How To Properly Tune a Guitar

tune a guitar
Now that you are on your way to playing, it’s important to learn how to tune a guitar. Your guitar can easily fall out of tune due to changes in the temperature, environment, and regular playing. You can use a tuner or tune the guitar to itself, if you’re not playing with anyone else!

Which Tuner Should I Buy?

In order to tune your guitar, I recommend using a tuner that you can clip at the head of the guitar, like this one. If you don’t have a tuner, you can also use a mobile app – I like one called GuitarTuna.

Here’s a tip: if the string’s pitch is higher than it should be, I recommend you bring it down, and it tune up to the right note, not the other way around.

How to Tune your Guitar to Itself

Alternatively, you can tune your guitar to itself, if you’re not going to be playing with anyone else.

The thinnest string is called the top string because it is the highest sounding string, even though it is physically on the bottom. Conversely, the thickest string is the low string because it has the lowest sound. For example, when your “Top E” string breaks, it means your thinnest string (the 1st string) has broken.

You must learn the names of your guitar strings. From the thickest to the thinnest it is E (6th string), A (5th), D (4th), G (3rd), B (2nd), E (1st). You’ll need to know this to properly use a guitar tuner.

You’ll also need to know this when playing with other musicians and you are tuning with each other. Also, when you go to the music store to purchase a replacement for a broken string. When your guitar is flat (b) it means that the string sounds lower than the in-tune sound, so the string must be tightened. When the string is sharp (#) it means that the string is sounding higher than the correct pitch of the note and it must be loosened.

By placing your fingers on the 5th fret, it is also possible to tune your guitar to itself. This works because there is more than one way to play any note on a guitar.

So when you press your finger just behind the 5th fret on the 6th string, that note is “A”. With the 5th string open, the note is also “A”. Therefore, both “A’s” must sound identical.

Not all of the strings are pressed down at the same time as it appears in the diagram. Tune the strings in pairs. For example: to tune the “B” string, which is the only exception, press a finger just behind the 4th fret on the 3rd string and also play the 2nd string open.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

How to Master Guitar Strumming

how to strum a guitar
Strumming the guitar can be frustrating if you are not shown the proper way to master some basic guitar rhythm skills. Here are some exercises for you!

Improve your Guitar Strumming Technique

Strumming the guitar can be frustrating! Especially if you are not shown the proper way and if you don’t allow yourself some time to master some basic guitar rhythm skills. Here are some fundamental concepts that I want you to think about when practicing strumming!

First of all, mute the guitar strings with your fretting hand. This will allow you to focus all of your attention on your strum.

Keep in mind that each strum should be equal distance from the last. So when counting 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +, the count should be smooth and even like a watch or clock ticking.

Say the rhythm out loud, slowly. Once you get the idea, try to do it in a seamless “loop”, without stopping at the end of the 4+). Once you get the hang of this, it should stream together like 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4

The last tip, when the strum calls for a space or void, your hand should still move as if it were going to hit the strings. If you do this, your down strums will always be where your downbeats are. Identically, your up strums will be where your upbeats are. Get it?

Guitar Strumming Exercises

For the following exercises, keep the following in mind. The numbers will always represent “down strums” (strumming towards the floor), while the “+” symbol (the “and” of the beat) will always be “up strums”. This is the key to good strumming!

Remember to take it slow and don’t get the fretting hand involved until you feel consistent about the strumming hand. That is, with diligent time and practice, you will get really good at this! You can find some extra tips here.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

How to Read and Play Guitar Chord Charts

Learn how to read guitar chord charts for chord shapes, and practice all the open chords! Remember to play on your fingertips, respect the specified fingering, and you will see that discipline pays off!

