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 Encinitas ?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 San Diego
Many of the visitors to my website ask about vintage guitar values. Do you have a guitar about which you would like to have information? Do you have a question about Fender guitar value, Gibson guitar value, or maybe the value of a Martin guitar? Even if you don't know what kind of guitar you have, a little research will help you to find the value of your guitar.What makes a guitar valuable?Several factors figure into the value of a guitar. In general, the guitar must be one which is sought after by collectors and musicians. The demand for a guitar is determined in general by quality, beauty, and playability. This demand must outweigh the available supply.Age is an important factor in the value of a guitar, but a guitar is not necessarily more valuable just because it is older. It must have been made with a high standard of quality in the first place. An old mediocre quality guitar is just that--an old mediocre guitar! The actual year that a guitar was made may not be as important as the PERIOD in which it was made.For example, electric guitars which are most valuable today include Fender Telecasters made before 1954, Fender Stratocasters made between 1954 and 1959, and Gibson Les Pauls made between 1958 and 1960. Acoustic guitars of the greatest value include Pre-World War II Martins and Gibsons.This is not to say that other guitars are not valuable. Many vintage guitars will bring a good price. The trick is to know approximately how much YOUR guitar is worth.How Do I Determine the Value of My Guitar?In order for you or anyone else to determine the value of your guitar, you must have certain information available. Ideally, you would know the brand, model, and serial number. The brand and model, however, can often be determined through the serial number. Then you must determine the condition of your guitar--prices differ greatly according to condition. Here are some guidelines: (these guidelines are from the "Blue Book of Acoustic and Electric Guitars")100% - New - New with all factory materials, including warranty card, owner's manual, case, and other items that were originally included by the manufacturer. On currently manufactured instruments, the 100% price refers to an instrument not previously sold at retail. Even if a new instrument has been played only twice and traded in a week later, it no longer qualifies at 100%.Excellent - this Excellent condition range is represented by both High Excellent and Low Excellent condition. High Excellent refers to an instrument that is very clean, looks almost new (perhaps a few light scratches/dings only), and has hardly been used. Low Excellent refers to a guitar that has been played/used, and has accumulated some minor wear in the form of light scratches, dings, small chips, etc. The older an instrument, the less likely it will be in High Excellent condition Even Low Excellent is seldom encountered on instruments over 50 years old, since most acoustic instruments were originally purchased to be playedAverage - The Average guitar condition factor indicates an acoustic guitar that has been in a player's hands and has worn due to player use (hopefully, no abuse). High Average condition instruments have normal dents, small chips, and light dings on the body, and/or scratches on the top and back. However, there should be no problems unless indicated separately. Low Average condition instruments may reflect major finish problems, replacement parts, previous repairs (especially on older instruments), alterations, and neck/fret wear is typically visible.Once you have this information at hand, you can attempt to find the value of the guitar by consulting various sources on the internet or you can have it appraised by an expert. Researching the value of your guitar on the internet may be free. The downside is that this research requires a big expenditure of time and a wide knowledge of guitar pricing resources. If you have your guitar appraised, remember that the appraiser may also be a dealer who is, after all, wanting to make a profit by reselling the guitar. For this reason, the appraisal MAY be biased.Because so many of my website visitors have inquired about the value of their guitars, I have begun to offer a GENERAL guitar evaluation service. This service is FREE. If you are interested, please visit:Vintage Guitar Values at the May Music Studio Website.
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.
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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