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The Pulse (Guitar Lesson)

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Dan Sugarman

The Pulse

Finding the "Goldilocks" zone is key to getting your hands in the best position possible to shred, by finding the right amount of pressure to apply to the strings. Dan helps us find the touch that's "just right"! Also, Dan will discuss the tuning his is using in this entire series.

Taught by Dan Sugarman in Sugarman's Shredding Revolution seriesLength: 12:21Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

"The Pulse"

"The Pulse" and finding the "Goldilocks Zone" is all about discovering the best and exact amount of pressure needed to make a note sound as good as it possibly can.

In the last lesson we mastered the zero point position, and we practiced the sensitivity and control necessary to transition back and forth from zero point to rest position. Remember, zero point is the point at which you are hovering above the strings (no more then about a half inch or so), and rest position is the point at which your finger is touching the string but not pressing the string (much like a natural harmonic). This lesson, we will be focusing on the transition between rest position to playing position. This will complete the three states of guitar matter and help you fine tune your landing, the note itself, and your takeoff from that note - essential to perfecting the first variable in our 2 hand sync equation.

Starting with a natural harmonic on fret 7 with finger one, gradually increase into an extreme fretted note and then slowly relax back off (with all the goodness in between). What you've just done is found the whole entire spectrum of options you have when you fret a note. Notice that the more snug up against the fret-wire you are, the more full the note sounds, AND you can use less pressure… inversely, the backend of the fret tends to sound dull and buzzy. So as a rule of thumb, play up against the fret-wire!

Now I want you to find just the right amount of finger pressure to get the fretted note to sound the best. Experiment with how little pressure that note actually needs to sound good. I want you to slowly engage your finger into pressing the note just right. Slowly go from your "rest position" (harmonic) to your "playing position" (fretted note). After you've experienced it with your first finger, try it with each finger. Go from rest position to the perfect playing position slowly… I want you to move with your breathing, the natural tempo of your breath. Be sure that you’re using your finger-tips when you’re playing for the best tone, and play up against that fret-wire!

Now we’re honing in on the exact amount of pressure needed to get the best sounding note without using too much OR too little. Did you notice how as you were taking off from the string back to your rest position, that the string was doing the “lifting” for you? Consider that as we move forward… Your sensitivity kept you in contact with the string at all times, while your relaxation allowed the string to lift for you. This makes playing a note and releasing it as simple as an on/off switch.

Now, pulse back and forth releasing to a harmonic note from a played note with each finger without focusing on the full spectrum of motion. I want you to now get comfortable with transitioning back and forth from your "rest position" to your perfectly fretted "playing position" at tempo.

Make sure you’re arching your fingers to help aid in your finger tips coming up right behind the frets. In terms of architecture, the Roman Arch is one of the longest standing and most steady designs we know. It’s because the two sides evenly collapsing in on each other form a self supported and evenly distributed structure. That’s what we’re doing here with our hands. We’re arching our fingers, using our finger tips for precision, and accurately placing them right behind the fret-wire for the best tone, all with the least amount of pressure needed to make it happen.

Did you happen to notice any sensations in the back of your hand while you were doing the pulse with this extreme lightness included? If so, that’s because that’s where proper guitar playing should be coming from rather than the fingers. That’s where the weight and strength comes from that we need as players… because sadly… These are not finger biceps.

This is what your finger will feel like before, during, and after your finger plays a note. This is its entrance, existence, and escape. The properly executed rest position is effectively acting like a mute, so you can do more staccato notes or control note length with ease. After you've found the light touch with finger one, do the same process for each finger.

And if you’re curious, I call this “Finger IQ” instead of finger strength is because to me, the more you commit to a “less is more” approach (in terms of effort put into a note), the better the outcome will be, so long as you’re following The Master Keys listed below. How could that be true if “strength” is our goal? Remember - we’re talking about brain vs. braun here. We want to develop the accuracy and hone in on the exact amounts of energy needed to optimize a note and it’s tone. Because believe it or not… pressing a note harder doesn’t make it sound better and picking it harder doesn't necessarily make it louder either!

