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March 09, 2010

How to use a guitar tuner?

The quickest and most accurate way to tune your guitar is by using a guitar tuner. A guitar tuner is an essential tool for the guitarist; no guitar gig bag should be without one.  A guitar tuner tells the guitarist whether the note he is playing on each open string of his instrument is at the correct frequency; it allows you to tune the guitar with precision. Before you use your guitar tuner, make sure to read the instructions that it came with, it will have helpful information about the tuner that you may need to know.

*Turn the tuner on

*For the acoustic guitar, placed the built-in microphone next to the guitar sound hole and for the electric guitar, plug the guitar into the tuner then pluck the string that you wish to tune.

*Observe the indicator on the tuner it should be in the center position and showing the name of the note when the string is in tune. If the indicator has past the center position, this means that the string is too tight or sharp, release and adjust the tuning key until the indicator the remains in the center position. If the indicator stays below the center position, the string is too flat, tighten tuning key until the indicator remains in the center position. You should repeat this procedure for the remaining strings.
 Alternate methods of tuning the guitar
You may not always have a guitar tuner at your disposal so here are some alternative ways to tuning your guitar.

 Tuning by Ear
*Place a finger on the fifth fret of the sixth string. Now, play the sixth string and the open fifth string. Listen to the two pitches they should sound alike. If the open fifth string sounds lower than the sixth string then tighten the fifth string tuning key until the two notes sound alike. If the open fifth string sounds higher than the first note then loosen the fifth string tuning key. Remember; always adjust the tuning key of the open string, not the fretted string.

*Next, play the fifth fret on the fifth string and the open fourth string. Listen to the two pitches carefully and adjust the open fourth string accordingly just as you did in step one.
*Now repeat for the fourth string at the fifth fret. Listen and tune the open third string to it.
*Tune the second string by playing the third string at the fourth fret and tune the open second string to it. This is the only string that does not use the fifth fret as the reference. It is tuned to a major third rather that a fourth like the others are.

*Lastly, play the second string with your finger back at the fifth fret and tune the open first string to it.

 Tuning Using a Keyboard or Piano

You can tune your guitar to a keyboard or piano by making the E A D G B E notes on a keyboard match the open strings of a guitar. Strike the note on the keyboard or piano then strike the corresponding note on the guitar. Try aiming to make the notes sound as closely as possible. Happy tuning.

What is the difference between an accoustic guitar and an electric guitar?

Acoustic guitars and electric guitars differ in many different ways. The first way is obviously sound production. The way an acoustic guitar makes sound and the way an electric guitar makes its sound, it very dissimilar. This accounts for the two totally diverse sound you can get out of each instrument. An electric guitar makes sound from its pickups. Pickups are basically high powered magnets which can be configured in any way to produce the desired sound of the guitar player. The pickups detect the vibrations of the strings as you pluck. The pickups then convert these vibrations into sound which is heard from the amplifier.

An acoustic guitar makes sound drastically different from an electric guitar. An acoustic guitar produces sound using the little "chamber" or whole you can see under the strings. The string's vibrations are funneled down into the little hole and reflected back out as sound waves. This makes a crisp clear sound, but is much softer than an electric guitar.

Although there is a fine line between electric and acoustic guitars, developers are now bridging the gap. Now, electric guitars can sound like acoustic guitars and acoustic guitars can sound like electric guitars. How is this possible you ask? This is possible because of a new pickup now called a hybrid pickup. This pickup is usually much smaller than a regualr sized one. It is planted between the end of the neck and first regular pickup of the guitar. It produces sound waves almost identical to that of an acousitc guitar which makes the two sound so similar.

There are also pickups on acoustic guitars. The guitars that have these pickups are called acoustic-electric guitars which you might have heard of before. The pickups detect the sound waves of the guitar, and produce the sound waves electronically. This is why it is an acoustic electric guitar. It makes the guitar much louder than it normally would be. It can be hooked up to an amplifier and is great for use at concerts which feature acoustic guitars.

With modern advancements in technology, it is now possible to have the best of both worlds in guitars. Many recording guitarists use acoustic electric guitars for recording acoustic guitar sounds. This is because it is much easier to hook it up to recording devices. Also it is now possible to have guitar effects hooked up to an acoustic guitar . This expands the horizons of both producers and musicians alike.

