The 7 Best Guitar Picks for Every Kind of Guitarist

Cool guitar picks

The best guitar picks are the ones that help you achieve the tonal sound you’re looking for, while providing just enough grip and comfortability.

When you take a trip to your local music store or shop for guitar picks online, you will run across thousands of options. Don’t be intimidated! Every guitar player starts off trying a variety of different types of guitar picks.

Guitar picks are made out of many different materials including nylon, plastic, wood, stone, or metal. Some picks are floppy and some are stiff. They can also be small or large in size.

The cool guitar picks on this list each provide a great deal of tonal variation. So if you’re trying to get a nice and bright, jangly sound, or a darker, more muted sound, there is a guitar pick on this list for you!

The 7 Best Guitar Picks for All Guitarists

1. Sharkfin Guitar Picks

Sharkfin - Cool guitar picks

Sharkfin picks give you a lot of versatility, and the way they’re cut provides an easy grip. With a sharkfin pick, you get the traditional sounds that come from a regular pick, in addition to unique tonal qualities brought to you by the knurled edge.

You will be able to achieve different effects by dragging the knurled edge along your strings or brushing them as you strum. These unique guitar picks usually run between $1-$2 and are sold by Landstrom, Dunlop, and others.   

2. Stubby Picks

 

Stubby - best guitar picks

Its small size, hardness, and overall look make the stubby a necessary addition to this list of cool guitar picks. The stubby pick feels comfortable and has a bit of a rough grip which makes it easier to hold.

Numerous brands make stubby picks, such as Dunlop and V-Pick. You can find them for a little over a dollar, then try out multiple brands to see which one you like the best.

3. Nylon Flex Guitar Picks  

Nylon flex best guitar picks

This is a great option for guitarists who want a really floppy pick for strumming, and many reputable brands sell them. The Herco Flex 50 specifically produces a nice, bright tone and gives you all the flop you could need. It also has just enough grip to not slip from your fingers.

A Herco Flex 50 should run you about a dollar, though sometimes the thicker versions cost a bit more. If this option isn’t available at your local music shop, a good runner-up to this model would be the Jim Dunlop Nylon 60mm pick.

4. Star Picks

Star pick - Cool guitar picks

You should definitely consider adding a Star Pick to your collection of best guitar picks. The .73mm pick is an excellent choice from Star Picks because of its hardness. A hard pick produces a bright, biting sound. Some players prefer a pick to have that bite when it comes to playing solos, because it makes the solo pop out of the mix a little more.  

When using a naturally bright guitar like a Fender Statocaster, hard picks are great for getting a little extra tone above the rest of the band. The Star Pick has these advantages, but also seems to grip to your thumb pretty well. It has a small star cut-out which makes it really easy to hold. These unique guitar picks are fairly cheap, usually costing a little less than a dollar.

5. Tortex Picks

Tortex - best guitar picks

The Tortex picks by Dunlop come in a variety of colors and thicknesses, and are fairly inexpensive. Many guitarists like the feel of this pick. You will notice a considerable change in tone when using it, but you may like it if you’re into a more mellow tone.

When you’re using a Tortex pick, the tone does not really become muted, but the ringing quality of some strings are brought down. So if you have a guitar that seems a little too bright, the Tortex might be the perfect pick to help take away some of the harshness.

There are a couple other comparable picks that don’t darken the tone, such as the Clayton 1.07mm pick and the Dunlop Ultex pick. The Clayton is especially easy to keep a grip on.

6. Metal Thumb Picks

Metal Thumb Pick - Cool guitar picks

Metal thumb picks are probably one of the most useful and unique guitar picks to own. These metal finger picks are perfect for boosting the volume on your guitar just a little bit. For only a dollar you can’t go wrong.  

Some people find that using a regular pick is difficult because they are easily dropped, or they get cramps in their hands. The advantage of using a thumb pick is that it doesn’t fall out of your hand when you play.

You can find these cool guitar picks in metal, plastic, and some that are a hybrid of plastic and metal, although the hybrid picks tend to be more expensive. One good thumb pick to check out is the Dunlop 3040T.

7. Felt Picks

Felt picks - Cool guitar picks

Even though they’re marketed for ukuleles, felt picks are very useful for guitarists as well. Felt picks typically run around $1-$2, which is a bargain for the cool tonal variety they bring to your playing.  

The muted sound that you get when playing with a felt pick is truly unique. It’s not muted to an extent that you can’t hear your instrument, but it certainly changes the tone and can make your guitar sound like a totally different guitar. This pick would be very useful in recording sessions if you’re trying to go for the sound of two different guitars, but only have one.

Final Tips

No matter what type of guitar or genre of music you play, there is something on this list of best guitar picks for everyone. Most types of guitar picks run for less than a dollar, so if you can afford it we recommend buying a bunch and trying them all out.

If you want to start out small, try the thumb pick and felt pick first. These guitar picks are the most distinct in the tonal sounds they create, so you’ll be able to really experience and appreciate the variety that different guitar picks can provide.  

This selection of cool guitar picks should give you plenty to try out and practice. You can find them at your local music store or online. Remember that a good guitar teacher can help you learn proper picking and strumming technique, and TakeLessons is the place to go if you want to find an experienced guitar teacher in your area.  

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

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8 Basic German Words for Questions & How to Use them

German question words

Learning how to ask some basic questions in German will help you engage more with others and develop your language skills.

Conversations need to be two-way, and the more you ask questions, the faster you’re going to learn.

Using the German question words in this tutorial, you’ll be able to ask how much something costs, where someone is from, and more. Let’s get started!

8 German Words for Questions

In order to ask basic questions in German, you’ll need to memorize some new vocabulary. Here are eight German question words you can use in everyday conversation.

  • Wo (where)
  • Woher (where from)
  • Wohin (where to)
  • Wann (when)
  • Was (what)
  • Wer (who)
  • Wie (how)
  • Warum (why)

You may notice that there are multiple ways to ask questions with the word “where.” Depending on the context of what you are asking, the word you use for “where” will differ. Check out the following sentences for examples of their usage.

  • Wo wohnst du? (Where do you live?)
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Wohin gehst du diesen Sommer? (Where are you going to go this summer?)
  • Wann fliegst du nach Deutschland? (When do you fly to Germany?)
  • Was machst du dieses Wochenende? (What are you doing this weekend?)
  • Wer ist das? (Who is that?)
  • Wie alt bist du? (How old are you?)
  • Warum gehst du nach Hause? (Why are you going home?)

All of the German question words start with the letter “W.” Remember to pronounce the “W”s in German as you would pronounce a “V” in English.  

You also need to remember that in German, questions might be worded a little differently than what you’re used to. For example, when you want to know somebody’s name in English you ask: What is your name?

This example uses the word “what.” But in German, you would use the word wie, which means “how.” For example: Wie ist dein name? (literally: how is your name?). You can also ask: Wie heißt du? (literally: how are you called?).

How to Form Sentences with German Question Words

To structure a question in German using your newly learned vocabulary, you must start with the question word first. Next you’ll add the inflected verb in the second position, and then finally – the subject.

If there is anything else within the question, then it will follow the subject. For example:

Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going?)

In this sentence, Wohin (where to) is the question word, gehst (go) is the inflected verb, and du (you) is the subject.

Here is another example:

Warum wohnt er jetzt in Deutschland? (Why does he live in Germany now?)

Here, Warum (why) is the question word, wohnt (live) is the verb, er (he) is the subject. Jetzt in Deutschland (now in Germany) is the rest of the information, which will always go last.

Differences Between German and English Questions

As you can see, the sentence structure for forming basic questions in German differs from English. In German you have the question word, then the verb, and then the subject. However in English, we use verb phrases which are split with the subject.

Let’s go back to the example above:

Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going?)

In the English version, you have the word “where” first. Then “are,” which is the first part of the verb phrase, is followed by the subject, “you.” Finally, the second part of the verb phrase – “going” – completes the question.

When asking a question in German, these verb phrases aren’t necessary. This is because in German, the present tense conjugation of a verb can be interpreted in three different ways in English. For example, er wohnt translates to:

  • He lives
  • He does live
  • He is living

Because of this, German questions might seem like they’re missing an element or two when compared to their English counterparts. But they are actually more simple than questions in English.

10 Basic Questions in German

Now that you know how to form questions there will be no stopping you! To start practicing your skills, here are 10 basic questions in German that every beginner should know. Try to figure out the literal meaning of each sentence for extra practice.

  • Wie geht es dir? (How are you?)
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Wie spät ist es? (What time is it?)
  • Wie ist das Wetter? (How is the weather?)
  • Wie weit ist es? (How far is it?)
  • Wo sind die Toiletten? (Where are the restrooms?)
  • Wo kann ich _____ kaufen? (Where can I buy _______?)
  • Was kostet das? (How much is it?)
  • Wo finde ich ein Geldautomat? (Where do I find an ATM?)
  • Wann fährt den Zug/das Flugzeug ab? (When does the train/plane depart?)

Hopefully these questions inspire you to go spark up some conversations with new friends. If you feel like you need more guidance though, try working with a großartig (German teacher) to really take your skills to the next level.

Taking private German lessons is very beneficial as you’ll get to work at your own pace, following a curriculum that is tailored to your individual needs and goals. Best of luck learning German!

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12 Best Piano Brands for Every Kind of Pianist (w/Sound Clips!)

