8 Must-Have Acoustic Guitars for Fall 2016

8 Must-Have Acoustic Guitars for Fall 2016 (For All Budgets)

8 Must-Have Acoustic Guitars for Fall 2016

In the market for a new guitar? Check out these recommendations for the best acoustic guitars released this year, courtesy of Colleen from Coustii.com…


Buying a new acoustic guitar is a really exciting experience. But to make the process hassle-free, you’ll want to spend some time considering a few important questions. Are you just starting out, or are you an experienced guitarist? Will you be playing solo, or with a band? What is your budget? Once you have the answers to these, it’s time to pick your guitar. Here is my list of the eight coolest acoustic guitars released in 2016.

Ibanez Artwood Vintage

Guitar Brand: Ibanez
Name: Artwood Vintage AVD6
Price: $499.99
Ideal for practicing, as well as playing small, intimate gigs.

Ibanez’s creation is a perfect mix of technological design and acoustic tradition. It has a dreadnought body with a solid sitka spruce top. The back, neck, and sides are made out of mahogany, and the bridge and fretboard are made out of rosewood.

The Artwood Vintage is ideal for carrying around as it does not take too much space. It also boasts a nice, rich sound.

Dean AXS Dreadnought

Guitar Brand: Dean
Name: AXS Dreadnought – Gloss Natural
Price: $179.00
Ideal for beginning guitarists on a budget.

This is the most affordable acoustic guitar on this list. It has a fantastic-looking spruce top, which is reinforced with a 2-ply binding. It’s a full-scale guitar with a rosewood fingerboard and solid die-cast tuners. These allow the ax to remain tuned at all times.

This guitar is great for practicing, recording, and live jamming. It’s fun to play, even for experienced players, and has an overall good feel to it.

Gibson Songwriter Koa

Guitar Brand: Gibson
Name: Songwriter Koa
Price: $3,649.00
Ideal for guitarists who like nice things and aren’t afraid to admit it.

The Gibson Songwriter Koa has set the bar for a great acoustic guitar. Its soothing, musical sound originates from the koa wood from which it is made. Gibson even added a new compound radius fingerboard to give you the feel of an electric guitar.

Perhaps no guitar is perfect, but I’ve yet to find a flaw in this one. If you can only buy one guitar in your life, this is the one you should choose!

Gibson Hummingbird Red Spruce

Guitar Brand: Gibson
Name: Hummingbird Red Spruce
Price: $3,649.00
Ideal for advanced guitarists who plan to perform.

This electric-acoustic guitar offers a comfortable rounded mahogany neck and a solid rosewood fingerboard. Keeping a firm grasp on the guitar is easy and your fingers just slide down the polished fingerboard. Its design is bright and eye-catching, and you can see the almost 60 years of experience that Gibson put into making the Hummingbird.

This is probably why megastars like Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, Keith Richards, and Sheryl Crow count the Hummingbird as one of their favorites!

Dean Craig Wayne Boyd – Gloss Natural

Guitar Brand: Dean
Name: Craig Wayne Boyd A/E – Gloss Natural
Price: $449.00
Ideal for an intermediate guitarist who enjoys a good-looking ax.

This name might sound familiar: Craig Wayne Boyd rose to fame after winning Season 7 of the NBC reality singing show “The Voice”. Now, he’s released the guitar that helped him achieve this fame. This model even features his initials at the top.

Its body is made of mahogany, and the quilt ash top makes this guitar great for the eyes and the ears. Its C-shaped neck makes it a very comfortable guitar to use. What better way to follow in Boyd’s footsteps than by choosing this guitar?

Yamaha FG180-50TH

Guitar Brand: Yamaha
Name: FG180-50th
Price: $1,300
Ideal for an experienced guitarist who prefers to play folk music.

Yamaha released this guitar to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FG180. It’s a limited edition model that holds much of the folk tradition that helped make the FG180 great in the first place.

This is an ideal guitar for practically anything, from practicing to recording. It sounds great in small venues and even in big mega concerts.

Martin X Series Custom 2016 X1-DE

Guitar Brand: Martin
Name: X Series 2016 X1-DE
Price: $599.99
Ideal for environmentally friendly guitarists.

This guitar is easy to play and easy on the environment, as it’s made with HPL (High Pressure Laminate). It also has a strong Stratabond neck and robust Richlite fingerboard.

The X Series offers an unexpected deep tone that sounds great, plugged in or not.

Orleans Stage Acoustic

Guitar Brand: Schecter
Name: Orleans Stage Acoustic
Price: Coming this Fall!
Ideal for performing artists who like to stand out.

Unlike most traditional acoustic guitars, the Orleans Stage comes in a vibrant Vampyre Red Burst Satin color. It’s expected to be released in the fall of 2016. The Stage acoustic has a 25-1/2″ scale, 20-fret fingerboards, and black chrome hardware. Its base material, body and neck, are all made out of maple.

Readers, what are the best acoustic guitars you’ve tried out this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Further Reading:

Colleen has a passion for guitars and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website, Coustii, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes.

Photo by Kyle McCluer


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6 Famous Guitarists Who Hit The Big Time (Despite The Obstacles)

What I’ve Learned From 7 Famous Guitarists Who Almost Gave Up

6 Famous Guitarists Who Hit The Big Time (Despite The Obstacles)

“Making it” as a musician isn’t always easy — but it’s also not impossible! In this guest post, Ged Richardson from Zingstruments shares what he’s learned from seven famous guitarists who overcame the odds… 


Tired of getting knocked back? Feeling like your time as a world-famous guitarist will never come? Downright depressed about trying to make it in the music industry?

