Archive for May, 2010

Purchase Guitars Online

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

It’s true. The buyer’s market is shifting to the World Wide Web. People cannot get enough of shopping and buying products online. The availability and ease of comfort (shopping from one’s home) are clearly two of the strongest selling points for online retailers.

Which brings us to a question we often receive on Guitar Lessons Critic. “Should I buy my new guitar online?”

Purchase Guitars Online: Overview

First, let’s study the benefits of buying the guitar online:

  • Wide selection
  • Shop from the Convenience of your Home
  • Cheaper Prices and Terrific Sales
  • Shipped to Your Front Door

Based on the selection, afford-ability, and comfort of online shopping – many beginner guitarists opt to go this route. However, they may miss out on a few opportunities that one would receive if they were to buy the guitar from a local retailer. For example, shopping at an actual retailer provides the following benefits:

  • Chance to actually “feel” and “see” the Guitar before Purchasing
  • Conversing with a Store Representative who is likely an Expert with Guitars
  • Taking home the Guitar the same day you Bought it
  • DO NOT have to pay with Credit Card and hand over Personal Information
  • Generally offer better Return Policies and Warranties

Purchase Guitars Online: Questions to Ask

Now that you know the pros and cons of purchasing a guitar online you must make a decision. Will you buy from a local retailer or opt to go online? If you still are sold on the Internet, than you must ask yourself the following:

  • Is the retailer reputable?
  • What is the company’s history? How long have they been in business, what is their feedback rating, where are their headquarters?
  • Do you know anyone who has shopped there previously? Were they satisfied with the product? The service?
  • What type of payment options do they offer? Anyone who does not utilize PayPal is sketchy at best.
  • What is their return policy like? How long is the warranty good for?
  • Are they easy to contact? Do they offer a resolution center with 24/7 chat and a valid 1-800 line?

Always try and purchase products from trustworthy online retailers like eBay, Amazon, etc. This is even more important when you desire to buy something used, but it is still not “bulletproof” as scams occur on eBay too.

Purchase Guitars Online: Buyer Feedback

The buyer feedback is quite possibly the most valuable tool online shoppers can use. Feedback on sites like eBay allow users the opportunity to discover a little about the seller’s history. Most general feedback systems display the number of times feedback was left and then a percentage of that feedback is calculated as positive/negative. eBay takes it a step further with the “Power Seller” label.

If you plan to purchase a guitar from a site like eBay, Amazon, etc you should only do business with buyers that have a 95% or higher approval rate with a minimum of 10 reviews (20-30 on the very conservative side). “Power Sellers” do this for a living and have likely sold hundreds if not thousands of products online.

If you plan to buy a guitar from an actual retailer or distributor, do business with companies that search high on Google, Yahoo, etc and have a detailed background with high quality customer service and return policies. Keep in mind that it’s real easy to create a “professional” looking web page, so do your research prior to making any purchase.

Purchase Guitars Online: PayPal

PayPal appears to be the “go-to” escrow system for online transactions and for good reason. The site is very reliable, protecting both your identity and funds. Never just blindly send a check in the mail, hoping that this company will someday return with a new guitar. Make sure that the buyer is verified with the Veri-Sign Secured button at the bottom of the home page. Keep in mind that anyone can copy and paste, so you need to click on the button to ensure it’s accuracy.

For example, when clicking on the Veri-Sign button on the home page of a guitar retailer like, one is transfered to this page.

Purchase Guitars Online: Recommended Retailers

Below is a list of a few music suppliers that we would recommend for your new guitar. Please keep in mind that their are several other reputable companies not listed below.

Guitar Center
Musician’s Friend
Guitar Trader Online


Purchase Guitars Online: Conclusion

Please consider the article as a warning rather than an attempt to steer you away from online shopping. By listing everything that could go wrong or you need to look out for, we hope that this will successfully provide you with a pleasurable experience.

Your guitar is meant to be enjoyed and once you do own one, be sure to check out some of our top rated online guitar courses. These courses will truly take you to the next level and allow your dreams to become a reality.

Mic the Guitar Amp for the Studio

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The past decade has presented numerous technological advances to the music industry. From the equipment used to record music to the vary devices that we replay the music with – music technology is advancing more to the common man. It’s growing, changing, and evolving for the best.

