All in Essentials

Songs Worth Learning - 10

My Girl - The Temptations

This 1964 classic Motown hit was The Temptations’ first #1 single. It was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. The instantly recognizable signature ascending guitar riff is simply a C major Pentatonic scale followed by an F major Pentatonic Scale. But scales rarely sound this good. It is also a clever way to outline chord changes without actually playing chords.

Barre Chords 1

A Barre Chord is a chord where one finger holds down more than one string of a chord. The most common type of barre chord has the first finger holding down (or barring across) all six strings. Since you are holding down all of the strings, the barre chord shape is moveable, enabling you to play 12 chords of the same type (major, minor, 7th, etc.) by simply moving one chord shape up and down the fretboard.

Tips For New Guitar Players 4

Record Yourself

Record your playing regularly. It doesn’t matter what you use to record, just make recordings. Computers today are powerful enough to be virtual recording studios, so get an audio interface and get started. Or use a tablet or a phone. Recording can help you remember ideas. Many times in my life I had a great song idea and didn’t record it. Then the next day I couldn’t remember it. Recording the ideas prevents them from getting forgotten. 

Songs Worth Learning - 9

Heart Of Gold - Neil Young

Neil Young is one of the few artists who has successfully jumped from solo acoustic singer-songwriter to grunge rocker to country bandleader and had hits in each style. This song is one of his popular acoustic hits. And while it is an acoustic song with country flavorings, it also has a cool driving acoustic guitar part with riffs in the intro that feels more rock than country.

Tips For New Guitar Players 3

Practice Standing Up

Many new guitar players spend most of their time practicing while seated. However, you will rarely play live sitting down — unless you are doing an acoustic guitar set on a stool, or playing classical guitar. It is a good idea to start spending time practicing the guitar while standing. Buy a strap if you don’t have one and adjust it until the guitar is in a comfortable position (not too high or low) similar to where it would be sitting down. 

Songs Worth Learning - 8

Oye Como Va - Santana

The song was written in 1963 by popular latin jazz musician Tito Puente, but when Santana covered it replacing the flute and horn parts with overdriven rock guitar it became a huge hit for the young latin rock group. The rhythmic Am7 to D9 chords and latin percussion provide the perfect bed for the single note rock guitar of Carlos Santana playing the melody.

Tips For New Guitar Players 2

Play With Others

Nothing will improve your guitar playing quite like playing with other musicians. Whether it’s a guitar teacher, a friend who also plays guitar, starting a band with friends, being part of a jam session, playing at church, playing at school, or anything that involves playing with other real live musicians, it is good for you. You will invariably pick up ideas, riffs, chords, techniques, or just experience that will improve your playing and make you a better musician.

Songs Worth Learning - 7

Ain't Too Proud To Beg - The Temptations

"Chopping" the treble strings of a chord on beats 2 and 4 is a staple of Motown and 60's R&B music. This song also adds a simple guitar riff in the chorus. It is good practice to play songs where you don’t play the 1 beat. (Reggae is another example of music where the guitar often doesn’t play the 1 beat.)

Songs Worth Learning - 6

Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

This is the song that put the "power" into power chords. It was also the first  45 (vinyl single) I ever bought when I was 12. It had the album version of Smoke On The Water on one side and the radio edit of Smoke On The Water on the other. I remember thinking "What a rip-off." Ha ha. 

Common Guitar Open Chords

Open chords are chords that have at least one open string. Many guitar players begin by learning open chords. Then they progress to power chords, barre chords and other moveable chord shapes. While there are no hard rules, a lot of popular music (rock, country, pop, folk, etc.) is created using mainly Major and Minor chords with other types of chords (7, m7, maj7, sus4, etc.) being used less often. Blues music typically uses a lot of 7th chords and even some 9th chords.

Using Guitar Capos

A capo is a mechanical device that clamps onto the neck of the guitar and changes the guitar's tuning. Capos are typically used by acoustic guitar players, but they work equally well on electric guitars. There are essentially two types of guitar capos: six string capos and cut capos.

Songs Worth Learning - 5

25 Or 6 To 4 - Chicago

Chicago was one of the most popular rock bands of the 70s to incorporate a horn section into its music. This song is one you can learn in stages. Even beginners can handle the fun, opening riff with a little alternate picking practice. It simply descends down the 6th string moving form the 5th fret to the 3rd to the 2nd to the 1st to the open 6th string. Then starts again.

Slash Chords

Note: If you were looking for some magical chords that will make you sound like the guitar player Slash formerly of Guns 'N' Roses, I'm sorry, there are no magical chords, just magical players. This is an explanation of what Slash Chords in musical notation are and how and when to use them. It's almost magical.  

A slash chord is simply a chord that uses a note other than the root note as its bass (lowest pitched) note. Since guitar chords often have multiples instances of the same note in a chord, and the root is not always the lowest pitch (bass) note, slash chords are more commonly used by piano players. But guitarists need to understand them and know how and when to play them. 

Songs Worth Learning - 4

Wipe Out - The Surfaris

Back in the 1960s when instrumental rock was twangy and cool, Wipeout ruled. Wipeout is a surf music classic that has been featured in over 20 films and countless covers by other bands. It has catchy riff/melody and only three chords. It is a great alternate picking workout, and you get to practice chord stabs. Which is good practice for not playing 3 1/2 beats per measures. Not playing can be just as effective as playing and often better than playing too much. Drummers love this song too, making it more likely to be requested.

Guitar Parts

A good workman knows his tools. Below are diagrams of the two most popular types of guitars: electric and steel string acoustic (classical or nylon string guitar parts are essentially the same as steel string acoustic guitar parts.) Guitars may have variations but the basic parts are similar for all guitars.

Songs Worth Learning - 3

Melissa - The Allman Brothers

The Allman Brother Band were know for having two electric guitar players playing harmonized guitar parts. They fused blues, jazz, and country to create a style that became known as “southern rock.” But this song feature acoustic guitar and the use of open chord shapes ascending and descending the neck with lots of open strings.

Shopping For Acoustic Guitars

Buying an acoustic guitar can be challenging. Many acoustic guitars are similar in appearance and sound. Why do some cost hundreds of dollars, while others cost thousands? In this article I’ll take a look at the different types of acoustic guitars available, what you should get for your money, and what you should look out for when buying.

Shopping For Electric Guitars

Buying an electric guitar can be an exciting experience or a source of great frustration, depending on how prepared you are. In this article I’ll take a look at the different types of electric guitars available, what you should get for your money, and what you should look out for when buying.

Types of Electrics
There are basically three types of electric guitars: solid body, hollowbody, and semi-hollowbody. Each type has numerous variations, including 7 string models and “baritone” guitars. I will focus on standard 6 string guitars. 

Deriving from early attempts to “electrify” acoustic guitars, the hollowbody guitar is a blend of old and new. These guitars have large bodies, some are fat and some are thin. Most are arch topped and have sound holes cut out of the body making them both acoustic and electric. Generally, they have humbucker pickups and achieve a very warm, fat tone that appeals to many jazz players.