Mike Outram :

Working on some new stuff

Hello, have been practising quite a bit recently (hooray!), working on some new stuff, so thought I’d share what I’ve been up to.

I’m trying to figure out how to play this blinding Michael Brecker solo on ‘The Four Sleepers’ from Don Grolnick’s album ‘Hearts & Numbers’. The stuff at the end is super tricky :) I LOVE this track. It’s got some fabulous harmony and the melody and bass line work brilliantly. Plus this awesome solo by Brecker.

Work in progress! Love this Michael Brecker solo from Don Grolnick’s ‘The Four Sleepers’. Amazing track full of awesome harmony, killing bass lines and Brecker going mental at the end :)

A post shared by Mike Outram (@mikeoutram) on

This month I have a gig with Laurence Cottle’s big band at Ronnie Scott’s doing Tower of Power music. I used to be in an amazing band in Manchester called Pocket Central which was the brainchild of Mr. Neil Fairclough (who’s now the bass player with Queen!) where we played that music, so it’s great to revisit it all. Here’s the guitar part to Get Yo’ Feet Back On The Ground. There’s tons of things going on in this part, but one thing I really like is the hybrid picked harmonics – blink and you’ll miss ’em, but they totally add to the character of this part.

This is the guitar part from ‘Get Yo’ Feet Back On The Ground’. Not sure if it’s Bruce Conte’s invention, or Willie Fulton’s who wrote the track and was the original guitarist in Tower of Power. Either way, it’s great to play for days :)

A post shared by Mike Outram (@mikeoutram) on

I’ve got a nice little drop 2 voicings workout that’s been fun to do, basically you play the lowest drop 2 voicing on the EADG strings and then play 3 inversions on each string set so it covers most of the range of the instrument. Then go round the cycle of 4ths, and then do a bunch of voicing types: ∆, 7, m7, m7b5, dim7, ∆#5, ∆b5, 7#5, 7b5, 7sus4, maj6, min6, dim∆, m∆. Takes about 40 minutes to do it all. Nice left hand workout :)

Trying to crack Ben Monder’s epic piece Windowpane – Doing this VERY SLOW.

I’m listening to this Schumann Piano Quartet Op.47, 3rd movement. This is one beautiful melody, and the ending is marvellous. Might learn it on the guitar somehow.


I’ve redesigned my lessons site: ElectricCampfire.com and we’re using a nice new layout for all the courses, and I’ve been updating some of the lessons there. There’s a practice routine that’s got some super challenging exercises, and deconstructions of Giant Steps, Pat Metheny, Jerry Donahue, Charlie Parker, and loads more – tons and tons of guitar goodness :)

One thing I’m trying to focus on there at the moment is on making some really short lessons where you can get a creative challenge that you can do in 10 minutes or something. Most people in the site want to develop their playing but have around 30/60 minutes a couple of times a week so I really want to make some fun material for all levels to engage with.

Ok, well that’s what I’m up to at the moment :)

Back to the shed…

What are you working on?


See all posts »

Giant Steps – New Course at Electric Campfire!

Got a new course coming this week at ElectricCampfire all about John Coltrane’s notorious tune Giant Steps.

This course is all about how to get started with this tune.

When I first tried to play this tune it was a total disaster – it’s such a weird sequence to play on at first.

But in this course, I’m going to show you a simple way to think about the harmony and some easy ways to get started with improvising on it.

Also, I’m showing you how to play the first chorus of Coltrane’s solo that I’m playing in the video below. I show you how to work on getting fluid phrasing. And there’s some very useful core jazz language in this that you’ll definitely be able to apply to your playing.

It’s out this week and we want you to join us :)


The latest course at Electric Campfire is on John Coltrane’s notorious tune Giant Steps. This course is all about how to get started with this tune. We cover understanding how the harmony is put together, how to play the melody, how to get started with improvising on it, comping and the first chorus of Coltrane’s solo that I’m playing here. I show you how to work on getting fluid phrasing. It’s out this week, come and check it out :) https://www.electriccampfire.com

A post shared by Mike Outram (@mikeoutram) on

See all posts »

How To Improve Your Timing & Rhythmic Accuracy

How To Improve Your Rhythmic Accuracy

Are you getting saucy looks from band mates every time you play a solo break? Or do you have that horrible floating sensation when your solos go awry? Do you lose track of where the beat is?

Well, worry not! for here is a little metronome-based exercise that can help you with your rhythmic accuracy, and time feel.

Now, A Word of Warning: Some people view exercises with metronomes as cold and unmusical.

And I’d agree.

Just like scales, arpeggios, intervals, strings and cables are unmusical. They’re just things that might help you make some music. Just like brushes and paint are to a painter. So take a deep breath, CHILLAX, and try this…

The Big Idea

So the usual way of using a metronome is to have it click on every beat. If you’re a bit more advanced, maybe you’ve tried placing the click on beats 1 and 3, or beats 2 and 4. This means that the metronome is generating the beat, and you have to align your time to it.

