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How to get great guitar tone – Part2.

In the first part of our article on how to get great guitar tone we looked at some of the physical influences over your sound – the guitar, it’s strings etc. In this second part we’ll look at some of the more subtle ways your can impact the sound of your instrument.
6) Pick or finger & where you play

One of the more subtle tone changes can be found from ditching your pick and playing finger style instead. The pick creates a sharp attack and playing fingerstyle creates some interesting dynamics and subtleties. For some inspiration try watching Mark Knopfler’s or the great Chet playing style.
7) Take the lead

How’s your guitar lead? Surprisingly the style of manufacture and even length can have an impact on the tone you hear through your amp. Try some different leads until and see what sounds you get.
8) Take Control

Your tone and volume controls each have a massive impact on your tone – a lot of players play with them set full up but try backing off your volume and listen to the impact that has on your sound, experiment with the different settings your tone control offers.. For inspiration listen to some early Clapton (Cream era). Eric’s “womantone” was in some ways created by experimenting with the sounds he could obtain by changing his tone setting.
9) Optimise your effects chain

How you order your effects chain can have a dramatic impact. As effects modify the signal certain pedals have an optimum position. For example if you use a Wah-Wah pedal they usually work best when placed first in the chain (before distortion) because a stronger signal is then passed onto the other effects. If you use effects mix up the order and see what affect that has on your sound.
10) Playing styles

Finally your playing style can also impact your tone. How hard you attack the strings, where you pick from (near the tailpiece or near the neck?) each affect the tone. What’s your picking style? Do you mute the strings when playing. Try out a number of playing styles to see which works best for you.

Well there you have it 10 sure fire ways of enlivening your tone – why not give some of them a try

How to get great guitar tone.

How to get great guitar tone.

Guitarists obsess about tone. But getting that great guitar tone can be a frustrating experience, with that ideal sound always seemingly just out of reach. However help is at hand, these days there’s tons of equipment out there to help, from Variax guitars, floor pedals and multi effects to transform any sound you care too through at it finally through to amp modellers to replicate any amp combination you might think of. However despite all these technological advances getting great tone doesn’t have to cost the earth. In this two part article we’ll look at a variety of ways to enhance your tone without throwing out all your gear and starting again!.
1) Your guitar

OK so it sounds a little obvious. But your guitar may influence your tone in more ways you realise. The design and shape of your guitar, it’s age, and how it’s been treated over the years all effect it’s tone. How are it’s electrics and controls? Nice and clean are they-mmm…though not? How are the frets? Why not get it setup properly or read up on the web to give it a spring clean try for more info.
2) Your Pick

Now we know that Picks come in lots of different colours but what about their size and shape! Picks come in loads of sizes and gauges. For a thicker tone try a heavy gauge pick and for a brighter tone try a thinner one. The best bet is to try a wide variety until you find one that suits. Remember Brian May gets part of his unique tone from a British sixpence that he uses as a pick so remember a pick doesn’t always have to be plastic!
3) Your Strings

Another easy way of changing your tone is to change your strings. Light gauge strings will sound completely different than the same guitar strung with heavier gauge strings (I always think that heavier strings make a guitar more challenging to play too!). Newer strings always have a certain twang about them. A great reference site for strings is which offers analysis of the various types of strings available.
4) Pickup Height

Obviously your pickups have a large impact on your tone, but whether your’ve got humbuckers or coils your pickup height can have a dramatic impact on your tone. For a louder, thicker tone get your pickups up high. Why not try staggering the height to mix things up? Try it high up on your low E string and low on your High E and listen to the change in your tone – go on experiment!.
5) Change of pickups

Rather than change your amp or your guitar why not switch your pickups – swap your single coils for a humbucker or vice a verca – don’t wanna change your style? Try an upgrade. Check out for some great info on pickups and their gear of the greats section.
That’s it for part 1 – Part 2 coming shortly!

How To Change Your Guitar Strings

By Kathy Unruh

Changing your guitar strings might make you feel a litte uncomfortable if you have never done it before, but it’s really quite simple and should become a regular part of your guitar care routine. Before you do anything, first take time to make some personal observations such as:

1. Which way do you have to turn the tuning keys to tighten or loosen the strings?

2. How are the strings aligned from the nut to the bridge?

3. Which is the heaviest string?

Taking mental notes will probably save you some frustration and make the job much easier.

Below you will find some helpful steps to follow for changing your strings. Once you’ve changed your guitar strings a couple of times your confidence should begin to grow and you won’t need to refer to these steps any longer. I like to remove all of the guitar strings in order to give my guitar a thorough cleaning, but you can remove and replace them one at a time if you prefer.

Guitar Care and Maintenance Tools:

- Needle-nose Plyers (to cut string ends)
- String Winder
- Soft Cotton Cloth
- Guitar Cleaning Polish (do not use furniture polish, oils, or wax)


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Using the string winder , begin slowly loosening the string(s) until completely slack.