Master Keys - The Fretting Hand:

  • Fingers up to Fret-wire!
  • Arch your Fingers
  • Use your Fingertips
  • Be Mindful and always use a high level of focused awareness
  • Guitar Playing comes from the back of the hands, not the fingers
  • 3 States of Guitar Matter: Finger 1 is relaxed in rest position when finger two is down, while fingers 3 and 4 are in zero point… then one and two are relaxed when 3 is down, while 4 is in zero point… the cycle of the 3 states of guitar matter in action!
  • Make sure you are relaxing your finger after it’s played so that the TENSION OF THE STRING does all the lifting of your finger.


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MaccoroniMaccoroni replied

It get's better !

Sugarman's Shredding Revolution

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Sugarman's Shredding Revolution is all about discovering and creating ways to develop a new and unique level of understanding of two-hand synchronization, which is one of the core foundations of clean playing.



Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

Dan Sugarman gives us an introduction and preview to his series - Sugarman's Shredding Revolution.

Length: 5:13 Difficulty: 0.0 FREE
The Speed of LightLesson 2

The Speed of Light

Dan begins his series by revolutionizing the way we approach our instrument. In this lesson, Dan shares a concept he calls The Speed of "Light".

Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The PulseLesson 3

The Pulse

Finding the "Goldilocks" zone is key to getting your hands in the best position possible to shred, by finding the right amount of pressure to apply to the strings. Dan helps us find the touch that's "just...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Speed of Light Application ExerciseLesson 4

Speed of Light Application Exercise

In this lesson, we put into practice what we've talked about so far in this series. This exercise is designed to help you find your Goldilocks Zone, and practice it enough to put it on auto pilot!

Length: 7:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Perfect Practice PostureLesson 5

Perfect Practice Posture

Contrary to what some say, good posture feeds into good technique, which feeds into great guitar playing. In this lesson Dan gives us examples of good posture for two different ways of holding the guitar.

Length: 5:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
50/50 Finger FrenzyLesson 6

50/50 Finger Frenzy

Distributing the right amount of pressure throughout your hand is a key foundation to achieving two hand sync. In this lesson, Dan analyzes this concept and helps to get us on the right track.

Length: 12:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chromatic Finger CrawlLesson 7

Chromatic Finger Crawl

This lesson is designed to work on the hand to brain connection during the string change, and to help you "fall" into position as opposed to "flail" into position.

Length: 2:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Finger IQ: Hammer-OnsLesson 8

Finger IQ: Hammer-Ons

Now it's time to sprinkle some legato playing into the proceedings. Starting with hammer ons, Dan shows us how to use "weight" not "strength" to achieve this technique.

Length: 6:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger IQ: Pull OffsLesson 9

Finger IQ: Pull Offs

Now Dan shows us the next element of legato playing: Pull Offs.

Length: 3:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
True Legato: Three Notes Per StringLesson 10

True Legato: Three Notes Per String

Using hammer-ons and pull-offs that we learned in the previous lessons, Dan now gives us an introduction to true legato - using three note per string patterns.

Length: 5:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home PositionLesson 11

Home Position

Now that we've spent a good deal of time on the fretting hand, it's time to turn our attention to the picking hand. Dan starts with examining how to get the best tone from our instrument, using what he...

Length: 11:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home Position ApplicationLesson 12

Home Position Application

In this lesson, Dan helps us apply some exercises to the home application that will help it become second nature in no time!

Length: 8:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm and KonokolLesson 13

Rhythm and Konokol

A solid rhythmic foundation is a must when addressing the basics of good technique. In this lesson, Dan shows a very fresh and cool way to approach rhythm, with the ancient Indian method: Konokol.

Length: 7:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Time and Rhythm TableLesson 14

Time and Rhythm Table

Now, Dan moves the Konokol rhythm system that we looked at in the last lesson to the guitar, exploring different rhythm configurations along the way.

