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!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Gibson offers new way to 'play' guitar

By Antony Bruno

SAN FRANCISCO (Billboard) - Gibson Guitar has teamed with videogame developers Harmonix and RedOctane for a new musical simulation game called "Guitar Hero." The game will launch November 1 on the PlayStation 2 entertainment system.

Gamers guide characters through a series of live performances in venues that grow in size as the characters' careers escalate. The goal is to play along to more than 30 licensed rock songs in the game using a customized guitar-based controller created jointly by Gibson and RedOctane.

The "guitar" controller sports a five-button fret board, a switch used for strumming and other peripherals like a whammy bar. Players must select the appropriately colored button on the fret board that corresponds to the prompts in the game along to the rhythm of the song. Players most closely matching the prompts gain points and advance their careers.
Gibson offers new way to 'play' guitar

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Guitars Are The Heart And Soul Of Music Lovers and Musicians

By: David Arnold Livingston

Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana, Slash - what do
they have in common? In the often wild but never dull world of
music, these four are just a few of the elite set of popular
guitar-wielding musicians. Their fame and mass appeal may be
attributed to their fancy fingers, fast hands and overall
commercial packaging.

What is it about playing the guitar that has millions of people
yearning to pick up and pluck this weird-shaped, (usually)
six-stringed musical instrument? The most obvious reason for
choosing this most popular of all the stringed musical
instruments is its accessibility. A guitar is less pricey than
say, a piano. It can also hold its own, whether played alone, in
a band, or just as a musical accompaniment. And of more
significance, the guitar is a musical instrument that is
relatively easier to learn. All one needs to have is a reliable
chord chart, a pick for plucking the strings (optional) and of
course, one's own guitar. A lot of patience and interest will
surely add to the ease of learning and improving guitar-playing.

In mainstream music, there are basically two types of guitars -
the electric guitar and the acoustic guitar. Now, what makes one
different from the other? For one, the former is usually the
more expensive type of guitar. A rather more technical point of
comparison between these two types of guitar is their body.
Though both made out of wood, the body of the electric guitar is
usually a thin solid piece while the acoustic guitar's is thick
with a hollow center. Why is this so? Because of the sound they
produce. The electric guitar is solid because the sound it
produces is very faint.

The sound people hear does not come from the instrument itself.
The electric guitar uses external amplifiers to make the sound
audible. The acoustic guitar, on the other hand, does not depend
on any external amplification. The sound it produces is fairly
audible. However, in a large venue, it is not that loud an
instrument. That is why it is common to see a microphone placed
in front of an acoustic guitar. A more modern method of
amplifying an acoustic guitar is thru internal electronic
amplification placed inside its hollow body. Their most notable
difference is the sound they produce. Because of its external
amplification, the loud music of the electric guitar is usually
used for a lively, hyped and more upbeat audience. An acoustic
guitar, on the other hand, produces music that is more soulful
and soothing, usually played for a more relaxed and subdued

Therefore, if you are thinking of learning how to play the
guitar, the old adage applies: "Practice makes perfect."
However, learning to play the guitar should be done with the
noblest of intentions - making beautiful music. If you are in it
for the money, better stop before your fingers start getting
sore. Even expecting to make a decent living out of playing the
guitar is already too much of an expectation. And yet, who

But even if no one will be interested to purchase your guitar on
ebay after you have decided to put it up for retirement, it does
not mean everything you and your guitar have been through meant
nothing. There will always be those memories you will picture -
those times when you alone cannot contain all your emotions
inside and you just had to release them by picking up your
guitar and playing your own version of "beautiful music." After
all, beauty is in the eye, in this case, the ear, of the

About the author:
David Arnold Livingston loves music, especially tunes created
with the much-loved guitar. He recommends as a resource for
lessons, music and downloads:

Monday, October 17, 2005


This is a thirtieth anniversay special.