Yup. I know the feeling. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

But here’s the thing: what you’re feeling is completely normal.

In fact, some of the best, most talented musicians experienced the very same feeling as you.

Don’t believe me? Here are seven examples of how persistence and dogged determinism helped make the world’s greatest guitarists and musicians.

1. Elvis Presley

If I told you the King, yes no other than Elvis Presley, was given his marching orders before his career took off, you’d think I was kidding right? No, I’m serious!

Elvis was told by the concert hall manager in the Grand Ole Opry (a famous venue in Nashville) in no uncertain terms “You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”

Looking back, that concert hall manager couldn’t have been more wrong. Someone needs to eat several King-size portions of humble pie.

2. Noel Gallagher

Before songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher shot to fame in the 1990s with his band Oasis, he endured a lifetime’s worth of setbacks. He battled through family strife, expulsion from school, and dead-end jobs — but he persevered with his music, writing three of his most popular songs (including “Live Forever”) in what he referred to as the ‘The Hit Hut’ (which was in fact a storehouse at the company he was working for at the time!).

Did success come quickly thereafter? Not at all. He auditioned as a singer for the popular indie band Inspiral Carpets and was promptly rejected. Instead, they gave him a job on the tour crew for two years. Tour crew! Now look where he is — filling arenas around the globe. Some achievement, I would say.

3. Django Reinhardt

In 1920s France, a bright new star was stunning audiences in the Parisian music halls with his virtuoso guitar playing. He was called Django Reinhardt.

At the tender age of 18, Django got his first major gig with English band leader Jack Hylton, quite an accomplishment for an uneducated Romani Gypsy. But tragedy struck soon after. A fire broke out in his caravan and he was badly injured. He injured his left hand, paralyzing all but two fingers on his fretting hand.

For many this would be the end of their playing career. But not for Django, who worked out a way to play the guitar using his two working fingers. He went on to create a whole new genre of his own with Stéphane Grappelli, known as ‘Gypsy Jazz,’ and the rest is history, as they say.

4. Paul McCartney

Songwriter and bassist Paul McCartney is the picture of charisma and confidence on stage when you see that old footage of the Beatles. But looks can be deceiving.

Sir Paul was prone to bouts of stage fright, often rendering him useless in front of screaming fans. Interviewed by the NME in 2009, he said: “So I remember being on the steps of Wembley Town Hall, literally getting ill with nerves, and thinking, ‘I’ve got to give this business up, this is no good.’” If he can play through the nerves, so can you.

5. Pat Martino

This jazz musician is one of the most revered and famous guitarists in the industry. Was it all a ride in the park for him? Far from it. Pat Martino was already established as a heavyweight guitar player, but at the age of 36 he suffered a brain aneurysm that put him out of action. And that’s putting it mildly. Surgery resulted in amnesia and loss of his ability to play guitar. Quite a setback for a guitarist.

With dogged determination he managed to relearn the instrument, while battling what he called ‘near-suicidal’ levels of sorrow. In 2004, Martino was named Guitar Player of the Year in Downbeat Magazine’s Readers’ Poll. Some turn-around, don’t you think?

6. Bob Dylan

In the late 1960s, folk-singing troubadour Bob Dylan was pretty untouchable — influencing the Beatles, among others. Or so he thought. When he toured the UK in 1966 playing a new electric sound, it quickly became apparent that his audience hated the new sound! Bob and his band were jeered and heckled throughout the shows, culminating in one resentful fan shouting ‘Judas.’

Did he succumb to the pressure and go back to playing folk guitar? Heck no. He powered through, ignored the naysayers and invented a new form of electric folk-based pop. We wouldn’t have classics such as “Like a Rolling Stone” if he’d given up.

7. Seasick Steve

The American blues guitarist Seasick Steve didn’t have it easy on his route to stardom either. Leaving home at the age of 13 to avoid abuse at the hands of his stepfather, he lived as a hobo for many years, catching rides by hopping on freight trains as he sought work as a farm laborer.

His rise to stardom didn’t come quickly or easily, but he persisted and eventually established himself as one of today’s best blues guitarists. He attributes much of his unlikely success to his cheap and weather-beaten guitar, “The Trance Wonder.” But I think it was more a case of a spoonful of talent and a whole lot of hard work, persistence, and determination.


So there you have it — seven cases of success against all odds. It’s both humbling and motivating to learn that these famous guitarists were knocked back in some way, but crucially overcame their obstacles to come up on top.

The lesson here? Frustration and adversity can help you — if you use it to fire you up. Never give up. If you want it badly enough, you can make it happen!

Classical guitarist Andres Segovia famously said: “The day I stop playing guitar will be the day after my death.” Now there’s perseverance!


Ged Richardson is an avid guitarist and blogger who writes about how to improve your guitar playing at Zingstruments. Sign up for his free 7 Day Guitar Practice Challenge to transform your guitar practice routine.

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Gibson vs Fender best guitar brand

Gibson vs. Fender: Which Brand Do Pro Guitar Players Prefer?

Gibson vs Fender best guitar brand

In the Gibson vs. Fender debate, where do you stand? Here, professional musician Michael L. shares his thoughts on the two brands…  


There’s nothing like being a guitar player, am I right?

You’ve got your pick of genres to explore, from jazz to country to metal. You have amazing guitarists to look up to and learn from. And when it comes to gear, you have your pick of some of the coolest innovations to make your sound rock.

If you’re like most guitarists,  you like to talk about your gear, too. You’ll find heated debates online about the best guitar amps, strings, pedals, and more. And if you’re in the market for your first guitar, you’ll likely get a lot of (unsolicited) advice about the best guitar brands and models.