Best Piano Brands

When you’re in the market for a piano, the possibilities of piano brands can seem endless. Yamaha or Kawai? Digital or acoustic?

If you want to end up with the perfect piano for your budget, skill level, and musical goals, this guide is a great place to start. Any one of these 12 popular piano brands will offer you an excellent choice.

The 12 Best Piano Brands for All Pianists

Yamaha


This Japanese brand is recognized worldwide for its excellence and versatility. They build sturdy, high quality pianos and offer good digital options, as well. Their pianos are known for having a signature bright sound, yet there is still a roundness to the sound.

Yamaha is an innovative brand that is constantly improving and creating new models to meet a variety of needs. One of the coolest features you can find on a Yamaha piano is its silent piano option. The feature allows you to play an acoustic piano but hear the sound through headphones, so you can practice at any hour without disturbing others.

Many well-known musicians endorse Yamaha including Alicia Keys, Elton John, and Chick Corea. Its U1, and slightly larger U3, upright models are well-loved acoustic pianos that stand the test of time. Its CLP series is a popular digital option.

Yamaha also sells concert grand pianos. Their prices are fair for the quality, and they are a reasonable option for anyone looking for an upright piano.

Steinway & Sons

Quality and history come together to form Steinway & Sons, a favorite piano maker of many musicians. A German immigrant in New York City started Steinway, and it remains there today.

Steinway is a classical pianist’s dream. Many famous pianists endorse the brand including Lang Lang, Mitsuko Uchida, and Martha Argerich. Steinway offers different sizes of grand pianos, which are often selected based on the size of the concert hall they are used in.

Due to its long history, you can find many vintage Steinways for sale. Steinway’s grand pianos are their most well-known models, but their price range makes them a better choice for the most dedicated and serious pianists.

Luckily, they’ve also created two lines of pianos for those with a more limited budget: the Essex (entry level) and the Boston (mid-level).

Kawai

Kawai is another one of the Japanese piano brands that offers pianos at a reasonable price range. They are durable, well-made pianos with several unique features, including longer keys for increased technical ease and the use of different materials in their construction, like plastic and composite.

Their digital pianos were the first to be built with wood keys, offering the experience of an acoustic piano’s keys. Kawai upright pianos and digital pianos are good options for intermediate pianists who want a fairly priced, durable option. Artists playing Kawai pianos include Joe Yamada and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Bösendorfer

If you care about tradition and history when shopping for piano brands, you will value Bösendorfer. Established in 1828, the pianos have a rich and luscious sound. One innovation is the addition of keys beyond the typical 88.

This piano maker is best for connoisseurs and serious pianists who are ready to invest in a well-crafted piano, as their pianos are among the most expensive in the world. Their grand pianos are the bulk of their production, with a few upright pianos offered as well.

Artists who love Bösendorfer pianos include Kimiko Ishizaka, Beatrice Berrut, and Saskia Giorgini.

Fazioli

This northern Italian piano maker creates only the finest grand pianos. Its various models include creations made from unique materials like red elm, ebony, and even gold leaf.

Fazioli pianos are truly works of art, and their price range is very high for this reason. While it’s a relatively young piano brand (started in the late 1970s), Paolo Fazioli’s dedication to his craft quickly established his reputation in the piano world.

Herbie Hancock, Matteo Fossi, and Lucas Wong all treasure Fazioli pianos. This piano brand is perfect for a serious pianist who is ready to invest in a piano for life. 

C. Bechstein

Bechstein pianos have a long history, with endorsements from composers like Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy creating a worldwide demand. Vassily Primakov, Kit Armstrong, and Michael Dalberto are all well-known pianists who enjoy playing these gorgeous and elegant pianos.

The German pianos are ideal for concert hall performances as well as recording studio work. There is also a line of high quality upright pianos. The price range of the Concert pianos is high, but Bechstein has created three other piano brands to suit a variety of needs.

Beginners can explore the Zimmerman and W. Hoffman brands, while advanced players should look at the C. Bechstein Academy brand.

Blüthner

Blüthner is a Leipzig-based, German brand that achieved acclaim in the time of composers like Brahms, Mahler, and Wagner. It also grew in popularity with The Beatles’ music.

These pianos have stood the test of time. Blüthner currently makes a wide variety of models including uprights and grands. Many artists are fans of Blüthner pianos, including Rima Chacaturian, Billy Childs, and Ying Feng.

Blüthner pianos are best for those who value tradition and creativity. The pianos create a memorable sound and are long-lasting. Known as the piano with the “golden tone,” the price tag reflects the quality of the brand.

Mason & Hamlin


This Massachusetts-based brand is a stalwart in the industry, making several models of grand pianos and a professional upright model. Their pianos are especially well-built and made to last.

