Thursday, December 29, 2005

How To Manually Tune a Guitar

By: Gerard Hiner of

Need to Learn How to manually TUNE A GUITAR? No problem! It's
something ALL Guitar Players need to know.

Let's say you have already tuned the top string (6th string).

Step 1:Press down on the 6th string at the 5th fret and you will
get an A note. This note should correspond to an open 5th string
as shown in the diagram.

Step 2:Strike the 6th string, 5th fret and an open 5th string.
Both strings should be exactly the same. If not, the 5th string
must be adjusted.

A good tip is to hold your finger on the fret and use your other
hand to twist the string. Both at the same time. Do this until
both strings sound identical.

These 2 easy steps can be repeated for the rest of the strings.
With the 5th string, press down on the 5th string on the 5th
fret and you will get a D. This note should correspond to an
open 4th string. Therefore when you strike the 5th string, 5th
fret and an open 4th string, both strings should sound exactly
the same. If not, the 4th string must be adjusted.

The 3rd string however must be played at the 4th fret in order
to equal an open 2nd string. Many guitarists use this tuning
technique when they suspect a string has gone out of tune.

About the author:
is a website by Guitar players for Guitar players! Your Guitar
Center online!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Effective Rehearsal In A Rock Band

By: Tony Williams

If your band is in rehearsals, either preparing for gigging, or
practising new songs to add to your repertoire, the chances are
you will have to hire a rehearsal room. The costs of hiring a
room can soon mount up if you don't organise your time
effectively. You could be wasting time and money going around in
circles, with a growing frustration that your band doesn't seem
to be making any progress.

The answer is to set a Schedule for your rehearsals. Without a
schedule it's difficult to monitor progress if in fact any is
made. Disorganised rehearsals can soon turn into chaos, with
everyone throwing in ideas and playing different things at the
same time. The rehearsal is not the time for your guitarist to
hone his right hand tapping skills, or your drummer to perfect
his lightning fast paradiddles, it is valuable time for working
together as a band, and should be used as such. Band members
should have their own private schedules for practising
instruments and learning new techniques. During a rehearsal you
should all be working towards the same goal and making each
other sound as good as possible. The rehearsal should never turn
into a 'who can play the loudest' competition.

What should your schedule consist of?

Set goals for your rehearsal times and WRITE THEM DOWN! You
should know which songs you are going to rehearse in advance. If
you have planned your strategy, you will avoid getting stuck in
a rut and your time will be used constructively. Songs you
already know can be perfected and the little nuances worked on,
stamping your own identity on cover songs and putting the
finishing touches to originals.

You should make a list of 'finished' songs, 'work in progress'
songs, and 'new ideas'. As each one progresses, move it up into
the next category, thereby revising the schedule for your next

I would suggest starting with 2 or 3 songs you are happy and
comfortable with, simply to give the band a positive vibe to
build on, and then start work on new numbers. Set aside a
certain amount of time for each song, and then move on! Don't
waste time trying to perfect something that just isn't working,
you can come back to it later or at the next rehearsal. Perfect
the numbers that do work, and you will see positive results as
your repertoire builds up considerably.

Always take regular breaks. Coming back to a number that wasn't
going too well with fresh ears can often be all it needs to make
a distinct improvement. If that doesn't help, there's no point
in flogging a dead horse, so move it to the bottom of the list
or consider dropping the song altogether and concentrating on
another one.

Work on band dynamics and expression, i.e. fast, slow, loud, and
quiet. Get your fills as tight and as fluent as possible. What
you are working on is that elusive 'feel' that is the hallmark
of a good band. Everybody should not only be playing his/her own
instrument, but also actively listening to the rest of the band.

Tape your rehearsal. You don't need any fancy recording
equipment - a simple tape deck and mic will be sufficient. The
idea is simply for the band to be able to listen to their
efforts afterwards. Listening to a song while you're not playing
means you can listen more subjectively and discuss the merits.
Take notes while you listen, that way you are already forming
the schedule for the next rehearsal.

And finally, remember; you are in a band! As such, the sum of
the parts should be greater than the individual contribution.

About the author:
Tony Williams is a musician, writer, and self-confessed eBay
fanatic. He is also the webmaster of MuZiCk! - The irreverent rock
music lexicon. Take some time out and laugh your socks off at

Monday, December 26, 2005

Does Practice Make Perfect? ...not always

By: Lee Tribbey

Often people receive a banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar or some
other musical instrument as a birthday, Christmas or special
occasion gift. There's glee and joy everywhere. The giver of the
gift knows how much the receiver of the gift wants to learn this
instrument and the receiver of the gift is ACTUALLY holding the
coveted instrument in his/her hands instead of lusting for it
down at the corner store or through the shop window. NOW WHAT?

Finding an instructor that fits into a busy work schedule is
hard enough.but once you decide on a lesson plan, then the
student must calculate the practice time, how to practice, what
to practice - and let's face it.not all people learn something
the same way. We have math-wizard types that write everything
down, social butterflies that strictly learn by only talking to
others about it and yet others that envision a categories and
divisional compartment-style strategy for a problem and
logically devise a plan to solve the problem in a completely
different way than there next door neighbor! order to
learn a musical instrument, how much practice time is enough and
what kind of practice is right for you?

First the student must identify some goals. 1.What is the
desired gain? Do you want to be a virtuoso or a hobbyist? 2.How
much discretionary time is available to invest in the learning
process 3.Is the student really willing to invest the time for
the ultimate gain 4.Would the student be satisfied with a more
social/casual study of the instrument 5.Identify why the student
wants to learn 'this specific instrument"

There is no set amount of time that anyone should practice a
musical instrument. When I was enrolled in programming classes,
I could have studied nightly for 5 hours each night. It would
have taken me years to learn the art and craft of computer
programming. Though I'm intrigued by the systematic logic of it,
my aptitude is towards another genre all together. However, on
the other hand, if I spent an hour every couple days with a
passionate hobby like playing the violin, not only would the
time fly quickly.I'd also be learning at a much greater pace
since the built-in passion is the motivation for advancement.

So as much as it's important to practice, a step back from that
strategy is to first find the compatible instrument that fits
you as a person; as an extension of your personality. If you're
learning the guitar because it's cool and every guy can snag
chicks if he plays guitar..- & obviously that's the modern-day
hip-factor mindset, however, you might not be actually aligning
your highest aptitude for musical fulfillment with your most
creative advantages you have to offer.

It's been my experience that every person has a certain level of
musical talent. My enjoyable challenge has been to assist them
in this adventure and actually locate their best abilities as
quickly as possible. Then and only then can we match student
with instrument and truly begin a fun and exciting Zen-walk down
the road of happiness and contentment; where music, aptitude,
personality and soul all congregate. Once this piece of the
mystery puzzle is in place, I've never had to work at motivating
a student to practice.

About the author:
Lee Tribbey is the marketing manager of, a
totally online music teaching emporium and instrument lesson

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Guitar Strings

By: Gerard Hiner of

Guitar Strings - How do you know when it's time to change
your Guitar Strings?

Well there are many signs. First simply look at them. Do you
have all 6 strings? Are they rusty or discolored assuming they
are steel strings. If the answer to these questions is no then
guess what? You need new Guitar Strings!

If that doesn't help you the next step would be to PLAY your
guitar. How do the strings feel? Do they feel rough? Have they
lost a bit of their elasticity? Have more of wire feeling than a
guitar string? Then you need new guitar strings!

Most importantly how does your guitar sound? As strings get
older they get corroded from exposure to the elements and from
dirt and oils from your fingers. They won't sound as fresh or
bright anymore and not as easy to play. You then need new guitar

How often you change your guitar strings is a common question.
Think of the guitar like anything else that needs maintenance.
You should periodically change your guitar strings before any of
the above scenarios takes place. Some guitar players I know
change their strings every week or month, and some every other
day! If you play many hours a day every couple of weeks should
be fine. If you play a little bit each day or every couple of
days then you should change them no more than once a month or
every other month.

Be sure to ALWAYS have extra set a strings on hand incase one
breaks. Especially when playing a gig!

My personal favorite guitar strings are Elixir guitar strings.
They make both acoustic and electric guitar strings. They are
slightly more money than other brands but I believe it is
totally worth it. They have a special coating on the strings
that makes them last longer and feel better. Try them and I
think you will agree.

You also need to consider the gauge (thickness) of strings you'd
like. This is where personal preference comes into play;
beginners should start with "medium" gauge strings, and vary
from that as you develop a preference. A simple rule of thumb is
thicker strings provide better tone, but are harder to play.
Acoustics usually have thicker strings for that thicker tone.
Have Fun Playing!

About the author: is a website by Guitar
players for Guitar players! Your Guitar Center online!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Guitar: What Is The Ultimate Way To Practice On Your Guitar?

