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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Pickups: Passive Or Active

There has always been a debate about which type of pickups is better. I think it all comes to your personal preference, but there are some advantages and disadvantages of both of them.

Passive pickups are magnets which directly send the signal from the string, through the wood, into the pickup and into the amplifier. That creates the most organic, natural sound you can get. They are also the more popular type of pickups as many guitarists prefer to use them, because adjusting their volume knob allows them to produce multiple sounds without having to go and adjust the gain and treble on the amp. The disadvantage of passive pickups is their feedback, especially when you introduce gain. You can also get problems with intonation due to a magnetic pull on the strings, but if your pickups are decent quality you shouldn't have a problem. Players such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen and Angus Young all used passive pickups.

Active pickups are powered by a completely separate battery stored in the guitar which enables much higher output and clarity of the sound. They were first introduced for Jazz and clean players, but now they attract many metal players due to the hotter output. Metal players such as Kirk Hammett use active pickups as they allow them to push their amps near their limits while keeping the tight clarity of the sound. The problem with active pickups is that you would have to replace the 9v battery every time it starts to fade and also you have to be pretty good to sound good with active pickups as they pick up more mistakes so that could really piss you off.

I personally prefer using passive pickups because I like the ability to change my tone with the volume knobs and overall prefer the sound. It just gives you more freedom and possibilities when playing live, because believe me you do not want to go and mess with the amp in the middle of a live show. You will look like a retard or at least like someone who has no idea what they're doing.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Plectrums (picks)

You probably think this is completely irrelevant and not important. Trust me, it makes a difference. Choosing the wrong pick for the wrong song could ruin your performance. If you're good enough it might not change that much, but you should always be trying to match your pick to the song you're playing.



For playing pretty classical things or chords you should definitely use soft, bendy plectrums. They will make you sound smoother and generally nicer, whereas a hard, thick pick would just not work as well. 
For shredding and fast playing in general, you should use thick picks or the very small thick picks if you find them more comfortable and easier to play with, which some people do. The thick picks don't bend so you have more control over what you're playing which you will need when you reach super speed. Soft, thin picks will not allow you to play as fast without making mistakes and sounding clean.

If you play bass guitar, you need to get a bass pick. They're wider than normal picks and are easier to play bass with.

The brand of the pick doesn't really matter as long as you feel comfortable playing it.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Easy Tabs: Guitar Pro

Guitar Pro is my favourite guitar program as it is very easy to use and get tabs for. The tabs are not only easy to see, but the program also plays it for you and shows you where you are so you don't get lost. It shows you all the parts that are in the song. One of the cool features this program offers is the slowing down of the song. that's really useful if you're learning a very fast bit that's hard to make out. You can also turn the volume down on all the parts individually so for example if you're learning the lead guitar part you can turn it off and replace it.

I use Guitar Pro 5, but there is a newer one which I never bothered getting.

Getting tabs for this is very easy. You can just go on the internet and download them directly or do what i did. Download a file called 60000 tabs uploaded by auron. It will pretty much give you all the tabs there are for every band. You will occasionally not be able to find a tab but that's very rare.

This program is not free, although there are ways of getting it free pretty easily, but that would be illegal. You can download the program and find a license key on the internet. 

With this guitar program I learned really a lot of songs and is very, very useful. It is definitely worth getting if you're a guitar or bass player.

If you don't want to spend the money or do it the illegal way(which of course you shouldn't), you can just use songster which is not quite the same, but it does play the song for you which can help if you have to learn a song and you don't know it that well.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Good Guitarists To Look Up To

Being one of the best isn't just about your speed or technique. I know a lot of great guitarists who are absolutely pro and could easily be in any good band, but they don't have what it takes to be considered one of the best. To achieve that you need your own original feel and sound and these are the guitarists who have that:

Slash: I really love the emotion in his playing. He achieved it with hours of hard work which not everyone has the time or patience to do. Learn his solos as they will definitely improve the emotion in your playing.

Ritchie Blackmore: His classical riffs and sound are absolutely unique. You should definitely check him out.

Joe Satriani: Pure class. One of the best guitarists out there. Look him up on YouTube as he can teach you a lot. Don't start learning any of his stuff if you're not advanced, because you will fail and it will be a waste of time.

Steve Vai: You can learn many useful exercises from him. One of my favourites. The emotion and feeling in his playing is unreal. Listen to ''Tender Surrender'' and ''For The Love Of God''.

