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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Video Guitar Lessons

Video guitar lessons

A quick search for “video guitar lessons” will reveal thousands of results on how to play the guitar. For many students it can be overwhelming to sort through countless video lessons to find the one with the information they’re looking for. As a beginner, it can also be difficult to determine when you are or aren’t getting accurate information.

Although there certainly isn’t a shortage of video guitar lessons out there, you shouldn’t rely on pre-recorded lessons alone to learn how to play the instrument. In this article, we’ll explain five ways that learning from pre-recorded video guitar lessons can hinder your progress.  

5 Things to Know About Video Guitar Lessons

They’re a One-Way Conversation

Beginners to the guitar need feedback and constructive criticism, but video guitar lessons are a one-way conversation. You can’t stop mid-lesson if you have a pressing question to ask, or need clarification.

Perhaps the most important aspect of in-person lessons with a guitar teacher is that you have an informed pair of eyes watching you play. When something isn’t going the way it needs to, you have an outside observer who can point it out to you. With a teacher’s guidance, you’ll begin to learn to correct mistakes on your own.

Lessons Aren’t Tailored to Your Individual Needs

Pre-recorded video guitar lessons are specifically made to be applicable to thousands of students with different learning styles. But the most effective guitar lessons aren’t one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter plans taken one after another. Each student has different ambitions and will need different “stepping stones” to achieve them. 

What one student finds impossible to overcome, another student might breeze through with little thought. Without a good teacher to help plan a course of action, students frequently jump between pieces that are either too easy or too difficult. They have trouble gradually building their skills. A teacher will notice where a student’s struggles lie and recommend music to practice that will build those skills.

You Might Pick up Bad Habits

When learning a new chord or song, beginners tend to play however it feels “right” to them. If playing with a certain fingering feels correct, a student has no reason to think they should be playing it differently. Even if they notice something is off, on their own, they rarely know what to replace the incorrect habit with.

This is another reason why it can be dangerous to learn the guitar without any feedback from a live instructor. A teacher is often the sole voice of clarity for students who naturally revert back to motions that their hands are familiar with.

If you’re learning from video guitar lessons alone, it can be easy to fall into the habit of playing something the wrong way, just because it “feels easier.” When working with a private teacher, you’ll learn new ways to to master tricky concepts more efficiently.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things to Look for in a Guitar Teacher

You Might Become Discouraged

When attempting to learn the guitar from videos alone, self-taught students are more prone to choosing a song that is too difficult for their skill level. These students often get frustrated and discouraged when their playing doesn’t sound as good as they want it to right off the bat.

In the rare case that a student begins with something easy, they frequently move on too soon and jump to something much harder right away. Ninety percent of the time when you speak to people who have given up the guitar, it’s because they tried to teach themselves. 

Don’t Miss Out on Music Theory!

Music theory is a necessity when learning how to play the guitar. Most video guitar lessons either focus on a specific technique, or exclusively on theory. But to really understand music theory, it has to be tied into the music!

Students understand theory best if it’s a part of their musical language and expression from the beginning. If as a beginner, you focus on watching YouTube tutorials for all your favorite songs, you are bound to miss out on a deeper understanding of the music itself.

Learning music theory is like learning a foreign language. Because music theory can be difficult to understand, it’s best to learn in an interactive environment where you have the ability to ask questions. Try taking online music theory classes from a live instructor and you’ll find yourself learning much quicker than with pre-recorded lessons.

In Conclusion

With the help of a guitar teacher, you have a much greater shot as musical success. Video guitar lessons are best when used as a supplemental tool in between private lessons. Your teacher can help protect you from bad advice, which is abounding online (some of which can even cause injury).

Don’t keep trying to press forward on your own when excellent, reliable help is so readily available! Find a trusted and qualified guitar teacher near you and start your guitar learning journey on the right foot.

Kirk RPost Author: Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical and acoustic guitar instructor in Athens, GA. He holds a Bachelors and Masters of music in Guitar Performance, and has been teaching guitar since 2011 to students of all ages. Learn more about Kirk here!

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What is a capo

What is a Capo? Everything You Need to Know Here.