By: Peter Edvinsson

What is the ultimate truth about guitar practicing?

Is there a best way to practice on your guitar? Of course you
have to make your practice sessions effective but could there be
a way to practice that is more effective than other ways? There
are many principles involved in an effective practice session
and I think some of these are a motivation founded on a love and
passion for the music you can produce on the guitar, an
acceptance of the fact that you must practice on that technical
level you have reached, a working knowledge of muscle tensions
and how to minimize them when you play and how to work on
reducing them when you don't play.

What shall we do until we find the most effective way to

When I was studying music at an academic level I many times had
the question messing around in my mind about the ultimate method
for practicing on my guitar and other instruments I played. A
well renowned jazz tenor saxophonist who was my teacher in jazz
improvisation discussed this issue with me as I asked him about
it and he gave me the most intelligent answer I ever heard
before or after. He said with a smile, "until you find out the
best way to practice, practice anyway!"

How effective can a practice session be?

My humble opinion after much practicing and playing guitar and
piano and other instruments and also teaching piano and guitar
is that you have to take many things into consideration like the
time available, your motivation level, how concentrated you can
expect yourself to be and more. As real growth often is a slow
process you will not very often be able to measure the
effectiveness of a practice session by how much you have learnt
so you have to find other ways to find out if you are effective.
The roads to Anywhere are many so to find out if you are on the
right road you have to decide your destination.

Can you practice too much or too effectively?

It depends on how we define effective practice sessions. If
effective guitar practice is to work through a long list of
things to improve in your playing and to practice ten hours a
day without interruption I guess you can practice too
effectively. This will mean that you practice in such a way that
you will get fed up with guitar playing and maybe you will even
hurt your muscles and develop an aversion towards guitar playing
for the rest of your life.

What is real effectiveness when you practice on your

Real effectiveness is better measured by how well your
practicing methods and results are pointing towards you goals.
Without goals you cannot measure effectiveness. If your goal is
to have fun with your guitar then you have a very effective
practicing session if you have fun with your guitar. If that is
what you want then it is a worthy goal. I guess you could come
upp with more specific goals than that with deadlines so you can
measure them better. But it is you who have to decide your own
goals otherwise the goals will not be effective.

I hope these words on practicing guitar playing will give you
some comfort and also help you realize that when human beings
like you and me are involved we cannot definitely say how we
ought to play to be effective. Human beings are funny things
that sometimes behave like as if they were identical but
nevertheless they are unique. This also applies to guitar
players like you and me. We are different in many ways but I
guess we want our guitar playing to contribute to our happiness
and joy so have fun and ... "until you find out the best way to
practice, practice anyway!"!

About the author:
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music educator. He
is the proud owner of Capotasto Music with
free sheet music, tablature and learn to play resources for
musicians and music students.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


By: Kathy Unruh

Perhaps you have heard the word arpeggio being tossed around by
other musicians, but have absolutely no clue what they were
talking about. Simply defined, an arpeggio refers to playing the
notes within a chord in rapid succession. On the guitar, this
can be done by either using a pick or your fingers.

Incorporating arpeggios into your guitar playing can be a very
simple matter, or a very complicated one, depending on your
approach to the subject. Because I am a guitar teacher, I
generally try to find ways to introduce my students to new
techniques that are easy to understand and relatively easy to
do. So let's see if I can help you learn how to play an arpeggio

If you want to use a fingerpicking style to play an arpeggio,
then you need to know how the right hand fingers are identified.
There are four letters, p-i-m-a, which stand for the Spanish
words: pulgar, indicio, medio, and anular. These four letters
represent each finger as follows:

p = thumb

i = index finger

m = middle finger

a = ring finger

When you are trying an arpeggio for the first time, then I
suggest you start with a chord, or chord progression, that you
can play fairly well. For our purpose today, we will start with
the chord A major and then progress to a chord progression in
the key of A.

While holding an A major chord, play each string that is
identified in the pattern below with the corresponding fingers
of your right hand. Practice it several times until your fingers
get accustomed to the movement. Be careful to maintain a relaxed
"cupped" hand in order to avoid tension and fatigue.

1 ---------------a-----------

2 ----------m------m-------

3 -------i---------------i----

4 ---------------------------

5 ----p----------------------

6 ---------------------------

Notice that your thumb (p) is playing an open A on the bass
string which is also the name of the chord.

The pattern uses eighth notes in 3/4 time and is counted:

p i m a m i

1 & 2 & 3 &

One complete sequence of the pattern is equal to one measure of

Now try playing the same pattern using a D major chord and then
an E major chord. Move your thumb to play the open bass string
which identifies the name of the chord you are on. The other
fingers (i-m-a) will play the same strings on all three chords.

Once you are comfortable playing an arpeggio with the chords: A
major, D major, and E major, try playing the same chord
progression as it is used in the Christmas song Silent Night.
Here is the link:

Silent Night

Have fun!

About the author:
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn
She has been writing songs and providing guitar
lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free
guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting,
recording and creating a music career, please visit:

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Guitar Chords: How To Solo Over Chords With The Minor Pentatonic

By: John Bilderbeck

Soloing over guitar chords is easy when you know how to use the
minor pentatonic scale. Add spice and power to your solo's with
these simple but highly effective techniques.

The humble minor pentatonic scale is what most guitar players
start with when learning to solo. Trouble is, they don't learn
to use the scale to it's best potential.

Here, I'll show you an easy way to use the pentatonic scale to
solo over the three most common guitar chord types: Major, minor
and dominant 7th chords.

1. Major Chords

A Major chord always has a relative minor chord. The easy way to
find the 'relative' minor of any major chord on a guitar is to
take the note three half-steps (3 frets) below the root note of
the major chord.

For example: a C major chord - the root note is C. On a guitar,
the note 3 frets below a C note is A. Therefore, A minor is the
relative minor of C major.

So to solo over a C major chord, use the A minor pentatonic
scale and you can't go wrong.

Another example: F major chord - three frets below the root of
F, you will find D. So you use a D minor pentatonic scale over
an F major chord.

Another example: G major chord - three frets below the G root
note you'll find E. So... you use the E minor pentatonic to solo
over a G chord.

Now, you may have noticed that I listed C, F and G major chords
there. Coincidentally, They are the 1, 4 and 5 chords of the
'KEY' of C Major. This applies to all instruments, not just

More about this later...

2. Minor Chords

These are easy... just use the minor pentatonic of what ever the
minor chord is. E.g. Use D minor pentatonic for a D minor chord,
an E minor pentatonic for an E minor chord, an A minor
pentatonic for an A minor Chord.

Now, did you notice I used D, E and A minor chords as the
example? Did you also notice that these chords are the 2, 3 and
6 chords of the 'KEY' of C Major?

More about that later, too...

3. Dominant 7th Chords

You have a couple of choices here. But basically, you would use
the relative minor pentatonic, or the minor pentatonic a tone
below the root of the dom7 chord.

For example, over G7, you could use either E minor pent
(relative minor), or D min pentatonic.

The reason you could use the D minor pentatonic over a G7 chord
is because the Dmi chord and G7 chord often go together in chord
progressions. Forcing a Dmi sound over a G7 chord gives a G7sus

4. Thinking From a 'KEY" Perspective

OK, what we have looked at is the KEY of C Major. And basically
you can use just the A minor pentatonic alone for ALL the chords
in C, or you can also use the D and E minor pentatonics to add
some color and more conformity to the chords being used at the

Remember, these principles apply to whatever chord you are
playing at any time, but can also be applied on a KEY
basis,which is a more encompassing picture.

The Key of C Major has these chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G7, Am, Bmin7b5.

Ami pent can be used over them all, or just the C and Am chords.

D min pentatonic can be used over the F and Dm chords.

E minor can be used over the Em and G7 chords.

We didn't mention the 7 chord (Bmi7b5) because it's not used
very much. But a good choice is the Dm pentatonic. In fact,
though, you can use either of the three pentatonics from the C
Major scale - Am, Dm or Em. Try them, see which you like best.

I hope you enjoyed this article. You can find more information
about guitar chords at my site:

The idea of using pentatonics for different chords is a powerful
one, don't overlook the cool sounds you can create with such a
simple device.

Also, in a future article, I'll be discussing 'Pentatonic
Substitution' where I'll show you how to use substitute and
altered pentatonics for even more sound choices.

John Bilderbeck is a professional guitar coach. If you would
like a free copy of "Pentatonic Guitar Magic" eBook, visit now!

