Epiphany !

Posted: February 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

I know, it’s my first post in ages. I promise I’ll bring you up to speed but essentially I’m playing bass Guitar currently.

Anyway – the epiphany ! Sitting this evening, bass not even in hand, my eye caught a fretboard chart I’d pinned up last week. It had been posted in the vain hope it might help me remember some of the notes and scales that kept slipping from my mind the moment my fingers left the fretboard. What do you know? It MAY just have worked.

I’m looking at the chart and some notes I’d made showing the steps between notes and flats along one string. And I got it. All those scales that my fingers would so diligently practise (and my mind equally diligent file all memory away in an untouched corner) suddenly made sense in a way they never had.

Let me attempt an explanation (and please realise that I may be DUMB and this is obvious to everyone already:-

⁃ The books generally show scales as multiple patterns per ‘root’ note. I.e. one diagram for an A scale at the bottom of the fretboard, and two (or more) for the same scale further up.

⁃ I’ve always tried to learn these individually and have struggled to grasp their connection to other scales (and even to remember where each root was – I did say I may just be dumb 😞)

⁃ There are patterns

⁃ Having been seen they cannot be unseen so playing has halted while information is processed

⁃ WHAT PATTERNS! You may be thinking

⁃ 1 – learn the notes along the E string

⁃ 2 – start on the E string, 3rd fret(G, the root), second finger – play a G Major scale

⁃ 3 – move two steps up the fretboard to A (5th fret, still on the second finger). Play the same sequence. That’s an A Major scale.

⁃ 4 – move another two steps up to B (7th fret, still on the second finger). Play the same sequence. That’s an B Major scale.

⁃ 5 – move your 2nd finger to the A string, 3rd fret (directly beneath where you started with the G Major). Same fingers, same pattern. That’s a C Major scale.

⁃ 6 – two frets up from that, D Major. Another two frets, E Major.

⁃ 7 – the same approach works for the natural minor scales. Different pattern, same root notes.

All of a sudden this makes more sense to me. I haven’t yet linked up this start point with the ability to play the same scale up and down the fretboard, but this sort of blew my mind.

Fully expecting to be blasted for being dumb. C’est la vie. I feel less dumb for figuring it out.

If it helps – awesome. Let me know😀. If not, thanks for listening.


Another long overdue update. I think my last was pre Christmas, so things have moved on a touch. I’ve moved house (more space, lots of updating required, lots of money being spent), had some crazy busy times with work (end of Financial Year is so much fun when you’re in sales), and been on hols (Cuba is highly recommended if you like to get off the beaten track). 

Oh, and I bought a new guitar. The Gibson Firebird I mentioned in a previous post is now mine (cue maniacal laughter..aaaaaand stop).  It’s lovely. I like the feel, I like the tone, I like to play / practise. The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the machine head configuration.  6 in a row is far trickier to tune properly than the 3 on a side on my old Westfield (Gibson SG’alike). It’s a minor thing though, as it’s just too cool!

Having said that I’m not practising anywhere near as much as I should do. My scales are coming along; there’s a few that I can play without thinking about finger positions now. I can play Highway to Hell pretty well, and REALLY notice the difference when I play it with my multi effects pedal dialled in.  

I’m trying to get to grips with Roxanne, by The Police, at the moment. It’s not that tricky a track, but my fingers are having to learn new chord shapes and move them up and down the fret board. It doesn’t sound very pretty right now but I’ve gone from spending a minute or so getting each chord correct, to playing without a pause on the majority.  The syncopated beat is a little tricky and still sounds ‘off’ at the moment. Lifting all your fingers after each strum so the chord sounds and immediately stops is easy in theory. In practice I’m finding that unless you do it exactly right it sounds like there’s bent notes in the chord and often some fret buzz. 

As always, practise is required.


Aside  —  Posted: April 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Posted: November 11, 2012 in Movember 2012
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I forgot to add I’m supporting Movember and maintaining facial growth for the entire month of November.  Can you help fund this very worthy cause?

1 in 9 men in the UK are likely to face prostate cancer in their lifetime. This is comparable to the 1 in 9 women that are estimated to get breast cancer, and I’m not even asking you to wear a pink ribbon! You can donate as much as you like, and you’ll feel good for doing so as well. Thanks all.

Donate at:- http://mobro.co/markbell

Latest pic below – Can you help me raise money for Movember?

Trying new stuff

Posted: November 11, 2012 in Guitar, Photos, Practice
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No comments on my awful practise video – lol. I don’t blame you at all! I’m not sure words describe how embarrassing it is to post up something that still seems horribly poor after a year of learning. I promise you I AM getting better, just far more slowly than I’d like.

