Moses Walker - Blurring the line between Practice and Performance.


mo guitar talk

Mo is a performer with a wealth of knowledge for guitarists to learn from. His realm is Roots, Blues, Americana, Jazz, Ragtime and Gypsy guitar. With multiple decades of gigs across the United States, Mo has some unique practice methods to share. Learn the secrets of rapid improvement on the guitar from a true master.

123

Hey Mo, we've spoken in the past about picking up the guitar. If you have a guitar in your hands, it's more likely to get played. Simply holding it builds familiarity and lets the fingers become more accustomed to chord positions. Visual distractions like a TV can actually help to accelerate memorization of chords and scales.

Mo

Indeed, picking up the guitar is 90% of the game. Sometimes I keep the TV on with the volume up just to practice with visual and audible distractions. This is so I'm not thrown off when playing out in the real world. If you can get through a whole song with the TV in the background, you can play anywhere.

123

So getting the eyes off the fretboard is helpful in remembering the shapes. Playing with others is best but not always possible. You've got to hone your chops everyday. Playing open mics or a loud bar can really improve your musical intuition too. You gotta learn the cover songs that people want. The chords and lyrics are the main things to learn.

Mo

Yeah, a friend from Ireland once told me that 'TV is chewing gum for the eyes'. Even if you are half-watching some show, your eyes won't stray to the fretboard. It's breaking the habit of looking. You don't need to look. Gazing out the window helps too. You just focus on the feel and the sound. It builds confidence too. Knowing how the chord shape feels in your hand is a process. The fingers have their own memory of the positions and getting the grip.

123

Your 3 note chord approach is such a cool way to play progressions.

Mo

When you play a 3 note chord, the other strings can still get involved. Depending on the chord, you can incorporate the unused open notes in a musical way. It's the nature of music instruments in general. I have a tune that I'm learning with a G chord I've never used. It's only in the song twice, but it took me a month to learn it cleanly. Doing so led to a whole new rabbit hole. I learned a ton of new things just from that.

123

The best guitarists play all the time. They also seem to know all the different ways to play one chord. Each one being slightly different. They do seem to lead to new possibilities on the fretboard. Some guitars take longer to warm up and reach their best tone. Some really improve after 30 minutes of playing. There is a device that vibrates the body and kind of wakes up the instrument. Another trick is placing the guitar by a speaker system that is being played often. The vibration of the bass affects the wood of the guitar in a favorable way. It's all for the love of playing

Mo

A friend of mine once said the he feels for those who don't have a guitar. I just pick it up and instantly start feeling better. It's absolutely therapeutic and life improving! I've been reading this book called The Perfect Wrong Note. They talk about the difference between practice and performance. Everytime you pick it up is practice, but if you play your best then you can't help but learn something new. That's what keeps you coming back. Honing a skill you already have. I keep my guitar in bed with me so I can play immediately. I used to keep one in each room which made me play more. Even 30 seconds and your still getting time in.

123

How about learning new material or riffs, etc?

Mo

Watching youtube videos has been huge for learning specific tunes or just expanding my vocabulary on the guitar. You can find anything on there. There are usually several different versions of the same song being played at various skill levels. By the time you've seen them all, you start playing it your own way. There are entire channels devoted to a certain style or genre too.

123

Any tips for playing live?

Mo

Playing live is just time in. As long as you are playing it with the intention of finishing, you learn that everything is practice. It's about making it a habit and this requires clocking some time on the instrument. You play the same thing for months and become completely confident on your ability to finish a song. Open mics are perfect for teting your tunes and meeting other musicians.

123

What guitars are you playing these days

Mo

My Epiphone archtop is the main one. It has a humbucker and I use a DI called "Lil Red" which is made by Lone Wolf Blues Company. It's got a great sound which helps when plugging into random PAs at gigs and open mics. I've been playing through a 5 watt harmonica amp and it works out really well. Recently, somebody gave me 1936 Gibson L50. It's an acoustic archtop with inlay in the headstock. It's not fancy but it sure is fun to play and sounds good. It's got a V neck and something they call a 'monkey on a stick' which is this 1940s aftermarket pickup with a volume adjustment. What an awesome sound.

123

You really have to play different guitars to find what suits you best.

Mo

Absolutely, the guitar dictates what you will play. If I hand you my guitar, you'll play something different just by it being a different piece of wood. It's going to have different attributes from your guitar. I picked up somebody's grandfathers dobro once and it was covered with a lifetime of dust. I tuned that thing to Open E and played stuff I had never heard before. It was just amazing. Total inspiration. Even my porch guitar has an entirely different character than my others.

123

Where can people hear your latest recordings?

Mo

Yes, they can go to hear my latest material. I've got nine tracks on there that I'm proud of. My top goal is to be able to travel to cool places and keep inspired.

123

Mo, thanks for your time!

Mo

Yep, thanks for the call!

Guitar Tuner Navigation