Product Overview & Specs
Tune-o-matic bridge w/string-thru-body
2 volume & 1 tone control w/3-way toggle
24 XJ frets
30th anniversary serpents inlay
Machine Heads:
Grover tuners
Neck Joint:
Set neck construction
Neck Material:
3-piece mahogany neck
EMG 81/60 active pickups
24 3/4"

win an ESP guitar

Friday, October 14, 2005

Big Guitar Giveaways

Music123 is running some more contests to win free guitars. There's three different guitars you can win. Check it out.

win an ESP guitar

win a jackson rr3 & amp

win a washburn X30 & Amp

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Electric , Classical , Acoustic - Which Guitar Is Best For You?

By: David Arnold Livingston

No one could really pinpoint the exact year as to when the
guitar was created. The lute, harp and lyre are the three
stringed instruments from which guitars evolved. The features of
guitars vary for each musical period. The guitar is one of the
most popular musical instruments today to bring out soothing
music or to perk up one's energy level. Bands and gigs will not
be complete without guitars. Guitars are also used as a means to
free hidden and unexpressed feelings and emotions or it can as
well be a medium to spend time meaningfully together with loved
ones and peers.

There are various types of guitars that can suit the intended
purpose of the user such as the twelve strings guitars, six
strings, classical guitars and electric guitars. Twelve strings
made up the twelve strings guitar to achieve a rich tone
compared with the standard six string guitars. The courses of
strings are played together though the sound produced are
different from the other. On the bass course are two strings
tuned an octave apart and on the treble courses are the other
pairs of strings that are tuned together. The third string in
the third course can be tuned by using unison strings or the
distinct high-pitched octave guitars strings. The style of
standard six string guitars can allow the user to have easy
contact on the higher frets on the finger board. This type needs
an access on the frets to produce the desired sounds and

Classical guitars of the olden days have cat gut which later on
developed into nylon strings. These types of guitars have a flat
fingerboard and wide neck. Other guitars experts suggest that
classical guitars are the best types for beginners since it has
greater string gauge and lighter string tension but still the
decision is on the buyer since the classic guitar may not suit
their preferences and style. Classic songs and music are best
played using classical guitars.

Electric guitars are made up of different materials and use
various components to produce the needed sound. Alder, Mahogany,
Walnut, Maple and Ash are the commonly used types for the body
of electric guitars. The woods and the construction, the types
of strings, quality of components used, length of cables and the
overall condition of the environment determine the quality of
the sound produced. Electric guitars are used in various forms
and styles of music may it be pop, country, rock and roll, jazz
or blues.

In buying guitars, the user must make sure that the chosen
guitar will match his budget, playing style and skills. An
electric guitar is easier to play compared with an acoustic
guitar. Acoustic guitars can produce audible sounds without
using amplifiers. It makes use of either the nylon or wound
steel rings. There are also acoustic and electric guitars that
can be played with the presence or absence of an amplifier.

Package deals are at times offered for beginners which may
include a guitar together with other options like a tuner, pics,
strap and case. The soundboard of the guitars must be carefully
inspected to determine the type of sound produced. Producers of
good quality guitars are usually the well-known companies in the
industry like Taylor, Gibson, Yamaha, Fender, Ovation, Martin
and Ibanez. There are wide selections of style and design to
choose from to match the buyer's distinctness and uniqueness.

About the author:
David Arnold Livingston is a music lover and enjoys guitars.
Visit: for lots of great information about

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Guitar Buying Advice

Here's another decent guide to guitar purchasing. The author has some pretty good tips. Check it out.

How to Buy a New Guitar

By: Peter Lenkefi

So, you want to know how to buy a new guitar. Whether you are
just learning to play the guitar or you've been playing for some
time, choosing to buy a new guitar can be one of the most
exciting experiences.

You will soon learn that people have their own opinions about
the type of new guitar to buy. You will need to consider what is
important to you. In addition, learning how to buy a new guitar
is similar to buying a new pair of shoes. They are better once
they have been used a bit.

In guitar terms, they need to have a good "setup."

There are essentially three types of guitars on the market:
electric, acoustic, and classical. You can also find acoustic
guitars that have pickups. These are properly called
acoustic-electric guitars.

If you're are just learning to play the guitar you may be
interested in purchasing a brand new guitar instead of a used
one. You may think that there is much more trouble associated
with purchasing a used guitar.

You shouldn't have to worry about the general condition, but
there are some tips for how to buy a new guitar that can save
you a headache and point you in the right direction.