Mason & Hamlin made several innovations in the design of their pianos, including the crown retention system, used in the soundboard. These pianos are a good choice for anyone interested in purchasing a quality vintage piano.

The pianos are on par with Steinway in performance, and their price tag reflects this. Artists playing the timeless pianos include Brian Culbertson, Jarrod Radnich, and Rod Tanski.

Stuart & Sons


Want to have your own custom-built piano? Australian brand Stuart & Sons builds pianos with high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Custom orders can be placed directly with the piano makers.

The pianos come in concert grand and studio grand sizes, with either 97 keys or 102 keys. Choices of materials include Tasmanian Huon Pine and Tasmanian Sassafras. These pianos are unique works of art and as such, are best for those with a high budget who want a piano full of personality.

Artists playing Stuart & Sons pianos include Gregory Kinda and Fiona Joy Hawkins.

Casio


Casio is an electronic keyboard maker known for producing lightweight and compact keyboards that can go anywhere. Their price can’t be beat. The portable models are popular, but Casio also offers more advanced arranger keyboards and space-saving, discreet console pianos.

Their pianos offer many fun sounds that can transform your music making. This brand comes from Japan, and is popular with many singers, pop musicians, and stage performers. Rachel Sage, Larry Dunn, and Kyle Morrison all use Casio keyboards.

Casio keyboards are best for young beginner pianists, those with interests in rock, pop, or metal, and pianists who enjoy experimenting with unique sounds at the piano.

Korg


Korg is another one of the many Japanese piano brands that dominate this list. This modern, digital brand offers a wide range of models, from beginner to more complex. Korg is known for its technological advancements and their ability to produce a wide variety of piano sounds.

Korg offers many versatile digital pianos in a very reasonable price range. The C1 Air model is a good option with technological advancements like Bluetooth. Artists who use Korg digital pianos include Richard Clayderman, Herbie Hancock, and Tom Coster.

Roland


Roland, also from Japan, offers both digital and acoustic pianos in a moderate price range. They are aesthetically-pleasing pianos that are recommended for a variety of needs.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a digital piano or a more serious pianist looking for a well-made acoustic, Roland has something for you. The F-120 is a popular model for a beginner looking for a digital piano. Jim Brickman, David Benoit, and Marcus Johnson all play Rolands.

How to Find the Best Piano Brands For You

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced pianist, there are some guidelines you can follow to make the process of choosing a piano easier. Before you decide, spend some time considering the following factors.

    • How much room do you have for a piano?
      • Answering this question will help you choose between a digital and acoustic piano, since digital pianos can take up much less room. It can also help you decide between an acoustic upright piano or an acoustic grand piano.
    • Do you prefer digital or acoustic pianos?
      • While many prefer the feeling of striking an acoustic piano’s keys, these pianos do come with some additional upkeep. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of annual tuning, which is essential for acoustic pianos. 
    • What is your budget for a piano?
      • Setting a budget will help you narrow down your options. Your budget will affect whether you buy new versus used, digital versus acoustic, or one piano brand over another.
    • What are your goals with playing piano?
      • Just because you’re a beginner who doesn’t need 88 keys right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Likewise, after a few years you might feel unsatisfied with a cheaper keyboard that doesn’t have weighted keys. Think about investing more so you can keep enjoying your piano over the years. Or if you’re just trying out piano, start small and upgrade once you’re more committed to playing.

Lastly, always try a piano in person before you buy it. Choosing a piano is a very personal decision with many factors unique to each individual, such as the feel of the piano. Trying different piano brands in person is the best way to gain insight into the right piano for you.

If you still need help deciding between the many piano brands that are available, try seeking advice from an experienced piano teacher.

Now that you’ve explored all of the best piano brands, start improving your playing skills in the free piano classes at TakeLessons Live. There are daily classes available for every kind of pianist. Here’s to your new piano!

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How to Restring a Ukulele in 5 Easy Steps

How to string a ukulele

If you’re looking to find out how to string a ukulele, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide five easy steps that will help you restring a uke in no time.

Whenever your strings start to sound dull, you will want to restring your ukulele. This will vary depending on your environment and how often you play, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re performing publicly you should change your strings every one to three months.

If you play less frequently as a hobby, you should change them every three to six months. Also, if you break a string you will want to restring your whole set. You don’t want to have one new string mixed in with the old strings, because the new string will sound brighter than the others!

Here’s How to String A Ukulele in 5 Steps

Step 1 – Unwind and Remove Old Strings

The first step in how to restring a ukulele is very simple, unless your uke is old and the strings have begun to solidify due to grime and oxidation from the tuning pegs.

