Monday, February 27, 2006

Guitar Can Be Easier - Really

By Frank Foxx

I’m on a mission. To convert.

To convert guitar players and aspiring guitar players to open-D. It’s the tuning so important to guitar in the last number of decades, but too often, so overlooked by the mainstream. Standard tuning has a stranglehold on the business of learning guitar. The reason, to me, remains unclear.

As a starting point, an open tuning is clearly the logical choice. What easier way to begin to play guitar, but with an open, major chord? How much more confidence could an aspiring guitarist (of any age, but more on that later) need than to be able to play a nice sounding chord without putting finger to fret? That’s what you get when you start with an open tuning.

My personal story went like this. Frustrated novice guitar player (“novice” for years on end!). Gets nowhere with guitar for years. Does research (i.e. reads guitar magazines). Realizes many of the greats played in alternate tunings (K. Richard, J. Mitchell, E. James, R. Johnson, R. Cooder, J. Page, etc, etc.). Re-tunes guitar until he finds one that works – open-D. Presto! Light bulb comes on, a better guitar player is hatched.

Open tunings are mentioned, frequently enough, in magazines articles, transcriptions, books and the like. But very seldom or never have I seen an outright promotion of their use as a stand-alone approach to guitar (my god, even Keith switches to standard tuning every now and again!). And open-D, the most logical of all starting points, is rarely mentioned at all. I have yet, in 20+ years of public performance, have anyone come up to me and say – “How about that – you play just like I do, in open-D”. People do come up, but the comments are almost always, “You sure use some funny chord positions” or “Are you playing in a different tuning”. Amazingly, many guitar players associate “open tuning” with “more difficult”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, to make the transition from standard tuning is a bit of a learning curve, but once you’re there, POW! You’ll never want to play any other way (although just adding proficiency on an open tuning to your standard tuning is a giant leap).

Which brings us back to beginners. No matter what the age, a beginner, whether 6 or 60 years old will find open-D an easier way to start playing guitar. It is so obvious. Focus on the strum without any fingers on the fretboard, and then work your way up to one finger on the fretboard (the basic major chord in open-D is just one finger). What a way to develop early confidence. The truth is, and I am living proof, you would never have to make the flip to standard tuning. But if you wanted to, it’s just small tweak up to standard – sort of drop-D tuning with three other minor adjustments back and forth, to and from standard E A D G B E, to D A D F# D.

One question that arises – why open-D, then, of all the potential starting points? The absolute simplest choice may be, for easier understanding of theory, keys and harmony might be open-C C G C E G C, but that gets a tad floppy sounding, as the guitar strings are so slackened. Going the other way to open-E E B E G# B E might be going too far the other way, though it’s used. Open-D seems the perfect choice! For singers wanting to accompany themselves, of course, it becomes an issue of vocal range tied to the guitar tuning. A capo may be in order.

Frank Foxx is a semi-professional guitar player who plays exclusively in the tuning of open-D. He has written a guitar method book, extolling the virtues of what he considers to be the most versatile and easiest of all guitar tunings, entitled Guitar-eze A Simpler Approach to Playing the Guitar. His website is He keeps a blog at dedicated to helping guitarists and aspiring guitarists see the light.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

On Learning Guitar - Where's the Guarantee?

On Learning Guitar - Where's the Guarantee?
By Frank Foxx

What a place the world wide web is. So much information. So much knowledge. So much, um - stuff – to wade through.

To look at the many commercial guitar websites out there, you’d swear a Satriani was being born every minute. The sites scream out at you – “play like a pro”, “insider secrets revealed”, “master guitar in 30 days guaranteed”… Amazing. In fact, all the guitar systems out there seem to be “guaranteed”. But “guaranteed to” what? Have you play like a pro? Have you play a song start to finish?

Actually, they’re guaranteed to the extent that if you return them within a specified time-frame, you’ll be refunded your money. That’s it. That’s all. There’s no actual guarantee that you will play guitar. There can’t be. You’re a human being. There’s no guarantee on anything.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t aspire to learn guitar. It’s the most wonderful instrument in the world. Go into any local music store and watch the wizards wail, on electric or acoustic. Will you get there? That’s not certain. There are so many variables.

your natural musical inclination

your manual dexterity

your musical ear

Those are some of nature’s gifts (or lack of) which will affect the outcome. Then there are the more physical, down-to-earth factors:

your budget

your time constraints

the rest of your life outside guitar

Everyone would love to play the guitar at some point in their life. That’s a fact. The ultimate level of one’s success on guitar is dependent on all the above factors and more. Lessons are never a bad idea, if you can afford them. Practice, of course, is the only way to improve. Teaching aids such as those found on the internet can be a help. Watching guitarists (and musicians generally) in action can be an eye-opener and motivator. What it all adds up to is – there’s no guarantee.

But what about those novices or frustrated players who just can’t seem to find the zone? Where the very basics of the instrument seem to be a hindrance. All of the books, all of the coaching, all of the websites and their systems and aids, that don’t seem to help. Where progress is limited. Those are the ones I love to pick up. I’ve seen them all. From housewives, to six year-olds, to frustrated veterans, even good guitarists who just want to get better. I’ve got the way that is actually different.

