Boost Your Learning Automatically


A lot of learning on the guitar is done automatically without your awareness. Just start playing with a more experienced guitarist and you will find you start picking up skills and playing nuances that you didn’t have before. When you are learning with your teacher you may find you not only learning the content of the lesson but also start playing and approaching things in the same way that they do.


This is very useful because you may not be able to remember all the information given to you but through osmosis you will find that your fingers will naturally start to play the tune, mastering the skill without you having to think about it.


This can be classed as unconscious learning and in many cases is pretty unlimited in the amount of knowledge, skills and experience it will allow you to pick up. Although we need to consciously learn material from teachers, books and videos there are ways we can use this automatic learning part of ourselves when using these educational resources. This will both boost your progress and enjoyment.


Here are a few tips to enhance this learning skill:


Think less – when learning something new, when you feel you are getting it, stop thinking about how you are going to play the song or passage, relax, and just let your fingers do the work, you’ll be amazed as you’ll find that you have already have got it.


Trust your ability - As a teacher the common question I get from students is, ‘is this right’ or ‘have I got it’. Invariably as a student you probably know the answer. Even if you have just started, trust your instincts and ask yourself the question, does it sound or feel right. If no, then work with your teacher to help assess where you need to put it right. This level of self appraisal will help you develop your musical ear as well as progress your playing. This is particularly useful when developing tone.


Jam – At any opportunity jam and rehearse you newly acquired skills. Your teacher may have taught you a new set of chords or scales, so use these in every playing context possible, jam with friends, with more experienced musicians, backing tracks etc. Play these in any way possible that you get enjoyment. Be completely creative. You will reinforce these skills and also automatically acquire new ones as you can see what musical context you can use them in.


Surround yourself with others music – Listen to your favourite guitarists as much as possible, or better still see them live. You may not be able to play like them a the moment, but you will start automatically picking up the way they approach their playing and music as you continue learning. It maybe the way they structure there songs, a particular technique, a tone or feeling or set of chord voicings’. After a while you may find yourself incorporating these into your own playing whilst varying it to your own style.


Mix all these activities into your learning along with the more structured lessons and practice and enjoy the music that you make.

By Alex Brett

The Truth About Why You Struggle To Express Emotion In Your Guitar Playing

by Tom Hess

Would you like to have the ability to control what your listeners feel when they listen to your guitar playing? Do you want to know how to express your emotions perfectly with your music? Having the skills to control musical emotion in this way is the ultimate achievement for any serious musician.

Sadly, for many musicians this ability remains an unattainable dream. Even though most guitarists desire to express themselves on this level, very few are successful at reaching this goal. Here are the most common reasons why this happens:

Reason #1:

It is very rare that guitarists ‘attempt’ to develop this ability. You can see the proof by looking at the data provided by Google’s own Keyword Tool showing average searches done per month (worldwide) for the following terms:

play guitar with feeling = NO searches
expressing feeling with guitar = NO searches
play guitar with emotion = NO searches
express yourself on guitar = NOT A SINGLE search
playing guitar with teeth = 320 searches

You read it right! The majority looks up “playing guitar with teeth” instead of “expressing feeling with guitar” or other such topics. Pretty sad…

Reason #2:

When guitarists begin learning about applying theoretical musical concepts to guitar, they spend a lot of their time focusing on the wrong things. Although this info can be helpful to your guitar playing up to a certain extent, these things by themselves will do little to help you express very specific emotions when you play guitar. The same applies to songwriting, and guitar improvisation.

Here is a great illustration of my point: If I told you to find an “E” note on the guitar you would probably be able to do this very quickly. However, if I told you to quickly find a note on your guitar that creates a particular feeling, you wouldn’t be able to find it (assuming you are similar to most guitarists). Let me explain this a bit further…

Suppose that we were both in the same band, and were getting ready to play guitar for band practice. Instead of our usual practice schedule of running through our song list, I brought a new idea to the group. I get things going by playing an “A Major” chord rhythm. Next, I ask you to pick up your guitar and “instantly” generate the feeling of “joy felt by a man who just proposed to his girlfriend (and she accepted!).” What is the one note you would play on the fretboard (above my “A Major” chord) that would perfectly express the idea of “joy felt by a man who just proposed to his girlfriend (and she accepted!)?”