One of the biggest rivalries in the world of electric guitars is Gibson vs. Fender. Many guitar players have allegiances to their favorite company, although both produce professional-grade guitars.

So, which brand is better? To start, let’s review the history of both companies, as well as a general breakdown of the types of guitars offered. Then, I’ll share my personal preference between the guitar manufacturers.

All About Gibson Guitars

Gibson dates back to the late 1800s, when Orville Gibson patented a mandolin design that was much more durable than other instruments at that time. He sold these instruments out of a one-room workshop in Kalamazoo, MI, until his death in 1918. The designs lived on, however, as the company hired designer Lloyd Lear to continue creating new instruments.

In 1936, the company invented the first commercially successful Spanish-style electric guitar, the ES 150 (ES stands for Electric Spanish). Next came the P-90 pickup in 1946 and the Les Paul in 1952.

The Les Paul, perhaps the most iconic model from the company, was Gibson’s first solid body electric guitar. In 1958 Gibson also introduced semi-hollow body guitars with the ES-335. Afterward came the Gibson SG and Firebird in the 1960s.

Since then Gibson has stayed on top of the list of premier instrument manufacturers.

All About Fender Guitars

Leo Fender started Fender Guitars in 1946, and his first innovation was the production of solid body guitars. Up until then, electric guitars were made with hollow bodies, meaning that they were somewhat fragile and somewhat complicated in design. Leo Fender’s guitars offered a more straightforward design; the were bodies made from one solid block of wood and the bridges were simply attached to the body, removing the need for extra calibration of elevated bridges.

The first commercially available guitar from Fender was the Telecaster, originally called the Tele, in 1951. That same year Leo Fender also invented the electric bass. Until then, bassists had to use an upright bass, making it difficult to hear the bass while electric guitars and drums were being played.

Next, the Stratocaster hit the market in 1954, introducing a tremolo bridge (or whammy bar) to the world. Fender kept the amazing innovations coming, introducing the Jaguar, Jazzmaster, Jazz Bass, and Twin Reverb amp over the next decade.

Gibson vs. Fender: Style & Adaptability

When choosing between Fender or Gibson, there are many factors to consider. The main factor for me is style adaptability. Both Fender and Gibson have different models for different musical styles and tastes.

Gibson vs Fender

The Gibson Style

Gibson’s electric guitars generally sport humbucker pickups, known for their thicker, rounder tone. You also get less feedback, which limits the types of delay and overdrive tones you can experiment with, but ensures a cleaner and more consistent sound. Gibson mainly uses mahogany for their guitar bodies, which is what gives it that slightly darker sound.

Another feature that affects a Gibson guitar’s sound is the scale length. Gibson typically uses a 24.75″ scale length, producing warmer, muddy overtones.

Outside of the sound created, Gibson guitars also feel different to players. Gibsons typically have a longer fingerboard radius, at 12″, which means a fatter neck. With a fatter neck, the strings are at a more even height, which may help you play faster.

Gibson Guitars

Gibson Les Paul

Les Paul guitars in particular boast a full tone that can serve as an entire rhythm section if need be. With a switch of pickups, you can also find a lead tone that cuts through, while still maintaining low-end frequencies. Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, and Zakk Wylde are known for playing Les Pauls.

A Gibson SG, another example, is a straight rock-n-roll or punk rocker guitar. It’s shrill with big low frequencies, which is great for blues. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Angus Young, and Tony Iommi favor the SG.

The Fender Style

Fender guitars have a bit of a different sound, again because of the way they’re made. Fenders are usually made with alder and ash, producing a brighter tone and offering a lighter feel.

Fender typically uses a 25.5″ scale length, which provides a rich, almost bell-like tone.

And for its fingerboard, Fender typically uses a shorter radius (7.25-9.5″), offering a thinner, curved neck. Beginners and players with small hands might find these thinner necks more comfortable.

Fender Guitars

Fender Stratocaster

The single coil pickups of a Stratocaster, in particular, may be your preference if you like lots of treble in your tone and want to make lead lines pop.

Some famous Stratocaster players are Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Frusciante, and Jeff Beck.

Telecaster tone, on the other hand, has a bit of a flat thud to it. The notes generally don’t have a full sustain and the lipstick pickup promotes more mid to low frequencies.

Players like Joe Strummer, Keith Richards, and Prince favor telecasters.

Who Wins?

For me, it’s difficult to take a personal side in the Fender vs. Gibson debate. Both companies have produced legendary instruments that have shaped music around the world. Both have helped define electric guitar tone.

However, I will have to side with Fender in this arena. I love the feel of Fender instruments, particularly Jazzmaster and Telecasters. Both have broad, flat necks that fit my fingers and a tone that sounds divine. The Telecaster has an honest thud to its sound and the Jazzmaster gives you a full range of tonal experimental possibilities.

What Other Opinions Are Out There?

Search through any guitar forum or blog, and you’ll find tons of information about Fender, Gibson, and other guitar brands. If you’d like to research some more before casting your vote, here are some articles and posts to check out:

Your Turn

Which guitar brand is best? Cast your vote here:


Which guitar brand is better?

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Don’t have an opinion yet? If you’re trying to decide which guitar to buy, don’t just trust the poll results. Try out different guitar brands, models, and styles, and you’ll find what you like best.

And once you have that perfect guitar, it’s time to improve your skills! Search for guitar teachers in your area and get help with playing chords, songs, and much more. Good luck!

