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Tremolo Picking Guitar Lesson

Tremolo Picking Guitar Lesson – our new camera and audio/visual setup!

Nate Richards teaches a tremolo picking guitar lesson to get your picking speed moving. Get your thrash metal on!

And we are excited to show you our new audio visual setup with our brand new camera and film studio at RGS!

Nate is playing a new Jackson SLAT Soloist through a Fender Champion 100 amp.

This picking technique is in the style of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and James Hetfield of Metallica. Give it a try and send us your questions or comments!

Drill of Week #50 – Bach Electric Guitar Excerpt


This post is not a tutorial or lesson. The Bach electric guitar excerpt here is from Invention No. 4 in D minor, and I give you advise in the video about how to approach practicing and performing this piece. You must spend a lot of time diligently practicing the tabs linked above, and focus intently on fingerings and the picking “rules” I lay out for you in the video. If you work this piece the way I recommend, I guarantee that your picking and scale fluidity/control will improve dramatically.

In college at West Chester University, I spent my summers living alone and taking classes since I was a double major with a performance minor and needed to pile on the credits to reach my 190 required (Major in music education, Major in music theory / composition, minor in classical guitar performance). One summer (I believe it was 2002 or 2003), I had no internet and no cable – can you imagine that! I would take a morning class, do my assignments in the late morning / early afternoon, take an afternoon class, and complete assignments by dinner. I would go back to my dingy apartment, make a delectable home-cooked dinner, possibly enjoy a few beverages responsibly, and play the hell out of my guitar into the wee hours of the morning.

One night in early summer, I had an idea to follow up on a Bach piece I once learned on the electric guitar (anything by Bach sounds amazing on electric guitar, in my opinion). I found 2 two-part inventions by Bach in one of my music theory analysis anthologies – numbers 4 and 8. There are 15 two-part inventions, and they are essentially short piano pieces with only two melodies working together (one melody in the right hand and one in the left hand) and Bach makes these incredible pieces with only a two-part format. So, no huge chords, no overly-complex inter-weaving of 4 or more parts (such as a soprano, alto, tenor, bass structure) – just two independent single-line parts in harmony or in dialogue. This works perfectly for electric guitar duo. Naturally, I had to see where this could go.

So I learned both hands separately of number 4. Then number 8. I transcribed everything an octave higher than written, as the guitar is a transposing instrument sounding one octave lower than written. Then I decided to notate them on my music publishing software I was using (and still use) called Sibelius. I wrote out fingerings for every single note, picking when needed, and rhythmically notated each and every ornament/embellishment indicated in the score. For those of you familiar with classical music, you might appreciate the incredibly tedious detail-work of researching and interpreting the abundant variety of Baroque keyboard ornamentation and performance practices, and then notating the exact rhythms and pitches of each and every ornament in all 15 of the inventions. I found a book in the School of Music Library on keyboard ornamentation with old facsimile copies of some manual on how to perform each ornament, made some copies, and used them as reference when I came across an ornament I was not familiar with. Yup – I am REALLY persistent.

I had two pieces completed, so I walked to Taylor’s Music Store on the main drag in West Chester, bought a cheap Schirmer copy of the complete 15 Two-Part Inventions, and decided that I would keep going down this rabbit hole. I started from page 1, learned each hand as a separate guitar part, and marked up my score pretty good with notes and fingerings, etc. I got into a groove of learning, practicing, and notating – rinse and repeat. I work best and produce the most content between the hours of 8:00pm and 1:00am – I’m a night owl for sure, and always have been. I would usually stop playing at around 10:00pm, and do the grunt computer work of notating from 10:00 until about 12:00-1:00am, depending on how much I had transcribed that day.

I wouldn’t make a final written draft until I could play the piece in tempo, since many times fingerings will change based on how fast or slow a passage is performed. So, I couldn’t actually write anything down until I could play it perfectly. I kid you not, in those 3 months my technique EXPLODED into a whole new dimension.  I had complete control over my scales, arpeggios, notes on the fretboard, key signatures, intervals, triads, altering fingerings in real-time, picking fluently across strings with no hesitation or excess noise, stamina, synchronization, and so on.

After 3 months, I had completed well over 100 pages (I think about 125 due to the 4-line staff of guitar notation and tab for 2 guitars, and another 20 pages when, after completed the 15 inventions, I completed Solfeggietto by C.P.E. Bach and Caprice No. 5 by Paganini – coming soon to the blog), with a fingering for every single note, notated ornaments for every ornament in the score, picking, and alternate passages when necessary (ossia measures).

THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU TURN OFF YOUR PHONE, COMPUTER, TV, AND VIDEO GAMES. This was definitely one of the most productive summers of my life, although each summer at WCU was very productive with practicing and preparing for the next semester of performances. Now I can say that I understand how the classical masters accomplished so much in their lives – they didn’t have as many distractions and they were able to focus like a laser on their craft.

That’s the story. One of my prouder moments as a guitar-content-creator.

