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"Ron Thal Devours!"

Jeff Beasley holds B.A. degrees in Music and Classical Guitar. Jeff offers 27 years of experience in teaching, studio, and performance. He is endorsed by T. Sheppard guitars and is a member of the National Guitar Teachers Association. Jeff has taught guitar full-time for 17 years at A.B. Stephens Music in Huntsville, Alabama. He is currently priming the release of his first all-instrumental CD, "Tiebreaker", soon to be available at

Greetings Musicians Hotline readers, and welcome to this month's lesson, the third in a series of three with the incredible Ron Thal of Bumblefoot. If you read the previous two lessons, you've got a taste of Ron's uncanny melodic and rhythmic abilities. This month, Ron provides us with a complete lesson in harmony based on "Lost" from the Bumblefoot CD 9.11 ((c)2001, Hermit Inc.). I've included Ron's original material with virtually no modification, because the content really can't be improved upon. If you're ready for a challenge, then let's get started!

Here's an example of harmony using an 8-note diminished scale. First, let's get a feel for the scale: start with a major scale (Fig. 1) and flatten the 7th note, making it a mixolydian scale (Fig. 2).

Raise the 4th note, making it a Lydian b7 scale, or mixolydian #4 scale (Fig. 3).

Raise the 2nd note - the scale is now forming a pattern of half step, whole step, half step, whole step - almost there... (Fig. 4)

Fill the space between the root note and #2 with a b2, and you have an 8-note diminished scale (Fig. 5).

The constant half-whole-half-whole pattern makes it easy to get around on the fretboard. In the song "Lost," I use it over a G#/add b9 chord (G# major triad, with an added b9 to give it some tension). The notes in the chord are G#, A, B#, D#, leaving plenty of room for the soloing to shape the mood. One choice could have been a Harmonic minor feel (C# Harmonic minor, with G# treated as the root) - G# A B# C# D# E F# G#, but it needed something a little more "cartoon-ish"...needed that lift in the 4th and 6th notes (Fig. 6):


Every note you play and every piece of music you write tells something about you.
2nd - openness: M2 = inviting, m2 = cold, held-back
3rd - stress: M3 = free, m3 = burdened
4th - spirituality: P4 = grounded, A4 = enlightened
5th - stability: P5 = stable, d5 = manic low, A5 = manic high
6th - motivation: M6 = energized, m6 = pooped
7th - purity: 7th = wholesome, b7th = edgy

Music speaks louder than words. Words can put a picture in your head, but music takes you there. It's a connection like no other - you feel what I feel. Music is a powerful gift - respect it and use it thoughtfully. Find your sound.

19 MAY 2004

Well Musicians Hotline guitarists, this wraps up our series on melody, rhythm, and harmony with Ron Thal. I hope you've gained as much as I have from this collaboration, and have been inspired to push yourself deeper in your understanding of guitar fundamentals. Thanks again, Ron and Bumblefoot! And to all you Musicians Hotline readers, God bless you and see you next issue.