The greater portion of guitar players would have no idea how to express this with guitar playing. They would likely scramble around the fretboard trying to find something that works. Even if we switched to trying to express something totally different, the majority still would not understand how to quickly find the right note (…in their head, before even touching the guitar.)

The key to accurately expressing ideas with guitar is knowing exactly (in your head) which note will work in any given context, before you touch the guitar. All of the greatest guitar players who can freely express strong emotions with their music have the ability to know ahead of time which note(s) will best express a certain feeling in any context. Not to mention, that they can use this ability to make anyone who listens to them feel the same. This is the greatest ability that one could ever look to obtain in all of music.

How can you get great expressive skills on guitar?

Perhaps you think that you need a masters degree in music performance or detailed knowledge of how music works to be able to become highly expressive with music. Well, you don’t need either one.

Here are 2 things you must do to master musical expression with guitar:

1.From now on, any time you pick up your guitar, play the guitar while thinking specifically about the emotions you are feeling and what you want to express.

2.Stop seeing the fretboard as a series of notes, fret numbers, and scale patterns. Start seeing emotions that you can express on guitar.

To see and hear how this works, begin by watching the video below.

As soon as you begin watching the video, you will find out that by doing what most guitarists do to learn guitar, you will not be able to become a highly expressive guitar player.

By changing your current guitar playing mindset to fit that of a “highly expressive guitarist,” you will be able to become a masterful musical artist, and significantly affect the way others experience your music. As you practice expressing yourself on guitar, you WILL see huge results in all areas of your guitar playing.

Watch this video about music theory for guitar to become much more expressive guitarist.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online, recording artist and a mentor for musicians.  He trains guitar players from around the world how to reach their musical goals in his correspondence guitar lessons online.  Visit his website to receive many free guitar playing resources, mini courses, guitar practice eBooks, and to read more articles about guitar playing.

Why You Haven’t Become A Great Guitarist Yet

by Tom Hess

Are you serious about becoming a great guitarist? As a person who has invested tons of time into becoming a great guitar player, I get a lot of pleasure helping others fulfill their full potential to reach greatness. After decades of experience helping guitarists attain excellent guitar skills, I have pieced together the five main keys for guitar playing greatness. Become a great guitarist by reading through this article, learning about each one and implementing the information you learn.

The 1st key to becoming a great guitarist is the simplest one to get. Actually, it requires no effort at all. This is because you already possess it. The first key is having the ‘potential’ to achieve greatness. In fact, everyone possesses this key. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a guitar player who cannot become great because he/she was not born with ‘natural talent’. I’ve seen this misconception proven wrong every single time I’ve trained guitarists with average/little talent to transform themselves into incredible players.

The bottom line is: no matter who you are, you possess the potential for greatness. That said, you will NOT become a great guitarist until you identify and accept the fact that you ‘do’ possess this potential. If you do not believe this, you will consistently fall short of your musical goals and blame other outside factors for your lack of greatness.

Whether you think you CAN or CAN’T become great, you are right! After continually accepting certain thoughts and ideas, they become your reality. With this in mind, I have never come across a guitar player who truly aspires to be ‘merely average’ at best. Additionally, I know that YOU want to achieve much more than mediocrity… you want to achieve greatness. I know this because you are reading this article right now about becoming a great guitar player.

So this is a summary of what we know so far:

1. Everyone already has the potential to achieve greatness.

2. You become what you believe.

3. Every guitarist wants to become great.

That being said, why do so many guitar players FAIL to become great? The answer lies in their inability to attain the remaining four keys for reaching greatness. Although most people fall short in one or more of these areas, anyone (including you) can conquer them all. If any voice just popped into your head saying something similar to this: “… my scenario is different… Tom, I can’t become great”, I give you full authorization to tell that voice to shut up! Why? Because your situation is NOT different… Of course, you are your own unique person, but you are not so different from everyone else that the following principles are not applicable to you.

