Rode SmartLav+ Unboxing & Unboxing

I wasn’t happy with the audio quality in my video clips, so I decided to try a lavalier microphone.
After some research I came across the Rode SmartLav+ which connects nicely to smartphones via TRRS plug.
In this video I show the content of the package.
Rode SmartLav+ (Affiliate Link)



Steve Vai Masterclass – Alien Guitar Secrets

For me and 74 Steve Vai fans, a dream came true on Saturday, June 27, 2009. In the Middle Franconian town of Gutenstetten, Meinl had organized a masterclass with the master himself as part of their guitar festival. For a fair fee of 150, – Euro, we could talk to Steve about his music, his motivation, current plans and goals for almost four hours.

“Fear of being famous”?
After the shuttle bus took us from the Festial grounds to the main building of the company Meinl and we were able to supply ourselves with soft drinks and butter pretzels at the buffet, Mr. “Stunt Guitar” dives on stage, grabs his white JEM and welcomes us with his virtuoso game , Afterwards, Mr. Vai settles into a chair and begins to chat out of the sewing box.

“Picking a Goal”
Steve’s main concern is to show us how to make sense of the right goals and then discipline them. In addition to positive thinking and time management, the companion Zappas explained on the basis of current projects his approach to achieve once set goals. A little meditation practice shows us how easy it is to focus your thoughts.

“Relaxing is an Art”
With all the rigor of self in terms of plans and goals, Steve insists on relaxing at the key moment of making music. The example of his uncle, an athlete, makes it clear that often results in better results, if one thinks, one gave only 90%. Stay focused, but relaxed!

“Chords are like stories”
“Tell me what you did this morning.” he asks a participant of the workshop. And so we learn how it sounds to the man with the incredibly long fingers when he lets his guitar say, “I got up and went to the bathroom.” Already we are in the middle of the sound universe of Steve Vai.
What may seem a bit slanted at first glance turns out to be an ingenious creative technique, at the latest when he sets the party report of another present. “Then you were pretty drunk,” the vibrato arm tells us on Steve’s guitar. Humorous and eloquent, Steve also delves into each of our questions in detail. You can clearly feel that it is important to him to motivate, to give help and to pass on as many of his experiences as possible.

“Focus on tone”
For the former student of Joe Satriani, good guitar playing requires two ingredients: technique and emotion. The technique is learned “fast”. Start slowly, watch for correct timing and pitch, repeat eleven times, then get faster, and so on. Far more important to the Ibanez Endorser is the emotional commitment that makes every note unique. He recommends that we record our game anytime and anywhere to get constant feedback about our expression, true to the motto “Trust is good, control is better.”

“Jammin ” with Steve”
Too fast, the scheduled three hours pass. For some, maybe not fast enough, the jam with the Little Italian Virtuoso is at the end of the Masterclass. Now the young virtuosos can show live and in direct comparison to the master whether they have what it takes to step into their shoes someday. A total of six brave disciples enter the stage one after the other to make a few turns. After every lap Steve thanked his mistress, who left the stage without exception with bright eyes.

“Here I am”
Although after the Jamsession the time quota is massively exaggerated, Steve Vai remains quite the service provider who is only satisfied when we are satisfied. Serious snakes are forming in front of the stage to get Steve to sign autographs. He diligently signs the huge stack of certificates of attendance first, only to leave his signature on all the devotional items he brought with him. With a photo and a “Thank You, Steve!” This Masterclass ends and we are taken back to the Festial area by shuttle bus.

A big thank you to the company Meinl, which has managed to bring this world-class musician in the region and let our hearts beat faster.

Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar by Troy Stetina

If you are looking for a great book to improve your lead guitars techniques, this could be interesting for you:

I’ve converted some of the exercises to GuitarPro Files:

Buy Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar on Amazon


Know basic Psychology

Practice makes perfect!

I think anyone can agree on that.

But how do we manage to take our daily dose of practice?

Make it obvious – Generate attention for your goals

When I worked as a teacher, some of my students stuffed their guitars back into their cases after lessons and then hid those under their beds or inside their closets.

Guess how much they practiced between lessons and how much progress they made over time.

Not so much.

The saying “Out of sight, out of mind” seems to be accurate.

What can we do about it?

You can remedy this by setting up your guitar on a guitar stand in the living room or your study. Next to your telly for example.

Like a fruit bowl on the table, you just grab some fruits when you walk past.

This is also called “Environment Design”

Avoid distractions

Another enemy of reaching your goals are Netflix, WOW, Smartphones in general and especially Social Media.

They keep your attention away from reaching your goal of mastering an instrument.

So it can be a good thing to go offline for a couple of hours each day. Or to set up some time limits for the most distracting apps like Candy Crush.

Plan fixed times

Humans are creatures of habits. Playing the guitar must become as natural as brushing your teeth.

You can make it a ritual to strum five minutes right after you get up or five minutes before you go to bed. As long as it is always the same time and the same place.

Talisman principle

Beginners in particular feel overwhelmed by the endless variety of the material out there.

There are so many decisions to make:

  • Which chords do I have to learn?
  • Which techniques to I have to master?
  • Which songs and riffs should I know by heart?

Above all: what should I learn and in what sequence?

Since learning is not a linear process, every learner has different motivations. Every brain also works differently due to prior knowledge, divergent or convergent thinking.

So in general most of these questions will only be answered by gut feeling.

But: One technique that helped me against the feeling of being lost is what I call the talisman principle.

How does it work?

The musical talisman is what the rosary is to the good Catholic: something that I keep coming back to, that I have mastered inside out and that helps me through difficult hours.

For me it has been the A minor pentatonic in the fifth position for years.

Nowadays I try to avoid the pentatonic as much as possible, so I substituted it with some warmup exercises. Currently these are the exercises from Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar by Troy Stetina

I start every study / practice / creative session with one of these talismans.

It’s like a hiking trail that I’ve walked 100 times and from which I break new ground.

My safe home port, so to speak. It is always at the start of a journey and I return to it every time a storm of uncertainty approaches.

Choose wisely

It is important to choose a talisman in such a way that it does justice to your own level of development. It mustn’t be too easy and not to hard.

When I am creative, I build myself new fragments that resemble my talisman and can use other creative techniques such as the head-tail method to assemble them into more complex structures.

When learning new pieces, I first look for the parts that resemble my talisman (e.g. in a solo the part that uses the minor pentatonic scale) and try to perfect the parts independently of the rest.

You can compare that to translating a text. I don’t start at the first word and look up the meaning, but first look for words that I already know.

This will reduce your uncertainty and increase your motivation to tackle the learning project.

There is already something in every new piece that you can already do. Look out for it!

Electronic helpers

You can set an alarm on your smartphone which reminds you of your practice time. And there are also apps that can help you with your habits.

One of my favorite apps is

It lets you set goals such as “play guitar five days a week”.

It reminds you daily and you then just tick off the task after you’ve practiced.

So you can keep track of whether you have achieved your weekly goals.

Further Reading

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar