20 Different Types of Guitars & The Legends Who Played Them [Infographic]

Different types of guitars

While certain types of guitars are standard in modern culture, the instrument has a wide variety of expressions that is nearly impossible to tame. From the ancient Greek kithara to the guitar-like lute from pre-modern Spain, the many different types of guitars vary just as much as the people who play them.

Some types of acoustic and electric guitars are more common than others. Steel string dreadnought acoustics and Stratocaster-style electrics are likely to be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the guitar. But some guitarists find they can’t do what they want with just 6 strings. 

In this article, we’ll start with the most common types of guitars, and then move toward the most exotic. We’ll also share the moments that made these guitars legendary.

*Click the “Play” button next to each guitar to hear the legend who played it!*

Different types of guitars

20 Different Types of Guitars – Acoustic & Electric

#1 Fender Stratocaster

  • Guitar Type: Solid-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Eric Clapton

It’s hard to overstate the influence of the Stratocaster. A tremendous pedigree of electric guitarists have made history on this type of guitar. It’s been reissued in hundreds of different designs and is by far one of the most popular types of electric guitars. The slanted, double-cutout body and three-pickup control setup give the Stratocaster both a visual signature and sonic versatility.

This guitar probably had its first major introduction to the public from Buddy Holly, but Clapton was one of its most influential proponents. Check out this clip from the song “The Weight” where Clapton pulls the soulful voice of this guitar into its full bloom.

#2 Martin D-45

  • Guitar Type: Steel String Dreadnought Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Neil Young

For most guitar enthusiasts today, this is what “playing the guitar” means: the snap and brightness of a 6-string steel, which has strong projection and durability. Many guitarists favor the versatility and clarity of dreadnoughts, but especially singer-songwriters.

The Martin D-45 is one of the most common types of acoustic guitars. Check out Neil Young playing a well-loved song that he added to the Rock n’ Roll tradition, below.

#3 Fender Telecaster

  • Guitar Type: Solid-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Buck Owens

The foundational favorite of country and rock guitarists, this model is known for its single cutaway body, 2 single-coil pickup system, and characteristic “twang.” Modern country greats like Brad Paisley have predecessors like Buck Owen to thank for popularizing this guitar. Check out Buck and his band playing “Act Naturally.”

#4 1969 José Ramírez 1a “AM”

  • Guitar Type: Classical Nylon Acoustic Dreadnought
  • Legend Who Played It: Andres Segovia

Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz and fingerstyle genius Earl Klugh favor classical guitars for their round, sweet tone and stability when playing complex lines. These tend to have higher actions (the distance between the strings and fingerboard) and wider necks than many other acoustics.

When played with the correct nail technique, they create an unmistakable tone that has been enjoyed by European audiences since the 1600s. For a taste of the secret sauce, listen to the grandfather of modern classical guitar playing the legendary tremolo piece, “Leyenda.”

#5 Gibson ES-175

  • Guitar Type: Hollow-Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Wes Montgomery

The Gibson ES-175 has become the iconic example that represents an entire class of guitars: hollow-body electrics. The rich, mid-range tone of these guitars was made legendary in jazz by players such as Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery. (Although the guitar has subsequently found its way into a myriad of other popular styles). Check out the haunting ballad “Round Midnight” below.

#6 The National Style O

  • Guitar Type: Resonator Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Son House

Resophonic guitars, made mostly by European companies, were favorites of the 20th century Bluesmen. Every legendary country, blues, and rock musician drew inspiration from players of this style.

Son House was one of many legendary examples of Bluesmen who used open-tuned, resonator guitars. With their raw feeling and creative exploration with bottleneck slides, these players set the precedent for the coming generations of popular musicians. Keep in touch with the roots and watch Son House play “Death Letter Blues.”

# 7 Fender Precision Bass

  • Guitar Type: 4 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: James Jamerson

Some discover the bass as a first instrument, and others as a crossover from the guitar. Jamerson actually started on the upright bass as a classical player on his path to becoming the legendary bassist that drove dozens of Motown hits.

His unmistakable warm, round tone was a combination of the bass’s design and special modifications like flatwound strings and foam mutes. The hearts of many were won by his melodic bass style and thumpy drive as a rhythm player. Numerous legends even as great as Victor Wooten trace their devotion to bass to Jamerson’s influence.

#8 The Höfner Bass

  • Guitar Type: 4 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: Paul McCartney

The tone of this bass is instantly recognizable to any Beatles fan. The emphasis in the mid range and the plunky attack gave a unique flavor to dozens of Beatles songs, such as “When I’m 64.”

Paul also liked the balance it created on stage, given the fact that he played left handed and the bass was a symmetrical body design. See this late performance of “Don’t Let Me Down” to feel the magic for yourself.

#9 Maton EM-TE

  • Guitar Type: Electric-Acoustic Dreadnought
  • Legend Who Played It: Tommy Emmanuel

Maton guitars are typically outfitted with an internal microphone as well as a piezo saddle pickup. This allows for tremendous variety and clarity in the percussive tones Tommy Emmanuel gets out of his guitar, while leaving his fingerstyle tone beautifully intact.

