Showing posts in category Beginner

How To Remember The Guitar String Names

For a video version of this post, check out “The Easy Way To Learn Your Guitar String Names”

Memory is such an interesting thing. Some people seem to have a naturally good memory, and some of us, well, don’t! I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time remembering things. When I was a kid in school and I had something I needed to remember for a test or something, I’d put it to a song. I do love learning new things though, but sometimes trying to remember it all is a real challenge.

Learning The String Names

When it comes to learning new things in an area you don’t know much about, like when you’re learning how to play guitar, it can be hard and frustrating. It may not make a whole lot of sense trying to remember things like the order of strings, especially if this is your first instrument and the concept of notes isn’t something you’re used to. It IS hard to remember those notes, and then knowing that they are in -what seems like random- order, just makes it even more confusing.

use mnemonics to learn guitar string names

Let’s Learn The Guitar Notes

So, one really useful trick is to use a memory aid, kind of like the example above of putting it to a song, but this time for the strings I like to use an aid called “mnemonics”. Mnemonics just basically means that you’re taking the first letter of all the things you’re trying to remember (in our case we just want string names) and then we assign a word or phrase to each of those letters. It’s definitely easier to show you than explain it, so let’s take a look:

If the letters we need to remember for the strings are E A D G B E, we can make this order MUCH easier to remember by using a word for each of those letters and making a phrase or sentence out of them. The phrase I like using is “Elephants And Dogs Grow Big Ears”. So starting with the biggest string first, moving to the smallest, we have E A D G B E.

Be Creative, Use Mnemonics

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of different mnemonic phrases and the truth is they all work as long as you use the right string name letters for your phrase. You can even make up your own, and hey, who knows, maybe it will help you remember better by creating one for yourself.

So how about you? Did you use a mnemonic phrase to help you learn the strings, or did you learn them in a different way? Share your story down below.

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How To Minimize Fret Buzz

Click here to check out the video post for how to cut down on fret buzz.

Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard you press down on a note, it just doesn’t make that solid, clean sound you want. Instead it sounds “buzzy”, or maybe it doesn’t even make any note at all and it’s a just a dead, or muted note. This sort of thing happens to everyone at one point or another. This is mainly the case when you’re just starting out, but it can even happen quite a bit later on in the intermediate stages depending on what it is you’re trying to play.

Do You Need Lots of Finger Strength?

For the most part, it does has a lot to do with finger strength, which is why it happens most often to beginners who haven’t quite built up their hands yet. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. As long as you keep on playing, you WILL get that finger strength. It’s only natural to get better at something you’re putting time into. However, there’s one little trick that you can do to make sure your notes are playing cleanly. Something anyone can do. Especially beginners because the earlier you can grasp on to this technique, the better it will serve you as you go on to play.

A Simple Finger Exercise

Now before we see what this trick is, let’s check out what NOT to do first. As you’re looking down at your frets, try playing a note (any note is fine), but instead of playing in the middle area of the fret, try pressing down near the back end of your fret, that is, on the end closest to the tuning pegs, and away from your body. Take note of how hard you have to press down to make that note sound clear. Now let’s try the opposite.

string buzz from back of fret
On that same note, press down again but instead of playing on the back end of your fret, this time press down on the front end of your fret, the side that is closest to your body. See how much easier that was? You should have noticed that it took much less strength to fret that note to create the same clean tone.

clean sound from front of fret
So how exactly does help you? This experiment shows us is that whenever possible, try and press every note down as close to the front side of the fret as you can. Now this won’t always work out with every thing you play. For example, an A Major chord, where you’re playing the 2nd fret across three strings, you’re going to have one finger near the front edge, one on the back edge, and one in the middle area. So for that particular example, sticking to the front isn’t always possible. But just remember that whenever you can, try putting your fingers on the front side of the frets.
Well guys, I hope that if you’ve been having trouble with fret buzz, and you’ve been struggling with making clear and clean notes, that this little trick will help you once and for all. Like always, if you have any questions or just want to add to this topic, feel free to leave a comment down below.

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How To Read Guitar Tabs

One of the most important skills you can have as a musician is to read music. Most people aren’t naturally able to play by ear, so most song learning will either come from someone showing them how to play it, or by them reading the music notes for it. Unfortunately, learning to read guitar notation, or guitar notes on a musical staff, can be quite confusing and intimidating for us guitarists since we have so many duplicate notes on our instrument. One note on a staff could potentially be in five different places on your guitar. So how do you even decide where to play a note like that? A lot of times it’s just up to your best judgement and the context of all the other notes. The good news is that us guitarists have a music notation system called tablature (tab for short) that is much easier to read. And while it may be true that tab has some pitfalls, it’s definitely the most popular choice among guitarists and bassists.

Getting Started With Guitar Tab

So how do you read tab? Well, it’s actually pretty easy. Let’s take a look at the picture below and notice how there are 6 lines going left to right. These lines represent the 6 strings on your guitar. And you can even see on the far left, or the start of the tab, that each line is labeled as one of your string names.

how to read tab
Now, for a long time when I was first learning to read tab, I’d always confuse the lines and read it upside down. I use to read the line on the bottom as the High E string, not the Low E string. I’ve actually noticed that a lot of people do this at first too because as you’re holding your guitar and looking down at it, it does seem like your thick, Low E string is on top, right? So when you look at the tab, that line on top seems like it should be the Low E. Well, as you might have guessed, it’s actually the opposite and the best way to remember this is to think of it like note pitches. The lowest pitch is on bottom, and going up, the highest pitch is at the top. So that would mean that the Low E string is on bottom and the High E is on top.

Understanding The Numbers

Now let’s look now at the tab again and figure out what all those numbers mean. These numbers on the lines are the fret number, or space number, that you play. So that 2 on the top line means that you play a 2nd fret on your High E string. The 3 on the B String means that you would play a 3rd fret on your 2nd string, B. When you get to that 0, this just means that you would play the string “open”, or without pressing any fret note down.

But What About Chords?

The last thing I want to show you is the stacked numbers. So far we’ve been reading one note at a time, going left to right. When numbers are stacked up and down like this in a vertical way, it means that you play them all at the same time, as a chord. This chord happens to be a G chord, and you’d strum every string that has a number on it, in this case, all six strings. In other words, when you find a chord that only has 5, or 4, or even 3 or 2 notes stacked on each other, you would only strum the strings that have a number on the line. If there’s no number on the line, then don’t strum that string.

Learn And Master The Basics First

Well, that should at least get you going on a basic introduction level of reading and playing tabs. There are all kinds of symbols that can be added to tab for notating different playing techniques and tricks, but these can quickly become overwhelming at first if you’re not totally comfortable with these fundamental starting points. In fact, there so many symbols that can appear in tabs, and really any music notation in general, that even I have to look up what some of them mean sometimes.
So for now, this should be a good starting point to getting you up and running with playing songs by tab. If you have any questions or comments, always feel free to post them in the comment section below.

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