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 Signature Sound

Learn to Improvise in this Adult Beginner Series ...


Insights, guidance and practice lessons for those who truly want to learn how to create
their own signature sound.

These lessons will always be here.  They will continue to be developed and tweaked as time allows.  Quiet your distractions and learn to play with joy.  Nothing else is required.

The secret is to get as much as you can from as few notes as possible.  That's how you learn to play with depth and sensitivity.  


Here we will lay out one of the easiest paths to navigating the guitar fretboard so you are always in command of developing your own sound ... and naturally confident in the note choices you make.  It's as easy as learning the ABC's on the guitar fretboard - literally ... with just enough theory to tie it all together. 

This page is geared toward beginner adults who might want to try their hand at understanding the breadth of their instrument through practicing improvisational technique.  Students explore their inner voice vs travelling down the long and painful experience of rudimentary book lessons or hard to follow videos produced by more fluent guitarists.

You learn to play by playing more freely and by following the guidance of a guitarist with decades of experience.

The guitar reveals its secrets slowly over time:

Practice Makes the Master

Mastery is in the Patience

Take it slow ... don't miss the beauty in the simple things ... 


Level 1 has 6 lessons that follow:


(the skinniest one)

the lesson tracks to practice to

Antares in A Minor
A Slow Blues

the lesson track to practice to

Back Home in C

the lesson track to practice to

Back Home in C

listen to the motif

00:00 / 00:27

start to connect the pieces - listen to this example

00:00 / 00:45

Lesson 4 - Our first moveable "shape" 


practice the 5th position moveable shape to this track

Sunday Morn in A Minor

For lesson 4 - the main goal is to visualize the shape on the guitar fretboard.  Then break it down into small pieces.  For example, focus on the newest notes at first A, C & D.  Play A with your 3rd finger, C with your index finger and D with your 3rd finger.

You can use the entire long intro to run through the notes and some of the earlier 2 and 3 note phrases you have previously practiced.

A  C & E are the 1st  3rd and 5th of the A minor scale, making them strong and stable friends whenever you are in this key.  Together, in any order, they make up a chord, the A minor triad.

The last note played in the triad is the "voice" note.  The 5th Position shape offers us two A minor triads:  ACE & CEA.   Triad work will be more extensive in the level 2 sessions (which are currently in development.)


Here is a new line to learn: Starting with Low A on the 4th string
then play C to D on the 3rd string
E on the 2nd string - pause
F to E  on the 2nd string
D to E  - 3rd string to 2nd
to Low A on the 4th string and hold

audio example

00:00 / 00:16

Lesson 5 is the introduction to open chord technique - we will be exploring open chords on a going basis.  The goal at this step is to train your fingers to move from chord to chord while picking the pattern.  We start with the Asus chord to practice the pattern, then we add 2 additional chords that make for a great compositional progression.  Perfect when played by the fire on a wintry day.  

00:00 / 00:07

audio example


This open chord connects to the 5th position moveable shape

00:00 / 00:19


Lesson 6 - The "Gone to San Ramon" Challenge
Gone To San Ramon In Asus
The track to practice to:  Gone To San Ramon in Asus
The goal of this challenge is to have fun - stick with the A sus chord, pick or strum it, try to work in picking pattern 1 and the Final Level One Exercise above.

Add intermittent A notes and E notes.  Experiment.  This exercise will strengthen your eye / hand coordination, your ear, your hand strength and your picking ability - that's the value - enjoy!

You now have an inventory of interchangeable parts that you can use to draw from.  Extend on all of them to continue adding to your skill and knowledge base. 


How to practice - Visualize small patterns that are easy to remember ... then connect them in new and different ways.  Some will become special.  They become the keepers.

  • 1st string vertical playing

  • 2 note phrases

  • 3 note phrases

  • Sweet spots and slides

  • Intervals

  • Motif 1

  • 1st moveable shape in A minor

  • Ending Ideas

  • Open chord intervals

  • Connection points

  • Picking patterns

Each of these components represents an aspect of your playing.  They are each worthy of dedicated attention, time and development. They are the syllables, words, nouns, verbs, sentences, statements, phrases, question and answer responses starting to emerge from your developing musical vocabulary.

Use your practice time to stay committed to the lessons above.  They are the foundation and the prerequisite for Level 2.
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