Be prepared to be blown away by his performance of “Mombasa,” and let your imagination stretch what you thought was possible with an acoustic guitar.

# 10 The 12 String Guitar

  • Guitar Type: Steel String Dreadnought Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: John Denver

Known for his melodies and lyrics, John Denver arranged his songs with an extremely wide instrumental palette. At heart, he was just a guy with a guitar singing to people, but the use of a 12 string brought a twist of flavor to his repertoire. Check out the orchestral version of “Annie’s Song” and be inspired.

# 11 Gibson Lucille

  • Guitar Type: Semi-Hollow Body Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: B.B. King

The Gibson Lucille possesses a slightly more moderate tone than the full hollow-body, while still blending acoustic sweetness and electric drive. This unique guitar has other special modifications too, like the elimination of the f-holes to reduce feedback. B.B. King, also known as the King of Blues, has a legendary affection for this and many of his other guitars.

# 12 Gibson EDS-1275

  • Guitar Type: Double-Neck Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Jimmy Page

Though innovators like Michael Angelo Batio and Justin King have branched out into their own uses of double neck guitars, Jimmy Page’s live performances of “Stairway to Heaven” made the heroism of the double neck guitar a fundamental part of rock history. The legend is available for all to experience in the performance below.

# 13 The TRB JP2

  • Guitar Type: 6 String Electric Bass
  • Legend Who Played It: John Patitucci

For those who just can’t get enough notes, the 6 string bass is a platform of the imagination. Heavily used in both metal and jazz, one of the first recognized 6 string bass virtuosos was John Patitucci. Patitucci played for Chick Corea on many of his influential albums.

The additional scale length on the high C string gives melodies a quality that is hard to find on any other instrument, and the low B can…well, shake the floor. Experience Patitucci’s fusion style with his electric quartet playing “Ides of March.”

# 14 The Twang Machine

  • Guitar Type: Cigarbox Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Bo Diddley

The Twang Machine is just one of the many examples of unconventional body types. Having both the look and sound of a tin can, this unique guitar was one of the many showman tactics that made Bo so popular. Check out this performance at the presidential inauguration concert of 1989, when he’s still in great form!

# 15 The Purple Rain Guitar

  • Guitar Type: Special Body Electric, Telecaster Style
  • Legend Who Played It: Prince

The late legend played a sizable collection of uniquely styled guitars. Taking the visual appeal of the guitar to another level, Prince had several special body designs made especially for him.

Having spent a lot of his career experimenting with symbols that expressed his values, Prince’s singular body designs pointed not only to his artistic flair but also to his personal beliefs. Watch him play his famous “Cloud” guitar in the video of “Purple Rain” below.

# 16 Martin LX1E

  • Guitar Type: Miniature Acoustic
  • Legend Who Played It: Ed Sheeran

In popular music, it’s the little things that count. Tons of artists are competing for the narrow band of sounds available in the pop genre, so finding a secret weapon that helps you stand out from the crowd can go a long way. Ed Sheeran has the gift of bringing a unique flavor to his radio work as well as his live shows.

His signature mini-Martin is a key tool, and it’s one of the more unique types of acoustic guitars. It draws audiences in with an effect that can only be described one way: if you want to be heard in a loud room, whisper. The piezo pickup is also great for looping percussion. Check out Ed’s live version of “Tenerife Sea” for a taste of how it all works.

# 17 The ESP MX220

  • Guitar Type: Active Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: James Hetfield

In an era where Metal was just beginning to distinguish itself from Hard Rock, Metallica guitarists were leaning toward using active pickups to define their sound. Active pickups have a brighter sound and compress the signal to give the tone more sustain.

This sound gave 80s thrash metal bands greater control of dynamics through effects processing, and greater ease with speed techniques like shred picking. The look of this guitar also became a signature for Hetfield, as you can see in this live rendition of “Enter Sandman.”

# 18 Epiphone Zenith

  • Guitar Type: Tenor Guitar
  • Legend Who Played It: Ani DiFranco

Even at her commercial peak with “Little Plastic Castle,” Ani DiFranco was never an A-List celebrity. Anyone seasoned in the culture of singer-songwriters would tell you that her individuality as an artist surpasses that of most folk legends in the 60s, and her guitar technique is a marvel of spontaneity.

She would also most certainly win the Guinness Record for most guitar switches per show, and her Epiphone Zenith would be one of the more interesting guitars in the line-up. Rather than trying describe it, watch DiFranco playing her fan favorite “Little Plastic Castle.”

#19 Ibanez TAM 100

  • Guitar Type: Active 8 String Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Tosin Abasi

Certain players have been able to define the creative direction of a genre purely on the basis of their ability and artistic vision. Tosin Abasi is one such artist who brought the use of 7+ string guitars into greater favor among progressive metal players. For guitarists who just can’t get enough notes, this guitar itself can be the inspiration for the music.

#20 The Hamer 5-Neck

  • Guitar Type: Multi-Neck Electric
  • Legend Who Played It: Rick Nielsen

Cheap Trick’s lead guitarist developed a guitar with 5 necks modeled after different sounds he liked: a 12 string, a Les Paul Junior, a Fender Stratocaster, a whammy bar neck, and a fretless electric.

