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The guitar is a well-known instrument which plays a big role in many musical settings. Its versatility makes it part of many genres where it works both in the rhythm section and as a solo instrument. Classical guitarists exploit this versatility especially well. We hear both melody and harmonic accompaniment at the same time.
The bass however, serves the purpose of setting the foundation of the music and keeping time together with the drums. At a glance, guitar and bass may seem very similar but there are big differences in both function and position. For instance, the string gauge on a bass is heavier which creates stronger vibrations in the tone and gives the instrument a deeper sound.
Through harmonics and playing higher up the neck it is possible to achieve higher pitch sounds. However, the bass will always be synonymous with low pitch. The engine room of music, regardless of genre.
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It is important to find a guitar which feels comfortable. Try out different types and manufacturers in your local music shop. Overall there are three main types of guitars; classical guitar, acoustic guitar and the electric guitar.
Classical and Acoustic guitars are actually both acoustic guitars which produce sound themselves. There is no need to amplify an acoustic guitar. However, some playing contexts may require further amplification via an electric pickup. Conversely, whilst an electric guitar can make a small sound without an amp. An amplifier is required to produce a satisfying and ‘proper’ sound.
All guitars are different in sound, looks and playability and it is important to find the guitar that best suits you. In terms of playability it should be said that within the three types above there is quite the difference. A classical guitar has a wider fretboard and neck which can make chords more difficult. The narrow neck of the electric guitar makes barre chords and general fretboard navigation more achievable.
For the absolute beginner, there is a slight disadvantage to electric and acoustic guitars. The electric and acoustic guitars have a slight disadvantage for the a beginner. They both use steel strings. This can be uncomfortable to begin with. Beginners should rest assured that finger strength and durability increases quickly.
There is often some fear around a child wishing to study the electric guitar. It is important to remember that your child may have been inspired to want to play by listening or watching their favourite band. This inspiration is gold dust as it provides a steady stream of motivation – even when the going gets tough! For some students, an acoustic or classical guitar simply won’t cut it!
Modern production of amplifiers also means the sound can be controlled. Many beginner amps also come with headphone jacks, enabling near silent practice! Pedals, effects boxes and all manner of potential accessories are also a draw for the electric guitar.
This is in beautiful contrast to the well-made simplicity of a classical or acoustic guitar. In this case, set the best budget you can and use it on an instrument of quality. Well-made instruments by well known brands will hold value. Selling second-hand will be an option should things not work out as planned. Similarly, the second hand market, with the help of an expert is an option worth exploring.
In the end it comes down to ones ambitions and taste since each of the three types has their own qualities. It’s all about finding an instrument you are comfortable with since you will be spending many, many hours with it.
Are you on the verge of buying your own guitar? Here are some tips on what to take into consideration before making your final decision.
The classical guitar is often recommended before the acoustic as a beginner instrument. The classical is said to be easier to play as it has nylon strings. As said before, the two are quite different. As a beginner, there are two significant differences to take into consideration.
The classical guitar has a wider fretboard which means that there should be enough room for ones fingers. It also has string made of nylon which are softer than steel strings. This avoids your fingers becoming too sore to play.
The wide fretboard can though cause problems. If you have short fingers or small hands, it might be hard to fret the more difficult chords. Another advantage of the classical guitar is that it is easier to get a good, clean sounding tone – because of the softer strings.
Since the dynamic is soft, the classical guitar is good for singing songs around a camp fire, in the living room or in small venues. Should you need more volume from your classical guitar, you are also able to purchase a classical guitar with a built in pickup or a microphone which fits on the outside of the guitar which can then be put through a PA system.
Harder on your fingers at first, the acoustic guitar is equipped with steel strings. This will though pass over time since the skin on your fingers will harden and then you won't feel anything! The advantage of a western guitar is that it has a smaller fretboard which makes it easier to finger the chords if you have smaller hands.
Another advantage of the western guitar is the added volume.
Western guitars are suitable for small venues as well as bigger audiences. Western guitars can, as with the classical guitar, also be bought with a pickup or have a microphone fitted to it, which can then be put through a PA system.
