8 Pentatonic Exercises

Pentatonic scales are a guitarists bread and butter.  They are a must to learn if you want to progress. As the name suggests, a pentatonic scale it a scale with five notes.  We’ll now take a look at whats thought of as the first pentatonic box and discuss some patterns and exercises to practice. You can do these in any key you want.  I’m going to show them in B minor.


exer 1+2

exer 3+4

exer 5+6

exer 7+8

That pentatonic workout should help your technique improve greatly.  If you have any questions please email me at info@farlake.com

Alternate Picking Exercises – 9 John Petrucci Riffs to Boost Technique

One form of picking is alternate picking, which is difined by consistant down – up – down – up pick strokes.  One of the best alternate pickers in the business is John Petrucci, famed guitarist of Dream Theater.  Today we will take a look at riffs and lines he has played and use them as exercises to help build good alternate picking technique.  

NEW 7/29/08- 7 MORE John Petrucci Riffs to Boost Technique

1) In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1Dream Theater

The section starts at 4:24 into the song, although similar ideas are used throughout the song with a few minor changes.  It is an easy alternate picking idea in D Dorian just to get the ball rolling. The time sigs are a little funky but thats the only tricky part of this one.

Click to Enlarge


2) Panic AttackDream Theater

The riff starts at 4:53.  It is not played in standard tuning.  This is a great exercise to practice alternate picking across two adjacent strings.

Panic Attack

3) Universal Mind– Liquid Tension Experiment

The intro to this song is a exercise for alternate picking with string skipping.


4) Gemini- John Petrucci

Sorry, no link for this one.  This is another alternate picking with string skipping exercise.


5)  Glasgow Kiss John Petrucci

This riff looks like it should be sweep picked. But JP uses alternate on it. Learning it will help a lot with alternate picking passages across strings.

Glasgow Kiss

6) Voices– Dream Theater

This next example is used by JP in his book, Wild Stringdom, to explain a practice technique he calls the “Spanish Lap.”

I call it “Spanish Lap” practicing. Here’s how you do it: Play a pattern using nothing but sixteeth notes ( it’s critical that you play to a metronome set at a comfortable speed), and at a specific point, intersperse it with sixteenth-note triplets. Continue util you can play it cleanly; then increase the metronome setting and start over. Of course, don’t overdo it– just play the pattern long enough to feel that you got a good workout. The benefits are twofold: your right hand will gain strenghth (due to repetitive picking of the sixteenth notes), and you’ll start seeing an increase in your speed (it’s a lot easier to master a short, fast lick and build on that). My rhythm part in “Voices” on our [Dream Theater’s] album Awake (3:26 into the song) …. clearly illustrates this approach.

-John Petrucci

from Wild Stringdom p.16


7) Learning to Live– Dream Theater

This very interesting alternate picking part starts at 12:05 into this video. It uses natural harmonics.  If you don’t know how to execute a natural harmonic, instead of fretting the note, you lightly touch directly over the fret wire and pick the note.


8) Erotomania– Dream Theater

This uses some odd groupings of 5. That is the only tricky part.  The section starts at 5:11 into the video.


9) The Ministry of Lost SoulsDream Theater

The final piece I have for you is this unison line.  It starts at 3:33 into the video.  Look to draw on aspects of other exercises to tackle it.


If you can get through all of these, your alternate picking technique will improve by leaps and bounds.

If you have any questions, please email me at mdguitarteacher@gmail.com

EDIT- I have done a follow up lesson with 7 More John Petrucci Riffs. It can be found here.

Chromazones (12 Tones To Glory) – John Petrucci






12 Tones To Glory

Before Dream Theater took off I used to teach a lot, and one of the things my students often asked me was how to apply the chromatic scale to practical playing situations. You see, their other teachers would give them chromatic warm-up exercises without providing any explanation of how important and versatile this scale actually is. For the next few months, I’d like to show you how to use the chromatic scale, not just as a tool to build chops but as a melodic device to add color to your playing.

FIGURE 1 shows the chromatic scale in the 1st position, beginning on F. Since the chromatic scale is built on consecutive half-step intervals (and therefore contains all 12 tones used in Western music), it has no true tonal center. This means that, used judiciously, it can fit over any chord.

Before you can apply chromatic ideas to scales and arpeggios, you have to get the chromatic scale itself under your fingers. You should learn it up and down the neck, and become comfortable with the fingerings. Here are a couple of chromatic exercises that will build up your technique and get you moving all over the fingerboard. Once you master the technique, applying it will be a lot easier.

FIGURE 2 is a good chops-building exercise. It doesn’t contain all the notes of a -chromatic scale (not every half-step is included), but it has enough chromatic elements to get you started. Practice this exercise with a metronome, using alternate picking. Start at a slow tempo (60 beats per minute) and gradually increase the speed. Since the notes fall in groups of four, you can accent the first note of each string or, as I do, of each measure. I do this because it helps me solidify the time; as a result, my speed and precision improve.


Once you get Figure 2 down, try tackling FIGURE 3. This exercise is great because it gets you thinking laterally along the neck–an invaluable approach to breaking away from position playing. (Haven’t you been wanting to go

beyond those pentatonic boxes for a while now?) Here’s the deal: first, start on F# on the low E string and play four chromatic notes up; shift up a half step (one fret) with your pinky (you’re now in the 3rd position) and play four chromatic notes down; then shift up a half step (to the 4th position) with your index finger and play four chromatic notes up again. That’s the pattern. Then, keeping your hand in the 4th position, jump over to the A string and start all over again. By the time you finish the pattern on the high E string, you’ll be in the 14th position!

FIGURE 3a is just Figure 3 played in reverse, descending to the 2nd position. Follow the left-hand fingerings indicated beneath the tablature and you shouldn’t have a problem. Both figures sound good over F#m, but they can work over any chord. Experiment. 


Next month, we’ll explore how to incorporate chromatic passages into various modes. Until then, so long!

Copyright © 2001, Harris Publications, Inc. All rights reserved

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

20 Interesting facts about electric guitars

  1. Franz Schubert composed his music on a guitar hung from a hook over his bed, as he couldn’t afford a piano. Berlioz also did his composing on a guitar!
  2. Epiphone was originally a Greek violin company. They made banjos from 1923 but in the 1930’s changed to guitars. Epiphone was the only banjo company to successfully switch to guitar production.
  3. Leo Fender was a saxophonist, not a guitarist, as is the current head of the Corporation.
  4. The first Fender was made in 1943, made from oak. Leo Fender gave it away to Roy Acuff, a country music legend.
  5. Les Paul had a car accident in 1948 and asked the doctor to set his arm permanently in a guitar-playing position.
  6. In 1950, Leo Fender devised a strength and durability test for guitar necks which was balancing a neck between two chairs and standing on it.
  7. A Gibson solid body with no serial number is a 1952. Gibson didn’t use any serial number in 1952.
  8. Prior to 1963, if you wanted a custom colored Gibson, you could choose from sunburst, natural, white, black, Les Paul gold, or cherry red. No other choices were available until the 1963 Firebird series.
  9. The Telecaster was originally called the Broadcaster but this clashed with a drum kit of the same name. While the new name was considered, Fender produced guitars with no name on the headstock, and these “Nocasters” are collector’s items.
  10. If a Martin guitar only has four strings and is not a ukulele, this is known as a Tenor guitar. Ukelele size instruments with ten strings are Tiples. Ukelele size instruments with eight strings are Taropatches. Martin also made mandolins, which have eight strings.
  11. A Fender Stratocaster is carved on Jimi Hendrix’s tombstone.
  12. Guitar fan Chris Black of London held a wedding ceremony in 2001 and married his Stratocaster.
  13. The highest price paid for an electric guitar at auction, was $959,500 at Christie’s in July 2004 for Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster. The previous record was for Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia’s custom-made ‘Tiger’ ($957,500 in 2002).
  14. The smallest guitar in the world is 10 micrometres long with strings 50 nanometres (100 atoms) wide.
  15. Fender uses alder, not the more usual ash for guitars. Alder trees don’t grow large enough to make guitars anywhere except Oregon, within an area only 200 miles by 50 miles.
  16. In a peak year (eg 2000), Fender makes over a quarter of a million guitars. They are the largest manufacturer of electric guitars in the world. Fender also makes banjos, mandolins and violins.
  17. The Fender factory makes around 90,000 strings per day. This is over 20,000 miles a year, enough to circle the world. They also make around 950 guitar necks a day!
  18. The ancestors of the modern guitar can be traced back to the stringed instruments played across Central Asia and India, in ancient times.
  19. The oldest iconographic representation of the guitar is a 3,000 year old carving of a Hittite or ancient Anatolian bard playing the instrument.
  20. The first electrically amplified guitar was invented by George Beauchamp in 1931.


