or at least the real accent. The upstroke has a different sound. It’s supposed to. Inverse picking was, for me, useful if I made a mistake and got my picking backwards then I could continue and not mess up. But true alternate picking is down, up, down up, etc. It doesn’t change because you go to the next string. And it’s not just about efficiency with regards speed. Just because something might be ergonomically more efficient doesn’t mean it sounds good or grooves. Each rhythmic cell should be rhythmically defined.

    So guitar players who kind of sound funny and the swing doesn’t exactly swing like the tenor or piano player or drummer, it’s most often attributed to this, I think. Every note is picked and pick direction is almost haphazard.

    I’m no master at this at all. Not even close. I’m just observing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I have so many exercises that have been good for me and I was scanning various things I’ve done while reading this thread. But I thought I’d chime in on the inverse picking thing. Now this is just me but for the last few years I’ve been concentrating on phrasing and how pick direction, left hand squeezes, slurs etc. define the phrase. I used to practice inverse picking too. My rant has been and continues to be the idea that most guitar players don’t think about this other than intuitively.

    I just think inverse picking totally screws up the phrase. Downstroke should, as a rule, fall on the downbeat or at least the real accent. The upstroke has a different sound. It’s supposed to. Inverse picking was, for me, useful if I made a mistake and got my picking backwards then I could continue and not mess up. But true alternate picking is down, up, down up, etc. It doesn’t change because you go to the next string. And it’s not just about efficiency with regards speed. Just because something might be ergonomically more efficient doesn’t mean it sounds good or grooves. Each rhythmic cell should be rhythmically defined.

    So guitar players who kind of sound funny and the swing doesn’t exactly swing like the tenor or piano player or drummer, it’s most often attributed to this, I think. Every note is picked and pick direction is almost haphazard.

    I’m no master at this at all. Not even close. I’m just observing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I agree with you. In my case, I'm just doing the inverse picking thing to improve my alternate picking (down-up) technique.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    I have so many exercises that have been good for me and I was scanning various things I’ve done while reading this thread. But I thought I’d chime in on the inverse picking thing. Now this is just me but for the last few years I’ve been concentrating on phrasing and how pick direction, left hand squeezes, slurs etc. define the phrase. I used to practice inverse picking too. My rant has been and continues to be the idea that most guitar players don’t think about this other than intuitively.

    I just think inverse picking totally screws up the phrase. Downstroke should, as a rule, fall on the downbeat or at least the real accent. The upstroke has a different sound. It’s supposed to. Inverse picking was, for me, useful if I made a mistake and got my picking backwards then I could continue and not mess up. But true alternate picking is down, up, down up, etc. It doesn’t change because you go to the next string. And it’s not just about efficiency with regards speed. Just because something might be ergonomically more efficient doesn’t mean it sounds good or grooves. Each rhythmic cell should be rhythmically defined.

    So guitar players who kind of sound funny and the swing doesn’t exactly swing like the tenor or piano player or drummer, it’s most often attributed to this, I think. Every note is picked and pick direction is almost haphazard.

    I’m no master at this at all. Not even close. I’m just observing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Exactly this "different sounding" issue made me to conclude, that my picking hand does not execute faithfully my (musical) intention, the sound, the phrase, the accents, instead that picking hand rules. I do not want this, I want (my melody intention) to rule my picking hand. I also hear what you describes as "who kind of sound funny and the swing doesn’t exactly swing". and I try to solve this issue. I see the asymmetry of up/down as you, but I've chosen to try to minimize this effect (to be able execute any accent, phrasing regardless the picking situation), so I would like to execute any accent, phrase series (not evennes, I do not want to sound like a machine gun) regardless the up/down and string switch position.

    So I figured out, this "start with an upstroke and try to execute the same phrasing". I even did not know the name "inverse". I agree with you and understand that it will not be possible 100%. However after doing my exercises both down/up and up/down, I noticed instantly an improvement in slow melody articulation. Still what I hear is far from what I imagined to play, but definitely closer. Maybe it is because I got a little bit more control over my picking hand thanks to this exercise. Of course when playing I use down/up not inverse, and I feel I got more control over the issue you are describing.

    Regarding swing, I do not fully understand how can I exclusively execute accents with downpicks. In Donna Lee for example the accents constantly vary from down beat to up beat and back (from even note to odd note), the melody dictates it. When I use standard alternate picking of the 8ths, even in the first 2 bars there are multiple notes where I must place accents to uppick...