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Watch the Bonus Workshop Video online guitar lesson by Larry Carlton from 335 Improv

When Larry launched 335 IMPROV, he offered to host an online forum for all of the players who purchased an advance copy of the course. Larry also promised to record bonus workshop videos answering any questions that these players had after working with the course for a few weeks.

That bonus video (2 hours' worth!) was then sent to all of those students but was not made available to the public or even future buyers of the course until now thanks to the generosity of Larry and his management team.

These two hours of video from Larry are featured in four parts and now serve as an addendum to the course. While no longer moderated, the forum itself is still very much alive and well and you are encouraged to visit, mingle, ask questions and other wise hang with fellow fans of Mr. 335 for even more good advice and tips.

The following is a summary of the questions that were compiled and then answered by Larry in these four bonus video sections:

General Questions

1) When practicing, do you spend time going over scales to keep up your right hand technique?
2) Do you use a lite, medium or heavy pick?
3) When practicing, do you stand or sit?
4) What advice would you give to people who have limited time to practice?
5) I know that one purpose for a sound hole cover is to reduce the possibility for feedback. But do you also use it to help to improve the tone when soloing on an acoustic?
6) How do you see the fretboard?
7) Is it a vision that goes beyond grips and scales?
8) When you're on stage, in the heat of the moment, do you actually think of chord tones, modes, arps and scales?
9) Or are you able to just play the sounds in your head?
10) In your earlier videos, I came away with the impression that you had done a huge amount of ear training and that you could tell the exact note name of what the other player had just finished playing. If that's the case, how did you go about developing that skill?
11) At times I will borrow whole sections of someone else's solo and modify it to make it fit into another unrelated song. Did you ever do this? If so, how did you graduate from this stage?
12) What can we do to increase our "ear" knowledge?
What did you do to help learn phrasing?
13) Is there any other approach other than listening to and learning the lines of other artists?
14) In regards to your incredible body of work with Steely Dan: Did you have to study the charts for a while and break it down, chord by chord, or did your ideas come together all at once?
15) Was there a lot of punching in or all one take?
16) Do you start each day with some warm-up or other exercises just to get your fingers working?
17) Is there anything you do before performing to accomplish the same thing?
18) How much time do you spend on this sort of thing versus developing new song ideas vs rehearsing?
19) While the blues and VI-II-V-I sequences are crucial for any improvising musician to be fluent in, it's rare to get an insight into how a player of your caliber deals with a standard like, say, "Darn That Dream" Breaking all the usual norms, this tune in particular has unusual changes-basically chromatic. Could you please take us through your thought processes while soloing over non-standard sequences such as this?
20) It'd be pure gold to have you walk us through your approach in such a situation.
21) When did you become comfortable about playing over the entire range of the guitar.
22) Do you use different "mental data banks" when playing different types of music or do you just let your ear and a lifetime of playing take over?
23) How can a musician best nurture his or her inner creativity above and beyond learning the technical side of music?
24) Are there any practice techniques that really aim directly at freeing up the mind and playing great music with soul and feeling. I feel very strongly that this really goes to the heart of a problem that dogs so many people who get totally absorbed in stuff that isn't hip at all.

I'd love to see another discussion of the super-arpeggio!

25) About the concept of playing a minor or major triad on every other minor or major 3rd interval, which you discussed in your first course-is this concept just for getting an 'outside sound' as the triad examples in this section are very diatonic?
26) Could you please talk us through your personal approach for playing over a ii-V-I?
27) Can you comment on how you choose your right hand picking style with regards to string changes?
28) Do you prefer a sweeping technique, a more Gypsy rest-style picking, et al?
29) What do you like?
30) Do you have any tips on how to listen to advanced jazz as well as transcribing it?
31) Besides the 335 what are other guitars you favor?
32) Could you please do the slowed down analysis for us for the changes to Kid Charlemagne?
33) Do you perform any exercises for flexibility and general health in your fingers?
34) Recently I was asked to play a solo over a four bar vamp made up of two bars of Cm7 and two bars of Bm7 that last for a total of 16 bars. I couldn't find any common ground between the two chords and made a pig's ear of the solo. How would you approach it?
35) I'm under the assumption when you recorded you're superb solo over Kid Charlemagne you had a chart either on the stand or had plenty of time to look it over. That said, if you were asked to solo on Kid Charlemagne without a chart in front of you, could you be as effective as you were?
36) Could your ear lead you to all the common tones on the fly, or do you prefer to have the chord changes written out in front of you?

Section 1 Questions

1) Any tips on practicing triads on each string group?
2) How do you work on them to get them planted in the brain without sounding like mechanical exercises?
3) I notice the use of sweep or economy picking mixed with a little hybrid pick with the right hand (at the end with the solo sec.1). Can you please show us some good ways to practice these things to make them feel more natural?
4) In section 1.2 (Rio Samba) at about 2 minutes in you've moved up to the 8th fret. There you show the Cm7 and then the F7 chord voicings. Then you say, " going back to the pattern..." Unfortunately after watching it many times I still cannot see what you are playing and it's not in any of the charts. Can you please show me what I'm missing (from 2:03 to 2:14)?
I like the sound of this higher part a lot!
5) Then when you finish up around 2:20 you use several changes that are not in the charts either. It would be invaluable to us all if you could turn us on to the voicings you discuss.
6) In regards to how you move about the neck-you must have put in many hours on some system of organizing the neck. Some methods of guitar pedagogy (GIT, Howard Roberts, et al) stress 5 different ways of playing scales. Others teach 7 different ways based on 3 notes per string or even 12 different ways (Berklee method). This all seems to be a ton of material and much of it is kind of conflicting or at the least, confusing. How did you manage to sort your way through all the different triads, arpeggios, chords and scales up and down the neck?
7) Do you employ any of these methods in your playing?
8) Rio Samba is a great tune and your performance with Robben on "Live In Tokyo" is outstanding! There is a part in this song that is harmonically different from the vamp in Section One that starts at 1:32. Would you mind sharing the chord changes for this part as well as giving an idea of how you think about the overall harmonic structure of the tune, given both these parts?
9) How are you possibly keeping track of all these substitutions on the fly?
10) Even if the rhythm section had not made the subtle shift from F9sus4 to Cm7 to keep their part interesting, would you have soldiered on ahead with the Gm triad over F9sus4 because of the G and Bb in common?
11) Can you please share with us your general rules of triad substitution?
12) Do you think in triads for all of your improvisation or do you only use this tool for certain harmony structures?