10 Interesting Facts About The Fender Stratocaster Guitar

There’s no getting away from it, the Fender Stratocaster has undoubtably played a major role in helping to shape music throughout the years. There have been many notable guitarists choosing the Stratocaster as their guitar of choice including: Jimi Hendrix, Hank Marvin, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many more.

Below are 10 facts about these world changing guitars:

  1. The Stratocaster was designed by Leo Fender, Freddie Tavares and George Fullerton in 1954.
  2. The heavily contoured double-cutaway body was constructed from Ash until the middle of 1956 when Alder became the wood of choice for the body. Alder continues to be used to this day.
  3. The original 1954 model featured a one-piece maple neck with 21 frets. Inlays were black dots.
  4. The guitar originally came equipped with Kluson machine heads. These were often swapped for other models over the years as guitar players often have particular machine heads they swear by.
  5. The guitar pickups selector switch was originally a 2-position model which thankfully was updated to a 5-position version in 1977. This allowed far greater flexibility when selecting pickup combinations and tones.
  6. The volume of the Stratocaster pickups is controlled by a single master volume knob.
  7. The three single-coil pickups installed in the guitar were originally identical in design. 1977 saw the introduction of the RWRP (reverse wound reverse polarity) middle pickup, which when linked with either the neck or the bridge pickup could function in hum-cancelling mode. This went some way to making the sometimes noisy pickups quieter, and helped the guitars compete with the quieter humbucking pickups supplied with Gibson guitars. Gibson were and still are great rivals of Fender.
  8. The guitar was manufactured with a rosewood fretboard as standard between the years of 1959 to 1967.
  9. 1965 saw CBS take over the Fender brand and for many, this was the start of many years of poorer quality instruments. The company eventually upped their game but many fans had been lost along the way.
  10. In 1982 a budget version of the guitar began production in Japan under the ‘Squier’ name. This was for many a great way of owning a Fender guitar without the higher, USA made price tag.

So there are my 10 important facts about these wonderful guitars. Whether or not a Stratocaster is your guitar of choice, there’s no denying the amazing impact that this 1950’s guitar has had on the music industry.

I’m pretty sure this guitar intends to stick around for some time yet.

10 Interesting Facts About The Fender Telecaster Guitar

The Fender Telecaster guitar has quite rightly been incredibly popular for many years as a result of its good looks and very individual sound, which is very effective in blues and country music. It has of course very frequently been put to use in other genres too.

The guitar has not surprisingly acquired many famous admirers throughout the years including Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Andy Summers and Bruce Springsteen.

Below are 10 interesting and amusing facts relating to this infamous six string electric guitar:

  1. Leo Fender developed the in Telecaster in 1948 in sunny California. This was a period in time that many top manufacturers were experimenting and producing exciting designs. As a result the Fender Telecaster had to be extremely quick off the mark.
  2. The guitar arrived on the scene as the Broadcaster model in 1949 and is still produced today in one form or another. There have without doubt been numerous impersonators but the original is the one that counts.
  3. In 1950 the first one pickup model hit production and was known as the Esquire.
  4. As for the wood used, the neck and the fingerboard were formed from one piece of Maple. This was subsequently bolted to a body made from Ash or Alder, which was a less expensive process than Gibson’s much more involved ‘set neck’ approach.
  5. A semi-acoustic style of the guitar arrived on the scene in approximately 1968 and was branded the Thinline. The 1969 version of this guitar utilised a Mahogany body and by the time 1972 arrived the body was Swamp Ash.
  6. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame used a 1958 Telecaster that was given to him by Jeff Beck on the now infamous guitar solo on the amazing song Stairway to Heaven, from Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Many continue to think that this jaw-dropping solo was played on either a Gibson SG double neck or a Les Paul but it wasn’t.
    Besides he also played Whole Lotta Love with his Telecaster
  7. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones now famously put to use his Custom guitar in an particularly unconventional way during a live concert. Richards used his guitar to beat off an over-keen and potentially mad fan who ran onstage.
  8. The Telecaster bridge pickup sits on top of a steel plate to expand the magnetic field which additionally helps to give this pickup its lovely and distinctive tone.
  9. Fender finally decided to modify the electronics in 1952 to incorporate a tone control into the circuit for the guitar pickups.
  10. In 1950 somewhere between the Broadcaster model and the Telecaster, any guitars made during this interim period were without a name and subsequently are often referred to as Nocasters.