(If you find yourself in this situation it’s best to just clip them off with nail clippers or a pair of wire cutters. But be careful not to harm the wood of the ukulele when doing so).

how to restring a ukulele

When unwinding the strings on the side of the ukulele that faces the ceiling when you play, you will unwind in a clockwise manner. Whereas, the strings that are on the side facing the floor as you play will need to be unwound in a counter-clockwise manner.

In the photo below you’ll see two different ukuleles. One ukulele uses a knot and slot method of holding the string in place at the bridge. The other uses a traditional, classical guitar style knot to hold the string in place. We’ll go over both in this article.

how to string a ukulele

These are the two different types of bridges you may encounter on a ukulele. Check out your bridge once you have the strings off to make sure it doesn’t need to be cleaned or repaired.

Step 2 – Secure New Strings to the Bridge

For this step, you will want to have your new strings handy. A few good brands for ukulele strings are Martin, Aquila, and GHS.  

It’s easier to change strings that have a bit of texture to them, rather than strings that have a super smooth finish. Better quality strings will hold the knot that you tie in them. However, with lower quality strings the knot tends to slip apart when you begin to tighten up the string.

Depending on the type of bridge that you have, you will need to use a different method to secure the strings. As you can see in the photograph below, the first style of bridge is relatively easy to work with.

All you have to do is tie a knot in the end of the string and fit it into the slot of the bridge.

how to restring a ukulele

This style of bridge has a slot, and a knot in the string rests under the slot in the small opening at the base of the bridge.  

Here is a close-up of the simple knot you can use to secure the bridge end of the string. If you feel like your knot will come apart when you begin to tighten it up, then you might want to double knot it.

how to string a ukulele

The second style of bridge has a series of four holes drilled through it. The string inserts into the hole from the body side of the bridge, then comes over the top of the bridge and is tied in a double or triple-loop knot along the top surface of the bridge.

So when the knot rests against the saddle (the bone part of the bridge) it gets pulled tight against the saddle when the string is tightened, and the loops cinch down – locking the entire knot in place.

The loop is not very difficult to make. You simply feed the free end of the string three times into the knot that you are making. Just remember to leave a little bit of the string out to secure it by tucking it under the next string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have all the strings secured to the ukulele, tuck the ends of the string underneath the knots to the left and right of the string you are tying. This way, the string ends won’t poke you while you play. This also helps prevent the string from coming unknotted.

After you get all the strings situated the way you want, pull them tight and go onto the next step. Just be sure that none of your knots are actually laying on the saddle itself. You want the string to knot up just behind the saddle.

Step 3 – Feed the Strings Through Tuning Peg Holes

The next step in how to string a ukulele is to insert each string into its corresponding tuning peg hole. You’ll start this step once each string is secured at the bridge. Make sure to keep one hand on the knots at the bridge just to make sure they don’t unravel.

After the string is through its tuning peg hole, you can begin to wind up the string. Remember, if you are stringing the side that will face the ceiling as you play, you will wind it counter clockwise. Wind it clockwise for the side that will face the floor.

how to string a ukulele

Here is a close-up of the string after the first turn. Notice how the string goes over the end of the tip of the string that is sticking out of the hole. The next turn will go under the string so that it locks the string into place.

Sometimes when using this method the strings will want to slide out of the tuning peg hole. In this case you can always tie a knot in the string at the tuning peg hole, and then tighten the string from there.

Step 4 – Tighten the Strings

When you get the strings in place, you will need to tighten them up. Do not be concerned at this point about tightening them up to pitch. Just tighten them up until they feel slightly secured and then proceed to the next step.

There are string winders that help make this job a little easier. If you’d like, you can use hand winding tools, or a battery powered one. Just be careful not to over-tighten the strings to the point that they snap.

While you’re tightening up the strings, you should also keep your eye on the bridge knots and tuning pegs to make sure the ends do not slip out.

Step 5 – Stretch the Strings and Tune to Pitch

The final step for how to restring a ukulele is to stretch the strings to pull out any slack. Once all the strings are on, simply lay the ukulele flat on a table and gently pull each string up a few inches.

Many nylon strings take a long time to stretch into position when you first put them on, and this step makes the tuning process go a lot faster. Just be careful not to pull too much or you can snap the string.

how to restring a ukulele

Once you have the tension out of the string, you can re-tighten it. This time, tighten it up to the actual pitch of the string. Then you will have a freshly tuned ukulele with new strings!

Every beginning musician finds re-stringing their instrument a challenge at the start, especially ukulele players because of the material the strings are made of. But these five steps for how to string a ukulele should make the process much easier.

If you want to learn more about playing the ukulele, or are looking for a good teacher to help you get started, be sure to check out the online and local ukulele lessons offered at TakeLessons!

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

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25+ Fascinating Violin Facts That Will Surprise You

violin facts

Looking for fun violin facts? Here, you’ll find the 25 most interesting facts about the violin we could round up!

