Release Day!

IHA Cover.JPGYep, that’s it. Release day. Today I release Irradiated Hamster Alert as Blue Alatar. The album represents about 8 years of work on-and-off, much of which took place this last year. The album is available on most music apps, (incl Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer), as well as ones that I manage: ReverbNation and BandCamp. You can pay-what-you-like for the BandCamp download, including nothing. Seriously, have it for free if you want. But, also, if you want to send £700 that would be just fine.

Earlier today I hosted a live, online launch party where I talk-through some of the track details, as well as the album’s over-arching narrative. We go into detail with some of the production and instruments, thank everyone who was involved behind-the-scenes, all of which took about 3 hours. Oh, boy.

Not yet satisfied? Fine, more links:

Now, go download the album from BandCamp. That’s your call to action, I’m making it very clear.

Blues-Rock Lick

Another blues-rock lick for your guitar repertoire.

Below is the tab for this lick, divided into sections. You’ll notice that Fig 1 is repeated in bar 3. I’m playing this at 100bpm, so I’d recommend playing slower than this at first, (it’s fine to play at any speed to begin with, no matter how slow, then work your way up to 100bpm, maybe even up to 130bpm.)


Here’s a backing track for this exercise, but a bit faster than I’m playing it in the vid.

Intermediate String Bends

This is a staple blues / rock / metal trick that you will have heard at some point as a listener. If you need to, refresh your memory on the Bm scale and the ideas outlined in my first String Bending lesson.

For the first bend you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch, which is at the 9th fret of the B string. Your second or third finger will start on the 7th fret of the G string.


In the example below, notice that the letter “b” is used to indicate a string bend, and the number that appears in brackets next to it is the location of the pitch you’re aiming for. This is what we call a Full-Tone Bend.


Here you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch again, which is the 9th fret of the E string. This time your third or fourth finger will start on the 8th fret of the B string.


This is the same deal as the previous bend, it’s just taking place on a different fret. You can also apply some vibrato once you’ve hit your target pitch, as indicated by the “v”.

tumblr_mx1q7ykHDY1rvyc2jo3_400 Remember, when you bend a note, usually the listener will hear the target pitch as the one that’s been affected rather than the starting note, which is pretty much the opposite of what we’re experiencing as the performer. It’s important to get around this idea early on as it can hold you back later.

That being the case, you shouldn’t worry too much about the starting pitch of your bend – provided the target pitch is solid and you’ve got good intonation, no one will really mind where the note started.





Once you’ve got solid intonation and your fingers are getting used to the idea of doing a silly amount of bending work, try playing around with slackening-off the bend here and there, or really slowing it down you to get a very tense pitch raise. Add vibrato here and there as well for a bit more flavour.

The next step would be the advanced bending techniques of Over Bending and Pre-Bending.

The Blues: Mixing-Up Lead & Rhythm Ideas

This post is going to focus on the basics of tastefully making use of lead phrases in-between rhythm playing in a blues situation. Although this exercise is arguably quite sterile, it’s going to be an invaluable first step to get you more comfortable with the concept. Once you’re familiar with it you’ll be allowed much more freedom with your playing.

Below is the structure for what we’ll be playing. This relies on a good knowledge of the 12-bar blues in E, (here’s a link to that lesson), the difference, as you can see below, is that every alternate bar is room for you to solo. In the final bar, however, we’re not going to solo because the turnaround is quite interesting already.imageThe placeholder lick I’m going to demonstrate this with is the following. There’s no reason you have to learn this phrase, if you have your own arsenal of blues or blues-rock licks in the key of E they will do the job just fine.
I would suggest, however, if you’re not going to use this to try and use something in the open position, as it will be easier to play that rather than jumping up to the 12th fret for a bar.image

Here we go! The backing tracks below are longer versions of what I played over in the video, with a piano as well so it’s a little more obvious when the chord changes happen.

Start off with the slower backing here:

Then work your way up to the target speed of 120bpm like the track below:

So now what?

If you have your own blues licks, use them. Even better, move them around the fretboard to accommodate for each chord. As in, when the rhythm is playing an E, play the lick in E, when they move to A, move the lick to A as well. This is called chord-tone soloing and is the secret weapon of many blues greats, (it’s a pretty big deal in jazz too).

If you want to learn some blues new blues licks the implement, you can go here:
L Taylor Guitar’s Blues-Rock Licks #1

Advanced Rock Rhythms 1: Inverting Powerchords

    In this lesson we’ll be applying the principles of chord inversion to a rock situation. As you should know already, it’s unlikely that you’ll be playing open chords or anything much bigger than powerchords when using a heavily distorted guitar sound. This doesn’t mean that we have to forget about notes other than Roots and 5ths, it just means that we have to be a little more creative in their application.

    If you’re not familiar with the concept of a powerchord you’ll want to do something about that pretty quickly… Be warned, if you can’t remember what a powerchord is, you probably shouldn’t be here just yet.

Now, we know that powerchords are prevalent in pop, rock, blues and metal, but what happens when you flip those chords around? We’ll look at this idea in 2 different ways. First off, let’s take our basic power chord rhythm.

Now were going to take the root note and stick it above the 5th. Because you’ll now be using your first and second fingers to play these notes, you should find it easier to apply a little vibrato to them as well. Remember, the notes you are using haven’t changed it’s just their order.


These kind of inverted powerchord double-stop things can be pretty nifty in-between the regular powerchords to add a little variation, or they could be played by a lead guitar to add a bit more depth and character to what the rhythm guitar is doing. Try playing some of your own riffs using these double-stops instead of powerchords.

The last thing I’m going to leave you with in this lesson is a personal favourite of mine. It can have a pretty massive effect on the sound of a chord, but the theory behind it is nothing revolutionary, (and doesn’t get much more complex than what you’ve already learnt today). We’re only able to apply this to powerchords rooted on the A string, (or higher, but you’ll have to work those out for yourselves). We’ll go back to the first bar of today’s exercises but this time we’re adding an additional 5th below the root. The bar after that is what happens if you want to play an additional 8ve of the root note. They would be played like this:

Have fun with those, I’m especially fond of them because they can make anything sound instantly really heavy, (in my opinion much heavier than down-tuning alone will allow).

Example Song #4: Power Chords & Palm Mutes

             This song is a demonstration of two very common techniques within rock, pop and blues music. Power Chords, as you should already know, are used in place of full Open or Barre chords, in genres where guitars are usually distorted. Palm muting allows you to control the tone and volume of your guitar. If you’re a bit shaky on either concept, you may want to go back and refresh your memory.
Palm mutes are usually indicated by dots under the notes, as you can see below every open E string note.

In the first three bars we have an alternating un-muted / muted pattern. We start off playing the E5 twice un-muted, followed by two muted open E notes, (these are all quaver notes by the way, and should all be played evenly). We then play two un-muted D5’s, followed by the open E string twice again.
We continue to alternate like this until the end of the third bar where we leave off the final pair of open E mutes.
In the fourth bar we hit a pair of C5’s followed by a pair of D5’s. These powerchords are of the larger variety, which include the octave and give it a bigger sound.
Remember the repeat markings at the end. In the video we repeat this once before ending on the E5.


         Aim to build up to around 110bpm. In the video I start at 100bpm, but there’s no shame in starting at 90 or 80 instead if you need to.