2. With the needle-nose plyers, carefully grab the string from the capstan (the part it winds around) and pull through the hole until it is free.

3. Taking the string winder again, use the cut-out at the end of it to grab the pin at the bridge. Gently pull the pin until it comes out of the hole.

4. Continue this process until all the strings are removed.

5. Clean guitar surface thoroughly.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

Follow steps one and two above. When you come to step three, take your needle-nose plyers and carefully loosen the figure eight knot at the bridge. Pull the string free.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for an acoustic steel string guitar. However, if you have an electric guitar with a movable bridge you may want to take it to your local music store and have them show you how to do it safely. If the bridge is moved from it’s correct position you will not be able to tune your guitar after restringing it.


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Bend the ball end of the string slightly and place it inside the hole below the bridge. Some steel string guitars do not have pins. When this is the case, just pull the string throught the hole.

2. Line up the string with any grooves in the pin. Insert the pin into the hole, making sure it is secure.

3. Take the other end and insert into the hole on the capstan.

4. Pull the string through leaving a fair amount of slack between the capstan and the bridge.

5. Bend the string at the point it comes through the capstan to keep it secure.

6. Watching out for your eyes, begin turning the key with your left hand. Once you get it started it may be easier to use the string winder. (For safety reasons, you might want to cut off any excess string. I usually wait until after they’re all on to do this).

7. As you are winding, apply some tension to the string with your right hand to help keep it taught. Make sure you are winding in the right direction! On the bass strings you will be winding counter-clockwise (away from you). On the treble strings you will go the opposite direction.

8. Continue to wind each string until all the slack is taken up. Do not worry about tuning yet.

9. Cut off all excess string length.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

1. Put the string through the top of the hole found just below the bridge.

2. Pull about 3 inches through.

3. Bringing the string up over the tie block, pass it underneath itself at the original point of entry.

4. Come down over the tie block again and wrap the end of the string around itself in a figure eight type pattern.

5. Insert the other end of the string down through the hole on the capstan.

6. Wrap the string around the back and then underneath itself in order to secure it in place.

7. As described above, begin turning the key with your left hand while maintaining some tension with the other until all the slack is taken up. With a classical guitar you will wind clockwise on the bass strings and the treble strings.

8. Keep the string as straight as possible as it continues from the capstan through the nut and down onto the neck.

9. You should not have any excess string length, but if you do, cut it off.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for the acoustic steel string guitar.

I hope you found this information to be helpful. Remember, establishing a good guitar care routine will insure many long years of musical fun and enjoyment!

FREE Reprint Rights – You may publish this article in your e-zine or on your web site as long as you include the following information:

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit:

How Many Guitar Chords Do I Need To Know?

By Duane ShinnDon’t forget to check out our Online Guitar Chord Generator tool.

Guitar chords, (chords played specifically on a guitar,) differ only from other types of chords by virtue of instrument; they’re simply a series of three or more notes played together. These notes don’t necessarily have to be played simultaneously, however.

Broken chords (also referred to as arpeggios) are three or more notes that aren’t played at the same time but closely enough to still be heard as a group or whole. And even the three-note rule is open to the occasional exception; some guitar chords consist of only two notes, but they still function as chords because they work diatonically in the same way that a major or minor chord would.

Guitar chords might very well be the most important element of guitar playing; after all, they’re the basis of what makes a song. Most people picking up a guitar for the first time figure out a few guitar chords before even going for their first lesson, and still more teach themselves guitar chords without any help from an instructor. Self-taught guitarists learn guitar chords in a number of ways. Some learn by listening to their favorite songs and slowly picking out the notes, a common yet often frustrating process. Others figure out guitar chords by learning to read guitar tab, a type of sheet music intended for fretted instruments that uses a graph-like chart to show where on the frets the fingers are placed. Both techniques are common among those learning guitar chords, though the number of self-taught guitarists who never learned to read tab is fairly high.

Just like any other instrument, the sheer number of possible guitar chords can often be overwhelming for a new guitarist. And even the frequently taught guitar chords are beginning to fall by the wayside, making room for a variety of guitar chords created by tuning the strings in almost innumerous ways. Though power chords (guitar chords using a base note, an octave note and the fifth) are still the most common type of guitar chords, new bands are increasingly experimenting with alternate tunings to create new sounds; alternative bands have been toying with this way of playing interesting guitar chords for decades.

So how many chords does a guitarist really need to know?

Most simple songs contain just 3 chords – called “primary chords”. So even a stark beginner can learn 3 simple chords well enough to strum along and accompany himself as he sings. But after that, the sky is the limit – there are thousands of possible chords, so it is up to the individual guitarist as to how many he or she want to master.