My site has the same guarantee as everyone else’s – if you don’t like what you bought, return it and you’ll get your money back. What I also am able to guarantee is that my system, Guitar-eze, is truly easier. Especially at the outset, when most of your chords are played with one finger. Guitar-eze focuses on open-D tuning. You build from there; there’s way less to memorize, and less fingering technique to master upfront. It’s easier. Guaranteed.

Frank Foxx is a semi-professional guitar player and part-time guitar teacher who plays exclusively in the tuning of open-D. He has written a guitar method book, extolling the virtues of what he considers to be the most versatile and easiest of all guitar tunings, entitled Guitar-eze A Simpler Approach to Playing the Guitar. His website is He keeps a blog at dedicated to helping guitarists and aspiring guitarists see the light.

Article Source:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Les Paul Supreme

This is the model that is being given away in the Music123 contest. It has the chambered body which gives it more tone. Here's the specs:

Binding Custom binding on top, back, fretboard and headstock
Body Mahogany
Bridge/Tremolo Tune-o-matic bridge with stopbar tailpiece
Case Included Includes free Gibson hardshell case - a $170 value.
Controls 3-way selector, 2 Tone, 2 volume
Fingerboard ebony
Frets 22
Inlays Abalone and pearl
Machine Heads Gold
Neck Joint Set-neck
Neck Material Mahogany
Nut Width 1.68"
Pickguard none
Pickups 490R / 498T
Scale 24 3/4"
Top and Back AAAA ma

Gibson Les Paul Supreme Electric Guitar Heritage Cherry

Don't forget to register for a chance to win one.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Guitar Lessons: Musical Expression Starts from Within

Guitar Lessons: Musical Expression Starts from Within
By Bill McRea

Great guitar playing is more than playing riffs and licks; it’s about presenting your emotions and feelings in musical terms. That’s why it’s called it musical expression.

When I first started playing I was so concerned about hitting every note right. I’d spend hours practicing scales and chord forms and making sure that each note sounded perfect. After about two years of practice I knew everything in the world about making chord shapes and playing scale, and nothing about making music. I’d record myself and the listen to the playback and it sounded like a bored guitar student trying to play every note perfectly.

Time to crack a few eggs and make a new omelet. I started to listening to some great guitar players that I admired like David Gilmore, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix to figure out what they were doing different then me. I knew the same scales, and chord progressions, but I sounded nothing like these legends. I decided I wanted to sound more like David Gilmore so I spent the time to learn the solo from Comfortably Numb, but it still sounded flat and unexciting. I was try to play it exactly the way David Gilmore did, when what I should have been doing was playing it the way I FEEL.

That’s when it all started to come together for me. I figured out that I can learn for great guitarist, but the musical expression must come from inside me, to be of any interest. To channel what is in your soul to the guitar, I learned to simplify musical passages, and feel each note, and I learned not to be so worried about what my hands were doing. Magically my hand started singing because I had reached deep inside and cleared my head enough to allow for the musical expression I was unable to share in the past.

All the scales, chords and hours of practice just provide me with the tools I needed for self expression. My musical journey will never end, but my ability to explore is now at warp speed.

Bill McRea is the publisher of The
Guitar Warehouse
and Guitar
Playing Techniques
. Both sites offer free lesson and product sales.

Article Source:

Friday, February 17, 2006

Guitar Lesson: Speed Picking and Synchronizing Your Hands

By: Todd A

So how do you get faster with your picking? How do you get both
your hands synchronized when you play guitar?

A few simple exercises are all it takes. That and the proper
guitar practice methods.

In this article I'm going to demystify the whole process.
Learning to play the guitar fast or to Shred is not rocket
science...just follow some simple steps. And you will be well on
your way to becoming a Guitar God...heheh

Notes: BPM stands for Beats Per Minute. Always practice in 16th

Step 1 Buy a Metronome if you don't already have one! You
can use one of the free online ones, but if you are serious
about your guitar playing, invest the money into a metronome.

Step 2 Set aside at least 30 minutes a day 6 days a week
to do your drills. Getting fast is no different than anything

Step 3 SLOW DOWN! This is probably the most important
step! Find a picking speed with your metronome that you can
COMFORTABLY PLAY with NO mistakes. You need to learn to
play your guitar correctly before you worry about going fast.

I know from personal experience that I like to play guitar fast,
and push my limit and ability until I get so sloppy it sounds
like hell.

Here's why this is such a bad idea...If you practice fast and
wrong, you will play fast and WRONG. That's it. So SLOW
DOWN and PRACTICE GUITAR with 100% accuracy. The speed your
looking for will come on it's own!

