Now offering private online Zoom and Skype lessons.  I am an instructor with over 10 years of teaching experience.  I have taught players of all ages and levels.  Let me help you reach your guitar playing goals!  Please reach out via the About(Contact) section or e-mail for rates and availability!  Free lesson with purchase of a 3 lesson package!  Learn funk, blues, rock, jazz, soloing and rhythm guitar!  

Axeology w/ Sav Izzi

Please see below for my latest online guitar lessons.  These are geared toward beginner and intermediate students and cover a range of topics such as string bending, note execution and fretboard awareness.  

Keep It Clean 

This month I would like to talk about my second piece of advice for guitarists. A concept called keeping it clean. Simply put it refers to proper note execution on the guitar. As a beginner guitar player many of us have a healthy enthusiasm and desire to play the instrument. So we will pick up the guitar, plug into an amp, turn up the gain and rock out. The result being a slightly or very out of tune guitar yielding amplified string noise. Experienced guitarists can pick up on this instantly and easily identify the sound as one from a novice player. 

This is where some humility and basic technique can help. Playing with passion is important. However, being in tune, playing in time, and having good technique is equally as important. I was fortunate to study with a great classical guitarist named David Oakes. He said something that I still remember to this day. “Speed is a byproduct of accuracy.” In other words, learn to play a musical passage or phrase perfectly at a slow tempo then work on playing it faster. If one chooses not to do this they usually end up playing really fast, sloppy, mistake laden guitar. So let’s choose to take the time today and everyday to develop and maintain good technique. Here are some examples to get started. 

Ex.1 focuses on the picking hand and is strictly an open string exercise. Use a metronome and start with a slow tempo.  For those of you looking for a metronome I recommend the Matrix MR-800.  It is loud, portable and you can accent different beats.  It is the one I have personally used and it has lasted me for years.  You can find pricing and reviews for it on Amazon: Metronome (paid link)

Play this with different rhythmic variations (quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes). Try it with downstrokes, upstrokes and alternate picking. Once this feels comfortable you can increase the tempo for more of a challenge.


Ex. 1 

The following two examples are warm up exercises using chromaticism. They involve both the fret and pick hands and should be played with alternate picking. 

Ex. 2 

Ex. 3 

The last example (Ex. 4) outlines a C chord. Make sure to hold all fretted notes down and be careful not to mute adjacent strings. 

Ex. 4 

Next month we will talk about position playing and navigating the fretboard.  


Let It Ring 

One of the things I find myself thinking about with my approach to playing the guitar is how it has changed over the years. In the early stages of my playing I was content with putting a good grip on a chord or learning a new scale. Now the focus is on taking the musical arsenal I have available and how to apply it. If there were only 2 pieces of advice I could give to beginner and intermediate guitarists looking to further their playing it would be this: 

Keep it Clean 
Let it Ring 

The first refers to proper note execution which I will delve into in my next column. The second is an emphasis on letting notes ring out while playing. Initially, this is something that should be done as a way to check one’s technique in development. For example, when practicing a new chord you should not only strum but also arpeggiate the chord to ensure each note can be heard. For intermediate and advanced players letting notes ring can do wonders for your compositions. 

The use of open strings is a great way to add depth and a nice resonance to your playing. Take Ex.1 below from my instrumental ballad Woman To The One I Love: 

Ex. 1 

The following two examples are from a modern rock tune I wrote called Startled. Ex.2 features a delay infused single note picked intro followed by (Ex.3) some lush chord voicings for the verses: 

Ex. 2 

Ex. 3 

Another helpful tip is to make sure you don't go too long between string changes.  A newer set of strings allow for better resonance and really make those open notes sparkle.  If you are a beginner I'd recommend a lighter gauge for easier playing.  One of my favorite brands are Ernie Ball strings for their variety and quality.  You can find a 3 pack of their 9 gauge Super Slinky strings here: Super Slinky  (paid link)

Until next time keep those chords jangling and single note lines ringing! 



Exclusive video guitar lessons are available on the official YouTube channel of Sav Izzi.  New videos are released on Tuesdays so make sure to click the bell icon to stay up to date with the latest content. This channel is going to be a great resource for anyone looking to learn songs and improve their guitar playing.  

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