Archive for July, 2010

Guitar Made Easy: Guitar Strings

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

The very thought of restringing your guitar alone can make some people fret (again, no pun intended), however the process is much easier than you may have previously concluded.

There are, before we get started, a couple myths related to restringing your guitar:

  • You don’t have to do it often
  • It’s very difficult and best left in the hands of professionals

You should restring your guitar often (especially if you play a lot) to preserve that pure sound, although there are a couple of steps you can take to increase longevity. Also, it’s a practice that you can do without the aide of a local guitar shop, instructor, etc.

So, before we begin, you must first tell yourself, ‘I can restring my guitar.’ If you still do not believe it, than say it again and again.

Annoyed? Good, now let’s get rolling… 

The first thing you must consider when it comes to new strings for the guitar is the size. Just as a size nine foot will not fit well in a size 13 shoe, a particular size string may not “fit” with your guitar and style of music.

Consider this: What tune do you regularly play in? The lower the tuning = the heavier the gauge. The higher the tuning, and you guessed it, the lighter the gauge. Selecting a gauge appropriate to your music will keep your strings consistently tight and avoid too much fret buzz.

Once you select a gauge, you must either own or borrow a string winder (manual or automatic), wire cutters, and a bridge pin puller if you have an acoustic guitar. NEVER attempt to restring a guitar merely by hand. It’s a waste of your time.

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Once you have the new strings with appropriate gauge and tools, it’s time to get dirty. First, remove the old strings. The first step, as in most cases, is really straightforward and easy. All you need to do is unwind the strings until they flop off. 

Note: A bridge pin puller is needed for this step if you are working with an acoustic guitar.

Once the old strings are off, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Open the package and begin with the lowest string (low E). You’ll want to work low to high because tonally it makes much more sense.

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Start by placing the first string through the bridge hole. If you are re-stringing an acoustic, place the strings anchor in the bridge hole and then place the bridge pin after it. Make sure you keep the string tight so the bridge pin stays in place.

Next, bring the strings end up through the hole in the tuning peg and pull it until there is enough slack to wind the string about three to five times around the peg. The string should now be nice and tight and perform something of a relevant tone. Use the wire cutters to trim off the excess and repeat the process for the remaining strings.

Once you finish with the high E string, it’s time to move to the last step in the process. Please note that this step is important as it will prevent any premature snapping.

Loosely tune the guitar so you know how tight your strings are going to be. Once again, beginning with the low E string, place your left hand over the first few frets as if you were muting the strings. Use your right hand to pull gently upward close to your left hand.

Repeat this moving up the fretboard as you double check to make sure the string is nice and stretched out. You will than notice that the string you just tuned is way more flat sounding. Tune this string again and it should be able to hold its tune for a much longer period of time. Continue this process for the remaining strings.

As you have probably discovered while reading this post, restringing a guitar is fairly straightforward and a rather mindless activity. Remember, work low to high and place emphasis on the final step to ensure quality and longevity.

Jazz Guitar: The Sheer Basics

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Welcome to the wonderful world of jazz music.

Jazz has long at the epicenter of American music. It originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions.

According to A New History of Jazz by Alyn Shipton, from its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th century American popular music. Its West African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note.

However, Art Blakey has been quoted as saying, “No America, no jazz. I’ve seen people try to connect it to other countries, for instance to Africa, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Africa.”

Regardless of what you connect as the origins of jazz, you will, no doubt, also attribute its impact on a variety of other sub-genres. From big-band in the 30s and 40s to bebop, Latin, funk, and hip- hop – jazz has left an impression.

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Naturally, it is then acceptable to see why so many aspiring guitarists want to learn jazz. This is especially true of people who have a deep rooted appreciation of music and belove the improv nature of this amazing genre.  

Every guitarist has his or her own style. Some are very traditional, like true “modern rock” or “metal” guitarists, while others find one style they like and add bits of influence from many other genres into their music.

That’s the beauty of music. There is no limitation.

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If you would like to make jazz your style, than you must first understand the basics, theory, and common practices of this special genre.

