Monday, August 1, 2011

Buying Guitars and Parts Made Simple

What kind of guitar should I buy?

Okay. Do you prefer quiet, peaceful, beautiful acoustic guitar music or loud, raunchy, rowdy, roof raising, electric guitar? I myself prefer the latter. There's a tip for the guys right there. Get a nice acoustic guitar and the ladies will swoon in appreciation (or so they lead me to believe).

Back to the subject at hand. There are so many, repeat, so many guitars out there to purchase that it's nearly impossible for somebody other than you to pick one out and say, "This guitar is for you." All anybody or I can do is point you in the right direction. I can give some advice and pointers but actually recommending that you purchase a Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Peavey, or any make or model is beyond the realm of realism.

Guitar Bodies.
Guitar bodies can be made from various woods, which include but are not limited to koa, ash, mahogany, poplar, and alder. Each type of wood gives a certain tone or sound that may be bright and punchy or warm. Some woods weigh more than others causing the guitar to be heavy and become uncomfortable for some. Here is a quick list of some woods used to make bodies.

1. Alder - a lightweight type of wood that produces a warm sound and is fairly inexpensive. Usually painted in solid colors due to the grain pattern.
2. Poplar - also a lightweight wood which has a sound similar to alder but lighter in color. Usually painted.
3. Mahogany - a hard, heavy wood with open grain and reddish in color. Sounds bright and provides good sustain.
4. Ash - medium weight with open grain and light in color. Sounds bright with a bit of punchiness in the bass. Makes a great wood for bass bodies.
5. Maple - generally used as a veneer for bodies due to their "flamed" and/or "quilted" appearance. Not good for a whole body.

Guitar Necks.
Guitar necks can be made from a variety of woods just like bodies. Maple is probably the most common. Rosewood, koa, and others can also be used with varying degrees of sustain, warmth, and brightness characteristics. Fretboards (also referred to as fingerboards) are usually made from rosewood, maple, or ebony. Rosewood is the most common in this category due to the highly accepted sounds it helps produce coupled with the cost. Maple necks with maple fretboards are generally one piece with the fretboard portion being finished in some fashion with a sealer. Rosewood has a more open grain compared to ebony and is more often than not reddish in color while ebony tends to run more of a black in color. I myself prefer ebony fingerboards due to their smoothness.

So what should you look for in a guitar? What should be first and absolute foremost in your mind when looking for a guitar is feel and comfort. If the guitar is not comfortable to play, you won't want to play it. Does that make sense? Hey, I never said the book contained groundbreaking, earth-shattering, revolutionary thoughts out of left field! If the guitar that you fall in love with looks-wise is not comfortable to play, you may be able to push on and persevere and become an amazing player anyway. I just suggest you find a guitar that feels good in your hands and begs you to play. Try to be shallow at first and go with a guitar that looks cool to you. However, don't buy something just because your best friend thinks Johnny Guitarhero's the best so you should get his Wooden Wonder brand guitar with the killer apricot speckle finish. Try not to fall into that trap. The fact is that the company they represent is paying many guitarists and they may not even play the company's guitar but once a night because they aren't fond of it any more than you may be. Just be careful.

I mentioned in the previous paragraph about being shallow in choosing a guitar. What I mean by that is try to find a guitar that you find irresistible. You see the guitar and you want to play that one! Go for looks first. Am I contradicting myself? Not really. My whole point is to find a guitar that you want to play because it looks so good to you that you can't help but pick it up!

One area that is not common knowledge to many beginning guitarists (or even told to them) is the subject of necks. A guitar neck may be the single biggest determining factor in comfort. Guitar necks come in a variety of shapes from a thick, oval shaped neck (known as boatneck or V), to being extremely flat. When I say "shape," I'm referring to the backside portion of the neck. A flat, thin neck is usually preferred by players with smaller hands and thicker necks by people with bigger hands. A thin neck will make a larger hand tired prematurely to the point of pain and smaller hands will have a difficult time wrapping around thick guitar necks. There are necks that are wider (fretboard wise) than others and they are usually preferred by people with larger hands as well.