Kirk Hammett: Definitely worth checking out. Very melodic solos. Not all are fast. You will definitely find something for yourself. Uses a lot of wah wah which is pretty much his signature thing.

B.B King: He says he plays whatever he likes. Well he's a genius and there's no question about it. The people who were writing music for him said it was near impossible as it was too complex. His guitar sings. He is the icon of Blues and his complex vibrato and bends are now part of every rock guitarists repertoire.

Carlos Santana: Its hard not to recognize his bluesy latin influenced tone. Brilliant guitarist.

Jimi Page: Another one of my favourites. Brilliant solos and ideas. Probably the only famous guitarists who can play with a violin bow.

Eddie Van Halen: I couldn't believe I was actually hearing it when I first heard ''Eruption''. It's actually easier if it sounds if you give it the right amount of time. He definitely left his mark in rock history.

David Gilmour: He is my favourite. Every noise he make with his guitar has beauty in it. He is no shredder and is very underrated, but his solos are genius. He can play many other instruments like the drums, bass and banjo.

Jimi Hendrix: Considered the best by almost everyone. Just look at his freedom. Absolutely unique tone. Shame he did so much drugs, but the music would probably have never been created if not for them.

This list is supposed to give you something to look up and influence you. Learn some solos by the guitarists as it should increase your repertoire.




Sunday, 21 April 2013

Choosing The Right Guitar

Choosing a guitar is really fun. You get to go to all the shops, play all the guitars you want, talk to the shop clerks and all that. It's not easy though, especially if you don't have enough money to buy the guitar you really want. Don't focus on buying the cheapest guitar you can find. In fact that is the worst thing you can do, because if you buy a guitar you don't enjoy playing, because it goes out of tune or is uncomfortable to hold or anything of that sort, it will most likely end up in your closet and you'll never play it. I know many people who have made that mistake. I'm one of them. I wanted a second guitar to play with my dad and I didn't really take my time with the choosing and bought a £200 Ibanez Gio. The strings are quite a distance above the neck, it goes out of tune easily. It's a disaster. Ibanez is not a bad brand, but some of their guitars are terrible so don't just rely on the brand

If you've never bought a guitar before and you don't know if you're going to keep playing for a long time I suggest you buy an acoustic guitar, because If you buy an electric guitar, you will also need to buy an amplifier, leads and other gear. Trust me, that is expensive stuff and you don't want to be spending that kind of money and never play. 

Before you decide which guitar you want, play as many guitars as you can get your hands on. Go to a shop and play everything there. Don't mind the people working there who are giving you dirty looks and want you to leave. You have the right to take your time and play as long as you want. Ask your friends what they think is good and what they would buy. 

Is you have the money and want to buy a good guitar that will last you, look for a good brand. Gibson and Fender are the leading brands and I have to say, they're dam good. Ibanez and Jackson are also pretty good. You can get good guitars made by other brands, but they are the most reliable. Epiphone copies Gibson guitars, but don't be fooled. They are not Gibson just like Squier are not Fender. I have a £700 Gibson SG and I absolutely love it. If you choose Gibson or Fender you are guaranteed to get your moneys worth. You will also need to buy picks, a case and a strap if you like to stand.

Look at the guitar and decide if it's well made. Check if the strings are the right distance from the neck(the smaller the distance the less pressure required to play), look at the frets and check if they're more or less right etc. Bring someone experienced with you. It will make it much easier.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Strings

Choosing the right guitar strings is more important than you think. First of all you need to know that there are different strings for acoustic and electric guitars. They come in different gauges/thicknesses. 

If you are a beginner choose thin strings as they are much easier to play. If you find it hard to play your guitar you might want to consider buying thiner strings. If you're fingers are strong and you can play any guitar with any strings there is no reason why you shouldn't try thick strings which are good for playing heavier stuff. The thinnest you can get is probably 0.008 gauge, but I find them too thin. If you're only starting choose 0.009 or 0.010. Most rock guitarists would use 0.011s which aren't too thin or too thick. 

For playing classical stuff I recommend you use thick strings as they will definitely make the sound quality richer. For shredding and fast playing use thinner strings as they will allow you to move around the neck faster, because less pressure is needed to create sound. 

It's really up to you what strings you choose. You need to see for yourself and decide what suits you. It takes experience. Don't be afraid to try new brands or thicknesses. That's what they're there for! 

