Loading the player...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 10: Shifting Pitch

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 10 **

In this guitar lesson I want to introduce a favourite pro lead guitar technique of mine, which mainly concerns shifting the pitch of notes, chords and general lines we all know and love. Little microtonal string bends as you phrase lines and guitar licks give real big colour to your playing. It is a real hard technique to get sounding good, because you are in the realms of possibly sounding out of tune and it's a really fine line you walk when you are sending notes sharp or flat in the name of musical expression.

This also means you might have to start using that curious thing on your guitar called a tremolo (or as its affectionately known, 'the whammy bar'). Just so that you all don't go into shock, I have kept it fairly simple to begin with, restricting the use to some simple 'shimmering' and some controlled downward movement, thereby shifting the pitch. I have also crept in some interesting sounding double stop bends that only involve the whammy bar for a little shimmer at the end of the idea. Its all revolving around the key of G, mixing major and minor pentatonics and a tiny bit of mixolydian here and there.

A lot of you may already be familiar with how much I use the whammy bar and I have always loved the possibilities it gives you. I guess over the years I have honed it to the point where I don't really have to think about it as I play, to the point where it is as second nature as vibrato and string bends. I was working on this style from my early days as a player, long before I really noticed how other players such as Scott Henderson, Michael Lee Firkins, and the genius that is Jeff Beck were really doing it.

Where I really stole a lot of my swoops, dips and shimmers is from a couple of unlikely sources that I insist you guys check out. The first player that really made me pay hard attention to whammy bar possibilities was a fantastic session guy from the 80's called Alan Murphy. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but if you haven't heard of him or heard his playing, I strongly suggest you Google and research his style. He was just fantastic! The other player I learnt a lot from, not just about the whammy bar, but about tone, sound, phrasing, and general versatility, was a fantastic player called Steve Farris, who at the same time I was signed to RCA records, was one quarter of a band called Mr Mister, who were signed to the same label and having hit after hit. We became good friends and used to hang out in that strange town called Los Angeles. He used to beat the crap out of a Floyd Rose, but in a real musical way, not a hideous '80s cheese way, and coincidentally, his big whammy bar influence was Alan Murphy! I urge you to check out Steve's playing on the two big Mr Mister albums, Welcome to the Real World and Go On (ignore the now dated drum sounds and just try to take in what the guitar is doing).

Jeff Beck has obviously taken this whole whammy bar philosophy and made it his own. Scott Henderson will twist your understanding of what a guitar should be able to do. Michael Lee Firkins has the whole 'sounding like a slide' thing down to the point where if he was to use a slide, he would sound like he is using a whammy bar. So although in this lesson we only introduce some simpler whammy bar technique, It might set you off thinking about the possibilities, and open yet another colour or creative concept you might want to explore. If you haven't heard of anyone I have mentioned, then to be honest, you are probably not that into using a whammy bar, and are more of an old school Les Paul kinda guy, and Jeff Beck is just that guy that sang Hi Ho Silver Lining!

Next issue I will take the microtonal string bends and the whammy bar madness a step further. If you cannot wait that long, I do have the Ultimate Tremolo Techniques DVD out on Licklibrary, which explores everything whammy bar in depth. Please bear in mind that although I have talked a lot about trem usage, it is also a lot about those microtonal string bends and more demanding double stop ideas. We have explored some cool string bends in previous pro concept columns, but I have given you some more in this tutorial.

Hope you enjoy the demos which were all pretty much done in one take, so some of it will be more 'out' of tune than it should be, but I wanted to keep it real, and even when things are slightly out, it can still sound cool and vibey. Or, it can just be out of tune!!


Up Next

Michael Casswell Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 11: Whammy Bar Jeff Beck Style

Learn how to play Michael Casswell’s trademark, Jeff Beck style whammy bar guitar techniques and ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 10: Shifting Pitch

Michael Casswell takes you through this microtonal bending guitar techniques lesson. Learn how to use ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 9: The Feel Factor

Michael Casswell gives you the secrets to playing guitar solos with feel in this pro ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 8: String Skipping

In this Michael Casswell guitar improvisation, Mike shows you how to sue string skipping to ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 7: 'Chromatics and Passing Tones'

Learn how to use passing notes and chromatics in your guitar licks and solos with ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 6: 'Bottleneck in Regular Tuning'

Michael Casswell teaches you how to play bottleneck slide guitar in standard tuning, like a ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 5: Hybrid Picking

This hybrid picking guitar techniques lesson with Michael Casswell will give you a full guide ...

Michael Casswell – Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 4: Double Whammy

Learn how to play double stop pedal steel style guitar licks & whammy bar phrasing ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 3: Pro String Bending

Michael Casswell helps you learn how to bend strings accurately like a pro in this ...

Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 1 - Part 2: Finishing A Phrase

Michael Casswell teaches you how to end your guitar licks & phrases like a pro ...

You May Like

Andy James - Metal Edge Part 1: 10 Pentatonic Shred Licks

Andy James teaches 10 ground breaking fast pentatonic shred guitar licks in this metal guitar ...

Nick Jennison - Creating Drums On Acoustic Guitar

In this percussive acoustic guitar techniques lesson, Nick Jennison shows you how to emulate drums ...

Sam Bell - Extended Range Secrets Part 2: Seven String Guitar Approaches

Sam Bell continues our series of 7 string metal guitar lessons, stepping into the world ...

Nick Jennsion - Extended Range Secrets Part 1

Nick Jennison steps into the world of extended range guitars with this exclusive 7 string ...

Nick Jennison - An Introduction To Slide Guitar

Get started with slide guitar playing in this beginners guide to slide guitar with Nick ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 17: Englishman In New York

Learn how to play this amazing fingerstyle guitar arrangement of Englishman In New York by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 11: Using Simple Syncopated Rhythm Parts In Arrangements

In this rhythm guitar lesson, Sam Bell shows you how to create space within your ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 18: Lullaby

Take this fingerstyle guitar lesson and learn how to play the beautiful solo classical guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 16: Yesterday

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Beatles classic Yesterday as a full fingerstyle ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 9: Chordal Tapping Extensions

Learn how to play the fundamentals of chordal tapping guitar techniques with this great guitar ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 15: The Lonely Man

Giorgio Serci teaches you how to play The Lonely Man for classical guitar; made famous ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 3

Rejuvenate your pentatonic guitar soloing with these great guitar exercises, sequences and routines in this ...

Chris Buck - Rock & Soul Part 5: Play With Repetition Part 2

Chris Buck presents you with more reasons to use repetition in your guitar solos as ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 2

Uncover some game changing pentatonic sequences and guitar licks with the help of Danny Gill ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 14 - Momentum (aka Matteo)

Giorgio Serci takes you through his fingerstyle guitar composition Momentum in this creative acoustic guitar ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 8: Using Triads To Create Melodic Movement Within A Part

Add a sense of melody and movement to your rhythm guitar parts using triads. In ...

Danny Gill - Pentatonic Sequences That Can Be Used Anytime, Anywhere, And On Any Song Part 1

Play more interesting pentatonic guitar licks and runs with the power of scale sequences. Danny ...

Giorgio Serci Creative Fingerstyle Guitar Inspirational Pieces Part 13: A Walk In The Park

The jazz influenced fingerstyle solo guitar piece A Walk In The Park is taught by ...

Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 7: Spread Triads

Sam Bell gives you an insight into modern guitar chord voicings using spread triads to ...

1 2 3 18
Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram