It’s Good: Truefire.com

Truefire has become an indispensable resource for me in the past couple of years. The quality of material on the site coupled with the reasonable cost of courses make it a no brainer if you’re looking to make consistent progress in your playing. Their Guitar Lab: Triads course inspired me to map out triads up and down the neck along with extensions in each position, some of which you already see here. Bruce Arnold’s Guitar Physiology course has noticeably helped to me keep my wrist and hand in healthier shape than it used to be, something that will pay dividends for years to come.

I picked up about 10 classes worth of new material in their holiday sale (for barely more than $100, you can see them all below). There’s nowhere else that I know of to get this level of instruction without paying a lot more or working with a top notch teacher in person. I’ve actually taken a couple lessons with both Jon Finn (Improv Target Practice) and Jeff McErlain (Soloing the Changes), and I don’t think my recent purchase even covers an hour of of their time.

whole lotta learnin…

All Triads 3 – Strings 2/3/4

I didn’t realize just how useful learning all of these triad positions would be until they started clicking, particularly up and down between the three core shapes in a given key (root on string 2, 3, or 4). Beginning with the shape below as the I chord gives you a ton of options nearby. The ii, IV, and vi have multiple options that are easy to grab or switch between.

With a bassline or second harmony covering the low end, you can easily cycle through the upper extensions of the underlying chord (upper structure triads once you’re beyond R,3,5 if I recall correctly). Throw sus2 and sus4 in and your palette extends even further. I should probably record an audio example to demonstrate.

The best thing to me is that you can always map a diatonic mode back to a home Ionean key, so just knowing which I chord you refer back to means you can grab extensions up and down the neck. For instance, A Aeolian is just the sixth mode of C Major, so all of the triads will be the same as those in C. Even grabbing the C Maj triad just gives you an Am7 over an A bass note.

*click for full size

Modal Interchange


Here’s a link to a tool I run from my personal page. It allows you to pick a home key (Major/Ionean) and see everything I could come up with that qualifies as an interesting substitution or borrowed chord. I’m sure there will be more to add down the line, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of putting these into practice.

Quick Drum Tip #1 – Start Small

Programming rhythms is one of my weakest skills, so I need all the help I can get. Without any training on real drums, I often find the hardest part is simply getting started with something that isn’t just kick on the 1 and 3 or four on the floor. What I’ve begun doing is to start by simply picking two accented kick notes before anything else. The beat below was something I quickly put into my TR-09. I wouldn’t call it exciting, but was fifteen minutes of work and it’s a lot more interesting than what I’d normally come up with in a short period. The placement of the main kick notes on the 1 and the and of the 3 dictate much of what other sounds will fit once these main hits are in place. Instead of putting together one mediocre rhythm in an hour of work, I managed to put four into the box that had more potential to drive interesting progressions or melodies.