Archive for the ‘Guitar’ Category

Find the Right Guitar

Monday, November 29th, 2010

This past weekend we, here in the United States, celebrated Thanksgiving. However, the day after – affectionately known as “Black Friday” — is arguably becoming as if not more important. You may consider that a tragedy but the reality is that we are a consumer nation and the philosophy these days is it’s never too soon to buy gifts.

Well, with Christmas rapidly approaching, I’m guessing that a few of you may be looking for Santa to bring a new guitar. Perhaps you’ve never played before and have always wanted to try? Or, maybe you are a seasoned guitarist who wants to upgrade? Regardless, embracing your new guitar will be one of the sweetest days of your life.

But is a guitar really an ideal gift?

Not exactly and here is why. Prior to buying an instrument that will set you back several hundred, you should test it out with your hands. You’ll discover in our guide to finding the right guitar below that you should check several features of the guitar before handing over the cash. Hence, if you really want a guitar for Christmas let your parents know, go with them to the store, try out a few different guitars, tell them which one suits you best and then act pleasantly surprised when you get that very same guitar Christmas day.

Finding the Right Guitar

Before we begin, please note that a common pitfall for beginning students is simply that they are learning on the wrong guitar. Heed to this advice and you will be properly equipped.

#1 Do you really need to go full-size?

Going “full-size” may sound like a question from a car salesman or a McDonalds combo meal, but the term also applies to guitars. When we say “full size” guitar we mean its a guitar with a full-length neck. However, does your nine year-old son who may play for a week and completely forget about the instrument really need the full package? Even for serious students, full-size instruments can be bulky, delicate, expensive and harder to play than reduced-scale acoustics. Consider the later for the first guitar.

 #2 Electric vs. Acoustic?

Ah, the time tested question. Everyone has a different opinion but the reality is that electric guitars (when properly set-up) are easier to play and chances are, most aspiring musicians want to play music that was recorded with an electric guitar NOT acoustic. Thus, electric is more than likely your answer. Manufacturers like Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez and Washburn all offer quality and budget friendly electric guitars.

#3 Go with the Package

You’ve probably shopped at Wal-Mart or Target before and noticed a beginner’s package that is equipped with everything you need to get started. This, of course, includes the practice amp, cables, picks and actual guitar. You can find quality packages for as low as $300 and make the perfect gift for a beginner.

#4 Double check for “Playability”

What exactly is “playability”? This is determined by the height of the strings from the fretboard, spacing between strings as well as width of the neck. The bottom line is that if these dimensions do not fit to your individual needs, it’s going to make learning twice as hard. Before you buy a guitar, always check to see if you can reach around the body of the guitar with your right hand. With your left, reach around the guitar neck. If the guitar does not pass these two simple tests, it’s not for you. Abnormally large fingers? You may want to look into a guitar with a wider neck.

#5 Consult the expert

This step is so simple but often overlooked either because A) you think you already know everything or B) you’re too afraid to ask because you consider it a dumb question. If you go to a reputable music store, the employees are suppose to be knowledgeable, experts even, with guitars. They can answer your individual questions, concerns, needs and whatever else you need addressed prior to the actual purchase. Ask. It’s not going to hurt you.

The Guitarist Survival Guide — Ace Your First Gig

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

So you’ve been playing the guitar for quite some time now. You’ve developed a nice practice habit, absorbed all the information possible and even joined a band. Where do you go from here? You play your first gig, of course.

I’m guessing that what motivated you to get into playing the guitar in the first place was eventually to perform. Do not get me wrong, practicing in your lonely old room is fun and all but the true joy of music comes from playing it in front of others. However, your first gig is going to be a little nerve-racking and more than anything NOT perfect.

Which means do not set your standards low (always shoot for the best) but after the gig is all said and done realize that you made mistakes and the beauty is that you can learn and improve on those mistakes. So what’s The Guitarist Survival Guide to acing the first gig?

I like to divide this guide into five separate steps…


This is the entire build up to your very first show. I’m talking about both the personal practice needed to hold your own in the band as well as the business side of actually booking that first show. You should obviously know the songs by heart and be familiar with the set-list prior to the gig. However, for an artist approaching the business side it may not be so easy. Remember to start with something small. This is your first show after all and it’s going to take some time to make your act known. Do not be afraid to play in a little venue and if all else fails, playing for free is not the worst thing in the world. Just do not make it a habit — you’re a respectable guitarist in a respectable band.

Gear Prep

If you’re nervous, it’s easy to overlook the gear prep. Big mistake! You must know your gear in and out, from what guitar works best for which songs to amp and effect settings. Double check that your strings are in good condition and that you have plenty of extra picks, string, cable, etc. Even little things like an extra set of batteries for your FX are important. Remember, nothing screams amateur more than a band that is not properly equipped.