How to Read Chord Charts

First of all, if you are a beginner, you need to understand how to read guitar chord charts in order to play the chords correctly. A guitar chord chart allows you to easily read chord shapes. Many guitar chord chart illustrations vary, but for our example, let’s go over the following:

how to read a guitar chord chart
Chord Chart

The red/green dot represents the root of the chord; the note that we build the chord upon. Essentially, it’s the note that the rest of the chord is based on (i.e. “D”, “D-“, “D7” chords would all have different “fingerings”, but would all have the same root, D.) Often times, the root is the lowest sounding note in the chord.

The number within the green circle represents the fretting hand finger that should be pressed down on that particular place on the neck. Whenever you see an “O”, this means open, or play that string without a finger on it. This number represents the finger you should play with: Index=1, Middle=2, Ring=3, Pinky=4.

The semi-circle arc located above the three 1’s on the chord represents a bar. A bar is when you lay your finger across several strings – like a bar. This can be tricky in the beginning, but don’t over-think the process!

The “X” means “don’t play that string”, or “mute that string”. It should not vibrate or make any sound when you play the chord. The “(X)” means that you can play the note, but you usually would not. In other words, this means that this particular note could be played in the chord without any “dissonance” (disagreeable notes/sound). If you do choose to play it, the chord will still sound “harmonic” (agreeable notes/sound).

9 Essential Guitar Chords for Beginners

Here are some chord diagrams for the most often used open chords:

guitar Open chord charts
guitar Open chord charts 2
Open chord charts 3

Open Chord Variations

Open chord variation 1
Open chord variation 2
Open chord variation 3
Open chord variation 4
Open chord variation 5
Open chord variation 6

PS: You can find all the guitar chord charts here

Remember, practice makes perfect! Science tells us that whatever we do in repetition, will build neural paths to further support or do that thing better, faster, and more efficiently.

My advice for you is to break things down in the beginning. The easiest way is to do that is to slow things down. Another way is to break something down into its individual assets. For example, if you have a song where you want to be singing and playing at the same time, maybe you should learn each of these parts individually before putting them all together:

• Check the guitar chord chart – what chords are being played, and can I play them?
• Learn the progression of chords as they appear in the song
• Practice the strum
• Play the strum with the progression at tempo
• Memorize the song lyrics
• Get used to the song melody
• Perform them with a track
• Sing the lyrics with the chord progression(slow it down if necessary)

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

Guitar Dexterity Exercises for Beginners

guitar dexterity
Find here some useful exercises for guitar dexterity for beginners. Practice and learn how to get your fingers to do what you want them to do!

What is Guitar Dexterity?

Let’s talk about guitar dexterity! According to Webster’s dictionary, dexterity is, “the readiness and grace in physical activity; especially the skill and ease in using the hands”. Well, that obviously applies to us, guitar players; the more you do a particular exercise or movement, the better you become. In fact, our brains are designed in such a way that it’s impossible for you to not get better when you practice. That means that any amount of playing on the guitar whatsoever is beneficial!

Now when we practice specifically, deliberately and with repetition, we end up gaining a lot of control over our fingers – or anything else that we set our mind to, for that matter. Since our thumb is located so close to our first and second fingers, our third and fourth fingers don’t get called on for the same amount of tasks throughout the day. For this reason, EVERYONE’S third and fourth fingers tend to be lazy when playing guitar. You thought it was just you? Nope! Hendrix, Van Halen, Vai, and any other player that you can think of had to develop their third and fourth fingers with exercises just like this; many times, these exact same exercises.

Guitar Dexterity Exercise

The following exercise was specifically designed to strengthen your fingers and hands, increase your speed, and sharpen your technique. I have used these exercises and have found them to be extremely beneficial!

Get your fingers moving and use a metronome to try to increase your speed as you practice – I advise you to download this app called GuitarTuna to tune your guitar and to use the metronome:

Guitar dexterity exercise 1
Alternate Picking Exercise 1

Try to use the following variations on the above “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” picking exercise:

Guitar dexterity exercise 1 alternation

Make sure that you’re using the appropriate finger on the appropriate fret throughout the exercise. For instance, when you start playing frets two and three, make sure you are using fingers two and three. When you’re playing frets three and four, make sure you are playing with fingers three and four.