What is a capo

A capo is a helpful device that allows you to easily change the key of a song while using the standard “open position” chords that every guitarist knows. With a capo, you can play those same chords in any fret position along the neck of the guitar. Keep reading to find more answers to all of your capo-related questions!

What is a Capo?

A capo (pronounced “cape-oh”) is a small clamp that you can attach to the neck of the guitar at a specific fret. What does a capo do? It keeps all of the guitar’s strings depressed at that specific fret, all of the time. The parts of the capo that squeeze the strings against the fret board are made of rubber, so they don’t damage the wood on your guitar. 

Let’s say you attach the capo at fret two. It will squeeze down all of the strings at fret two and keep them pressed down. So it’s like you’re playing a note at fret two with your finger, but on all six strings simultaneously.

If you were to lay your index finger across all six strings at fret two and press down hard enough so that all the notes at fret two sounded clearly on each string, that technique would be called a “barre.” This barre technique is used by guitarists all the time, but if you are just beginning you may not have tried it yet and when you do, it will take a few weeks to master.

Attaching a capo is a much easier way to achieve the same result. You could say that the capo produces a permanent barre at a specific fret. Now let’s look at what exactly happens when you have a capo attached to your guitar.

How Does a Capo Work?

Let’s use the capo attached at fret two as an example again, although you can put the capo across any fret. Once the capo is on, when you play your strings open, the notes that sound are not E, A, D, G, B, and E (the notes of open strings six through one). Instead, they are F#, B, E, A, C#, and F#.

We say these notes are “one tone higher” or a “whole step” higher (the distance of two frets) than the normal open string notes. If you think of fret three as if it were fret one, and form a C chord as you normally would (but above the capo), it will sound as a D chord.

If you played a song with Am, G, and C chords (which would be in the key of C major), you will hear Bm, A, and D chords (which would move the song to the key of D major). Every time you move the capo one fret higher, you have raised the music by one key. The most common reason for changing the key of a song is to make it easier to sing in your vocal range.

To hear the sound of a guitar with a capo on, listen to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. The capo is on fret seven and it gives the guitar a bright, mandolin-like quality. The chord progression would be in the key of D major, but with the capo on, it comes out in A major.

Who Should Use a Capo?

For beginners, using a capo means that you can play more songs with a limited knowledge of chords and delay learning those difficult “barre chords” you may have heard about. But capos are not just for beginners.

Many songwriters use capos so they can play chords in the style they’re accustomed to anywhere along the neck of the guitar. By moving the capo, they can easily try singing a song in different keys until they find the one that works best for their voice.

In fact, flamenco guitar players routinely use a capo in the first few frets for two reasons – to play songs in the traditional keys, but also for the way the capo tends to push the strings closer to the neck, making chords and fast melodic runs easier to play. Try this if your guitar is a beginner model that is a bit more difficult to play.

SEE ALSO: 5 Guitar Gadgets That Will Change Your Life

Which Capo is the Best?

There are a few different capo designs. One of the best capos is the Shubb, which retails for about $16 on Amazon. It’s made of rugged steel and clamps on very securely. This is handy because if you accidentally bump the capo while playing, it won’t pop off and ruin your performance.

If you’re on a budget, one of Amazon’s best sellers is the UGY plastic capo which retails for about $7. This capo uses a spring action and can be attached or moved very quickly by squeezing two levers together. There are many manufacturers making capos in this style.

A third option is the Dunlop elastic capo, starting at around $3. It uses a stretchy elastic cloth that attaches to a rubber coated, pole piece. Several holes are provided along the elastic to allow for different tensions, as the neck gets wider the higher you go.

Whatever style you prefer, you need to make sure you order the right one for the type of guitar you have. If you order the wrong one, it won’t squeeze the strings correctly. A “steel string” guitar capo has a slight curvature to the part that lies across the fret board, as the fret board on a steel string guitar is slightly convex. A “nylon string” guitar capo is wider and very flat.

Many beginning guitarists often ask their instructors, “What is a capo?” Now that you know what a capo is and how to use one, you’ll be on your way to playing more songs than you thought you could! You’ll also be able to more easily play and sing along at the same time.