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The Arrival

You may idolize rock stars who did not play by the rules but for God sakes be respectful and BE EARLY. You’re not Led Zeppelin and the world does not revolve around your music. Those bands may have been able to get away with murder and unreasonable requests, but your local venue has plenty of other acts they can book if you’re just plain rude. Trust us, they’ll not give you a second chance. So do the little things (like being nice to the sound guy) and handle personal business (like arranging how your getting paid) in a professional and respectful manner.

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The Performance

This is your opportunity to shine. In sports you hear the cliché, “preparation is everything”. The same is true of the rock show. It may look and feel great but those acts put a hell of lot of preparation into that performance. If you’re prepared, you’ll do great. A few pre-show jitters are expected. Take a deep breathe and relax. Remember, amazing performers are beloved because they have terrific stage presence, interact with the audience and do not just stare down at their guitar the entire time. HAVE FUN!

Wrap it Up

You may think your first gig ends with the final note of the final song but you are wrong. You have to tear down the set, thank the individual who booked you, meet and chat with your fans…and get paid. Most importantly do not forget to get paid. Pack your stuff up first and be courteous. If the manager likes your music and likes you personally, they’ll surely look to bring you back. Enjoy the rest of your night!

These are the Bends

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Today we’re going to take a look at guitar bends, something that you could classify as an “moderate to advanced guitar technique”. What are the bends? Simply, the guitar bend is designed to give what some guitarists simply refer to as the “voice”. Think about it this way: You can play the note but what happens when you play that same note and also put a twist on it? That twist is what we define as a change in the pitch.

Depending on your skill level, either guitar bends have become something that is simply second nature or rather a particular skill you’ve always wanted to master but afraid it could be too difficult. Truthfully, bends are not exactly extraordinary complicated but they will give you a lot of trouble in the early stages.

As I already mentioned, guitar bends is all about changing the pitch in the note. While this may sound relatively easily it does take some practice and focus to make it work right. Which is what we’re all after, right?

Guitar bends are executed by using not one, not two, but three fingers. This is accomplished by placing your third finger on the fret you are trying to bend while placing your first and second fingers on the frets behind it. Exert pressure with all three fingers and ah-la — you got a bend.

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So, for example, you could fret the note on the eight fret, third string with your third finger. Then, you would place your second finger on the third string seventh fret and your first finger on the third string, sixth fret.

Got it?

Your ultimate goal is to bend the note up one semi-tone – or what guitarists refer to as a “half step” – and then return the note to its original pitch. You do this by picking the note you want to bend, pressing (in an upward motion or toward you) while still putting some pressure on the strings. A common mistake is to only want to bend the note with your primary finger (in this case, the third finger) while the other two remain still. However, a wise guitarist will use all three fingers. After you have accomplished the bend desired, return the note to its original pitch.

If the first time you practice a guitar bend the pitch does not seem to alter much, fret not. Guitar bends do take practice and you will not master them at first. Acoustic guitarists, beware, I hate to break the news but guitar bends are even a little tougher on acoustic.

Remember when you first started playing the guitar and your fingers ached for like two weeks? That’s how you have to approach the bends. You’re likely using finger muscles you’ve never used before and they will take time to develop. Hey, Hogan did not become the Hulk overnight either.

Patience truly is a virtue.

Note: Once you master the “half-step” bend try a “full-step” bend which requires that you bend the note up TWO frets.

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!

Guitar Lesson Lounge – Rest Easy, Come Back Often

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Guitar Lesson Lounge

The vast abundance of guitar material on the Web is both exciting and daunting. Exciting, because you have all this information at your disposal. Daunting, because with so much information you will find yourself asking the question — Where do I start?

Guitar Lesson Lounge is as good of a place as any you’ll find on the World Wide Web. It’s not necessarily the greatest (if you can even define the “greatest guitar site”) or even the most prestigious, but what it may lack it makes up for with real, genuine content.

Let us explain further. The mission, as stated on their About page is ”to maintain a fusion of high quality and casual content” via a collection of college students who love music and the guitar as much as you do. This site literally contains no BS. If you continue to read their mission statement you will find that the creators of Guitar Lesson Lounge are not here for money, not here for fame, but rather to share their intense passion for the guitar.

Our goal here is to get you to feel what it’s like to just rock out and let go as you play an epic rock solo, or play that signature song. Because it’s the coolest feeling on earth. We want to inspire you to write songs, play in a band, make a career of it, just chill out and play for friends, impress that special person, who knows?!

If that does not give you goose bumps I’m not sure what will.

