It’s About Time

When I was a young man, the thing to do was cover your walls with posters of whatever you loved.

Some dudes covered theirs with posters of dirt bikes racing, flying through the air, and doing the craziest stunts.

Some dudes showered their walls with images of muscle cars and race cars.


What did I put on my walls?

Like tons of adolescents at the time, I plastered the two loves of my life on the four walls of my domicile:

Girls and Music.

Damn, at one point, I found a record store that gave away these 12×12 little posters of album covers and I put them ALL over my walls.. covering every single inch with my own personalized album cover wallpaper matching music with the equivalent “Hot Chicks” of the day.

Two of my favorite posters at the time were of Christy Brinkley (this one)…

Christie Brinkley


And REO Speedwagon (this one)



REO Speedwagon has a special place in my heart as it was my very first concert ever. My cousin was cool enough to take me and I soaked up EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. of that concert as my stood there slack jawed and drooling… something I would repeat after seeing the first girl ever naked and in person.


They played all of their biggest hits up to that moment (I didn’t write the songs down but got this from a quick Google search…1 Good Trouble, 2 Don’t Let Him Go, 3 Keep Pushin’, 4 Let’s Be-Bop, 5 Tough Guys, 6 The Key, 7 Take It On The Run, 8 Time For Me To Fly, 9 Keep On Lovin’ You, 10 Keep The Fire Burnin’, 11 Flying Turkey Trot, 12 Guitar Solo, 13 Stillness Of The Night, 14 Back On the Road Again, 15 Ridin’ The Storm Out, 16 Roll With The Changes, 17 Shakin’ It Loose, 8 Johnny B. Goode.)

These dudes were HUGE at the time after breaking through with their 1981 hit album Hi Infidelity which has sold over 10 million copies and counting…. 



I Freakin LOVED this band and still do. 

So…. here is a “How to play” one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands…. 






This is NOT my info, but taken from the most awesome and highly connected VHND (Van Halen News Desk). These are the same people who, back in the day, put out the great Van Halen Inside Magazine… so these peeps know their shit… enjoy the info and footage: 


“35 years ago today, on Nov 24th, 1979, Van Halen concert footage was shown on television for the very first time!

No, were not talking about the Fair Warning tour film from Oakland, (and there’s a lot of mystery behind that) —we’re talking about our OTHER favorite old Van Halen footage, which is arguably just as cool, but doesn’t seem to get talked about as much…

Back in 1979, before MTV, home video or the Internet, the band relied almost exclusively on the radio airplay for exposure. “Dance the Night Away,” with it’s catchy riff and sing-along chorus, charted well in the spring and summer, eventually climbing to US # 15. “Beautiful Girls” stalled at US #84. Hoping to further the bands recognition, Warner Brothers filmed three songs during Van Halen’s performance at the Rochester Community War Memorial in Rochester, NY on May 18th.

For a considerable investment of $61,500, the band had incredible live footage of three new songs from Van Halen II—“Dance the Night Away,” “You’re No Good,” and “Bottoms Up!” Initially, “Beautiful Girls” was supposed to be part of the package, but was never filmed for whatever reason.

On November 24th, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert broadcast the live clips of “Dance the Night Away,” “You’re No Good.” for a national audience. “Bottoms Up!” was left out, but aired on some other program (overseas) at a later date, so video collectors have had these gems in circulation ever since, but in less than perfect quality.

All three videos can be watched below. Hopefully someday soon, the band will finally give this historic video the official release it deserves. It’s simply maddening that they have yet to release any of the priceless footage from their unrivaled early years.

Read more:






Take This…

I forgot who said it and what class I was in when it was said…

but it was 1980-something and CLASSIC!!!

It all started with Slacker Dude not doing anything and the teacher getting

upset about it…

Finally, and I kid you not, the teacher said the classic line:

“What do you want to do with your life?!?!?!”

and of course the Slacker Dudey stood up and said… yes, he did..

“I wanna ROCK!!”…

After the look of shock wore off of the teacher’s face, he promptly kick the

Dude to the Principal’s office…

To this day, I have less derriere because I laughed it off so hard that day….

Here’s an ode to you Slacker Boy!!


