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 Santa Monica ?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
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.
There are many different guitar tunings that are used in Rock and Metal music besides standard tuning. Guitar players in these genres like to use these tunings because they give a heavier and darker sound to their music.Some of the more popular tunings used are Dropped D, Dropped C, Dropped B, E Flat, D, C and open G. Here are the descriptions of how the strings should be tuned and some of the bands that use them.Dropped D tuning:E ----------1st stringB ----------2nd stringG ----------3rd stringD ----------4th stringA ----------5th stringD ----------6th string (thickest)This tuning enables power chords to be played with a single finger on the lowest three strings and produces a dark sound with it. If you're music doesn't fit together with this dark sound, you can place a capo on the 2nd fret and can still easily play power chords.Some bands that use Dropped D tuning are:Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Godsmack, Led Zepplin, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Silverchair, Soundgarden and Velvet Revolver.Dropped C tuning:D ----------1st stringA ----------2nd stringF ----------3rd stringC ----------4th stringG ----------5th stringC ----------6th string (thickest)Dropped C tuning is the Dropped D with each string lowered one whole step. Dropped C tuning produces a very low and heavy sound and is used by many of the new Heavy Metal bands.Some bands that use Dropped C tuning are:30 Seconds to Mars, Atreyu, Buckethead, Bullet for My Valentine, Children of Bodom, Godsmack, Bad Religion, Metallica, Mudvayne, P.O.D., Papa Roach, Rammstein, Shadows Fall, System of a Down, Three Days Grace and Ozzy Osbourne.Dropped B tuning:C# ----------1st stringG# ----------2nd stringE ----------3rd stringB ----------4th stringF# ---------5th stringB ----------6th string (thickest)This tuning will need heavier gauge strings to be effective. Also you might have to widen the string grooves as well as adjust the tension in the neck of your guitar.Some bands that use Dropped B tuning are:Audioslave, Limp Bizkit, Machine Head, Mudvayne, Slipknot and Stone Sour.Eb tuning:Eb ---------1st stringBb ---------2nd stringGb ---------3rd stringDb ---------4th stringAb ---------5th stringEb ---------6th string (thickest)This tuning is Standard tuning turned down a half step. There are a few reasons that bands use this tuning instead of Standard tuning. One reason is to sound heavier by using heavy gauge strings. By tuning down a half step it is easier to bend these heavy gauged strings. Another reason why some bands use this tuning is to compliment the lead singers voice.Bands that use Eb tuning are:Alice in Chains, Anthrax, Dream Theater, Guns N' Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Megadeth, Metallica, Motorhead, Nirvana, Poison, Slayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stone Sour, Van Halen, Weezer and Yngwie Malmsteen.D tuning:D ----------1st stringA ----------2nd stringF ----------3rd stringC ----------4th stringG ----------5th stringD ----------6th string (thickest)D tuning is also known as whole step down tuning and as you have probably already guessed, it's Standard tuning tuned down a whole step. D tuning has been used mainly in Heavy Metal music.Bands that have used D tuning are:Alice in Chains, The Beatles, Bullet For My Valentine, Bob Dylan, Children of Bodom, Dream Theater, Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Racer X and Soundgarden.C tuning:C ----------1st stringG ----------2nd stringEb ---------3rd stringBb ---------4th stringF ----------5th stringC ----------6th string (thickest)C tuning also produces a low sound that is mostly used by Hard Rock and Metal bands. The tuning is 2 whole steps below Standard tuning, which gives it a heavy sound but still maintains the same intervals as Standard tuning.Bands that have used C tuning are:Atreyu, Black Sabbath, Bullet For My Valentine, Deftones, Dream Theater, Jimi Hendrix, P.O.D., Queens of the Stone Age, Slipknot, Steve Vai and The Who.G tuning:D ----------1st stringB ----------2nd stringG ----------3rd stringD ----------4th stringG ----------5th stringD ----------6th string (thickest)Other than the Drop D tuning, G Tuning is one of the most popular alternate guitar tunings.Some bands that have used G tuning are:The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam.These are just some of the alternate guitar tunings that are available to you to experiment with. Play around with them and see which tunings fit your style of music.
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.
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