About the author:
John Bilderbeck's web site, is
where he shares tips and secrets gathered from teaching guitar
since the 70's. Most beginner and intermediate players do it all
wrong. John shows how to do it right to slash up to 66% off your
learning time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Guitar: How To Improvise The Classical Guitar Way

By: Peter Edvinsson

When I was a fifteen years old guitarist playing rock solos and
classical guitar pieces I remember that I had a desire to be
able to improvise on my guitar in a classical manner. Nowadays I
have developed this skill and I love to improvise in the style
of composers like Sor, Tarrega, Paganini or others or just
trying to find myself somewhere among the notes. These special
moments are a form of meditation that clears my mind and also
helps me as a composer to stimulate my creative abilities.

The most important reason for learning classical guitar
improvisation is that it's fun! If you learn classical guitar
improvisation it will also help you memorizing sheet music, it
will be easier for you to compose your own guitar pieces in a
classical guitar style, you can make up your own techniqal
exercices on the go and it will help you understand your guitar
in a better way.

There are many ways to develop this skill. You can start with
major scales, experiment with easy chords, or easy classical
guitar pieces. The most basic requisite is that you want to
learn this art and with this desire you will find ways to
practice improvisation in all your guitar playing. I will just
mention using classical guitar pieces in this article.

May I suggest that you begin with a very easy melody with just
one voice or maybe a two voice piece with bass notes on open
strings. Learn a couple of bars by heart and play the melody
over and over again and try to change the melody slightly
without losing the classical touch.

The ultimate exercise is to use advanced classical guitar solos.
If you think about it you will realize that classical guitar
pieces are filled with wonderful licks, more or less
complicated. These licks can be developed and added upon to give
you material that will help you developing your improvisational
skills. For example, take a two bar passage in a classical
guitar piece that you like and practice it until you master it
and then memorize it. Now you can play around with it and break
it down, change it, analyze it and so on. If you want to improve
as an improvisational guitarist and musician you can regard
classical guitar pieces as collections of very musical licks
just waiting to be used.

I hope you feel motivated to try these hints and reap the
benefits from improvising the classical way. I described how I
was affected by this type of guitar playing and I guess you
might feel the same. Good luck!

About the author:
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music educator. He
is the proud owner of Capotasto Music with
free sheet music, tablature and learn to play resources for
musicians and music students.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Which Fender Guitar Model?

Here's a good comparison of the different Fender guitar choices in the article.

When Buying A Fender Guitar Should I Buy USA, Mexican, or
Chinese Model?

by: August Anderson

Fender Stratocaster's are probably one of the most well known
guitars around. When legends like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi
Hendrix, and Eric Clapton are playing them it's gotta tell you

However, not all Fender Stratocaster's are the same. Like
anything, you get what you pay for. If you are in the market to
buy a Fender, I suggest you listen to a bit of my advice before
you decide to make a impulse purchase.

Why should you listen to me?

Well, first of all I used to be a guitar salesman at a guitar
shop in San Diego California. Also, I have owned a variety of
Fender's and have direct experience with multiple strats.

There are basically 3 levels of Fender Strats. I'll break em
down by starting with the best first.

1. The Good Old American Made Stratocaster

You can't beat the American made Stratocaster. The quality is
superb, and can't be matched. However quality comes with a
price. You can plan on paying about $450 and up for a "used"
American Stratocaster. Newer one's are closer to a grand and on
up. There is a huge difference between playing the US guitar and
all the others. Simply put, the US made Fender's are King.

The weight on the US Strat is significantly heavier then the
imports. The reason for this is becuase the body is typically
made from Alder wood instead of some cheaper woods.

2. The Mexican Stratocaster

If you don't have the cash to kick down for a US Strat, then
your next best option is to get a Mexican Stratocaster. Hey,
these babies rock!!! I've had multiple Mexican Strats and they
are great.

You can pick up a used Mexican Strat for about $250-$375. While
it's not quite as good as the US version, it is a phenomenal

3. The Chinese Ax

Last and least is the Chinese Stratocaster. You can pick these
up for about $125, give or take a few bucks. When buying a
Chinese guitar, remember that you get what you pay for. Now I'm
not saying the guitar won't work, or even that it sucks.
However, I am saying that the Chinese model is nowhere close to
the quality of the Mexican Strat or the USA model.

Unless you really want the bottom of the line Fender, or are
strapped on cash, I strongly encourage you to search for at
least the Mexican model when purchasing a Fender. Of course the
US Stratocaster is the ultimate, but sometimes that is not a
reality for everyone.

My advice, go with the Mexican Strat, it rocks!!!!!! ....and
affordable too.

About the author:
August Anderson (AKA Augmented Auggie) has been helping kids to
play guitar for many years. Auggie feels music is a passion that
should be shared with the world.

Please visit Auggie's blog and show your support for this
starving artists...Peace Auggie's Heavenly

See more reviews and comparisons here:

Friday, December 09, 2005

Preparing For Your Recording Session

By: John McKay

Recording is a time-intensive experience, and problems that
arise often seem magnified. No one wants to wait for an hour
while the guitar player runs to Guitar Center for new strings.
So, to keep things going smoothly and efficiently, here are some
things to do in preparation:

1. Practice! You'd be surprised how many bands come into the
studio obviously unprepared. If you can't play through the song
without making mistakes, then you're not ready to record yet.
Take the time to practice the songs you want to track
thoroughly. This isn't to say that you can't be creative in the
studio, but it's a lot cheaper to be creative on your own time.

2. Make sure your songs are finished. Going into the studio
hoping to finish lyrics or parts on the spot is a recipe for
dissatisfaction. You may be inspired by the pressure, but you'll
inevitably listen back to it later on and think that you could
have sang it better, or that you don't especially like this line
or that phrase.

3. Record yourselves. It's very useful to record your practice
using a simple tape recorder. The finished product won't sound
very good, but you'll be able to hear if you're off time, or off
key. It may also make you aware that some parts of your song are
dragging, or that other parts could be extended or more

4. Get your gear in shape. Don't show up for a session that
you're paying for with gear that doesn't work, cables that cut
out, batteries that are going dead, or blown speakers. If you're
afraid that your gear is less than perfect, make some calls. You
engineer can point you to some people in town that rent gear on
a day-by-day basis, or to other musicians who might be willing
to loan an amp or cabinet for a day or two. It makes a

5. Tune your instrument. Drummers should put on new heads about
1 week before the session. The snare head should be replaced
immediately before the session, and if you're doing more than
one or two songs, consider bringing extra snare heads. Nothing
sounds as good on tape as a fresh snare head. Guitarists should
put a new set of strings on a few days before the session. Bring
extra strings, as you probably will break one or two. Bass
players can replace their strings, although new bass strings can
be a bit overly metallic. I recommend changing bass strings a
week or two before the session.

6. Let people know you're busy! You don't want to be called in
to work half-way through your session. Everyone involved needs
to clear their schedules. Nothing creates more tension in a
session than someone wanting to blow out early so they can hit
some party. Also, if you're recording at your home, make sure
your family knows about it. Take phones off the hook, recording
will require some degree of quiet. If you're working at your
practice space, make sure the neighbors know that you'll need
some quiet, if there are other bands at your facility, ask them
for their schedules, and work out a time when they won't be
playing in the next room.

7. Have a plan. It's always better to have fewer songs to
finish, and to know precisely which songs you're trying to get
done. Often, once a session gets rolling, it's easy to just go
ahead and track some of the other songs you have. While this
isn't terrible, in my experience these tracks are usually
discarded, as they haven't been thoroughly practiced, and may
not even be complete.

9. Develop a vision. I like to come see a band before I record
them, just to get a feel for their sound, and develop my vision
for the session. If you envision your record sounding like the
latest MTV hit, you may be frustrated and disappointed. Your
band is unique, and my goal as an engineer is to find what's
best about your band and accent that. Your record may not sound
like anything that's come before, and trying to cram it into a
pre-existing notion of a "good recording" doesn't do it justice.
The Pixies didn't sound like anything that came before them, nor
does Modest Mouse, or the Beatles, for that matter.

8. Relax! Recording is fun, and there's really no pressure. Just
be prepared, and you'll have a smooth, enjoyable session with a
great product at the end!

About the author:
John McKay is the owner of Suitcase Recording, in Phoenix, AZ.
He has over 15 years of experience recording bands, from punk to
surf to indie to hardcore. He does the majority of his work on
location, at the artist's home or rehearsal space. He has also
performed in several bands, and has toured the US extensively.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Guitar: What You Learn When You Practice On Your Guitar

By: Peter Edvinsson

Why do practice on your guitar?

I guess you hope that you will learn to be a better
instrumentalist with the joy that follows. However, there are
many learning rocesses going on at the same time when you
practice on your instrument. After reading this article I hope
you will be more aware of factors that can limit your progress
as an instrumentalist and have more effective practice sessions
on your guitar.

