Hello Guitar Players! This is Jim Lee from JimLeeMusic.com... and I was asked to write this article by my new friend Brad Barnett, the founder of GuitarScalesCharts.com. His site is a useful resource for beginner to pro guitarists, so I was honored that he allowed me to be a guest writer and share my experience with you while telling you about a little software product I created in 2003.
First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I have been playing music for over 30 years, and in this time I have had some interesting experiences and success... not Guns-n-Roses success hehee, but accomplishments I'm proud of nonetheless. Not to mention, the rewarding journey of my musical path. I first started playing the violin at the age of 5 and had a very theory based education. Aside from winning multiple awards, I was featured on television as a "young talent." I then learned some piano, and mostly classical music. Everything changed when I became a teenager.
I got into skateboarding and punk rock. I stared playing the guitar, and was self taught. I actually took 1 guitar lesson when my dad bought me my first guitar, but the teacher just sat there picking his nose hahaa... so I quickly got bored. Anyway, my path to being a guitarist was learning by ear. I had a good ear, so it was easy for me to figure things out. I first started by playing cover songs, but this quickly got boring for me too... I wanted to create my own songs, even if it was simple 3 chord punk rock. I wasn't interested in the technical aspects of the guitar, I was interested in the raw energy of artistic expression. So, after one month of playing I formed a band.
I got a drummer and bass player together and started writing songs. I would record our songs on a tape recorder and make album art which I would photocopy to mass produce. We would give these out to local kids, and very fast we had a nice following. We would play at parties and it was fun... pretty soon we had a network of other friends who were in bands, so we played out even more. Keep in mind, I was only 13 at this time.
Next we entered 'battle of the bands' contests... and we won! We won three different battles in all. One of the contests gave us pro recording time in a studio. Another contest gave us gear, including a 4-track recorder. We used all this stuff to record more albums and started dispersing it out to local clubs. Pretty soon we got our first paid gig. Eventually, we were playing almost all the major clubs. I was amazed, because these were the same places I saw bands like Bad Brains and Jane's Addiction play. We became a novelty of sorts in our city because of our age. I was 16 then.
Anyway, to fast forward... I started playing bass and eventually drums. In college, I played bass in a successful blues trio. We played every weekend with lines out the door. We played original compositions, and the experience was great. The money was surprisingly good too. We were considered the best band in the area, and it helped that the singer/guitarist was a blues monster. Our drummer probably had the best meter of out of anyone I have ever played with... and I've probably jammed with over 1000 drummers.
After that period in my life, I played bass in a funk band. We had great gigs and minor success... but nothing close to the previous blues trio. Anyway, from then 'til now I've been mostly recording songs by myself... where I play the drums, bass, guitar, and then sing. I'm also a teacher and I've created music instructional products too (the most popular being FunkyChops slap bass). Even though music has played a big part in my life, I'm actually an artist & investor by trade. Music has just made my life more enjoyable, memorable and interesting.
Why Timing is Everything in Life & How to Jam with a Drummer Anytime and be a Better Guitarist
I want to tell you about a product I made in 2003... It's called QuickBeat. The QuickBeat Human Drummer V1 is software that turns your computer into a drummer, and it can help you be a better guitarist. Before I tell you more about QuickBeat, I want to share something that you may or may not know... this is something I've learned from experience by living almost 40 years on this earth: Timing is Everything.
Let me give you examples. The sun rises, the sun sets... it follows a time schedule. If this balance is upset, the world as we know wouldn't exist. Your heart beats, you breath... all following an internal timing mechanism. If your body doesn't follow this timing (and let's say you take 1 breath every 15 minutes), you die. The same rules apply to stocks... the timing of when you buy and sell your investments is the difference between success or failure. Timing even applies to ideas, there were many geniuses who's ideas were ahead of their time... Van Gogh died a poor, unappreciated painter. Galileo was ridiculed for his belief that the earth rotated around the sun... his ideas were not accepted by the majority in the time frame of which he lived.
So, there you have it... timing is what connects life. This is clearly evident in music. What makes notes into a song? The answer is time. The spacing of notes is what makes a melody... it's this timing which makes a rhythm. It's this timing which makes something groove. What makes one drum beat different from the other? You got it, time! The spacing of when the kick drum, snare, hi-hat, etc. is what defines the beat. Now, do you understand why timing is everything in music?
If you're timing is off, you'll never be a good guitarist. If you're in a band, and you start a second later... nothing falls into place. All the chords & notes you memorized & practiced becomes garbage noise. Good timing is essential to being a great musician. It's timing which makes things groove... I'm a bass player so I should know, it's groove which makes the difference between a good bassist and a great bassist.
Ask any pro musician, and they will agree: Playing with a Great Drummer is one of the Fastest ways to be a better guitarist. Sure, practicing with a metronome is good... but it's boring, and it won't teach you to groove. It's only after jamming with many great drummers, will your sense of groove improve. QuickBeat turns your computer into a great drummer, so you can jam anytime.
Here's why I created QuickBeat. I used to have an Alesis SR-16 drum machine... and I knew how to use it well, but many of my musician friends found it difficult use because they didn't know how to program in (sequence) beats. Also, often times the beats sounded robotic and unnatural. It's always more fun to play with a real drummer, but it's not always easy to find drummers with great meter. Plus, it's not always convenient to set up a jam... you have to find a place and set a time. Even if you invite a drummer friend to come over... it still takes a bunch of time to haul over the drums and set them up... it just isn't quick.
This is why I created QuickBeat... as a solution to the common problems: drum machines are expensive and can be difficult to use, they have robotic sounding beats... also, it's not easy to jam with a real drummer anytime you want, let alone a drummer with super solid chops. QuickBeat is simple to use, it features pro drummers, and you can jam anytime you want... it has over 100 beats in multiple styles, so it's like having a group of world class drummers on your computer. Just click and start jamming.
Playing with a drummer is one of the fastest ways to be a better guitarist. QuickBeat is a fun way to improve, and you can download it now... it works with Windows & Mac computers. Good timing and great groove will make you sound better than a super-expensive brand new guitar. It's better than a bunch of effects pedals. Great groove is the Best Guitar Effect in the World.
Best wishes to you in your musical journey!
DOWNLOAD QUICKBEAT HERE