Archive for October, 2010

Spooky Guitar Habits – Avoid the Horror Story

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Happy Halloween!

In celebration of the holiday, GLC wanted to examine some absolutely HORROR-iffic bad guitar habits that will transform your potential to be the next Jimmy Page into nothing more than a Guitar Hero high scorer.


LITTLE JIMMY practices his guitar. The instrument is beautiful. Something that has been preserved with great care, beautiful, if you could smell it you would still catch a sniff of that “brand new” smell.

However, there is something wrong. Little Jimmy is playing the instrument with his left hand (the one that presses down on the strings) with a thumb that rests high on the back of the guitar neck. Everyone should know that poor thumb positioning hinders hand and finger mobility. Perhaps this is a horror story after all.

BAD HABIT #1: Watch that thumb positioning on the left hand. The thumb should be positioned low on the back of the neck in order to maximize finger mobility.


Little Jimmy surfs the Web for a helpful guitar tab that will show him how to play the song “Scar Tissue” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

He loves the song and has always wanted to play. Little did he know, focusing too much on guitar tabs and learning to play sections of your favorite songs will only create a monster.

BAD HABIT #2: While guitar tabs are a very sweet alternative to learning sheet music, too many novice guitarists turn to tabs too quickly. Rather, learn the fundamentals and basics FIRST and then slowly progress to that Lynard Skynard “Free Bird” solo.


Little Jimmy is outside, enjoying the wonderful day with his girlfriend. He has not picked up the guitar in a few days but hey, creativity arrives in stretches. There is always tomorrow, right?

BAD HABIT #3: If you realistically want to become a “guitarist” you must practice every day. No, you do not need to put in several hours but a consistent and regular schedule will ONLY ensure progression. Without it, you’ll never become a skilled musician. Try 15 to 30 minutes a day.


Little Jimmy’s girlfriend broke up with the future rock star. Now, he has nothing better to do than practice guitar. That, and prove his ex wrong once he finally makes it.

The only problem is his posture is absolutely horrendous. Dismissing any common sense, Little Jimmy wants to play the guitar with the neck facing down (to change the “culture”), ignores the guitar strap, does not sit up straight and refuses to cut his fingernails.

BAD HABBIT #4: Oh, so simple. Correct posture is required for beginner guitarists just as much as it’s required in a business class. The guitar is your business and you must treat it right. Sit up straight, cut your nails, hold the pick right and for God-sakes – point the guitar UP when playing.


Our story has come to an unfortunate conclusion. Little Jimmy tried to learn the guitar with one too many bad habits. Some say that the tragedy of it all is that Little Jimmy could have become an accomplished musician had he spent a little more time here, a little more time there.

Regardless it was out of tune and ended on a sour note. Little Jimmy’s future was destine for a Manager at Burger King.

BAD HABBIT #5: While the simplest of them all; playing the guitar out-of-tune is a train wreck waiting to happen. Music is all about precision and hitting the right note, at the right time. How can you possibly achieve that feat when your guitar is out of tune? Fess up the money for a solid guitar tuner and tune that puppy EVERY time you play. What are you lazy!?

Train Your Ear — Theta Music Trainer

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Theta Music Trainer has a nice ring to it.


The program was constructed to provide a complete set of online games designed to teach the fundamental skills of music by utilizing the latest developments in music learning techniques. What exactly are the ”latest developments” in music learning techniques? How about a quicker, faster and potentially more effective way to learn music theory?. We’re talking about learning to play music by ear (and hopefully your heart) rather than being bogged down with too much theory taught in too many hours of class time.

Theta Music Trainer insists that despite the common misconception, you can develop a “natural ear” for music without having the natural ability from birth. The “natural ear”, rather, is an acquired skill. One taught through labor and practice.

Which leads us to the central point…

Regardless of your skill level, musicians share a common desire – a desire to demonstrate a ”better ear” when it comes to the music. A musician with a strong ear is ultimately more skilled and more confident. They can memorize music faster, more accurately, imagine melodies and utilize other assets necessary to become a better musician.

That’s where Theta Music Trainer believes they have the remedy. Where other “dry” courses left off, Theta was created with the purpose of injecting an element of fun and excitement into a musician’s daily ear training routine. For example, instead of simply doing the same drills over and over, the training is based around ten different games each designed to strengthen a particular area in the ”musicianship”.

Really? Something that can beat your traditional music theory class in high school? We’re interested.

What you have to really like about Theta Music Trainer is that the games are simple but very effective. You’re not getting a Ps3 (who would expect such on the ‘net) but you are getting a very productive gaming environment. Games are broken down into useful categories/fundamentals such as Melody, Harmony, Rhythm and Sound. You’ll still need to understand a few basics about music theory, however the “Beginner” lessons are fairly accessible for even the rawest talent.

Additionally, the games do not include two, three or even four levels of difficulty but twenty! I’m sorry, but I’m not even sure some of the highest selling games on the XBOX market do that kind of range. That’s certainly refreshing because whether you choose to pay per month ($7.95 p/ month) or per year ($4.50 p/ month), you want to make sure that you can stretch your money as far as possible.

What’s also great is that Theta Music Trainer provides a fairly extensive training and progress reports. Mix that with the opportunity for new subscribers to enroll in a 30-day course which breaks the training into daily workouts (balanced mix of ear training and music theory) and you have a quality package for a reasonable price.