The jazz guitar can be a tough style to learn because it has a very distinctive sound to it. Whereas rock guitar and other styles utilize reverb and distortion to alter the sound of the instrument, jazz guitar is renown for its smooth sound. Thus, you must be able to hear the strings, not gain or distortion.

Improvisation, as previously mentioned, is not only a trademark but key element of jazz guitar. Improvisation is of course, a difficult skill and one of the few that is very hard to teach. For example, the most famous jazz guitarists such as Charlie Christian, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, and George Benson were already blessed with a natural ear for improv. 

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Improvisation is much more of a natural talent or skill than it is something you can acquire, however it is possible to heighten your senses to it by having an advanced understanding of scales, chords, and keys. These three elements are absolutely essential, as the leader of a jazz band will often call out a different key on the fly and expect everyone else in the group to immediately follow suit.

Learning different types of chords and scales is absolutely crucial. Chords like sustained chords and augmented fifths are simply regular chords with a note or two added and are great places to start with the jazz guitar. Also, individuals should practice scales beyond the regular pentatonic and chromatic scales to increase versatility.

At first glance, mastering the jazz guitar may appear a daunting feat and rest assured, it is a large challenge. However, it’s not impossible and with an advanced understanding and focus on chords, scales, keys, and improvisation, you too could become the next great jazz musician.

Play the Guitar without an Instructor

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

“Many will enter, few will survive.”

The above quote may be more appropriate for a gladiator movie, yet it’s also in a strange way fitting of the process in which you attempt to learn to play the guitar.

Think about it. The guitar is not too physically demanding but what it lacks in real, tangible stress it makes up for in mental frustration. Learning a musical instrument is not easy and by now I’m sure you have heard that a thousand different times.

That’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to examine the many ways in which it is possible to learn to play the guitar without the aide of an instructor.

Personal instructors are time consuming, demanding, and more than anything expensive. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t need them. In fact, I’m here to tell you that you can do better (gasp) on your own. I’m here to tell you that learning the guitar has never been so easy to pick-up as it is in the 21st century.

So, where do you begin? Self-taught guitarists would tell you that it is definitely possible to self teach guitar based on their experience. These people are also highly dedicated, organized, and determined to their craft – playing the electric or acoustic guitar.

However, not everyone is as dedicated, organized, and determined as those same individuals. In fact, most struggle to remain self-motivated, especially when they are picking up the guitar at an older age when school, work, family, etc seem to always take precedence.

Consequently, in theory, it’s not that hard to learn the guitar but it is hard to stay committed. If you’re a real human like the rest of us, chances are that getting an education or making a living is going to have to take priority over being a rockstar…for now anyways.

- Dedication, Organization, Determination -

Get it, Got it? Good.

If you really think that the guitar is self-taught than you must possess all three traits. Then, you need to look into the three most important, yet overlooked tips.

1. Structure Your Lessons

The most common mistake is to pick up short tutorials from various sources such as guitar books, websites, or magazines and fail to structure everything together. The problem with studying various and seemingly unconnected tutorials is that they share no relation, so beginners are unable to make sense of the standard guitar concepts.

The result is the revelation that you’re not progressing but merely picking up a variety of otherwise useful lessons scattered in an inconceivable order. Hence, the individual losses passion for the instrument, failing to develop a strong foundation in proper techniques needed to progress.

Structured guitar lessons should progress in challenge and complexity. You should start with the sheer basics, such as posture, hand position, holding of the pick, tuning, etc. Slowly you should evolve into basic chords, scales, rhythm, and strumming patterns. The lessons are sequential.

Get it, Got It? Good. 

2. Learning Plan

Now that you have structured lessons, the guitarist must institute a lesson plan. When will you play and for how long? This should be a strict time each day that is consistent. It’s not good enough to just assume you’ll practice when you “have a minute.” Daily practice is necessary, so you cannot merely think it’s a once or twice a week type of activity.

3. Self-Discipline

A wise man once asked, “I have the foundation and the tools, what else do I really need?” Exactly. The structured lessons will serve as your foundation while the lesson plans will work as your material and tools. With this solid foundation, material, and tools, the guitarist truly does not have a reasonable excuse for failing.