What has feelings to do with your guitar practice?

At times when you practice on your guitar you might find that
you are nervous and don't feel too good when playing because you
feel forced to play due to a guitar lesson coming up and you
feel that you haven't done your homework or maybe other negative
feelings are present for some reason. The feelings we have when
we practice a certain piece of music have a tendency to be
evoked anew when we play the piece at another occasion.

Can tensions stick to your sheet music

Yes, in a way at least. My experience, also confirmed when
reading about this topic, is that your actual tension level when
playing a particular musical composition also tends to be
present when you play the same piece of music in public. Or
rather, it will be harder to perform a piece of music in a
relaxed way when you have practiced it without paying attention
to your tensions or rather not having tried to play in a relaxed

Can you learn not to play a piece of music?

You practice on your guitar in order to become a better player
and maybe to learn a piece of music that you like. My experience
is that if you don't concentrate on your guitar playing you can
make a lot of mistakes when trying to learn a piece of music.
These mistakes tend to slow down the learning process or rather
the will be a part of the learning process, which means the more
times you make mistakes playing a particular passage the harder
it will be to play it right because of those earlier mistakes
trying to get your attention.

How to use these principles to your advantage

In accordance with the before mentioned dangers when practicing
I think it is wise to always practice a new piece of music
slowly so that you can pay attention to your tension level and
correct posture when playing on your guitar. Another reason for
playing slowly is to be able practice a guitar piece without
mistakes if possible in order to maximize the benefits of your
guitar practice sessions.

About the author:
Peter Edvinsson is a guitarist, pianist, composer and music
educator. He is also the proud owner of the website Capotasto Music with
free printable sheet music, guitar tablature and bass tablature
and learn to play guitar and other instruments resources for
musicians and music students.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Best Ways To Improve Your Guitar Playing

By: Dave Lloyd

What grooves you? Why do you want to improve?

Regardless of your intentions - whether to get started playing,
learn a few licks of your favorite tunes, or want to expand your
repertoire to include blues, funk, or rock and roll music, on
your way to recording yourself, there are resources out there
that can help you.

Here are a few ideas that may help you better understand your
guitar playing and some solutions you can consider.

Guitar videos You can purchase guitar playing videos, either for
home or computer watching, that include hand position, strumming
technique, rhythm and timing, and finger exercises that take
through various type of songs. Essentially these become a mirror
for you in learning to play as you mimic what you're watching on
screen and then reproduce this on your own. With commitment and
determination, this can be a good one to go - especially for the
visual learner who likes to learn primarily on their own.

Guitar lessons You can find a community of guitar instructors in
your surrounding area who are either private tutors or work
through a community college. You'll want to consider their
expertise, the type of students they work best with, their
flexibility with your schedule, success stories, and of course
their fees, in considering working with them. In pursing guitar
lessons, you can either do one on one or group - both have their
plusses and minuses but either can work for you.

Playing partners Find someone in your local community who plays.
You can do this through asking the local community college,
posting online to a resource like craigslist, or asking the
guitar shop. The idea is to develop a friendship with someone
who is a bit better than you who wants the accountability of
practicing weekly. What you can provide is the commitment to
meet up with them weekly and practice. In return, you can learn
from their techniques or methods what works. Of course, you
always need to be aware of learning bad habits in situations
like these, which is why it's important to have a foundation in
guitar technique before starting.

Guitar theory Related to guitar technique is developing a basis
in guitar theory. Chord patterns, minor and major chord
progressions, note scales, and overlap with piano and percussion
instruments can all give you a basic structure upon which to
layer in the knowledge and technique you gain in your guitar

Playing guitar can be a wonderful expression of one's musical
and creative talent. And with a commitment to constant
improvement, it can provide a lifetime of enjoyment for
yourself, friends, and family.

About the author:
Dave Lloyd has created the online guide to guitar playing at

Monday, December 05, 2005

Best Sources of Basic Guitar Lessons

The Seven Best Sources of Basic Guitar Lessons and Guitar
Learning Techniques.

By: J M Jones

You're a beginner, and you want basic guitar lessons to start
you off. But you're confused by all the choices: which would be
the best guitar learning technique?

Guitar lessons are like anything else: there are two ways of
learning , and they're not the hard way or the easy way, nor are
they my way or the highway. No, they're teach yourself, or get a

Let's look at teachers first. They come in four guises, and some
are more effective than others. The more effective, the more

The cheapest and probably least effective guitar lessons you can
get are from a friend. I don't say that to be disrespectful to
anyone's playing abilities, but simply to point out that unless
that friend plays by the book and is a qualified teacher, you'll
probably pick up any bad habits they have. They're also not
likely to be available to give guitar lessons on a regular
basis, and may either become impatient when you don't pick
things up fast enough, or may just let things slide, allowing
you to form bad habits of your own. So your basic guitar lessons
will remain just that--basic. The cost is good, though--usually

You may be fortunate enough to be still at school with guitar
lessons available there. If so, take them. You'll get a
qualified teacher, weekly classes, and fellow pupils to swap
notes with (and maybe even get together to play with!) after
your guitar lessons.

Night school is the next most effective and cheap source. It
differs from school because you have to make the effort to go
after a day's work. That usually means you've other things going
on in your life--things that may intrude. Not only that, class
size will probably be large, so you'll have less input about
what you want to learn. And there's usually only two
levels--basic guitar lessons, then improvers. The cost as an
hourly rate will be very reasonable, though.

A professional teacher is the most expensive option. A good one
will bring out the best in you, may encourage you to take
grades, but will get frustrated if you don't practice. If you
have money, time, and are prepared to put the work in, this is
one of the most effective routes to take, because they'll
correct any bad habits, and your guitar lessons are one-to-one.
Obviously, you can save a little if you get your basic guitar
lessons at, say, night school first.

If you can't afford a professional teacher, and you don't have
evening/school classes or a friend handy, the second guitar
learning technique is to teach yourself. You've three possible

You can buy guitar tutors fairly cheaply at most guitar shops,
or online. They used to come in book form, but increasingly
incorporate CDs and DVDs. There's a one-off cost,
non-refundable, and you progress at your own pace.

Once you've got past the basic guitar lessons in these tutors,
you might decide the best way to teach yourself is to play your
favourite songs by ear. So you listen to them over and over,
work out the chords, then play. The advantage of this technique
is that it'll give you confidence, and if you mess up, no one
will know. It's also cheap--presumably you've already paid for
the music.

Also, there are fan sites online where you can download lyrics
and sheet music to your favourite songs, thus saving you the
time of doing it yourself.

Finally, there's the online course. For the cost of a few guitar
lessons with a professional teacher you can get a course aimed
at your level of proficiency. There are anything from basic
guitar lessons online to advanced jazz. The courses usually come
with a money-back guarantee, too, which is not true of the other
methods. Another advantage is that you learn whenever it's
convenient--teachers are available only at certain times of the

So there you have it--the seven basic guitar lessons sources: a
friend, school lessons, night school, a professional teacher, a
book or course, learning by ear, or an online course.

Which is best?

Depends on how serious you are, how much time you can devote to
practice, and what you want to achieve.

If you're just starting, it might be best to go for the
cheapest, most basic guitar lessons you can. That way, if you
don't persevere, you haven't lost much.

If you do persevere, and you want to get really good, you'll
eventually want to consider a professional teacher.

Wherever you want your journey to take you, I hope you get there
and have fun travelling!

About the author:
J M Jones (The Guitar Dog) has been playing since...well, a long
time. In that time, he's occasionally taught, written words and
music, been in bands, and collected a whole lot of theory which
he shares in easy-to-understand language with anyone who's
interested. To browse it or sign up for your free fortnightly
guitar lessons, visit

Get 50 great gifts for guitarists, all under 50 dollars:

50 under $50

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Learn To Play Guitar Sheet Music part 2

By: Peter Edvinsson

In my previous article I suggested ways to develop a command
over the guitar fretboard. Usually when you are playing your
first guitar sheet music melodies you will have to learn the
notes in the first position on the guitar. To have a good grasp
of these notes on the guitar I suggest that you learn them
slowly and with concentration. I usually begin by teaching the
notes on the first string like E on open string, F on fret 1 and
G on fret 3. On string two you'll find B on open string, C on
fret 1 and D on fret 3. With these notes you can play the song
Mary Had A Little Lamb.

Using the previous notes the melody can be played as follows:

E D C D E E E - D D D - E G G - E D C D E E E - E D D E D C

I hope you recognized the melody. This kind of music notation
doesn't give any hints as to how the rhythm is to be played but
presupposes that you already know the melody. Traditional
classical guitar sheet music notation shows both the notes and
the way they are supposed to be played.