(With Mollie Wells)

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and music educational materials such as DVD’s, CD’s, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. His book-CD-DVD course titled “How To Play Chord Piano In Ten Days!” has sold over 100,000 copies around the world. He holds advanced degrees from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He is the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled “Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions” with over 57,400 current subscribers.

Alternate Guitar Tunings

One of the great things about the guitar is that there are a loads of tunings that you can set your guitar up with. Many of these tunings support certain styles of playing the guitar (for example many of the open tunings are great for slide playing). Below we’ve listed some of the more common Guitar Tunings.

These Tunings show the strings low to high
Standard Tuning E A D G B E
Open E Major E B E G# B E
Dropped D D A D G B E
Open C Major C G C G C E
Open A Major A C# E A C# E
Open G Major D G D G B D
A 7th A E G A C# E

Why play a Rickenbacker

These days there are a ton of electric guitars on the market – from the prestige instruments such as the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul through to their myriad of replicas. With so much similarity in instruments available it takes something a little special to get you noticed or to produce a sound that’s different – that’s why you should look at Rickenbacker guitars.

Rickenbacker’s have a tradition that harks back to the 1930’s and they have produced many famous and innovative models since. For example the Rickenbacker 325 Electric guitar, famous for it’s association with John Lennon and the Rickenbacker 360 12 string guitar – associated with the 60’s band “The Byrds”. These guitars remain iconic to this day and their sound is instantly recognizable.

Visually they look kind of like a Stratocaster on speed – with their big flat bodies – often with a traditionally shaped “go faster” sound hole, Ricky “R” bridge and unique headstock. Strap one of these on and you’ll stand out from the crowd. They really have that wow factor.

But what really makes the Rickenbacker so special?

The sound! Sonically, Rickenbacker guitars have a unique sound – partly due to their quality construction but mainly due to the unique Rickenbacker pickups. During the 1960’s Rickenbacker used their now famous “toaster pickups” which looked like the top of a bread toaster – recently they’ve used more high-gain pickups – both have emphasised the higher frequencies and have contributed to a magical chiming sound. Another attribute is that Rickenbacker’s are often equipped with a “stereo” output socket (known as “rick-o-sound”) which allows the guitar to be connected to different effects chains and amps . Finally the most subtle option available on Rickenbacker guitars is the blender control When either pickup is : slected, you can use it to blend the other pick-up in. So if you think the neck pickup is too dull – then mix in some honk from the bridge pickup this is really tremendous and adds some great tones to your instrument.

All these attributes make for an extremely versatile instrument and while you don’t often find Rickenbacker guitars in heavy rock – they cover everything in between. Rickenbacker’s evoke lovely tones suitable for Pop or alternative rock music right through to Jazz and country and there have been tons of guitarists who use these instruments from U2’s the Edge and Peter Buck of REM through to Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Given such a heritage – you’ll find the sounds it produces really useful whether you’re a rhythm player or virtuoso soloist.

So in summary if you want a unique look together with a unique sound the next time your down a guitar store – be sure to try out a Rickenbacker guitar.

Check out more at

Guitars – Rickenbacker

By Michael Russell

Alongside guitar names like Gibson and Fender, you can’t mention the best of the best without adding the name of Rickenbacker. This company has been around since 1931, but it wasn’t until 1956, on its 25th anniversary, when Rickenbacker began to make a name for itself in the world of guitars.

That year, Rickenbacker introduced the Combo 400. Guitar collectors call it the guitar with the butterfly style body. But Rickenbacker didn’t stop there. That same year they added a solid body electric bass guitar. The one thing about these guitars that made them different from any other guitar was that they had necks that extended from the head to the bass of the body. Today they call this neck through body construction. Rickenbacker was the first company to make guitars like this and soon came to be a trademark of the company.

During the 1950s, Rickenbacker had many popular models. Probably the most popular were the hollow body six string Capri models. This guitar was first unleashed on the world in 1958. The guitar itself was designed by Roger Rossmeisl. There were three models of this guitar and each one had a different body style.

But it wasn’t until the 1960s that Rickenbacker has sealed its name in rock and roll history when its guitars got permanently fastened to the British invasion of the mid 60s. This invasion came in the form of the greatest rock band of all time, the Beatles. The groups featured several Rickenbacker guitars in its arsenal. Before the Beatles called it quits for good, John Lennon had owned four Rickenbacker guitars himself. The guitars had become so attached to the Beatles that one of the models was known as the “Beatlebacker”. Never in history had one guitar been so identified with one particular group or person.

It wasn’t long though until Rickenbacker made its way to a number of groups. Roger McGuinn of the Byrds bought himself a Rickenbacker after seeing the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night”. The sound of the guitar that McGuinn bought actually became the trademark of the Byrds’ sound. Other groups and artists that latched onto the Rickenbacker were Pete Townsend of The Who, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Kay of Steppenwolf. By the late 60s there was a six week waiting period just to get one of these guitars. They were beyond popular. They were a true phenomenon.

