The Pedal Note Exercise
Here, you will be introduced to a guitar exercise that will not only help you build speed and accuracy, but will transform the way you write songs, create melodies and improvise over any chord progression. Not only does it enhance your fretting hand’s agility, but it also sharpens your picking hand technique and adds depth to your playing in any genre or style.
This blog post aims to summarise our video ‘The Best Guitar Exercise You’ll Ever Learn’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples
As this exercise is based on the idea of a pedal note, let’s first understand what a pedal note is. A pedal note is a single note that we consistently return to while playing other notes in a scale. So, for example in the following is the C Major Scale over two octaves:
C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C
We’ll first choose the pedal notes, which in this case, is the C note in the middle of the scale. We begin by playing the pedal note once and then bouncing to the next note in the scale, continuously returning to the pedal note before moving on.
By forcing us to play the scale in a way that our fingers are not used to, the process helps us break away from predictable fingerings and discover new finger positions and intriguing sounds.
Taking It a Step Further
As we explore the exercise further, we can extend the pedal note below or above its initial position, allowing our fretting hand to experience a range of positions and intervals along the fretboard. By forcing our hands into unusual positions, and even incorporating string skipping, we provide a fantastic technique for developing agility and fluidity in our playing.
This will also help us when we’re looking for interesting or unusual phrasing with our melodies or improvisations.
Click here to download our free PDF on a simple and comprehensive guide to using pedal notes on the guitar
To add complexity to this exercise, we can introduce rhythmic variations to the exercise. Some examples are as follows:
- Pick 3 times on the pedal note before bouncing to the next note in the scale. Repeat this slowly at first till you’re confident, then slowly increase the tempo you practice at.
- Create a triplet feel by picking the pedal note twice, before bouncing to the next note. This creates a triplet sound when played against a 4/4 pulse.
When you get used to those different variations of the exercise, you can start blending them together to create some really cool variations that you can use in your playing.
Exploring Different Pedal Notes
While the exercise typically begins with the root or tonic note of the scale, we can also choose other notes, such as the third or the fifth, as our pedal notes.
This variation opens up new possibilities and encourages the development of unique melodic phrases and improvisations. We can apply the exercise to different scales and modes, thus expanding our musical vocabulary and versatility.
Incorporating the Exercise into Your Playing
Although when you play them alone, the above practices sound more like exercises, there are ways to incorporate them into your playing. We can extract fragments of the exercise and weave them into our melodies or solos.
For example, we could use the first three notes of the scale in the exercise, improvise, and then bring back the exercise in the form of its triplet rhythmic variation, before going back into perhaps a bluesy sort of lick.
By incorporating these fragments strategically, we can add bursts of excitement and creativity to our phrasing, thus breathing life into our playing.
Conclusion: The Pedal Note Exercise
The pedal note exercise is a game-changer for guitarists at any skill level. It helps break free from monotonous patterns, improves finger coordination, and enhances picking hand technique. Regardless of the genre or style you play, this exercise will undoubtedly help you in your guitar playing.
If you would like more details, explanations and examples, then be sure to check out the video now
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