My dad was the only guitar tutor in the town where I lived and
he taught mostly classical guitar playing. His young students, I
was one of them, learned those first guitar pieces very fast
because he used a system similar to tablature showing the frets
and strings to play, along with the sheet music. Tablature
wasn't common back then when playing classical guitar sheet
music. I remember somebody remarking that his system prevented
the children from learning to sight read sheet music. His reply
was that if somebody really wants to learn the notes they will
anyway. I agree with that and I have found that if a pupil is
not motivated learning guitar sheet music they will not advance
in this area whether they play with or without tablature.

What has fingers to do with guitar playing? The answer is
obvious. Quite a lot. A more important question is if the
fingers you choose to use can have a bearing upon your guitar
playing. Left hand fingerings are numbers on the sheet music
indication which finger you are suggested to use when playing a
specific note. Usually when playing the first pieces on the
guitar on the first frets it can be a good idea for you to play
the notes on the first fret with the index finger, notes on the
second fret with the middle finger, notes on the third fret with
the ring finger and notes on the fourth fret with your little

What then are the left hand fingering advantages? Can't you play
every melody with your left index finger and forget about all
this fingering stuff? Well, of course you can play melodies with
your index finger but your progress will be very limited beyond
just playing easy melodies. You'll have to move your left hand
all the time as you change frets and, most importantly, when
reading sheet music, you'll have to look at the guitar fretboard
all the time instead of looking at the sheet music which means
that it will be hard to sight read music.

To summarize this guitar article, I could say that the important
thing when learning to play the notes on the guitar is to make a
conscious effort to learn the notes and not to work on to many
notes at the same time.

About the author:
Peter Edvinsson is a guitarist, pianist, composer and educator.
He is also the proud owner of the website
with free printable sheet music, guitar tablature and bass
tablature and learn to play guitar, piano and other instruments
resources for musicians and music students. Visit his website
and download easy free guitar sheet music and guitar tablature
sheet music!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Learn To Play Guitar Sheet Music part 1

By: Peter Edvinsson

Why is it so hard for many guitarists to read sheet music on the

Probably the answer is easy. They haven't done anything about
it. An old used tyre can stand leaned against the wall of a car
garage for thousands of years. Why? Nobody has thought about
moving it. Could it be that easy also with playing guitar sheet
music? I think so. Sometimes we consider ourselves poor sight
readers or not able to read guitar sheet music at all and we
think this is part of our personality. Every person who wants to
learn to read guitar sheet music notation properly has already
taken the first step towards changing that condition, just like
you have done by reading this article.

Climbing the "Reading Guitar Sheet Music" mountain starts with
step one

Surprised? Well, I have been teaching guitar playing for many
years and I have found that learning to play guitar is like many
other activities. People, not you of course, often want to start
from another position than from where they are. I would like to
suggest that we approach the sight reading assignment from two
directions. First by learning to find our way around the guitar
and learning the notes on the fingerboard.

Make a string safari on your guitar

With the conventional tuning on your guitar you will have the
note E on the first open string. I guess you are aware of the
fact that you can find the same note on the second string too.
If you don't know on what fret you will find it you can listen
your way through the frets on the second string until you'll
find the note that sounds the same as the first string. Now I
will be frank and tell you that E on the second string is on the
fifth fret. Maybe you have already found that out. E on the
third string is on the ninth fret. Practice to play E on these
different places and jump back and forth until you can find the
frets without effort.

How to proceed learning the guitar fretboard

In a similar way you can invent small exercises on you guitar
fretboard like playing all E's on all six strings until you can
play them with ease or finding all C's and play them
consecutively like a picking exercise or as an exercise for your
right hand fingers.

Knowing the notes on the guitar fingerboard will be a great help
for you, not only when playing guitar sheet music but also when
you are playing by ear or improvising a solo.

About the author:
Peter Edvinsson is a guitarist, pianist, composer and educator.
He is also the proud owner of the website
with free sheet music and resources for musicians and music
students. Visit his website and download easy free guitar sheet
music and guitar tab sheet music!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Secrets of Making Great Guitar Recordings

By: George Nellas

Not every guitarist records. In fact, most guitarists will never
make a recording of themselves. However, many of the burdens
associated with the task of recording have been, in recent
years, pushed aside. In the past, it was necessary to assemble
an entire team of people to make recordings. You had to have one
or two engineers, usually a producer, several band members and
generally a few hangers-on who just wanted to get in on the
action. As technology has increased, the amount of labor
associated with recording has decreased, along with the number
of people needed to produce recordings.

For most guitarists who want to record, especially in a home
studio, the recording environment will consist of three primary
things: the guitar, the amplifier or direct device, and the
recording device. All three of these are of equal importance in
producing quality guitar recordings.

First, you must make sure that your guitar is of quality and in
good working condition. If you're not up to the challenge
yourself, take it to a quality repairperson who will be able to
make sure that your string heights are adjusted correctly, the
action is comfortable and that your electronics are in working
order and free of buzzing and other electrical noise.

Second, the amplifier or direct interface. More and more these
days, guitar recordings are made with direct recording
interfaces, such as the Line6 POD. These types of devices can be
great time-savers in the studio and, more and more, can offer
you a tone equivalent to or better than a traditional amplified
signal. If you're more of a purist, make sure that you have a
quality microphone to pick up the signal from your amplifier
(the standard is a Shure SM57) and that your signal is free from
interference. This means making sure that your amplifier,
microphone and microphone cables are free of buzzing and that
all fluorescent lights in the recording environment are turned
off. Fluorescent lights, although great energy-saving devices,
reflect up to sixty percent of their energy back into the
system. If an amplifier or loudspeaker is hooked up to the
system, a beautiful 60-cycle hum ensues, ensuring that whatever
recordings you make are utterly useless.

Third, the recording device. For most of us these days, our
primary recording device is a home computer. Macintosh has been
the industry standard for years, but most PC makers have revved
up their models enough (and made them crash-free enough, thank
you very much) so, although the majority of studios still use
Macs, the only real difference is your personal preference.
Whatever type of computer you decide to purchase, however, make
sure that you max it out with speed and memory.

Although many computer programs and direct recording devices
will have some pretty good-sounding presets, to get original
tones, make sure that you experiment and try to come up with
something that sounds original. Many presets are loaded with
gain and effects to make them sound impressive to first time
hearers. Remember, a whole lot of great guitar sounds have been
recorded with a minimal amount of distortion, and effects can
always be added later, so don't risk screwing up a great take by
committing your effects to tape right away, without being sure
of the tone that you're going for.

Good Luck!

About the author:
You can find more information about guitars, recording and
recording techniques at

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Theory About Guitar

By: Jerry Mathis

I'll never forget it. Several years ago I was on my way to see
KISS in concert (first time seeing them with makeup, I might
add) with a good friend of mine. She was interested in music as
I was; she had taken piano lessons for ten years or so.
Inevitably the conversation during the drive turned to
music...all different aspects of it.

We got to the subject of what exactly music instrument lessons
really teach you, and I asked her a very simple theory question:
"What is the chord spelling for a minor chord?" (in case you are
wondering, the answer is 1, flat 3, 5...more on this in later

I was shocked to find out that she had absolutlely NO idea what
I was talking about.

I tried to explain to her the basic theory behind this question,
but see seemed to get more confused as we went. I just could not
understand how someone that had taken lessons for ten years
could not have the slightest inclination as to what she was
playing. She stated "all I ever was taught was how to read music
- what notes on the page corresponds to what key on the piano".

This simple conversation had shown me how important it was to at
least have some sort of understanding of basic music theory. I
know...there are many, many guitar players and musicians out
there that are perfectly happy with their level of knowledge (
my brother-in-law has been trying to learn guitar for the past
year simply to be a chick-magnet).

I guess my point is this: going beyond the chord books and scale
charts and guitar tab and standard music notation is this
living, breathing "thing" that you can't really appreciate until
you "get into it". I have found that once you get the urge to
develop more knowledge about theory, it can be hard to stop.
Granted, everyone has a level where they are comfortable...but
you would be doing yourself and your music a dis-service by not
trying to get to that point. It kind of struck me as sad that I
would never be able to jam with my friend and be able to yell
out "follow me - play a 1-4-5 12 bar blues in 'E'".

Do I know or claim to know everything about theory? Absolulely
not...but I am comfortable with the level I am at. I can sit in
with any rock back and hold my own. Now jazz on the other
hand...I know I would have to do some work. But you know what?
That's OK!