The 2nd key: To begin with, it is extremely likely that you have never even been subjected to an exact definition of musical greatness… First of all – before the thought even crosses your mind – No, being great has nothing to do with being able to shred on guitar, understand the theory behind how music works or develop your own musical style. Although you may have heard the opinion of many others about what makes a guitarist truly ‘great’, fact is these people are probably not qualified to put forward strong statements about greatness. To understand what true greatness is, you need to look at it from a foundational and base level.

You need someone to take you aside and say, “This is what greatness looks like while implementing the things you learn about playing guitar, making music or improvising.” “This is what it looks like to be great in the way you learn things, how you learn them, the specific things you learn and the exact order that you learn the things you want to master.” “Here is what greatness looks like in the context of total self-expression as a guitarist and musician.” “Here is what true greatness looks like while organizing your practice time to effectively reach your guitar playing goals.” “This is what it means to be great in the context of staying mentally focused while training and how this approach differs from regular practice.” “This is what it looks like to achieve greatness when you are doing everything in the right order, at the right time and becoming highly-proficient in all areas.” The point is that ‘musical greatness’ isn’t just a single thing – it is the result of having greatness in every step you take through the process of becoming a great musician. You must learn what it looks/feels like as you go through the process of reaching greatness within yourself.

The 3rd key: You must totally understand (with 100% clarity) the things you want to achieve as a guitar player and musician. If you do not understand these things in ‘great detail’, how will you ever accomplish them? It would be like thinking to yourself, “I want to get my mom a present for her birthday, but I have no idea what she wants or what to get for her. I’m not sure if she wants candles, pictures, a card, a nice blouse, a fishing pole or… a power drill.” So the day before her birthday you go up to the mall and walk around for hours until finally you settle for some lame present. Then her birthday arrives and the whole family is there at the dinner table when your mom opens your present… a 15 dollar gift card to a fast food restaurant (that she doesn’t even like).

Now, returning to music – If you are unsure about what you want from your guitar playing, how will you know the correct road to take, the best things to study and the most effective strategies to use? You must know EXACTLY what you want to achieve first because this is what determines every decision you make and action you take.

The 4th key: For the small percentage of guitarists who truly understand what greatness looks like as described above, and have determined what they seek to accomplish as well as the road that will get them there, there exists another challenge to overcome.

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of guitar players out there do not believe in themselves, lack confidence, and don’t think they have the capacity to dedicate themselves to truly achieving greatness.

So instead of achieving greatness, they give up and return to the habit of always taking the path of least resistance. As a result, they only are able to achieve mediocre results and end up feeling disappointed in themselves because they know deep down that they are not reaching their fullest potential. This makes it even harder for them to do what it takes to become a great guitarist.

The 5th key: If you…

1. Know what true greatness really looks like in all different scenarios…

2. Understand the strategies you must to implement in order to achieve it…

3. Have confidence in your own ability to reach your full potential and make forward progress…

… then you will take action to become the great guitar player you desire to be, can be and ‘ought’ to be. However, be aware that you can still lose your way, become confused, upset, impatient, or distracted… leaving you back where you started in a mindset of mediocrity. Fact is, it is way easier to give up and accept a life of ‘being average’ than it is to stay on course and do anything it takes to become great. So why does this happen exactly? Why do so many people give up in their pursuit of greatness and return to their comfort zone (never to accomplish anything truly great)? It is my belief that this occurs when you are lacking someone who is there to inspire you, believe in your capacity to succeed, support you, hold you accountable and help you up in times when you fall flat on your face. You don’t have someone there who can empathize with your situation because that person has experienced it many times as well. You must have all five keys to become a great guitarist. You must have someone on your side with tons of experience, who will support you, train you and give you massive amounts of inspiration… a person who will guide you along the correct path and make sure that you remain on that path until achieve the greatness you were destined to achieve.

This article is not a sales message or anything like that. There is nothing being sold here. I simply want to give you insight to help you understand why you have not yet reached the level you want to be at as a guitarist, and what you must do to finally accomplish what you have been destined to achieve since birth – Unstoppable Greatness!

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional touring musician and electric guitar instructor. After teaching thousands of guitar students internationally through his online guitar instruction website, he has become the leader in online guitar instruction. Check out his lead guitar tips, free video lessons on guitar, and guitar practice videos to make fast progress in your guitar playing.

