Tuning Explained for Experienced Guitar Players

Tuning you may wonder, is it not as simple as using your electronic tuner, play string and tune up? Yes but once students have done this I still need to check their guitar to see how well they tuned up. So what is up? Can they not read the tuner? Do they play wrong strings or………….? It is a mix of all those things and usually what it boils down to is not understanding how a guitar responds to a tuner.

First of all let me make the comment: A guitar can not play perfectly in tune. It is due to the nature of the instrument. Not a problem as your ears get accustomed to how the strings sound once they have been tuned up.
The tuning of the guitar does get effected by scale length, fret size, height of action, intonation and how hard you play the strings. It is not my intention to make matters too technical. I only mention some of these issues to make you aware why guitars cannot perfectly play in tune.

Okay let us now go back to the tuning: How do you actually tune your guitar?, what is a good method? Before the invention of electronic tuners (late 70s) you would need to tune to a note from another instrument, like a keyboard, or maybe use a pitchfork—-a metal fork which resonates one note once the fork is lightly touched— Once you have that one note you tune the rest of the guitar to that one note. This system is called Equally Tempered Tuning. Any inefficiencies in your tuning will be divided equally across all your strings and fretboard, this makes up for a more musical tuning and is more pleasing for the ear.

Which one note do you need to tune to? You can choose to tune to your A string, and tune the rest of your strings to the frequency of that note. Personally I like to tune up to the first E string: It is your highest string and tuning up to a high note seems to be easier.

So what do you do?
Step 1: tune the first E string to a tuner or anything which can play the sound of the high E string. Do not play the string as an open string, no do play the harmonic at the 12 fret. Why using a harmonic? Because it is a pure tone. Strings produce overtones, which are a mix of several tones. Your tuner likes to hear a pure tone and pure tones make it easier for the tuner to work correctly.

Step 2: Play the B string at the harmonic of 12th fret and tune this harmonic to the  note of the 7th fret on the E string.  Once in tune this note will sound the same as the harmonic at the 12th fret of the B string.

Step 3: Play the G string (3rd String) at the harmonic of the 12th fret, and tune this note to the note on the 3rd fret of the E string. Once in tune this note will sound the same as the harmonic at the 12th fret of the G string.

Step 4: Play the D string at the harmonic of the 5th fret and tune this harmonic to the note on the 10th fret on the E string. This note will produce the same note as the harmonic on the 5th fret on the D string.

Step 5: Play the A string at the 5th harmonic and tune this harmonic to the note on the 5th fret on the E string. Once in tune both notes will sound the same.

Step 6: Play the low E string at the 5th harmonic and tune this note to the sound of the first open E string.

Once you have finished all steps you may want to check all the steps again. Do not retune the first E string one you are in the process of  tuning the other strings as it will mess up the whole system.

The tuning method I have explained above means you need to tune by ear: The first E string is tuned to a reference note, or an electronic tuner, and all the other notes are tuned by ear to the E string.
Once you have tuned up in this manner you may want to use your tuner to check how your strings will register according to your tuner. What you will find is that some strings may be a little out according to your tuner. This is not because of the tuner is broken, not it is because of the guitar and what I mentioned above about it not being able to be tuned up perfectly.

You can actually use the tuner for the Equally Tempered Tuning as well. You will need a tuner which does have a needle.
Here is how I do this:
Step 1: Play harmonic at 12th fret on first E string and use your tuner to tune up.
Step 2: Play harmonic at 12th fret on B string and use your tuner to tune up. Play the 7th fret on first E string and look at your tuner what it says. It should read the same as when you played the harmonic on the B string. The reading may be slightly different but not too much.
Step 3: Play harmonic at the 12 fret on G string and tune up with your tuner. Play on first string the 3rd fret and see if your tuner gives you the same reading.
Step 4: Here is where this system does not work!! You can tune up harmonic on the 5th fret of the D string, and your tuner should give you a correct tuning, play the 10th fret on the E string and your tuner will give you a reading of being 50 per cent out compared to your previous reading. Once you know this you will be fine and can trust it.
Step 5: Play harmonic at the 5th fret on the A string and use tuner to tune up accordingly, now play on the first E string the 5th fret and your tuner should reading close to what you had before for your A string.
Step 6: Play harmonic on the low E string and use tuner to tune up, check this reading with the open first E string, and your reading may be close. Usually the low E string, when using your tuner, may read a bit sharp, to compensate you can tune a bit lower. Check with your ears to see if  your reading sounds like what your read!

Overall using electronic tuners is a good thing, but check them  with your ears and try to understand why your hear sometimes different things to what your eyes are reading.

Good luck and hope to see you soon again,

Blues Tutorial for Beginners: Guitar Solos over Blues Progressions

For this article a few tips on how to get better with playing solos over common Blues progressions. Once you understand these ideas you can apply them to other songs of a similar nature.

A general Blues progression usually has the following chords: I IV and V.  The Roman numerals imply the chords of the key. In the key of A  you will get the following chords: A  D and E.