The Hamer 5-Neck is certainly one of the most outlandish types of electric guitars. Though admittedly unwieldy to play, many electric guitarists will identify with the hunger to have access to more sounds. Watch Ricky capture the vibe in this classic performance of “Surrender.”

Each of these guitars is famous because a great player created a moment with an audience that carried that memory with them long after. If you’re a guitarist, remember to take every opportunity to explore the different types of guitars on your journey.

Taking a look at the many types of acoustic and electric guitars out there will help you expand your creative horizons, find an instrument that captures your unique sound, and deepen your experience as a guitarist. Feeling inspired to take guitar lessons? Check out the guitar classes at TakeLessons Live for free today!

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making time for hobbies

Here’s the Secret to Finding “Hidden” Time for Your Hobbies

making time for hobbies

“If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend your time?”

Your answer to that question can tell you a lot about yourself, and it’s fun to think about.

But the reality is: 24 hours is all you get. (Sorry!)

You can’t quit your job. You can’t ignore family commitments and responsibilities. If you want to learn a new skill, improve your current talents, or work toward a big learning goal, it’s up to you to make that happen. So how do you balance that with a busy schedule?

It’s simple: learn to budget your time the same way you budget your money.

Here are the steps you can take if you feel like you’re too busy to learn or take up a new hobby, proven to work by some of our top students.

1. Decide you WANT to learn.

find time to learn

The first step to financial success is deciding to have a budget. And that budget is often dictated by your short- and long-term goals. Maybe you want to pay off your student loans or mortgage within five years. Or maybe you just want that new jacket you saw at Nordstrom.

Now let’s translate that into learning: what are your goals there? Do you want to be able to sing confidently in front of a group? Play guitar at a friend’s wedding? Speak Spanish fluently on an upcoming vacation? Write these down, and put them somewhere you can see them every day.

Excuses will always come up. And heck, life will sometimes get in the way. But if you’re excited about improving your skills, that’s the first step.

2. Be realistic.

finding time in your schedule for music lessons

You wouldn’t set a $300 budget for going out to eat if you only had $50 discretionary cash per week. Similarly, be realistic about the time you can commit to practicing and taking lessons.

If you’re juggling a busy schedule, a 30-minute lesson once per week may be all you can find time for. Or maybe you can’t even commit to that — fortunately, you can find teachers who are more flexible week-to-week, and rescheduling is always an option if something comes up.

Once you have your lesson time penciled in, then it’s time to schedule your practice time. But be realistic about that, too! You may not be able to practice for hours every day, and that’s OK. Even a short practice session will help you stay on track, if you make it efficient.

3. Find the right hacks.

skype with language exchange partner

If you’re a super-budgeter, you probably know all the tricks. You hold out for great deals, look for coupons and discount codes, and so on.

Same goes for budgeting your time. If you break down your schedule, you may find you have extra time in your day for your hobbies. And yes, that may mean skipping the Netflix marathons, or cutting back on the time you spend browsing social media.

You were probably expecting that advice, right? But look: there are even more hacks you can try. Here are some ways TakeLessons students have made time for their hobbies:

  • Take online lessons. Ordering takeout for dinner is a great time saver. What if you could get music or language lessons delivered to the comfort of your home, too? Turn on your computer, pull up the TakeLessons Classroom, and you can meet with your teacher instantly — no travel time required.
  • Take advantage of your workspace. If your company allows it, consider taking your online lessons during your lunch break. If you prefer in-person lessons, find a teacher close by your work, so it’s not a hassle to get to. You can also use your time going to and from work. As a language learner, for example, you can practice listening to your target language during your commute!
  • Find a flexible teacher. If you need to reschedule a lesson every now and then, don’t stress. While a designated lesson time each week will help you stay accountable, we understand that things come up! If you have unique scheduling needs, feel free to use our Ask a Question feature before booking your lessons, to find a teacher who can accommodate.
  • Use your guilty pleasures to your advantage. Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be all work, no play! Musicians: jamming with community groups or going to karaoke is a fun way to add music to your day. Language students, consider changing the language settings when you’re watching TV, or pick a foreign movie with subtitles.

4. Adjust as needed.

practice guitar

Budgets ebb and flow — unplanned bills show up, salaries go up and down, and can’t-miss opportunities arise. The best financial advice is to stay flexible and adjust your budget often.

Similarly, sometimes the time you’ve budgeted doesn’t go as planned. We get it: life gets busy. So don’t beat yourself up if you need to reschedule a lesson or if you miss a practice session. Stay positive, and fit in what you can!

Planning ahead can help, as well. Work with your teacher to create a 15-minute practice routine, if you’re short on time one week. Or, make a list of ways to fit practice into your everyday life.

Even the most successful people have “off” days. Get back on track when you can, review your goals again, and envision where you’d like your skills to be in one year.

5. Pay yourself first.

pay yourself first

One of the best money tips out there is to pay yourself first.

What does that mean, exactly? In terms of finances, it means setting aside funds for your future self before anything else. (Think: emergency funds, retirement accounts, and so on.)