People have spent their entire lives studying the possible benefits of playing the violin, its history, and how it functions. Enjoy exploring some of their findings in this short list of violin facts.

25 Interesting Violin Facts

violin facts

(This infographic was made by our friends at Venngage).

Interesting Facts About the Violin – In Detail

  1. Most people consider playing the violin an intellectual pursuit. However, a violinist can burn around 170 calories per hour. That’s equivalent to about one soft drink!
  2. Based on research measuring the different levels of cognitive processing, violinists have shown to develop faster processing speeds compared to the average person who does not play an instrument.
  3. Even though the exact year the violin was officially created is a mystery, we do know that the design of the modern violin is over 500 years old. While the violin hasn’t changed much over that time, the bow and other accessories have gone through many changes.
  4. Italy is primarily attributed with the creation of the modern violin. A lot of Italian makers, such as Stradivari, lived and worked in the small town of Cremona, creating some of the world’s oldest and most valuable violins.
  5. The word “violin” comes from the medieval Latin word vitula. What makes this one of the funniest violin facts is that oddly enough, the modern Latin translation of vitula also means “female cow.”
  6. String players, like violinists, tend to have larger brains. This is due in part to the complex motor skills and reasoning required to play the instrument.
  7. The main body of the modern violin contains 70 different parts. In high quality instruments, these parts are all made from a variety of woods.
  8. Famous violinist Fritz Kreisler served in WWI as a captain. His aural sensitivity, developed by playing the violin, allowed him to determine the location of large artillery by listening to the changing pitch of incoming shells across the battlefield.
  9. The violin was the leader of the orchestra before conductors became a main fixture. Prominent composers would often conduct their orchestral arrangements from the first violin chair or the concertmaster position.
  10. Even though Mozart was a prominent pianist and composer, he also played the violin. In fact, Mozart’s father began his son’s musical training on the violin.
  11. The modern violin was developed largely by Gasparo da Salò, Andrea Amati, and Antonio Stradivari, all of which lived in Italy during the 17th century.
  12. The violin has ancestral ties to the Byzantine empire through its distant cousin, the lyra. This archaic instrument evolved into the “rebec” and then the medieval fiddle, before finally transforming into the modern violin.
  13. The violin has become an essential instrument in cultures all over the world, from Ireland to India. Some of these cultures have developed different ways of playing the instrument. One of the most interesting violin facts is that some Indian players sit cross-legged while playing, and rest the scroll on their feet with the bottom of the violin under their chin!
  14. The parts of the brain that are responsible for the left and right hand are more sensitive in violinists. This means that violinists have greater conscious control over more areas of their hands.
  15. Some of the most popular careers for violinists include teaching, and performing in orchestras or other small groups. Highly sought after orchestral positions are extremely difficult to obtain.
  16. In 1626, King Louis XIII of France created an orchestra, Les 24 Violons du Roi. This helped launch the violin into prominence for the first time in history.
  17. Violinist Niccolò Paganini was one of the first musicians to pioneer the “rock star” image. His revolutionary compositional style and playing inspired many other performers and composers such as Liszt, Schumann, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff.
  18. Many violin facts show that playing the instrument has a significant impact on the mind. A study from Harvard University found that early training in the violin improves a myriad of cognitive skills including memory, nonverbal reasoning, and attention.
  19. The rich sound of the violin partially comes from a small dowel inside the instrument beneath the bridge, called the “sound post.” It does this by receiving the vibrations, created by the strings, from the bridge and transmitting them to the back of the violin.
  20. The most expensive violin ever purchased by a private investor was acquired for $16 million dollars. However, The Ashmolean Museum currently owns an estimated $20 million violin.
  21. Despite contracting polio as child, famous violinist Itzhak Perlman rose to prominence and is now one of the best violinists in the world. In fact, Perlman was honored in 2016 when he was asked to perform at President Obama’s inauguration.
  22. The violin and fiddle are the same instrument. Even though the term “violin” is more often used in connection with classical music, and the “fiddle” with Irish or folk music, they are in fact the same.
  23. Researchers studying the brain’s plasticity often use violinists to examine how much the brain can adapt.
  24. YouTube sensation and violinist Lindsey Stirling has over 10.5 million subscribers. Her most watched video, “Crystallize,” has over 194 million views.
  25. Want even more shocking violin facts? Violin strings were originally made from the dried intestines of cats and other animals! Nowadays the strings are made from a combination of synthetic materials and a variety of metals.
  26. The violin bow was originally shaped like a hunting bow. This changed in the 19th century when François Tourte perfected the modern bow by creating a concave curve.

These are just a few of the most interesting facts about the violin, but there are so many other wonderful things to learn. If any of these violin facts sparked your interest, or if you’ve always wanted to play the violin, check out the spectacular teachers at TakeLessons.