So…. I need to learn new songs for the band – OK… busted, actually old songs that we are gonna play that I never learned before. Now that we have that clarified, old or new, I have a plan of attack every time I learn a new song and/or solo –


We live our lives through patterns really. How do you know that a door knob needs to be turned in order to open the door? You have encountered it before and you know the pattern. Ever come to a door that had some new fangled bullshit type of way to open it and you had no freakin idea what to do? What did you do? Sat there like a dork lookin at that damn door like you have never seen one before, fumbled around trying to figure out how to get the damn think open, and hoping nobody is watching you make a fool of yourself. Hell, I have even been in the bathroom with some fancy ass toilet and having absolutely no idea how to flush that bitch (don’t act like you haven’t been there)!!


So, we live through patterns. Get it?


Now that we have that established, what I do is look for patterns in the music. What is reoccuring? What riffs am I familiar with? What style/techniques/etc does this player mainly use? Even to the point of what is the song structure? Is it a common – verse, per-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, Bridge, chorus…. or some other pattern? And on and on and on…. until I have broken it down into the smallest common parts.


Not getting it? Ok, check this out….

Take “Fade To Black” by Metallica…


Here is the part right before the last guitar solo:

 fade 2


Ok… could be a lot to remember… UNLESS… we look for patterns. Do you see any reoccuring shit?


How about this part?

fade 6


Seems that this part is consistent.


Now… all we have to do is practice this part over and over until it is burned in our brain and finger’s muscle memory.


Now we need to find other patterns….. Let’s see…. OH.. OH… OH… Here is one!!!



Because I am used to seeing patterns I can see that there are moveable bass (low) notes – which you can see in measures 152,154,156,158 and then the pattern repeats:

fade 5


So all you have to do is practice the first riff until you can do it in your sleep and then put these two together by adding the bass notes between these riffs (yeah I know … the bastard messed up the pattern a bit in measure 159 by putting that 7th fret in there – so beware of some of these quirks – just like a door that swings in instead of out).    Red = moving bass note and Blue = Repeating pattern….

 fade 10



Like I said, this works for riffs, solos, song structure…. everything!! Look for patterns and make your life easier.


Rock On

Michael Lee


Early Wins

Every once in awhile I will get emails with people telling me that learning how to solo is just way too difficult and they want to quit.

Most of the time the challenge these people are facing isn’t that learning how to solo is a bitch(some solos definitely are) it’s that they are overwhelmed with inforamation overload and don’t know where to begin.

Now I got that solved with my Ebook: Rapid Playing Method for Guitar: Solo that you can get, but I also want to give all of you who haven’t gotten the book some early wins.

So, you wanna learn to solo? Then you MUST own this pattern. doesn’t matter where you start it (Low G, Low A, etc) just commit it to memory Daniel San:730514_10151331767441880_1992542818_n

Now… let’s get you some early victories. I didn’t have time to make proper tabulature so hopefully this makes sense. Now that you know where the pattern happens (btw those circled dots are the root notes so that means if you are in the key of G then the pattern will start on the 3rd fret 6th string, if you are in A the pattern starts on 5th fret 6th string). Start off with the blues because it is the easiest and, in this case, the key of A minor. With these 4 notes you can play very cool solos. Now, just play them one after another. Ok, now slide from the “G” to the root note “A”. Slides are your friend for sure. Once you get the feel of that, try to bend a note (you should bend it up to the sound of two frets but right now just get used to bending and watch those fingers… this shit can hurt!!). It is time to put it together. The numbers are the order you play it…. slide (1-2), single note (3), pluck and bend next note (4), single note (5), single note (6).


NOW….go to Youtube and type in blues backing track in A minor and try to play these 4 notes along with it to get the feel of how they sound.


Then start using techniques like bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, trills, slides, double stops, etc.


Here is a riff you can use: 1st blues riff

And here is a whole series of riffs that you can play any one, any combination, or just as written.



Hope this helps!!


Rock on!

Michael Lee

Mikes logo 3

Reps, Reps, Reps….

I just read the Arnold Schwarzenegger biography “Total Recall”. Love him or hate him, there is no doubt that that fucker is a winner!! Top of the class world bodybuilder, then went into acting with that huge last name nobody could spell and didn’t even fit on the marquee – AND at a time when the top actors were little dudes like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Woody Allen. Not to mention the fact that his English SUCKED!!!

But what happened?


Dude crushed it!!!!


One of the top grossing actors of all time. Ok, not enough for you? A Republican married into what many considered the “American Royal Family” the Kennedy’s…. oh, did I tell you that they are Staunch Democrats?!?!? Finally the dude went into politics and the mutha freakin dude won the Governorship of California….


