From Yao Sheng in Singapore
I have been playing guitar for about 4 years. My biggest problem is that I don’t have a specific way to practice my improvisation. Most of the time I will be playing pieces by other musicians and some of yours too. I understand some basic music theory like the modes and diatonic scales, but I can't seem to apply them into my improvisation, Which makes understanding them not much of a help on my playing. I am also very weak on chords and arpeggios, for I have not much idea on how and which to practice on. Thus it makes my improvisation as dulling as just single note scale patterns most of the time. What would be the best advice for me from a great musician like you?
The best way to start doing something different than you're already doing is to change your method a little. For instance, try to make simple 2 bar phrases that you can sing. In fact, try to sing a phrase, then learn it on guitar. You might be surprised that most singable phrases do not sound like scale patterns. So, practice some scales for your technique and to learn diatonic fingering, but make music in your head first, then on the instrument.
Another thing to try is to limit yourself in some way, such as improvising on one string only, or on the top three strings only.....that way you're forced to work outside of the typical finger patterns, and you will be forced to choose your notes according to what you want to hear, not what your fingers want to play
From Esa in Finland:
If you would have to keep things really simple and play with just one guitar, one amp and only one or two effects between them, what would you use?
I continue to only use a long delay for space and air, set on about 400 ms., and a very short delay with modulation, which gives a more clear chorus sound. However, I use a second amp to run these through so that I can add just a little at a time when needed by using volume pedals. With only one amp, you still use them, but they would be ON/OFF effects, not able to be gradually blended.
From Rich in San Francisco, CA:
Being an old lefty fiddle player from way back, I was curious if you considered it an advantage being left handed playing the guitar?
At first, it probably was. However, once the right hand got busy, things reversed drastically. Still, I struggle to keep the right hand up to speed, not usually having any problems with the left one. So, maybe I should have switched! Seriously, I remember thinking that I've never seen a left handed piano, so people must be able to learn 2 handed instruments, right?