You should replace your strings often (I do it every month). With age your strings will begin to go out of tune very easily and might even break (I got hit in the eye once. not nice). Some strings will last longer than others depending on the brand, but they're also more expensive. Change your strings whenever you feel you need to.

You should also clean your strings regularly as dust may make it harder to play faster things. Clean strings are just smoother and nicer to play. To clean them use a soft cloth and just swipe over them and under them (if possible). 


Friday, 19 April 2013

Find Somebody To Play With

It is very important that you have someone to jam with or someone to assist you. If you're a beginner you should team up with somebody better than you as it will be easer for you to play with such a person because they have more control and experience so even if you mess up on the timing or something of that sort, they will slow down and wait for you. It is a great way to improve your musicianship and understanding of other players. There isn't a better feeling than that when you are playing with someone you know very well and you completely understand each other and can both change the speed at the same time. There is just something about knowing the person for a long time that creates a bond between you that will allows you to communicate without actually speaking.

If you are more advanced you might want to consider forming a band. It would be a good experience to play with real people instead of a backing track. Make sure they are about the same level as you are, because you don't want someone to be a lot better than everyone else and wanting to play songs that are impossible for you to play at that stage. Also you've got to like the people you play with. You will spend many hours with them and the last thing you want is someone annoying being there. Playing with a band would definitely improve your timing. When you begin covering songs start with backing tracks and then try playing just by yourself and see hoe you sound there will always be something to improve on. Find people that are into the same type of music as you are, because you don't want to have to learn a song you don't like and wont enjoy playing. 

If you're advanced and have time you could help out someone who is not as good as you and teach them a few things. Teaching is good as it forces you to analyze your playing style and techniques which cause you to find out a lot about yourself. This can sometimes be very helpful, for example when you find that on a certain riff you should start on an upstroke instead of a downstroke.

Arpeggios

An arpeggio is a sequence in which the notes from a chord are played individually rather than strung simultaneously. They are basically broken up chords. The are an essential thing for every guitarist to know. 

You can use arpeggios in solos to make them sound more melodic and interesting. They are useful in both slow and fast solos. You can play them over specific notes and you have to change the arpeggio every time the chord changes. I know that sounds horrible, but you will get used to it. Mastering arpeggios gives you a lot more freedom and opportunities. You should start with a slow blues chord progression and try to use arpeggios over the rhythm backing track. It might seem tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will feel like a boss. 

For example if this is your A major chord: 
----0-------------------
----2-----------------
----2-------------------
----2--------------------
----0----------------
------------------------
You would play it like this although the patterns for arpeggios are different
---------------0---------------
------------2---------------
---------2----------------------
------2------------------------
---0--------------------------
--------------------------
Examples of solos with use of arpeggios:
  • Master Of Puppets (Metallica)
  • Hangar 18 (Megadeth)
  • Fade To Black (Metallica)
  • For The Love Of God (Steve Vai)
In the fast solos arpeggios are mostly used in sweep picking which is basically playing the notes of an arpeggio in a sweeping motion, but I'll do another article on that. In the meantime look up how cool it sounds.

So here are the arpeggio patterns. 1 is the root, 3 is the third note from the root and so on.



Major: 1 3 5


Minor: 1 b3

5


Aug: 1 3 #5


Dim: 1 b3 b5


dom7: 1 3 5 b7


Maj7: 1 3 5 7


m7: 1 b3 5 b7


Aug7: 1 3 #5 b7


Dim7: 1 b3 b3 bb7


m/maj7:1 b3 5 7


m7b5: 1 b3 b5 b7


m7#5: 1 b3 #5 


Thursday, 18 April 2013

How To Do A Good Warmup

Warming up before you play is more important than you think. Going straight into a killer solo with awkward finger positioning could even cause an injury and prevent you from playing for a few weeks. Warming up will also make you play more smoothly and easily. 

There are a few things you can do to warm up. What I like to do is pick two or three scales and play them in many positions on the neck. You should start slowly and accelerate as you go. Scales will warm up both your left and right hand.

You can also do exercises that you make up or look something up on the internet. I find that sequences are the most useful.

To warm up your left hand you can play the fast ''Am I Evil'' lick. Its quite an effective warmup exercise as it requires you to increase your speed and decrease it as you go.