Photo by Larry Ziffle

Willy MPost Author: Michael L.
Michael teaches ukulele, guitar, drums, and music theory in Austin, TX. In addition to private lessons, Michael teaches music to special education students and foster children with Kids in a New GrooveLearn more about Michael here!

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improvising and jazz guitar scales

Guitar Scale Hacks: How to Jazz Up Any Scale & Start Improvising

improvising and jazz guitar scales

Many beginner musicians want to learn to improvise on the guitar, but just don’t know how to start. In this guest post, Greg O’Rourke from fretdojo.com teaches you three easy tricks that will supercharge your guitar scales and bring more life to your solos.


Have you ever tried to improvise on the guitar and it sounds like you’re just running scales up and down the fretboard?


Regardless of what style you want to improvise in, only knowing the scales isn’t enough.

Here’s the deal:

To sound like a convincing improviser, you need to learn the vocabulary of the style you want to play — meaning the particular patterns and approaches that give a style of music its unique sound.

Which is what this article is all about.

By the end of this post, you’re going to learn three easy jazz tricks to transform any boring old guitar scale into a hip, jazzy-sounding pattern that will supercharge your soloing.

Let’s get into it!

The Basic Idea

The approach I’m going to show you is to:

  • Look at the finger patterns on each string of a guitar scale, then
  • Substitute them with finger patterns commonly used in jazz.

For this lesson we’re going to use the ol’ faithful C major scale.

Let’s use the well-known pattern commonly played in the 7th position on the fretboard (for those of you who know the CAGED system, this would be the “E” pattern of C Major):

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 1




If you aren’t familiar with this guitar scale pattern yet, practice playing bits and pieces of it over the backing track to get familiar, as the video below demonstrates:

Video Example:

Backing Track:

As you can see, if you improvise just by going up and down guitar scales it sounds like, well… just like scales going up and down.


Let’s see what we can do to jazz this sucker up…

Step 1: Substitute the ‘134’ Pattern

Look at the notes that sit on the 3rd string for this guitar scale:


As you can see, this string uses fingers 1, 3, and 4, hence a ‘134’ pattern.

Hmmm… let’s try something.

Replace this finger pattern with a ‘4123’ pattern instead:


To get used to the idea of replacing the finger pattern, play the simple exercise below.

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 2jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-5


Here’s the trick.

Now, whenever you play the 3rd string as you improvise, replace the ‘134’ pattern with the new ‘4123’ pattern.

Video Example:

Go on — try it! Here’s the backing track once again:

Backing Track:

Hang on:

Notice how this can be used on other strings of this C major scale as well…

Eureka! The 4th string also has this ‘134’ pattern.

Do the same finger pattern replacement on this string too.

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 3jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-6


I want you to practice soloing over the backing track once again.

This time, whenever you hit the 4th string or the 3rd string, play the pattern ‘4123’.

Backing Track:

Great — you’re sounding a whole lot jazzier already!

Let’s have a look at how we can mess with the other strings to get more of that jazzy sound into our soloing.

Step 2: Substitute the ‘124’ pattern

Here’s the finger pattern on the 1st string in this C Major scale:


As you can see, the 1st string has a ‘124’ finger pattern.

It’s time to soup up this finger pattern too.

Can we use the ‘4123’ pattern (the one you used on the 3rd and 4th string) here?

No, you can’t — the final note (the ‘3’)  will be a note that is not in C Major, which will sound bad.

For this approach to work, we need a pattern that will finish on a scale note.

So, we’ll need a different pattern. Let me think…

How about this one:


Looks good — this new ‘43241’ pattern ends up on a scale note (the ‘1’).

This ‘43241’ pattern is one of the most commonly used vocabulary ideas in jazz, and it’s easy to play too.

To get familiar with this new pattern, play this exercise on the 1st string:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 4jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-9


Improvise with the backing track in a similar way to what you did on the 3rd and 4th string.

This time, whenever you play the 1st string replace the ‘124’ pattern with the ‘43241’ pattern.

Video Example:

While you’re at it, make it more interesting by experimenting with different rhythms and accents each time you play the pattern.

Backing Track:

This ‘43241’ pattern works really well on the 5th and 6th strings too, as they also have a ‘124’ pattern in this C Major guitar scale.

I’ll show you what I mean:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 5jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-10


Step 3: Enclosures

Great, so we have now jazzed up every string of this guitar scale…

Or have we?

Hang on — it looks like one string hasn’t been covered yet: the 2nd string.

The problem with the 2nd string in this C Major guitar scale pattern is that there are only two notes on the string.

D’oh! We can’t play the other two patterns you’ve learned so far, as they were for three notes, not two.

Don’t sweat! There is a solution.

We’re going to use enclosures to surround (or ‘enclose’) each of these two-note scales.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What’s an enclosure??”

I knew you were going to ask that.

Let me explain.

Enclosures are one of the most commonly used devices found in jazz solos.

They give a great chromatic sound and are characteristic of jazz bebop in particular.

Enclosures are useful as they can be added to any note in any guitar scale.

Here’s an example of an enclosure:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 6jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-11


In this next exercise, you’re going to apply an enclosure to each of the two notes found on the 2nd string of the C Major guitar scale pattern:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 7jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-12-corrected


Now try to improvise on the backing track with enclosures on these notes whenever you hit the 2nd string:

Video Example:

Backing Track:

Note: You can do enclosures on any note of the scale, not just these two scale notes on the second string — try it and see!

Step 4: Combining it All Together

Fantastic! We have now jazzified every string of C Major guitar scale.