Length: 3:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Polymeter and PolyrhythmLesson 15

Polymeter and Polyrhythm

When it comes to complex rhythm, understanding the difference between polyrhythm and polymeter are very important. In this lesson, Dan gives us a crash course on how to tell the difference.

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 1Lesson 16

Sync or Swim Part 1

Now it's time to put our hands together (so to speak). We're bringing what we've worked on for the left hand, and what we've worked on for the right hand together to get a firm grasp of our two hand sync....

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 2Lesson 17

Sync or Swim Part 2

In this lesson, Dan continues to emphasize two hand sync, adding the new ideas of inside picking and outside picking.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 3Lesson 18

Sync or Swim Part 3

Now Dan introduces some 2 string patterns into our two hand sync exercises. In each lesson, he's ratcheting up the difficulty level!

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 4Lesson 19

Sync or Swim Part 4

In this lesson, Dan explores more two string patterns, this time emphasizing odd two string patterns. Finger twisters and brain teasers for sure!

Length: 8:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 5Lesson 20

Sync or Swim Part 5

Endurance is the name of the game in this lesson. Dan shows us one of his favorite techniques he calls "Phalange Laps".

Length: 4:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 21

Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Subtle hand positioning can go a long way in determining the proper position for lead playing or rhythm playing. Here, Dan analyzes this concept in great detail, getting you on the right path and putting...

Length: 4:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Picking Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 22

Picking Hand Muting Techniques

Now we get to muting techniques. Starting off, Dan gives us all the details on muting techniques for the picking hand. These are a must if you want to truly reign in that beast of an instrument!

Length: 12:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Fretting Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 23

Fretting Hand Muting Techniques

Switching our muting attention to the fretting hand, Dan gives us the essential techniques we need to get the cleanest result.

Length: 14:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Learning to Fish for OurselvesLesson 24

Learning to Fish for Ourselves

In this lesson, Dan teaches a great way to analyze our own playing, focusing in on our mistakes and how to correct them. It starts with quarantining our playing.

Length: 9:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
NuancesLesson 25

Nuances

What gives you your unique voice on the guitar? Well, there are a number of things that go into that equation. In this lesson, Dan takes a look at some of the key techniques that will go a long way in...

Length: 18:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 26

Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Now Dan will help us focus on growing our weaknesses. First up is Rhythm vs. Lead Playing.

Length: 5:28 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 2 - LegatoLesson 27

Substrate 2 - Legato

Up next in working on strengths and weaknesses? Legato.

Length: 3:49 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 3 - Alternate PickingLesson 28

Substrate 3 - Alternate Picking

Up next in the world of substrates - Alternate Picking.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 4 - Directional PickingLesson 29

Substrate 4 - Directional Picking

The last substrate Dan takes us through is Directional Picking.

Length: 7:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Creative Application of All TechniquesLesson 30

Creative Application of All Techniques

In the last lesson of the series, Dan gives us a musical, full band exercise that ties in all of the techniques that we've learned throughout the series.

Length: 6:25 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
JamPlay Interview with Dan SugarmanLesson 31

JamPlay Interview with Dan Sugarman

Who is Dan Sugarman? Get to know a little about Dan - his background, his music, and what drives him to excel at guitar in this JamPlay interview.

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Dan Sugarman

About Dan Sugarman View Full Biography

Dan Sugarman is a 26 year old guitarist, producer, teacher and songwriter hailing from the South Bay of Los Angeles, CA. His tenacity and dedication to the art of music and guitar led him to the lead guitar position in the internationally touring band, As Blood Runs Black. Now as a solo artist, Dan continues to work on his original music being released through Patreon, and is currently producing and engineering other bands & artists at Sugartone Studios, and composing for film & television. He also maintains an ever-growing student body as a private guitar teacher, mentor, and educator in the crafts of songwriting, creativity, and modern day recording techniques.



Dan is currently working on his "living album", Inside Out - Part I, available on patreon.com and completing an album for his new group A Mind Made Me, featuring singer//actor Sarah J Bartholomew.

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