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How to Really Know Your Guitar

How well do you know your guitar?

Do you know everything there is to know about it:

from how it’s made, to how all the controls work, to what kind of wood it’s made of, etc.?

Depending on what guitar you have, there could be quite a bit to know. And it can be a little intimidating or overwhelming.

So many of us choose to ignore that stuff. We just want to pick up the guitar and play songs! Knowing all those details isn’t really that important, right?

Wrong.

Look, you can certainly learn to play your guitar, a song, a riff, without ever knowing that stuff.

I can also just go start up and drive a new car without knowing anything about any of the controls in the vehicle. At least until I need to know specific things to improve my driving experience: “how does this A/C work, it’s getting hot in here!”, “which lever works the wiper blades?”, “how do you set the cruise controls?”, etc. I think you get the idea.

Well, it’s the same with the guitar. The more you know about it, the better your experience will be when you play it.

I recently read this excellent article from Beginner Guitar HQ about How to Choose the Best Guitar. You really should take the time to read it. There are a number of things to consider when choosing guitar, they go through each of them.

But, I also think the article is excellent for all of us who already have guitars. We need to have some idea of what we have so that we can have a better experience playing them.

Recently I made a video series called Pedal Power. While it was mostly made for electric guitar players, the first part of the series can equally apply to all of you acoustic guitar players. Check it out:

Too many electric guitarists (and many acoustic players) who purchase pedals make the mistake that the pedals are going to make their sound.

I have news for you: they don’t.

You may have heard the saying: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig

You can have all the latest and greatest effect pedals but with a guitar that is cheap, defective, or simply doesn’t sound good, your sound will never sound great.

Never.

I always advise students of mine, and people who simply call for advice, that before you invest in pedals, or even a decent amp, is to get a good guitar first.

It always starts with a good guitar. Notice I didn’t say expensive guitar. Price isn’t always the determining factor.

How is it made? How does it sound? How does it play?

These are things we all need to be looking for.

Then, when you have the guitar (as I am sure most of you reading this have one), you need to get to know what everything does on it.

How do the pickups work? How different are their sounds? What kind of strings do I have? Are they in good condition and the right size for me?

What condition is the guitar in? Does it have buzzing on the frets? Strings are too high (or low) off the neck? In these cases, take it to a professional who can set it up to be in optimal condition. It is amazing how much a setup can improve your playing! In fact, just like you should regularly get oil changes on your car, it’s a good idea to regularly take your guitar to a guitar professional to get it back in optimal condition. I like to do this twice a year (fall and spring) on some guitars.

And it’s funny, when you are truly familiar with your guitar (and amp for you electric players), you will have a better idea of what kind of effects will really work for you! For example, I know that some overdrive pedals work best with my guitar/amp setup. Whereas, for another guitarist with a different guitar (and/or amp), they will have better success with a different kind of overdrive pedal.

So think twice when you want a certain effect pedal just because someone else you know, or a guitar hero of yours, has that pedal, that you think it will work for you. Try them first. Then try others. You might find what works for you is completely different from what they use.

And that’s ok.

You are unique. Let it show.

I hope it helps!

Rock on until the next time!

Oh, by the way: Do your fingers need a workout? Here is a free mini course I made for you to help out with that. It’s obvious (just a click away), easy (just follow along the course with short videos), and satisfying (you WILL play better). Check it out here:

Or just click this link: Guitar Finger Gymnastics

Tony G.

PS: Here is my TOP 10 Favorite Alex Lifeson Riffs Video taken from his huge catalog of Rush songs. It was a lot of fun to make! Let me know what you think:

Best Rush Songs on Guitar

Closer to the Heart

PPS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscribers to more than 155 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

6 String Corner

Guitar Notes and How to Easily Find Them

If you want to excel at the guitar, you gotta know where your guitar notes are. It’s just a fact of guitar life.

But it can be a little intimidating, right? I mean, each string has it’s own note order and 5 of the 6 are all different!

It’s kind of like English you learned in grammar school. Before you could construct your sentences, write paragraphs, stories, song lyrics, texts, Facebook posts, etc., you had to learn the alphabet. Without knowing all of those letters, everything else becomes difficult if not darn right impossible.

And while you could learn how to speak your language without knowing the letters, you wouldn’t able to read or write. And that creates all sorts of problems in your life. It’s called “illiteracy“.

Guitar is like that.

Sure, you could probably figure out how to play some songs, even do some solos, without knowing how the notes go on your fretboard. But your skills would be severely limited. Guitar playing would be difficult and hard. It could even discourage you from playing in the future.

And that’s not fun.

