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  • Slowdown Guitar Riffs, Licks and Solos: The ultimate guitarist's practice tool

    When attempting to learn how to play a song, many musicians or just-for-fun guitar players run into a problem, and that problem is speed. Even some of the greatest guitar players experience some amount of difficulty when trying to learn how to play a song that is performed at an accelerated speed. Something that can assist a person in learning that seemingly impossible song is a slow-down tool for guitar riffs, solos, and licks.

    Within many riffs, licks, and solos lies lightning speed and tricky maneuvering over the fret board. We all know that it is nearly impossible to sit down and learn some fast and complex solo; for instance, something from Jimmy Page, Terry Kath, Steve Howe, or Jimi Hendrix. In order to clearly hear and understand exactly what is being played by these guys, you will need to slow down the music. Thankfully, due to today's advanced music technology, there is software on the market that will do just that: slow down the music!

    Once you plug the song that you are trying to master into whatever kind of software you have purchased, then you can slow it down so you can really hear what notes are being played, and beyond that you will be able to hear all of the bends of the strings, the hammer-ons, pull-offs, finger tapping, etc. Again, I must emphasize the importance of being able to hear exactly what it is that you are trying to play, and how tough it is to learn certain parts of songs without some type of auditory aid. It seems that these days, much is within reach when learning how to play beginning through professional guitar because we have the technology at our fingertips, and it is often quite affordable.

    There are a number of products on the market that can slow down music. Some are hardware-based, but most are software-based. The hardware based products are primarily supplied by Tascam. These units are widely used and sold, but generally speaking have limited functionality, sound quality, and are more expensive than the software-based products.

    Software-based products, such as Song Surgeon, not only slow the tempo of speed of the song or riff, it does so without changing pitch. Conversely you can also use this tool to change the pitch of a song without changing the tempo. It also allows you to define custom loop points for a song. For example, if there is a 25-second guitar solo in a song that you would like to learn, you define beginning and ending loop points for this solo, then set you tempo to save 50% and Song Surgeon will continuously loop this song at this slowed down speed.

    An important feature that is not readily apparent is that once you set loop points and save a song in Song Surgeon, it will save ONLY that portion of the song defined by the loop points -- and it will save it at ;the selected tempo. In other words it saves your changes permanently - you don't need to use Song Surgeon thereafter. Going back to the above example, if you save this 25-second solo at 50%, you can transfer this audio file to an MP3 player, iPod, or burn it to a CD, and it will forever play at the altered speed or tempo.

    Song Surgeon also has a FREE trial version that you can find on the front page of the website at www.songsurgeon.com. This is a fully functional version EXCEPT that it is save disabled.

    Whether you choose Song Surgeon or one of the other similar tools, the ability to easily adjust the tempo or speed of a song is a must-have tool for any guitarist, trying to learn some of the faster and more complicated guitar licks.

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