For example, in the past, a great guitar sound was reliant on owning a deluxe guitar amp, a quality microphone, and a decent studio or room. These days, with a simulation unit such as a Line6 pod, and a PC, musicians may digitally record a convincing guitar from their very own bedroom.

This proven, but highly undiscovered technique is a hidden gem in the guitar world. Guitarists no longer need an expensive amp to, no pun intended, create a rich sound. You also do not have to own/rent a studio to be able to crank that amp to the kind of volume needed to capture a classic guitar tone.

When it comes to miking a guitar amp, there are several different approaches and all of them are very valid. However, it is considered a standard practice to use a dynamic microphone. What is a dynamic microphone? Dynamic microphones are robust, cheap, do not require a separate power source, and are perfect for close proximity miking. Dynamic mics handle high pressure levels well.

Condenser microphones, on the other hand are sensitive, expensive, and need a third-party power source. They are also a very valid recording choice, but not appropriate for everyone’s budget.

TIP: The most commonly used dynamic mic models are the Shure 57 & Sennheiser MD421.

Once you purchase a dynamic or condenser mic, you may now experiment with various miking techniques. As previously mentioned, several different options exist. For example, you may:

  • place a single, dynamic mic close to the speaker
  • place a single, dynamic mic, 6 to 12 inches from the speaker
  • incorporate multiple close, dynamic mics
  • combine close and distant mics
  • or, utilize front and back miking for “open-backed” combo amps

Again, there is no right or wrong answer. The miking technique depends on the sound desired and even professionals will change their method on a case-by-case basis.

Let’s examine some of the more popular techniques listed above.

Single Dynamic Mic CLOSE to Speaker

The microphone is placed directly at the front-center of the speakers center. Set the mic so it nearly, but does not touch the front grill. Varying where, along the radius the mic is placed, will affect the tonality of the recorded sound. Placing it in the middle will result in a bright, punchy sound, while the closer the mic gets to the edge, the darker the tonality will sound.

Single Dynamic Mic, 6 – 12 inches from Speaker

Just like the same technique demonstrated above, only this time the microphone is slightly further from its source. You will capture more room ambiance with this method. It will also result in a more developed sound.

Multiple Mics CLOSE to Speaker

Recording the amp with different mics and blending the sound will result in more dynamic, richer tone. Some engineers will place one dynamic mic dead-center to the speaker and another on the edge. Engineers will also tilt one of the mics slightly off-axis, as this will give another variation to the sound.

Combination CLOSE and DISTANT Mics

If you also own a decent condenser microphone, this method is ideal. Place the dynamic mic(s) close to the amp and the more powerful and sensitive condenser, position anywhere from 6 inches to a few feet away.

Front and Back Miking with “Open-Backed” Combo Amps

Place a dynamic close to the amp and then place a condenser close to the back of the amplifier. The blend will create a nice mix, but keep in mind that this is an advanced technique and could introduce phase issues remedied only by a skilled engineer.

The CAGED Method

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I promise you that The CAGED Method is not a name of a band (although that would be pretty sweet). The CAGED Method, is in fact, a simple way to learn the sheer basics of the guitar.

What is The CAGED Method?

It’s a method that is designed to get your fingers use to switching chords quickly and ultimately building up strength and dexterity in your hands. The method is titled as such because it educates the beginner guitarist on the main chords that are in the majority of songs. And what exactly are those chords? The C, A, G, E & D.

To learn more about each chord, click the following links: C, A, G, E, D. Or, keep reading to learn more about the CAGED method below.

The primary purpose of the CAGED system is to learn the fretboard. Guitarists who incorporate this technique will also learn just about any scale.


In order to begin, the guitarist should look at the octave shapes formed by the Root Notes of each of these chords. The Root Notes are the red notes above. It’s important that you learn these so well that you don’t need to think about them. As you get better at finding the notes on the fretboard you will find it easy to find these chords in any position almost instantly.

By removing all of the notes except for the octave shapes, you can see these patterns more clearly. Note that what you are left with are all the possible ways of fingering movable Octave Patterns.

If the guitarist proceeds to arrange the notes so that they form the word “CAGED,” the individual will then be able to chart every note on the entire fretboard.