Lower priced guitars are considered those that cost up to $500 (many guitar magazines have picked that price range and it's become accepted thinking). These will generally have lower priced materials (woods, tuners, bridge) and electronics (pickups, switches, input jacks). Higher priced guitars will usually have a better grade of wood for the fretboard and body, higher quality tuners, stronger pickups in the case of electrics, and possibly just better overall quality control when they were assembled. You can sometimes get a feel for the quality of an instrument just from talking with others that have owned a certain make or model, especially if they bought theirs new. Did they have to make major set up adjustments, if any at all, when they received their pride and joy from the factory? I know of one major company that produces a signature series line (you know, the guitar has the name of the artist) that when they arrive at the store, they require little or no adjustment by the store personnel before hanging it out for sale. That's quality control! Are there other companies that put that kind of effort into their product? I'm sure there are, so just do your research.

Going back for a minute to the lower priced fare that's available, price doesn't always reflect quality. A $200 guitar manufactured and assembled properly can perform quite well. Many people bash guitars made outside the United States when the fact is many quality instruments come from outside the US.

written by aravind

How to Create Professional Quality Music at Home

I'm writing this post today to share with everyone a web page which goes over pretty much everything you need to know about recording top quality music at home. Hopefully this will help you create a music studio at home and allow you to expand your audience while making you a better overall musician.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How To Program The Subconscious Mind For Effortless Guitar Playing

In order to begin programming the subconscious mind for effortlessly accurate guitar playing, we first need to understand the difference between natural and unnatural body positions, and how the conscious and subconscious minds interact to allow the body to perform tasks.

Conscious And Subconscious Actions
When performing simple everyday tasks such as using a telephone, the conscious and subconscious minds work together to carry out these operations with the minimum of effort. When dialing a number with which we're very familiar, we don't need to give it too much thought. That is, we don't use our conscious minds as much as we would if the number were unfamiliar. Using our conscious mind, we think of the person and our subconscious associates the fact that we have a phone in our hand and a person in our mind and it tells our muscles to perform the same function it has performed on countless other occasions. If we're dialing an unfamiliar number, we need to use our conscious minds much more. We have to pay close attention to each individual digit. If we make a mistake we have to go back and correct it. We tend to be more careful the next time to avoid wasting time and money connecting with the wrong person. After many repetitions, the number becomes familiar, the subconscious takes over and we can dial rapidly without making any mistakes.

So why does this process work less effectively when we replace the dialing of a phone number with the playing of a musical scale? Why is there so much more stress, fatigue and frustration involved in the learning process? It might simply be that we have abandoned the natural method of learning because we are in too much of a hurry to play in time and up to speed. These timing and tempo issues don't exist for other relatively complicated tasks which we perform effortlessly.

Moreover, tasks such as typing a letter or washing some dishes have a tangible end product. If the letter contains mistakes we immediately go back and correct them. If we break a dish we stop what we are doing and sweep it up. We try to be more careful in future to avoid wasting time, money and effort by making the same mistakes over and over again. This is the natural learning process. If, on the other hand we play a scale on a guitar, after we're finished it exists only in the memory, so mistakes often go uncorrected. If the notes of the scale were dishes, would we be up to our ankles in broken crockery?

When we are practicing guitar, we need to remember that the subconscious absorbs everything we do whether it's accurate or not. If we play a G major scale seven times, six of which contain mistakes and only one is accurate, we can't expect the subconscious to only store the good information. So next time we place our finger on the 3rd fret of the sixth string and think of a G major scale, our subconscious has seven different experiences from which to choose, and a high percentage of these were flawed. As a result, we repeat a lot of the same mistakes and our progress is slow and tortuous.

If we want our subconscious to make solid decisions rather than rough estimates, we need to give it clear associations on which to draw. Estimations lead to more mistakes and we find ourselves trapped in a vicious circle.

Obviously we can't remove mistakes from the learning process but we can make sure that the ratio of good information to bad is beneficial and not detrimental to our progress. We do this by not letting mistakes go unaddressed. If we make a mistake midway through a scale, arpeggio, chord progression etc, we don't continue to the end and hope that next time we'll do better. We stop and address it immediately by compensating for the fact that some bad information has been sent to our subconscious. We do this by overwriting it with several careful repetitions of good, accurate information.