Something that has made me feel better though is that I’ve recently discovered that I have now developed to the extent that I can sometimes look up a piece of tab and play it recognisably in only a few minutes. This relies on it being VERY easy to be fair, and it in no way means that I can play the piece of music in question, merely that it can be recognised from my combination of badly timed buzzing and dead notes. (Judas Priest – Living After Midnight was one of these. Basic riff, but pretty recognisable).

I’ve been experimenting with different guitars as well. I got hold of an Eastwood Stormbird to try out; I’ve always liked the Gibson Firebird design (the standard, not the Non reverse). The Stormbird is a non reverse copy of the Gibson classic, but unfortunately I didn’t get on with it at all.  I also tried a Fender Telecaster – which had a surprisingly nice, very crisp sound, but not quite what I’m looking for, a couple of Gibson Les Paul Standards – close, but for some reason they didn’t feel comfortable, and a Fender Stratocaster – just didn’t feel ‘right’, the bridge is a long way back and felt awkward to palm mute against.

It seems I may have got lucky with the SG lookalike that I have right now – I like the sound, and it seems to ‘fit’ nicely. Liking a guitar is pretty indecipherable though. I’m not sure exactly what it is I’m looking for, or even if I’m actually looking. I just know I’ll know it when I find it.  I think I’m going to try out a couple of real Gibson SG’s and see what they feel like.ImageI think

Unfortunately my boy doesn’t seem to want to practise as much as I’d like him to, but he still seems to want me to give him lessons. I’ll keep encouraging him to, but it’s up to him now and I’ll just keep on encouraging him as much as I can and trying not to ‘push’.

New bands at Download2013!!!

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Download Festival

At last, Download have announced some more bands booked for June 2013.

Queens of the Stone Age
Thirty Seconds To Mars
The Gaslight Anthem
Alice In Chains
A Day To Remember

Looking good, Download.

Let’s just hope you remember to book some half decent weather for it as well!

It’s NOT good, but I’ve finally got the first few bars down and just need to get cleaner, faster, and improve my timing. I’m hoping that at some point I’ll be able to post the finished product.
Try not to be too cruel with your comments.

How to play dubstep on a guitar.

Posted: October 15, 2012 in Guitar
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An extremely funny instructional video. I especially like the piece about fading in and out of existence while you’re playing (which is clearly impossible, but quantum physics proves that nothing is impossible!).


I’m not sure of the value of this, but it’s certainly impressive!

Check out the YouTube link below to see ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ played at 1300BPM!

I need to go practise my scales now. *hangs head in defeat*


You want me to learn Black Sabbath’s Paranoid?
A Black Sabbath track? Really?

But that will mean I’m walking in the well trodden footsteps of Tony Iommi, the man who basically defined the first heavy metal guitar sound; The man who has been playing guitar since he was in his early teens and now, in his 60’s and battling cancer, is still headlining Download in front of more than 100,000 people; the man who’s doing all this in spite of losing his fingers in an industrial accident and fretting using thimbles with leather patches stuck on them; a man who survived Ozzy Osbourne’s infamous escapades; and to top it all off, a personal hero of mine! The closest I’ve got to this til now is having a guitar that LOOKs a bit like the Gibson SG that Tony uses.

“You look worried!”, says Lewis. Damn right I’m worried, all that lot has just run through my head in the space of you pulling out the tab for Paranoid and pausing for breath!. “It’s OK. The fingering is easy, it’s the rhthym that takes a bit of getting used to.”

This makes me laugh. The fingering may seem easy to you, but I’m damn sure it’ll be the tricky bit for me. I’ve been listening to this track since before Lewis was born, the rhythms feel as much a part of me as my own heartbeat. From the opening riff to the fade of the last note, Paranoid is a track I know inside out and back to front.

So how has learning the song on a guitar gone?, I hear you ask. (I do hope there’s someone out there, otherwise I’m talking to myself!) Well, Lewis wasn’t far wrong. The opening riffs are a bit twiddly, but it’s really a case of practising until your fingers get used to it. As much as it feels impossible the first few times I tried, my fingers are now starting to move more quickly and accurately enough to make it recognisable.  NB – Scales practise has probably helped me here, it’s on frets 12 and 14 so tighter than I’m used to, but very similar for finger movements.

After the intro, the rest of the rhythm guitar really is very simple. Hardly surprising when you think about it. This is a track that was allegedly written in about 5 minutes to fill some space on the album. It has no real chorus or middle 8 to speak of, and really  just a musical bludgeon!

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can create an instantly recognisable riff in 5 minutes,make it into a rock classic, and play it with plastic fingers, and now have even more as I begin to understand its simplicity. I mean … it has to be simple, right? People can even recognise it when I play it!

Love it! There is NOTHING cooler than picking up a guitar and playing something people recognise!