Section 2 Questions

1) Since the raised 9th chord-in this case Db#9-is usually a five chord and home base would be Gb: Would a Gb Major scale work?
2) I'm having a difficult time following the up or down a m3rd concept. It sounds great when you solo at the end, but early on in the lesson you talk about moving up or down the neck utilizing the same chord, but as a different voicing. Why is that so?
3) I can't seem to see how they are the same chord given the rules of chord inversions. When I hear the changed chords over the vamp, they sound quite different and not as coherent as most other inversion sets. Sounds great in application, but I can't quite get the theory...
4) When you start a raised-9 vamp, do you already "know" where the outside notes are relative to the raised-9 chord, or do you figure it out each time by stepping through the sections of the diminished scale for that raised-9 chord prior to the vamp?
5) How much of what you improvised was theory versus knowing where the outside notes were located "visually" relative to the raised-9 chord (i.e. down x string(s) and over y fret(s) from the chord tone)?
6) At the end of the sections 2:3 & 2:4 you add a 13th chord to the mix. I love the sound but I wonder why you chose the 13th chord and not another moveable chord.

Section 3 Questions

1) In Section 3.4 you play a "Larry's Melodic Lick" (bar 14 in the 3.4 chart). In it you play a D B A G and say "that's a G lick, right?" But a G chord is G B D and a Gmaj7 chord is a G B D F#. Neither of these two chords exactly matches the notes you play. What am I missing?
2) In this section you suggest playing a major triad from the 5th of the chord (in this case D Maj) over the GM7 chord. What about playing all the notes of a D major scale (or E Dorian for that matter) to get the Maj7#11 sound?
3) My question relates to developing a solid chord vocabulary for chord melody playing. I thought that practicing chord scales would be the way to go. For example: Take a G7, harmonize the Mixolydian mode, put the scale on the top of the chord, figure out voicings going along the scale up the neck on different string sets and try to get these shapes and chords committed to memory. This is what I have been doing, it is working slowly. Do you have another angle on learning this technique?

Section 4 Questions

1) What triads do you use over the melodic minor scale?
2) Do you play melodic minor only on substitute chords? For example, in the course within an F# blues you played melodic minor over the C9 passing chord that precedes the IV chord (B7). If not, can you please demonstrate some more examples of where you use melodic minor in a blues context?
3) Back to the original scenario, do you use melodic minor at that specific point even when the band does not play the a tritone sub such as this?
4) I saw that you played a Bb Melodic Minor over a Eb7+11 chord. What rule does this follow?

Section 5 Questions

1) Do you have kind of a rhythmic concept when improvising or playing melodies? For example, how you decide to play e.g. even 8th or swing 8th or play off or on the beat. Is it just "feeling" or do you sing the notes or hear them in a rhythmical context?

Section 6 Questions

1) While demonstrating what you referred to as "all the notes from the Eb minor scale" over the ii chord (Ebmin7) at 1:42 in Section 6.1, is it safe to assume you were inferring the Dorian mode?
2) Let's imagine that you've been called in to do a session with Wayne Shorter where he drops a brand new chart in front of you-something like "Nefertiti". How do you mentally navigate improvising over a tune like that on the fly?
3) Do you first start to look for those "common" tones? Or do you simply just instantly employ whatever scales you know for that specific chord over two beats?
4) In reference to what is discussed in Section 6.1: Does the amount of sonic space in the group determine your choice of chord voicings?
5) With regards to your Joe Pass references and his arpeggio-based approaches to changes, is it better to concentrate on 2-3 string groups at first or play arpeggios on all six strings?
6) Thinking back to Section 6.4: Do you work out motifs that work over various progressions or does it come naturally?

Miscellaneous Questions

1) At the very end of lesson 6.3 you say "see I can play that one note so many times because it was common to all those chords but I'm aware that it is common to all those chords". My question is "how do you know this"?
2) Do you have stored in your memory all the notes which make up all the chords in every key? Or do you do it some other way without translating it to notes, such as by positions of chord voicings? Do you write it out?
3) When playing standards I often trip over extensions... particularly for dominant flavored chords. For example, sometimes playing a 13th chord instead of a dom7 sounds wonderful, and other times it clearly doesn't. Or I'll play a dom 7 #9 or b9... sometimes both work, sometimes one works well but the other not so much... ditto with dom 7 #5 or b5. Are there simple rules of thumb that will help me use these kinds of extensions better?
4) How do you have your guitars setup (strings, string height, fret type, pickups, etc.).
5) How important do you think it is to play out with other musicians, as compared to just practicing by myself?
6) How important is it to learn whole songs, as compared to just learning the licks?
7) Would you share with us your thinking/approach regarding your Bluesy Sleepwalk solo?
8) Do you recommend using a metronome when practicing?

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