Guitar: The Basics and History


Guitar is one of the most unique instruments in music today. The range of sound you can get out of a guitar is very broad. Which is mainly why it is used for so many different types of music. The style that the electric guitar is known most for is rock and roll. This is the music that gave birth to the electric guitar. Styles such as blues and jazz will still use an electric guitar, but will use a clean tone instead of a distorted tone. Distortion is what gives the electric guitar the overdrive or “heavy” sound.

Aside from the electric guitar, there are Acoustic guitars, Banjos, and Bass. Acoustic guitar has a very powerful sound and doesn’t require an amplifier to get a great sound out of it. Banjo’s started with bluegrass and country style music. The bass guitar usually only has four strings but the sound that comes from a bass is very deep in tone. Basses are used to give a song structure or backing. It is also used to give the guitar player room to improvise within the notes or riff that the bass player is playing. Guitar used along with other instruments can be astounding. If you have four people that know music theory, you could take basic scales and notes and make a great sounding jam.

Over the last five decades the guitar in modern music is the most dominant force for modern audiences. Over the last fifty years of popular music, the guitar has had “Elvis gyrating behind it, Jimi setting it on fire, and Kurt bashing it to pieces”. Despite the reputation of guitar in popular music, it is more than the naughty stepchild of the strings family. For other musicians it can be a classical instrument with many unique possibilities.

In guitar theory, there are many scales which you can use to make riffs or leads. A scale with a guitar is a set of notes that sound good together when played with certain techniques. The major scale is one of the fire scales you should learn when you start playing the guitar. The major scale is the starting point for all types of music theory. The minor pentatonic scale is the most used scale in blues and rock style music. Pentatonic means five, so the scale only cycles through five individual notes until you are back at the root. The blues scale is the pentatonic scale with one extra note added in both octaves. Then there is the major pentatonic and minor scales. Many of these scales have similar positions and structure with just small changes to make it sound differently in a riff of lead.

Playing the guitar is a good skill to have if you enjoy music. If you are a beginner at guitar you should probably want to start out learning basic music theory first. Basic music theory consists of learning all of the letters assigned to each string on the guitar. It also consists of how flat and sharp notes sound and work together. Guitar works the same way as all other instruments as far as music theory goes. This is why the guitar sounds good with all different types of music. In my opinion the guitar is the most versatile and unique instruments because yo can get so much sound out of it in so many different ways.

Famous guitar players such as Jimi Hendrix, and Jerry Garcia started a revolution of using technical techniques in popular music. The grateful dead started a new genre of music in the 60’s and gave birth to what is now known as the “Jam band”. This type of music is based largely around the guitar shaping the songs structure. Jerry Garcia use the pentatonic and diminished scales to make music that many people have not heard before. Jimi Hendrix to many people is on of the greatest guitarists that ever lived. He has a style of playing like no one else. He played his guitar upside down and many times he even would use his teeth as a guitar pick. He is well known for his great live performances especially his version of the Star Spangled Banner, which he preformed at Woodstock in 1969.

The guitar has many ways of being played and technique is a big part of the type of sound you get out of it. Many guitar solo’s use techniques such as hammer-on’s, pull off’s, bending, sliding, tapping, and sweep picking. A hammer on is performed by bringing a fretting hand finger down onto one of the frets on the fretboard to get the sound of the note without actually picking out the note. The opposite of a hammer-on is a pull off. A pull off is when you pull your fretting hand finger off the fretboard quickly to get the sound of the note. When you use a lot of hammer-ons and pull offs together in a solo this technique is called trills. Trills produce a nice rippling effect and sound great with any type of rock solo.


Is it Hard to Learn Guitar?

How easy is it to learn guitar? Is it hard to learn guitar? Some people say it is difficult to learn guitar, others say it really isn’t that hard. Like they say, nothing worthwhile comes easy. If you’re attracted to the guitar and you can see yourself playing the instrument, then go for it. Go out and buy yourself a guitar, download some chord charts and guitar tabs from the internet, get yourself a guitar tuner, and try teaching yourself.

Learn your basic 4 count rhythms. It’s very important to learn the names of the chords. You may not want to learn music notation, but you should really know the names of the chords. Keep in mind, these chords will never change.

When you start learning how to play guitar, your fingertips are going to hurt from pressing down on the strings and you will feel uncoordinated. Don’t worry, it will get easier. You will build calluses on your fingertips.

Pick up a song book because the chords are usually displayed above the lyrics of the song you want to play and or sing. Learn the easiest songs possible. Your beginner books usually have a few simple songs you can learn. Most of the simple songs have two to three chords in them. Take your time and learn your chords and practice changing from one chord to the next. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t get discouraged.