So, apply the same strategy to how you’re spending your free time. Want to stay sharp? Learning a musical instrument is linked to improved memory, concentration, and IQ. Want to get ahead in your career? In today’s job market, learning a second language will make you a more valuable employee, and may even lead to a higher salary.

Or maybe it’s a more personal goal. Many of the adult students we talk to mention they took music lessons as a kid, and wanted to bring that joy back into their lives.

So the question is… do you want to invest in yourself? When you think of it that way, making time for your hobbies seems like a no-brainer.

Readers, how do you make time for yourself? Have you ever felt like you were too busy to learn something new? Leave a comment below and share your experience! 

Photo by Will Foster

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Master Ukulele Chords Your Guide to D, Dm, and D7

A Complete Guide to Mastering the D, D7, and Dm Ukulele Chords

How to play ukulele chords: D major, D minor, and D7

The D, D7, and Dm ukulele chords are essential chords all beginners should learn how to play.

For many beginners, the D chord will be one of the first ukulele chords you learn how to play. However, you may not learn at first that the D chord can be played in several different positions, and in variations such as D minor (notated as Dm) and D seventh (notated as D7).

Choosing the best position to use for a particular chord during a song depends on its proximity to the other chords in the song, and the sound you want to achieve.

When you’re making chord changes, it always helps to choose the fingerings that are nearest each other to reduce the time switching from one chord to the next. Keep reading for several suggestions on how to play D, Dm, and D7 ukulele chord.

How to Play the D, D7, and Dm Ukulele Chords

Here are five positions you can use to play the D chord on the ukulele, as well as three positions for D minor and D7. Below, we’ll go into more details about how to play these common chords. Tip: Save this image on your cell phone to use during practice sessions!

Ukulele chords: How to play D Major, D minor, D7 (Infographic)

SEE ALSO: How to Tune a Ukulele for Beginners

Playing the D major (D) Chord on Ukulele

The D chord ukulele players generally learn first is the major D chord in first position, played on the second fret from the nut.

Place your first finger, which is the index finger, on the fourth string at the second fret. Your second finger (the middle finger) goes on the third string, and your third finger (the ring finger) on the second string, all at the second fret. Leave the first string open and strum.

Congrats: you just played the D chord! Here are four more ways to play the same chord:

  • Lay your first finger flat across all the strings on the second fret and place your pinky on the third string on the fifth fret away from the nut.
  • You also can place your first finger across the first two strings at the fifth fret, place your second finger on the third string on the sixth fret, and your third finger on the fourth string on the seventh fret.
  • Another option is to place your first finger on the second string at the fifth fret, your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and stretch your pinky to the first string at the ninth fret.
  • Lastly, you can put your first finger on the fourth string of the seventh fret, your second finger on the third string, your pinky on the first string of the eighth fret, and your ring finger on the second string of the ninth fret.

Playing the D minor (Dm) Ukulele Chord

Once you have the basic D chord down, you can move on to the Dm ukulele chord.

The simplest way to play the D minor chord is to leave the first string open, place your first finger on the second string at the first fret, and your second finger and third fingers on the third and fourth strings at the second fret.

Here are a couple more ways to play the Dm ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across the first three strings at the fifth fret and place your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret. You can also use the same fingering and place your pinky on the first string at the eighth fret for an additional high note.
  • A slightly more complex version requires you to place your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the first string at the eighth fret, your third finger on the third string at the ninth fret, and your pinky on the second string at the tenth fret.

Playing the D7 Ukulele Chord

The D7 ukulele position adds a seventh note to the D chord and gives the chord a twangy sound.

The simplest way to play a D7 chord is to lay your first finger across all strings at the second fret and place your second finger on the first string at the third fret.

Here are three more ways to play the D7 ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across all strings at the fifth fret and place your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret.
  • Another version requires you to put your first finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your second finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and your ring finger on the second string at the eighth fret.
  • You also can play the D7 chord with your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the second string at the eighth fret, with your third finger on the third string and your pinky on the first string at the ninth fret.

The best way to learn ukulele chords is to practice playing songs for beginners. Working with a ukulele teacher is a great way to find songs that are appropriate for your skill level and will help you advance quicker. Search for a ukulele teacher today to get started!

If ukulele lessons are too expensive an option for you, you can also try taking online ukulele classes, which are a much more affordable option. Good luck learning the D chords and remember to have fun!

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Photo by Ffion Atkinson

Counting in Korean: A Beginner’s Guide to Korean Numbers

Counting numbers 1-10 in Native & Sino Korean

Learning the Korean numbers is necessary to read, write, and speak in Korean. In this article, we’ll show you how to count in Korean from 1–10.

The Korean number system is complex, but with a little practice, anyone can learn it! There are two different categories of numbers in Korean: Korean numbers and Sino-Korean numbers.

The two categories can cause some confusion, so let’s look at the differences between them, so you can learn how to count in Korean.

An Intro to Korean Numbers

What is Sino-Korean?

Sino-Korean refers to actual Korean words that originated in China or were influenced by Chinese words. About 60 percent of Korean vocabulary is Sino-Korean.