The violin is one of the most challenging and rewarding instruments you can learn. It is also one of the few instruments capable of matching the diversity and complexity of the human voice. Know any more interesting facts about the violin? Leave a comment below!

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Sources:

  • Elber, T., Pantev, C, Wienbruch, C., et al. (1995). “Increased cortical representation of the fingers of the left hand in string players.” Science 270, 305-309
  • “Lira.” Edited by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 June 2017, www.britannica.com/art/lira-musical-instrument
  • “Violin.” Edited by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 23 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/art/violin
  • “Music Improves Brain Functio.” Written by Phillip F. Shewe, Live Science, Purch, 29 Mar. 2018, https://www.livescience.com/7950-music-improves-brain-function.html
  • Halfpenny, Eric, and Theodore C. Grame. “Stringed Instrument.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 9 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/art/stringed-instrument/The-violin-family
  • “New Study Finds Playing Violin Sheds the Calories of 2 Glasses of Wine per Hour.” The World’s Leading Classical Music News Source. Est 2009., 10 Jan. 2014, theviolinchannel.com/new-study-finds-violin-practice-sheds-around-2-glasses-wine-hour
  • Lewis, Charlton T, et al. “Vitula.” Vitula – Wiktionary, Wikipedia, 26 May 2017, 16:31, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vitula
  • KREISLER, FRITZ. FOUR WEEKS IN THE TRENCHES: the War Story of a Violinist (Wwi Centenary Series). LAST POST PRESS, 2014
  • Sadie, Stanley. “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 12 Jan. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Wolfgang-Amadeus-Mozart
  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Viol.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 5 Dec. 2016, www.britannica.com/art/viol
  • Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Niccolò Paganini.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 Feb. 2017, www.britannica.com/biography/Niccolo-Paganini
  • “These Are The 12 Most Expensive Violins Of All Time.” CMUSE, 6 Sept. 2017, www.cmuse.org/12-most-expensive-violins/

5 Essential Singing Techniques That Will Enhance Your Sound

Singing Techniques

Professional singers often find themselves performing in more than just one style of music, so if you’re a beginner it’s to your advantage that you study a variety of singing techniques! Take some time to explore the different genres of singing as well.

Today’s musical world includes everything from opera to heavy metal to gospel, and there are even several sub genres! To get you started, here are five different singing techniques that can enhance your sound – when done properly.

5 Singing Techniques to Enhance Your Sound

Belting


One of the most common vocal techniques in musical theatre and pop music is belting. Other styles that include belting are gospel, R&B, and modern country music.

The best way to describe belting is that a singer is taking the chest voice (where you speak) into a higher register than usual, creating an exciting and very powerful sound!

Without the guidance of a voice teacher however, many beginning belters can end up hurting themselves when they strain to make the desired sound. Think of belting as a “controlled yell” or an “extended, belly laugh.”

A well known belter is Idina Menzel. In the video above, she demonstrates this singing technique beautifully – especially at the end!

Falsetto

Falsetto is a vocal technique where one sings outside of the “normal” range. This can often result in a “breathy” sound when coming from an untrained voice. However, there are many singers who have made careers out of it – just look at the Bee Gees, for one!

Falsetto is common in pop, R&B, rock, and classical music when considering the countertenor voice. This is another one of those singing techniques where a beginning singer can run into trouble if they are not light enough in their approach.

It is best to be patient when studying falsetto and to work with a skilled voice teacher to help you, starting with simple exercises like sirens and slides so you can explore your range. The video above features the king of falsetto, Frankie Valli, demonstrating how falsetto sounds when it’s very strong!

Riffing

Riffs and runs are also known as vocal melismas, and to do them requires some serious musicianship! This is a form of vocal improvisation, which takes a lot of practice. The best way to master riffing is to start small at first.  

Start embellishing a simple song – even as simple as a nursery rhyme! Add just one additional note (thirds or fifths are usually best) to one word. Once you build confidence, add another note, and then add another simple pattern to an additional word.

Vocal runs are especially popular in R&B and gospel styles, but melismas actually have their roots in classical music. Singing with excellent articulation and support is key to mastering this vocal technique.

From a stylist standpoint, you want to avoid overdoing it to the point where the melody of the song is unrecognizable. Watch the great Whitney Houston above demonstrating the right way to add vocal runs to a song.

Rock Yells

This is one of the more controversial singing techniques. Many students ask their teachers if it’s possible to yell or scream in a healthy way for hard rock and heavy metal. The answer is yes, but you must work with a good voice teacher to master this singing technique!

