2,246 reputation
613
bio website thecynicalmusician.com
location London, United Kingdom
age 36
visits member for 3 years, 4 months
seen Jun 24 '11 at 3:02

I have been playing guitar for 19 years now. I'm an old-school rocker/metalhead, but I try to keep my mind open and am more than happy to incorporate other musical influences, be they blues, country, progressive, folk or even electronic.

My current project is Viridian - a melodic hard-rock band where I am the guitarist, main songwriter and manager, for my sins. The band is in something of a state of suspension at the moment - following our move to London from Warsaw, Poland - as we are presently looking for musicians to complete the lineup.

On the side, I write music business commentary @ TheCyncialMusician.com - something which has surprisingly gained me more notoriety than my music. My point of view stems from my personal experience in music and the biz, plus my education as an economist. More often than not, I find myself pointing out holes in conventional MusBiz blogosphere wisdom, but I hope it helps provide other musicians a different perspective in these troubled times.

In the past, I have taught guitar and might do so again.

My gear, just for the heck of it:

Guitars - Gibson SG standard, Ibanez RG2550E Prestige

Amplification - 2 Marshall JCM900 half-stacks (a 4100 Dual Reverb and a 2100 SL-X)

Effects - Boss GT-10


Jun
12
comment Is it acceptable to move hand position while practicing scales on guitar?
Generally, three-note-per-string patterns with a span of a major third (five frets including the first-finger fret) should be played with stretch fingering to minimise hand movement. Anything longer and a position shift may be advised. Of course, you should shift position when changing strings if the pattern calls for it - for example, when moving between the A and D and G and B strings in the G Major pattern above.
Jun
11
comment Any way to practice using the very tip of your pinky?
One thing I'd suggest is that you start these exercises in a higher position - perhaps 5-9 instead of 1-5 and 7-9 instead of 3-5. The stretch will be smaller and the the position of your left arm more relaxed, allowing you to concentrate on pinky precision. Once you're comfortable in this higher position, shift the exercises down a fret, repeat and continue doing this until you can play them in first position comfortably and accurately.
Jun
2
comment How to maximize band rehearsal time?
@Matthew Read - That's why I said the question may need editing.
Jun
2
comment How to maximize band rehearsal time?
@Matthew Read - If you want to use a narrow defintion, then most things in music cannot ultimately be evaluated objectively. I'd go as far as saying that the moment you can offer a definitive answer on a musical (as opposed to, say, music-related physical) topic, it ceases to be relevant, because that's when music moves on, as does all art. The question may need editing, but I think it is perfectly valid.
Jun
1
comment How to maximize band rehearsal time?
@Matthew Read - I disagree that he question is subjective. Rehearsing for maximum effect is very much a skill that can be evaluated objectively.
May
26
comment Tuning a Strat a whole step down
.011-.052 is a good place to start. You can also try .012-.052 with an unwound G (LaBella Electrics Blues Heavy, for instance). I use these for tuning down 1 1/2 steps, which I find is somewhat slacker than standard E - but then again, I use .011-.052 for standard E.
May
25
comment Recording an amp using headphone out?
Yep. That one looks pretty good. It's got enough inputs, phantom power if you ever want to use a condenser mike, direct monitoring, headphones; nice all around. The bundled ProTools software is a bonus - you have a chance to learn the basics of the worldwide studio standard.
May
24
comment Position of white dots in guitar fretboard
Nice breakdown. With regards to the 9th fret, my suggestion would be that it marks the position of the relative minor to an open-string major scale. Having said that, however, I think the reason is more prosaic: the flanking two-fret intervals make the octave immediately stand out, even if the markers are bars or some such (i.e. no special double dot symbol or similar). The remaining seven frets are divided in the most efficient way for easy recognition: four marks, three spaces.
May
19
comment Do you count mental practice when counting total practice time for the day?
Based on my experience as a guitar teacher, I'd say that mental practice is fundamental to developing certain skills. Things like fretboard knowledge, transposing harmonic resolutions, learning scale/chord tones and their positions in standard patterns all require working with your brain rather than your fingers. Visualisation and paper serve us equally well here as the fingerboard - perhaps moreso, since we focus only on the task at hand. That said, mental practice is unlikely to count towards your practice limit, since it doesn't create any physiological stress.
