Category Archives: Guitar

Handy Musical Resources

Hey all!  Whew, It’s been a little too long since I posted something.  Been a busy month and things might get busier, but I hope to get back to regular posting!

Anyways, this topic will be about some resources I have used and find helpful when it comes to pursuing my musical endeavors.  Check them out!  I hope that these can become useful tools to add to your arsenal.  I may end up just making a separate page and fill it up with as many resource links as I can find!

Teoria:

Teoria is a very useful website I discovered in college.  If you want to learn or just brush up on some music theory, check it out.  It’s got everything from reading music to a resource page of musical terminology.  Even if the mere mention of the word “theory” is the harbinger of fear in your life, I strongly strongly recommend the ear training exercises here, especially if you practice with others.

Here’s the website link:  http://www.teoria.com/index.php

A Modern Method For Guitar:

For all of you guitar players looking to learn to read music, this book is a great start.  There are absolutely no tabs, so this immediately dunks you into the deep end of the pool.  However it does start you off with floaties and the lifeguard doesn’t leave your side until you’re more confident without it.  Ahem, so you’ll start with basic scales and melodies and move on up from there.  Now if you’ll excuse me, this talk about swimming made me think of spring and summer, which I desperately need now!

Find it in wherever music books are sold, or check Amazon (Click here)

Audacity:

If you’re looking to record yourself and you’re on a very tight budget (i.e., the complete opposite spectrum of Pro Tools), Audacity is a fantastic open source software to help get you started.  It’s very bare bones compared to many other digital audio workstations out there, but it’s completely FREE!  You will still need an interface, which works with just about anything you can find (I used my Rocksmith guitar cable!).  The software runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Link to download:  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Metronome Online:

Ah, the metronome.  The device that everyone loves to hate.  Let’s face it though, we all as musicians need one to help stay in time when we practice our music.  You can find a click just about anywhere.  Even some practice amps have metronomes or some sort of rhythmic device built in.  In case you don’t have that, there are still plenty of free options out there.  Metronome Online is one such.  All you need is a decent computer that runs flash and is connected to the internet.  If you’re reading this then more than likely you have already fulfilled those conditions.

Website link:  http://www.metronomeonline.com/

TuxGuitar:

This is basically Guitar Pro lite, but it is a fantastic FREE software nonetheless.  You can write in both tab and notation, as well as play back what is written.  Best of all, this can save and open in the Guitar Pro format!  It’s originally a Linux program, but works on Mac and Windows as well.  If you are unable to buy Guitar Pro and need music reading and writing software, TuxGuitar is a great alternative.

http://www.tuxguitar.com.ar/

Guitar Pro 6:

Speaking of Guitar Pro, I can’t talk about musical resources without bringing this amazing software up.  If you’re looking to compose, transcribe, practice, whatever you need done musically, this is the software to have!  Despite the name Guitar Pro, you can notate for several other types of instruments, from drums to keyboards to trumpet… you name it.  Not to mention that you can open many other Guitar Pro files as well as export them to PDF.  Highly recommend this!

http://www.guitar-pro.com/en/index.php (note that the download price here is $60, but various retailers sell the physical copy for less for some reason.  For instance, I bought my copy at Sam Ash for $50)

*also note that I am talking about the PC version of Guitar Pro.  From what I understand, the mobile version is more limiting when it comes to music creation but can still open and playback Guitar Pro files.

Bonus – Musician’s Kit (Mobile App)

More and more people own smartphones these days, so I figured I might as well sneak in an app somewhere on this list.  Musician’s Kit is a fantastic all-in-one app that includes a metronome, recorder, and tuner.  Yup, you can tune and record right through the speakers on your phone, although this might not bode well in noisier environments…  Best of all, this is a FREE app, so at the very least you’ll always have a metronome, tuner, and recorder with you if you tend to carry your phone everywhere.  Unfortunately, I am not sure whether or not this app is limited to Apple products.  If you have an iPhone or iPad or something with iOS 7.0 or up, you’re good to go.  If anyone can confirm if this can be found on other mobile operating systems (Android, for instance), then that would be great!  At the very least any alternative suggestions would be appreciated!

iTunes link to Musician’s Kit: (Here)

Poll Time! Favorite Guitar Brand

Alrighty, I figured I would ask this at some point!  What is your favorite guitar brand?

Feel free to answer or suggest any others that are not on this list.  If you’re not sure, go with what you have.  Subsidiaries such as Squier and Epiphone are included under their parent company (Fender and Gibson respectively, in this case) and thus, will not be included as standalone answers.

YouTube Guitar Teachers

Thanks to the information age we currently live in, we now have a larger than ever window to the changing world around us.  What does that mean for us musicians, specifically guitarists?  That means that we have an endless supply of guitar stuff right at our fingertips.  Learning new chords and scales are often a Google search away.  Unfortunately all this information can at times be too much, and if we are not careful it can spread us too thin.