Getting Your Money's Worth

One aspect of new guitars that you will learn quickly---they're
not cheap. As with anything you buy, the highest price doesn't
necessarily correspond to the best. When you are considering how
to buy a new guitar, the best deal that you want to secure is
one where you get a quality guitar with the lowest prices
possible. Quality in terms of the guitar relate to its
construction and tone.

When you look at the construction, notice the wood that is used.
Inspect the entire guitar and look for peeling or chipping. Also
look closely to notice the shape of the guitars. Guitars are
typically kept in storage areas.

If a guitar spends a significant amount of time in such an area,
it is very possible that the wood may become affected so that
the instrument loses its shape. Now that you are learning how to
buy a new guitar, you will be able to tell the difference in a
new guitar that is worth its price tag and one that is not.

Checking the Action

If there is one aspect of guitars that separate them from each
other, it's tone. Another tip for how to buy a new guitar is to
refrain from judging a guitar simply by its looks alone. You
need to take it down from the shelf and listen to its tone. If
you are just learning to play, you don't have to worry that you
don't know enough to test out the tone. You can tell if a guitar
has good tone by simply strumming a few strings on it. Action is
an important thing to check as well.

Action refers to the amount of space between the strings and the

When you play a note, you have to press down on the strings so
that they touch the fretboard. If there is too much space
between the string and the fretboard, the action is considered
high. If there is very little space between the two, the action
is considered low. Either extreme can affect your guitar
playing. You want to aim for an action that is somewhere in the

The tips presented here are only a few to show you how to buy a
new guitar. The more time you spend talking to other guitar
enthusiasts you will learn more about new guitars.

About the author:
For more more information about buying a new guitar please visit

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Basic Guitar Chords: How to Easily Master the Guitar Chords You

By: Peter Bussey

One of the first challenges faced by the advancing guitar player
is learning a core group of basic guitar chords. Why is it so
important to learn these basic chords?
Chords form the
backbone of most rock and pop songs, and provide the harmonic
accompaniment to the melody and instrumental solos.

Rhythm guitar based on basic chords provides many of the most
memorable rock riffs... think AC/DC's "Back in Black" or The
Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". What's really amazing is that by
learning no more than 10 to 15 basic guitar chords, you will be
equipped to play thousands of rock and pop songs!

What is a Guitar Chord?

First let's establish the definition of a chord. A chord is
three or more different musical notes played together. In the
case of the guitar, this means that at least three strings are
strummed or plucked simultaneously to sound three or more notes.
Since the guitar has six strings, the maximum numbers of notes
in a guitar chord is six. All chords can be placed in one of
three groups based on the musical structure of the chord: Major,
Minor, or Seventh. Each of these chord groups has its own
"sound" or "feel". Major chords sound stable and complete. Minor
chords can evoke a more somber or pensive mood, and Seventh
chords are jazzy and somewhat incomplete sounding.

There is no standard list of "basic guitar chords" that every
one agrees to. However, there is general agreement that there is
a list of somewhere between 8 and 18 basic guitar chords (open
string) that every guitarist must know cold. These chords are
used in all musical styles from rock and pop to country, jazz,
and classical. No matter where you are on your guitar-playing
path, you should take the time to learn and master the basic
chords. Getting these right will ensure you have the basic tools
and skills to learn many songs and increase your playing

The List of Basic Guitar Chords

So what are the basic guitar chords? Our basic stable includes
the major and minor chords from four common musical keys, A,G,C,
and D. They are played as "open chords", that is at least one
string in the chord is not fretted (pressed down with a finger).
Open chords are easier to learn and play than more advanced
chords such as Barre chords, or complex chords further up the
guitar neck. Our list of basic major and minor chords is:

A Major (or A), A Minor (or Am), C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, G

These chords can be best learned as chord "families" (by key)
that can be combined into great-sounding chord sequences that
make up lots of popular songs. Using this chord family approach
is much more interesting and useful than just memorizing a bunch
of chords in random order!

