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DVD Review: Guitar DVD – Total Scales Techniques And Applications By Mark John Sternal

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Guitar DVD: Total Scales Techniques And Applications is a DVD training system that is geared for a beginner to intermediate guitar player who is just starting out to learn how to play guitar, as well as for the experienced guitarist who is self-taught and has had little, if any, formal instruction. The disk is 240 minutes in length and is divided into 18 lessons and some bonus material.

After a brief introduction, lesson 1 is a "bonus" lesson that is provided for total beginners as it covers the parts of a guitar — the strings, the frets, and other layout features. Lesson 2, "Basic Guitar Fundamentals" covers the musical alphabet and gives you the basics in music theory which are translated to the notes on the guitar. You will also learn picking techniques and how to work with a metronome.

Lesson 3, "The Natural Scale" introduces you to what the notes of the natural scale are as well as how it relates to the major scale and the minor scale. This lesson sets you up with the exercises to work with these scales and provides a firm foundation. Lesson 4, "Intro To Soloing" begins to develop patterns for creating solos by using the scale notes that you have already learned.

Lesson 5, "Scale Notes as Chords" show that each scale note can be used as part of a chord and explains how these chords complement each other just as the individual scale notes complement each other. Here you will learn to develop chords from these scale notes. Lesson 6 "Applications" will teach you scale applications to be used with each scale position. These will give you different melody patterns which in turn will help you keep your playing fresh.

Lesson 7, "Techniques" explores how to manipulate notes and make them sound different than when you are just playing them; here you will learn how to give the notes life. Lesson 8, "Above the 12 Fret – The Octave Positions" now will teach you the octave positions for the scales that you have already learned, but here you work close to the body of the guitar. Many of these techniques are really more geared for an electric guitar, but with some experience and adeptness, one can also learn to make this work for an acoustic guitar as well.

Lesson 9, "More Techniques" here continues additional techniques such as pull offs, hammer pull/pull hammer, hammer pull with increment of III, slide with increment of III, as well as other techniques. Lesson 10, "Tapping" explores the technique of hammering or tapping a fret and pulling off to an open or fretted note. Here he also shows methods of holding a pick while tapping as well as how this technique can be just as effective on acoustic as it is on electric.

Lesson 11, "String Bending" shows how you can alter the pitch of a note by bending the string. This provides the ability to attain a note, not by moving to it, but rather by bending to it. Lesson 12, "Tremolo/Whammy Bar Techniques" describes the technique of using the whammy bar that is available on certain electric guitar models. While they can be used to raise the pitch of a note, the instructor prefers to only use them to lower the pitch.

Lesson 13, "Double Note Patterns" takes the scale positions that you have already learned and applies different harmonies to them. Here you will learn to work with thirds and then fourths to come up with harmonic double note patterns. Lesson 14, "Advanced Applications" will provide you with more advance applications such as stepping down in increments of III, pivot note to octave, and two string skip, among others.

Lesson 15, "Maniac Patterns" will show you other patterns such as shape patterns like I-V-III-II-IV-VI-V, two string skip increment of IV and back, and then in patterns of three as well other variations. Lesson 16, "Modes and Key Changes" reminds us that the natural scale consists of the major and minor key, but now here we learn that there are five others. Just as there are seven notes there are also seven modes. You will learn of these other scales here.

Lesson 17, "The Pentatonic Scale" is also known as the blues or rock scale. It contains the same notes as the natural scale minus the 4th and 7th degree; F and B. The minor pentatonic scale is used for blues. Here you will learn how to apply many of the techniques to the pentatonic scales. Lesson 18, "Exotic Scales" explore the scales of other cultures from around the world. Here you will learn about different phrases that you can add to your guitar playing that can further enhance your music. Some of these include Arabian, Balinese, bop, diminished, harmonic minor, and many others.

All in all Guitar DVD: Total Scales Techniques And Applications is a well thought out and well crafted training video. The instructor is very versed in his knowledge and playing ability. He comes across as a patient instructor. The bonus material is primarily still shots of some of the scales and screens throughout the video.

The lessons are targeted and the instructor begins most of them by introducing the kind of guitar and amp that he is using and a description of the type of sound that it produces. I think that this is a good thing for those just beginning to get an idea of how the different instruments create various sounds. Guitar DVD: Total Scales Techniques And Applications is not just for the beginner. I think that anyone on just about any level will get something from this training.

The version of Total Scales Techniques And Applications that I reviewed was the DVD-only version and to me that is not the most advantageous method. While I have not seen the companion book, I can't help but think that that would just improve the experience. Rather than having to keep repeating the video to remember the scales, lessons, etc. I would assume that the book would have that laid out as well.

I think that if you want to learn how to play guitar or improve your existing skills then Guitar DVD: Total Scales Techniques And Applications may be one of the fastest ways to get there.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Beginners Guitar Lessons

    Nice review, but I would also like to have known about how the videos where made, are they close ups, with tabs and notes etc.