May
19
comment How can I toughen up my fingertips?
Callus thickness is probably a factor. Can't say I've ever noticed a "wet hands" problem. Then again, I do a lot of bending on 011-052 strings tuned to E.
May
18
comment Do music theory books differ per instrument?
I agree, though one reason to find a guitar-specific theory book would be to have certain things illustrated in a guitar-specific context. For instance, some four-part harmonic resolutions might be tricky to adapt from piano to guitar, which is a lot more limited in terms of notes you can play at the same time. Nevertheless, you can get by on piano-oriented literature (which tends to be most common for music theory), as long as you acknowledge that you might not be able to play some things.
May
16
comment How can I make my palm mutes sound more metal?
I'd say that right-hand positioning is 99% of the sound - get it right and you'll be able to play good-sounding mutes on any setup. Two things I'd like to add are: you'll find that downstrokes give a much "chunkier" mute than alternate picking, so you might consider playing the heavier parts with all downstrokes and that adding just a bit of thumb flesh to the pick attack (as in pinch harmonics, but not quite so marked) can do a lot for the aggressiveness of the sound.
May
16
comment Troubleshooting a broken electric guitar
Addendum: I've recently developed a similar problem in my Ibanez. I've traced it to the jack plug - it's a fully enclosed one, so I cannot determine the exact cause, but my guess is that it's due to the deformation of the contact tabs. Jiggling the plug around sometimes helps, sometimes not. I'll have to get it replaced.
May
16
comment What does the distance between a pickup and strings do for the sound?
The last question would probably involve examining the magnetic field generated by each - possibly interesting from a Physics standpoint, but I'm not sure whether very practical for us guitarists, especially since height adjustments will generally be determined through experiment. As to the popularity of single-pickup guitars, I've always thought it was more a question of simplicity (especially if the controls consist of a single volume pot), than technical considerations.
May
14
comment Troubleshooting a broken electric guitar
If none of DrMayhem's suggestions had any effect, one other thing you can try is to remove the controls from the circuit altogether and simply connect a pickup to the output jack (that's if you're handy with a soldering iron). However, in all it's best to have it checked out buy an experienced repairman.
May
10
comment Do I have to tune my guitar everyday?
One thing I'd add to this is that many problems with guitars going out of tune can be brought down to how well the strings were put on (or not). In short: make sure they were wound up neatly, around 4-5 turns for the treble and 2-3 turns for the bass strings, with no spaces between windings. Stretch them out when tuning to make sure there's no room for movement in the windings or gears and ALWAYS tune up to pitch.
May
7
comment What scale is this? ( A B C# D E F G A)
If we wanted to look at it in modal terms (given the starting note A), it is A mixolydian b6 - the fifth mode of D melodic minor, as Rein Henrichs pointed out.
May
7
comment Save money when buying a guitar / amp?
I agree wholeheartedly. When on a budget, check out used gear. One thing I'd like to add is that it's best to check it out personally before purchasing, whenever practical. This is less important with amps and electronic gear, but might save you a lot of heartache with guitars (especially if an otherwise fine instrument turns out simply "wrong" for you, for whatever reason). If you don't have a lot of experience with testing guitars, try to get a friend who does to come along.
May
6
comment How to learn many musical instruments?
Excellent answer, to which I'll only add one penny's worth: when working on playing a number of instruments, it's easier to get started on a new instrument if it is already similar to one you are proficient with. If you already play guitar, it's fairly easy to pick up on the bass; should you start playing the saxophone, you'll find it easier to pick up the clarinet, etc.
May
6
comment When is it proper (if ever) to extend time signatures (8/4 vs 4/4)?
Generally, time signatures should make music easy to read - that is: provide accurate information as to what the pulse (or accentuation) of the music is, while at the same time keeping the bars short enough to facilitate easy reading. In the situation described, a two-bar phrase is best written as a two-bar phrase; an 8/4 time signature is theoretically possible, but would actually make the music more difficult to read (especially if shorter note values were used).