These chords grouped by chord family (key) are as follows:

A Family (Key of A): A, D, E
D Family (Key of D): D, Em, G,
G Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, Em
C Family (Key
of C): C, Dm, Em, F, G

Tips for Learning the Basic Chords:

1. Pick a Chord Family and master it. This will give you
quick success and let you play great sounding progressions right

2. Use a Guitar Chord Chart as a reference tool. A
chord chart shows each chord as an easy to read "chord diagram"
with exact finger positions. See this example of a chart of basic guitar chords.

3. Find the chords and lyrics for an easy song that is
based on the chord family so you can apply your skills. Many
great songs are based on only three chords!

4. Ensure each string sounds right. Take care to make
sure that each string is sounding clearly, and that only the
strings that should be played are played.

5. Practice, practice, practice! Every day, practice
continually change from one chord to another until you can do it
rapidly. Learn the chord families one at a time.

6. Master all the basic chords first. Only then move on
to Barre chords and other more complex chords. First things

7. Expand with 7th chords. As a next step you can easily
expand on your basic chord knowledge by adding 7th and minor 7th
chords based on the nine basic major and minor chords.

8. Have fun using your new skills! Enjoy your musical
ability by applying it to learning a small set of 5-10 songs you
know really well and can confidently play at any time.

About the author:
Peter Bussey has been an avid guitar player for over 10 years.
In 2004 he became Editor of The Guitar Players Toolbox, a
website dedicated to helping advancing guitar players improve
with practical tools, tips, and information. Visit for a variety of free,
practical resources such as guitar chords, guitar chord charts,
song chords, and much more.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Keith Richards' Favorite Guitar

We thought it would be fun to run some posts about the stars' favorite guitars. With the Rolling Stones on tour again, we'll start with Keith Richards. Richards started playing the Fender Telecaster almost exclusively sometime in the early seventies. The Telecaster is a great instrument for rhythm players. You get very precise chord sounds without overwhelming the other instruments. When you hear a Rolling Stones tune, one thing that always sticks out is Richards' chord work. The Telecaster makes it ring.

Another thing that gives Richards a distinctive sound is his use of an open G tuning. What he does is tune the A string down to G. On top of that, he removes the lower E string so as to be able to hammer out his chords without inadvertenly hitting the E. Pretty unique!

Fender American Series Telecaster Electric Guitar Chrome Red with Rosewood Neck

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

GUITAR PRACTICE (Part 2) - Does Practice Make Perfect?

Here's another part two of the guitar practice series from Kathy Unruh.

By: Kathy Unruh

You've probably heard the saying "practice makes perfect" and
it sounds true enough, but is it really? We all know the
importance of practicing a new skill in order to become
proficient at it. This is especially true when it comes to
playing the guitar, or any other musical instrument for that
matter. But, practicing incorrectly can actually be a detriment
to your progress. How is that you say? Because you will continue
to reinforce whatever it is you practice. So, if you always
practice doing something the wrong way, you will end up with the
wrong result. For example, if you practice holding your hands in
a poor position, it will eventually become a habit that will be
difficult to correct. Poor position of either your right or left
hand when practicing the guitar can create tension, thus making
certain techniques more difficult to execute. Poor hand position
can also increase the possibility of developing injuries that
are somewhat common to musicians, such as Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome. This is a very debilitating injury of the wrist which
can bring your guitar playing to a complete halt. When
practicing, use a "cupped" hand instead of a "flat" hand to help
promote a good relaxed position.

Another problem area for some students regarding guitar
practice, is rhythm. Rhythm is so foundational to every aspect
of music that I really can't stress its importance enough.
Whether or not you know how to read music isn't the issue. But
you absolutely should try to learn how to count the beats within
a given measure of music in order to play the piece correctly.
If you can't keep time, no one will really be able to tell what
you're playing anyway. It will also be very difficult for you to
play along in a band, or with other musicians who just want to

Speed is one of the biggest practice obstacles I see among my
students. When speed is king, rhythm and timing are often
sacrificed. It is absolutely necessary to SLOW DOWN in
order to interpret the timing correctly, especially if it
is a fast lick or strumming pattern. Speed also effects
articulation, which simply means "to pronounce
distinctly." What good is it if you can play something real
fast,but do it poorly? Who is going to be impressed with that?
Instead, take your time and practice playing each tone clearly,
at a speed that is comfortable for you. Try using a metronome or
drum machine to set a tempo. Then practice short "speed bursts"
one section at a time. Keep increasing the speed until you can
play the entire lick, riff or measure, etc. at the desired
tempo. But, do not sacrifice Hand Position, Rhythm or
in the process. These three things should
receive top priority when practicing the guitar. After they are
well established, work on the speed or tempo of the music.

