The Rock Rhythm Player
Some players eschew single note lead playing and prefer to specialize in providing the rhythm for the band (a la Johnny Ramone). In this case, the style of music will dictate the demands of competency. Again, those demands will fall into two categories: technical and musical.
If one is playing blues based rock, then you need mastery of basic chords and the patterns and rhythms to which they are applied. Each pattern requires study, but these common patterns can be learned by anyone willing to put in the time and who has an idea of how to practice effectively. Traditionally, note reading is not required, and even if you are reading, you will need to see and, more importantly, hear other people do it, and copy them. Six months to a year of one to two hours a day will equip you for this type of playing.
If you play hard rock, you will need to master “power chords”, which are stripped down versions of traditional chords. There are two types of power chords – open and moveable. “Open Power Chords” are played at the first fret, and use open strings. “Moveable Power Chords” have no open strings and move around the neck, changing the letter name of the chord at each fret. Once you learn the basic forms, you will find yourself pretty much doing the same moves over and over for each song you play.
Again, if we practice badly, the same problems that will prevent progress as a “strummer & singer” will prevent progress here. Our fingers/hands/arms will be full of tension, and we will not be able to change chords smoothly.
The Bottom Line On Rock Rhythm Playing:
Time Required: 6 months to a year of 1-2 hours of practice a day.
Tools: first position power chords, movable power chords, common patterns, which are taken from bits of common chord forms around the neck
Recommended Resource: “The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar”
Troy Stetina’s “Rock Rhythm Method”
David Hodge’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing Rock Guitar”
The Rock Lead Player
The rock lead player must learn the five Pentatonic Scale positions, and know how to use them around the neck in all the common rock keys. They must also know the standard licks from each scale, and master the subtleties of getting a professional and musical sound.
Essential techniques of bending, vibrato, and string muting must be mastered, along with moderate to advanced pick technique. Since this is an improvised style of music, actually using the tools in an improvising setting must be practiced. It is not enough to simply master the tools themselves outside the context of making music with them.
NOTE: All of these tools are given in the “GuitarPrinicples Rock & Blues Foundation Course”, along with the practice methods you need in order to actually get them into your fingers. You can see the results students are getting with this course in our Video Gallery.
So, the student must play along with jam tracks, using the scales, licks, and techniques of the style. Learning other people’s solos is a great way to build taste and vocabulary, and paradoxically, to develop your own style, as you intuitively pick and choose the elements you are in artistic harmony with. Finally, playing with other people and joining/forming a band will take you where you want to go.
The Bottom Line On Rock Lead Playing:
Time Required: 2 years of 1 -2 hours a day
Tools: first the five Minor Pentatonic Scales plus the characteristic licks from each style, proper bending and vibrato technique, proper muting technique, competent alternate picking technique
Recommended Resource: The GuitarPrinciples Rock & Blues Foundation Course….this course gives you all the tools mentioned above in a level of detail not found anywhere else.
The Metal Guitarist
Being a metal guitarist is kind of like getting your masters degree, you need the fundamental training of a rock guitarist, and then you need a few more years of advanced training on top of that.
All of the above for the rock guitarist applies, and then the player must acquire a number of more specialized and sophisticated techniques including speed picking, sweep picking, and two hand tapping technique. Great players in this style employ a sophisticated exploitation of the fingerboards harmonic potential, requiring an extensive knowledge of scales and arpeggios (similar to the jazz player). Although you may be able to mimic other players rather quickly, in order to really know what you are doing will require an ongoing study of 5 to 10 years, and beyond.
The Bottom Line On Metal Guitar Playing:
Time Required: 3-5 years of 2-3 hours a day
Tools: extensive knowledge of scales and associated modes and arpeggios, advanced ability in special techniques associated with the style. Advanced picking technique.
Recommended Resource: The GuitarPrinciples Rock & Blues Foundation Course, followed by
Troy Stetina’s Metal Lead Vol 1 & 2,
Troy Stetina’s “Speed Mechanics”
Ney Mellos unique and powerful “Maximum Speed Picking”.
GuitarPrinciples “The 6 Six Essential Major Scales with Modes & Arpeggios”