Related Guitar Topics
Other topics that we have not covered yet in this manual or associated software include:
1) Buying a good guitar. This is especially important since buying a bad first guitar
that is difficult to play can cause you to quit.
- For electric guitar, you want the neck straight, you want to be careful in checking out
"tremolo bars", since they can use springs that die after a while causing your action to get high. Other
than that, you want to make sure that the frets aren't worn down from previous users. The basic operation of the
pickups must be checked.
- For acoustic guitar, you want the neck straight, you want to make sure the guitar resonates
as much as possible.
- For classical or flamenco your range of choices is large. You can get factory made guitars,
apprentice made guitars that are made under the supervision of a master, or you can buy a signed guitar from a
master. Since great sounding guitars have only been made for a hundred years or so, you will pay a lot less than
someone would pay for an equivalent grade violin, but you'll still have to pay thousands of dollars for concert
grade guitars. The difference in sound is amazing though. Touring the great luthier shops in Madrid or Barcelona
is an incredible experience.
2) Tuning the guitar. You can use Virtualoso Guitar to tune your guitar by playing the
open strings in Explore Music mode and tuning your own guitar to these reference notes. In this way, you rely
on your ears. This is analogous to using a pitch pipe. Once you tune your guitar to Virtualoso's reference open
strings, check your tuning with an electronic tuner if you have one. If you have a tuner, use it every time before
While we are speaking about tuning the guitar, it is necessary to point out that the main
tuning (E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4) is not the only way that guitars are tuned. It is the standard tuning though. There
are many different ways that the guitar is tuned, mainly for slide guitar and slack key Hawaiian guitar. It is
much more difficult to melodically improvise in these tunings since the intervals between the strings have many
types of intervals in them.
3) Technique - how you actually play a given note, with a pick, with your nails, with
a slide, etc. There are so many different styles of guitar, that you need to decide which type you would like to
play and work on that type of technique. Guitar theory remains the same and is applicable to all styles.
Modern day software can only show you technique, it is currently not capable of visually
watching your hands and correcting you. Even though it can be described with words, there is no guarantee that
you are really performing the technique correctly. The fastest way to learn these items is with the help of a human
teacher, so you can get immediate feedback. Once you have developed bad habits, it takes a long time to break yourself
- Fretting hand technique, there are tons of exercises for developing dexterity of the
fingers. Also includes hammer ons and pull offs.
- Plucking hand technique, whether you play with a pick or nails, etc. This includes pick
technique, rest stroke, free stroke and the exciting Flamenco Rasgueados, which use the face of your nails.
- 4) Other lessons you should work on with a good teacher:
- Relaxed Active and Inactive states - The active state is the state in which you are actually
executing a note. If you fretting hand is sore, you are probably pressing down on the strings far too hard. You
need to relax, and only press as hard as it takes to not hear fret buzz. If any part of your body is tense or rigid
while playing, you are not able to play at maximum speed. If you are not playing any notes and either hand is rigid
and stiff, you are not relaxing in the inactive state, you really need to relax.
- Prepare all notes (see the next chapter) - involves preparing your unused fingers to
play or dampen strings before you actually need to.
- Slow tempo, fast shifts - when doing preparations, in step time (see next chapter), move
between prepared positions fast, so that notes are prepared well in advance, but play the overall melody slowly.
When you finally do play the piece at speed, all the preparations and movements between positions will be ready
- Minimal extraneous motion - keep your fretting fingers and plucking fingers or pick near
the string. The tips of your fingers should never be far away from where they have to play.
- Left hand and right hand synchronized - if you want to play something fast, the two hands
must work at exactly the same time.
- Responsibility for each note (see the next chapter) - this takes dedication, but the
result is solid dependable performance. Practice 100% in control - practicing out
of control, playing too fast, causes you to accept playing poorly. Play songs slow enough so that you play all
of the notes correctly. Increase the speed only when you can really play something correctly.
- Thinking the line (see the next chapter) - playing music not frets.
- Tone production, nail preparation, projection of sound.
5) Styles of guitar playing - i.e., particulars of how each of the styles differ. We deal
with the theory behind the guitar, not specifics of any of the following styles. After listening to some of the
different types of guitars it is easy to see why we think that the guitar is by far the most versatile instrument
in existence. Below are our gut feelings which sum up each style of play, this is not a scientific treatise, but
a knee jerk output of key words that come to mind when thinking of each style:
- Classical - grace, craftsmanship, finger picking, tone production, sound projection
- Electric - lead speed, pick, rock and roll, rhythm, effects, amps, volume, tapping
- Flamenco - power, emotion, rhythm, darkness, suffering, speed, rasgueados
- Jazz - chord progressions galore, expanding rhythm and harmony on the edge
- Blues - 12 bar progressions, blues scale, use of slide on little finger, more
- Slack Key (Hawaiian) - open tunings galore, beautiful melodies, low stress