Although the capo can be a very helpful tool, try not to rely on it too much. It’s still very important to expand your knowledge of different chords on the guitar. Need some help mastering some of the more challenging chords? Check out TakeLessons. Our expert guitar instructors can help take your skills to the next level!

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MikeJ.

Mike J. teaches acoustic guitar, bass guitar, blues guitar, classical guitar, as well as country guitar in Ogden, UT. He received his Applied Music Degree from Mohawk College and has gone on to receive many certifications and awards since then. Mike is a full time music instructor with over 30 years of experience teaching, performing, and writing music. Learn more about Mike J. here!

How to Tune a Guitar

How to Tune a Guitar – Easy Tricks and Pro Tips

How to Tune a Guitar for Beginners

What’s the first thing you should do every time you pick up a guitar? Resist the urge to shred for a moment, and make sure you’re in tune. This guide will teach you exactly how to tune a guitar using different methods like a pro.

If you’re just beginning to play the guitar, an out-of-tune instrument can be incredibly frustrating and make every note sound like a mistake. Knowing how to tune a guitar properly will ensure that you always sound your best when you play.

How to Tune a Guitar

The mechanics of tuning a guitar are simple. To adjust the pitch of a string, turn the string’s corresponding tuning key on the head of the guitar. (Hint: here’s our guide to the parts of a guitar).

Turning the tuning key away from you will tighten the string and raise its pitch. Conversely, turning the tuning key toward you will loosen the string and lower its pitch.

How to Tune a Guitar using Standard Tuning

standard guitar tuning notesMost guitarists tune their instruments to “standard tuning.” If you’re just beginning to play and aren’t sure which tuning to use, you should stick with standard tuning for now. As you get more comfortable with your instrument, feel free to experiment with other tunings to keep your practice fresh.

The strings on the guitar are numbered one through six, starting with the highest string.

Guitar Tuning Notes

You’ll commonly name the strings in ascending order, starting with string six: E, A, D, G, B, E. Take a look at this image to see which note each string should be tuned to. Note that your highest and lowest strings are both E, the same note spaced two octaves apart.

Each note corresponds to the pitch your string should produce when played open, without holding down any of the frets. When you’re tuning, it’s best to start with the sixth string and work your way down.

How to Tune Guitar with a Chromatic or Pitch Tuner

When you’re learning how to tune a guitar, it’s very important to have a reliable method of finding the right pitch for each string. Most guitarists either use an electronic tuner or another instrument. Each method comes with pros and cons.

For most beginners, using a tuner is the simplest way to find the right pitch for your guitar. Tuners come in a few different varieties. Chromatic tuners “hear” the note you’re playing and display the pitch your string is currently tuned to. You will be able to see if your guitar is sharp or flat, and also see when you’ve adjusted the string to the correct note.

Pitch tuners play the pitch for each string and you must match each note by ear. You can also get a tuning fork, which you strike to produce the correct pitch for your guitar string. If you happen to be near your computer when the need to tune arises, it’s also easy to find a free online guitar tuner, like this one by Fender.

If you do decide to invest in a tuner or tuning fork, ask yourself if you’re a more visual person or if you’ve developed an “ear” for musical notes and intervals. Visual people and beginning musicians will benefit greatly from the use of a chromatic tuner, and over time may begin to develop a better ear for music by using a tuner as a guide.

If you feel confident in your ability to hear and distinguish pitch (or if you like a challenge), you might be happier with a tuning fork or a tuner that plays pitch.

SEE ALSO: 5 Basic Guitar Chords and 20 Easy Songs for Beginners

How to Tune a Guitar Without a Pitch Tuner

If you find yourself playing solo without a tuner, you can make a guitar sound decent by tuning it to itself. Start with your sixth string held down on the fifth fret. You’re now playing an A on your E string. Adjust your fifth string, the A string, until your A string played open matches the pitch of the E string played on the fifth fret. It can be helpful to hum the correct note as you tune your open string, so you can better hear if your string is tuned too tight or loose.