I want to sell you on the idea of placing the click on a subdivision of the beat.

This means that YOU have to generate the beat. Practising this way means you’re working on your time and making it stronger.

Here’s how you can apply the idea to practice a triplet feel.

Rhythmic Accuracy Exercise #1

Avoiding placing the click on beat one leaves you two places to put the click: The 2nd or 3rd quavers.

So, In one bar of 3/8 that’d be here:


or here:


In simpler terms. If you count each beat like this: 123, 123, 123, 123. You just put the click on the 2 (as in the 1st example) or 3 (as in the second example).

Hearing The Click

If you’ve not done this before it’s a bit tricky to feel the click in the right place. You might be drawn to hearing the click as a downbeat all the time. So to put the click on the last triplet, do this:

Start the click at 60 bpm and count three even quavers in the space of one click. (123, 123, etc)

That’s the rate at which the quavers sound.

Now hear the click as the last quaver and put your downbeat on the next quaver. Feel it as going ‘and, one’ with the ‘and’ co-inciding with the metronome click. You can even trick yourself into hearing this by calling the click ‘3’, and saying ‘312, 312’, etc, and then mentally shifting your beat to the 1.


Got it?

Now play a repeated dotted crotchet on the beat [you’re playing on the downbeat while the metronome is clicking on the 3rd quaver]

Keep it steady.


Try playing a scale.

Still good?

You have to feel where the pulse should be to keep feeling the metronome click as the last quaver. Continue to do this until you can keep the beat and you don’t switch the metronome around so that you’re playing with the clicks.

Rhythmic Variations

Practise all the variations below to improve your rhythmic accuracy. Where you have a long note you can either play it for its full duration or play it as a quaver; do it both ways. [the top line shows the rhythms to practise; the bottom line is where the metronome click is]


Now improvise. Stay within the triplet feel, always focusing on keeping the beat rock-solid and making sure everything sits exactly in that feel. If you lose awareness of the beat for a second you’ll rush or drag and the click will immediately feel different. It might shift to a straight 8th feel; or, you’ll shift by a quaver and the click will be on the beat.

Accuracy & Concentration

So to do this requires accuracy of how you feel the pulse & subdivisions, as well as having your technique be pin-point and not rushing or dragging. Also you’ll need to maintain your focus. And these things require time. Go easy on yourself!

I’d suggest trying this for 5 minutes every day. View it like trying to get better at ice-skating – the first time you have a go it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to stay on your feet. Stick with it, and soon you’ll start to feel more relaxed and sure of your time.

Other things to try

More Abstract Ideas

Here are some more ideas that you’re going to have to have a think about. Play around with them and see what you come up with.

Right, time for biscuits… Feel free to share any rhythmic related ideas/thoughts/gibberish below or perhaps share your favourite rhythmically interesting music. Why do you like it? What is going on?

If this seems too hard and you still want to get a smokin’ time feel, all you really have to do is jam along to records and pay close attention to making what you do feel just like what they do.

[highlight]If you want to hear these examples and go further into rhythmic study, you need to check out ElectricCampfire.com. We’ve got some great actionable lessons that’ll show you exactly how to do this kind of thing and more.[/highlight]

Until the next time!


See all posts »

Tony Woods Hidden Fires – New Album

Just released a new recording with long time collaborator Tony Woods. It’s called Hidden Fires and I really like how this one turned out. We did the album launch on Monday and it was a really special gig. Such a great thing to explore music with people over a long period of time. The chaps in the band are all marvellous musicians and it’s a treat to play with them.

Tony Woods Hidden Fires


My favourite track from the record is the title track Hidden Fires. Listen to that track & the whole album below. You can support us by sharing it on social media & purchasing a copy right here.


PS – if you’d like to learn a bit more about the music from ‘Hidden Fires’, I’ll be doing a breakdown of it in my membership site for guitarists – Electric Campfire. Come and check it out!

See all posts »

Mike Outram, Steve Lawson, Emre Ramazanoglu

Hey, couple of new videos for you to check out :)

I asked my pal Steve Lawson (bass/loops/processing) to come play with me at my local gig. He suggested Emre Ramazanoglu (on drums/percussion/electronics). So we all got together for a night of making it all up as we go along style improv.

It’s such good fun to play with these guys. Hope you like…


Thanks to David Webb for capturing it!

See all posts »

More of me…

So, maybe you’ve checked out the entire back catalogue of music and educational offerings from me, and now you have that sad dejected look – ‘wait…surely there must be more…’ —— ‘If only I could find out what he likes to read, or what hobbies he has… *Sigh* If only there were some way to link up on my favourite place on the internet – Last.fm…’

Well, put on your happy face, you, and cheer the fuck up because Lo! It’s all here. Come join the non-stop party action on Medium and Pinterest. 


See all posts »