January 25th, 2009

E minor again?! I had written the riffs and rhythms in this song to be sung over, so all the soloing is basically an effort to get some usable melodies out of it to use at a later date. One thing I noticed which is pretty important for me is that when I double my leads they end up becoming way more focused. I listened to “Lone Ranger” and “Cordelia” after completing this song and discovered that having to memorize a line and then figure out where (if at all) to harmonize it makes me write more melodically (I think). I did so in those songs and I think those leads are stronger

I really like the rhythm guitar in this song but am not big on the ensuing solos. Like I said I wasn’t intending for this to be instrumental, but I figured why not see what happens. Eb minor, Bumblebee Washburn tuned to Eb.

Also: new cover songs coming as soon as I get a chance to record vocals!

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January 24th, 2009

Finally. I haven’t recorded anything in a while thanks to my recording software screwing up and me being too lazy to fix it. I managed to record this a couple of weeks ago however, but along with the recording screwups I couldn’t find the original files to finish it. The guitar tracks need to be overdubbed and the vocals need some overhaul and EQing but the basic idea comes through nicely. Other problems are all over but will be fixed in a future update (when I go to re-record everything).

This is a song my friend and I had been working on for a while, I only just added the lyrics when I recorded it. Its in E minor. I had used the Dean through my Rocktron/Carvin setup (Left Guitar in Stereo), and my Black Washburn through a Roland Micro Cube Mic’d up (Right Guitar).

I also just noticed that the recording clips in a bunch of places when I put the waveform into Ableton. Great.

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Co-written by Jedd Ahyoung. Copyright Micky Sakora, Jedd Ahyoung.

December 20th, 2008

This came about after randomly jamming to Hangar 18 with a friend and playing the James Bond theme over it. This is also the first song with vocals (rough as they are). I also tried some new stuff mixing wise with the drums – though they sound bigger and better, a lot of the mix is muddier. I guess I’ll just keep hacking away at it.

The James Bond them is originally in E minor but I dropped it down to D minor to fit with Hangar 18. Its a little slower than Hangar 18 but I didn’t want to totally lose the groove of the James Bond theme. Also: I’m working on the whole singing thing – trust me, it just takes a while. And yes there is a “Tornado of Souls” reference in there somewhere.

Guitars in drop D, I used the black Washburn and my friend’s ESP bass. Also a bad SM58 knockoff for the vocals.

No downloads for copyright reasons.

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December 12th, 2008

Three and a half weeks in (25 hours and 25 BPM faster) and I’ve noticed a few things.

  • Going slow is good: I knew this before starting but it never hit home until I actually practiced it. Going slower than you would normally go allows you to focus much more precisely on individual movements. I’ve learned subtle things about my playing and have adapted to them – for instance, I changed my picking attack slightly because of the way my pick would scrape the strings when I played standing up. I think for a future update of the program there will be a specific warm up section where you play at 75% of the day’s scheduled practicing speed.
  • Similarly, beginning the program at a slow speed gives you a number of sessions to focus on pure technique. As a result my picking has gotten a lot cleaner.
  • I also knew this before hand but the program really reinforced it. Like in Stronglifts, progressive loading (increasing the speed by 1 BPM each session) is a huge motivator. Though the exercises are the same, each session can be treated like a new challenge.
  • I have noticed though, that I am reaching a plateau in some of the exercises. The scales in 3rds and the four note pentatonic runs, as well as the 5th Caprice have all begun to test the limits of my playing. While I can get them after some practice building up to the day’s speed, I will soon be unable to play them (especially 5th Caprice, oh my god that is difficult).
  • Because of this I will be working on a ‘B’ program to use once I plateau. Right now I have gone from 80-105 BPM and will likely continue to 120. The B program will go from 90-120 and then I will return to the current program at 100 BPM. Or something. I will be working on it.

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December 6th, 2008

I found that some of the previous songs stretch on for a little too long – five minutes maybe isn’t all that necessary. For these two I tried to keep them short and to the point, condensing what is good about the other songs into a tighter structure. Some of the mixing is off (as usual) the drums might be a little too loud in The Circle but I’m having issues with my recording software. I began Birdhouse first but took a break and recorded The Circle when I got to a sticking point. Then I went back and finished Birdhouse. I think this helped, I was able to go at it fresh the second time and get a different sound than what was originally intended.

The Circle – B minor, Peavey, disorted bass.
Birdhouse – D Dorian, Peavey and Washburn, same distorted bass tone.

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November 25th, 2008

I went for something short and sweet and I think it came out rushed and sketchy. I like parts of it a lot but it gets redundant after a while which shouldn’t be happening in a two and a half minute song. I was going for an Yngwie Trilogy Suite Op. 5 kind of thing but I think I got a little ahead of myself. I didn’t plan this one out like I should have, the song needs to be more rooted down than it is right now. I already have a better idea that will take the main idea behind this song and make it better. I think I can take the fast waltz shred thing and work it out into something more melodic (but still fast).

Its in C# minor and though it may not sound like it, I didn’t use any tapping in this song. Everything is picking or legato. I really do like the part in the very middle with the legato lick with the wah cracked open giving it a vocal sound. Too bad that can’t take the song to the next level. After recording it I noticed I liked it a bit more than I did during the process though, so its not a loss and its not bad enough to be B-Listed. I don’t think.

Also: I’m pretty sure I should look into getting a mastering program – some of these mixes are kind of quiet.