Step 4 Once you have a comfortable practice speed do your
drills (several listed at the end of the article) for at least 5
minutes NONSTOP. Take a few minutes break then fire up your
metronome and start another 5 minute drill session. Continue
doing this until you have finished your 30 minute speed drill

(Tip: Use a Timer: you want to limit your drills to ONE part
of your practice, not the whole thing)

Step 5 Keep a detailed record of your guitar drills
progress! This is important so you can track your improvements.
What do you record? 1) Date and Time of Guitar Practice Sessions
2) Metronome Speed Setting and your Target Goal for the 6 day
period. Be realistic...if your starting at 50bpm don't expect
to play your guitar at 240bpm in 6 days.
3) I find it
helpful to keep notes on muscle tension and mood, as I had
developed poor guitar playing habits over the years. When I
review my notes I can tell what days my playing will be On or
Off based on my mood, plus Unlearn the bad habits ;o)

Step 6 Practice consistently 6 days a week and try to
push your speed up by 2 to 5 bpm each week.

Remember that when you move your speed up you MUST keep
playing your guitar cleanly. I.E.: NO MISTAKES.

If your making mistakes, your going to fast! See Step 3 again.

Thats all there is to it, keep at it and be consistant and you
WILL see improvement.

Keep Practicing that Guitar!

2 Simple Exercises to Get you Started.







Continue up the fretboard to the 12th fret then back down

Repeat for 5 Minutes







You can make up your own from scales/arpegios, etc

About the author:
Todd is a computer technician in the Moncton area who
specializes in system cleanups, he launched a new site dedicated
to Internet Marketing.
Todd has been playing guitar for over 20 years,and offers free
tutorials and lessons at Learn to
play guitar

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Making Your Guitar Scream

Learn to Play Guitar - Pinch Harmonics and Making Your Guitar

By: Todd A

In this article I'll explain how to make your guitar squeal with
Pinch Harmonics.

A lot of guitarists have trouble learning how to do these, but
it's really a simple technique.

I'm going to touch on all types of harmonics in an effort to
explain how Pinch Harmonics work when your playing the guitar.

If your like me you like to add a little expression when playing
your guitar, by adding some harmonics and pinch harmonics.

To get this started we're going to go into a little detail
about how the guitar strings actually work. Now I'm not going to
be all technical, as that's not who I am :o) Basically the
guitar string vibrates between the nut and the bridge. If you
look closely you can see the string vibrating like a sine wave.

Natural harmonics happen at the spaces along the string where
the "wave" stops and starts a new one. (Not technically correct
but makes sense to me this way). This normally happens just
above the 5th fret, the 7th fret, and the 12th fret wires. If
you take a minute in a well lit room you can see the spots where
the vibration along the string actually seems to be stopped.
When you lightly touch a ringing string on these points you will
get a natural harmonic chime.

Tap harmonics are simply fretting a string and moving the
natural harmonic spot up accordingly. For example: If you fret
the Low E String at the 3rd fret and pluck the string, your
"natural harmonics" would no longer be at the 5th, 7th, and 12th
frets. You would Tap the string above the 8th, 10th, and 15th
fret wire to sound the harmonic. Hence the name....Tap Harmonic. the meat of this...the all powerful Pinch Harmonic!! I
say all powerful just because I love the extra expression and
sound you can get from them.

To do a Pinch Harmonic you basically "Pinch" the string between
your Pick and the side of your thumb that's holding the pick.
This is the way I do them and have had excellent luck with this

When you strike the string you let your thumb sound the
harmonic you want. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the
right areas above the pickups that sound the harmonics you want,
but only a little. The best way to learn the placement is to
crank up your distortion (easier to sound them), and on put your
fret hand on the Low E or A String on the 5th or 7th fret as if
you were playing A note or D note. Start with your pick in about
the middle of the Neck and Bridge pickups and "Pinch" the string
so that when your pick sounds it your thumb immediately touches
the string. This should sound a Pinch Harmonic. The motion is
similar to turning the ignition in a car, just not as's a slight "Turn" or "Pinch" on the string.

You may have to move your hand slightly higher or lower on the
string to find the "sweet spots". Keep trying different areas
until you get it just right.

Once you've found the spots that give the sounds you want, make
a mental note of where they are. When you move your fret hand
higher or lower on the neck...the places you can hit the
harmonics will move slightly. This falls in line with the way a
Tap Harmonic works, so keep that in mind.

Keep practicing finding the "Sweet Spot" until you can do it
each time you try. This part does take a little time and

Just as a note: When you change to a different guitar, be
prepared to relearn where the Pinch Harmonics sound. Every
guitar I've played on has them in slightly different places.
Differences in neck length, bridge placement, manufacturing
tolerances all come into play.

So, that's all there is to it...Keep practicing till you get the
feel for it, try adding bends and sound another one, you'll make
that guitar scream like a wounded banshee in no time.

If you want to really increase your skill with Pinch harmonics
after you get the feel for them, try practicing them with a
clean sound. They can still be sounded and your accuracy will
increase exponentially!!

About the author:
Todd has been playing guitar for over 20 years. You can find
more tutorials and lessons on how to learn to play guitar at his

Todd is also heavily involved in Online Marketing and offers
free information at his personal site.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gibson Les Paul Supreme Contest

Check this out. Music123 has a contest to win a trip to the Gibson Nashville factory and win a handcrafted Les Paul Supreme. Wow.! This would be a very sweet thing to win.

Nashville Giveaway