Tofu is a great example. Tofu is written as 두부 in Korean (read as dubu) and written as 豆腐 in hanja (Chinese characters).

Sino-Korean vocabulary also includes the Korean numbers used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Below is a list of numbers 1 to 10 in (native) Korean and Sino-Korean, so that you can see the difference in pronunciation and writing.

Korean Numbers 1-10

  • 1  하나 hana
  • 2  둘 dhul
  • 3 셋 sehtt
  • 4  넷 nehtt
  • 5  다섯 da-seot
  • 6 여섯 yeo-seot
  • 7  일곱 il-gop
  • 8 여덟 yuh-deol
  • 9 아홉 ah-hop
  • 10  열 yeol

Sino-Korean Numbers 1-10

  • 1 일 il
  • 2 이 i (pronounced as “e”)
  • 3  삼 sam
  • 4 사 sa
  • 5  오 o
  • 6 육 yuk
  • 7 칠 chil
  • 8 팔 pal
  • 9 구 gu
  • 10 십 ship

Remember, Sino-Korean numbers are used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Here’s an example:

If your friend asks you how long it’s been since you started studying Korean, you could answer: “나는 한국어 공부 시작한지 “셋” 일” (native Korean numbers).

This answer will show that it’s only been three days since you started studying Korean, but it will sound really awkward. The correct reply is:
“나는 한국어 공부 시작한지 “삼”일 됐어,” since you must use Sino-Korean when you’re talking about dates.

Patterns in Korean Numbers

Now that you know the difference between (native) Korean and Sino-Korean numbers, let’s look at the basic logic in the two numbering systems.

Consider this example:일, 이, 삼, 사, 오, 육, 칠, 팔, 구, and 십. You know now that this is a Sino-Korean numbering set. It’s used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Obviously, there are numbers, like 11, that go over 10. So how do you say/write 11 in Korean? Again, there is a logical consistency with numbers in Korean. You know 11 is a product of adding the numbers 10 and one.

You also know that 십 is 10 and 일 is one. When you add those two together, you get 11, algebraically, and you get “십일” in Korean.

What about 12? The same rule applies: 10 is 십 and two is 이. Add those two together and you get 십이. Can it be really be that easy? Yes!

The same rule applies to (native) Korean numbers: 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷, 다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, and 열. These are the Korean numbers 1 – 10, so what’s 11? 열 is 10 and 하나 is one. When you add these together, you get 11, which is “열 하나” in Korean.

When the number exceeds 19 (열아홉 in Korean or 십구 in Sino-Korean), you will need a new number for 20, which is 스물 in (native) Korean  and 이십 in Sino-Korean.

After that, the counting logic still applies, so here’s how you can figure out 21 in Korean: It’s the product of  스물 (20) and 하나 (One). In Sino-Korean, combine 이십 (20) and 일 (one).

Whether you’re using Korean or Sino-Korean numbers, the same logic applies when it comes to adding numbers. For a visual reminder of Korean and Sino-Korean numbers, see the infographic below!

 

numbers 1-10 in native and sino Korean infographic

There you have it! The numbers in Korean may seem complex at first, but once you understand the basic principles and logic behind these two systems, it will be much easier to master counting.

Is there a certain Korean number you need help spelling or saying? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re ready to start learning more Korean today, search for a Korean teacher near you.

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5 Things You Need to Know Before You Learn to Read Hebrew

Learn to read Hebrew

So you want to learn to read Hebrew. Great choice! Hebrew is one of the world’s oldest living languages and it has had a huge impact on the world we live in. It’s spoken by millions of people around the world and learned as a reading language by millions more.

Hebrew is one of the few languages today that connects us with people from 2000+ years ago. Its relationship with the Ancient Near East and other semitic languages makes learning Hebrew an excellent starting point for people interested in that part of the world.

However, Hebrew is not for the faint of heart! For beginners, the learning curve is steep because of how “foreign” the language seems. If you want to learn to read Hebrew, read this article first. We’ll share five things you should know before getting started.  

5 Tips Before You Learn to Read Hebrew

Hebrew Reads from Right to Left

learn to read hebrew books

Hebrew is one of the many languages, including Arabic and Syriac, which reads from right to left. What catches many beginners off guard when they first open a Hebrew book is that both the text on an individual page is written from right to left, and the book itself is read from right to left.

When laying a Hebrew book on a table, if the front cover is facing up then the binding will be on the right hand side. It may seem different at first, but Hebrew students should remember that at some point – they were unable to read from left to right, too! Even this took practice.

It doesn’t take nearly as long as you think for right-to-left reading to begin to feel natural. If you’re willing to make a habit out of practicing daily, then reading in Hebrew will start to feel much less foreign before you know it.

Hebrew was Originally Written without Vowels

learn to write in hebrew

Many trace the development of Hebrew to the end of the 2nd millenium BCE. Yet, for close to 2,000 years the written language never actually included pure vowel markings in the text.

Over time, a few of the consonants became special markers for certain vowel sounds, but it wasn’t until around the 8th century when vowels were added to written text using a series of dots and dashes. These vowels were placed above and below the letters already in use.

