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Practicing away from your instrument: When I was an undergrad at University of Wisconsin-Madison I started taking the guitar more seriously and studied with a local teacher Roger Brotherhood. One of the first things he showed me was how to extract 4-note 7th chords using the CAGED system. At the time this was mind blowing and I became obsessed with learning these chord forms. What I quickly discovered is the geometric shapes of these chord forms was difficult to finger on the fret board but not as difficult to picture in my head. I also learned that becoming fluent with the shapes not only required memorizing them but also developing muscle memory and endurance. This was a lot to manage all at once and it quickly became frustrating and overwhelming.
As an undergraduate I spent a lot of time at the gym. As I starred blankly out the window chugging along on a Nordic track listening to whatever 90’s dance remixes were playing that morning I found myself thinking about these shapes on the neck of the guitar. Not being distracted by the instrument itself I was able to systematically go up and down the guitar neck in my head envisioning all the different inversions. After a few weeks of this mental exercise I was recalling different inversions and even different keys in my head with relative ease. The best part is I had learned the forms in my mind and was now able to focus entirely on the physical engagement, the muscle memory piece, during practice time. I learned the 4-note 7th chords much more quickly by combing regular practice time with the mental focus exercise away from the instrument. Ever since then I always practice new scales and chord progressions away form my instrument. It’s more efficient, quiet, and exercises your brain. Good stuff!
Well no time like the present to start a blog. Thought I mention the gear I currently use and what I'll be using at tonights show. Currently I play a 1979 Ibanez AS200 through an early 90's Mesa Boogie .50 Caliber 1x12 combo. I set the Volume at around 7 and the Master around 2. This breaks the amp up nicely for a bluesy tone. I just roll my volume pot off to clean it up. I'll also be using a Fender Acoustisonic Jr. amp, an old boss reverb and a boss delay. Trying the stereo amp thing tonight, we'll see how it goes.
I also have an Epiphone Emperor Regent reissue with a Johnny Smith Mini Humbucker, sounds great! Only bringing the Ibanez tonight.