Manic GuitarListen Back to Yourself and Improvise over Backings | Manic Guitar

Listen Back to Yourself and Improvise over Backings

Something I think is very important as you learn guitar is to regularly record you playing and listen back yourself. Additionally, while learning to improvise it is of great benefit to practice this improvisation over a backing track, in order to learn how your improv sounds in the context of the underlying chords.

A great pedal I use to do this is the Boss RC-20XL Loop Station. It is a dual pedal where essentially when you hit the pedal, it starts recording what your playing. When you hit the pedal again, it stops recording and starts looping what you have just played. With a bit of practice you can time this so that it sounds like a backing track you have just layed down is being repeated seamlessly. It has 15 minutes of recording time and when you hit the pedal again, it starts recoding another layer on top of what has already been recorded. You can keep doing this for as many layers as you like.

While this pedal is not new, I think many people do not realize just how valuable this can be to improve your playing. It is very useful as you learn, to regularly record yourself and listen back to what you are playing. You will hear different things in your playing (good and bad) to when you are listening as you play. If you keep the loop station plugged into your rig, it is very simple to just hit record at any stage to be able to listen back. It is the simplicity of the foot control that is so useful here. If you have a more sophisticated recording system that is not foot controlled, it necessarily interrupts your practice to record, and this will mean that more often than not, you will not bother going through this process.

In learning to improvise, it is of great benefit to practice your improvisation over a backing track, improvisation sounds different in the context of a chord progression than simply practicing it yourself.. Once again, the simplicity of being foot controlled means it does not interrupt your practice to simply lay down a chord progression that you may want to try some improv over. Then once you’ve been practicing your improv for a while, hit the pedal again and record an improv. Listen back and you will gain a much better understanding of where you are at by hearing an improv from the outside.

The pedal can also store up to 11 recordings. When your getting into making up chord progressions, this can become quite quick and natural. It is useful to be able to do a quick recording of a new rhythm part and store it so you can move on to repeating this process, rather than having to repeat the progression several times so you will remember it. You may create and store several rhythm parts in one practice session so next time you go to it you can listen back, see what you liked and then develop them further.

As far as guitar equipment is concerned, you need your guitar and an amp, many people like a bit of crunch and I like some nice reverb in the system. Beyond that, I believe a pedal like the loop station is the most important piece of equipment you can own. So go try one out and you will see what I am talking about.

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