Strength and Accuracy for the Guitarist


Your Weekly Dexterity and Stamina Exercise

Updated November 25, 2004


There's Something Here for Everyone!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx


As a native New Yorker and an American, I am still angered by the cowardly attacks of 9/11. Unless we restore New York City's skyline to its condition prior to September 11th, 2001, the miserable scum who attacked us will have won! Visit and rebuild America!


Okay. Here's one for the Rockers!

Not really an exercise, it's a reminder....

This is not an exercise but a reminder. So often when we are sitting down to craft an 'ad lib' solo -- and how many of us really just try to cut loose with something different on a tune we play night after night after night? -- we go up into the oft mentioned tweedly deedly range up in the fifteenth fret area and totally neglect the neck south of the tenth fret. I believe it was Duane Eddy who said that "there is no money to be made above the fifth fret." Well, that may not exactly be true or all the shred guitarists you know might have starved to death prior to a major label signing, but there is still some truth to be gleaned. There is no need to avoid that area of the neck covered in Mel Bay's Modern Guitar Method Volume One Harry Pellegrin performs weddings and gallery openings in the Capital Area!!

I am here to promote an even more overlooked area of the fingerboard--open position and those open strings themselves! I know, I know. You're saying "But not every tune is in E, A, or D!" and when we think about using open strings, yes, it is most often to use them as bass notes for reinforcing an E, A, or D chord. Most of us rarely get more creative with those open notes than that.

Everyone knows that E, A, D, g, b, and e are more than just open strings -- they can be the root, third or fifth of a chord. They can also be brief waypoints in a chromatic run. And here I'm really going out on a limb: they can also be dissonances. Yup, call me a little risk-taking iconoclast.

Remember the '80's Big Hair favorite 'Talk Dirty to Me'? Poison. Not the song, that's the band. The guitar solo is a rock n' roll derivative, a tribute to the type of solo you'd expect to hear in a song with this type of I -vi - VI - V chord progression. C.C. DeVille, the guitarist who copped this solo, cuts from the little thirds-type riffing and plays a little melodic passage that is quite a nice little bit of ear candy to complete his moment in the sun. The tune is in G major, yet all these open strings are used: e, b, g, D, and A. [Yes, the guitars are tuned to E flat rather than E.] Some are chord tones, some are passing tones. (And if you are playing slide in standard tuning -- which happens often to me -- it's nice to know that the G major chord is present in the open position!)

It doesn't get any simpler than this. Note the open strings (last note of each triplet figure.) This is all legato (or slurred) plucking the first note of each triplet and just pulling off the other notes. When you hear C.C. play this, it sounds more complex than it appears when you see it written out. It would be a lot harder to play if those open strings weren't there.



Here is one of my favorite hi-speed filler licks that takes advantage of the open strings. It can be used in A major or in any progression where an a major tonality is established for enough beats to fit the lick.

Yeah, C.C.'s lick is far more complex and tasty than mine. My little lick is effective when played at blinding speed. Accomplish this by actually plucking the first and last note only. That's the absolutely first note and absolutely the last note. Use hammer-on's and pull-off's to sound every other pitch. This can be used as a technique improving exercise, strengthening the fingers so that hammer-on's and pull-off's are uniform in volume and speed.

Work out your own lightning licks using some open strings. They add flash and panache to your solos -- big bang for little buck in front of a crowd!

Enjoy these exercises and come back next week for more!.

  LOW END  By Harry George Pellegrin.  The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries.  Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's...  LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy.  Is it only drug-induced paranoia?  Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all.  Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs.
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Classic Guitar Method  Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
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DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz  By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man.  Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with
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Reflecting Pools    Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or

In That Zone, is now out! Please visit for details and to order.

See the info page on this site...

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