Anyway…. enough man-love.


The point of this post is the mentality and method that allowed that former scrawny dude from Australia to conquer so many different arenas can be summed up in one philosophy…..




You see… Arnold approached each of these vastly different careers the same way he approached body building to become the champion. The more reps you do the better you get…. so keep doing reps, reps, reps…


For us, that translates into ….




I am currently learning…. or trying to… learn how to sing (especially those dog calling high notes that only a eunuch or Steve Perry can hit).

And trust me… it is a struggle.


BUT… here is the deal.


Just like what you may be going through learning how to solo…. I am fine with the struggle because I know, and keep repeating to myself, it is all about the REPS, REPS, REPS…


Know the fundamentals and then just do it over and over and over again.


So now, what I am doing is singing my ASS off in the car (so the neighbors don’t call animal rescue thinking we are torturing the cat!!!!).


Because I took the time to learn the fundamentals I know it is just a matter of time and I too will be breaking hears and glass with my vocals.


Now it’s your turn….


Just do like Arnold and keep repeating…





And you will be kicking ASS in ANY arena!!


Rock On!!

Michael Lee


Oh Say Can You SEE???

Yo!!! So I was asked to play the Star Spangled Banner for an MMA event this past April 27th in the big city… Chicago baby!!

It was both fab and horrible at the same time….

So… I leave to get ther at 4:00 with hope to get there by around 5:30, set up, get sound check, grab something to eat, come back, warm up, and then hit it….
So, I get on the expressway and stop by Guitar Center to pick up some strings… traffic is good and back on the road (maybe 15 minutes – no big deal)
Get closer to the city….

And BAM….




LOTS and lots of traffic….

So here I am sitting in traffic trying to warm up with a little guitar exercise deal…

4:30 comes and goes


5:30 comes and goes…


getting nervous….


6:00 comes and goes….


6:30 comes and goes….


And I am STILL in traffic….!!!!



FINALLY I get to the theater….


Try to find a place to park so I go around the block a few times looking for an opening and with one-way streets
Got in the alley…
Look for a someone to let me in…
Talk to a security guard and tell him I was there to play and need to load…
He asks me if i was with the opening band….


No… I am here to play the anthem…
We exchange confused looks back and forth….
Then he tells me that the band Gypsy Kings are playing there…



Wrong venue!!!!!!

So I call my buddy and tell him…
He kindly informs me that I am a dumb ass and it was the Congress Theater and not the Chicago Theater…




So I hustle to get to the other show and by now it is around 7:00
I get on the expressway again and they have these express lanes that only get off on 1 exit instead of each exit…
I am not THAT familiar with Chicago but thought that I could take this and save time b/c it goes way faster… since nobody is getting off and nobody needs to…

I haul TAIL!!


Passing people and driving like a crazy man!!

As I am hauling serious ASS……I glance to my right….
And see the EXACT road I was supposed to take….

But I can’t get off the freakin expressway!!!!!



SO I REALLY kick it up….
Get off as soon as I can… which is like 2 miles down the road…
The gps is telling me to get back on the expressway but that was PACKED….
Ok… screw the gps… I gotta MAcGyver this bitch
I get off and haul but in the direction I saw the road and hoped for the BEST….


An old dude cuts in front of me….
And goes so slow…

I can’t pass him!!!








I was supposed to go on at 8 and here it is about 730!!!!
And I haven’t even set up my gear!
ok… I get there… FINALLY
Go to the front door and people are already getting in the venue…
There is a stair case and I am supposed to go on the stage….
So I say there has got to be a better way to get this in there because by cabinet weighs easily 80 lbs
They tell me about the back entrance directly to the stage… yes – finally something is working…
Get to the back and pound on the door….
And pound on the door….
And pound on the door…

DANG it!!!

FINALLY a security dude comes out from the front and I tell him my deal…
He goes…
“Sorry can’t help you…”
I say … “Dude… you got the walkie talkie… call someone and have them open the fuckin door!!”
“No… sorry bro…”

You D ICK!!!!!

Ok… no time to argue with an ass…
Gotta go…
I RUN to the front… tell the ticket people… get my wrist band.. run to the back of the stadium…
Find another security guard and get him to open the door…
I am sweating my bum off big time running around…
I hustle my gear in there…
Hustle to set up…
Make sure the amp is working, make sure the effects are working, try to get a decent sound, sound dude checks me…
People are there so no real sound check… then…..
Something else….