My guitar teacher recommended chords to me one day. I couldn't be bothered playing them as I thought they're too simple, but one day i got bored and decided to try. Playing different chords as a warmup exercise is probably my favourite thing as it improves your shifting speed. You can also find all the chord shapes on the internet and learn new ones every day which I did. Knowing lots of chords will give you independence and more ideas for chord progressions when you're playing rhythm guitar.

This is a warmup exercise I think I saw Steve Vai use:

---------------------------------------------------1-2-3-4-------
---------------------------------------1-2-3-4-----------
------------------------------1-2-3-4----------
--------------------1-2-3-4--
----------1-2-3-4----------------
1-2-3-4------------------------

You can move this up and down the neck.

Remember! Whatever you play, warm up before you start!

How To Sound Well Live

This article is really more on how not to mess up and believe me there are many ways in which you can. My first two or three live gigs were quite a disaster so I know what I'm talking about. The main thing you need to worry about is your tuning. Make sure you have a tuner with you and tune after your warmup just before you go on stage. If your guitar keeps going out of tune you have a problem. It could be fixed by simply replacing your strings as they do wear off. If the problem is not fixed you might have put the new strings on the wrong way. You mightn't have done enough loops and it's too loose. 

If you're playing an acoustic guitar and you have a problem with tuning It might be the type of the strings you're using. I had a problem with this myself. If you buy a classical guitar with nylon strings, you must use nylon strings and not steel as steel will bend the guitar neck slightly over time and your guitar will be in tune in some parts of the neck, and out of tune in others. Luckily I had a very cheap beginner guitar that wasn't very valuable to me so I wasn't too fussed about it.

If you're playing with a band, make sure your volume is right. You can't be too loud because you will sound out of place or too quiet, because you just wont be heard. You've also got to make sure you've got the tone right. Don't let someone else do it for you. Take your time setting it, because it's an important part of your performance. 

Your timing needs to be perfect. The last thing you want is to come in too soon or too late. It will ruin the whole experience. You can improve your timing by playing with a metronome every time you practice. Also, know the people you're playing with. You have no idea how much of a difference it makes when you know exactly how your partners play and what they're likely to do. If you've spent enough hours with your band mates you will know them well enough, that even if they or you wake a mistake, it can be easily fixed because the whole band will speed up or slow down and save the day.

Now the technical things. You absolutely must know the song you're playing thoroughly. Playing it a million times will give you the confidence and will prevent you from getting too nervous. Don't even think about a piece that you struggle with. It will be a lot different live from your what it's like in your bedroom. If you don't have experience with playing in front of a big crowd of people, as soon as you walk on stage your heart rate will increase and your hands will sweat. This makes playing a bit harder and playing a hard piece right practically impossible. You will make mistakes and you will sound horrible. Get someone to record you so you can hear what you sounded like as you think you sound a lot different that you really do. Your mistakes seem a lot less significant.

You can't afford to fail your bends. They are essential and you've got to do them right. Bending too much or too little will ruin your lick or solo. 

So as you see there are many opportunities to fail, but you don't have to mess up on any of them. It requires experience and practice. Your first gig might not be as good as you'd think, but it will definitely be a valuable experience.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Looking For The Right Sound


Getting the right sound is very important. It wont make you a virtuoso, but it will surely improve your performance. The first way you can manipulate your sound is turning the knobs on your amp. I'm not talking about distortion levels (though that's cool), but your treble, middle and bass. What I like to do is put my treble and middle to just over halfway and my bass to just before halfway. This setting is good when you're playing with other people, because it allows the bass player to be heard better. You can also add effects like flanger, chorus or phaser, but thats up to you as not all amps have that.

Now the other way to change your sound. The way you play. Muting is quite important as it stops any unwanted noise from being heard which can completely ruin your performance (I would know)
Rest the heel of your palm on the strings to mute them. The more pressure you apply the crunchier you will sound. Less pressure will allow the strings to ring and sound cleaner. You should apply more pressure if you're playing metal and hard rock. Playing close to the bridge will create a very metallic sound and playing closer to the strings will make you sound softer and mellower. The angle at which you approach the strings also makes the sound different so as you see you have lots of possibilities.

There are other devices you can use to enhance your sound such as wah wah pedals, distortion pedal and effect boards which I've already written about so I wont go into too much detail. Effect boards are great for creating weird and unusual sounds which can even make you sound like you're playing a different instrument such as keyboard, bass, 12 string acoustic guitar or horn. To achieve this I use a Pandora mini by Korg which is a very useful tool. 