There are two ways we can solve this problem:

1 – Memorize all the notes on the guitar. You could try it all in one sitting (good luck). You could also just learn them over time. But really, who has time for that?

2 – Use some kind of system to quickly get you to learn those notes.

You knew where this is going…:)

I like to use the dots on the guitar a lot to help find things on the neck.

Let’s just start with three notes on two strings and work from there…

You can start with the low E string and look at the frets with the first three dots (I know some guitars don’t have one on the 3rd fret, pretend on is there for now…). The notes go in this order: G for the first dot, A for the second dot, and B for the 3rd dot. Think ‘GAB’.

Then look at the A string (or the 5th string). Check out the same first three dots. Those notes are C, D, and E respectively.

Just work on knowing those six notes before moving on.

There is so much more. So how about checking this out:

I have a 7 Step System that I have used to help my students find their notes. However, I never put it to writing. Until now.

The whole thing is FREE. No “strings” attached. (see what I did there? LOL Thanks, I’ll be here all night…).

Just click on the link below, enter your email (don’t worry, no spam crap here. I’ll send you some more tips later if you want them), and download the .pdf. That’s it.

Guitar Note Finder .pdf
https://sixstringcorner.lpages.co/note-finder/

It’s pretty easy to follow along with.

I hope it helps!

Once you get your notes mastered, you can improve your knowledge of things like scales and chords: what they are called and where they are.

For example: if you know just four certain barre chord shapes, your library of being able to play ANY major or minor barre chord has increased beyond what you thought possible.

Check out my barre chord article here:

Barre Chord Basics – Pt. 1

As you read through that post, pay special attention to diagrams where I show where the “root note’ is at. Guess what? By knowing your notes on the guitar, you can play that very same shape anywhere, on the guitar. Whatever note that “root note” is pressing down on, is the name of the chord.

So, if you wanna play a C Minor, find the C note on the guitar, form the minor barre chord shape with the root note being on a C and voila! You have a C Minor.

Wanna play an Eb Major? Find the Eb, do the same thing, and you got it!

Check out the article here.

Rock on until the next time!

Tony G.

PPS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscribers to more than a gaggle of geese (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

6 String Corner

This Could be the Single Most Important Thing You Need to Know as a Musician

“Do it again on the next verse, and people think you meant it.”
― Chet Atkins

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”
― Leonard Bernstein

“Actually I don’t remember being born, it must have happened during one of my black outs.”
― Jim Morrison

LISTEN!

What good is music if we don’t actually listen to it?

I’m speaking from experience here: many times I just want to jump in and play/learn a song or lick. I mean, I know it, right?

Heard it and I’m good, now let’s get to it…”

And then, when it comes down to playing, even if the notes/chords are correct, it doesn’t always sound quite right.

I think some of it comes down to us not actually listening to what the song or lick is about. We miss the vibe.

Music isn’t only about all about the notes, licks, and chords. Those are still important.

However, a big part of music is how it feels to you or someone who is listening to you.

So, here is a fun listening test that I want you to take. And it involves playing modes.

I recently did a series of videos on my You Tube channel playing various modes on the guitar.

Those videos, and this letter, are not about how to play them or to even tell you what they are (that can be a future lesson).

In fact, before I would show any of my students how to play them, I would want them to listen to examples of the modes first.

Now, I know many of you may not even know what the heck a mode is.

Perfect! You have no bias, so you can listen freely. In fact, you might even in the best position of all of us to evaluate this little test.

Here is the experiment, and it is for a very simple result:

What does it sound like? 

Does it sound sad, happy, spacey, anxious, intense, weird, bouncy, something else?

I’m going to give you 5 of the basic modes to listen to (there are many more).

And, rather than evaluating the playing skill of the player in the video, listen to what the music sounds like.

Then comment in the video what your interpretation of it is.

That’s it.

And, this is very important: there are no wrong answers. The correct answer is yours!

Also, I think it would be great for everyone to read what others think and see if it is the same and/or different from what you think.

That’s cool.

That’s art.

Here ya go, click the link, listen, and comment (the videos are short).

Dorian

Phrygian

Lydian

Mixolydian

Locrian

Rock on until the next time!

Rock On,

Tony G.

PS: Oh and hey, can you do me a favor? I’m starting a mission to grow my You Tube Subscribers to more than 152 (Ha!). No, seriously, if you can quickly hop over there and “Subscribe”, it would be so very awesome! When you subscribe, you get real time updates when videos are posted. You might find something useful and/or fun!

I promise that the videos (most of them at least) will be entertaining and/or informative!

Here is the path to arrive there:

6 String Corner