Please… who have I pissed off here….

I have a wah pedal that turns on by a touch of the foot and when you lift your foot it returns to the off position automatically….

It DOESN”T turn OFF!!!!!!

When it is on it makes noise and gives a bad sound…
Nothing I do will turn it off except jam my foot on the pedal and hold it down!!!
I can’t do this b/c I need to go close to the amp for my feedback…

F UCK!!!!!!

Ok… time to try and fix this thing… more MAcGyver action…..
I need to try and tighten the screw and nut in order for it to stay in place…
I am trying to hold the nut but my finger isn’t long or strong enough….

I am freakin out!!!!

Because this is my main effect for this song… the whole song is based on the use of that wah….

this shit was CHAOS!!!

Finally the same security guard who helped me out had some tools… oh thank you GOD!!!
So we are able to tighten the screw BUT it was too tight!!
It was either all on or all off and instead of being able to use it like i have been accustomed to for 15 yrs!!!

I have to redo the whole concept…..

I have this effect that I use where I press the wah with my toe and it quickly returns and I repress it… wah…wah wah wah… really quick and cool effect…
now, I can’t do it!!!
Ok… deal with what I got…
I have time to warm up thank goodness….

Are you still with me…?

The venue is cold so I do the best I can to warm and loosen up…
Getting close to show time…



forgot to tell you…

There was a big screen right where I set up… and 3 cameras pointed at me with spotlight and all…
The big screen was as big as those old drive-in movies….
So anyway….
I get on stage b/c it is almost show time….
I start to warm up a bit more and then discover that there was a huge heater – WTF?!?!?! I could have warmed up there and been really loose….
ok.. no problem.. getting close to show time…
The announcer comes to me.. ok, your name is Michael Lees?
No, Michael LEE…

Lights down….

I walk over to my spot…
Oh… man… I can feel the anxiety as I am writing this….
The MC goes in the ring and begins his deal….
I am standing there watching as he introduces a war vet and his family as they all go into the ring too…
Then he brings out a bunch of war vets who flank me to my right and left…

Now I am not only playing for the MMA crowd but I have to play the freakin

 national anthem in front of all of these heroes!!!!


“Ladies and gentlemen…..


Please stand and rise as we are honored to have Michael Lee play our


 country’s national anthem for you….”


cue… ME!!



Ok Michael Lee… you got this… you practiced it over and over again… you got this….. you got this…
So I start off with my first note….
And the sound is



It shocked the pee out of me!!!

I was not expecting this…
They pumped me through the entire pa system – which they were supposed to – but since I didn’t get a proper sound check I didn’t hear this when I set up….

I FREAKED!!!!!!!!

So I quickly gather myself…..start off doing some Van Halen tapping stuff… hands back and forth… one over the over…. both hands on the top of the guitar neck…..something like this (this is NOT from the show)…
And hit my opening chords… I decided to do chords for the “Oh say can you see” part to give it more power….
Going well….
Hitting the right notes…

And ….




It happens….

I get to a point where my brain goes completely


I can pinpoint the EXACT moment….

“Through the perilous fight….”

That is the EXACT part I just couldn’t remember the notes…..
Shit … Shit …Shit ….

Hurry brain … do SOMETHING!!!

Ok…. try to slide around b/c I do know the next part….
It was 1-2 seconds but for me it was an hour of anxiety!!
I seriously said the “F” word…
ok… got through it… on to the next part…
ok… pulled that off….
Next part has a LOT of speed picking and fast runs….
I look down at my right hand… my picking hand….
I am literally reenacting the feelings and physical reactions as I type this…
So, I look down at my right picking hand….

And it is LITERALLY shaking!!!!

And I need it to be calm in order to do this speed picking deal….
And my wah isn’t working right…. and it is an integral part of this section!!!!
So I adjust as much as I can and try to play as clean and fast as I can to get the proper things I wanted to do….
I am up there thinking…. come on… come on….come on…
Get past that part and finally to the “and the rocket’s red glare” where I do tons of crazy effects… ok… that worked… phew…
Then my next part….”the bombs bursting in air”… where I hit this MASSIVE harmonic high note and dive the whammy bar and crash the strings… this is to replicate a bomb going off and hitting the earth – CRASH!!!!





