I’ve never taken a lesson from him but I always pay attention when the Japanese guitar master Tomo Fujita talks about best practices. He just has this uncanny ability to pick out kotsu — a Japanese word for hidden pointers that can make significant difference — when it comes to getting better on guitar. Here are some of the practice setup I incorporate into my exercising:
- A single-coil equipped guitar, bridge pickup, tone and volume full up
- No effects
- A tube amp, clean channel
- Turn it up as loud as you can
- The amp’s EQ: treble 10, mid 4, bass 0
- Metronome set super slow, with clicks on counts two and four
This setup is designed to set an electric guitar at its most touch sensitive. If you don’t have a good command on picking technique, this will sound plain awful. He advises to pick as softly as you can when exercising, and a clean tube amp turned loud is designed to force you to do so — particularly with the EQ set like that — so that it forces you to pick lightly.
The metronome is supposed to simulate the snare hit on the beats two and four so we practice locking in with a drummer. It’s better, though, to use a simple metronome rather than a drum machine, as just having beats on two and four leave plenty of space in-between clicks, forcing you to keep a tight rhythm or otherwise you’d easily get off.
It takes diligence to practice this way, because let’s face it, this setup just reveals every flaw in our playing. Ouch! It just doesn’t sound good.
I’d say, if it is demotivating to play with this setup, don’t incorporate all the tips but just some of it at first. As you gain more command of your technique and practice routines, you can incorporate more. It’s better to have fun practicing than to have a great practice regimen that’s too rigorous and robs the fun out of it. I myself don’t set my amp’s EQ quite like that. I tried it before, and it just sounds ugly. But now that I’m writing about it, I think I’ll try it again, to see if I can make it sound decent even with that extreme setup.
But I can tell you that my rate of improvement greatly increased after incorporating the above to my exercises. Try it out, but better yet, check out some of Tomo’s teaching material, to get the best info straight from the horse’s mouth.