Your final challenge awaits…

Have a go at playing the substituted finger pattern for each string one after the other, going from the 1st string to the 6th string:

  • 1st string: 43241
  • 2nd string: enclosures
  • 3rd string: 4123
  • 4th string: 4123
  • 5th string: 43241
  • 6th string: 43241

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 8jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-13


Now improvise on the backing track by adding the relevant pattern for each string here and there as you solo.

Video Example:

Backing Track:

A couple of things to be aware of as you improvise on the guitar:

  • If you do the new jazzy patterns too much, it will sound too “spicy.” Just add them here and there and it will sound totally hip.
  • The challenge here is to remember what pattern goes with which string in the guitar scale. Be careful as you’ll find it won’t sound very good if you mix them up by mistake.

Huzzah! Just by adding some simple finger patterns, you know have an interesting, jazzy foundation for your guitar solos.


You can apply this technique to any guitar scale:

  • Whenever you have a ‘134’ pattern on a string, replace it with ‘4123’.
  • Whenever you have a ‘124’ pattern on a string, replace it with ‘43241’.
  • Whenever you have only 2 notes on a string, use enclosures around each note.

So there you have it: three simple finger patterns that you can apply to any guitar scale, to instantly get that jazzy sound.

The question is…

What guitar scales do YOU have under your fingers to jazz up?

Let me help you out.

Download a free copy of my Essential Guitar Scale Patterns PDF eBook, and you’ll learn the most important guitar scale shapes that you need to know for any style of music.

I would also like to give a shout-out to Matt Warnock at mattwarnockguitar.com, whom I credit first showing me these innovative ideas for scale patterns. He’s a great teacher and has a ton of resources about jazz guitar improvisation on his site.

I wish you well in your guitar practice. Happy soloing!

Ready to learn more? Find a local or online guitar teacher, or check out our live, online group classes for guitar!

AndyWPost Author: Greg O’Rourke
Greg O’Rourke is a professional Australian jazz guitarist and holds a Bachelor of Music (Hons) with the Australian National University. He’s also the owner of fretdojo.com, which offers detailed lessons and eBooks on how to master jazz guitar.
The Perfect Father's Day Playlist for Rock and Roll Dads (1)

The Perfect Father’s Day Playlist for Rock & Roll Dads | Videos

Famous fathers and Father's Day songs

Shout-out to the rock and roll dads out there! Read on as guitar teacher Matt K. shares his top picks for famous dads known for rocking out, plus the best Father’s Day songs from them to play… 


Balancing studio time, touring, and constant press coverage is part of being a rock star. Add taking care of a kid or two (and doing it well) to the equation, and we have to wonder… how do famous musicians do it?

With Father’s Day coming up, it’s important to recognize all of the great dads out there, including the ones that make the music we love. Below, I’ve compiled a list of famous fathers, in no particular order, and which of their songs I’d add to a rock-heavy Father’s Day playlist.

1) Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney raised four children with his first wife Linda Eastman. Heather (Paul’s stepdaughter), Mary, Stella, and James. All of them have become successful in their own right. Heather is a well-known artist, Mary is a photographer, Stella is a fashion designer, and James just released an EP called “The Blackberry Train” back in May.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Yesterday”

2) Steven Tyler

Aerosmith’s frontman has four children. You may recognize at least one: Liv Tyler is an actress who has appeared in many hit films, including “Lord of the Rings”. Although his role as a father was not perfect — Liv wasn’t aware that Steven Tyler was her father until age 11 — they quickly made up for lost time. She even starred in Aerosmith’s music video “Crazy”.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Dream On”

3) Ozzy Osbourne

The Prince of Darkness has two children from his first marriage, and three children with second wife Sharon Arden: Aimee, Kelly, and Jack. The latter two were featured on the reality show “The Osbournes” with the couple. Nowadays, Ozzy is more like the Grandfather of Darkness, with six grandchildren!

Father’s Day playlist song: the 1991 hit “No More Tears”.

4) Slash

Slash is Guns and Roses’ famous top-hat-wearing guitar wizard. He has two children with pretty cool names: London and Cash. They were born in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

5) Zakk Wylde

Super-shredder Zakk Wylde makes this list because of the awesome names donned upon his children. He has three kids: Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads, Hayley Rae, and Jesse. Although Jesse didn’t get a rock and roll name, Ozzy Osbourne is his godfather.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stillborn” (below is a video of Zakk improvising over an Andy James track)

6) Travis Barker

Like Ozzy Osbourne, Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker also had a reality television show. In “Meet the Barkers”, we got an inside look into this father and his home away from the rock life.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stay Together For the Kids”

7) Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is an indie rocker who helped form the band War on Drugs. He is now a successful solo artist who seems to be working on the next big thing constantly, but it’s pretty clear his family comes first; you can see his daughter steal the show in the video below!

Father’s Day playlist song: “Never Run Away”

8) Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen may be the coolest rock dad on this list. In 2006, Van Halen’s original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s 15-year-old son, Wolfgang. Fast-forward to 6:40 in the video below and you can see them rocking out together.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

9) Thurston Moore

Sonic Youth’s singer/guitarist Thurston Moore attempted the near-impossible: he and now ex-wife Kim Gordon raised their child on the road. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Coco Hayley Gordon-Moore now fronts a band called Big Nils.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Superstar”

10) Carlos Santana

Guitar god Carlos Santana has three children: Salvador, Angelica, and Stella. Nowadays, Stella is following in his footsteps by releasing an album — although you won’t find any guitar solos here. Instead, she has a more soulful and R&B vibe to her music.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Black Magic Woman”

Readers, who would you add to this list, and what other Father’s Day songs should be included? Vote for your favorite in the poll below, or let us know who you’d add by leaving a comment below! 