By the 1970s, Rickenbacker started making guitars with detachable necks. They even matched slanted frets to match the angle of the player’s hand. They also started making their famous double neck models that became quite standard. Other groups started jumping on the Rickenbacker bandwagon like Tom Petty and R.E.M.

Currently, Rickenbacker is as popular as it ever was. More current groups like Oasis, Pearl Jam, Radiohead and U2 all use Rickenbacker guitars to get their patented sound.

If you want to get an idea of just how popular Rickenbacker is, George Harrison of The Beatles was once asked what guitar he played and he answered, “Of course it’s a Rickenbacker”.

Could there have been any other answer?

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Guitars

History of PRS guitars

The PRS Guitar company was founded by Paul Reed Smith and manufacture their guitars mostly in the USA with the remainder SE series manufactured in Korea.

PRS are very particular in the quality of their components for their guitars and are considered high end instruments coupled with the quality of their components and build

PRS guitars tend to feature intricate figured tops – in flame or quilted tops – which produces a visually stunning instrument.

Originally PRS guitars were hand made however during the mid 1990′s, PRS switched to automated manufacture and assembly. Unlike other manufactures PRS guitars tend to feature PRS designed hardware such as PRS Tremolo or PRS pickups. With regards to the pickups PRS guitars often feature a “pair” of pickups – wound in opposing directions, one for the neck and one for the bridge position.

PRS have a rich association with many artists who play their instruments. These range from Carlos Satana through to the likes of Faith Hill. There are a number of PRS Signature model guitars.

These days PRS offer a range of guitars from the likes of the PRS Eagle that features a Maple top and rosewood neck through to the PRS Santana II signature model that features a flame maple top, fat Brazillian rosewood neck and Santana zebra bobbin treble and bass pickups.

Due to the high quality components and construction methods – PRS guitars can be pricy – however there is a robust second hand market which some reduction in prices – but they are collectors items and seem to demand top dollar.

For more information visit the PRS Guitars site

Ovation Guitars

The Ovation guitar company began in 1966 – and focus on producing quality acoustic instruments. Founded by Charles Kaman an aeronautical Engineer – he used his aerospace experience to good effect within the production environment by modifying the traditional guitar shape to maximize the vibration and sonic tone of an acoustic instrument.

Ovation revolutionized the acoustic guitar when they modified the traditional flat back design by introducing a round “bowl” shaped back to improve sound quality and projection. This first guitar took several years to design and proto-type and eventually became the Balladeer

When the Balladeer was introduced it caused much discussion in the music world. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s Ovation continued to improve on the design with subsequent models seeing the addition of binding, flatter fingerboards and moer variation (a 12 string was added to the series in 1968).

Ovation, over the years, have produced an extensive list of models. Many feature onboard electronics to enable better amplification of the instrument in live situations – other innovations include the addition of onboard EQ (eqalisation and Piezo pickups.

Ovation have long since had an established connection with many of the worlds top artists including – Glen Cambell – Yngwie Malmsteen, Cyndi Lauper.

To this day Ovation guitars are seen as a premier acoustic instrument (Ovation have also made bounds into the solid body electric guitar market – but remain best known for their acoustics). Due to the extensive list of models – many are collectors items and you can find these instruments fetching high prices on the usual auction sites and vintage guitar shops

Martin guitars

The Martin Guitar company was formed in 1833 and since then they have become known as one of the worlds best manufacturers of flat-topped acoustic guitars. The company was formed by C.F. Martin who began as a Luthier at the age of 15 in Germany and Austria before moving to the USA aged 37. The Martin guitar company are renowned for manufacturing high quality acoustic guitars and apply rigorous quality control and extensive use of manual manufacturing techniques.

The Martin Guitar Company are responsible for many of the design elements found in modern day acoustics including the X bracing system which utilizes struts of wood being glued to the underside of the top of the guitar in a X pattern.

Martin also introduced the Dreadnought style of acoustic guitar – large and deep with a greater volume and deeper tone than traditional acoustic guitars.

Today Martin Guitars produce a variety of acoustics from the Vintage series to Special Editions and Artist guitars such as the “David Gray Signature”. The company utilizes high quality woods for manufacture such as Maple, Brazilian Rosewood and Flamed Mahogany all of which help produce a beautiful resonant tone.

One of the results on being world renowned is that Martin Acoustic Guitars can be very expensive and retail at many thousands of dollars. Older Martin guitars are also highly collectable and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars at auction.

These days the guitars are primarily built at their factory are in Pennsylvania. In 2004 the company built there one millionth guitar.

For more information visit the Martin Guitar website

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