Alternate Tunings (Guitar Lesson)


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Preston Reed

Alternate Tunings

Preston's Style heavily revolves around alternate tunings. In this lesson, he discusses the advantages open tunings offer.

Taught by Preston Reed in Integrated Percussive Technique with Preston Reed seriesLength: 5:45Difficulty: 3.5 of 5


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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on September 16th, 2015

Wow on the intro, I don't know what to think.

Integrated Percussive Technique with Preston Reed

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Preston Reed is a world renowned acoustic guitar player. He single handedly created his own style of guitar which he dubs the "Integrated Percussive Technique." In this series of lessons he will explain his method of playing and get you started on your path to guitar mastery.



Lesson 1

Introduction to the Series

Preston demonstrates two of his popular tunes and talks about what he has in store for you.

Length: 2:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Meet Your Acoustic Guitar

Preston demonstrates the dazzling array of techniques that can be played on acoustic guitar. After watching this, you might look at your guitar in a different light. He also addresses some of the common...

Length: 8:46 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Alternate Tunings

Preston's Style heavily revolves around alternate tunings. In this lesson, he discusses the advantages open tunings offer.

Length: 5:45 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Percussion and an Exercise

Preston talks about percussion, why he prefers not to call this style "tapping," and introduces the first basic exercise.

Length: 5:59 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Over the Neck

Preston explains how he is able to play his over-the-neck style without hurting his hands and uses a hammer-on to illustrate the point. This lesson is quick, easy and crucial to playing his style.

Length: 3:43 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Left Hand Techniques

Preston talks about how the left hand is used in his "Integrated Percussive Technique". This includes left hand hammer-ons, pull-offs, overtones, and how to dampen strings.

Length: 8:36 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Right Hand Techniques

Preston discusses how he uses his right hand to generate percussive sounds. This lesson covers hammer-ons, double hammer-ons, and "barre hammers". He also talks about combining left and right hand techniques.

Length: 6:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Left Hand Barre Techniques

Preston demonstrates a cornucopia of left hand techniques that use a barre. This includes "barre hammers," "barre pulls," "barre hammer slides," and the "barre hammer slide pulls".

Length: 7:35 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Slap Harmonics, Chunks and Wunks

This lesson's name might strike you as a bit esoteric, or even downright silly; nothing is silly about the sound these techniques make, however. Head on into the lesson and find out what they are, and...

Length: 6:37 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

The Acoustic Guitar as a Drum Kit

In this lesson, Preston Reed demonstrates how to transform your acoustic guitar into a drum kit. The versatility of the guitar is magical!

Length: 7:05 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Dampening Techniques

Knowing when not to make sound is an important part of music that is often overlooked. In this lesson, Preston talks about the techniques he uses for dampening.

Length: 5:16 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Using Both Hands

Preston demonstrates how to combine both of the hands for greater speed, variety, and musicality.

Length: 8:32 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Here Comes the Groove

Preston talks about one of the most essential aspects of any musical piece, the groove. He uses one of his songs as an example.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Thumb Picking

Though Preston's technique generally features intense rhythms with soaring melodies, he is certainly not above standard thumb/finger picking. He talks about how he makes use of the technique and graces...

Length: 6:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Playing Chords

Preston demonstrates how to play chords using his "Integrated Percussive Technique" with his favorite tunings.

Length: 6:13 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Blending Techniques

Preston talks about how he combines his techniques to create thrilling arrangements.

Length: 5:46 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Preston's Thoughts on Music

Preston takes some time to share his thoughts on music, creativity and his style of playing. This lesson is in a lecture format.

Length: 9:32 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only

About Preston Reed View Full Biography

Preston Reed has virtually reinvented how the acoustic guitar is played. Reed practices a flamboyant self-invented style, characterized by percussive techniques and simultaneous rhythm and melody lines that dance and ricochet around each other, giving his music a level of excitement that is unparalleled among today's guitarists.



Playing an array of guitars from acoustic to electric to classical Reed's vast range of explosively original music will forever change your expectation of a guitarist.

First-time listeners find it impossible to believe that they're hearing just the one musician, in real time. Reed attacks the entire instrument in a never-ending search for the orchestra he knows is lurking inside. At full tilt, his fingers, thumbs, fists and hands at once suggest a drummer, keyboardist, bassist and several guitarists at work.

The most impressive thing about Reed's technique, though, is that it doesn't draw attention to itself. His compositions are far from abstract virtuosic displays; even without lyrics he creates vivid, engrossing scenes. Sometimes the effect is almost onomatopoetic. Reed generates visual stimuli with every tweak of his instrument, thus augmenting his wordless compositions with an aura of the poetic. Each tune is a story in itself with a potent, cinematic atmosphere and an almost tangible thread of communication between Preston Reed and the listener.

Reed's entry into this guitar odyssey was inauspicious enough, his path thereafter largely self-discovered. A few chords learned from his guitar playing father, a brief, very brief, flirtation with the ukulele, clandestine practice sessions of his favourite Beatles and Stones songs on dad's guitar .... and then a too-strict classical guitar teacher led to premature retirement.

At 16, however, Reed heard Jefferson Airplane's rootsy blues offshoot, Hot Tuna. His interest was rekindled big time. Acoustic guitar heroes John Fahey and Leo Kottke were studied, their styles absorbed but not imitated, and at this point things really begin to get interesting because, at 17, Reed, by now precociously proficient, played his first live gig, supporting beat poet Allen Ginsberg at the Smithsonian Institute.

Just getting on a train from his native Armonk in New York State to Washington was a cool adventure. And it was just the first of many, not least of which was the one which resulted from his signing his first deal with a major record company, MCA, through the auspices of his friend, country singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett.

Determined to make the most of this opportunity, Reed pushed himself to go beyond the standard fingerpicking styles he'd perfected. The result was the beginnings of Reeds startlingly innovative style, with its percussive, two-handed fretboard attack, that you hear today and which has caused guitar luminaries such as Al DiMeola and the late Michael Hedges to describe Reed as "phenomenal" and "inspiring". His playing has spawned a generation of imitators, yet Reed remains one of a kind.

Reed's compositional talents extend to film soundtracks and prestigious commissions for the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, and as well as appearances alongside Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt his major performances include an historic live satellite broadcast on Turkish National Television in 1997 with renowned saz player and composer Arif Sag which reached an audience of 120 million in 17 countries, prompting a flood of international telephone calls to the station from stunned viewers.

Since 1979, he has recorded thirteen albums and three videos and charmed audiences on three continents. He continues to tour with the same hunger and relish that informs his guitar playing. The secret, he says, is to relax and let the guitar patterns run by themselves. Which explains how, at full tilt, he may sound like a full-on heavy metal band but he still won't have broken sweat.

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