Steve Stine

​If you haven't heard of Steve before, just know that he's very well known at North Dakota State University and is a highly sought-after Professor of Modern Guitar. After earning his music education degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, he went on to play in literally dozens of bands over the last 16 years touring the U.S. and England. He's been a studio guitarist for radio, television and various recording projects. And he even acted in a movie once. He's taught private, group, and online guitar instruction for over 25 years to literally thousands of students. Many of his students attend colleges nationwide to study music and play in bands, notably, Shannon Curfman, who performs with Kid Rock. He's taught music at Red River Valley Montesorri school for over 10 years. And was guitar instructor at Elevate Rock School in Fargo, North Dakota. And despite the tattoos, long hair, and shredder-style guitar, he's a family-man. And even finds time to volunteer his talents to plays guitar in his church.

Steve Stine

When you’re learning to play the guitar, you usually start off with a few chords. After that, you learn a few more, and after that, you might learn a scale or two. The process is different for everybody, of course, but in the beginning, what you learn about the guitar involves a lot of memorization. You have to memorize the chord shapes, you have to memorize the scales, and so on. This works fine at first. And it can work just fine for a long time... if you’re really good at memorizing things. 🙂 But at some point, you might start to wonder why chords are shaped the way they are. Or why a “7th” chord is called a 7th chord. Or why the notes in the A major scale are just a little different than the notes in the A minor scale. And so on… and so on, and so on. Point is, there’s an easier way to make sense of all this stuff and really take control of your fretboard than simply memorizing a thousand chords and scales. There’s a much easier way, in fact. Today I’m going to tell you a little about intervals. Simply put, an interval is just the difference in pitch between two musical notes. But this simple concept is actually what makes all of music theory possible. Intervals are what make up scales. Chords are created by combining certain notes from a scale. Music theory gets a lot less confusing when you know about intervals and how they work. When you know about intervals, you can easily communicate with other musicians, and you can also make sense of chords and scales. I’ll break some basic stuff down below: 1. The “Dictionary” of Music - The Chromatic Scale The best place to start our


This is one of the most common questions I get as a guitar teacher: “Why do my solos sound like I’m just playing scales?” It’s usually because when people practice guitar, they usually focus on scales. They memorize scale patterns, train their fingers to play scales up and down the fretboard backwards and forwards, and they get to the point where they can play scales pretty fast… So when it’s time to play an actual guitar solo… they end up just playing scales. And sure, sometimes a quick run up or down a scale can sound amazing in a solo, but if that’s all you’re doing, it’s going to get boring pretty quick. It’s going to be boring for you to play, and it’s going to be boring for the people you play for. Don’t get me wrong, scales are important. Practicing scales is essential for lead guitarists, but it’s only part of the equation. You also need to create a catchy melody. You also need to think about how you “phrase” each lick during the solo. And you definitely need to find the best way to connect your licks together, so everything sounds as awesome as possible. After this lesson, you’ll be ready to start building your own guitar solos from the ground up. We’ll start with one of most common things guitarists overlook: melody. 1. Create a Melody With What You Already Know As I mentioned already, practicing scales is very important. And I want to add that if you want your solos to be the best they can be, you’re going to have to learn some scales and scale patterns. But here’s something else you should realize: you don’t absolutely have to know any scales to play a killer solo. Scales definitely help, but you can also


Many guitarists are intimidated by the words “music theory” because they think it’s too hard to learn. Other guitarists don’t think music theory is worth their time. The truth is, basic music theory is easy to master, and knowing just a little music theory can help you learn songs faster, play more melodically, write better songs, and much more. A little music theory can dramatically improve your guitar playing, and you can master essentials of music theory in just a few minutes a day. If you’re looking for a place to start mastering music theory, look no further. In this article, I’m going to show you two of the most important scales in music: the chromatic scale and the C major diatonic scale. 1. The “dictionary” of musical notes The first scale I’m going to talk about is the chromatic scale. I like to think of the chromatic scale like a “musical dictionary,” because it’s got all 12 notes in it. A dictionary has all the words, and the chromatic scale has all the notes. Get it? Now, if you just opened up the dictionary and started reading, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense, right? To make a sentence and actually say something, you have to take words from different parts of the dictionary and put them in order. Likewise, if you just play the 12 notes of the chromatic scale, you aren’t going to be “saying” much with what you’re playing. To create music, you have to play some notes from the chromatic scale and leave others out. But first, let’s just look at the chromatic scale. There are seven letters used in writing music. Those letters are: A - B - C - D - E - F - G There’s no such thing as an “H”


Blues is one of the most influential styles of music in the world. Since its birth in the Deep South of the United States in the late 19th century, blues music spread across the USA and around the world, inspiring guitarists, singers, and other musicians with its swampy rhythms and soulful melodies. In fact, every rock band in the world owes its existence to those original bluesmen, whether the music they play is “bluesy” or not. If early rock guitarists like Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and others hadn’t listened to blues guitarists like Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and so on, rock and roll would have never existed. But let’s not focus on history too much… instead, let’s keep the tradition of blues alive by playing it. There are just a few simple things you need to know before you start, but after you get these things down, you’ll be well on your way to playing your own original and authentic blues songs. Let’s get started! 1. Blues music follows a simple chord progression There are exceptions to this (such as 8, 16, and 24 bar blues), but most blues songs follow a “12 bar” (or 12 measure) chord progression, which I’ll show you below. Don’t freak out if you don’t understand it, just take a look, then I’ll explain everything below. To make it easier to remember, I’m going to break up the 12 bars into 3 sections of 4 bars each. Here’s the first section: I - I - I - I Yes, that’s the letter “I” there, but read it like a Roman numeral: “one, one, one, one.” Got it? Alright, on to the second section: IV - IV - I - I Reading that as Roman numerals, that would be “four, four,


Rhythm is a crucial element of all styles of music. Whether you’re talking about rock, blues, bluegrass, jazz, funk, country, folk, or any other style of music, rhythm is what holds everything together. And sometimes - like with reggae and ska, for example - a certain type of rhythm is what defines the style. Rhythm just might be the most important element of music, actually. But unfortunately, rhythm is also one of the most neglected aspects of guitar playing by new guitarists, especially by new guitarists who play solo. When there’s a drummer (or even just another another guitarist) playing along with you, you’ve got someone there to help you keep the beat. But when you’re by yourself, you can “cheat” the rhythm a little. For example, if there’s a difficult chord change, or maybe a hammer-on or pull-off between chords, you may need to slow down to play it correctly, then speed back up when you get past the tough part. Listen: slowing down is fine when you’re first learning how to play songs on your guitar. I encourage it, actually. If something is hard to play, take your time with it. And don’t rush yourself, because as the old saying goes, haste makes waste. If you get in a rush, you’re more likely to mess up, and if you mess up, you’re more likely to just put your guitar down and quit. But listen to this, too: if you have to keep slowing down and speeding back up when you play a song, you’re not going to sound your best when you play… and if you speed up and slow down in a jam session, you’ll fall out of sync with the other musicians PDQ. To sound your best, you have to keep an even rhythm going throughout