Knowing what finger position to use when playing notes on the
guitar fretboard is also important. If you use a haphazard or
random approach, you will likely become confused and disoriented
as you begin to move around. I tell my new students that the
guitar is "upside down and backword" to give them some idea of
what they're facing when it comes to learning the notes on the
fretboard. Meaning that the guitar is played both horizontally
and vertically, as opposed to the piano which is a linear
instrument. When learning to read notes on the guitar, you must
flip it upside down to match it to a fretboard diagram. Down is
up and up is down when referring to direction and how it relates
to the pitch of each string.

To sum things up:

1. Start Slowly

2. Develop a relaxed "cupped" hand position

4. Learn how to interpret the rhythm (timing)

5. Emphasize articulation (clarity)

6. Gradually increase speed (tempo)

So, it is true that "practice makes perfect" if you learn to
develop a "perfect" practice routine. In order to do this, you
will need to work on establishing your priorities and developing
good practice habits. Realize that it takes time to become a
good musician so don't rush the process, instead, embrace it and
enjoy it. If you keep these ideas in mind you should see a
steady, progressive improvement of your overall playing in a
relatively short time. You will also discover that when you
develop good habits, you automatically develop good technique.
Once you have established good technique, playing the guitar
will seem much easier and that will make it all worthwhile in
the long run.

About the author:
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster
of ABC Learn Guitar. 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
buying a guitar, songwriting, recording and creating a music
career, please visit:

Monday, October 03, 2005

GUITAR PRACTICE (Part 1) - Make It Your Priority!

Here's a good article with some time-tested advice on practicing guitar.

By: Kathy Unruh

Every student realizes that guitar practice is important if they
wish to become a better musician. Even so, many have trouble
establishing a regular practice routine. Other responsibilities
have a way of squeezing them into a work-a-holic lifestyle,
leaving little room left for personal pursuits. Even teens and
children are over-stretched these days with school and other
extra-curricular activities. So, what's the secret to creating
an effective guitar practicing schedule? The answer: MAKE IT

That may sound simple to some and impossible to others, but it
is absolutely imperative to becoming a good guitarist. Giving
something priority simply means to put it before everything else
in order of time and importance. Now, it's always easier to set
priorities when there is a desire to accomplish, or reach a
specific end result. So, having a goal in mind when practicing
the guitar, will help you to maintain your focus and provide a
sense of purpose too.

According to the Scribiner-Bantam English Dictionary, the word
"Practice" means:

- to work or pursue as a profession

- to perform often in order to learn

- to teach by frequent repetition; drill

In order to make your guitar practice a priority, try thinking
of it as you would your job or school work. By this, I don't
mean it should be drudgery, but an important necessity. Schedule
a time each day to practice your guitar, and stick to it. Be
firm in your decision. Mark it in your appointment book, or on
your calendar. You will begin to notice an improvement in your
overall ability when you practice the guitar on a regular basis.

There will be times when you seem to leap forward, and other
times when you don't seem to be getting anywhere. But understand
that the guitar is one of the most difficult instruments to
become really proficient on, so you will need to guard against
discouragement. I have a friend who plays piano, cello and
violin. She decided to take up classical guitar and confessed
that it was the most difficult instrument she had ever tried to
learn. So, you may want to keep notes on your progress for
personal encouragement as well as an incentive to persevere.

Commitment and determination are two of the most important keys
to success in any pursuit. Talent and natural ability are a
definite plus, but many talented guitar students lack
discipline. In order to succeed, you must learn to cultivate and
nurture your natural abilities. Skill is developed by
continually honing, experimenting and perfecting your gift.
Don't just take it for granted, be willing to work hard.

All great guitarists have this one thing in common- they made
guitar practice a priority! So, get yourself started in the same
direction by keeping these things in mind...