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Guitar Lesson Lounge was created by Guillaume Devinat, who states on the site that having learned to play the guitar on the net, he too is looking to share that wonderful experience with others. Similar to GLC, Devinat has discovered the potential the Web could have on learning the guitar and he too is trying to educate, enlighten and inform through the future of the music learning process.

The site is still relatively new, less than a year old, and like previously mentioned — composed of mostly college students from around the world. Since it’s a “new generation” organized forum, the team wisely uses many of 21st centuries greatest educational resources such as video lessons, striking visuals and even a few extra daily tidbits via Twitter.

In fact, their strongest feature is the videos, some of which are offered free on YouTube. The videos are very crisp, clean and incredibly effective. It’s easy to follow along and just like any video, you can always pause or replay at a later date.

The only “catch” with Guitar Lesson Lounge is nothing valuable in this world is free and the site is no exception. They do reward registered members with four free lessons, including how to play “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Guns N’ Roses, “Reggae Nation Army” by The White Stripes and our personal favorite…”Superstition” by Stevie Wonder.

The rest of the lessons on the site, which range from Nirvana to Coldplay, Bob Marley to The Beatles, go for $8.97 a piece and include a difficulty rating prior to purchase. The price is very reasonable considering you’ll essentially know how to play some of the most popular songs in the world upon review and practice. Guitar Lesson Lounge even admirably pays royalties to the original artist and 5% of all profits go to the Playing For Change Foundation.

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Check it out!

If you register with Guitar Lesson Lounge, the creators of the site are kind enough to give you four FREE lessons.

Blues Guitar – The Essential Questions for Beginners

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Guitar Lessons Critic has always been drawn to the blues guitar. Do not ask us why. When you truly love an art, or a form of art (in this case blues music), sometimes you cannot truly describe why you love it. You can only feel it.

We always try to encourage a similar type of behavior when it comes to learning the guitar. Why? Like anything, you can over-think or over-analyze a new practice. Sure, you have to think when you learn the guitar. But you also have to let it come natural and sometimes just let your instincts take over.

The blues are quite possibly the greatest raw expression of emotions emulated through music. The blues have even expanded so far as to largely influence jazz as well as rock and roll. Consequently, it’s natural to want to learn an art that has been so influential on others.

…BUT the blues guitar is not for every beginner.

You must ask yourself three central questions. However, before we get into the specifics, let’s start with a very brief introduction of the blues and the crucial guitar elements to the genre.


Blues is a name representative of both a musical form and music genre that originated in African-American communities. The blues are characterized by the twelve-bar blues chord progressions and the blue notes. While based on a particular form, the blues genre also possesses other characteristics such as specific and often depressing lyrics, bass lines and instruments.

The guitar has generally played a very critical role to the blues…

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Question #1: Can YOU Play Chords?

Which brings us to the first question. Can you play guitar chords? If you cannot even play the most basic open chords, then blues guitar lessons are definitely not your most ideal starter lesson. Why? The basics of the blues revolve around the 12 bar blues pattern which requires you to understand the basic chords (A, B, C, D, E, F and G).

Chords are actually easier to learn than beginner guitarists might think at first glance. Several online videos and tutorials will present the basic knowledge and techniques needed to pick up these major and minor chords.

Question #2: Do YOU Understand the Guitar Neck?

We’re not talking about being able to locate the guitar neck on the instrument. We are, rather, talking about the knowledge or expertise that allows you to know the different places you can form chords on the neck. Yes, more than one location exists.

Do you understand the fret spacing between each note? If you have no idea what fret spacing is then, again, you’re probably not well suited for blues guitar lessons just yet. Fret spacing is a central element to blues because you essentially must memorize these in order to easily play blues chord progressions and scales in different keys.

You’ll probably note that most blues songs generally follow a very similar (and sometimes simple) pattern, but the trademark of the genre is how the guitarist often moves around the neck depending on the current key. If you are unsure of whether or not you’re playing in Key of A or Key of D then you should avoid blues lessons for now.

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Questions #3: Have YOU Ever Taken Lessons Before?

The term “beginner” is often tossed around loosely on GLC. When we talk about blues guitar for beginners we are assuming that you have some previous knowledge or instruction on the guitar. If you have never taken private lessons and/or learned from a self-taught course, then we would definitely advise you to spend at least two months to learn the sheer basics of the guitar before diving into blues guitar.

Terms to look up: string names, notes, chords, strumming techniques

Rest easy. You’ll be surprised by how fast you can pick up the basics of the guitar and how fast you can progress into blues guitar. However it would be a misconception to suggest that you can learn blues guitar from day one. Take the time to gain an understanding and appreciation for the guitar, and then transcend into the musical genre you desire to master.

…Until next time, best of luck strumming…

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.