One of the best things about The Paul Franklin Method is the students-only Facebook Group that gives active students the ability to have access to Paul on near-daily basis to ask questions, post videos for critique and hang out with their fellow players.
One of our students (Mathew Peluso) posted his first video (playing along to the practice track) after working on a Ballad Intro lesson and it’s variations.
Paul Franklin: That is a perfect interpretation of what I played. The touch, tone, volume pedal, vibrato, bar intonation, blocking, and timing sound like a master player. Apply the same tools and focus to all the songs, licks, fills, etc. you already know and you are well on your way. I hope you will start creating your own vocabulary (as I’ve suggested to many here).
If I were you that is what I would do: Create two or three riffs a week, preferably small ones because they are easier to link together than long phrases. Also listen to music non-stop. That helps fill the mind with melodic and rhythmic ideas.
Mathew Peluso: Thank you, Paul !!! That’s so great to hear! I try to put aside some time every practice session to work on potential fills/licks ever since I watched the Creative Speed Picking video. That one really opened my eyes. Everything you say about short vs long phrases is huge.
I can hear it in your playing and I now analyze music in general that way. I should also mention that I recently revisited the bar technique section. I was using a 15/16” bar for awhile and I switched to a 7/8” about a week or so ago, as you recommend. It made a huge improvement in controlling the subtleties of vibrato for me. And it’s really helping with upper register intonation.
Paul Franklin: Yes, I tend to not point out the vibrato fact for preferring a 7/8. With the 15/16th bar, using a lot of vibrato or a wider vibrato crosses the intonation line with critical ears. The last time I saw John Hughey record it was with his 7/8th. There was no 15/16th on the guitar.
I knew the 15/16th takes up too much landscape when prettier vibrato needs to happen. Producers, musicians, and engineers, always point out intonation problems within any instrument in the band. It’s easier for everyone (including John who also endorsed the 15/16th bars) to play in tune using the 7/8th bar. Those who only use the 15/16th should also own a 7/8th bar for gigs where tuning is dissected.
Mathew, How long have you been playing?
Mathew Peluso: I’ve been at it for two and a half years. Everything changed when I signed up here in June though.
Paul Franklin: Do you have a video of yourself before the course? I would like to hear that, because it seems like you have really taken my words to heart. When I closed my eyes, everything about the nuanced issues was a smooth as I was. Hearing you was as if I was listening to Hal Rugg, Weldon, Drake, Lloyd, or any other player at that level, play those same exact intros I tabbed out.
You showed all of the nuanced expertise they would have shown. My hopes for this course was to watch players get the importance of the small stuff and to realize that the beginner nuance stuff never gets finished in the study room….Bravo!
Mathew Peluso: Well, you just made my day. That is such a wonderful thing to hear! It’s odd spending so much time working on the fundamental elements and not really knowing how to gauge progress.
I just watched the only video I have on my phone from before the course. It was about a month before I signed up, and now that I’ve watched it again, I can see the jump. I’ll attach it below. I’m just playing over a John Prine tune in it. Stepping all over the vocal, but it was more of an exercise in seeing how some phrases would land, I suppose.
Paul Franklin: Well I have to say this…I can hear so much raw potential. I can see where you have corrected a lot of issues in a very short amount of time. The intonation here was out due to having a slight “wave” when the bar is moving from fret to fret. This causes a less precise tone which I suppose was the cause of the touch not sounding as solid. Tuning issues always hinder the string’s tone, which should sound pure. Here the strings have a warble to them. The volume pedal work was less in sync with the picking, and now it’s timed perfectly to your picking. Here’s the thing to remember: The approach you were at is where many multi-instrumentalists stop with steel technique. Your progress since is amazing. This is like a night and day difference in technical and emotional musicianship.
In the studio producers would call this video an example of hippie steel, and for some songs this can be the desired approach to style for certain artists like Dylan, Grateful Dead, etc. So when a producer asks you to “dumb it down” or to mimic early rock steel parts, the players from those types of recordings let “the wave” creep in. That will be easy for you to loosen up (as I do from time to time) on old-sounding requests. The producer or artist will think you are mad man professor type….!
From now on you can run the spectrum of stylistic tone with great technique, whereas had you stopped here at this early level with many bad habits you might have assumed, like most do at that level. Many believe that mastered tone at the level of a Lloyd, Bruce, or Tommy, was some “gift from above” and that it takes years, if not decades, to sound like any of the legends’ tone. Your video of the intros just proved that assumption to be false. The truth for everyone is this: it doesn’t take more than 6 months to a year of dedicated and focused practice to correct bad playing habits and to gain muscle memory and retain it when you play.
Mathew, Today you sound like a seasoned player. I want everyone to turn their tonal and technical path around. It’s like a guitarist knowing how to finger pick and then knowing how to use a plectrum. Knowing both makes everything possible.
Mathew Peluso: I’ve been wanting to reply to this all day but it’s been a busy one. Thank you so much for taking the time to analyze these videos and give such detailed feedback. You’re bringing a lot of things to light that I hadn’t noticed. The part where you talk about a multi-instrumentalist’s technique stopping short is really interesting. The other instruments I play are all fretted and the techniques meld together at a certain point. I realized when I started playing steel it would demand a lot more time and patience.
When I signed up with PFM, I realized it was all or nothing. I don’t play my other instruments nearly as often anymore but I’ve been playing them much longer so the muscle memory is easier to keep in the tank, I guess.I honestly wasn’t fully aware of the progress I’d made over these last few months. I can tell you for sure that I wouldn’t have arrived at this point without your guidance. It’s all happening in such tiny increments but I’m so much more conscious of it after hearing this feedback. Now it’s time to expand my vocabulary like you suggested in your initial comment. I’m already wearing out all my licks.
Thanks so much, Paul!!!