Alternate Picking

So you're probably wondering how players like Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai or Michael Angelo Batio play so fast and so clean. Super speed is achieved with a simple method of playing as many notes as possible with the smallest amount of effort. Alternate picking (up and down) is the key to success. 

So pick up a pick and hold it between your index finger and your thumb. Some players prefer to hold it differently so if you feel more comfortable holding your pick a different way, go ahead, but if you're not very experienced and not used to anything, do it the normal way. Rest the heel of your palm on the strings to mute them. The more pressure you apply the tougher you will sound. Less pressure will allow the strings to ring.

 So now that you know what you're doing, lets try some exercises. They're not meant to sound good, just improve your technique. You can play them where ever on the neck. Here are some very basic ones:

0-1-0-2-0-3-0-1-0-2-0-3-0-1-0-2-0-3-

-7-5------7-5------7-5------7-5-----------------
------7-5------7-5------7-5------7-5----------

-0-0-0-0-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-2-3-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-5-5-5-5-

You can also learn thunderstruck which requires you to pick alternately.

A very effective way to improve your picking is practicing it with scales. It will make you play faster and smoother. Once you get used to it and it becomes a habit your life will become much easier. 

Always use alternate picking, no matter what you are playing. When i was learning my guitar teacher always told me to do it, but i wasn't too keen and didn't really make an effort to practice it, but overtime I got the hang of it and realized how useful it is.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Effect Pedals And Other Gear

Guitar effects aren't the most important thing and they're not going to make you sound amazing, but they can surely enhance your sound and performance. 

You most likely have distortion built into your amp and that's OK if you're playing at home, but if you're playing a live gig or just in front of your friends and there's a switch from clean to distortion or vice versa you will not have time to stop and change the settings on your amp. To change channels swiftly and without hassle you will need a distortion pedal. It allows you to change from channel to channel with a press of your foot in the middle of a song. The prices range from         £15-£100, but the better pedal you buy the better the quality of the sound. My effects pedal cost about £40 and it sounds much better than the distortion on my amp. 


You might be wondering if buying a wah wah pedal is really worth it, because you wont use it very often and they break easily. Well I disagree, because I bought a Behringer Hell Babe wah wah pedal on Amazon for about £30 about a year ago and it works just fine. Having a wah wah pedal allows you to play the wah wah riffs and solos such as the ''Enter Sandman'' solo, but you can also experiment with it while playing classical stuff. It doesn't get boring. Most pedals are expensive, but you really don't need one like that if you're not a professional. A cheap one will do just fine. 

A few months ago I bought a Korg Pandora mini, because I saw Steve Vai using it and it seemed very useful. It has 200 preset sounds for guitar and bass. Some presets are made for specific songs and some are just random. There are also 200 slots for your own customized sounds. This little effects board is a great tool for both beginners and advanced players. It has drum and metronome rhythms which are great to solo over. It also has a tuner which is very useful if you can't tune by ear. My favourite thing about the pandora mini is that you can plug in your guitar and headphones and play! You don't need an amp! Its very compact and easy to carry around. It is the perfect pocket sized guitar effects board.



Improving Your Speed

As I said in one of my previous articles, speed isn't everything. You can be a very good guitarist without playing fast, but it is a very useful skill. If you're a beginner, don't move on to speed exercises. Focus on your technique and accuracy for now.

The first step to playing fast is working on your accuracy. You simply wont be able to play fast and sound good if your technique is bad. The simplest thing you can do to get accurate is practice scales. The thing that help me the most was probably the starting riff from ''Thunderstruck'' by AC DC, because it synchronises your hands. 

Another thing you can do to sounding more accurate is improving your timing. This isn't hard and doesn't require you to make any special effort. All you have to do is to play with a metronome. Seriously, every time you sit down to play, play with a metronome. All the great guitarists have great timing. You don't even have to pay any real attention to it, as long as you know it's there and you can hear it your timing is improving. 

Don't rush it. Take your time with scales, riffs and exercises. If you try to play fast too soon and without really knowing the riff you will sound very messy.

This is a very basic exercise, but quite a good one. Start slowly and gradually speed up when you feel confident enough. This is just a patter and you can play it on any frets and strings. You can practice this when you're watching TV. It gets your fingers used to it.