Small Stuff

Small Stuff

Hello and welcome to my new blog. This blog will hopefully assist, develop and enable guitar players to obtain the optimum performance and tone from their instruments. I have worked as a guitar tech for many years and encountered innumerable instrument issues. Some instruments have had minor problems and some certainly have caused me headaches! Some instruments have been vintage but the majority modern. I intend to share some of my experiences and will gladly try and answer any tech related questions that come my way.


To initiate this blog I would like to cover some very important issues that require minimal instrument setup or alteration but yield maximum tone, and let us be honest, the quest for better tone is what it is all about right?  Better tone does not always require new pedals or pickups. Many times, the small stuff is the most important.

Recently I have been obsessing over my Strats. I liase with many different guitars depending on my mood or what I am currently studying. My Strats are always on rotation as I find them an ideal teaching instrument. Whilst studying Eric Johnson’s style I decided to set up my 1987 E series Squier to the subtle tolerances of Mr Johnson.


The first thing I decided upon was the well-known modification of moving the middle pickup tone control to operate on the bridge pickup. This is very beneficial in obtaining the right lead tone from the bridge pickup. It can even get you closer to the violin tone used in Cliffs of Dover even though the original was played on a 335. Scratchplate replaced and proud smile displayed I proceeded to plug her in to my amp combined with a nice fuzz pedal and out should pop some tasty pentatonic licks and Johnson clean chord tones. Whilst the tone was pleasing, there was something missing. Aha (via Musicom)! The strings did not ‘pop’ or have the right inertia. I discovered that this was down to the way I have always set my trem or vibrato system.


My vibrato is always floating as I love to manipulate bends and chords in the way that Mr Beck or more recently Mr Blug would do – only much better of course. Using the trem in this manner has become part of my style but I decided that in order to get closer to the Johnson tone ( if that was possible) I would need to fix my bridge. This is very easy to do, but you want to make sure that you do not over tighten the springs. There needs to be just enough tension to hold the bridge firmly against the body and allow string bending. Once I had done this the difference was amazing. The tone ‘tightened’ and the strings popped. I could also enjoy country style string bending in tune! If you want to get more from your Strat but without any surgery I strongly suggest these ‘small stuff’ mods…. and there will be many more to come in future Small Stuff blogs.



Are You Ready To Make It In The Music Business?

By Tom Hess

Ever wonder why so few musicians seem to have great success in the music business compared to the thousands who are trying to make it? Truth is, most musicians are totally clueless about ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’ so they follow the advice of friends/family in hopes that it will lead them down the right path. However, this approach fails because friends and family do not really understand the music industry because they have never been successful in it. With this in mind, if you haven’t already read my previous article on how to become a professional musician.

On the other hand, musicians who build and sustain successful music careers utilize an entirely different set of skills, thought processes and values that help them achieve music business success. These things are not music business secrets that are only available to rock stars and music industry executives – anyone can learn and utilize them (this includes you). Throughout the rest of this article I will discuss these various qualities and help you understand how you can use them to benefit your personal music career.

Get ready to be surprised, because the qualities I will be mentioning will not have anything to do with your musical skills. The reason for this is because it is ‘understood’ in the music industry that you must develop ‘pro’ level musical skills (by working with a great teacher) at the same time as you work on your career. Having great musical skills is really only a small piece of the puzzle for music career success. In fact, there are countless people who are great ‘musicians’, but never go anywhere in their music careers.

The majority of the material covered below deals with your own way of thinking rather than the things you ‘do’. Most people do not think in a way that will lead them to a high level of success in the music industry. However, you CAN learn and develop the right mindset for success with proper training. I know this from personal experience after spending years to develop the right qualities in myself to reach a high level in the music industry. Having reached my own goals in the music industry, I now mentor other musicians around the world to reach success in their own music careers.

The following are the most crucial qualities needed for achieving major success in the music industry.

The Right Work Ethic Mentality

Of course it is obvious that you will need to work hard to build a successful music career. However, most musicians do not understand what ‘kind’ of working mentality is required to truly ‘make it’. The type of dedication needed requires more than just working a lot on your career. It requires:

1. Understanding the ‘correct’ course of action to take in order to make progress. This means not just ‘working a lot’, but working on the ‘right things’ that will lead you where you want to go.