Who's the most legendary rock and roll dad?

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Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

Sources: IMDb – Paul McCartney,  IMDb – Liv Tyler, IMDB – Ozzy Osbourne, IMDb – Slash, IMDb – Zakk Wylde, IMDb – Travis Barker, MusicRadar, Refinery29, IMDb – Carlos Santana, Billboard

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alternate guitar tunings

Step Up Your Game: 4 Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

alternate guitar tunings

Whether you just started guitar lessons or you’ve been playing for a while, you may be itching to learn some new songs and take on some new challenges. You might be wondering: where can I go from here? That’s where alternate guitar tunings come in! With this guide from Michael L., you’ll learn how alternate guitar tunings can take your playing to the next level…

One of the amazing things about the guitar is its versatility. Not only can you play rhythm and/or melody in different genres, but you can also change the tuning (or the key) to create different atmospheres.

Here’s the deal:

Not all songs are written to be played in standard E-A-D-G-B-E tuning, so if you want to expand your range as a guitarist, you need to learn play some alternate guitar tunings.

Alternate guitar tunings, or open tunings, allow you to play new songs and explore new music styles. Essentially, alternate guitar tunings will expand your range and skill set.

If the only alternate tuning you know is Drop D tuning, then this tutorial will introduce you to some new concepts. We will focus on three open tunings: Open G, DADGAD, and Open D.

Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

Drop D Tuning

You may already be familiar with drop D tuning: Take your low E string and tune it down a whole step to D. In this tuning, you can play power chords by barring the low three strings.

Drop D tuning is usually associated with metal music, but you can also play other songs like the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and “I Might Be Wrong” by Radiohead.

Open G Tuning

Open G tuning requires three strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down a whole step to D, and the A string down a whole step to G.

Now when you strum the guitar, you’ll play a G chord. This tuning makes the guitar resemble a banjo, except with a banjo, the low G string is a high G string and the low D is not there. You can play some banjo songs in this tuning, substituting the high G with the low G offers a new sound on some traditional banjo songs.

I primarily use this tuning for blues, folk, bluegrass, and rock, but I’m sure you can find other genres to play in this tuning. A couple of songs that use this tuning are “Poor Black Mattie” by R.L Burnside and “Death Letter” by Son House (or covered by White Stripes).

The beauty of open G tuning is that you can strum the bottom five strings together and play a melody with any of the strings as long as the note is in the key G. You can also get any major chord you like if you barre the fretboard on the corresponding right fret (the chord is based off the notes on the G strings).

If you want a minor chord, barre the fret but play a half-step lower, on the B string. Alternating between the low G and D strings gives you fun bass lines, too.

If you would like to learn more chord shapes simply look online for “banjo chord chart” and apply those shapes to the guitar in this tuning.

DAGAD Tuning

DADGAD is very similar to open G. For this tuning, just tune the fifth string back up to A and the B string to A. This tuning opens the door for some really neat sounding modal music.

You can play folk music, like Paul Simon’s version of “Scarborough Fair” and “Armistice Day”, some rock music like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir“, or even nu-metal like Slipknot’s “Circle“.

Open D Tuning

Open D tuning requires four strings to change notes. Tune the E strings down to D, the G string to F#, and the B string to A.

Now, when you strum the guitar, you’ll get a D chord. Again, I mostly use this tuning for rural music (blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, etc.) This tuning is also my favorite to play the slide guitar.

Go ahead and strum steadily on the low D string while playing melody notes on the high D and A strings, and tell me that’s not one of the most sultry sounds you’ve heard! A couple of my favorite songs in open D are “Blind Willie McTell” by Statesboro Blues and Bob Dylan’s “Corina, Corina“.

As with open G, you can find any major chord by barring the corresponding fret (the chord is based off the note on the D strings). If you want a minor chord, play a half-step down on the F# string.

Here are a couple of open D chords, besides barre chords, to get you started.

G7 A7
—3— —2—
—2— —0—
—1— —1—
—0— —2—
—2— —0—
—0— —2—

I hope this gives you some new ideas on how to approach the guitar. Have fun with these alternate guitar tunings. They changed the way I think of guitar and I hope they do the same for you, especially if you’re a fan of delta blues and folk music!

If you need help with any of these alternate guitar tunings, ask your guitar teacher to go over them during your next lesson!

Want to ramp up your guitar skills at home? Try one of our free online group classes

Willy MPost Author: Michael L.
Michael teaches ukulele, guitar, drums, and music theory in Austin, TX. He studied music theory and vocal performance at the Florence University of the Arts in Italy. In addition to private lessons, Michael teaches music to special education students in Austin public schools and foster children with Kids in a New GrooveLearn more about Michael here!

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online guitar class

I Tried an Online Guitar Class and Here’s What Happened…

online guitar class

Have you ever wondered if you can really learn guitar online? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try an online class but weren’t sure if it was right for you. Check out this video testimonial and find out how you can try a free online group class!

If you didn’t already know, you can take live, online guitar classes right here at TakeLessons! In the new TakeLessons Classroom, you can connect with a teacher and take a lesson on your computer or mobile device. The best part? You don’t even need to leave your house to boost your guitar skills!

If you’ve never taken an online class, you may have some questions about how it works. In this video testimonial, learn all about the new TakeLessons Classroom and find out if online classes are right for you!

Desi M. enjoyed her class on easy guitar chords for beginners. As a mom, she loved that the TakeLessons Classroom was easy to set up and convenient to use at home.