That being said, YouTube has been a great and growing source of visual information over the past couple of years.  There are quite a few people more than willing to share their knowledge there.  Some have even been able to make a living off of it.  Along with in-person guitar lessons, books, and playing with others, I can attest that some of these people have helped improve my playing with their insightful videos and entertaining personalities.  Allow me to share four of my findings.  Some of you may have run into some of these guitarists’ videos at one point or another, but if there’s anyone new for you, check them out!

Marty Schwartz

Quite possibly the most popular YouTube guitar teacher, Marty Schwartz is a really great teacher with a fantastic personality to boot.  His lessons are straight to the point without complicated jargon, which makes him especially great for beginners.  Most of his lessons cover blues playing and popular rock songs.  In addition, much of these lessons are done as voted by the community on his Facebook page.

Great for:  Beginners, blues and rock guitarists, those looking to learn to play popular songs

https://www.youtube.com/user/martyzsongs

Rob Chapman

Hailing from across the pond, Rob Chapman is well on his way to creating an empire thanks to his growing success on YouTube.  His time is currently focused on his band Dorje, gear review in collaboration with United Kingdom retailer Andertons, and promoting his very own line of guitars: Chapman Guitars.  But this all started thanks to his entertaining (and humorous) instructional videos on Youtube.  Chappers mostly taught shreddy licks and covered topics like how to buy a guitar.  His YouTube lessons are now few and far between, but there are still some backlog on his channel as well as those he sells on his website.

Great for: Shredders, gear heads, those looking for entertainment.

https://www.youtube.com/user/RobChappers

Andrew Wasson

Those who are looking into taking the more theoretical approach to guitar playing should look no further than Andrew Wasson.  Rather than just teach you a few licks and call it a day, Andrew breaks down concepts, scales, techniques, etc. and explains their musical components without over-complicating things.  There’s always something new to learn with his videos, and he updates quite frequently.  Oh, and he includes free PDF lessons along with most of his videos!

Great for: Beginners to advanced, music theorists, those looking to learn various styles of guitar playing

https://www.youtube.com/user/creativeguitarstudio

David Wallimann

Last but certainly not least, we have David Wallimann.  What makes David stand out from the rest is his teaching and style revolves around jazz fusion, which in and of itself is an abstract genre of music.  Even though it’s a difficult genre to grasp, his lessons are clear and concise.  David Wallimann is also featured on the artist page of the Guitar Pro 6 site and just recently got endorsed by Chapman Guitars (bridging some connections on this list!).

Great for: Advanced, fusion players, those open to different styles of music

https://www.youtube.com/user/Wallimann

Guitar Effects 101

Hey gearheads!  One of the coolest things about the electric guitar is the sheer amount of sonic variety you can get out of the ol’ six string (or seven… or eight… or…).  Thanks to the ingenuity of pioneering guitarists and techs – and some fortunate accidents – there are almost limitless amounts of sounds that you can get out of a guitar.  To explain them all would take more than this post (not to mention that would be outside of my comprehension!).  But I can give a brief overview of a few of the most common types of effects.  As always though, the best way to learn about this is to hear them for yourself!

Distortion/Overdrive/Fuzz

When you think of an electric guitar, more often than not in your mind’s ear you probably hear it sound distorted.  You hear that distinct dirty, gritty sound that makes it as if it was born to play rock n’ roll.  But this was accidental.  Since they were invented in the 1930’s, electric guitars were primarily created to give more wiggle room in big bands.  All an amplifier needed to do was to simply make the guitar loud enough to be heard a midst the horns and percussion.  But amps are susceptible to damage, especially when traveling and gigging.  This, coupled with bringing an amp’s volume up past its natural limit, would give the sounds dirty overtones.  Early guitarists such as Willie Johnson and Willie Kizart took advantage to make it musical (such as in Rocket 88, considered one of the first rock and roll songs), and thus, we have the ever popular distortion.

Distortion, overdrive, and fuzz effects are often used interchangeably.  To an extent they all do a similar job, but at the same time there are differences.  Overdrive is what you get when you boost the signal, typically using the gain control.  Oftentimes when you boost the signal past a limit, this generates a natural distortion.  Effective use is what gives rock its distinctive sound.  Distortion effectively changes the signal as is making it nitty gritty no matter the volume/gain level.  Often this is what you hear in hard rock and heavy metal tracks.  Fuzz alters the signal into a square wave.  They give a warm and sparkly distortion (er, fuzzy tone).  These days most amps come with some sort of distortion or overdrive channel.

Chorus

Chorus is used to make a guitar sound like more than one is playing in unison.  To emulate a chorus of singers, the guitar signal is doubled, slightly delayed, and slightly out of tune.  The clashing overtones give it a fuller sound without muddying up the tone.  It sounds especially majestic with a clean tone or light distortion mixed in beforehand.