2. Working in the most effective and productive manner possible. Tons of people stay busy throughout the day, but never actually accomplish anything important. You don’t want to become one of these people.

3. Being aware of how everything you do factors into the growth of your music career in the long term.

4. Having the patience and commitment to do all the hard work ‘up front’, long before you get a payoff of any kind. A common example of this would be recording a full length album in the studio before actually making any profit from it.

To develop the right work ethic mindset, work to clearly understand your long term music career goals and find a mentor who will help you determine the steps you must take to reach them.


In the music industry, you will not reach a high level of success alone. Music companies, musicians, promoters, managers and other music industry types will all act as your business partners at one point or another in your music career. These people will all invest their time, energy and resources into you and because of this they will expect your loyalty (as you will likewise expect it from them). Musicians who are not loyal are frequently banned from future business ventures and music career opportunities. The majority of musicians take loyalty for granted and only ‘pretend’ to be loyal until they can take advantage of an opportunity at the expense of their partners.

Certainly there are many different concepts of what it means to maintain loyalty to someone. In this case, loyalty describes not taking advantage of an opportunity to ‘get ahead’ while simultaneously creating conflict with those who you are working with. At the same time (of course), you cannot let others take advantage of you and bring you down for the sake of ‘loyalty’ itself. You must learn how to become perceptive in this area in order to truly achieve high success in your music career.

Use this music business assessment to better understand what people in the music industry will be looking for in you.

The Ability To Bring More To The Table Than Just Playing Your Instrument

No matter if you are working as an independent musician or together with a music company, you will greatly benefit by knowing how to negotiate, book shows, build a following of fans, put together a tour, communicate effectively, think of profitable business ideas and much more.

That said, you don’t have to be highly skilled in each of these areas. After all, this is why you should be working together with a team of other people who are strong in the different areas where you are weak. However, when you posses the ability to bring value to the table in these different areas, you will gain the power to:

1. Become the ‘best choice’ for any bands looking for a new member

2. Think of many different ways to earn money in the music business

3. Not lose money when you have to hire others to perform tasks you cannot do

4. Earn a lot more money because you have more value to offer to others

5. Transform any project you are working on into a success

The idea to take away from this is that the most successful musicians do a lot more than just play their instruments. This is why they are able to quickly climb the ranks and make good money by working together with others.

A Win/Win Thinking Mentality

The majority of musicians are always looking out for themselves without thinking about the effect their actions have on others. Of course, you will need to get your own needs met, but you do not need to do so while bringing others down at the same time. The musicians who become the most successful and gain access to the greatest opportunities in this business are always getting what they want while ALSO finding a way to help the people they work with do the same. In nearly all scenarios, you can find a way to create a great outcome for everyone involved. To do this, you will need to think from a totally different perspective than most musicians (and people in general). In my music career success program, I help musicians understand how to consistently think with this mindset.

Freedom To Pursue Music Industry Opportunities

It’s a lot a less difficult to pursue any music industry related opportunities when you are free to do so. Gaining this freedom while putting together a music career is part of becoming a successful musician. Learn about gaining the freedom to pursue the things you want to do in your music career with the advice in this article about how to begin a career in music.

Knowing How To Keep Calm During Situations Of Stress

As a professional musician you will encounter many situations that cause you to experience a high level of stress. These situations may include things like recording in the studio, going on tour, attempting to pursue different projects at once and many other scenarios that involve working together with tons of other people who all have different preferences and demands. This is a huge challenge that most musicians are unable to overcome.

Highly successful musicians have the ability to press forward through situations of stress and excel, while others (who think they are skilled in this area) are surprised when they find themselves crumbling under pressure. In my music career mentoring program, I help musicians prepare mentally for situations of high stress. This helps most musicians avoid very negative consequences that could hurt their music career.

The Ability To Always Think About ‘The Big Picture’

The music industry contains tons of opportunities and challenges no matter which path you decide to take in your career. Additionally, no matter what path you go down, you will always have limited time and resources to use. To make things even more challenging, you will often have to do most of your work well before seeing any of the benefits of your efforts.

If you do not have a perfect vision of where you want to go in the music business, it will be very difficult not to become torn in different directions that take you far away from your original goals.