Next, tune your D string to match the pitch of your A string played on the fifth fret. You can continue tuning each string to the fifth fret of the string above it, except for the B string. To tune your B string, hold the G string down on the fourth fret. As long as each string is tuned to the correct interval from the next string, your guitar will still sound fine by itself.

How to Tune a Guitar by Matching Pitch with a Keyboard

If you don’t have a guitar tuner handy, but you do have access to a piano, you can use the piano to find the correct pitch for your guitar. Tuning to a piano or keyboard is a great way to get the right pitch for your guitar, and is especially useful if you will be playing along with a pianist or other instrument.

Just tune your sixth string to the E two octaves below middle C. From there, you can tune your guitar to itself or continue to match each pitch to the right notes as you go up the keyboard.

Alternate Guitar Tunings

What do Joni Mitchell and Black Sabbath have in common? It’s all in the tuning! Both artists often used alternate tunings to get unique sounds from their guitars. Once you have a good idea of how to tune a guitar, it can be lots of fun to experiment with alternate guitar tunings. There are hundreds of possible alternate tunings for the guitar, but two of the most common alternate tunings are Drop D and Open G.

Drop D Tuning

Tuning your guitar to Drop D is pretty simple. Start with your guitar in standard tuning, and just tune your sixth string down a full step from E to D. Famous songs in Drop D tuning include the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”, and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.

Open G Tuning

If you love Keith Richards’ guitar playing in the Rolling Stones, you’re already a fan of Open G tuning. In Open G, your guitar strings are tuned to the notes of the G chord, so when you strum open you’re already playing a complete chord. Starting from the sixth string, tune to the following notes: D-G-D-G-B-D.

How Often Should I Tune a Guitar?

Guitars are very sensitive instruments. The wood in your guitar expands and contracts slightly due to changes in temperature and humidity, which change the tension in the strings and cause them to go out of tune. You might even notice your guitar going out of tune as you play it, particularly if you tend to play very hard or frequently bend pitches.

Due to the guitar’s sensitivity, it’s best to tune at the start of your practice, and again any time you sense that it doesn’t sound quite right. You will notice even professional musicians occasionally need to take some time during performances to tune a guitar.

How Can I Make My Guitar Stay in Tune Longer?

Keep your guitar in tune longer by changing your strings regularly. Depending on how often you play, you might want to change your strings anywhere from once a month to once a week. When you’re not playing, store your guitar in a hard case in a cool, dry place to avoid changes in heat and humidity.

If you follow these tips but still have issues with your guitar going out of tune, there may be an issue with your instrument’s intonation. Intonation refers to your instrument’s ability to hold pitch. Intonation may be affected by wear and tear as you play your guitar or the way your guitar was manufactured. Visit a local guitar shop and ask them to take a look at your guitar’s intonation and they should be able to help you find the right solution to your tuning woes.

how to tune a guitar infographic

How to Tune a Guitar Step-by-Step:

  • Step 1: Start by tuning the low E String.
  • Step 2: Next, tune the A String.
  • Step 3: Tune the D String.
  • Step 4: Tune the G String.
  • Step 5: Tune the B String.
  • Step 6: Tune the High E String.

Free Online Guitar Tuners

There are a number of great free online guitar tuners you can use to help you tune your guitar. Here are a few of our favorites:

8notes.com – You can use this tuner to hear the correct pitch, or activate your computer’s microphone to enable pitch detection.

JamPlay – This free online guitar tuner from JamPlay also allows you to tune by ear or use your computer’s microphone for pitch detection.

TrueFire – TrueFire makes a great free guitar tuner you can use on your computer in addition to their fantastic Pro Guitar Tuner app.

GuitarTricks – This tuner uses real guitar tones so you can match your instrument to its sounds.

Now that you know how to tune a guitar, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time. Need some more help with basic guitar skills? Check out the online guitar classes for free at TakeLessons Live. You’ll learn how to play different chords, new strumming patterns, and some of your favorite songs!