By the way (just in case you were wondering)...the concert was

About the author:
Jerry Mathis has 25 years of guitar experience - playing,
teaching, recording and performing live. Visit his website to get
your guitar tablatures, articles, reviews, accessories and more
all in one place!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas Gifts For Guitar Players

Any guitar players on your gift list? Check out Zzounds online. You're sure to find anything they may need. Order early so that the gifts get to you in time. There are tons of special pricing deals for the holiday season so now is a good time for deals.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Write Songs on Piano Instaed of Guitar

For a change of pace try to compose songs on the piano instead of your guitar. Here's an interesting that explains how Springsteen took his songwriting to another level.

What Bruce Springsteen Taught Me About Writing

By: Sophfronia Scott

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Bruce
Springsteen's groundbreaking album Born to Run. Columbia Records
is celebrating by re-releasing the disc with lots of audio and
video goodies including interview material of Bruce discussing
the writing of this seminal work. I'm a fan, so you can imagine
I've been gobbling up this stuff like Thanksgiving came early!
What's hitting home for me is hearing about how Springsteen's
back was really up against the wall while he was creating this
album. His record label was considering dropping him so he knew
he had to make something happen. When people ask me "how do I
know if my work is good enough?", I think of Springsteen because
surely he wasn't asking that when he was trying to figure out
what to write. The answer could have been "it's not" if he had
asked someone at his record company. He had to work and learn
for himself how to tell if his work was good enough. This is
what I learned from how he did it.

1.) Learn From the Great Ones

In the summer of 1974 Springsteen could have been lamenting the
fact that his first two albums had not been successful and he
was living in a tiny house in New Jersey while the country was
in the throes of a severe economic depression. But he wasn't. He
was focused on his songwriting. "I had a record player by the
side of my bed," he wrote in his book, Songs. "At night I'd lie
back and listen to records by Roy Orbison, the Ronettes, the
Beach Boys, and the other great '60s artists. These were records
whose full depth I'd missed the first time around. But now I was
appreciating their craft and power." Notice he wasn't saying
"There's no way I can create songs like that!" Instead he was
considering "what can I add to the conversation?" He was getting
inspired and educated at the same time.

2.) Aspire to Be Great Yourself

In an interview about Born to Run, Springsteen says he knew his
record company was about to drop him. He added, "I knew I had to
write something great." Springsteen didn't have to write
something great. He could have folded up his tent and said,
"they don't like me, I'm just gonna stay in Asbury Park and play
where people appreciate me and that's it." But he didn't do
that. He also didn't ask whether he was good enough. He simply
challenged himself to go beyond himself--to be great. Ask
yourself: what are you writing right now and is it challenging
you to be great? What would it take for you to start thinking
this way?

3.) Find Trusted Ears for Feedback

Yes, it is hard to know on your own whether you're on track with
your writing. That's when you recruit your own inner circle of
readers whose ears and eyes you trust. Jon Landau became one of
those trusted pairs of ears for Springsteen. They became friends
during the writing of Born to Run and Bruce often sent Jon, then
a Boston music critic, tapes of the work as it progressed. When
the work stalled, Landau was the one who came in and helped
Bruce put it all together. Who can be those ears or eyes for
you? Try to keep the inner circle small. If you have too many
opinions showered on your work it may cloud your creative

4.) Try Something Different

Most of the songs on Born to Run were written on piano--this
from a guy known for his raucous Fender guitar. But writing on
piano gave Springsteen new ideas and presented new opportunities
for him to explore. It also gave the album an amazingly
emotional and intimate vibe that I find intoxicating. What can
you do differently that can inspire a leap to your next level?
Set your novel in 1905 instead of 2005? Write from the point of
view of the opposite sex? Be a little creative with your
non-fiction? Take a chance. No effort is ever wasted even if
you're writing badly--you can still learn from what you've done

5.) Think Local, Write Global

One of the changes Springsteen made with Born to Run was that
the characters in his songs were "less eccentric and less local"
than the ones on his previous albums. The people in Born to Run
"could have been anybody and everybody," he says. "When the
screen door slams on 'Thunder Road', you're not necessarily on
the Jersey Shore anymore. You could be anywhere in America." And
it's true. Millions of people connected with--and bought-- Born
to Run. I sought the same kind of connection for my novel.
Though the family in All I Need to Get By is African-American,
I've had readers of all races tell me how they have seen
themselves in one or more of the characters and how they related
strongly to the book's family issues. Touching people in this
way is key to developing an attentive audience. How can you open
up your work to a larger audience while still being true to your

If you still have doubts, think of this quote from Ralph Waldo
Emerson: "Whatever course you decide upon, there is always
someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always
difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your
critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it
to an end requires...courage." Be courageous for yourself and
your writing. Your own Born to Run may be waiting to come out.

© 2005 Sophfronia Scott

About the author:
Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah"
TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make
When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and
publishing tips at The Book Sistah,
230 South Main St. Ste. 319, Newtown, CT 06470 203-426-2036,

Guitar Emporium

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Turning a Band Into Songwriters - 10 Songs In One Hour

By: Brandon Drury

While most bands have good or even very good drummers, guitar
players, and bassists (notice I didn't say singers), most bands
don't have good songwriters. In fact, songwriting is usually an
afterthought with most bands. That's why I came up with the 10
songs in one hour challenge.

That's right, if you did the math, you quickly figured out that
the band must write a song every 6 minutes to stay on target and
THEY MUST STAY ON TARGET. That's the challenge. You must enforce
that they have to get 10 songs done in one hour.

Here's how I do it: I divide the band in groups of two. If they
are a three piece, I'll jump in and play along. Each group gets
a guitar, a small amp, and small PA system. I put a wall of
gobos (sound deadening device) in between them and I hit go
while recording both the guitar amp and vocal mic from each
room. One person is expected to sing, the other is expected to
play guitar. After each song is written, they must switch.

While this method might seam a little off the wall, it's the
best way to get a band to work creatively together. It breaks
down a lot of barriers and it's common for about 10% of the
songs to be very good. I like this method because it solves a
lot of problems. It forces the band to be a band.

One problem the 10 songs in one hour challenge fixes is the
notion that the singer has to come up with all the melodies.
Why? Okay, a singer should be able to sing, but the melody is
the entire song in my opinion. The only thing separating a great
song from a crappy song is vocal melody, in my world. So, let's
get the entire band in on writing the melodies. You'd be
surprised how good your drummer might be at creative vocal

A lot of guys are shy in front of the mic. I've never recorded
any Kansas type bands where the entire band can sing. I'm lucky
to find a band where one guy can sing. So the guy with
absolutely no clue about singing must get on the mic and do it.
Even when a terrible singer gets on the mic, the intent is
usually clear. A real singer would have no problem making your
drummer's melody sound great. So when you force a guy to sing,
he usually adapts to his situation.

It forces everyone to play guitar or similar instrument. This is
great. It makes the drummer pick up an instrument that he's not
used to. If he can't play it, he must deal with it. That's part
of the process. He can play one note lines if he has to. I just
want a song. Seldom does proficiency at the instrument effect
the quality of the song.

While there are certainly exceptions, a band that is not used to
writing a lot of songs, simply won't write a lot of songs. By
adapting to this lighting fast method, the band will understand
that not ever song has to be great. In fact, you need to write a
few terrible songs on purpose just so your brain will be
creative enough to do something interesting. Bands play it safe
all the time. They feel like each song has to be great. In fact,
it's the opposite. I noticed it more with 80s pop groups who
weren't going to be dropped after the first record like they are
now. They would come up with the most screwed up, stupid songs
sometimes. Listen to a bunch of Human League. They had at least
3 top 10 hits, but then listen to "Black Hit of Space" or
"Empire State Human". You can tell they just messed around. When
you are actually being creative and experimenting is when you
will come up with your hits and your crap.

I'm not saying that the 10 songs in one hour method is the best
method for all bands. I think it's a great method for bands who
need to come together as a group. It's a great songwriting tool
for any band that just expects the singer to write songs. There
is no finger pointing. Every band member is responsible for
writing great tunes in this situation.

About the author:
Brandon Drury has written about songwriting
and producing
on for since 2005.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Review of the Rivera Knucklehead Guitar Amp

By: Brandon Drury

I've owned my Rivera Knucklehead since 1998. It's a small part
of my guitar amp collection which consists of more than 5 amps.
I'll tell you how the Rivera Knucklehead performs both on stage
and in the studio.

Not surprising, Rivera is owned by some guy named Paul Rivera. I
guess it's a little surprising that his name is Paul, but that's
about it. While I hate to spread rumors about facts I don't
know, this is press, and that's that the press is all about. The
rumor on the street is that Paul Rivera worked for both Marshall
and Fender for years modifying guitar amplifiers for the rock
stars that could afford to have them modified. If this is true,
it will explain a lot about the Rivera Knucklehead.