-----------5-----------------------5------------------
5--7--8-----8--7-----5---7--8------8---7----------
------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------------------

This is a bit like Thunderstruck. Synchronises your hands.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------01020304-----
-----------------------------------------------------------01020304-------------- 

---------------------------------------------01020304-----------------------
--------------------------------01020304--------------------------------

-----------------01020304-----------------------------------------
-01020304------------------------------------------

Monday, 15 April 2013

Get Those Bends Right

Its very important that your bends are accurate when soloing. Playing them right will make you sound much more emotional and pro.

 I know a guy who was playing at a talent show and it was him and another guy competing. Kind of like a rock off. The other guy was insanely fast, shredding away, playing paul gilbert style, but he wasn't accurate and sounded quite slippy. I'm not saying he was bad, I was impressed, but there was no real emotion in his playing. Then my friend came on. The crowd was expecting something mental and when he started playing they looked very disappointed as he was playing slow. Now you've got to understand he's one of the best players I know and he can play fast, but he chose to do it differently. He was getting his bends perfectly right. It sounded amazing and very professional. His guitar was singing. This proves that speed isn't the most important thing. Take David Gilmour for an example. 

There aren't many things you can do to improve the emotion of your playing and accuracy of your bends, but there is one thing that definitely works. My guitar teacher (genius) showed me this a few years ago and I still practice it. You choose a scale and a note within it, play it and listen to the pitch. then go half a step back and try to bend it from there to the original pitch. For example in Em you go to the 15th fret, play it and listen. Then go to the 14th fret and bend it to the original pitch. Make sure it's right and the sound doesn't die before you release the bend which would mean you're not applying enough pressure. Continue doing that with different notes in the scale. That technique is used by the best guitarists. 
If you can't bend your strings high enough you just need more practice on the difficult bends.

This is the wonderful exercise for bends:


video


Making Your Fingers Stronger


A commonly asked question is how to get your fingers stronger and tougher. You can achieve it by simply playing a lot and practicing scales. Thats effective, but there are ways which can speed the process up. You can practice specific licks like the beginning of ''Am I Evil'' on an acoustic guitar but that only affects your first finger and your pinky. Playing an acoustic guitar will generally make your fingers blister and get tougher. I have a very old cheap acoustic guitar that is not a good guitar, but it did wonders to my strength so I highly recommend that if you have a pretty bad acoustic guitar, you play it as much as you can at least until your strength improves. I know it doesn't feel or sound good playing a guitar like that, but trust me, it's worth it. One of the nicest feelings you can get is when you change from a very hard to play acoustic guitar to an electric guitar or a good acoustic guitar.

Many people, even the more advanced ones have a problem with improving the strength of their pinky finger. That is quite tricky as your pinky finger is the weakest and you barely use it when you start learning to play the guitar, because you think it's useless. You couldn't be more wrong. Your pinky is a very valuable tool that is as important as any of the other fingers. There are certain songs and riffs you can practice to improve the performance of your pinky such as ''Message In A Bottle'' and ''Every Breath You Take'' by The Police. They're not bad, but i know an exercise that is very effective and here it is. Its not the most complicated thing, but I assure you it works.

video



Sunday, 14 April 2013

Restringing your guitar

Restringing a guitar isn't the most exciting thing, but its something every guitarist has to learn. I myself had a problem with restringing because i didn't know it was that important. i always got it the wrong way or didn't make enough loops and my guitar went out of tune on almost every bend. This video is pretty good on showing you how to do it right:





Soloing

There are many things you can improve your soloing with. You know that feeling when the backing track is playing, you try soloing but nothing sounds right? Well this is how you can change this.

The simplest thing you can do to sound in key is use chord tones. For example when your backing track is in Em use the notes from the chord. You can even try playing chord on chord and that can sound awesome.

You should always record yourself, even if you think you sound really good or really bad. you can always find things you can improve on or change. When you have a recording of your solo its easy to analyze it. If you have an android phone you can download HD audio recorder pro which allows you to record over a recording. For example you can think of a backing track and record it, then play it and solo over it while recording. To do that you need an android powered phone, HD audio recorder pro (i think it costs something but you can get it free from 4shared) and a guitar. If you have and electric guitar you can use an auxiliary cable to make your phone louder.

I recommend you always use scales, but you should also think outside the box. Don't depend on scales. 