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alternate guitar tunings

Step Up Your Game: 4 Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

alternate guitar tunings

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

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

Here’s the deal:

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

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

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


Alternate Guitar Tunings for Beginners

Drop D Tuning

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

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

Open G Tuning

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAGAD Tuning

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

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

Open D Tuning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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online guitar class

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

online guitar class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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guitar news

The 5 Best Websites for Guitar News and Gear Reviews

guitar news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Music Radar

guitar news

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

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

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


Guitar World

guitar news

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

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

 


GuitarPlayer

guitar news

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

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

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


Ultimate Guitar

guitar news

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

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


Premier Guitar

music news

 

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

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

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


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

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

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guitar practice routine

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

guitar practice routine

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

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

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

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


Guitar Practice Routine: Three Sets of Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Why This Method Works

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

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

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


Tennis as an Example

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

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

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


The Effects of Interleaved Practice vs. Traditional Practice

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

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

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

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

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


Take Action!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Here is the tab of the intro on guitar:

e–12————–|
B—-12————|
G——–13/11–9–|
D——————|
A——————|
E—————–0|

e—0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0——0—-|
G-9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D———————————————-4——2——–|
A————————————————————–|
E————————————————————0-|

e|–0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B|—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0—-|
G|9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D|———————————————4——2——–|
A|————————————————————-|
E|———————————————————–0-|

e———-0———0——-0——-0——–0—0–0——–0—0–0|
B————–0——-0——-0——-0——–0-0—-0——–0-0—|
G——-9———8——8-6—–4——-4-2——1——1——–1—|
D———————————————————4——-2—|
A———————————————————————|
E-0——————————————————————-|

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


“Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley

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

Here are the chords for the chorus:

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

Click here for the rest of the chords.


“Dear Mama” – 2Pac

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

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

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

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


“Mother” – Danzig

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

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

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

Intro:

e|—————————||—————————–|
B|—————————||—————————–|
G|—————————||-o————————-o-|
D|-4——0——2——-4—||——0——–2—–4——-|
A|-2——2——0——-2—||-o—-2——–0—–2—–o-|
E|——–3——————||——3———————-|

Get the rest of the chords here.


 “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles


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

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

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

e|2—— ——- ——- ——-|2—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-3———–|——————-3———–|
G|————2——————|————2——————|
D|——–0—————0——|——–0—————0——|
A|0——————————|3——————————|
D|—————-0————–|—————-0————–|

e|0—— ——- ——- ——-|3—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-1———–|——————-3———–|
G|———–0——————-|———–0——————-|
D|——–2—————2——|——–0—————0——|
A|3—————3————–|——————————-|
D|——————————-|5—————5————–|

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

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

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

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how to play guitar like prince

How to Play Guitar Like Prince | A Tribute to a Music Legend

how to play guitar like prince

The world was stunned on Thursday morning when news broke that music legend Prince had died at the age of 57.

Fans, celebrities, and fellow musicians took to Twitter to share their reactions, memories, and condolences. Shortly after, various tributes sprung up all over the internet, as the world mourned the music icon.

One of the best ways to honor the late star is to share his (many)talents. Celebrate Prince and learn to play his famous guitar licks in this video from Jonathan B


How to Play Guitar Like Prince


how to play guitar like prince

Want to see these guitar licks and techniques in action? Check out Prince’s Super Bowl XLI performance here!

We’ll never forget Prince and his contributions to music and the world. What’s your favorite Prince song? What will you remember most about the legendary musician?

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Sound Opinions

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guitar tutorial

Video: Nick Jonas “Close” Guitar Tutorial

guitar tutorial

Nick Jonas may have taken some flack lately after a guitar solo gone wrong at the ACM Awards, but  don’t let that fool you, the young musician is a very talented guitarist.

In this guitar tutorial, State College, PA guitar instructor Jonathan B. teaches you how to play Nick’s new song “Close”.

Before you watch the video, make sure you have a basic understanding of the following guitar concepts:

Use the lesson navigator (included in the video) to jump to specific sections and practice different skills.

Nick Jonas “Close” Guitar Tutorial

 


Looking for more guitar tutorials? Here are some more video lessons!

Do you have any requests for our next guitar tutorial? Share them with us in the comments below!

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Brennan Schnell

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