Desi: The best thing about the online course was that it was first offered for free to try it out. Setup was easy, I just needed to find a quiet spot, and in a full house with kids, that’s hard to do! Which also leads to the convenience part of taking an online course: You can’t really bring your children with you on lessons, depending on the instructor and/or classroom setting, so being able to take a free lesson while watching your kids in the next room is amazing. 

If you’re unsure about online classes, I recommend trying a class for yourself. You never know where it may lead you, and even if you decide you prefer in-person lessons, you’re still going to learn from the experience.

Check out the video for Desi’s full recap of her online class experience.

Have you taken an online class? We’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments below!

Are you interested in trying a live, online class? In addition to guitar, we also offer classes in singing, piano, language, photography, crafts, and more. For a limited time, you can try a class for free. Check out the class schedule, here

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guitar news

The 5 Best Websites for Guitar News and Gear Reviews

guitar news

Part of learning to play guitar is staying up to date on current events, gear, and industry news. To help you stay in the loop, guitar instructor Matt K. has put together a list of his go-to websites for guitar news…

Once you’ve taken a few guitar lessons, you may feel the urge to learn more about the instrument, and the gear that goes with it.

The guitar can become an addiction, and once you’ve mastered the chords, scales, and licks, you’re going to want to learn about all the gear and equipment.

A guitar isn’t just a six-stringed instrument anymore. The addition of an amplifier, pedals, and other fun gear can help produce a number of different sounds.

There are several guitar news websites for up-to-date info on guitars and gear, along with in-depth music news, and sometimes even tablature to learn new songs.

Maybe you want to learn more about the guitar players that play your favorite songs, or learn when they have a new album coming out.

From electric guitar news, acoustic guitar news, and gear reviews, here are my favorite sites to stay  in the loop with all things guitar.

Music Radar

guitar news

I’ll start with my favorite website for any type of gear news, from guitars to DJ equipment, Music Radar.

Any time I’m looking at a new piece of gear or a new instrument, I go to Music Radar and read one of their reviews.

Music Radar also complies lists which make it easier to decide what to buy. For example, before buying a new travel acoustic guitar I checked out their list “32 of the best budget acoustic guitars in the world today“.

Guitar World

guitar news

Guitar World is less “techy,” and instead  features lots of artist news and guitar videos.

You can still learn about the latest gear and even get a quick video tutorial on how to tune the guitar in different keys, but I go to this website to see “Dude Plays Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ on Banjo”.



guitar news

I remember being in the grocery store with my mom and picking up the latest issue of Guitar Player Magazine when magazines were still a big thing. Now, the magazine is online and very easy to navigate.

GuitarPlayer always has very informative, interesting articles. For example “U.S. Made PRS vs. Korean Made PRS: What is the difference” (PRS stands for Paul Reed Smith and is an excellent guitar).

GuitarPlayer also has excellent product spotlights that I recommend checking out.

Ultimate Guitar

guitar news

Where Music Radar is all about the gear, Guitar World and Guitar Player are about the news. Ultimate Guitar, however, is all about the TABS.

When I want to learn a new song, this is my go-to website. They have a great ranking system, so you know which guitar tabs are accurate and which ones were created by an internet troll.

Premier Guitar

music news


Last, but definitely not least, Premier Guitar keeps you up to date on guitar news, gear, and artists.

There are also some great how-to videos, and my favorite feature, the “Rig Rundown“. This section features a new artist or band every week and shows the guitars and gear they use on a nightly basis.

If you want to see how your favorite bands get their sound, check out Premier Guitar.

Check out these sites and let me know which ones you like. If you have any other go-to sites for gear and guitar news, let us know in the comments below! 

Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

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guitar practice routine

The Interleaving Method: A New and Improved Way to Practice Guitar

guitar practice routine

When you’re learning guitar, it’s essential to practice between lessons. But a long guitar practice can be overwhelming and exhausting, and sometimes, it can even be counterproductive! We’re not telling you to ditch practice altogether, but we want to help you make the most of your time. Here, guitar teacher Andy W. shares his method for an efficient, effective guitar practice routine… 

Has this ever happened to you? You feel frustrated and exhausted after a long guitar practice. After an hour of playing the same song, it just doesn’t sound much better. Sure, you’re more comfortable with the notes, but they don’t seem to fall naturally into place.

We’re all familiar with the phrase “practice makes perfect,” and with that in mind, you reluctantly buckle down for yet another hour of guitar practice.

This is a common experience for most musicians, including myself. However, I’ve recently discovered a guitar practice routine that not only improves my performance but also makes guitar practice more spontaneous and fun.

Guitar Practice Routine: Three Sets of Three

I propose that you experiment using three sets of three in your daily guitar practice routine. This method is called interleaved practice (or random practice). I learned about it from a video with performance psychologist, Dr. Noa Kageyama.

The first step  is to pick three things to focus on. For a beginner, this might look like this:

  1. Verse Chords to “Brown Eyed Girl”
  2. C Major Scale
  3. Alternate Picking

Now, start with the first item, the chords for the verse of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. You only need to practice that for as little as two to five minutes.

Next, practice the C major scale for another two to five minutes. Then, practice alternate picking for two to five minutes. This completes one set.

For the second set, practice each item in the same order for the same amount of time.

Lastly, repeat the process to complete the third set. Simple enough, right?

Why This Method Works

Here’s why this guitar practice routine works: As you move from one task to another, you force yourself to quickly forget what you just did. Then, because you forgot a task, you’re forced to remember it when you return to it.

According to Dr. Noa Kageyama, this act of remembering is called effortful recall . Studies show that this helps you develop long-term improvement in a subject.

