25 February 2010

Beginner Guitar Lessons - Acoustic Tricks

Some cool ideas to spice up your acoustic guitar playing. Add these tricks to beginner open guitar chords and sound really great!





Thanks to Marty Schwartz for sharing another great guitar lesson with us.

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24 February 2010

Get Guitar Practice Motivation in Your Pocket

Here's an easy tip that can help any guitarist to play better guitar by increasing your motivation to practice more often. I'm sure we've all heard before that the only way to play better guitar is to practice, practice, and then practice some more. But every day you are bombarded with many different demands on your time, advertising messages pulling you one way, the wishes and desires of friends and family pulling you in other directions. It can be hard to make the time to focus on what you want to do - play guitar.

But there is an easy way to fight back. You can create your own powerful advertising messages that will stimulate your desire to play guitar all through the day.

One easy way to create these messages to yourself is with guitar picks. Guitar picks are great because they are inexpensive, take up little space and don't intrude too much. All you have to do is take yourself a handful of guitar picks and sprinkle them around your life so they'll be a constant reminder of your desire to play guitar.

Here are a few things I like to do with my picks that might work for you too.

1. Put them in your pockets with your change or your keys
2. Punch a hole in a pick and add it to a key ring
3. Stick a few coloured picks around the sides of your computer monitor
4. Put one in the see through pocket in your wallet next to the photo of your wife or kids
5. Stick one to the back of your mobile phone
6. Leave some in your car, in those little change pockets around the dashboard

In short, leave guitar picks in all the places you frequent during your day. Each time you see a pick you'll be reminded of your guitar, of that song or exercise you are working on and you'll get that itch to play play and practice again.

These frequent reminders will tickle your desire to play guitar throughout the day and when you get home in the evening you'll be motivated like never before. Give it a try, take a few of your guitar picks and start spreading them around your life today.

Learn acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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Photo by matsuyuki.

22 February 2010

National Guitar Workshop 2010 Announced

Why not spend some quality time getting in some good guitar practice this summer? And what better place than with one of the National Guitar Workshop's guest artists. Here's a summary of the line up recently announced for 2010.

New Milford, CT - John Petrucci, Tommy Emmanuel, David Leisner, Sonny Landreth, Mick Thomson, John Scofield, Ron Carter and Russell Malone, Martin Sexton, Steve Kimock, Ed Gerhard.
McLean, VA - Kurt Rosenwinkel, Paul Gilbert
Chicago, IL - John Petrucci, John Hammond
Austin, TX - Hubert Sumlin and Bob Margolin
Los Angeles, CA - Paul Gilbert, William Kanengiser, Duke Robillard, Pat Martino

Visit National Guitar Workshop for details of courses, locations and dates.

Learn acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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19 February 2010

Learn the Guitar Fretboard with Flash Cards

Do you remember the flash cards you used at school to learn how to read and spell words? Guitar flash cards are based on a similar idea but instead of spelling they help you to learn the notes on your guitar fretboard. It uses the idea of a simple flash card game to show you notes on a guitar fretboard one at a time. The more notes you guess right the more points you score.

The best feature of guitar flash cards is that it learns the weaknesses and strengths in your fretboard knowledge as you play. It then adjusts games to give you most practice on those parts you're weakest at.


Who is guitar flash cards for?

Guitar flash cards can be used by guitarists of any level who wish to improve their fretboard knowledge. You'll find them especially useful if you have some spare time around a computer that you could use to work on your guitar skills, for example, during your lunch break at work or while you travel.

To play guitar flash cards all you need is a PC or Mac with a web browser and Internet connection, then visit the guitar games web site to play.

How Do You Play It?

Playing guitar flash cards to learn fretboard notes is easy. First you visit the settings page to choose which strings or range of frets you want to work on. You can also choose other options like whether you'll be quizzed about sharps and flats or not.

Start a game and you'll be shown a fretboard image with a fret position highlighted by a red dot. Press the button matching the note you think is shown by the red dot and the computer tells you if you're right or wrong. If you're wrong a Show Answer button appears to let you discover the right answer, but you can keep on guessing if you want to.

The computer keeps track of your score as you play awarding you points when you get the note right and removing points when you guess wrongly or click Show Answer.

At any time Guitar flash cards can show you a report of your progress. You'll see a coloured chart showing you clearly how you're doing on all areas of the fretboard. Red means you're getting the notes right and blue indicates frets where you need to work more.

Conclusion

The Guitar flash cards game is an excellent aid to learn the notes on your guitar fretboard. If you want to improve your fretboard knowledge with a fun and easy approach from any place with an Internet connection then Guitar flash cards is for you.

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17 February 2010

What Do You Hate About Learning Guitar?

We all enjoy lots of good things and fun moments as we learn to play guitar, but I'm sure we all have at least one thing that we hate doing. Maybe you dislike scale exercises, reading music, going back to your teacher when you don't feel you've made much progress...

