Ask @SamBellGuitar:

Hey I've been going through the 1st creative guitar book and I'm up to the parts with modes and I'm stuck. I've learnt them before but now I can't remember how I got them to work. I think it's because I've played C major in it's boxes not starting on C. How did you learn modes and get them to stick?

Just went one mode at a time, jammed it over its relevant chord from the diatonic scale until I could hear the difference between the modes. Then they should start to become practical information . Then you can apply them in music, musically.

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How do you think is the best way to get yourself into a pro function band?

Network, gig lots, and be humble/easy to work with/keep good timing/sociable. Make sure you can play for the tune with the best sounds/timing/delivery and band communication possible. Sometimes you can find agents who put you on a roster and then they put you in bands...its a tricky world...its often run by contracts that last only a certain amount of time. So its not consistent work unless you are good at finding more work and planning. However, there is no reason you can't start your own function band and start playing pubs etc and then get yourself up to wedding/conference standard etc this is worth doing anyway, its good money, its fun and it will give you an excuse to learn loads of songs which is transferable to any other function band.

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Hey I've been working on a song that has a 2 note per string descending alternate picking part but I find to get up to speed I have to loosen the grip on my pick ultimately making everything quieter so I was wondering if you have had this problem too and how did you overcome it if so?

Don't worry about it. Volume will come with time. All the fast stuff needs to be lighter in touch, that's how speed works! The more you do it relaxed, the easier it will become to 'add' more volume in time. Its also important to note that many players who play these style runs use drive/compression (for clean stuff) in order to bring notes out. The light touch of the picking enables you to really change the tone of each note which gives the illusion of picking hard. Practice the run with light tough for a while, add different accents on different notes, give it a groove. Practising this will give you a bit more flexibility with that particular runs picking mechanics. I hope this helps shred warrior!

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You posted on Facebook about playing functions. What is the name of your function band? what sort of music do you play? :)

I am currently doing a project for one the biggest holiday parks in the UK where I play 5 nights a week with some great musicians. Material covered is everything from Classic Rock, Modern Pop, 80s Ballads, Classic Motown, Soul, RnB and even Dance! Its great fun. We don't have a name because it is a residency and exclusive to the company.

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Have you ever read " Effortless Mastery " by Kenny Werner? It's a great material about music psychology and building overall confidence about music.

I have read it loads of times, keep it near my work space at all times! Its a fantastic book. I also like 'the inner game of music' but Kenny's work is a lot more 'deep' in terms of how we think and how the mind works.

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What is your opinion on the CAGED system? do you teach it?

The CAGED system is seriously important every guitar player should be aware of it no excuses. It underpins everything you need to know on the fretboard in so many different ways. Combine it with other ways of visualising the fretboard such as 3/4 note per string and you have a killer combo and you will never be totally lost!

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hey sam, I am not sure whether to get the Laney IRT 60 or 120 watt. You have the 120 I think? do you think the 60 will be loud enough for metal gigs with a drummer and stuff?

Yeah 60 watts is loud enough. If its not, your drummer is too loud! haha...its always good to have a good level between band members, use mids live to cut through. Also, things sound better miced up at sensible levels. I used to gig with my 15 watt, that was enough in itself!

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How long should you practice one thing each day? I hear people saying anything from few mins to a few hours so I'm interested to know your idea on this.

Practice what interests you, only work for as long as you can fully concentrate, always work on stuff that pushes you. I would say try and get an hour in a day, but you can spread it through the day, take breaks and concentrate on making the best of each snippet of practice time. Quality over Quantity!

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Do you make mistakes when playing live much?

I aim not to. everone makes mistakes live no matter what level. proper practice prevents poor performance! its about how well you can cover them up and how well you know what your playing and improvise out of the bad situation! ;-) people day Guthrie has never played a bad note. I guarantee he is a master of making his way out of sticky situations and doing it with style and conviction!

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Thanks for reply! Torpedo mmm i just need a software..i don't need live o studio rack version! Can The Wall Of Sound III do this for me?I just need an easy VST for cab sim :)

That's what I am using. (wall of sound) Its free to download and you only need to buy one cab from them in order to get a licence for the software for constant use. A cab is roughly £6! It works great

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hey sam, would like to ask for help using arpeggios in improvisation. and how you approach improv in general. I find that I cant always process the chord changes in my head fast enough and sometimes will play an arpeggio from the same key over a different chord in that key. whats your approach?

Being totally aware of the chord progression is key and then knowing your CAGED system all over the neck. Once you know your Major and Minor caged shapes in a diatonic frame work you can pick out the notes you want. From there its just finding cool ways to phrase with arpeggios, there are many ways. String Skpping, 2 note per string, 313s, 1 note per string, tapping, sweeping. Once you get a hold of some ideas, its great to mess around with other arpeggios over various chords to create different sounds or tension notes depending on what you are going for. It sounds like a vast subject, but it is as simple as 'see the chord shapes changing' as you are playing, they should guide you to using notes from the arpeggio :) I hope this helps.

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Have you ever gone through times where you've lost your passion to play guitar/music? If you did, how did you find your way back to it?

Yeah I have had some down moments, however, its about taking breaks as well. Finding the reason why you started in the first place, and not putting so much pressure on yourself or caring what others thing. Just enjoy what YOU do, spend time enjoying that.

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