It’s important to note that Hebrew reading schools today teach both “pointed” and “unpointed” Hebrew. “Pointed” refers to learning Hebrew with the vowels in the text, while learning “unpointed” Hebrew leaves the vowels out and gets you a bit closer to how it was originally done!

If you travel to Israel, you should expect to see newspapers, books, advertisements, and more written without vowels. For those who know Hebrew fluently, reading these texts isn’t a problem.

Hebrew Uses Letters as Numbers

learn to read hebrew writing

While the Hebrew language has words for its numerals (one, two, three, etc.) and its ordinals (first, second, third, etc.), there is a shorthand used to shrink the space down considerably when writing numbers.

In English, we do this by using completely different markings altogether for our numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). But in Hebrew this is done by using letters from the alphabet.

The first nine letters of the alphabet mark out the numbers 1 through 9, with the following 13 letters marking off values between 10 and 400. An additional symbol is added to help with numbers over 1,000.

Consistent Practice is Key

learn to read hebrew

When people attempt to learn to read Hebrew, their biggest struggle is often in how “foreign” the language seems at first. These students will continue to struggle unless they take the necessary time to learn the alphabet well, and get comfortable reading from right to left.

There are a number of solutions to learn how to read Hebrew with greater fluency, but the trick is consistency of exposure to the text. Students should practice daily as opposed to weekly, even if it’s for shorter amounts of time.

When you study Hebrew, you have to remember that you’re learning when you recall the language, not when you review it. So make sure you have time to actually recall what you are learning.

Don’t just read, but force yourself to write down phrases and sentences. If this happens with consistency you will find that whatever you force your brain to recall, it will remember!

Remember What Sparked Your Interest

learn to read hebrew bible

Our brains are wired to remember things that interest us. Why do you want to learn how to read Hebrew? Are you taking a trip to Israel soon? Keeping your reasons top-of-mind will help you stay motivated along the way.

For example, many people choose to learn Hebrew so they can study parts of the Bible in its original language. Known to Christians as the “Old Testament,” the books of the Hebrew Bible have come to exert a massive amount of influence in our cultural heritage.

Their content has shaped western law, as well as cultural assumptions about rights and human dignity. One of the foundational arguments during the abolition movement, and again during the Civil Rights movement, was often cited from the book of Genesis: humanity is made in the image of God.

There are also many phrases from the Hebrew Bible that we still use today. Sayings like “by the skin of your teeth” or “the writing is on the wall,” have been etched into the English language. Whatever your fascination is with this ancient and influential language, let it continue to inspire you!

3 Steps to Learn How to Read Hebrew

If you are really interested in how to read Hebrew, use the following steps as a guideline to get started today.  

  • Practice the alphabet sounds daily. Write the letters on your mirror and recite them in your head while brushing your teeth. Once you get the sounds down, open up a pointed Hebrew text and read out loud (even though you won’t understand what you’re reading). Gaining familiarity in this way early on will pay huge dividends down the road.
  • Take advantage of the many helpful resources at your disposal. Flashcard apps like Memrise and Quizlet have already done much of the heavy lifting for you. As a beginner, your memorization skills will be stretched, but practicing regularly with fun apps like these will be highly beneficial.
  • Lastly, try to find a Hebrew teacher or tutor. When learning the basic building blocks of a complex language like Hebrew, it’s easy to make small mistakes. If they go undiscovered for a long period of time, these bad habits become ingrained into your understanding of the language. With a tutor’s guidance, it’s easy to catch these mistakes early.

Best of luck on your Hebrew learning journey! Have you come across any obstacles while learning to read Hebrew? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Guest Post Author: Zachary Stevens has spent the last two years serving as a Hebrew Language Teaching Assistant at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has a Master’s in Biblical Studies and is currently working toward a Master of Theology in Hamilton, MA. 

How to Play The Mandolin for Beginners: 5 Steps to Get Started

how to play mandolin for beginners

So you want to learn how to play the mandolin. For beginners to playing an instrument, the mandolin is a great option for starting your musical journey. Many people ask, “Is the mandolin easy to play?” or “Is it hard to play the mandolin?”

Fortunately, the mandolin is not a difficult instrument to learn. It’s lightweight and compact so you can practice anywhere. It also has less strings than many other instruments, like the guitar, which makes reading tablature much easier.

The mandolin is just unusual enough that people will be curious as to what instrument you’re playing. This will give you great satisfaction if you like standing out from the crowd!

Whatever your reason for wanting to learn to play the mandolin, this guide is a great source of information for beginners. We’ll provide an introduction on how to play the mandolin, including five steps to get started today.

How to Play Mandolin for Beginners

Step 1. Find Your Favorite Style or Genre

how to play the mandolin for beginners - bowl backed

Throughout the years, the mandolin has been featured in recordings from a wide range of musical genres. For example, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton have both been recorded playing the mandolin on folk and blues songs. Classical composers have written great pieces for the mandolin.

Irish musicians have used the mandolin to great effect in traditional folk tunes. Last but not least, country and bluegrass mandolin players (such as Bill Monroe and Jethro Burns) have made their mark with the instrument as well.

