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

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 4 **

In this guitar lesson column, I'm giving my Pro Concepts lesson the grand title 'Double Whammy'. The reason being, we are going to be looking at some double stop pedal steel type string bends, combined with a touch of whammy bar trickery, combined with some advanced string bending techniques that carries on from where we we left it, last lesson. Double Whammy is the best I could come up with, but you are welcome to call it whatever you like!

At the risk of repeating myself, string bending and vibrato are the two main components of guitar playing you have to get right, because they show, straight away, where your at with your playing. You can, in theory, get by without knowing every scale or chord substitution, but if your vibrato is nasty, and your string bending is a bit random, it's game over. No second chances. Out!! So when you check out all the different lessons given in this fantastic magazine, by all the very fine guitar players, please work obsessively on your string bending and vibrato, (and your timing and rhythm), because what I and the other guys are showing you, should be built upon a solid foundation, and there is no point in copying my double stop bends with a whammy bar vibrato, if you cannot accurately play straight one and two fret interval bends with good finger vibrato. Remember to keep it snappy, and try not to fish for the notes, as we discussed last issue.

For those of you who feel you are totally on top of their string bending and vib, then you may enjoy what we explore in this column. There are some more challenging bends that you can steal from me to use in your own playing, which when used tastefully, can take your improvising away from the mundane. All I ask in return is that if your guitar playing buddies ask how and from who you got some of these more interesting bending ideas, then you might point them in the direction of Guitar Interactive, and if you are real cool guy, you may even give me a name check!

The good thing about what we go through this time is you don't have to be a rocket scientist to transfer the ideas to different chords and keys. The sequence that we are placing the bends over is Bm7/F#m,/E/, back to Bm. Not strictly an 'in time' groove, but just a rough one bar per chord slow vamp that you can fit the ideas over. There are definite major and minor bends, which will work great over a lot of styles and grooves with a little creativity on your part.

I don't like to label what style it is I am showing you, because it can be used in Country, Blues, Rock and Jazz. In all my pro concept columns, all I am doing is showing you ways to stand out, and because you are never more than 20 feet away from another guitarist, standing out today can be a pretty big challenge!

Creativity, flare and feel count for a lot in today's technique saturated guitar market. I guess you need technique to have a certain amount of flare, but touch, tone, melody and creativity will always trump speed and licks. What's the point of being able to shred like Yngwie Malmsteen, if you can't come up with those cool guitar parts needed to weave in and out of that very well paid funk session? It's all about balance, creative thinking, and phrases and ideas that have definite musical weight.

We also start touching on some whammy bar techniques which some of you may like. Using that thing on your guitar called a tremolo bar may be a little daunting at first. Your average musical instrument store will have a collection of Fender Stratocaster trem bar arms under the counter, because many a Strat is purchased without even attaching the trem arm! Sad, but true! It is not essential to have a tremolo to play these ideas, but used correctly, the whammy bar can be so sweet and musical, it hurts! If you are interested in getting some whammy techniques together, about 2 years ago, I filmed a Licklibrary DVD showing beginner to advanced tremolo use, which may help you and also show you what can be achieved with a bit of focus and practice.

What I did not talk about in the DVD was how double stop bending ideas can put the unbent strings out of tune when you have a floating trem. It is all a bit of a trade-off really. I find the advantages of my trem floating far outweigh the disadvantages, and I have learnt to compensate for the trem by either giving some musical trem vibrato, or literally bending the remaining out of tune string into pitch. Let me know if you like exploring the whammy bar stuff on my forum at Licklibrary, or on my Facebook guitar page, then I will know whether to go further with it and show you more, or not.

What I demonstrate this issue is not easy to play straight away, and you may have to work at it. The trick is to take each idea slowly and make sure you understand how I'm doing what I'm doing, before moving to the next part of the run.

Again, if you get nothing else out of this, you will end up with a drop dead cool run to steal!

Finally, do not ignore the string bending exercise I showed you last issue. Well actually, you can, but don't say I didn't warn you, if you don't get the gig!

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