Remember, it all goes back to dedication, organization, and determination. Everything is outlined for you, now it’s time to put your intentions into action.

Now, laying out the three basic (but often) overlooked tips may seem easy enough, but if you are a logical person you can probably cite something that is even wrong with this plan.


The bottom line is that you can be the most stubborn, organized, and driven aspiring guitarist of all-time, but if you lack the knowledge of the instrument you are destine to fail. That is where personal instructors came in for decades and where the Web is slowly replacing them. Someone or something must be your source for reference because after all, if you already had all the information, knowledge, insights, and wisdom on the guitar, you probably wouldn’t be classified as a “beginner” now would you?

Here is where online, self-taught guitar lessons come into the equation. They are one part personal instructor (often taught by expert in the industry who lives far, far from you) and another part self-driven. So you are essentially learning to play the guitar alone, but with the advice, tips, and lesson plans from one of the greatest guitarists in the world.

Not bad when you think about it.

In fact, GLC has dedicated its entire online existence into providing you with the very best online guitar courses in the world. Suddenly, $19.95 for JamPlay or even $149 for Learn & Master Guitar doesn’t sound so bad.

Click Here! For our full, detailed reviews on the top four programs.

Here is my challenge. I dare you to skip the costly needs of a personal instructor and to otherwise use that monetary investment on an online guitar course. Often you can download or order these programs via mail, go through the lessons at your pace, and learn as much if not more from these highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers.

Playing the guitar without an instructor…it’s as simple as that.

Customize the Guitar Neck

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

The majority of artists throughly believe that their own instrument is an essential element of the music experience. The “one size fits all” mentality does not exist in the musical world. We’ll leave that to baseball caps.

Rather, the musical instrument you play is completely central to you – the artist. Aside from the artist’s need to have a guitar that feels suitable within their hands, the instrument must also communicate the correct mindset of one’s music. The challenge, thus becomes for the musician to transform what appears to be a guitar, like any other guitar, into one that complements the distinctive style and reflective tone of the artist.

Keep in mind that the ideology of a “customizable guitar neck” is more appropriate for the moderate to advanced player. Most standard guitar necks are adequate for the typical guitarist. However, when those same guitarists begin to advance either in interest or skill, some desire for a more custom-made piece.

Enter [customized guitar necks]

Customizing the guitar neck is popular among guitarists largely due to the fact that it’s rather easy to accomplish and several different varieties exist.

Among the most popular and easiest is to merely switch out a neck plate. The World Wide Web is filled with a nearly endless supply of neck plates, which when combined with your local music shop, is likely to have something for you. Yet if the abundance of guitar plates available on the Internet is still not enough, a few will opt to completely customize their plate from a specialty store.

How To Replace A Guitar Neck Plate

Note: A few guitarists, especially those with famous vintage guitars, are frequently blessed with an already distinctive and recognizable guitar neck plate.

If you really have an artistic side, some will take the customizable approach a step further by manually painting the guitar neck. This is a very rewarding experience, especially if you do the procedure right. Should you be experienced, prepared, and confident enough to carry out this task, consult the proper ways to paint the guitar neck. In any event, the musician must be certain that the proper kind of finish is utilized on the guitar, in order to preserve the correct tone.

Making Neck Adjustments on an Electric Guitar — powered by

If you still do not feel comfortable with the whole “I’ll just paint it myself concept,” several guitar shops will be willing to carry out your “dream project.” Stop by your local music shop when you get a chance and ask about what they will do for “custom guitar neck creations.”

You will find that most, if not all guitar shops, will offer some type of guitar customization and should have plenty of terrific ideas for the guitar neck specifically. Provide them with the exact theme or details you want. Maybe you’re favorite band is The Rolling Stones and the shop could find a way to incorporate their famous tongue logo onto the neck?

The options are literally endless.

So if you have a birthday (or even Christmas) coming up soon, why not splurge a little and treat yourself to a brand new look? The beauty of guitars, perhaps more than any other instrument, is the numerous ways they are designed, constructed, painted, and even bruised through the years of playing.

It’s true, no two guitars are exactly alike.