The electric guitar is a bit more complex version of the acoustic guitar. The solid wooden body is heavier than an acoustic guitar. The fretboard is thinner however, making navigation of the fretboard more manageable.
As previously discussed, the electric guitar does not make a lot of sound on its own. You will need to connect it to an amplifier to get the sound you want. One of the advantages of the electric guitar is the amount of different effects pedals which can vary the sound in many ways.
Getting a professional set-up is recommended For all types of guitars if you are planning on using it a lot. Setting it up includes adjusting screws and various things inside the guitar which can make it more comfortable to play. Get a recommendation from your tutor or a music shop for the right person to do this for you.
Here is some information about the structure of the guitar, chords, different scales and barré chords.
Here is an image displaying the different parts of an acoustic guitar. The parts are named the same on electric guitars.
The frets are the metal bars that lie across the guitars fretboard. Pushing down the strings between these changes the tone of the string. This is called fretting. If you are playing a note on the first fret, you should place your finger between the nut and the first fret.
From thickest to thinnest, the strings on a guitar are called E, A, D, G, B and E. You can tune the guitar either by ear (e.g. using a piano and listening for the right notes) or by using a guitar tuner.
For beginners, a tuner is recommended. There are many different versions: clip-on tuners, pedals tuners and even smartphone apps.
You tune the guitar by turning the machine heads. You should always loosen the machine heads so the note is lower than you want and then tighten it till you get the desired note. This way, the tension is on the correct side of the strings.
Here we see an A chord. From the chord chart, we see that we have to press down three strings, namely D, G and B and that this should be done on the second fret. Above the lw E string there is an X. TThis X means that the string should not be played. Beneath the A and low E strings we see a O. This means that this string should be left open (meaning not fretted).
When strumming the strings we do it over the guitars soundhole. The sound in the acoustic guitar is created here.
Scales are notes that fit together in a given key. Melodies and solos often use scales as starting points. and solos in music. Here are links to some of the scales:
Barre chords is a term players usually get to know after learning the most basic things on a guitar. Starting off, many players will hate playing these but once they get to grips with them they will become an essential part of most guitarists playing. Once you know the technique you will easily be able to play all the most fundamental chords.
What is hard about the technique is that in the beginning it can be hard on your fingers since it requires quite a bit more of finger strength than open chords. The easiest way to learn them is to keep on practicing them.
If you are new to playing the guitar, here is some advice and some tricks which can be helpful along the way.
Try to make sure that you practice every day if possible. In the beginning, it’s recommended that you practice regularly and for shorter periods of time.
10-15 minutes two times a day is usually more beneficial than practicing for one hour, one day a week. Make sure to always have the guitar within reach at home. This makes it easier taking one or two chords spontaneously, in the moment so to speak.
Your fingertips will harden overtime. The different chord shapes will also become second nature. This does though take time and it is wise to be patient. This way you may also avoid injuries or annoyances.
Besides the strings being hard on your fingertips, you will probably also notice that you need to build up strength and flexibility in your fingers. As a guitar player you will be putting your fingers through some quite challenging positions. For some people it is helpful to sit down with the guitar instead of standing up.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground and make sure the guitars weight is on your lap. If you feel the guitar sliding down, you can take a lower chair or cross your legs.
Your guitar deserves to have its own case or bag (hard-case, soft-case, gig-bags or similar). This way you have the opportunity to transport it. It is also a good idea to get hold of a guitar hanger or stand so that you can show it off and it can get its own place in your home.
By doing so, you will probably play it more often and you avoid having to put up against the wall or furniture, where it might fall over or get damaged.
It is always a good idea to have a spare set of strings lying in your guitar case. Should one of your strings brake you would then have the opportunity to put on a new set. If the strings aren’t to hand you might get put off changing them.
At last it is important to keep up your motivation for playing guitar. You can do this by playing songs that you like and think are fun to play. Songs that you play again and again. When you feel that you know the song try playing together with the original.
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