LESSON SERIES - Part Four: Guitar for Beginners...

Scales are without a doubt a very important part of guitar playing. They function to help to improve both picking and fretting. Learning scale theory helps us learn about how chords are constructed so that we can improve rhythm playing. Scales help us understand where the notes are on the guitar fingerboard. And, most important, scales are the first step with gaining an understanding for the most basic of musical principles - intervals.

The two most common scales that guitar students will initially learn are the "A minor Pentatonic," and the, "C major scale." Both scales can be played using one-finger-per-fret patterns that can be done in one position, (four-fret range). This will allow the use of all four fingers within four frets that occur within reach to each other.

After learning a few common shapes, students need to progress onward to playing melodies with the scales. A complete understanding must accompany the melody work so as to help the student know which scale pattern the melody operates from. Range is another important factor while learning melody from scales. A student should understand when one scale pattern ends and a new pattern is being employed to enter a new range.

Once students have a capability for basic single-string melody they should next move on to composing their own simple melodies. Eventually, students should explore how to improvise with the scales.

You might love one genre of music at the expense of all others, but by embracing a wide array of sounds and styles you will actually improve your playing at a far more rapid pace.

For instance, you might love rock but by learning the blues scale you will gain an array of new options for your rock guitar playing. The blues scale is also great for beginners because it can help you limber up your fingers and get used to playing single-note guitar licks.

But, the biggest benefit from exploring other styles will generally come from the experience of learning new rhythms. I know when I was first exposed to Latin music, I was surprised by the different ways rhythm was incorporated to create the various types of; Latin /South American /Afro-Cuban, "Clave."  Funk was another style that really tested my ability to handle complex sixteenth-note patterns. Even learning old-time Folk & Country Western will introduce many new guitar techniques. This makes the act of exposure to different and varied musical style such a crucial element of learning the guitar (or any instrument).

Want to sound like a metal master and quick? An easy way to get into heavy metal rhythm guitar is to play in "Drop D" tuning. This tuning is used by countless bands (Lamb Of God, Avenged Sevenfold, Rage Against The Machine, and Soundgarden, to name a few) and has one massive pay off: the easy to play, one finger powerchord.

By retuning your sixth string from E down a tone to D, the open fourth, fifth and sixth strings form a D5 powerchord (D A D). Play these strings at the 3rd fret and you get an F5 powerchord; play them at the 5th fret and you get a G5.

You can move the shape to any fret using just one finger for the fretting. This makes for instant riffing that is accessible to players of all levels. All you need to do is learn to tune down to "Drop D." I cover this (with MP3 examples) in my eBook "Single-Finger Chords."

Changing the guitar's tuning certainly doesn't end there. Many guitarists will lower their tuning in order to use heavier gauge strings, (Slash, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Nirvana, Hendrix), or even just be be able to bend notes faster, tighter and up to greater intervals. This lowered tuning is most commonly done as what is called, "Down a 1/2 step," tuning. This is where every guitar string is lowered by a semi-tone distance. Another even lower version known of as, "Down a Whole-Step Tuning," is almost just as popular!

There are also many 'other types' of what are generally called, "Open Tunings." These kind will involve changing specific strings to match exact scale tones in order to achieve an "Open Chord." Some popular open tunings are, "Open D," (D, A, D, F#, A, D), as well as, "DADGAD Tuning," (which is a variation on Open D with the third string tuned to "G" giving us a unique sound of the 'Dsus4 chord'). Open "G chord" tunings are yet another popular type. The "Open G," and "Dropped G" are extremely common open "G" chord examples.

In the early days of playing guitar beginners may have enough work cut out for themselves just learning how to use the standard guitar tuning. However, it is very important that students both become aware of, and develop skills for, changing the guitar's tuning. And, students need to know about this early on since it won't take long to encounter a song they want to learn that is tuned differently. Beginners need to understand that the tuning of the guitar can, and will, be altered by most of the popular guitarists /recording artists.

Learning guitar can be a struggle early on just because there's so much in front of you to learn. And, it isn't static mental knowledge. It will be physical and will involve a high-degree of coordination. Anyone who has practiced an instrument knows that there’s a lot to master, and it might not come quickly to everyone, but the rewards will come if you stick with it and put the hours in.

This is why it is so important to take stock of where you are at with your study material every few days. Keep a practice log. Use a "Practice Schedule." And track your metronome progress on paper, or in a computer app. Probably the worst thing you could do is just grab the guitar each day with no plan. Just playing for fun, without any guidelines will produce very poor results. Using a practice plan is a huge benefit, and once you get used to using one, the speed at which you learn will be a great motivator.

I discuss these concepts in great detail within my eBook, "Accelerating Your Learning Curve." As human beings, we do not all learn exactly the same. We have different patterns and systems that work well for each of us as individuals. Some of us need to see information written down or on a video. Some of us need to hear a topic explained by a person who is an expert sitting with them. Yet other people will need to physically do a task in order to learn the task. For them, all of the videos or lectures in the world won't help. Once you (as a student of art and life) can discover, "how you learn," the speed at which you can develop new information will greatly accelerate.

Through all of this, be sure to remember that playing guitar is supposed to be fun, so play with a smile on your face in the knowledge that the hard work will pay off in spades.

Your sound isn’t just about the way that you play - a huge part is, of course, about the gear that you play and how that sound contributes to your overall guitar 'voice'.

Even pro guitarists take years to find the guitar and amp combination that fits them like a glove, so get down to your local music store and experiment with different guitars and amps. Once you’ve found the best fit for you, life will be a whole lot rosier.

I've seen some students in my studio struggle for months on an acoustic, then blossom upon the purchase of an electric. I've also seen players who hate their tone so much they almost quit playing, until they purchase a new amp and fall in love with their tone. Even purchasing a new $80.00 guitar pedal can skyrocket at home practice.

So, be sure to remember that equipment plays a very large role for at home practice and for the overall fun-factor of playing this instrument.


Post a Comment