For example, if we're six notes into a G major scale and we play an Eb instead of an E, or we don't sound the note clearly, or just play the note with a tone color with which we're unhappy. We stop, relax, reset ourselves a couple of notes before the E and play through the scale, stopping two or three notes after the E. We play this isolated part of the scale several times carefully to overwrite the mistake. After each repetition, stop, relax and reset yourself. Do not play the section as a continuous loop. The first note of the isolated section shouldn't be played immediately after the last because that's not what happens when you play the whole scale. So don't practice it that way. Also, the second or so of rest between each repetition gives the mind a chance to absorb and assess the information, and prevents the subconscious from entering the short term automation mode.

Short And Long Term Automation
If we play a phrase over and over again the movement can become automated as long as we remain in the same position. However, if we change position and then return to the phrase, we can make mistakes again as if we hadn’t practiced it at all. This is because the maneuver was only automated temporarily. In order to make this a long term automation, we need to remove the hand from the position, relax, reset ourselves and replay. Continue in this manner until the phrase can be played cleanly and instantly.

At this stage, tempo and timing aren't as important as careful placement of the fingers. A well programmed subconscious will reward the user with swift effortless movement. This approach applies to all areas of guitar practice, whether it be scale, arpeggio, chord or left and right hand issues. Always follow a mistake with several slow, careful, accurate

repetitions. If a problem persists then a alternative way to approach it is to slow down for the specific section with which you are having trouble. Play the part at a speed with which you're comfortable. As you approach the problem area, slow down and play the troublesome section carefully, giving priority to correct finger placement. After you are past the section then speed up again to complete the part. This approach is much more effective than blundering through the problem area at speed and making lots of mistakes.

As was mentioned earlier, the subconscious mind works by association. It directs movement based on information received through the senses in conjunction with instruction from the conscious mind. This means that the conscious mind has to be free of any non-essential thoughts. All unnecessary mental chatter should be eliminated while practicing guitar. Try to stop your inner voice from commenting on your playing. Thoughts such as, "I played this much better yesterday", or "that bit sounded really great", should be silenced as they have no constructive purpose and simply serve to confuse the subconscious.

We tend to make more mistakes while our minds are wandering. Holding a phone and thinking, "I must get the car washed" isn't an association that your subconscious is familiar with. And so it dials a wrong number.

If, for example, we want to successfully program our subconscious to play bar chords, (or any other chord for that matter), cleanly and crisply, we need to give it a clear signal from the conscious mind and an accurate execution of the desired chord. That is, we need to clearly visualize the chord in our mind's eye while carefully fingering the chord. Don't play the chord until your certain your fingers a well placed. Then play the chord with a clean chop. This is done by depressing all the fingers simultaneously while making a swift stroke with the right hand. The fingers should all be release at the same time. There’s no need to pull the fingers away from the strings. Simply leave the fingers in place and relax the hand, allowing the tension to instantly dissolve. This should cause the chord to end abruptly and cleanly, provided the left hand was playing all six strings. If there were open strings then you will need to use the side of the palm of the right hand to silence the ringing strings. This should be done in sync with the relaxing of the left hand. The product should be a nice crisply chopped chord.

Don’t leave the fingers in place and play the chord again as this serves little purpose, other than to exercise the muscles. It's better to let the hand fall loosely by your side for a second, allowing any tension to drain out of the arm, before reshaping the chord anew and performing another brisk chop. Continue in this way until you can make the chord cleanly and instantly. A slightly easier way to approach it, is to switch between two different chords, though this method won’t serve you as well when you need to quickly grab chords, e.g., when inserting chords into melodic passages. Make sure that the only thing that enters your mind is a visualization of the chord and the only thing your fingers do is a clean execution of the chord.

Never practice guitar in an absent-minded way with one eye on the TV and your thoughts elsewhere. Absently typing random nonsense on a keyboard while holding a conversation with friends wouldn’t improve your typing ability, so don't approach your guitar playing in this haphazard manner. Practice in a calm and quietly focused way to allow your subconscious to make clear associations and to store good quality, uncluttered information.

Never waste time and energy beating yourself up about mistakes or poor performance. Just deal with the elements you wish to improve one at a time in a cool and collected way. If something involves several different disciplines, e.g., alternate picking, string skipping and chord arpeggios, and you're struggling to master it, separate the elements and work on them individually. Allow your mind to focus on one thing at a time. People who can juggle while riding a unicycle learned the two things separately before they tried to combine them.