Tips to Gain Dexterity on the Guitar

Play on your fingertips

First of all, playing on your fingertips makes a guitar player faster and more efficient. That is, the more you play on your fingertips the lighter your touch will be and the less hand fatigue you will experience. Guitar players that play on their fingertips tend to play chords cleanly. Guitar players that play on the pads of their fingers tend to play chords sloppily.

Play the notes right behind the fret

Secondly, playing right behind the fret requires much less pressure than playing further back. Think about the leverage of a seesaw. The position of the fulcrum – that part under the center of the seesaw that balances it – determines how much leverage you have. So, if the fulcrum is in the correct place, a small child can easily lift a large man off the ground. Similarly, leveraging your finger closer to the fret will allow you to play more quickly and efficiently.

Play with all your fingers

Thirdly, playing with all your fingers is very important because, as you become a more accomplished guitar player, you will most likely be playing faster and/or more complex arrangements. Running out of fingers sucks! So be proactive and use that third and fourth finger!

Leave space between the palm and the guitar neck

Lastly, it’s helpful to leave some space between the palm of your fretting hand and the guitar neck because it allows you to more easily play on your fingertips and ultimately have more control of your hand. At first, this can be a little awkward. Most beginners grab the guitar neck like a shovel and their thumb comes right over the neck!

In conclusion, if you ask me “how long should I practice this exercise for?”, I would pose this question, “how good do you want to get?” Obviously, the more you practice, the better you’ll become. In fact, if you want to become fast, you should practice it a lot. Alright, enough talk. Off you go!

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

Guitar Anatomy, Let’s Discover It!

guitar anatomy post
If you’re about to start learning how to play the guitar, it really helps to know the anatomy of the guitar! It is pretty simple: head, neck, and body, like the human body. Find out what’s what now!

What are the parts of a guitar?

Now that you’ve bought a guitar and been getting ready to start your first lesson. What’s next? Learn about guitar anatomy!

If you don’t have the proper vocabulary, it would be hard to know where to place your hands or talk to your fellow guitarists about anything. Therefore, one of the first things you need to learn is the names of different parts of the guitar, so you can learn more easily and accurately.

Here are the main parts:

guitar anatomy

1. Guitar Anatomy: Head

The first section of the guitar is called a head or headstock, on which you will find the tuning pegs. The tuning pegs allow you to tune the guitar by tightening or loosening the strings.

2. Guitar Anatomy: Neck

The middle, narrow section of the guitar is called the neck. The nut is the white strip closest to the headstock. The front side of the neck is called the fretboard. And the metal wires on the fretboard are called the frets, which help your fingers find the right spots.

3. Guitar Anatomy: Body

The biggest part of the guitar is called the body.

Acoustic Guitars:

Acoustic guitars have a hole in the middle of the body called the soundhole, a pickguard to protect the guitar’s finish from being scratched by the guitar pick, and a bridge that holds the strings in place.

Electric Guitars:

Electric guitars have pickups on the body that capture the string vibrations and convert sounds through amps. The potentiometers control volume and tone: this means that it either brightens or darkens the sound (jazz players like the darker sound and rock players like the brighter sound).

The pickup selector switch chooses the pickups and therefore determines the sound: In my Epiphone Les Paul Special II, for example, if it’s set to rhythm, you’ll only be using the neck pickup, i.e. the little black oval thing with little metal dots in it as soon as the neck ends: if you select treble, you’ll use the bridge position (the one next to the saddle); if it’s in the middle, it uses both pickups. The input jack is where you plug in your guitar to your amp.

Now that you know all this, it’s time to pick up your guitar and check these things! You can also find more information about guitar anatomy online if you get curious.