YouTube Preview Image provides one of the best examples of the CAGED technique.

If you practice these chord positions regularly until you know them by heart and make sure you practice them in all twelve keys, you will eventually master the CAGED technique. Practice and working on the twelve keys is incredibly important. If you can’t use them in all keys, then you are never going to see any benefit from using this method.

The other primary use of the CAGED system is to help with guitar solos. The chord shapes and positions learned through the CAGED method is instrumental in the foundation needed to discover chord tones, arpeggios, and scales anywhere on the fretboard. You can discover this wealth of information very quickly if you are indeed familiar with the method.

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A great guitar solo isn’t just about choosing the right scale (that’s easy to do for most chord progressions) but is related to the accurate and creative use of chord tones. Scales can be put to good use in a decent guitar lead, however they are often used as the core, the foundation if you like. The best solo’s have character.

They always fit the music perfectly and most of the time this is done by knowing the best notes to use at the best time. Some have the “ear” for a guitar solo while others will learn the proper use of chord tones through practice techniques like The CAGED Method.

The Stage Presence of a Guitarist

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Did you know an artist will make 95% of his or her revenue on stage?

The importance of a fantastic stage presence is vital to say the least. Yet, according to Alex Boye of Expert Village, the “talent” is often overlooked.

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Before we get too detailed, one may ask, ‘What really is your stage presence?’

Good question.

One source defines your stage presence as “a performance skill—a quality defined by a performer’s ability to command the audience’s attention through projection, focus, attention, expression, confidence, and so on.”

Note the emphasis on “command.” A great entertainer will command the audience’s attention and thus win over their hearts. Consequently, the goal of this article is to learn how to command the audience. You do that and you’ll be fine.

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Confidence. As Alex Boye said it, is extremely important. If you have it, you can “get away with a multitude of sins.” If you lack it, you’ll be lucky to survive before getting booed off stage.

Now, this may sound really easy but anyone who has been on stage before will beg to differ. When you are in the spotlight, in front of hundreds (if not thousands) of fans, your legs will begin to shake and your heart will feel like it’s about to pound out of your chest. This is common. It’s natural.

Everyone has nerves before they take the stage. Some may be more “natural” at having a great stage presence but nobody is perfect. Some of the world’s greatest performers will even tell you that a few butterflies before a show is a good thing. So do not run away from your nerves but embrace them.

My college speech teacher told me that you may “feel like crap” when you’re performing in front of others, but how you feel rarely translates to how you actually look. That is why so many speech classes in high school or college will tape the speech. It’s highly likely that the student will feel like they did a horrible job, but once they see the performance, they will agree that it actually was not as bad it may have initially appeared.">" alt="YouTube Preview Image" />

Stage presence is actually an acquired skill that will improve with practice. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has access to the city’s venue each week with thousands of fans. Thus, one must practice alone in front of such bizarre “audiences” as a mirror. You may look silly, but you can learn a lot by practicing in front of a mirror.

If you are a guitarist, it’s highly likely that you perform with a band. Sharing the stage with others may take some of the individual pressure off of yourself. However, the guitarist and singer (or singer/guitarist) are two of the most important positions in a band. Fans really dig the singer and they really dig the guitarist. Consequently, you must find an individualistic stage presence while matching with that of the band.

You need to command the audience, elude confidence, and without a doubt play good music – but one thing you no not want to do is act like a phony. You can spot a phony from a mile away. They try to “over do it.” Some may say, on the other hand, that a great stage presence is 100% natural and derives from playing music that you love and are passionate about. So just be natural. It makes for a great debate.

I believe it’s somewhere in between. A great live band has a stage presence that is both natural and well rehearsed. They know when to “stick to the script” and when to improvise.

Aspiring guitarists and bands can learn a lot from some of the greatest live bands of all-time. recently put together a top ten list and the number one spot belonged to Queen. As the web site accurately put it:

“Simply one of the greatest performers of all time, Freddie Mercury’s passion and theatrics could not be matched when he was up on stage. Singing himself beet-red in the face and acting out every lyric as if his life depended on it, seeing Mercury perform was a revelation.”

YouTube Preview Image begged to differ and placed U2 at the number one spot. Regardless, you can learn several tricks from many of the artists on these lists.

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