Spooky Guitar Habits – Avoid the Horror Story

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

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: http://trainer.thetamusic.com/

Strum Guitar with Big Fingers: Myth or Reality?

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Guitar Made Easy: Guitar Strings

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

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.