The Rivera Knucklehead is a 100 watt, all tube, 2 - channel
guitar head. Each channel has a gain boost. Both channel
switching and the gain boosts can be controlled by the
footswitch. As with every 100 watt head, this thing is
ferociously loud. It contains an effects loop with control of
input and output for effects and whatnot. The Knucklehead uses 5
12ax7 tubes for the preamps and 4 EL 34 power tubes. Each
channel contains tone controls and a Focus and a Presence knob
are global, which means they effect both channels. It would have
been nice to have a spring reverb on the Rivera. That's the only
feature that it's lacking.

American Channel (Clean Channel) First off, I must say that the
clean channel isn't so much like a clean channel, necessarily.
It's more like a Fender channel. I mean that if you crank up the
gain on the clean channel, you will have a very distorted sound
in the way that a Fender distorts. This sound is not going to be
what you want for metal in most cases, although it might pull
off an Iron Maiden type of sound. Turning the "Ninja Boost" off
and backing the gain down brings you back down into Fender
territory. It's not an exact clone of the Fender sound,
necessarily. The tubes used are not typically found in Fenders
and even if you had the same tubes, the Fender sound is quite
different from amp to amp. You have tremendous options in your
tone. I mean TREMENDOUS!!! You have the typical bass, mids, and
treble. By pulling out the treble pot you engage the "bright
boost" and when you pull out the mids you engage the "mid
scoop". The tone controls are the most sensitive that I've ever
seen on a guitar amplifier. In fact, the tone knobs can be too

Plugging a strat or tele gives you the real deal tone. It's
pretty much a Fender amplifier. Plugging a Les Paul or PRS is a
different ball game. The tones are absurd on this channel. You
should be able to get anything you want out of this Fender side
that you would expect a Fender to do. This amp is very sensitive
to different guitars and it's tone will change more drastically
than other amps.

Distortion Channel (Marshall Channel) Alright, I called this
side of the amp the Marshall channel. The tone is not exactly a
Marshall. I own a 1971 Marshall Super Lead. It's sound is quite
a bit different than what you hear in the Rivera. I wouldn't say
the tone is necessarily better or worse, but different. When you
get to this caliber of guitar amplifiers, they are all good,
it's just a matter or preference.

The distortion channel has a gain boost, bass, mids, and treble.
Once again, these tone controls are as sensitive as you will
ever find in a guitar amp. It's stupid how much control you have
over your tone. This amp has too much gain, if you want too much
gain. With a Les Paul, I don't think I've put the gain past 12 O
Clock, ever. You would not believe how different this amp sounds
when you take the mids to 0 and then up to 10. It's a night and
day difference. With the gain boost turned off, this thing feels
like a good medium to low gain distorted amplifier. As I said,
choosing the right guitar and tone settings can be time
consuming, but getting whatever you want is a possibility. It's
worth trying all your guitars with this amp. There will be some
that obviously shine more than others. In this setting, it's no
problem at all pulling off tones such as AC/DC and other 70s
tones. I'd probably go with my 1971 Superlead first for this
application though, just because of the tone differences, but I
could make a guitar player looking for that tone very happy as

When you engage the gain boost, this thing is all out death. I'm
talking deathmetal death, if that's what you are looking for. In
my opinion turning up the gain to a stupid amount, cranking the
lows and highs, and scooping out all the mids is tremendous
overkill. I'd say it's unusable. The kid down the street may
totally love it, though. I guess that's the great thing about
this amp. You can make the sound too thin or too thick....too
bright or too dull. It's up to your playing, your guitar, and
your tone settings.

With the gain boost on and the all settings on 7, this amp is a
full blown rock machine The tones inside this amp are
impressive. You will find a sound that you like. It just takes
some time to find that perfect combination. This takes more time
than a Marshall does. Sometimes the mids on 5 are too much when
the lows are on 6. But lowering the lows down to 5 might require
a little more mids, for example. I'm saying that the tone
controls are high dependent on each other.

This amp would always be my first choice playing out live. It's
a mammoth sound if I want and gives me 4 great sounds with the
footswitch. Going from mega gain to dirty clean is just a step
away. Going from pretty clean to low gain distortion is also
just a click away. I'd say it's one of the best live amps you
can buy.

In the studio.... well, this thing gets used on just about every
project I do. I haven't found a project that it didn't work well
on. I've recorded country, rock, and death metal with this amp
and every single one of them was very happy with it.

In conclusion, I wouldn't change a thing about the Rivera. It is
worth every penny.

About the author:
Brandon Drury's site, has links to all sorts
of free recording

Guitar Emporium

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gibson J160E

New guitars for the Christmas season: Gibson J160E

In the sixties when The Beatles were bursting onto the scene it was a J160E that John Lennon played on their first single and was seen using for recordings, TV and live performances. A brassy, high-output acoustic/electric sound combined with its punchy, warm acoustic tone recreates the sound which led a musical revolution in the '60s. Gibson's J-160E features a solid Sitka Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides, trapezoid fingerboard inlays, P-100 stacked humbucker at the neck, and volume and tone controls. Includes free Gibson hardshell case - a $150 value.

Gibson J160E Vintage Sunburst

Sunday, October 30, 2005

How To Become A Better Sight-Reader

This article was aimed at piano players but has some good tips for guitarists. Actually it applies to most any musical instrument. Check it out.

How To Become A Better Sight-Reader

By: Ronald Worthy

Copyright 2005 RAW Productions

If you are like most people, your performance of a piece of
music "at first sight" could probably stand some improvement.
Oh, to be able to breeze through a brand new piece without all
the stops and starts!

What you may not realize is that sight-reading is an art in
itself, separate and apart from pianistic ability. Many
conservatory musicians, even many soloists, are not the great
sight-readers you might expect. Sight-reading is a special craft
within the art of music that won't come automatically.

You must work at it just as you work at technique, or
interpretation. You could have the technique of a Horowitz on
the keyboard, or a Segovia on the guitar, but still be a
laughable sight-reader.

There are many tricks to the sight-reading game, no matter which
instrument you play. If these tricks can be used properly, and
with regularity, two things will happen: 1) your sight-reading
improves, of course, and 2) your over-all technique
automatically improves. And if you regiment yourself to a daily
sight-reading program, even just fifteen minutes' worth, your
entire outlook on your instrument will change drastically in a
matter days!

If you practice scales, for example, you only improve your
ability in playing scales. Nothing more. However, with
sight-reading practice, you improve your scale playing
technique, your octave technique, your arpeggio technique,
because you are using actual pieces, which can encompass all of
these techniques and more.

Let's talk more of those "tricks" that will get you on the road
to better sight-reading.

First of all, you need a metronome. That's trick number one.

What A Metronome Does For Sight-Reading:

Have you ever played chess, or watched people play chess by
time-clock? The object of time-clock chess is that each player
has a stipulated amount of time in which to make his or her
move. They cannot exceed the amount of time allotted, or else
the bell will sound and s/he will be penalized. This is exactly
how we use a metronome in sight-reading. We must make our "move"
to the next note, or next chord, within a set time period.

And that's the trick that gets our reflexes going. Sight-reading
is nothing more than training our reflexes. In order to do this
we have to fight the time-clock. In the case of music, our
time-clock is the metronome. It's an absolute necessity if you
are serious about becoming a good, or better sight-reader.
Besides that, you will find it invaluable for other practice
purposes, which we will deal with in the future.

There are all kinds of reasons for having a metronome. So you
might as well invest.

About the author:
To learn more piano "tricks of the trade," you are invited to
visit: and

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Self Home Recording vs Paying a Recording Studio

By: Brandon Drury

Back in the old days (around 'Nam) recording at home was a new
miracle. You could actually hit record on a device and capture
sound in your own home. Your eyes would light up just like
Thomas Edison did when he first invented audio recording. Fast
forward to 2005. It's now completely affordable to outfit a
fully functional recording rig in your home for the price of a
high quality, American made guitar. While the price of getting
into home recording is much cheaper than it has ever been
before, it's still a lot of money. Is setting up a small studio
worth the price? What are the pitfalls of trying to record
yourself? Would you be better off just paying a professional
recording studio to do the job for you? Hopefully, I'll answer
these questions and more.

What It Takes You are going to need a lot of knowledge, gear,
time, and patience before jumping into the recording studio
world. I was a computer nerd half done with a degree in
electronics when I jumped into the recording world. I understood
electronic basics and had run live sound numerous times. I
totally understood how to operate a mixer/console. So all I had
to do was jump into the recording portion, right? ....Well, it
turned out that there was quite a learning curve to go from an
empty room to the creative process (which is the fun part) and
walk out with a finished cd in hand.

I had no idea how much time I would spend cursing Windows audio
drivers, failed hard drives, out of sync audio files, clicks and
pops, unwanted distortion, etc. Truth be told, I went from an
average computer user to a computer master in that couple of
monthes it took me to work out all the kinks in my system.
That's right. It took me a few monthes before I was ready to
record my first band. It was that tough. That was in 2001. Maybe
things are easier now. I'm guessing that you'll still have quite
a road in front of you.