Ok… getting close to the end….


Concentrate bro… concentrate….


Time to stop playing… build suspense….


Breath… BREATH!!!!


Get to “oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave”….. then do a really quick run (this is another spot where I NEEDED my wah for the proper effect – no go….)….
Then I go really high on the neck…. scream out multiple notes… and decide… F-IT….
Pull the guitar up to my mouth….
And begin playing a part with my teeth….
Kinda like this (this is NOT from the show)…..

At this point I am all in….

Get into, “O’er the land of the free….”
Hold the note (hoping I held it for a few seconds.. but was probably a millisecond giving my anxiety)….
Then go to the highest note on the guitar… run to the speaker and try to get feedback…. then I went to another level and start beating on my guitar…
Last notes….
Make ’em count…..
…..”and the home of the …….”
BRAVE………!!!!!” hit chords….
Get feedback…
Hold guitar up in the air while feedback is kicking….
Give a little bow….
Hold the guitar up with one hand while it sings…




I swear to you that I NEVER took my eyes off of my guitar…. head down the WHOLE time!!!

Normally I would play with the crowd… look up and what have you….


Not this time!!

This is the FIRST time in my music playing life that I had stage fright and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe!!!
So, I have NO idea how the crowd reacted or anything… I was too much into playing this dang song….
So, I felt OK about it afterwords… but not great because there was so much that went wrong and so many things I wanted to do but couldn’t….. the next day I reflected more on it and got depressed…
…. later that day I started to feel better and get resolution to the feelings….
So, the next day I find out from my guitar buddy who put the show on informed me that the whole thing was streamed out to the WORLD LIVE!!!!
He said he didn’t want to tell me that so I wouldn’t freak out…

Good call, Bro…. GOOD CALL!!!!


Michael Lee


Can You See…

When I was a young wanna be six-string gunslinger I thought about nothing except for music, sports, and chasing tail (i.e. women).


Man, I had time to play and play I did… sometimes for 8 hours or more every day. I loved every minute of it and because of all of the hours I put into playing guitar I got proficient pretty quickly.


Since I didn’t fulfill my goal of becoming a Rock Star, as the years went on and I had to “grow up” (i.e. do more shit that I didn’t want to do like get a job, pay bills, do my own dishes!!!) I didn’t have the time to do what I wanted to do – ROCK OUT!!


So, while I was toiling away working for “The Man” I would do what I did when I was at school listening to a teacher drone on about…. well…. whatever…While the teacher did their best Charlie Brown’s parents imitation (wah…wonk..wah wah… wha wonk…) I would daydream about playing guitar (in between bouts of daydreaming about that hot blonde to my right…).


And you know what…..




I found when I got home some of those  freakin passages that were soooo difficult to play that I would get frustrated as Hell and want to smash my guitar suddenly were easier to play. Don’t get me wrong, they were still difficult as shit to pull off, but easier than before.


And I used to do this all the time and it always helped in some way. In fact, there were times I PURPOSELY put the guitar down to “think” about a section and sure enough when I came back the passage all of sudden came alive!


So, now I have a new band I am playing with and with a new band inevitably comes new songs to learn. I am still not a Rock Star so I still have to play the grown-up game complete with a day job.


BUT… I still need to learn these songs… in between all of my other responsibilities.




That is right my friends… VISUALIZE BABY!!!


Just like I did when I was in school.


I read somewhere that Michael Jordan used to do the exact same thing when asked how he calmly drops the game winning shots. Jordan claimed that he saw (visualized) making that shot a million times in head before he even stepped onto the court.


Arnold Schwarzenegger did the same thing in his life when asked how he managed to win all of those body building contests, he said he had already won in his mind a million times.




NOW it is even easier to do this because we have the ability to carry our whole catalogue of music in something the size of a match box.


Just put the music on and “see” yourself playing the song. “See” your fingers moving. “See” the guitar neck. Even feel the feeling of playing the guitar.


You will be amazed at the results.


So, as I sit here at the computer slaving away waiting for the  “Flintstone whistle” to blow and release me from the cubicle coffin excuse me for a minute while I close my eyes, visualize myself going onto that stage with 1,000’s of roaring fans, and see myself playing the crap out of that guitar solo that has so eluded me up to now…..


Ah…. I NAILED IT….. AND so will YOU!!!


        Rock On!      



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