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November 22nd, 2008

The cover songs category starts off with something a little different. This is the “Galop Infernal” by Jacques Offenbach, which I got stuck in my head earlier this week and decided to learn and then cover. I actually did two versions of this cover, the earlier one I scrapped and completely redid everything with a different sound. In the first version I was trying to get a huge drum line sound but I just could not keep it from sounding digital so I reverted back to my normal drums. In this song I went for a wall of sound effect to get a larger, more orchestral feel. The melodies are triple tracked, the rhythms are quadruple tracked, and there are three other miscellaneous tracks. In all, for most parts of the song there are usually between eight and nine guitars going at once along with the bass and two drums tracks.

I’m pretty satisfied with the song, though I like the idea of this cover more than the final execution. I am fairly certain that I will revisit this song later, and re-record everything and give it a little more flow and dynamics. Its in A major with a brief section in F# minor, I used the Peavey as usual, but ended up using lots of different tones that I normally don’t use to fill out the rhythm tracks.

Arrangement and recording Copyright Micky Sakora 2008.
Original song, Galop Infernal by Jacques Offenbach.

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November 19th, 2008

Over the next couple of months I will be testing out this program. I tabbed out the exact exercises I will be using and will provide links to download it. Note that it is targeted at my deficiencies – namely picking turnarounds on different strings, sweep picking, and straight alternate picking (I economy pick too much in the wrong places). The practice routine will work well for anyone though, it is well rounded and likely useful to many guitarists with different skill levels.

The key points are as follows.

  • Begin the program at a metronome speed that is easy to you. Use ONE speed for the entire practice session. Practice the exercises EVERY day and increase the speed by one BPM on the metronome EVERY day. Again, begin at an easy speed. You want to use the first weeks to get used to the routine and memorize everything. When it starts picking up you won’t have to think “what am I supposed to do here?” you’ll be able to concentrate on your playing instead.

  • Cover the entire neck with each exercise. Begin on the 1st and 2nd fret and work your way up to the 17th fret or higher. If you’re doing a scale, do it up and down with the 1st fret as the root, then move up to the 2nd and repeat until you’re at the neck joint. The exercises look short but if you do them across the neck it adds up, and it gets you comfortable throughout the registers.

  • Begin passages with down strokes and upstrokes equally. Either allow enough time to play each passage twice (once beginning with a down stroke, once with an upstroke) or alternate after each new root fret. Again with a scale – play the scale with the 2nd fret root beginning with a down pick, move to the 3rd and begin with an up pick, then to the 4th and begin with a down pick. Alternate to the end. Using both picking equally on the same exercises will eliminate problems with inside picking (like Petrucci said he used to encounter) or with outside picking (like me).

  • Keep practice time to an hour. That means focus 100% for one hour. Play your guitar throughout the day, jam and work on songs, but leave one hour for serious practice. And get everything important done in that hour. DON’T WASTE TIME.

  • Warm up with easier exercises and progress to the hardest sections at the end. Warm ups should be useful but not strenuous – use them to get ready for the more difficult passages later on.The routine I have tabbed is organized easy->medium->hard->medium->hard.

  • This isn’t totally necessary though I’m including it in the supplied tabs – but have a difficult song to practice at the end of the session to test all the skills you went over. I have Paganini’s “5th Caprice” which goes into string skipping, alternate picking, arpeggios, sweeping and is generally ridiculous. This is a short section but it is not easy to play both fast AND clean. I am also practicing “Flight of the Bumblebee” but I didn’t include that in the tablature. You can find it at Ultimate Guitar.

I started at 80 BPM. I probably should have started at 73 or 75, but I’m anxious to see how it works. I will be updating the Method when I figure out more, and I will create a separate page for it as I get a better handle on the routine. Note: its available in Guitar Pro 5 and 4 format as well as pdf.

Download Super Sonic Shred Method V.1.0 gp4

Download Super Sonic Shred Method V.1.0 gp5

Download Super Sonic Shred Method V.1.0 pdf

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November 17th, 2008

Today I’m beginning a new practice routine that will hopefully get my chops up to speed as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is inspired by the Stronglifts 5×5 Program, which has a trainee starting with a very low weight on his lifts, upping the weight every single workout in very small increments. The Super Sonic Shred Method does the same thing; I will run through a series of exercises at 80 BPM and will increase the speed by 1 BPM every day.

I will limit the routine to one hour a day, focusing on scales, speed picking, sweeping, some pentatonics, chromatics and Flight of the Bumblebee and a section of Paganini’s 5th Caprice. I tried out some of the exercises at 79 BPM yesterday and while much of it was easy, I noticed that I’m really going to have to focus on learning and losing the thought behind these exercises these first few days to make any of this worthwhile.

I’ll post tablature of the routine either today or tommorrow, after I finalize the exercises.

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November 16th, 2008

After exporting and posting Collapse I immediately started playing the intro guitar part to this song. I figured out the other backing chords and sections pretty easily but I felt like it took forever to figure out the leads and melodies that went over them. I recorded and re-recorded a lot of material that I didn’t end up using in the final track. Surprisingly though, I got the solo over the piano down easily. After figuring out the first couple bars, I improvised the rest in one take. My thinking went something like, “go Steve Vai on it,” and I think it worked out. The bass line was similarly easy, it only took a little bit (comparatively) to figure out which part needed what.

I’m not a huge fan of the mix. I spent a while on it – longer than most of the other songs – and I’m still not happy about it. It seems too muddy in some places and some of the dynamics are off. I did it over two days but I got impatient after a while, wanting to get the song posted by tonight.

Just the Peavey and my bass. A cello VST through the song, and a short interlude with the MDA piano. The chords are weird in that they go between A minor and A harmonic minor every other bar, and the soloing goes in some weird directions consequently.

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