After you get your rig fully operational, you are still going to
have to learn the software. I would HIGHLY recommend that you
buy a DVD and a book to teach you the software that you intend
to use. I could have saved myself hundreds of hours of headaches
if I would have just read the stupid manual and had a little
instruction. I learned a lot by tinkering (which may be your
nature too) but there is no point in learning things the hard
way if you don't have to. On my very first recording session, I
had my manual in my lap. You could only imagine how stressful it
can be if you have 5 guys staring at you while you desperately
push buttons on something you barely understand. I'd say it took
me a good 3 monthes of everyday tinkering before I felt
comfortable using the software for basic recording. Keep in mind
that I wasn't trying anything advanced here. No crazy editing,
no fancy automation. In fact, I had very little understanding of
audio when it came down to early reflections and multi-tap
delays. I'm talking about just getting the stupid song onto the

Okay, so I've kind of prepped you on how the learning curve
required for recording music. Let's talk about the gear.

These days, it's a waste of time to use the stand alone
recorders you see in the mail order company catalogs. While
these boxes promise to have everything you need to record your
demo (and they usually do) the learning curve requirements are
astounding. Yes, I just wrote an entire section on how tough it
was to learn computer recording. However, there is a big
difference between the learning curve of computer audio and the
learning curve of stand alone recorders. When you learn computer
knowledge, that knowledge is useful on just about every computer
on the planet. (I've kept myself from starving a number of times
with my computer knowledge which I mostly attribute to
recording). Also, computer recording software generally uses a
mixer that is a fairly close simulation of the real thing. The
concepts stay the same. When you are using the stand alone
recorders, you end up learning to hold E1 + Function + Menu to
get to Aux send page. Why do you need a page for aux send?
Anyway, I've had several friends who have used these boxes and
don't know anything about audio. They spent all their time
learning this foreign language that will be obsolete as soon as
the record is. In summary, I highly recommend that you go with a
computer for your digital recordings.

Okay, so you need a computer. The good news is you don't need a
very fast one by today's standards. In fact, I built my
recording computer for about $300 and it's overkill. I need a
faster computer than most because I do more projects than most.
It makes a difference when I'm rendering down mixes that I can
do it twice as fast because I have too many songs to mix on a
given day. I don't have 3 minutes to sit around and wait for the
computer to think.

On top of the computer, you'll need a soundcard. I recommend a
soundcard with a breakout box. This means that a cable will
actually come out of the back of your computer and connect to a
box where your audio connections are made. Setups with breakout
boxes are almost always preferred. In fact, I ownly know of one
professional audio company that doesn't rely on a breakout box
for their computer interphases. I do not recommend Sound Blaster
and those sorts. We are not playing games or watching DVDs. We
are recording music. The demands are certainly not the same. You
will find many Firewire and PCI soundcards in the mail order
catalogs that work great. Pay special attention to the number of
inputs and optional preamps. This is important. You may only
need 2 inputs for your recording. In fact, most projects I do
seldom use more than 2 channels 90% of the time. Of course, the
other 10% of the time we may be using 19 or 20 channels. If you
are recording electronic music and only plan on doing a few
overdubs with vocals or the occasional instrument, 2 channels
will probably work fine. If you plan on recording your entire 4
piece rock band live with rock drums you are going to need at
least 10 inputs (maybe more). So plan ahead and figure out how
many mics you plan to use at once.

Next, you need preamps. Preamps boost the signal of a microphone
up to line level and are pretty much required. Preamps are
usually the top knob on the mixer of your PA. You'll need one
preamp for every microphone you plan on using at one time.
You'll want to have the same number of preamp channels as you do
inputs on your soundcard. There are many soundcards that come
with preamps. There are many many external preamps that CAN
improve you sound quality just slightly. If all else fails, use
the preamps in your PA mixer. If your mixer uses inserts you can
split the signal right off the preamp by only pushing in the
cable half way. I'm referring to the cable that goes out of your
preamp and into your soundcard.

Next you'll need mic stands. There aren't too many cases where
you don't need a mic stand. You have to be very very careful
with mic stands. If you buy a supercheap mic stand, you may have
problems with the mic changing it's position in the middle of a
session. The results can be absolutely horrible. So buy decent
mic stands. $30 per stand is a reasonable low budget stand. I
would not recommend that you spend any less on a mic stand.

Next is microphones. This is where it gets fun. There are so
many to choose from and there are so many tonal options. You'll
want as many mics as you have preamp channels and soundcard
channels (or you went overkill on preamps / soundcards).
Choosing microphones is beyond the scope of this article. You
can spend $50 on a mic or you can spend $3000 on a mic and you
have no way of knowing which will sound better on a given
source. This is a severely big deal when it comes to recording
and it's one major area that seperates the men from the boys, so
to speak. Home recording studios usually have terrible mic
selections to choose from.

The most important piece of gear in your studio is your studio
monitors. If you try to use a boombox you will be very
dissapointed when you burn a cd and try to show mom on another
stereo system. Of course, you'll probably be dissapointed even
if you have a $10,000 set of studio monitors because your
acoustics will be all wrong in you room and even still you
probably haven't mixed enough songs to be any good at actually

Okay, I've outlined what goes into recording your cd. Guess
what, any decent studio has all of this taken care of you. Do
you know about audio latency in XP? Do you know anything about
room nodes? The studio guy probably does. That's how he makes
his living.

So when you walk into a professional recording studio ran by a
serious engineer who cares about your music, you can expect to
focus on one thing... the recording of your music. You don't
have to wonder about the specs of the computer, the cables
connecting the preamps and the soundcard. You don't have to
worry about wasting huge amounts of time while the bass player
stares at a mess of cables. You don't have to buy the mess of
cables. In fact, I've recorded entire albums cheaper than you
would spend on mic stands. In other words, I've delayed charging
a high price so that I could get tons of practice and become
well known in my area. You might find a serious recording guy
yourself who might work cheaper than you think.

What an experienced recording studio engineer knows that you
probably don't. 1)The value of his time - An experienced
engineer isn't cheap (but could be much cheaper than trying to
record yourself) but he knows that his time is worth X dollars.
How is this an advantage? It's amazing how humans rise to meet a
challenge. When you go in knowing that you are about to spend
$20, $30, or $50 an hour on recording all of a sudden you take
the time to get your guitar setup beforehand. You make sure your
songs are mega tight and ready to go. You get your butt in gear
because you are about to spend some money. When your guitar
players tell you that he thinks he has the recording device
working right, you don't jump up get busy. You get frustrated
while he tries to figure out the problems on channel 1 and 5.

2)Advanced knowledge of acoustics - This is one of those areas
that you will entirely put off. At first, you are just trying to
figure out how to turn the computer on. Have you really put any
serious thought into the comb filtering effects of your room?
The odds are minute. In fact, I bet most bands put no thought
into their room acoustics. Guess what. Any good studio has spent
thousands and thousands of dollars pefecting their acoustics.
The only thing more important than acoustics in a recording is
the song, the musicians, and the instruments. After that,
acoutics is first. Proper acoustics are more important than
microphones. I'd gladly record an album with $50 mics in a
$2,000,000 room before I did the opposite.

3)Advanced microphone selection - Having the right mic for the
job is an extremely important part of being a recording
engineer. When you know that a guitar is too bright, you put a
mic on it that will reduce this brightness. When a vocalist
sounds dull, you put a bright mic on them. It goes on and on.
This is what really makes the sound quality part of recording.
Recording at home will make it hard to justify a $15,000 mic
collection (or much higher). Some studios have $15,000 mics.

4)Advanced knowledge of mic placement - Even more important than
the microphone is where you put it. A seasoned pro will know
what has worked on the past 10 albums he's done. He knows what
he likes and what he doesn't. He doesn't have to wait until
after the mixing is complete for him to figure out that the
snare sound sucks. You'll be experimenting like crazy, but it
will take a while before you get it right, more than likely.

When you combine all this knowledge together, it becomes quite
clear that there are serious advantages to letting the pros
handle the work. With that being said, if you really want to
learn audio, don't mind pumping thousands into a bottomless pit,
and are really that excited about taking years and years and
years to learn the craft properly, go for it. I did.

About the author:
Brandon Drury has written countless home recording
at his website, You can hear
a portion of the over 600 songs he's recorded and mixed at his
recording studio

If you want to try out home recording these are the best software products to start with:

Cakewalk Guitar Tracks Pro 3 Windows

Cakewalk Home Studio 2 XL

These are inexpensive and relatively simple to use. Have Fun!