If you’ve never tested one of these great guitars, head on down to your nearest guitar shop a give one a trial run. I’m sure you will love it.

Gitaarles 6: Stemmen van de gitaar

Gitaar Stemmen

Je kunt je gitaar stemmen met behulp van deze Gitaar Tuner.

De basisstemming van de gitaar is: E – A – D – G -B – E

*Probeer ook regelmatig de gitaar op je gehoor te stemmen.

1. Stem eerst de lage E-snaar
De bovenste snaar is de lage E snaar. Stem de lage E snaar
met behulp van de gitaar tuner hierboven.
2. Stem de A-snaar
Zodra je de E-snaar goed hebt gestemd, dan plaats je jou wijsvinger op de 5e fret(vakje) van de E-snaar. De A-snaar stem je op dezelfde toonhoogte als dat je hoort van de E-snaar. Nu heb je de E-snaar gestemd en je hebt de A-snaar gestemd.
A snaar gitaar stemmen
3. Stem de D-snaar
Plaats je wijsvinger op de 5e fret van de A-snaar en stem je de D-snaar op dezelfde toonhoogte als dat je hoort van de A-snaar.
D snaar gitaar stemmen
4. Stem de G-snaar
Zodra de D-snaar gestemd is, dan plaats je jou wijsvinger op de 5e fret van de D-snaar, stem de G-snaar stem je op dezelfde toonhoogte als dat je hoort van de D-snaar.
G snaar gitaar stemmen
5. Stem de B-snaar
Zodra de G-snaar weer gestemd is plaats je jou wijsvinger op de 4e fret van de G-snaar en stem je de B-snaar op dezelfde toonhoogte als dat je hoort van de G-snaar.
B snaar gitaar stemmen
6. Stem de dunne E-snaar
Tot slot plaats je jou wijsvinger op de 5e fret van de B-snaar en stem je de dunne E-snaar op dezelfde toonhoogte als dat je hoort van de B-snaar.
E snaar gitaar stemmen


Gitaarles 5: Sus4 akkoorden

In de vierde les heb je de mineur akkoorden geleerd. Bovendien heb je de akkoorden geleerd van een liedje, Hotel California van The Eagles.

Als je dacht dat je nu alle akkoorden kende, dan heb je het mis. Ik wil nu naar wat andere akkoorden gaan kijken, die nog redelijk vaak gebruikt worden en die je dus moet kennen. Deze akkoorden worden Sus4 akkoorden genoemd, en ze lijken een beetje op majeur akkoorden. Het verschil is dat één snaar een halve noot omhoog gaat. Om dit te illustreren, moet je maar eens kijken naar de Asus4 en het A majeur akkoord:


A sus4: A majeur: E -----0------- E -----0------- B -----3------- (m) B -----2------- (p) G -----2------- (p) G -----2------- (r) D -----2------- (r) D -----2------- (m) A -----0------- A -----0------- E -----X------- E -----X------- 

Zoals je ziet, gaat de vinger op de B-snaar van het A majeur akkoord een halve noot omhoog. Daardoor verandert de vingerzetting trouwens ook. Verder kan ik je weinig leren over Sus4 akkoorden. Kijk zelf maar:


C sus4:                  D sus4:

E -----0------- 	E -----3------- (p)
B -----1------- (w)     B -----3------- (r)
G -----0-------         G -----2------- (w)
D -----3------- (p)     D -----0-------
A -----3------- (r)     A -----X-------
E -----X-------         E -----X-------


B sus4:                  