My pet hate is changing guitar strings, and I keep mine on the guitar as long as possible to avoid this task. Sometimes I find myself wondering "Wouldn't it be great if we could choose one thing we really dislike about learning to play guitar and pay someone else to do it for us?

Sound crazy? Well maybe it is, but that was the idea at the start of Jack Bock's Screwdrivers company.

In 1995 Jack Bock bought some flat pack furniture, but being useless at DIY he hired a handyman to assemble it for him. He thought to himself that there must be many other people like him who struggled to assemble their flat pack furniture and would be happy to pay someone else to do it for them. That idea led to a successful company that assembles furniture, puts up mirrors and picture frames, repairs loose stair rails and all sorts of other 'small and annoying' DIY tasks.

If it worked for DIYers then maybe it could work for us guitar players too?

What would you be willing to pay someone else to do?

So, what about you? Is there an activity you have to perform to learn to play guitar that you really dislike? Leave a comment by clicking the link below and tell us what guitar thing you'd love to have someone else do for you...

Learn acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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Photo by Mai Le.

15 February 2010

Develop Your Musical Ear With Music Add-Ons for Firefox

If you learn to play guitar then it's important to develop your ears and musical mind by listening to lots of different music. The more music you listen to the better, and getting variety will open your ears and mind to a lot more musical possibilities.

In the past it could be quite hard to get to listen to many kinds of exotic music. If it wasn't played on the radio where you lived then you had little chance of discovering it. But nowadays anybody can listen to a huge diversity of music with ease thanks to the Internet.

Here's a list of 16 add-ons for the Firefox browser that will interest anybody who likes exploring music on the Internet. Check out this list offered by Mashable to find some neat time savers and surprise makers for your music listening.

Learn acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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12 February 2010

Why Are Guitar Chords Major or Minor?

This article in in answer to a reader who asked why some chords in a key are major chords while others are minor, "I noticed a gap in my theory knowledge that you might be able to help with. In playing chords in the Key of C - is there a reason the other chords are minor/dim? In the sense, why is it that the chord progressions (in scale order goes) I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - viii ? The answer might be "just cause it's the way it is" but perhaps you can shed some more light on the matter. And as a final question, are all major keys chord changes in that order? Would the key of A have the same I - ii - iii ... etc?"

The last part of this question is easy to answer. Major, minor and diminished chords occur in that order in every major key. The chords on the root, fourth and fifth degrees are major, on the second, third and sixth degrees minor, and on the seventh degree diminished.

It's a little harder to explain why some chords are major and others minor, but let me try. Let's use your guitar's B string (2nd from the bottom) to illustrate this, the notes of the C major scale are shown along this string for one octave - from the first to the thirteenth fret below:

B string: |-C-|---|-D-|---|-E-|-F-|---|-G-|---|-A-|---|-B-|-C-|---|

Now let's use this scale to build a few chords. A basic chord is made up of the root, third and fifth notes of the scale so we'll pick these notes from the C scale shown above.

First the I chord, C major, start from c at the first fret and count up two notes to the third, e. Notice that the distance between these notes is four frets (or two whole tones) which makes a major third. Now we count up two more notes to get the fifth, g at the eighth fret and we've got a C major chord on the I degree.

Now let's do the same for the ii chord. We start from the root D note at fret three and count two notes up the scale for the third. This time we arrive on F, notice that the distance between the root and this third is only three frets (or one and a half tones) - it's a minor third which gives the chord its minor quality.

Two notes further up and we have the A, fifth note at the tenth fret and we have a D minor chord on the ii degree. Notice the distance between the root and the fifth is seven frets for both the C and D chords.

If you perfom the same exercise for the other notes in the C scale you will get chords with three fret minor thirds on degrees ii, iii, vi and vii. On vii you will find that there is also one less fret for the fifth, so we get a diminished chord.

Try this exercise with some other scales and you'll see for yourself that the pattern repeats in the same way for all of them. Chords on some scale degrees have a major third interval, while chords on some others have minor thirds. The major and minor third intervals occur always on the same degrees of the scale leading to the familiar pattern of major chords on the first, fourth and fifth degrees and minor chords on the second, third, and sixth degrees.

Now you know where the major key formula of major and minor chords comes from and you can find the major, minor and diminished chords in any major key.

Learn more about guitar chord theory with Jamorama. 153 step by step video lessons, jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to intermediate player Jamorama complete guitar learning system.

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10 February 2010

Beginner Guitar Chord: B Major

This lesson introduces beginner guitar players to the B major chord. This chord can be a little harder to get to grips with than some of the beginner open chords. For many it could be the first time you move up the neck a little into new territory.

But things are not so hard and scary as they might first sound. This B major chord is basically the same shape as the beginner's A major chord and isn't much harder to play.

