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 Carpinteria ?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 Santa Barbara
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.
One very common way of transitioning from one chord to another on the guitar is by means a "walk down".A walk down involves starting on the first chord, then playing a transitional chord, and then arriving at the destination chord.You have probably heard walk downs many times, possibly without even realizing it. But becoming aware of them, and learning how to perform some of the more common ones is essential to enhancing your guitar playing skills.A simple walk down is typically comprised of a three chord movement (original to transitional to destination), but others can be played as four or more chord movements.In a three chord movement, the transitional chord is one that is often just a one note variation on the original chord. For example, the bass note of the original chord may "walk down" a half or whole step in the transition.In another variation, a note higher in the chord formation may walk down while the bass note remains the same.This is what we will cover today using the "D" chord. In this walk down we will do a walk down starting on D (major), and arriving on D7 at the end.The transitional chord in this example will be a Dmaj7.Here is the TAB for the walk down:E------2-----2-----2-----B------3-----2-----1-----G------2-----2-----2-----D------0-----0-----0-----A--------------------------E--------------------------Notice that only one note changes throughout the walk down, the notes on the 2nd string. Just looking at that string you will see that in the first chord (D major), it starts on the 3rd fret, then in the transitional chord (D maj7), it moves to the 2nd fret, then on the destination chord (D7), it winds up on the 1st fret.The trickiest part about this walk down is that the fingering will change completely for each of the three chords.In the first, you will use a standard D chord formation - open 4th string, 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string, and 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string.Then in the transitional chord - continue to play the open 4th string, then just barre the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings with the 1st finger.Finally on the D7 - Play the open 4th string again, place the 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, the 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string, and the 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string.Overall, this is a fairly simple, and common walk down. Practice it slowly to begin with until you are comfortable with the changes. Once you have it down, be sure to incorporate into your playing whenever you can.
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. High on the list is "Am I too old to learn guitar?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. That is the truth. However, as with everything else in life, the devil is in the details!The Correct Approach Is EssentialYes, anyone can learn at any age if they use the correct method to learn the guitar. The bad news is that virtually every guitar method on the market is severely deficient in the information that will guarantee success for everyone. Only the very talented and the very dedicated can learn from the many flawed guitar methods on the market today. The average guitar student is in for a tough time.This is because the biggest obstacles to learning guitar are physical obstacles, meaning, getting your fingers to actually make movements they have never made before, and getting them to do them smoothly and quickly. What all guitar methods are failing to address is that when you learn guitar you are really attempting to teach your fingers, hands, and arms new abilities. You are not really learning "guitar", you are actually engaged in "body learning", so, you must know and follow the well established laws of how the body (your muscles, nerves, and brain actually learn to do new and unfamiliar movements.For instance, one of the laws of body learning is that all movements must be practiced extremely slowly, with great focus on relaxation throughout the body. If you do not do this, if you allow your shoulders to tense when your fingers are stretching, that tension will stay in the shoulders and be reinforced every time you practice. It will feel "normal" to you and you will not know your shoulders are tense. All you will know is that you cannot control your fingers.This happens to a very large percentage of people of every age who try to learn guitar. It will tend to happen more with adult students and seniors because they have had more years to acquire tension in their bodies even apart from practicing guitar. However, if a student knows how to practice the necessary finger movements in a way that does not allow excess tension into the hands, arms, shoulders, and the rest of the body, they will be successful at learning to play no matter how old they are.Learning According To the Body; Not the GuitarGuitar instruction is a disorganized, unscientific, and (compared to piano or violin) a young and immature profession. Many, perhaps most, "guitar teachers" are not teachers; they are guitar players. There is a vast difference. Guitar players know how to play the guitar; guitar teachers should know how to cause other people to play the guitar. However, most of the people I have met who have failed at guitar have taken lessons for years. They were told they had no talent, when the fact is their teacher had no knowledge of how to teach. Unfortunately, such "teachers" often write the method books that the unsuspecting guitar aspirant buys and places their trust in!Such books are often mere collections of guitar information, pages full of chord diagrams, scales, songs, etc., containing no information about how to actually get your fingers to be able to do these things. Worse, the information and exercises are given according to how the guitar works, not how the human body and the human hand work.For instance, all guitar books begin by teaching you chords or notes in the first position at the first fret. By custom, the area of the guitar fingerboard furthest from the body is called the "first" position. So, everyone assumes that a student should learn that first. The problem is that this requires the arm to extend farthest away from the body, which requires the deltoid muscle in the shoulder to work hard to support that weight. This effort (especially in the beginner or older student) will inevitably cause muscle tension throughout the body, even to the point of the student holding their breath! After that, everything locks up and the student will be unable to control their fingers, or will struggle to control them, which is really no control at all. They will become either a failure at guitar, or a handicapped player.Students will suffer greatly from these flawed guitar learning methods, and being insecure of their own potential to begin with, will blame themselves. It does not have to be this way. There is a method of learning guitar that is scientific and based on the laws of body learning. It works for everyone. It is called "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar", and you can find out more about it by following the link at the end of this article.I wish you all success in your sincere desire to learn to play this most beautiful and rewarding of musical instruments.
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