Music Blog – Instrument Tip & Tricks

Tune your Guitar

There are currently several different devices that are available on the market that will help you electronically tune your guitar. These are all handy in a pinch but I am a little bit old school when it comes to being able to tune by ear. Knowing to tune by ear means that you are also much more likely to recognize when the guitar you are playing becomes out of tune, which can happen easily with playing tension on the strings, or even a temperature change to the instrument body itself. Here are a few techniques to help you keep you tune in check:

 

Here is what the Guys over at Chord Buddy have to say about it:

Guitar Tuning Basics

Tuning a guitar involves adjusting 6 strings on the instrument. Standard guitar tuning, starting from the thickest, lowest-pitched string (the 6th string) at the top of neck is: E – A – D – G – B – E – The high E string—the thinnest, highest-pitched string at the bottom of the neck—is known as the 1st string and all others follow suit.

How To Tune Your Guitar

Here is a way to remember the string names, starting from the small “E” to the big “E.”

E-very B-oy G-ets D-onuts A-fter E-ating.

How to Tune a Guitar by Ear

To tune a guitar the old-fashioned way, first tune the 6th string to low E. If you already know this pitch, tune on. You may want to go online to find samples of a low E. If you’re playing with others, you may want to have one person tune, then the rest tune to match that person’s tune.

Pluck your tuned low E string with your right hand (for right-handed, standard guitar players—lefties playing left-handed guitars should reverse this) while holding the string down with your left hand at the 5th fret (starting from the headstock, count 5 frets up toward the body.) The tone that emanates, because you are holding the string down at the 5th fret, will be an A.

Pluck the open string below it (“open” meaning, not holding down the string on any frets with your left hand) and turn the second tuning peg until your A string produces the same tone as your low E string when played at the 5th fret. Following suit, you’ll play the A string at the 5th fret to find the correct tone for the D string, the D string at the 5th fret to find the G string, but when you’re ready to tune your B string, you’ll play the G string at the 4th fret instead of the 5th.

To tune the last high E string, you’ll move back to the 5th fret where you’ll play the B string to find your high E tone. Got it? It’s pretty easy once you do it a couple of times. The down side to tuning your guitar this way is you may not be in “standard 440.” Tuning to A 440 assures you of being in tune with other guitars all around the world.

Four Magic Chords That Every Guitar Player Should kKnow

Ok.. So there are literally dozens of chords that you will come to know. Many are simple variations of the main chords, some are inversions for different sounds of the otherwise identical notes. Suffice to say that it can seem very complex when one wants to start out and learn a few of their favourite tunes. Good news though, these four basic chords are all very easy to play and you can play thousands, and I do mean thousands of very familiar songs with just these four chords. Heck, add a capo into the mix and you have the entire pop/rock library at you fingertips.

The good news about these one is there is no “barring” involved in the chord formation. Barring is where you place a finger across the entire neck of the guitar in order to make a chord. It is a more intermediate form of chord use and unfortunately is kinda tough to do.

Fortunately, you have other options before you need to employ these chord types. It is always best to get your hands and fingers toughened up with some of the more simple chord variation anyway.

A few songs that use only these chords (or Less):

Take a Picture – by Filter(A&D)
Semi Charmed Life – by Third eye Blind (D,C & G)
3am – Matchbox 20 (D,C & G)

But really the list goes on and One. Just get started by learning how to play guitar and you will see very clearly.

Guitar Basics

Holding a Guitar – Posture & Hand Placement

Proper posture and good practice habits is not something every guitar player is aware of or takes seriously. Improper posture and bad habits will not immediately result in injuries, but will effect the long term results regarding back, shoulder, neck, elbow, arm and wrist pains, as well as longterm playing performance and efficiency. Conditions like: RSI (repetitive strain injuries), tendonitis, CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) can be a result of the repetitive use of improper technique employed over many hours of practice.

Good posture will help to prevent a these problems while simultaneously making guitar playing easier and more pleasant.

The positioning of your hand(s) is very important. The devil is in the details, as they say, and it makes all the difference in the world.

 

Let’s take a closer look:

Prevent injuries

  • Relax with a straight back, don’t slouch or raise your shoulders, keep length throughout your spine, and release any tension in the arms, wrists, hands and fingers.
  • Take intermittent breaks: If you are playing for a few hours, trying breaking it into half hour sections with a five minute stretch in between each segment. If you feel strain or pain take a rest and let your body heal.
  • Make sure you have a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and get your rest. A little exercise doesn’t hurt either. Life lessons and guitar lessons.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t push all your practice into one day.

Sitting position

Sit, put both feet flat on the floor and maintain a straight back. Put the body of the guitar on your leg (the same side as your strumming hand) and position the back of the instrument against your diaphragm and chest. Keep the guitar neck horizontal to the floor.

Don’t use the left hand to support the neck from leaning down towards the floor, instead let your upper right arm rest on the upper part of the guitar body to avoid this. Make sure all this feels comfortable.

 

Hand Position

Left hand (fretting hand)
The thumb of your fretting hand should rest behind the neck of the guitar placing it approximately between your first two fingers. Make sure to bend all your knuckles (1st, 2nd and 3rd).

Use the tip of your fingers to press down the strings and place them as close to the fret as possible. (Don’t place your fingers on the fret!) Keep your fingernails short, so they don’t touch the fretboard.

Right hand position (strumming hand)
Rest your upper right arm on the upper part of the guitar body, your right hand floating comfortably above the sound hole and relax your arm, wrist and hand.

 

Strumming technique

With so many variables of strumming techniques for guitar playing, you have some options. A commonly used technique is to place your thumb against your index fingers though holding a coin. Your hand has plenty of support this way. Bend your fingers (middle, ring and pinky) a bit in towards the palm of your hand.

Now down strum with the nail of your index finger against all the strings and then up strum with the nail of your thumb. You can also play with your index finger and thumb separately which gives you a more tender sound. You can also grow your fingernails a bit to give you a more clear sound like using a pick.

Using a pick / Fingerpick Position

Hold the pick between your thumb and index finger. Place the pick on the top side of your index finger and clamp your thumb down on top of it. Hold the pick firmly.

Rest your forearm on the top front edge of the lower bout to stabilize your hand. Hold your hand above the sound hole, make sure your hand and arm is aligned and bend your knuckles slightly.

The most common used approach is playing the bass strings (4th, 5th and 6th string) with the thumb, 3rd string with the index finger, 2nd string with the middle finger and the 1st string with the ring finger. Other variations are also used. Use the tip of your fingers to play the strings.