E -----2------- (w)
B -----5------- (p)
G -----4------- (r)
D -----4------- (m)
A -----2------- (w)
E -----X-------


E sus4:                  F sus4:

E -----0-------         E -----1------- (w)
B -----0-------         B -----1------- (w)
G -----2------- (p)     G -----3------- (p)
D -----2------- (r)     D -----3------- (r)
A -----2------- (w)     A -----3------- (m)
E -----0-------         E -----1------- (w)


G sus4:

E -----3------- (p)
B -----1------- (w)
G -----0-------
D -----0-------
A -----2------- (m)
E -----3------- (r)

Okee. Let’s play some rock ‘n’ roll now!!! De rock ‘n’ roll akkoorden die ik je nu zal leren, zijn makkelijk te begrijpen en makkelijk te spelen. Plus, als je ze speelt, zal het klinken alsof je al redelijk goed gitaar speelt!! Ik zal de TABS eens opschrijven. Speel gewoon precies wat er staat:


E	         E   	           A
tel tot acht	 tel tot acht	   tel tot acht
E		 B	  A	   E		B
tel tot acht	  vier	   vier     zes	         twee

Klinkt al aardig rock ‘n roll, toch?? Dat wil zeggen, als je de akkoorden snel genoeg kunt spelen ;-))))))

Les 5 is alweer voorbij. Ook voor deze stof zul je even tijd nodig hebben. Neem de tijd, de volgende les staat hier binnen afzienbare tijd!!

Purplex optreden : The Night Before

Zaterdagavond 3 december stond Purplex op de planken bij café Creackers in Haarlem. Cobie van de Ven (zang en keyboard) gaf samen met Andre Binddels (drums), Rikko Fransen (bass) en Theo Vermeer (alias Farlake; gitaar) “acte de presence”.  Een naar later bleek indrukwekkend optreden. Met eigen werk timmert deze Heavy Rock band uit Haarlem al jaren aan de weg.

Rond de klok van kwart over tien was het zover. De laatste klanken van Sweet Child ‘O Mine verdwenen uit de stereo installatie terwijl het begin van Picture On The Wall werd ingezet. Het geluid was direct vanaf het begin al goed in balans; iets wat ook door het publiek werd bevestigd. Na een energieke opening volgende nummers als Walk Away, Second Soul en Back On The Run volgde het rustige No. De eerste set werd afgerond met History en Tinned Can. Beide nummers die garant staan voor uitgebreide soundscapes. Een lust voor het oor van het publiek. Theo maakte nog van de gelegenheid gebruik om zijn slide in te wisselen voor een leeg flesje waarmee hij de snaren bewerkte.

Na een korte onderbreking werd de tweede set ingezet. Hoewel de eerste set al energiek was, werd er tijdens de tweede set nog een (paar) tandje(s) bijgezet. Het kon niet genoeg zijn. Nummers als Goldberg Machine, Walkaway, Forgotten, Fever, Handsigns werden stevig neergezet. Ook Women In Black mocht niet aan de set ontbreken. Als het al niet duidelijk was, bleek hier wel dat Theo het naar zijn zin had. Speciaal voor de eigenaar werd ook Time is (ticking away) gespeeld. En hier mistte Theo even wat scherpte. Tijdens de eerste solo was hij even de weg kwijt en kon de juist toonladder niet vinden. Maar uiteindelijk maakte hij dat met de tweede solo wel weer helemaal goed.

Als toegift werd het nummer Harvest gespeeld. Een nummer waarin de bandleden aan het publiek worden voorgesteld. De enthousiaste reacties van het publiek maakten al duidelijk dat een zeer geslaagd optreden was. Het publiek werd tijdens dit nummer nog getrakteerd op een vlammende drumsolo van Andre.

Een laatste toegift was Wild Thing. Een eenvoudig drie-akkoorden nummer waar veel energie uit vandaan komt. Met aan het einde nog een kleine improvisatie (wat Rikko even uit evenwicht bracht) werd het optreden afgesloten met een daverend applaus. Het publiek had genoten en de reacties waren uiterst positief. “Geweldig”, “Goed geluid”, “Energie” waren enkele uitspraken die Purplex ten dele viel.

Wil je nog meer over Purplex weten, ga dan naar www.pur-plex.nl