Natural And Unnatural Body Positions
In addition to a clear conscious mind, we also need to play in as relaxed a way as possible. This means avoiding unnatural positions. These are also known as stress positions. These unnatural stress positions quickly lead to physical and mental fatigue. The mind gives high priority to feelings of pain, discomfort and exhaustion, leaving little room for other thoughts. Therefore unnatural positions should be kept to a bare minimum.

Unnatural positions are inherently weak, whereas natural positions are inherently strong.

To avoid inadvertently adopting stress positions we need to learn to recognize them. For a very simple demonstration of the difference between natural and unnatural positions, do the following:

Stand up straight with your legs slightly apart. Let your arms hang loosely by your sides. Keep your back straight and your head centered. Feel how easy it is to maintain this position. You are using lots of muscles to hold this stance but because it's a natural position, you’ll have no trouble maintaining it for long periods without fatigue. Notice that your mind isn't being overwhelmed with thoughts of discomfort. You can keep a clear head in this position. You could work on a problem without being constantly interrupted by complaints from your body.

To turn this into an unnatural position, simply bend your knees till you feel a strain on your thighs. Hunch your shoulders up to your ears and clench your fists. You can imagine that it would be much more difficult to maintain this unnatural position for long periods of time. It would be hard to concentrate your mind on a complex problem while holding this stress position.

Before we talk about natural hand positions let's think about how playing guitar may affect the rest of the body. Next time you pick up your guitar and begin to play, devote a portion of your attention to your body. Try to identify areas of unnecessary tension. Are you slouching over your guitar? It requires more effort to slouch than it does to sit or stand up straight. This extra effort will take it's toll and you will tire more quickly. Are you unnecessarily tensing your arms or shoulders? If you're sitting down, are you holding one or both of your legs in a position that requires unnecessary effort. All of these things will make your practice sessions much more taxing. Try to position your body in a way that requires the least effort to maintain. Relax any muscles that aren't directly involved in the holding down of strings or the motion of the right hand.

Naturally Strong Hand Position
If we think of all the ordinary activities we perform daily that involve the use of our hands, we notice a common factor; a straight wrist.

Pick up something with a handle such as your guitar case or amplifier. Explore the difference between holding the object by your side with a straight wrist, and at arm's length with the wrist bent. Not only are your arm muscles having to work much harder to hold the object in this unnatural way but your grip is seriously weakened by the bending of the wrist joint. Now raise your left forearm with the inner wrist facing upwards as if you were about to play the guitar. Tightly clench your fist. Now bend the wrist as far as it can go and feel the tightening of the tendons as they are forced around the corner made by the bent wrist joint. It's this strain on the tendons that causes the weakening of the fingers. Now return the wrist to the straight position and relax the hand, allowing the fist to naturally unclench. Notice that the fingers don't straighten out but remain curled. This natural grip position is the default setting for the hand. It has inherent strength and requires no effort to maintain. Staying in this default position, wiggle the fingers. Notice how easily they move. Now bend the wrist again and notice how the pinching of the tendons restricts the movement of the fingers, causing them to stiffen.

Play Relaxed
If we wish to play guitar then we are going to have to deviate from the natural default position. However, in order to remain as relaxed as possible while we play, we will need to keep the amount of deviation to a minimum.

Set your hand in the default position and place the hand beneath the neck of your guitar. The first thing you will need to do is swivel the thumb around to the back of the neck. Do this without moving the wrist and fingers. Now bring the fingers up to rest on the 1st string with the first finger positioned above the 5th fret. Now space the other three fingers so that they line up with the 6th, 7th and 8th frets. Try to retain as much of the natural curl as possible. Notice that there is a bend at the tip joint (the one closest to the fingernail). It's important to keep this joint as close to the natural bend as possible to maintain maximum strength with minimum effort.

It shouldn't have required too much effort to place our hand in this 'home' position. So let's see how much more effort is needed to play a note. Raise your second, third and fourth fingers slightly so that only the 1st finger is resting lightly on the 1st string above the 5th fret. Strike the 1st string with a pick or finger to get a muted sound. Let's call this minimum tension. Now, making sure the first finger is the only thing that moves, press the string as hard as you can and hold it. Play the note. Let's call this maximum tension. To switch back to minimum tension again, simply relax the finger and allow the tension to instantly dissolve. Now gently apply pressure with the first finger until you can play the note with the minimum amount of necessary tension. Let's call this the 'on' position. Now let the tension instantly dissolve again, to switch immediately to the minimum tension 'off' position. Using this 'on-off' method, play the notes at the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th frets with the first, second, third and fourth fingers respectively. Be sure to switch the previous finger to the off position before switching on the next finger. It's this on-off technique that will allow you to play through a scale in an almost effortless manner as the fingers will be spending a lot of time in the off position.