1. Make your guitar practice a priority

2. Establish a specific time of day to practice 3. Make a
commitment to practicing regularly

4. Set short term and long term goals (make a note when reached)

5. Persevere through difficulty

6. Be determined to succeed

Above all else, enjoy playing the guitar and learning new
things- have fun! Think of it as an adventure. With so many
different guitar styles and techniques, there will always
something else to discover. Life is short, so make some time to
do what you love and be happy!

About the author:
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster
of ABC Learn Guitar. 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
buying a guitar, songwriting, recording and creating a music
career, please visit:

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Great Guitar Solos

Here's another cool article by Peter Jones. What are your favorite guitar riffs?

The World Is Full Of Great Guitar Solos

By: Peter Jones

Do you have a favourite guitar solo? You know, one that sends a
cold chill down the back of your neck? One, that for some
unknown reason seems to fit the song so perfectly that you
couldn't imagine any other guitar solo being played in that
song? I bet you have a few you could mention. I'm going to list
five all time classic solos that influenced me when I was
starting out. See what you think.

Something by George Harrison - A beautiful solo for a beautiful
song. I heard a story that the final solo used on the Abbey Road
album was actually a mix of a few solos George had recorded.
There is no doubting that he excelled himself on this song. It
just goes to show that sometimes the simplest of licks will
suffice. Thanks for the memories George....

All Right Now by Paul Kossoff - An absolute classic rock solo!!.
A composition within itself you might say. This solo features no
right hand tapping, no full throttle speed licks and no wammy
bar heroics. Instead we have a brilliantly constructed solo with
a definite beginning, middle and end. Check out the way Paul
gently pulls the listener in by using a couple of licks to
introduce the solo and then builds up to a fantastic ending.
This solo is a prime example of how to play a great rock solo.

All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix - Jimi plays Dylan.
This is probably one of my all time favourites. This is one of
those solos that I really do not want to analyse. I just want to
sit back, listen and enjoy. To be honest, there are many of Jimi
solos I could have included in this but, to me, this one is
simply outstanding. It's one I never, ever tire of listening to.
Each and every time it just blows me away. The whole feeling of
this track is just amazing.

Cliffs Of Dover by Eric Johnson - This is a prime example of
great technique being mixed with a great feel for the music
being played. As with Jimi, there are many Eric Johnson tracks I
could have chosen. I decided on this one because it was the
first thing I ever heard Eric Johnson play. Back in the mid to
late 80's Guitar Player magazine included it as a freebie
flexidisc in one of its issues. I loved it then and I love it
now. If you haven't heard this track check it out as soon as you

I'm Goin' Home by Alvin Lee - A song by helicopter! This is just
plain old rock n' roll from the wonderful Alvin Lee. I've chosen
this one because it was a big favourite of mine when I was first
starting to play. It is raw, exciting, and it makes you want to
play. I remember being knocked out by the sheer speed of Alvin's
fingers when I first heard this one. A gem from one of the

Obviously there are many great solos I have had to miss from
this list. Who could forget, Django Reinhardt's Nuages, Larry
Carlton's Kid Charlemagne, Elliott Randall's Reeling In The
Years, Brian May's Bohemian Rhapsody, Eddie Van Halen's Beat it,
Albert Lee's Country Boy, Bert Jansch's Angie, David Gilmour's
Comfortably Numb, Jimmy Page's Stairway To Heaven, Steve Vai's
For The Love Of God, Eric Clapton's Sunshine Of Your Love, Brian
Setzer's I Won't Stand In Your Way, Mason Williams' Classical
Gas, Jimi's Little Wing, Chet Atkins' Yakety Axe, Scotty Moore's
That's All Right Mama.....etc...etc....etc.... The list goes on
and on.

The five I chose were important in my early years as a player.
If compiling the same list next week, I might come up with
something completely different. My tastes have changed over the
years and I am sure they will continue to do so.

What five guitar solos would you list and why?

About the author:
Peter Jones is the Managing Director of Jack Sky Ltd. Based in
the great city of Liverpool, Jack Sky is committed to providing
1st class guitar tutorials to all of its customers. A warm
welcome awaits you at