Archive for August, 2010

Incorporate the Metronome with Guitar

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I’m sure by now, assuming that you have followed GLC for quite some time, you have noticed a trend that points to learning the guitar from home rather than paying for expensive lessons.

The truth is, yes, we do advice instructional DVDs, personal guitar courses and informative DVDs over private lessons because we do think they are just (if not more) effective. However, learning the guitar alone can unknowing create bad habits, inconsistency and quite possibly worst of all – overlooking key concepts that you originally believed were not that important.

That is why this article is dedicated to individuals who have been picking up the guitar by ear. Guitarists who utilize this method are generally what we would call “natural” musicians with a special ability to pick up a new skill quickly, sometimes without the aide of any other program or resource.

For example, I once knew a young man who would jam out with a guitarists well beyond his skill level. The young man loved music and loved being around great musicians even more. Consequently, he liked to hang out with advanced players and “pick their brain.” He would often watch the skilled individual play, stop he or she when something of interest was played and then ask how he too could learn that particular section.

Then, the young man would attempt the very same notes asking for corrections when it did not sound right. After he got the basics down, the young man would go home and practice the very same section over and over again.

While there is nothing wrong with learning the guitar via this method, picking up the instrument by ear may force the aspiring musician to overlook one very crucial element – time.

Yes, time.

We’re not talking about the hands on a clock, but rather “staying in time” or staying with the beat of a song. The beat, or the timing is the heart and soul of a song and without a beat you have no pulse.

I’m sure by now you’re screaming, “Duh!” yet you would be surprised how many novice guitarists forget this incredibly important aspect.

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Let’s start with the basics. We’re going to assume that you’re already familiar and have practiced the common cowboy chords or – A, G, D, E, F, E.

Note: For a great “cowboy chord” jam, search guitar lessons for the song “Gloria”

Unless you have a skilled drummer and some really chill neighbors at your disposal (if only we were all so lucky), the best way to learn to follow the beat and stay in time is by playing with a metronome. You need to use a metronome every time you practice the guitar. It’s a flawless source for a perfect, constant beat that is extremely affordable (sometimes even free).

Start out with an easy 4/4 timing, which is four beats to a measure. Play only quarter notes. As the metronome springs into action, count 1-2-3-4 with a foot. On each count, strum down on the strings.

Now, set the metronome and practice this at different speeds (beats per second) until you feel comfortable with it. After practicing the most basic rhythm pattern for awhile, make things a little more challenging by adding an additional complexity such as strumming on the eighth notes.

Here, you’ll strum on the up stroke along with the down strum in between the beat. Got it? That means you will strum down on the click of the metronome and up at the half beat (or the “&s” below)

Note: If you want to count along, “One & two & three & four &, etc”

Once you have mastered the beat of a song, you can stay on time with any song assuming you have already learned the chords. Sure, different songs have different rhythms but when you get a good understanding and “feel” for various beats of the guitar, you’ll also discover that the learning phase will be that much effortless.

Remember! It’s not that difficult to play guitar: Learn the chords, follow the beat and use a rhythmic strumming pattern.

Click Here! For a free online metronome.

Clean Up Your Lead Guitar

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

One of the common problems several aspiring lead guitarists run into is that once they take up that role, the guitar is a little sloppy. Obviously this is not wanted as you want nothing more than to shine in your lead guitar role.

Thus, the point of today’s post is to examine A) what makes choppy lead guitar and B) how you can correct this issue.

Generally, if you have a hard time playing lead guitar cleanly, the most likely reason is due to excessive guitar string noise. So, for the majority of guitarists this may have nothing to do with improving the way they play but rather simply watching what they do when they strum. 

The root of excess guitar string noise lies in the notes (or strings) that are accidentally played. Ideally you want nothing to do with these notes as they drown out a portion of your lead. Consequently, your remedy lies within a term known as muting techniques.

What are muting techniques?

MusicInfo4All breaks string muting on a guitar into three basic categories – String Muting, Fret-hand Muting and Palm Muting. While all three are different in both technique and purpose, the primary goal of all is simply to mute or distort unwanted notes. Both fret hand muting and palm muting are very individual and stylistic techniques, reserved best for advanced players while string muting is a little easier and more common.

When muting guitar strings, the guitarist has an option of either A) stopping unwanted guitar string noise from LOWER (in pitch) strings or B) muting the higher (in pitch) strings. Again, different methods exist, however the techniques listed below tend to be the most ideal.

Muting the Lower Strings

Most guitarists use the palm of their picking hand to mute lower strings. Although this technique is fairly adequate, some are against this practice as it tends to A) cause a slight delay in the muting of a string which has just been played; and B) when the guitarist uses their palm the natural position of the guitar pick (when not playing) is now away from the strings. This is what some refer to as your Natural Point Of Rest.

Note: The slight delay of unwanted guitar string noise is caused because the flesh of your palm is much softer than the side of your thumb and therefore takes more time for your palm to actually stop the string from sounding. Also, it’s not easy to get your palm in the perfect position thereby reducing the effectiveness even further.

Some say that when your pick is resting up and away from the strings, your picking hand is ultimately working harder and also significantly increasing the chance for sloppy play, string noise and slower picking speeds.

Thus, a fantastic alternative is to mute with your picking hand’s thumb for all lower (in pitch) strings. When you follow this technique you will also notice that the “Natural Point Of Rest” is now on the strings. The result is a drastic reduction in wasted motion as well as a much more comfortable position. 

Muting the Higher Strings

While muting from the lower strings is very common among guitarists, muting the higher strings is actually a foreign concept to the vast majority. Unfortunately, many guitar players are totally unaware of the possibilities for muting unwanted guitar string noise from the higher strings and the result is sloppy lead guitar.

Thankfully, two main techniques exist. Individuals may use the underside (fingerprint side) of the fretting hand’s index finger. This part of your finger is then used to lightly touch the higher strings that you want to mute. The emphasis is on lightly. Simply resting your fingers on the string(s) will do. Secondly, individuals may mute higher strings by using the unused fingers of their non-picking hand (such as middle, ring and pinkie). This extra layer of muting will ensure the removal of unwanted noise. 

In conclusion, guitar muting equals stronger lead guitar. Not satisfied with your current lead guitar. Clean it up with these simple, yet relatively unknown tricks.