Category Archives: Progress

Progress Report: Best Friend’s Girl

I know. I know. It’s been forever since I posted. I bet you thought I had given up on this project.

But no. I’m still here and still plugging away. The summer was difficult as there is not a set routine, and finding the time to practice proved hard, but since school has started and I am back on a predictable routine, I’ve been practicing religiously. It’s starting to pay off.

Here’s a very rough video of where I am on Best Friend’s Girl. It’s by far the most difficult solo I’ve tried to learn, but I think I’m getting there. Let me know in the comments.

Progress Report: Wanted Dead or Alive

Well, after about a month and a half away from my guitar, I finally have started daily practicing again. It feels good, except that I had let my callouses go away and I now have large painful blisters on my first three fingers. I’m getting really close on this solo, but I’m not quite there yet. I think another few days to a week and I’ll be there.

This was recorded on my iPhone using the front camera, so the quality is not as good as my usual posts, but I just wanted to get something quick and dirty out so my blog didn’t get too stale. Let me know what you think.

I’m Still Here

On Sunday February 13, my mother passed away after a six-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was 67. Needless to say I’ve been distracted from this project and haven’t had the time to practice like I want. However, I’m still committed to the project and have been slowly making progress on Wanted Dead or Alive.

The notes of the solo are not difficult, but it is just loaded with pinch harmonics (“squealies”) and I’m just starting to be able to learn how to generate them consistently. This one may take me a while, but the learning process will be worth it.

I’m going to try to post more often and maybe record a “progress report” so you can see how it’s coming along. Thanks for sticking with me. More to come…

Speed Work and the Metronome

After a week and a half of daily practice, I have this solo down… except… for… one… freaking… part! If you view the song here, the part I’m pulling my hair out about is at 2:22. It’s a fast-moving downward run that I just can’t play cleanly. I know all the notes, but I can’t move my fingers fast enough with enough precision to play it … not yet anyway.

So, I’ve broken out the metronome for the first time in this project. It’s not a real metronome — my iPad app AmpKit+ has a built-in one that works great. The song runs at about 195 bpm, so I started practicing that run at 120 bpm. I could do it pretty easily at 120, so I moved up to 130 and then 140, upping the tempo each time I was able to play it cleanly 5 times through at that speed. I’m now working at 180 bpm. I think a couple more days practice and I should be able to do 195 — at least I’m hoping.

This kind of problem was one that I was anticipating and actually looking forward to overcoming. Some of the solos that are still to come have incredibly fast parts, and I’ll need to have good learning techniques in place, and a heightened dexterity to be able to play them. It is the first time, though, that I’ve run up against a real wall, where I’ve learned every other part of the solo to performance quality, but can’t quite get one part. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

There’s a word in the guitar world for super-fast finger work. It’s called shredding, and certain guitarists have based their entire careers on it. It’s pretty amazing if a little one dimensional. Check out this guy to see what I’m talking about.

Progress Report: Shine On You Crazy Diamond

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and the truth is I’ve been heads down learning this solo. I feel really good about where I am, and I recorded this video in the anticipation of it being the final performance video, but I’m not quite there yet.

The issue is that David Gilmour is a frustratingly precise guitarist. His timing is really hard to match, and with the clean sound of the guitar, any mistake is glaringly obvious. While there aren’t too many mistakes in this performance, there are enough that I’m not satisfied with it. I’m going to work on it for another week and see where I am.

Thanks again to George Coller for the Strat loaner. I think it sounds awesome on this song.

Where You Been?

Just a quick post to let you know what I’ve been up to. I’ll try not to go more than a week between posts again.

Since my last progress report, I’ve been practicing as much as I can, but some days I’ve missed practice due to a work deadline. I also had to borrow a guitar (thanks George) since I broke one of the machine heads on my Gibson. I’ve ordered replacement Grovers, but they haven’t come in yet.

I’m pretty much ready to record “More Than a Feeling” but I want to wait until I get the new machine head installed before recording it. So look for that in a couple of days. Thanks for hanging in there and following along.

Progress Report: More Than a Feeling

I’ve been working on this solo for about four days, and I’m loving it. This is why I started this project!

Here’s an audio mix of where I am on the solo currently. It’s in pretty good shape, but I really need to get it cleaner and more polished. This also shows how I am able to record the harmony parts and mix the solo together so that it sounds closer to what’s on the album.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I record the video — I guess I could split screen it if I can figure out how to do that in iMovie, but either way I think it’s going to turn out very nice. Take a listen:

What’s Taking So Long?


I really thought this one would be less challenging. That’s why I put it as solo #4. I thought I would breeze through it, especially after learning the Nirvana song and Go Your Own Way, each in under a week. I’ve been practicing Mississippi Queen for 12 days, and I still feel like I’ve got a week or more to go before I’m ready to perform it.

Here’s are a couple of reasons this one is taking longer than I thought:

  1. It’s longer than the others. At 2:29, this is more than twice the length of the other solos I’ve learned. It also has a lot more notes. I was actually still learning pieces of the song a couple of days ago.
  2. There’s a lot to remember. I’ve got it memorized, but when I play it, I tend to mix up a part or play the wrong piece. It’s frustrating when I’m practicing, but when I perform it, I’m going to blow a gasket when I mess up at two minutes in. I don’t want to even try to perform it until I can play it through without forgetting or mixing up sections.
  3. It’s freaking hard. Most of the song I can play without too much trouble, but the section at the end that intersperses solo and rhythm is giving me tremendous heartburn. I know what I’m supposed to play, but in the heat of the song, my fingers won’t do what I want them to do.

I know this is all part of the grind of practice, and I’m not complaining — I’m putting in a minimum of an hour every day, and I’m still enjoying every minute of it. I just wanted to let those of you who are following along why I haven’t put up my performance of this “easy” song. It’s not as easy as it looked.

Progress Report

I’ve been working on the We Will Rock You solo for about 2 weeks and put in probably 10 hours of practice on it. Here’s a video showing where I am. Obviously there are some timing issues and sloppiness, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased.

I’m playing this with a backing track that does not have any guitar, so everything you hear is me. Let me know if you think the sound of the guitar is pretty close, and if the format of the recording works. The mic on the video camera is picking up a lot of the sound of the strings which doesn’t sound great. I’m going to see if I can run directly from my amp to the video camera and bypass the mic.

You’ll have to click through to watch the video — apparently enough of the original song is in the background that YouTube won’t embed it.