How To Read Tabs (Part 2)

Now for the special symbols used in tabs:

p = pull off
      h = hammer on
      \ = slide (downward)
      b = string bend
      / = slide (upward)
      ~ = string vibrato
let's explain these symbols with a tab:

e     |------------------------------------------------|
B     |------------------------------------------------|
G     |-----------------------9-11-11h12 12p11--9h11---|
D     |-9-9h11--11p9--9-11/12--------------------------|
A     |------------------------------------------------|
E     |------------------------------------------------|

first, D string at 9th fret is played. Then we notice 9h11. This means you put your finger at 9th fret, pick the string than hammer the 11th fret. Hammering means you pick a string with your finger at one fret, then without picking that string again you use your fretting hand to hit another fret (in this case 11th fret) hard enough to creat sound. Remember, you pick once but get 2 notes when hammering. Next we see 11p9. This means pick the string at 11th fret then 'pull-off' that finger while another finger is already placed at 9th fret. It's like pincing the string at 11th fret with the fretting hand while you have a finger placed at 9th fret. The effect is like reverse hammering. 2 notes are played with one picking of the strumming hand. Hammering and pull-offs are often done in a row like 9h11p9. It's playing the 9th fret, then hammering the 11th fret and then pulling-off to 9th fret again. All with just one pick of the strumming hand. Sound difficult? You will learn it if you practice. It's not that hard.
As we move along the tab, we notice 11/12. This means you hold down 11th fret and pick the string, then without releasing the pressure, you 'slide' the finger to 12th fret. Again, you pick once but get two notes when sliding.
\ is just sliding in the other direction. So 5\3 means slide from 5th fret to 3rd fret, picking onle once (at 5th fret).
~ means just vibrating the finger when you hold down a string at a fret. It gives a nice effect.
b means bending the string at a fret to give the sound of another fret. For a beginner I would suggest, avoid string bending for now, and don't try to play the tabs that has a lot of string bending.
My final advice for the beginner who is now ready to read his first tab: start with a simple tab like 'Come as you Are' - Nirvana or 'Hurt' - Johnny Cash.

How To Read Tabs (Part 1)

Tabs tell you how a song is played in guitar. Reading tabs is easy, you won't have to go through this lesson twice.
Guitars usually have six strings (there are 7 string and 12 string guitars also, we'll ignore them now). The first thing you have to know is the name of the six strings. The top string is the thickest string, and it is called the 6th string or E-string because it plays E note at open fret (when you don't hold down any frets and just pick the string), assuming standard tuning. The next string is called 5th string or A string for similar reasons. The other string in order are 4th or D string, 3rd or G string, 2nd or B string and 1st or e-string (thinnest string). As the 1st and 6th string are both E notes, we distinguish the 1st string by writing it in a smaller case 'e'.
Now we are ready to move to tabs.
The first thing you will notice about tabs is that there are six lines. They represent the six strings of the guitar. They look like this:

e ------------------------
 B ------------------------
 G ------------------------
 D ------------------------
 A ------------------------
 E ------------------------

I have written the string names (the note each string plays when you don't hold down any frets) on the left, this may not be given in all tabs. If it is not given, you have to assume that it is the same as I have written. Note that the top string of your guitar (the 6th or E string) is written at the bottom of the tab, and the bottom string (1st of e string) is written at the top. Many beginners get confused at this, but this is the standard way to write tabs (don't ask me why).
Also note that in some cases the string names may be writter differently. These are the cases when the song is not played with standard tuning. That means the open strings don't play the notes E,A,D,G,B,e but some other notes. As this lesson is for beginners, we will stick to standard tuning guitar tabs.
The next thing you notice on a tab is the numbers. The numbers represent frets. 1 means 1st fret, 2 means second fret and so on. A 0 (zero) means open string. For example:

e --------2-----------------
 B ------3---3---------------
 G ----2-------2-------------
 D --0-----------------------
 A --------------------------
 E --------------------------

The tab is read from left to right. So, this tab means, first you play D string at open fret, then G string at 2nd Fret, then B string and 3rd fret and so on. If you know your chord, then you would notice that this tab plays the notes of D-major chord.Another example:

e --0--0--0--2--2--------------
 B --0--0--2--3--3--------------
 G --1--1--2--2--2--------------
 D --2--2--2--0--0--------------
 A --2--2--0--x--x--------------
 E --0--0--x--x--x--------------

The difference between this tab and the first tab is that in this tab, multiple strings are hit at the same time, so this indicates strumming. At first you hold down and A and D string and 2nd fret and G string at 1st fret and play all 6 strings. If you know chords, then you would notice that this is E-major chord. According to the tab, E-major chord is strummed twice. The next chord is A-major which is strummed once and then D-major is strummed twice.The x indicates that that string is not played. Meaning you don't hit that string with your strumming hand. It could also indicate a dead note. This means that you play that string with your strumming hand but it doesn't make a sound becuase you muted that string with your other hand. Holding a string lightly (rather than pressing it firmly down at the fret board) and hitting it creates a dead note. Wheather or not a string in not played or a dead note can be confusing as they are both represented by x. Listining to the song will often give you a clue. For a beginner, assume that the x indicates that the string is not played.

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