You could try taking some lessons with a guitar teacher. If you can afford that, you will always gain something from the experience, even if the teacher isn’t much good. Or you could keep teaching yourself, making use of guitar tutors that you can buy at your local music store the free guitar lessons on video that you can view on the internet.

You need to learn one thing at a time and memorize it. Do it over and over again until it becomes second nature. When you learn a chord, keep in mind where your fingers are positioned in relation to the dots on the fret board.

Try to get involved with other musicians as well, even a quick jam will help with your progress. Playing with other guitar players and musicians is the single most important thing you can do while learning to play your instrument. Your first session may not sound that great but you are making a very big step in your education. Your first jam will probably be with your guitar teacher. Try to find as many people as possible to jam with and share musical ideas.

Learning how to play guitar takes a lot of patience and time. Though a lot of things do, but you can learn if you really set your mind to it. The combination of using the ebook, games, and videos to teach you chords, basic techniques, and strumming techniques is by far the best for learning simple songs.

How to Set Up Your Bass Guitar for a Live Performance

bassist has his own set of gear that he or she uses. If you are just starting out as a bassist, then you will want to try out any and every piece of gear you can get your hands on. I’m going to give you a simple layout that you can use for the bass and change the gear up if you want to. Here are some things you should have:

  1. A direct box. I like the Boss DI 1. A Direct Box stabilizes unbalanced instruments to make them balanced. That’s another article in itself.
  2. An effect box, for the option of different sounds and a tuner. Not all bass players use the effects on an effect box, but having a tuner at your feet is very useful. There are countless effect boxes out there. I use a Zoom B2 effect box.
  3. 3 bass guitar cables.
  4. An amplifier. I like the Gallien Krueger 700RB-II with an Avatar speaker myself.
  5. A Shure SM57 microphone.

Start by inserting a cable into the bass guitar and then plug the other end of that cable and into the input of the effect box. Then take your second cable and insert it into the output of the effect box. Now take the other end of the cable that’s in the output and plug it into the input of the direct box. Use your final cable to plug into the output of the direct box. From there, plug in to the input of the amplifier. Your amplifier will generally have 2 input options. It will have an ACTIVE option and a PASSIVE option. This refers to the pick up on your bass. If your bass uses a battery for the pick-up, then it is active. If no battery is required, then it is passive. Once the amplifier is on and the volume is up you should be hearing sound coming out of the amplifier when you play. Find the effect you want to play with and get the volume and tone the way you like it on the amplifier.

You now have 2 options, you can either go to the mixing board directly from you D.I. box or you can use a microphone which you place in front of the amplifier. The benefit of going straight from the D.I box is that you don’t have to worry about the microphone picking up other sounds. The direct box is a solid line to the mixer. The benefit of using a microphone is that you know the sound you are hearing when you stand in front of the amplifier is what you want you’re bass to sound like. It may not sound like that going straight from the D.I box. It depends on how well your mixer knows your style and what you want. Try both and see which you prefer.

Using the Microphone Method

Once you get the sound you’re looking for out of the amplifier, take the Shure SM57 microphone, in a short microphone stand, and put it in from off the amplifier about 2 – 4 inches from the speaker cone, slightly off center. The microphone goes directly to the mixer and will pick up the sound from the amplifier which is set just the way you like it.

Now remember that the speakers out front of the stage are different then the ones in your amplifier. They may have a higher or lower character to them so you have to play and have someone listen out in front of the stage. If it sounds like it’s too thin and needs more bass then move the microphone closer to the amplifier. If the tone isn’t bright enough then move the microphone to the side, closer towards the center of the speaker cone. For a softer tone place the microphone more towards the outside edge of the speaker cone. You will need to play around with the positioning of your microphone to find where you get the best sound.

There is no set way to set you Bass guitar up. It all depends on your gear and your style. This is just one of many ways to do it. You can use this set up as a starting point for your own set up. Depending on your budget, developing your own personal set up can take awhile. Just keep playing and trying new things. As time passes you will develop your own sound.


How to Be a Girl Guitar Hero


Now you’ve done it. You pawned the Gucci handbag grandma bought you for Christmas and spent the money on a second hand flying V and a mean Marshall stack. (Can you say “whammy bar” grandma?)

Your spirit is strong. You are channeling the guitar-Zen of Jennifer Batten, the fury of Nancy Wilson, and the machine-gun rhythms of Gabriela Quintero. But that beast with the chrome finish is staring at you from it’s place on the wall.

Pick it up. Now.

You won’t become the next girl guitar hero by staring at it.

First, don’t be afraid to turn it up. Feedback and dissonance are part of nature’s glory; things collide in chaotic and random ways. Harness the power of this chaos and give harmony a rip in the pants. Realize that anything played loud enough, with enough force and confidence, will either sound incredibly cool or incredibly intimidating. Either is acceptable.

Second, learn to play power chords.