The fingering for the complete chord is shown in the chord diagram below.

e x|---|---|---|---|
B  |---|---|---|-4-|
G  |---|---|---|-3-|
D  |---|---|---|-2-|
A  |---|-1-|---|---|
E x|---|---|---|---|

You might find it easier to start by getting only the second, third and fourth fingers into place at the fourth fret. This is exactly like fingering an open A major chord, only two frets higher up the guitar neck. Strum only these three strings when you do that. You might like to use these same three fingers for the A major chord if you know it as a warm up.

When you get comfortable playing the chord with these three strings it's time to move on and get the B note in the bass on the fifth string. Place your three fingers just as you've been doing and then stretch back your first finger to place it two frets lower on the fifth string. It will be a difficult stretch at first and don't be surprised if it feels very awkward.

Work slowly to develop the stretch of your fingers and you'll be able to reach that bass note with a little time.

Now you know how to play a B major chord, take your time and practice it slowly. Once you've got the hang of this chord why not have some fun playing it in some easy rock songs? Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen uses only the B and E chords, for example, or you could try Dire Strait's So Far Away From Me.

Learn acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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8 February 2010

Guitar Chords Lesson: A Major Groove

Here's an acoustic guitar video lesson that shows you some useful chord positions. We recently discussed the use of small partial chords as an alternative to bar chords. This video shows that there are many interesting things to learn about chord playing without using bar chords.

Listen to the video to hear how these little chords create a really interesting rhythm pattern. If bar chords are not your thing, you can have hours of fun with the chord tricks this video shows you.

Follow the link to enjoy the A Major Groove lesson from freeguitarvideos.com.

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3 February 2010

5 Reasons Chord Progressions Help You Learn to Play Guitar

When you learn to play guitar you will often come across talk of chord progressions. But you may be wondering just what they are and why you should learn them. A reader recently asked me this question, "Why learn chord progressions? If the chords for each song I want to play are given on the tab for those songs why bother learning about chord progressions?" Let's take a look at five good reasons why knowledge of chord progressions helps you as you learn to play guitar.

1. More Songs with Less Effort

Makes it easier to memorize songs so you can play without the tab sheets. You can think in terms of families of songs belonging to the same progression. Instead of memorizing each song and its various chords you simply remember the progression and the key you usually play it in.

2. Learn New Songs

Makes learning new songs easier - once you recognize a progression you know already by ear or by reading through the tab you'll be able to memorize and play it more easily. With knowledge of how progressions are constructed and common progressions you can identify the most likely candidates for chords in a song you are trying to figure out by ear.

3. Change Key

You can use your knowledge of progressions to easily change songs to other keys (this is called transposing). You can transpose a song to make it easier to play using chord positions that you know, open chords for example, or to adapt it to the singer's voice, which might be you.

4. Make Up Your Own Songs

When you understand how chord progressions are made you'll be able to make up songs of your own quite easily. You can pick the right kind of progression to create the sound and mood you want in your song and you'll know how to create good sounding verses, choruses and bridges so your song will sound really professional.

5. Play Without Tab

Sometimes the tabs for a song you need to play might not be to hand. When you're at a jam session or playing with someone else, for example, they may call a song that you don't know. But with your knowledge of chord progressions you'll understand exactly what to do when someone calls to you "It's a I-IV-V in the key of A", you instantly know the song's chords. So your chord knowledge helps you to communicate with other musicians.

In summary, building your knowledge of chord progressions will help you to play better guitar and be a more accomplished musician.

As the reader's question stated you don't strictly have to learn chord progressions. You can learn to play a lot of songs simply by following what's written down and this might be sufficient for your aims. But even if you don't aim to become a high-level musician the practical benefits of learning and playing more songs with confidence and reduced brain overload could well be a good investment of your learning time.

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2 February 2010

Blues Guitar Lessons

This handy list links all of the blues guitar lessons on the site to make them easier for you to find. Have fun with them...



I hope these blues guitar lessons are useful to you. Remember, if you have a question they don't answer please send me an email (use the Contact link in the sidebar) and I'll try to answer for you.

1 February 2010

Two Chord Song - Paperback Writer by The Beatles

It's been a little while since I shared one of the popular two chord guitar songs that so many readers enjoy. But today we're going to fix this with a classic song from The Beatles. Yes, even a group as accomplished as the Beatles created and played two chord songs.

Paperback Writer was the Beatle's eleventh single in 1966 and went to number one in several countries. The verse remains on a single G7 chord until the end before finishing with a C.

According to Wikipedia's page on the song Paul McCartney aimed to create a song with a melody backed by only a single chord and just missed this goal with Paperback Writer. He may have missed his goal but he still left us a lively and dynamic two chord song for beginner guitar players to enjoy.

Get Paperback Writer at Ultimate Guitar.

Listen to Paperback Writer on You Tube.

Learn to play more beginner guitar songs on acoustic guitar with 153 step by step video lessons, acoustic jam tracks, ear training and music reading software. From beginner through to advanced player with Jamorama Acoustic complete learning system.

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