Imagine your solo or sing it before you touch your guitar. This prevents your solos from sounding too mechanical and like an exercise. 

You can also use your pickups and effects to make your solos more interesting. I recommend you buy the bandora mini on amazon (costs about £80) as it about 200 preset sounds, rhythms like drums and metronomes, a tuner and also allows you to create your own sounds. 

Your guitar isn't a piano. Use vibrato and bend your strings. You can make your solos sound very emotional an pro if you master bending.

Use silence. You don't have to play constantly. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Scales

Scales are a basic thing and you might think that you don't need to practice them. Well, in my opinion they're probably the most important thing if you want to get good. You can go ahead and learn all the hard Paul Gilbert or Kirk Hammett licks, but scales are the thing behind them and they will make your learning and mastering of them much easier and faster. By practicing scales you get your things used to all the fingering patterns so if someone shows you a scale with so called weird fingering, you will have no problem learning it. 


There is no need to move on to the hard stuff too soon. Practicing scales every day for even an hour or two will do a lot more good for your playing than practicing the Master Of Puppets solo for four hours a day. You should move on to the hard stuff when scales just aren't a challenge anymore and you have all the patterns mastered.The main use of scales is soloing. The vast majority of solos are based on scales. Learning all the scale patterns and shapes will allow you to play a solo in any key without hassle. It really makes life a lot easier. Personally i love to find a backing track on YouTube to solo over.

Minor scales:


D = D - E - F - G - A - Bb - C - D

F = F - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F

G = G - A - Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G

A = A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A

B = B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A - B

C = C - D - Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C

Eb = Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb - Db - Eb

F# = F# - G# - A - B - C# - D - E - F#

G# = G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E - F# - G#

Bb = Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb

E = E - F# - G - A - B - C - D - E

C# = C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A - B - C#



Major scales:


C = C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C 

D = D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D 

E = E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D# - E 

F = F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E - F 

G = G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G 

A = A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A 

B = B - C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A# - B 

C# = C# - D# - E# (=F) - F# - G# - A# - B# (=C) - C# 

Db = Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C - Db 

Eb = Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C - D -Eb 

F# = F# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E# (=F) - F# 

Gb = Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb (=B) - Db - Eb - F - Gb 

Ab = Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G - Ab 

Bb = Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G - A - Bb










Friday, 12 April 2013

Chords

Chords are very useful  as most songs are based on them or at least use them at some point.  You can go look up chords and thats good if you are a beginner, but to gain freedom independence you need to know chord theory. Knowing chord theory allows you to play any chord, anywhere on the fretboard easily.

So here it is. A chord is a combination of three or more notes. The first note you want to worry about is your root which determines the key of the chord. Triads are three note chords which are created with a root, third and fifth. For example a major triad is built with a major third and a perfect fifth from the root.

Major triads

If you want to build a C major chord you would need the root , the major third and the perfect fifth. as you probably already know the notes on the 5 line staff are e f g a b c d e. So you take your root which would be C, count four half steps so you get to your third ,E, and finally get to the fifth by counting 7 half steps which takes you to G. So your complete C major triad contains the notes 
C-E-G.

Minor triads

A minor triad is created with a minor third and a perfect fifth from the root. To get a minor third you only count 3 half steps (on a guitar a minor chord has its third one step lower on the neck than a major chord) and to get your perfect fifth you again count 7 half steps. So if you want to build an A minor chord you will end up with A-♭C-E

In not going to go into too much detail, because this is really all you need to get started. I will post another article about the other chord types sometime in the future. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Introduction

Hello and welcome to the ultimate guitar blog. Whether you are an experienced guitar player or you're only starting and know nothing about the instrument, but want to start playing and learn, you've come to the right place. This is my first article and i wont go into too much detail so if you have any experience you might want to skip this.
This is just some general background information. The guitar is a string instrument constructed from wood and strung with either nylon or steel strings. There are three main types of acoustic guitars: the classical guitar (nylon-strings), the steel string guitar, and the archtop guitar. The sound of an acoustic guitar is produced by the vibration of the strings and is amplified by the body of the guitar. 

Electric guitars were introduced in the 1930s. They require an amplifier that electronically manipulates the tone.(im saying amplifiers but really i mean speakers with amplifiers built in). the very first electric guitars had a hollow body but later solid bodies became more popular.

I personally prefer electric guitars, because there are many more possibilities. Some songs or riffs you simply cant play on an acoustic guitar.