As a beginner to the mandolin, it’s important to listen to music from each of these styles. This will help you decide which one fits your musical preferences. Once you’ve decided which genre you’d like to focus on, a mandolin teacher can personalize your lessons accordingly and teach you relevant techniques for that style of playing.

Step 2. Purchase the Right Mandolin

how to play mandolin for beginners - f style

The style of music you choose to learn will affect several aspects of the mandolin you should purchase. While it’s true that you can play any genre on any mandolin, some designs are more appropriate for certain genres.

Do you want to play bluegrass music? Then you might want to purchase an F style or an A style mandolin. F style mandolins have the swoopy curl at the top of the body near the neck. A style mandolins are more tear-drop shaped. These two styles of mandolin are the most popular for bluegrass players.

If you want to play classical or European folk genres, a bowl backed (AKA “potato bug”) shaped mandolin will be a better fit. Lastly, if you want to play Irish music you might want to consider a larger A style mandolin, or perhaps even a mandola.

Step 3. Get Light Mandolin Strings

Mandolins are slightly more difficult than other stringed instruments in one aspect: they have two strings per note instead of just one string. So while the tablature for the mandolin reads like any other four string instrument, in reality you will have to press down two strings every time you want to play one note.

This can be difficult on the fingers for a beginner to the mandolin, so it’s important to purchase light strings when just starting out. You’ll have less volume, but starting with light gauge strings will make playing much more comfortable. Martin Lights are the perfect strings for beginners as they are durable, but not too painful for the fingers.

You should expect to experience some finger pain and discomfort as a beginner – this is normal. When finished practicing, try soaking your fingers in a product called “Witch Hazel.” This astringent is great for taking the sting out. Many professional musicians use Witch Hazel after shows to ease the pain in their fingers.

It will also help any blisters turn into calluses more quickly. Last tip – if you do get a blister, don’t pop it. You want the swelling to go down naturally so that it can turn into a callus, which will make playing the mandolin much easier in the long run.

Step 4. Find a Good Mandolin Teacher

how to play mandolin for beginners - find a teacher

If you want to learn how to play the mandolin, yes, you could watch hours of YouTube videos and try to improve on your own. But beginners should be cautious, because when you’re new to the instrument, it’s difficult to tell when you are or aren’t getting accurate information.

Without a live person there to tell you when you’re using incorrect techniques, you could easily develop bad habits that you might never be able to fix. One of the biggest benefits of working with a mandolin teacher is that they can tailor lesson plans to your individual needs. (They can also help you build a solid foundation of music theory)!

To start your search for the perfect mandolin teacher for you, check out TakeLessons. They have a wide range of qualified teachers all over the country that can help you learn how to play the mandolin right away.

They also offer lessons via video chat, if you’re interested in learning to play the mandolin online. To get started, browse through TakeLessons teachers’ profiles to find one who has experience in the style and genre you’re pursuing.

If you’re really interested in learning how to play Italian music, a Bluegrass teacher might not be the best fit. Ideally, you should find a teacher who enjoys a wide variety of styles so you can explore the great sea of mandolin music that is out there.

Step 5. Take Advantage of Helpful Resources

If you’re taking private lessons, chances are your teacher has their own materials to share with you to develop your skills. However, it never hurts to have some extra resources for practicing on your own – which will really get you to the next level.

There are dozens of great apps, YouTube videos, and books for just about any style of mandolin playing imaginable. Taking advantage of these resources will inspire you to practice, learn, and develop your skills even more. For starters, see the list of examples below.

  • Mandolin Method Book 1 – This book, written by noted mandolinist Richard DelGrosso, teaches beginners essential skills such as how to read music.
  • Mandolin Cafe – When you have a pressing question about the mandolin and aren’t sure where to turn, check out the helpful forums on this website.
  • Dead Man’s Tuning – These instructional books are available in four unique volumes for learning the mandolin in alternate tunings.
  • MandolinTabs – Want to learn a new song on the mandolin? This YouTube channel features easy tutorials for songs in a variety of genres.
  • Mandolin for Dummies – This book is a good resource for beginners to mandolin who are looking for a more comprehensive introduction to the instrument.
  • Chord! – Chord! is an inexpensive app that can help you learn new chords on the mandolin, enabling you to play many more songs.

In conclusion, if you’re a beginner and want to learn how to play mandolin, you need to discover your style, find the right mandolin for that style, and utilize the variety of resources available to you. Follow these steps and you’ll be playing the mandolin in no time.

Can you think of any more tips on how to play the mandolin for beginners? Share them with us in the comments section below!

Willy MPost Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches mandolin, ukulele, and guitar lessons in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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The Fast & Foolproof Way to Learn Flute Notes [Beginners’ Cheat Sheets]

the fast and foolproof way to learn flute notes

Looking for a quick and easy way to learn flute notes for beginners? As you start to become more familiar with the flute, you’ll naturally become curious about learning more notes.

In the beginning, it’s important to start to learn flute notes right away—the sooner you learn them, the sooner you can read sheet music and master different melodies.