For more information, check out:

Strum Guitar with Big Fingers: Myth or Reality?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

It’s true, we’re all created differently. It’s also true that some of us have bigger fingers than others. Thus, is it harder (gasp) if not impossible to play the guitar for some with large fingers?

Myth or reality?

Granted, GLC has received it’s fair share of people who claim that the guitar is just not meant for them.

Fact! The vast majority of guitarists will find a reliable excuse for not mastering the guitar. Fact! Fat fingers are a liability but one that you can overcome. In reality, learning the guitar with ”bigger fingers than average” is both a vice but not a complete hazard. You can rock with big fingers but it’s going to take a little extra patience. For now, here are a few tips for those who find big fingers an unwanted hurrdle to their guitar playing.

TIP #1: Buy a Guitar with a wide neck

The primary complaint with big finger guitarists is that “my fingers are too big or fat”. Thus, they have trouble fretting the strings accurately. The strings buzz because the fingers are too wide to fit the strings. Well, the easiest remedy is simply to invest in a guitar with a wider neck. Acoustic guitarists should look into a “jumbo” body guitar as they have the widest neck. Electric guitarists? How about a Gibson Les Paul style rather than a strat or telecaster style? Sure, it’s a minute difference but like football, every inch counts, right?

TIP #2: Use a Plectrum for the right hand

A plectrum is a nice aide for those with big fingers as the strumming and plucking will be substantially easier. Highly recommended for beginners, you’ll learn to strum well as you advance.

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TIP #3: Innovative Chord Techniques 

Cover the old-school guitarists because this is going to hit them hard. You do NOT have to play all chords exactly how the local guide or Internet expert expert advices. Simply, many chords may be played the exact same way with one less finger (the A major is a prime example). The bottom line is that if you find it easier to strum the chord with two rather than three fingers please strum the chord with ONLY TWO FINGERS!


Truthfully, you can master the guitar with fat fingers. In fact, some advantages even exist to having such a dilemma (bar chords anyone?). Regardless, we all find roadblocks in our attempt to learn the guitar. The point is to overcome those issues and enjoy something that not only you’ve invest time but also money into.


Food for Thought — 5 Important Guitar Course Features

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

So you’ve made the plunge. You’ve opted to learn the guitar through a self-taught lesson rather than pay for private lessons with a personal instructor. You’re more than likely a self-motivated, driven individual but more than anything really enthusiastic about learning the guitar.

Congratulations! You’re perfect for the job.

Throughout the next weeks and months, your assignment, if you choose to accept, will be to learn and master everything you can about the guitar. But you cannot do that until you pick the course that is perfect for you. What is the perfect guitar lesson course you may ask? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. To each his or her own.

So let’s look into five common yet very important features of a “good” guitar course. When researching and comparing courses you’ll likely find three to four really solid lessons but you’ll be divided between which one is the best. These five important guitar course features may convince you of the product that is just right.

#1 Quality of Lessons

When shopping for guitar courses, always note the quality over quantity approach. Sure, one course may advertise 300 guitar lessons but how many of those lessons are actually teaching valuable information and exactly how long are those lessons. I don’t know about you, but I would take 50, quality, 20+ minute lessons over 300, dry, 2 minute lessons. It’s all about the quality. How do you get good quality with online guitar lessons? That’s a great question…

#2 Teaching Style

It’s not exactly about who is teaching when it comes to online guitar lessons, but rather how many people are teaching and of course…what’s their background. Arguably one of the greatest features of self-taught lessons through book and DVD is that you can get multiple different opinions from multiple teachers. You may have a particular name in mind. However, you’re much more likely to not know a name yet seek a particular style. Do you enjoy, lively, energetic teachers or straight-to-the-point, step-by-step educators? Always consider the style of the teacher.

#3 Support

This feature is often overlooked so make sure you’re aware of its importance. In the last feature we examined one of the strongest selling points of online guitar lessons — the availability of multiple teachers on one course. Now let’s look at a major drawback — a lack of support. No personal instructor means NO personal instructor. You’re going to get confused, lost and have a question or two from time to time. Invest in a product that has features like 24/7 chat, phone, forum or any other way you can either connect with an expert or fellow guitarists. You need these people during your early struggles learning the guitar.

#4 Additional Features

We define “additional features” as anything that goes above and beyond the basic tools and resources needed to learn the guitar. For example, have you ever considered how important a metronome is and how few online guitar courses actually provide one with the program? Wouldn’t it also be nice to have a variety of different backing tracks once you become a little more advanced and want to strum along with a tune? Again, some have them…some do not. Write down five things you would really like as extras to your guitar learning experience and your goal is to try and find one program that offers them all. Deal?

#5 Value

Ah, the good ole’ C.R.E.A.M. rule. Price does rule everything around you and selecting the best guitar lesson is clearly no different. The key term here is value. You do not want a product that is too expensive, because, after all we all have budgets. Some guitar lessons out there are simply way too over-priced. On the contrary, avoid those ridiculous “bargain deals”.  As always, common sense is advised. Find something that is a nice, “happy medium”.

In short, the basics to learning the guitar have not changed. However, some programs (just like educators) are better than other programs (or fellow educators). If you’re going to spend money on a course that will teach you the guitar why waste it on something that is not appropriate to your individual needs and/or learning style?

Consider the five most important online guitar lesson features, research convulsively and consider wisely. Oh yeah, and we also broke down what we found to be the five best guitar lessons utilizing this same criteria. Enjoy!