Archive for January, 2009

So you’ve tuned your guitar right? – You can play an Open E chord and it sounds great?…Ok now play a E bar chord an octave up – still sound great…? Sounds out of tune? Maybe your guitar’s intonation is out. If your intonation is out then your guitar will sound out of tune the higher up the neck you go so it’s important to get right.

Intonation means that a guitar plays in tune at every fret. To put it right all you need is a little time a screwdriver and a tuner.
So let’s get to it and adjust our intonation.

1. Tune your low E string.

2. Play your low E string at the 12th Fret. If your tuner shows a change in the pitch your guitar is incorrectly intonated and will need adjusting.

3. Where a string is not intonated properly you’ll need to adjust the position of the saddle on for the string on your guitar’s bridge. Electric guitars can have a variety of bridges so you’ll need the correct screwdriver for this task. By tightening the screw you’ll flatten the note and loosening it will sharpen the note. Adjust the screw appropriately.

4. Retune the string to a perfect E.

Now repeat the steps on all strings – depending on your style of guitar and importantly your style of bridge you’ll probably need to repeat this a couple of times to get it right.

So there you go – that’s how to get spot on intonation!

Guitar tab – How to read guitar tab

It’s never to late to learn to read music. Reading music opens up the world of other peoples compositions and often when playing in a group or with other musicians is essential in order to know what should be played and when. While guitarists can read traditional musical notation, guitar tablature or ‘guitar tab’ is also available. This article will help you with the basics for understanding guitar tab. Guitar tab can seem daunting but actually reading tab is quite easy and with the help of our article you’ll pick it up in no time.

One of the best things about learning to read tab is that you’l be able to read other peoples work, or learn the licks of the greats – reading tab well may take practice but it’ll pay off in spades. There are loads of resources around on the net which feature guitar tabs and most guitar magazines carry features with guitar tabs so it’s really useful to get the hang of.

Guitar Tab differs from normal music notation as it shows the strings and fret positions rather than musical notes on a traditional musical stave. In Tab the staff has 6 lines representing the six strings of a guitar. The bottom string represents the low E string. Where a number is shown the guitarists should play the fret indicated for example where you see a 3 on the third line from the bottom you should play the 3rd fret on your D String. Where the tablature shows a 0 it means to play an open string.

In the example below you would play 3 notes the first and 3rd frets of the high E string followed by an Open High E String.


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

Squier Electric Guitars

Squier is part of the Fender Musical Instrument company and generally produces derivatives of the Fender product line. Squier have had a colorful history and have been manufactured in a variety of world wide locations such as Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia. Each of these had various production quality. It is generally thought that Japanese built Squier Electric Guitars were the best produced.

There are a variety of ranges within the Squier Guitar brand (the full name will be visible on the guitar headstock).

Squier Guitars differ from their Fender counterparts in that the guitar components are of less quality than their Fender counterparts, woods and electrical components were generally cheaper and as with all budget brands the pickups specifically produced an inferior tone than their more expensive cousins. However as a beginner guitar they represent excellent value for money – the guitars are offered with a number of finish options which are outside the usual Fender range.

The current range of instruments include replica’s of Fenders Stratocaster, Telecaster Guitar – the guitars feature alder bodies, maple necks, standard squier pickups and chrome hardware.

Squier also produce the Bullet range of guitars these are affordable electric guitars (with a strat design and pickup selection) designed for beginners and students.

Squier also produce the Master Series guitars which are the top of the Squier range, and feature Duncan Designed humbucker pickups, special binding and inlays, metallic and satin finishes, set necks and platinum hardware.

Rickenbacker 330

rickenbacker330The Rickenbacker 330 is a hollow body electric guitar with a double cut-away design, it features two single coil “toaster” pickups on a full size body which includes a sound hole at the top of the instrument. The neck features a 24 fret Rosewood fingerboard with schaller machine heads on the headstock. The Guitar features chrome hardware throughout and the characteristic “R” tailpiece.

The Rickenbacker 330 comes in either a 6 string or 12 string version with a thru neck body. The instrument features a variety of controls (2 volume, 2 tone) together with a mix control for adjusting the mix of the two pickups when both are activated.

The guitar has an airy output characteristic of most semi-hollow body guitars. The pickups deliver a wide range of sounds from clean jangly rock through to grungy tones making it an expressive guitar. In the bridge position, the pickups deliver a twang. The middle position offers a wide range of tones including the typical Rickenbacker shimmer. The neck pickup generates jazzy, archtop-sounding tones producing ideal Rhythm tones.

The guitar has an iconic style – looking very different from the typical Stratocaster or Les Paul. Comfortable to play – the 330 is renowned for having a thin style neck. Problems are few – it can be said that pickups are extremely sensitive and “dead” strings are more noticeable than on other guitars – without a doubt the 330 is one that craves strings to be replaced regularly.

Rickenbacker have enjoyed an incredible endorsement with it’s association with the Beatles but many other aritsts have had associations with the 330 from Roger McGuinn of the Byrds to U2’s the Edge. Indeed the Edge made use of Rickenbacker 330’s characteristic slide tones on a number of tracks including Even Better Than the Real Thing.

The Rickebacker offers the classic unique Rickenbacker sound, unique looks and unrivalled quality. The tone may not be loved by all but it offers something different that should be cherished.

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Rickenbacker 660

rickenbacker660The Rickenbacker 660 features a cutaway body which harks back to the classic designs of the 1950′s. The guitar features 24.75” scale neck with a 21 Fret Rosewood fingerboard with pearloid inlays and Rickenbacker’s trademark “checkered” bindings. The body is also bound in front with that deluxe ‘checker’ binding. The headstock is that characteristic Rickenbacker shape and features Schaller Vintage-type machine heads. The strings are anchored in a vintage style tailpiece and the guitar has a fully adjustable bridge

The guitar has two vintage ‘toaster’ style pickups which in keeping with other hardware is chrome. The instrument features 2 volume and 2 tone controls a 3 way pickup selector switch and fifth control that allows you to blend either pickup into the overall sound.

The 660 is naturally resonant with a lush unplugged acoustic tone. Once amplified it produces that unique Rickenbacker nasal sound whilst being enviably versatile. Sonically this guitar can produce tones suitable for Jazz, Blues whilst still having enough ballsy tone to be on a par with a P90 equipped Gibson for use on rock tones.

The blender control has a lot to do with the guitars versatility providing a way to brighten the tone and “mix” the usual array of sounds that a twin pickup guitar offers. Whilst single-coils are not usually as supportive of an overdriven sound as well as humbuckers, through effective use of the blender control – the 660 is able to summon up authentic overdriven sounds (given an appropriate amp).

The Rickenbacker 660 is a very handsome instrument, beautifully crafted. It carries that unique Rickenbacker tone that have made these instruments so iconic. Different from a Strat or Les Paul – a totally beguiling sound that is underpinned by a rich heritage and attention to detail. The 660 represents an impressive part of the Rickenbacker arsenal.

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