Learning flute notes can also help you improve on specific elements of your technique that are crucial to getting off to a good start. You’ll start to see your posture, the way you hold the flute, and your embouchure all improve with practice.

Proper Posture for Learning Flute Notes

Speaking of posture, there are a few key things you should remember to help you learn how to play flute notes comfortably. First, let your fingers curve over the top of your keys using the least amount of tension you can manage, without feeling like you’ll drop the flute.

Don’t try to grip the keys or put your fingertip right on the key. Instead, let your whole hand hold the flute, and remember that your fingertip is simply an extension of your finger that originates near the wrist.

As you learn flute notes, try to release and relax your elbows and shoulders, which are two areas that often try to “help” as you play. Lastly, learn to keep your fingers close to the keys—don’t let them fly away with each change of note!

How to Learn Flutes Notes Quickly

learn flute notes properly

Here are the steps you can follow to learn flute notes for beginners, as easily and quickly as possible. We’ll then discuss ways you can put these notes into practice and start memorizing them.

Commit to One Note at a Time

Each note has specific keys that need to be pressed, and trying to learn all the notes at the same time can be overwhelming! Commit to one note at a time, and continue to review the ones you’ve already learned.

Create Associations for Each Note

In the beginning, each note configuration can seem random. Try to make a specific association for each note so you can easily recall it.

For example, for B flat, you can think of it as “pinchers” – you only press down your left index finger and thumb keys and your right index finger key (plus your right pinky finger key). This creates an image of pinching between your index fingers and thumbs.

Learn Flute Notes in a Logical Order

It’s a smart idea to start by learning the notes of a scale, such as the B flat major scale. This includes the notes B flat, C, D, E flat, F, G, A, and then an additional B flat.

For your very first notes, learning A, B flat, and C (all on the staff) can also be a good option. A has four keys depressed. To switch to B flat, lift up your left third finger and press down your right index finger. Then for C, lift up your left thumb and your right index finger.

Double Check the Fingering

Beginners often make errors in the fingering of notes. Sometimes, the difference in sound of pressing an extra key is very subtle. However, over time this makes a big difference, not just sound-wise but also technique-wise. To avoid learning the wrong fingerings, double check a fingering chart as you learn flute notes.

Tips for Memorizing & Practicing Flute Notes

how to learn flute notes

  • A large part of memorizing flute notes has to do with muscle memory. This is why it’s important to practice good posture habits as you learn notes, because you’re creating a habitual pattern in your muscles for how to play each note. Make it a good one!
  • Use your brain to solve the puzzle. Lots of musical learning can happen without your instrument. While it’s of course important to hold and play your flute, you can also practice notes when you’re on the go or away from your flute.

Print out some blank flute fingering charts and use a pencil to darken the keys you would depress for each note. This type of visual memory practice can cement what your muscles are already learning.

  • Once you feel comfortable with your memory of the notes, start to practice very simple melodies that you can find in a beginner method book. This will strengthen your memory even more, and train your ability to switch between notes smoothly and comfortably.

Practicing this way also improves your breathing and stamina. As you read the music, you’ll be reinforcing a trifecta of musical knowledge: the fingering for the note, its printed placement on the musical staff (what line or space it appears on), and its name (D, E flat, or F, for example).

  • Remember to set specific and realistic goals for yourself. Once you’ve learned all the notes in a specific scale, set a long term goal to learn all the flat or sharp notes. Then ultimately, you can try to master the chromatic scale.

Cheat Sheets for Learning Flute Notes

The best way to learn flute notes is by reinforcing your knowledge in a variety of ways. Check out the following five sites that offer cheat sheets and helpful charts on mastering flute notes for beginners. Get ready to increase your learning speed, while making flute practice more fun!

  1. Flute for Dummies – This page covers learning which hand goes where, as well as finger placement. It also includes a complete fingering chart. In the beginning, you’ll learn the middle range of notes and over time, you can learn the lowest and highest notes.learn flute notes - cheat sheet
  2. Flute Fingering Trainer – Test your flute note knowledge here! You can select your desired level (easy, medium, or hard) and then identify each note by clicking on the keys of the flute. This will help you learn and reinforce the knowledge you already have.learn flute notes - flute trainer
  3. JenniferCluff.com – This is a complete fingering chart, in order from lowest to highest notes. You can start by learning the first A listed (in the low octave) and continue upwards to the A that is one octave higher.learn flute notes - fingering chart
  4. 8notes – This website covers learning a note from start to finish. It features a color-coded guide for putting each finger on the right key. Check it out as a precursor to learning your first flute notes and then advance to “Part 8.”learn flute notes - illustration
  5. The Flute Teachers’ School – Watch this two-minute video to see a visual description of how to read a fingering chart. Then read the tips on how to learn flute notes for beginners, too!learn flute notes - video

Now you know how to learn flute notes! Follow the suggestions above and it will be an enriching process to increase your knowledge and flute abilities. As you gain more knowledge, the best way to advance your skills is to take private flute lessons.

An experienced flute teacher can observe your progress, correct mistakes, and provide personalized suggestions for what to learn next. Remember to enjoy the journey, and before you know it – you’ll know all the notes!

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