If you haven’t bought a guitar and you want to learn some tips before buying one, read this post.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

Want to Buy a Guitar? Here are Some Tips for you!

buy a guitar
Do you want to buy a guitar, but you don’t know whether to buy an acoustic or electric, or what brand, wood, style, or size to choose? Here are some tips to help you decide!

What to look out for when buying a guitar

Do you want to buy a guitar, but you need some help?

Firstly, you probably have an idea of whether you want an electric or acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars are those guitars (typically with a soundhole) that are loud enough to be heard without amplification. Sure you can hear an electric when not plugged in, but it sounds pretty wimpy without an amp.

To seemingly complicate the matter, there are acoustics that can be plugged in for amplification, making them electric and there are semi-hollow electric guitars, making them “acoustic” to a degree.

Secondly, the style of music and how you will be playing will oftentimes be the determining factor as to what type of guitar you will want to get. Usually the heavier the music, the more an electric will suit you.

Acoustic Guitars

buy acoustic guitar

Acoustic guitars don’t need an amp to hear them well, so they are nice and portable. The action (distance from string to fretboard) tends to be a little higher than electrics and the strings are typically thicker making bending and intricate licks/noodling more difficult. They sound great playing open chords and fingerpicking. Some of my favorite brands for acoustic guitars are Gibson, Marlin, and Taylor.

Electric Guitars

buy electric guitar

On the other hand, electrics usually have lower action making soloing and subtle movements easier. Electric guitars can vary widely in the sounds that they produce and in the way that they feel. The wood is almost always solid in electric guitars.

The quality of the sound has to do with the body style and the pickups mainly. Some of the most famous body types are Stratocaster, Super Strat, Telecaster, Offset, Les Paul, SG, and Flying V. As for the pickups, they are usually the size of one finger, but if you see guitars with wider pickups, the sound will be different. Some of my favorite brands for electric guitars are Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, PRS, and Ibanez.

Which guitar should you buy?

The main variables for me always come down to budget, feel, and sound (in no particular order).

Higher prices usually equate to better woods, craftsmanship (try to buy a guitar with solid wood pieces instead of laminated!), but manufacturers are getting really good at producing good guitars at cheaper prices. DON’T let the price alone dictate a guitar purchase.

For women, smaller folks, and kids, there are 3/4 and 1/2 size guitars that might be easier to reach around. There are different full-sized acoustic bodies as well: jumbo, dreadnought, and parlor, from bigger to smaller.

Electric bodies usually run much smaller than acoustics. String action is also important as high action (string height) can make chording and fretting difficult and discouraging. My advice is that you go to a shop and try different guitars to see how you feel with them!

Sound is the other important variable. Different woods and their ages, string types, pick type, etc., are some of the variables that dictate the sound of the guitar.

If you want to learn more about the anatomy of a guitar, I have a post about it!

My Epiphone Les Paul Special II

electric guitar epiphones les paul
My electric guitar, an Epiphone Les Paul Special II

I have an acoustic guitar and an electric one, but this one is definitely my favorite. I’m left-handed, so when I’ve decided to look for an electric guitar, I had to look for a model available in a version for left-handed people. After reading several reviews online, I’ve decided to order this one online.

Well, first of all, this is very obviously a Les Paul guitar. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II has the same pickups, tune-o-matic bridge, and stopbar tailpiece as you would find on a much more expensive Gibson model. It also has a nice mahogany body.

The pickups on a cheap electric guitar will usually sound muddy, and toneless, but not these! The tone is just as liquid and smooth as that of a true Gibson Les Paul, although I wouldn’t say that it as 100% as good. When playing this guitar, it definitely doesn’t feel like a cheap guitar, and the neck is fast and comfortable.

In summary, this Epiphone Les Paul Special II is a great guitar for any beginner who loves the look, feel and sound of a Les Paul, but hasn’t got the budget for a more expensive guitar. I definitely recommend it! You can buy it from eBay here.

Check other posts about guitar in the Guitar section of my blog