Most Blues songs you will find will not always follow this progression, but it is a good starting point, it will certainly tune your ears to what notes will sound good.

I IV V progressions can be played in a major or minor key. Try the following with your solos:

In a minor key play minor ideas over the first chord, but for chord IV and V play major ideas, like the arpeggio for each chord. It will give your solo ideas a brighter sound and it will lift those two chords.

When playing in a major key, use minor for all three chords to achieve a darker sound for your solos.

Once you start to understand you will love playing blues as it is a style you can always come back to and experiment with feel and note choice. Once you get comfortable with this you can apply it to any style.

Good luck and hope to catch you soon again,

Reverb and Fender Twin Reverb: Use Boss DD7 to Copy Reverb of Fender Twin

The Fender Twin Reverb amplifier is well-known for its lush reverb sound.
To make the best of this sound use this technique: Stop the sound of your strings like when playing chords and listen to how the reverb carries on your sound.

You can mimic this sound by using a Boss DD7:  Set the mode to 50mS, put Feedback control somewhere around 10 past 12 o’clock  ( 12 o’clock is where control is half way up), put the Delay Time control in a similar place and see what sound you are getting. If you feel you are getting drowned in reverb adjust your controls. The reverb sound should enhance your sound and not give you the idea you are playing in a cathedral.

For most realistic sound use the following set-up:

Use a Pre-amp which sounds bright and emulates the Fender sound, put the DD7 after the pre-amp. Use both outputs of the DD7 and connect them to two channels of a mixer. Connect the mixer to a P.A system (or two guitar amps). By connecting both outputs of the DD7 you have more control over the delayed sound: It will sound fuller when compared to only connecting to the mono output.

Digital Delays are bright and to copy the sound of the Twin Reverb this is a good thing. Analogue delays will work as well but a digital delay gets closer to the real thing.

Good luck and hope to catch you soon again,


Acoustic Guitar Lesson for Singer/Songwriters: Try Using Different Keys For Your Songs!!

It is amazing what a key can do for the songs you play: Change the key and it can make the song very different.
Changing key on the guitar is relatively easy: You can use the same chord shapes and simply use a capo to move the shapes up-or down the fret board.

Certain well-known songs are often played in the same key, by changing the key of the song you can give them a fresh feeling. Try it!!

Good luck and hope to catch you soon again,

Young Children and Guitar Lessons: Try a Baritone Ukulele

When you are thinking of getting any of your children to learn to play the guitar think about their age: Children under 8/9 years old tend to struggle with motor skills when it comes to playing the guitar. Holding the guitar is often a problem as well, even when the guitar is a small one.
In cases like this the Baritone Ukulele may be the answer, since the Baritone Uke does have the same first four strings as the guitar. The advantage of this is: The chordshapes for both guitar and Uke are the same.
Anything which your child has learned on the Baritone Uke may be transferred to the guitar once your child is a little older.

Since not every child is the same it still makes sense to start out with guitar and see how your child gets on with the instrument. If holding of the guitar is too much of an issue try a Baritone Ukulele.

Cheap Baritone Ukuleles can be bought for a similar price as a cheap small guitar. The Baritone Ukulele can also be used as a small travel instrument.

Good luck and hope to see you soon again,

Guitar Lesson: 5 Moveable Dom. 7th Chordshapes

For this article 5 moveable chord shapes you can use for your own guitar playing. To move these shapes up and down the fretboard you will need to barre the shapes. For beginners they may be akward. Simply using the chordshapes as indicated will work as well, remember you cannot change key. If you want to adjust the key you will need to barre the shapes.
Good luck and hope to see you soon again,

        D7       B7     E7       E7                  G7
E  —2——-2————–0——————

B  —1———————–3————–3–

G —2——–2——1——-1—————–

D —0——–1——0——-2————-3–

A ————-2—–2———————-2–

E  ——————-0———————–3-

Electric Blues and Gary Moore

Gary Moore was more that just a guitar player, he was also an amazing singer who could sing at times like Phil Lynott, Peter Green or any other artist who he may have covered. Gary Moore was not only good at mimicking other artists, he also had a style of his own which was based on many, different musical styles.

Some people may know Gary Moore for the album “Still Got the Blues” which is probably his most, well-known work.  Check out some of the earlier Rock Songs Gary wrote such as “Out in the Fields”

Among the characteristics of Gary’s guitar playing is: Melodic riffs, sustaining notes, fast runs, very big Marshall tone, melodic solos using Blues based ideas and European style Metal.

Electric and Acoustic Blues Guitar Lesson: Walking By Myself

For this post three different versions of “Walking by Myself” by Jimmy Rogers. Gary Moore’s version is probably the most well-known one.

Listen closely to all three different versions to hear how they differ. Find yourself a song and try a similar thing where you adapt the song to your playing style so the song works for you.
Good luck and hope to catch you soon again,