Rick Beato’s Rick Graham & Andy James Interview Summary

This post contains my summary notes from Rick Beato’s interview with guitarists Rick Graham and Andy James.

In this conversation Rick Beato, Rick Graham and Andy James discuss the influence of Nuno Bettencourt, guitar teachers, practicing tips and focusing on your strengths as a guitar player.

Summary Notes

Avoiding Sweep Picking (3:30)

Andy doesn’t do much sweep picking, found more appeal in Paul Gilbert style string skipping arpeggios.

Andy: “My playing is basically a series of workarounds…” – which is a great insight. Fine tune your playing to your strengths and interests. If sweep picking isn’t your thing, don’t feel you must pursue learning that technique. Al Di Meola in his interview with Rick Beato discussed how he doesn’t sweep.

Rick G: “I’ve tried different things to see if it works for me and then picked out the ones that do…”

Nuno Bettencourt & the percussive sound (7:00)

A technique that utilizes fast runs with palm muting technique.

Both are fans of this percussive guitar technique perfected by Nuno Bettencourt. Can be heard in the guitar solo on Extreme’s “Peacemaker Die” song.

Rick G: “He doesn’t get his dues, he’s such a great player, great songwriter, great singer, all around musician…”

Rick G: “Check out his thumb technique, sometimes he’ll play these fast lines and his thumb is right at the bottom of the neck…”

Rick G: “You can do whatever the hell you like with technique…”

Insight being you don’t have to follow technique prescriptions, you can make your own rules.

Guitar teachers (11:45)

Must strike that delicate balance: for beginner and intermediate players help them develop proper technique so that they don’t develop problems later. But also keep a sense of freedom for the student to experiment and try unconventional ideas.

When you haven’t practiced in a while (17:15)

Rick G: After not playing for a week, vibrato and bending are not as precise due to lack of playing. Picking technique also tends to go.

Pay attention to your control, are you tensing up when playing difficult parts? Look for ways to relax and not tense up. It takes a lot of work to get to that level of control in the tension.

Rick G: “If you can remind yourself mentally, hold on, why isn’t this working, oh it’s because I’m tensing up, let the body follow after the mental process…”

When practicing, make the connection between the mental and physical. If working on a tricky technical part on the guitar, focusing only on the physical can lead to wasted hours where you make marginal progress on learning the part. Thus make the connection to the mind by asking questions, analyzing. Understand what elements of this technique are not working for you. Identify areas to focus on. You’ll find that you’ll make much better progress on the technique versus if you tried to force your way to learning through brute force.

Be real as a player (23:20)

Remember that Instagram is a reflection of someone’s best clips, their best takes.

Find a balance of putting up authentic clips that contain your best work, but also when you make mistakes. Help people realize that you’re human, you make mistakes. 

Most influential guitar solos (31:50)

Rick G: Nuno Bettencourt’s solo on “He-Man Woman Hater”. Various solos on Joe Satriani’s album “The Extremist”.

Andy: “Nightrain” by Guns N` Roses. “Give in to me” solo by Slash on the Michael Jackson track. “Cry for You” by Andy Timmons.

Alternate-picking tip (41:15)

Andy: Alternate picking tip. If the pattern is odd-numbers, start with a down pick. If the pattern is even-numbers, start with an up pick.

Focus on your strengths and the song (42:00)

In your playing don’t feel the pressure that you must incorporate certain techniques into your playing. Focus on the song, the performance. Focus on your strengths. Don’t feel that you must have sweep-picking (or any other technique) in your song.

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