In the 40 years that I have been teaching all styles of guitar to every type of student, there have been a few questions that come up over and over which seem to be the cause of great concern and anxiety.
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High on the list is “Am I too old to learn guitar in Beverly Hills ?I have been anxiously asked this question by a 28 year old student, a 38 year old, a 46 year old, and let’s see…off the top of my head, I can remember students at age 52, 65, 77, and finally, good old Frank who was 84! I have had plenty of experience with this question, and more importantly, with the answer
.I am going to tell you the answer right up front to set your mind at ease, just in case you are one of those guitar students desperately attempting to remain hopeful about your chances of success. Yes, anyone can learn to play the guitar at any age, period and any place in Los Angeles
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!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 enjoyment.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, GThese 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, ED Family (Key of D): D, Em, G, AG Family (Key of G): G, Am, C, D, EmC Family (Key of C): C, Dm, Em, F, GTips 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 away. 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 first! 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.Copyright 2005 Peter Bussey of http://www.guitar-players-toolbox.com This article can be reprinted freely online, as long as the entire article and the resource box are included.
The main purpose of setting guitar action is to get maximum playability and sound quality out of that instrument. If you do not feel comfortable while playing on your guitar or if it is making buzzing sounds, it needs action adjustments or setup. If you prefer to do the setup yourself, you may require tools like screwdrivers, wire cutters, feeler gauges, nut files, and Allen or Hex keys.The main adjustments for setting guitar action include the following:Truss Rod Adjustment: This is a metal object that runs along the length f the guitar. The main job of this part is to counter the tension of the strings and to control the neck curvature. Check truss rod if your instrument shows the tendency to buzz when playing low positions. You can adjust truss rod by turning the truss rod nut with help of an automotive feeler gauge and a Cap. Adjustment of this part cannot change the action, but it can avoid buzzing noises. This is a very delicate job and you should be careful not to break anything while adjusting it.Nut Height Adjustment: If you find it very difficult to play chords and notes on the first few frets, it indicates that the nut slots are not deep enough. Use a nut file or needle file to deepen the nut slots. If they are too deep, it will cause buzzing sounds. Raise the slots by placing a shim under the nut or replace the nuts.Saddle Adjustment: Adjusting the action or height of the strings can have great impact on the playability of the instrument. If you want to lower the action, after removing the strings, take the saddle out. Draw a line on it to mark your preferred height. Rub the saddle on the sandpaper to reduce its height. If you need to higher the action, place a shim under the saddle to raise the height of strings.Intonation Adjustment: Intonate your guitar after any adjustment is made. This can be done with help of a tuner, cable, and screwdriver. After tuning with a tuner, play a harmonic note at the 12th fret. Then, make a fretted note at the 12th fret and compare its pitch with that of the harmonic note. If the pitch of the fretted note is sharp, you have to raise the height of the strings and move the saddle away from the neck using saddle adjustment screws. If the pitch is flat, you should shorten the screws by shifting the saddle towards the neck.
If you've had a bit of experience playing or fixing unrestored vintage guitars, then chances are you are aware of the sight of very small cracks appearing all throughout the finish. It is described as finish checking and it is particularly typical on aged guitars that have a lacquer finish, but could possibly appear on new instruments also under the right (or wrong) circumstances.Lacquer is a very "breathable" finish. It has the ability to contract and expand with the wood of the guitar while it moves through a range of temperature and humidity levels. This is an important feature on high quality instruments given that it isn't going to lock the wood of the guitar below the finish as would a polyurethane finish, which won't expand and contract similarly.Nevertheless, the disadvantage is that after some time the lacquer finish can begin to crack or "check" as it is typically described as. If you're in the camp that doesn't want to see this on your guitar, you will be wise to pay attention to this warning when dealing with a lacquer finished instrument which has no current checking.Should your guitar be subjected to cold temperatures, say in the rear of an automobile, for an extended duration (even in the hardshell case), never pull the guitar out and expose it to room temperatures as soon as you get it inside. The guitar will need to have time for it to slowly adapt to the new warm temperatures, so leave it in the case until it has had enough time to do so. Otherwise your lovely laquer finish will likely commence to crack as the wood in the guitar heats up and begins to swell before the lacquer has a chance to adjust.Poorly humidified guitars can also be a factor in finish checking, normally as a result of drying out. So keep the humidity correct at between 45-50% and ease into temperature changes and you should be good.While I undoubtedly would not be happy to see this occur to a brand new $4,000 guitar that I just acquired, on a vintage guitar I look at things just a bit different. I could never think about a finish-checked guitar from the 1950's or 1960's as less than desirable. Nor would I ever think of refinishing one.As I said there are two schools of thought on this subject however the natural finish checking, if you ask me, creates a degree of individuality and history that you simply can't obtain on a fresh, new guitar. Each knick, ding, buckle scrape and finish fracture is a part of the battered history of the instrument. Every musician who picked it up and played it left a tiny bit of himself behind. All those campfire melodies, lounge room singalongs, bar room gigs and late-night jam sessions are all right there, and the finish cracks are a part of that story.I would personally not ever wish to obscure that beneath a glistening finish. We have new guitars for that.
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