– Nate Richards

Owner, Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy, Aston PA

How to Play Shut Up and Dance on Guitar


Nate Richards shows you how to play Shut Up and Dance on Guitar – FOR REAL! Linked above is a 5-page guitar tab and a YouTube video lesson tutorial on how to play everything in the song, including chords, power chords, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, intro, verse, chorus, bridge, guitar solo, picking and strumming – everything!

Pop guitar songs are often taught in a watered-down, “easy version but not the real song” way on YouTube video lessons and tutorials for acoustic guitar or electric guitar. My goal with my guitar students is to teach them the actual song, to encourage them to put in the extra effort to learn the real thing, and be proud at the end that they have accomplished the task. Why? Not only is it a waste of time to purposefully learn a song wrong just because it is easier (which then also is a problem when you try to play with other students or musicians and no one knows the song the right way and that prevents them from making music together), but the student misses the opportunity to get a real guitar lesson from the artists themselves! That’s right – when you learn a song “to-the-T”, you’re getting an insight into how that person plays and composes on the guitar. So, if I learn Walk the Moon Shut Up and Dance on guitar, the guitarists are showing me “Hey, here’s how I play rhythm guitar chords,” or “Hey, check out how I solo using the Db minor pentatonic scale and hammer-ons.” Think of that pretend conversation with any of your favorite guitarists. I remember Kirk Hammett from Metallica was my hero, and I wanted to nail down his solos so I could learn from him exactly how he would solo, use scales and techniques, etc. I felt like I was learning trade secrets and uncovering treasures that few people will ever experience.

Take the time to go through this lesson and once you know how to play Shut Up and Dance on guitar FOR REAL you will amaze your friends and family with your performance! It’s worth the extra effort – go big or go home!

Richards Guitar Studio offers professional guitar lessons, bass lessons, drum lessons, music theory class, guitar teacher training, and rock band rock school in Aston, PA. Serving Swarthmore, Glen Mills, Ridley Park, Aston, and Delaware County, PA.

3 String Skipping Blues Scale Licks


In this lesson, I show you how to play 3 string skipping blues scale licks on guitar. I have to say that I went a bit out there and made them especially confusing and difficult – that way you’ll get a lot of technique out of them. They sound pretty cool though, and you can take small piece from the licks that you like and make them into your own thing. All you need to take away from this lesson is a piece of a lick that is even as short as a few notes, and you’ll have added something new and fresh into you guitar playing style. Here are a few tips:

  1. Watch the picking! – I say this all of the time but only a fraction of people hear me. It is CRUCIAL to the feel, technique, efficiency of motion, and even to the difference between strong and weak beats or subdivisions. Please, please, please watch the picking.
  2. Even out the rhythm. There might be some aspects of the lick that you can play super fast. That’s cool – make your own lick out of it. But, don’t play the lick in a stop-start-stop-start fashion. Slow it down, even it out, and make each note, pick, and movement as smooth as every other one in the lick.
  3. Try in different positions on the neck. Playing higher on the neck feels much different, especially trying to keep the strings muted and avoided open-string-noise. It really does sound cool up high, though – really shreddy-like.

Nate from Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy shows you how to play 3 string skipping blues scale licks on guitar. Learn the hammer ons, pull offs, string skipping, legato, and picking in this guitar lick. Also, check out

Richards Guitar Studio provides professional guitar, drum, and bass lessons and rock band school in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County – Media, Swarthmore, Springfield, Ridley, Garnet Valley, and Wallingford.

3 Shred Guitar Licks

CLICK HERE for Tabs – May open in new window. Click link in new window to view tabs.

Learning to play fast is something many guitar players strive for. I wrote these 3 shred guitar licks to demonstrate a way to get more mileage out of the speed licks you learn, rather than feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel over and over and find millions of new licks all the time. Great classical composers used repetition, sequence, and motivic development to get more out of the musical elements within a piece of music (think Beethoven Symphony 5; da-da-da-dahhh / da-da-da-dahhh then after that the melodic motive is used over and over for the entire movement as a motivic theme). So, for shred guitar we can do the same thing to make longer and longer strings of notes, just by repeating the licks up or down an octave in one seamless phrase. A few tips:

  1. Go to this post and apply the instructions on developing speed to the licks in this post.
  2. Use a metronome! Practicing with a metronome has been around for centuries because it works. Subdivide the beat correctly, focus on rhythm and articulation, and speed will happen later.
  3. Speed development is not a perfect line graph, it’s more a a “hockey stick” graph. That means that you practice slow to moderate for a long time and then BOOM speed starts accelerating dramatically later on. Basically 80% of your time developing speed will be slow and the last 20% your speed will increase exponentially. Your hands have to build the reflex and muscle memory – once that happens the speed comes naturally.

Nate from Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy shows you how to play 3 shred guitar licks using octave positions. Great for taking small licks and getting way more mileage out of them by extending them across the fretboard. Learn speed picking, alternate picking, legato hammer ons and pull offs, fast guitar scales, and more. In the style of John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani.

Richards Guitar Studio provides professional guitar, drum, and bass lessons and rock band school in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County – Media, Swarthmore, Springfield, Ridley, Garnet Valley, and Wallingford.

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