The musicians who become successful in the music business are always focusing to align their actions up with the end goals they desire most. This gives them the ability to judge what is best for their music career and make the right choice whenever a potential opportunity comes their way. By doing this, they are able to achieve their goals quickly and effectively.

Now that you have read about the crucial qualities needed for success in the music business, here are 4 things you should do to start building a successful long term music career:

1. Increase your chances for success in the music business by reading this article on how to become a professional musician.

2. Prepare yourself for a successful music career with this music business assessment.

3. Using the results from step 2 above, put together a plan for how you will improve your weaknesses and make progress in your music career.

4. Get trained by a mentor who has already achieved the things you want to do in the music industry to reach your music career goals faster.


About The Author: Tom Hess is an online guitar teacher, recording artist and music career coach. As a music career coach, he helps musicians from many countries break into the music industry. On his music instruction website you can find out how to become a pro musician and learn how the music industry works.

The Wha Pedal: An Endless Source Of Sounds

by Andrea Basiola
When we think of guitar effects, we think of devices that can enrich our sound, embellish it,
or simply create different tones in order to make a song more interesting and captivating.
Sometimes musicians keep on looking for the perfect tone, they get loads of effects
thinking that the more pedals you have the better you are at playing guitar.
The most effective, simple and reliable pedal that a guitarist can show on his pedal board is
without doubt the Wha pedal.
From Jimi Hendrix,to Eric Clapton, to Zakk Wylde, to Van Halen, each of these musicians
used the wha wha to build their own sound and each of them had their own way of using it.
If we think about it, the concept is fairly simple, when we engage the pedal and push it
down, we basically alter the tone, getting what we call the “wha” sound.
It looks quite easy and we might think: “is that it? is that the only sound we can get?”
The answer is no, in fact this can be one of the most versatile and complete pedals, if we
know how to use it correctly and how to get the most out of it.
That’s exactly what I’m going to do you in this demonstration.
I will give you some examples of different ways of using the wha, and you’ll notice that by
doing that, not only you’ll give expression and dynamics to your playing, but also the fact
of creating new tones will inspire you in creating more music (at least that worked for me).
The first example is done by playing on a clean sound.
Let’s take a famous riff, like the one in “Superstition”by Stevie Wonder.
We can move the wha while playing the riff, pushing down
the pedal on every beat, like if I we were stomping the foot to the beat.
This is probably the most common of the techniques of using this pedal,
and you can do that also while playing a rhythm part, in this case we take a
Em7 chord voicing. The wha will make it a lot more funky and groovy.
The second example is about finding what they call the “sweet spot”.
This works best with a distorted and gainy sound.
A lot of famous rock guitarists, including Michael Schenker and Zakk Wylde
use this method, which consists of slowly pushing down the pedal and
leave it in a stable position once we found the tone that we like.
By doing this, you can get the tone you want and also you will considerably
cut through the mix of the band when playing riffs or solos.
Be careful though, because the wha is very responsive, and if you move it
slightly you will immediately change your tone, so you need to be very
accurate and precise. That depends, of course, on the sound you want to
Another interesting way of using the pedal is to move it very fast in order to
get a vibrato effect.
Let’s say you are playing a chord and you would like a bit more of
expression, but you don’t have a tremolo effect.
By moving the pedal quickly up and down you can get a very similar sound
to that.
On the other hand, if you are playing a riff and while doing that you move
the pedal up and down very slowly, you get something very similar to a
flanger, with the advantage that you can control your tone.
This is probably every guitarist’s favorite use of the wha wha.
The guitar solo is the moment where we shine, where we want to cut
through and get heard.
By using the wha , we change the frequency of the sound,
getting more middle or treble and consequently emerge from the band.
If we do this we can make our solos really “scream”.
These are just 4 examples, but you can create more and more, depending on what style
you play and what tone you want to get.
Don’t worry the if you don’t have many effects,sometimes you don’t need them (unless you
are playing a specific style of music), you can always get good tones out of a few pedals;
you just need to know how to use them properly and take advantage of every little nuance.
Remember to keep experimenting! In order to create your sound and voice, you have to
play and play until you are satisfied with that. It might take time, but at the end of the day
music is a never-ending journey, there’s always something new to learn.