Although you will give the impression of yelling, a healthy yell is quite different. Real yelling can cause phonotrauma (where the cords bang together at a fast rate and can wreck your voice). The trained rock yell is more like belting, where you rely on using serious lower body support more than anything else.

By putting focus on the lower body, you will protect your cords and have a much stronger sound. Paired with the technique of “vocal fry” (also known as the “creaky door” sound), rockers can get that desired, rough yell while being safe at the same time.

One man known for lots of good rock yells and screams is the late Ronnie James Dio. He was a trained singer who admitted in interviews that his experience as a trumpet player helped his breath control immensely! Check him out in the video above.

Country Yodeling


Don’t be fooled – this fun singing technique goes way beyond corny Swiss folk songs! Country and bluegrass singers can benefit greatly from mastering this skill.

Yodeling is a type of singing where there are very fast and repeated changes of pitch between two vocal registers: the chest voice and the head voice.

A good voice teacher can help a singer improve their yodeling skills by starting with simple interval drills to get this big sound out in a healthy way! Watch Dolly Parton demonstrating how vocal techniques like yodeling can spice up any classic country song.

Before Getting Started

These are just five of the most common singing techniques that vocal students seek to learn. No matter what style of music you’re into, good vocal technique is paramount. But before you delve into special singing techniques, it’s always best to get a handle on the basics.

This means learning to sing with reliable breath support, as well as having a confident ear. Singing with support eliminates the chances that you’ll sing with a breathy or weak sound. Having confidence in your ability to match pitch and sing rhythmically makes it a lot easier for you to make progress!

Ready to start learning new vocal techniques? You’ve come to the right place: TakeLessons has a tremendous variety of voice teachers specializing in many different genres of music. You can also try online singing classes for free to learn the basics in a fun, group setting!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn German? Find Out Here.

How long does it take to learn German

“How long does it take to learn German fluently?” This is a straightforward question with an answer that differs from person to person. The amount of time it will take you to master the German language relies on multiple factors, including your end goal.

Do you need to be professionally fluent, able to easily speak with others in a business setting? Perhaps you’ve stumbled into a company that does a lot of business in German-speaking countries and you’d like to talk with your clients.

Or, are you looking to learn the language for more casual reasons, such as to carry on conversations with friends and family? Maybe you’d just like to learn German to read Goethe in the original language.

Once you have your end goals in mind, you can more accurately answer the question: how long does it take to learn German? Let’s look at a couple different sources that provide estimates for how long it takes to learn the language.

How Long Does it Take to Learn German?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and its companion volume exist due to the exhaustive studies completed by some of Europe’s greatest minds on the subject of language learning. These volumes give us an idea of how long it might take you to learn German.

It’s important to keep in mind that each person will have a different, personal learning curve when they work toward learning a language. But we can infer from the CEFR data that it may take around 1,000 hours of dedicated practice time to reach a “high intermediate” level of language proficiency.

So if you’re looking for an estimate of how long it takes to learn German, it can take around three years with one hour per day of practice, or one year at three hours per day.

Across the Atlantic, the United States Foreign Service Institute uses a different measurement for language proficiency: the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Scale. They suggest that with enough resources, someone could reach a “general professional proficiency” in German in 750 hours.

Note: this study, however helpful, included highly adept polyglots (people who already speak several languages) making up the bulk of its participants.

3 Quick Tips for Learning German

Either way you look at it, these studies show that German might take quite a bit of time to learn. But fear not! There are plenty of ways to speed things up for yourself. Check out the following tips to get started.

Tip #1: Language Immersion

how long does it take to learn German fluently

Total immersion is often cited as the best way to learn a language. Moving to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein presents a sink-or-swim experience that is highly beneficial if you want to learn German quickly.  

The difficulty though, is that not everyone has the ability to fly off to Europe for a couple years. This is where finding a language partner (or two) comes in handy.

Tip #2: Find Language Partners

how long does it take to learn German

There are many native German speakers who are looking to improve their English skills online. Dozens of sites allow you to connect with other language learners for a “language exchange.” In other words, you help them with their English and they help you with your German.

Another excellent way to practice your speaking skills is to meet other German speakers near you. Check out sites like Meetup to look for opportunities to hang out with other German speakers and students locally. The more you make speaking German a regular part of your daily life, the faster you’ll learn it.  

Tip #3: Take German Lessons

how long does it take to learn German fluently

A sure-fire way to jump start your foray into German would be to take some German classes or even private German lessons. There are plenty of experienced instructors who offer both in-person and online lessons.

Working with a German teacher will set you up for success right off the bat, as they’ll be able to tailor a structured curriculum for meeting your individual goals.

So, how long does it take to learn German fluently? The real answer is that it varies from person to person. Learning a language is one of those “you get what you put into it” types of skills. But if you put the strategies listed above into practice, you’re already well on your way!

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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!*

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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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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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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