Reverb

Let’s be honest; most guitarist want to be heard above the rest.  Short for reverberation, reverb is the shortcut ticket to sounding BIG.  Most of you have probably realized this before, but the room or area we play our instrument can have an effect on the sound we perceive.  Since sound is a physical thing, it will react and reflect differently depending on the number of objects, size, and furniture in the space.  Think about the difference between a huge auditorium versus a clubhouse.  Reverb effects can emulate the sound that space causes.  Depending on the type of reverb effect, you can even control the type of room you want to emulate the sound reverberating against.  Pretty popular among rockabilly and surf guitar players.

Delay

There are different types of delay effects, but in essence they create echoes or repeating sounds.  They can be used for subtly or as audible as yelling out an echo across a vast canyon.  There are some that let you sample your playing, allowing you to “play over” yourself, or even reverse echo delays that plays your notes backwards!

Wah

Nothing describes the sound of ‘wah’ better than the name it has been given.  What wah does is put the entire tonal range of the guitar into an active pedal: from bass-y to treble-y.  Rocking between them back and forth creates a sound akin to making your instrument whine.  One of the most famous brand is the ‘Cry Baby.’  The name says it all.  There are many funk tunes that employ the wah pedal.  Jimi Hendrix also used the Cry Babies to great effect.

These are just a handful of effects many with different ways to achieve their sound.  Most you can find as foot pedals that give you hands free control.  There are also multi-effect processor boards that give you multiple effects in one unit.  There are amps that come preloaded with effects.  Effects can be added digitally via audio workstation.  The list goes on.  Go out and experiment with them!

Here are some video examples:

Reverb

Delay

Chorus

Have fun!

Fingerboard Exercises

Hey all!

While thinking up stuff to post, I thought to myself:

“Why don’t we kick this off like how we would with guitar playing: with finger exercises?”

So here we are.  I decided to gather up three basic but very useful exercises I have picked up from various sources and experimentation.  Give these a try!  Once you get used to these, try rearranging your own.  It can be as simple as playing the patterns on other parts of the neck, or making up your own finger combinations.  If they are uncomfortable, you are on the right track*!  The point of exercises, much like going to the gym, is to build your abilities up and to sharpen them.  They are also meant to work your mind, as playing music is as much of a mental thing as it is physical.  So working on things that give you a hard time will gradually make other things easier in the long run.

*note that this does not include physical pain.  If you are hurting, then stop and take a break!

Ex 1: 4 Straight Down

This one is your typical semi-chromatic run.  If you are green when it comes to note picking, this is an excellent way to build a few chops.  If this is well and good for you, try different picking patterns, such as down picking every note, up picking every note, or alternate pick as shown (down, up, down, up, etc.):

4straightdown

The rectangle with the bottom missing represents a downstroke while the “v” represents an upstroke.  The numbers below the tabs represents the fingerings.  Assume the pattern continues throughout the piece.

Ex 2: 1234 2341

Taken straight out of the Steve Vai guitar workout book I have, this one is similar to example one except that the finger pattern changes in a specific order per string.  Pay attention to which finger starts off on the next string:

12342341

Ex 3: Skipping Madness

This one is a doozy!  It is a combination of skipping fingerings with skipping strings.  Great way to get your mind thinking as well as come to grips with string skipping:

skippingmadness

Try these for a few minutes before you get into practicing or playing, as well as come up with your own.  Start slow, and steadily build up the speed from there!

Introducing the EDGE Guitarpedia!

Hey everybody!  Welcome to the EDGE Guitarpedia!  For those who don’t know – whether you are in EDGE, or you just wandered in out of nowhere wondering what the heck this is all about – allow me to introduce myself and give a short explanation:

My name is Jason.  I am currently a member of the Eliane Delage Guitar Ensemble (or EDGE).  As you may have guessed, it is a New York City based guitar ensemble founded in 2013 and led by New York City Guitar School teacher Eliane Delage.  For the past year and change of its existence, we practiced and performed songs around the city, spanning decades and genres of guitar-driven music, such as The Rolling Stones, Motown, and Fleetwood Mac.  Our current project is a full guitar arrangement of classic movie themes.  Best of all, the ensemble is open to people of all skill levels, which is always a fantastic opportunity for musicians to learn and grow off of one another.

This brings us to what this blog will be about.  As the Practice Support Coordinator, I will be posting practice tips for songs we are working on, exercises, and perhaps a few lessons here and there.  It’s not going to be all work and no play though; in addition I will be posting articles about music and instruments, videos, gear stuff for those bloated with GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome ;)) and whatever else you or I may find interesting.  Remember, this is just as much YOUR blog as it is mine, so anything you find interesting or want to discuss feel free to let me know!  As far as we have the means, everything will be open for discussion and feedback – both are highly encouraged, especially among the EDGErs :)!

If you are new to all of this and would like to check us out, here are some links:

Meetup page

Facebook page

Youtube channel

Thanks everybody!  I’ll see you all later!