With three sets of tasks, you can experience effortful recall twice to solidify the neural connections that will make the memory last.

Tennis as an Example

While this method is great for guitarists and musicians, interleaved practice has worked wonders for athletes as well.

Dr. Kageyama gives this example in his video: A tennis player could practice their back-hand swing, forehand swing, and then volley shot – each for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this method requires a much slower rate of effortful recall than a player would actually experience in a real game.

Instead, if they reduce the time they practice each swing to two to five minutes, they will experience a much more rapid rate of effortful recall. This will simulate the fast-paced demands of an actual game, and the player will retain more of their practice.

The Effects of Interleaved Practice vs. Traditional Practice

It’s important to understand the effects of interleaved practice vs. your old guitar practice routine, where you focus on a single task for an extended period of time. In a traditional guitar practice, you become really comfortable with the tempo, the notes, the feel. You get really good at one song for one day. This can be very helpful at certain times, but not always.

When you practice a song one day and then sleep on it, you forget a little about how you played it. The next day, you begin your practice from a much lower level of performance than if you had used interleaved practice.

But, there’s also a downside to interleaved practice. With this method, you don’t allow yourself adequate time to become comfortable with a song. This can be discouraging in the moment because you probably won’t become great at that song in just one day.

While this might seem less than ideal, you will notice the benefits of interleaved practice the next day, when you retain much more from your songs, and start from a greater level of performance than if you had just focused on one song the entire time.

With traditional practice, you have to sleep and wake up in order to forget and remember, which is what helps to strengthen your memory. But with interleaved practice, you’re forgetting and remembering in a matter of minutes!

Take Action!

I know it can be difficult to give up your old guitar practice routine, especially when that’s what you’re used to. I recommend trying just one interleaved practice; if you like it, then make a habit of it.

You can do multiple interleaved practices a day, or you could try just one. Follow that with a regular practice, and then go back to interleaved practice. Customize this method to make it work for you.

After trying interleaved practice, I noticed a significant improvement in my performance. My hands just seemed to know where they were going on their own. In my students, I’ve seen big improvements in their retention of songs. For some of them, it’s been the key to learning songs quickly and effectively.

I encourage you to incorporate the interleaving method in your guitar practice routine; you’ll be amazed what it can do for your playing. Happy Practicing!

Looking for more guitar practice tips? Check out these guitar resources:

Have you tried interleaving practice? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Post Author: Andy W.
Andy teaches guitar, bass, piano, music theory, and more in Englewood, CO. He is a guitarist, bassist, pianist, singer, composer, and educator with a Bachelor’s of Music from the University of Northern Colorado. Learn more about Andy here!

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MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day is a day to show appreciation to the special woman who raised you. But flowers and traditional gifts aren’t the only way to show your mom you love her. Here, guitar instructor Matt. K has put together five guitar songs that are perfect to sing for your mom…

When it comes to Mother’s Day and certain holidays, sometimes us musicians can’t afford the traditional gifts, like a bouquet of flowers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give our mothers something special.

What better way to show appreciation for mom than playing her a song? She will love it more than anything else you can give her. If you don’t end up writing your own Mother’s Day song, there are plenty of songs to choose from.

I’ve put together a list of five guitar songs. I selected from different genres, so no matter what type of music your mom is into, you’re sure to find a song that that she will love!

“Mama I’m Comin’ Home” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is known for his heavy metal and his rock star antics (just search “Ozzy bat incident” on Google), but on his album “No More Tears,” Ozzy decided to slow it down and write a brilliant ballad.

Although this song is not about his actual mother, it’s still one of the best Mother’s Day songs.

Here is the tab of the intro on guitar:





If you want to learn to play the rest of the song, you can find the tabs here.

“Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley

In 1970, the king of rock “n” roll released “Mama Liked the Roses.” It was originally released as a B-side, but charted in the top 100, and became an Elvis stand by. It’s a sad, beautiful song about his late mother.

Here are the chords for the chorus:

C Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses she grew them in the yard
Dm E7 A7
But winter always came around and made the growing way too hard
Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses and when she had the time
Dm E7 A7
She’d decorate the living room for all us kids to see

Click here for the rest of the chords.

“Dear Mama” – 2Pac

Tupac released “Dear Mama” as a single in 1995. The song climbed the charts quickly and is still considered one of his best songs.

It’s about his mother and his appreciation for everything she did for him, and lucky for us, it features a guitar in the hook.

The riff is below, play this along with the video.

E |————————————————–15h17-15-|
B |——————————-14————————–|
G |———–13—-x—————————————–|
D |–15h16————(16)———————————– |
A |———————————————————–|
E |———————————————————–|

“Mother” – Danzig

“Mother” by Danzig does not fit the mold of the other songs. It’s not about how much he appreciates his mom, but rather a warning to mothers about himself.

Definitely not your traditional Mother’s Day song, but it rocks, and it might be funny to play for mom!

Note: I only suggest this one if your mom likes to rock, and has a sense of humor.



Get the rest of the chords here.

 “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles

This is not a Mother’s Day song, but it’s my mother’s favorite song, so I had to add it to the list.

It’s a beautiful song off of the White album, and if you perform it for your mother, you can’t go wrong. Almost everyone loves this song.

I’ve included the tab for the verse and you can find the rest of the song here.

e|2—— ——- ——- ——-|2—— ——- ——- ——-|

e|0—— ——- ——- ——-|3—— ——- ——- ——-|

Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or you just started lessons, you can take your pick from these five guitar songs and give your mom a mother’s day concert she’ll never forget!

Which guitar songs do you like to play for your family and friends? Let us know in the comments below!

Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

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