The importance of the off position shouldn’t be underestimated. It is essential for clear definition and relaxed, fluent movement. Switching off and pulling off are very different things. Switching the finger on to play a note requires action. Pulling the finger off or away from the string after the note has been played requires further action. Whereas switching the finger off after the note has been played requires no action. It is merely a cessation of the first action of switching on. Pulling off instead of switching off is the cause of a lot of unwanted string noise as the finger is removed before the string has stopped vibrating. After switching off, the finger remains in place, resting effortlessly on the string as it returns to it's normal state. This dampens the vibration immediately.

Stop And Relax
Even while using the on-off method, you will probably still experience a build-up of tension in the hand and arm when practicing. This tension can accumulate very rapidly, and can seriously restrict movement if we don’t learn how to relieve it.

As soon as you experience a build-up of tension, which manifests itself in the form of stiffness and dull aches, you should immediately stop what you are doing and let your arm hang loosely by your side until you feel the tension drain away. Try to retain as much of this relaxed feeling as possible when you resume practicing. You should keep doing this until you learn how to relax while playing; even if this means stopping every 30 seconds or so. This is especially important when warming up. Eventually you will learn to thoroughly relax while playing guitar. This is how professional musicians manage to play for hours without tiring. It’s also the reason why they make it look so easy!

Subconsciously Tensing-up
Another type of tension occurs when we subconsciously tense the muscles just before we tackle a tricky section of music, e.g., a large position shift or an arpeggio with which we’re particularly uncomfortable. This is the musical equivalent of flinching just before something painful is about to happen. We feel that if we approach these awkward parts in a nonchalant way then we’re sure to mess up because we know how difficult they can be and so we subconsciously bunch up our muscles in readiness for the challenge. The irony is that the complete opposite is true; if we remained relaxed for these difficulties, we’d stand a much greater chance of nailing them.

Imagine someone drew two chalk lines five feet apart and asked you to jump over the distance. No problem right? Now imagine this same five foot gap was between two skyscrapers. Would you approach it in the same way, and which do you think you would most likely mess up?

“…play it as if it means nothing when it means everything… …allow yourself to fail…”

Hit The Nail On The Head; Finding The Point Of Balance
When playing both chords and melodic phrases, it’s essential that you plant your fingers squarely and centrally on the string(s).

Take a look at this simple pentatonic E minor scale.


After warming up a bit, start by playing the first two notes. Pay close attention to the 3rd finger as it plays the G at the 3rd fret. Is there sufficient bend in the tip joint for the finger to hit the string squarely. Imagine the tip segment of your finger is a hammer head and the string is the nail. If you strike the nail at an angle it will be pushed to one side. You need to meet the string as squarely as possible to get the best tone and intonation. The next thing to observe is whether or not you’re making central, well-balanced contact with the string from the moment you begin to depress it, and not making subtle adjustments after placing the finger. Play the two notes repeatedly. Does your finger hit the string sweetly every time or does it sometimes veer off to one side or the other and make a poor contact causing buzzing or a thinning of the tone quality? If the string were a tightrope would your finger be balanced in the centre as you play or would it fall to one side? Now you know how it feels to play the note cleanly, play through the whole scale observing whether or not your hitting notes square and centered or at an angle and inaccurately. Whenever you encounter a poor contact, stop, relax reset yourself and go over this portion several times carefully. You can take the scale two notes at a time, concentrating on neatness. Then extend it to four notes, and then six and so until the whole scale is neat.
You can try the “slowing down for the problem area” approach to get rid of any persistent trouble spots. The important thing is never to let the slightest inaccuracy go uncorrected. You can now apply this approach to all scales, arpeggios, chords etc.

Pay particular attention to the tip joint. Do not allow it to collapse (lose it's bend). The little finger is especially prone to collapse. Not only do we need a nice bend in order to hit the string squarely but it also has much greater strength, which is most important when holding down chords. You can demonstrate this by holding down a string with your little finger while maintaining a natural bend in the tip joint. Observe the amount of effort required, and the amount of stress placed on the finger and hand by the reactive force. Now, keeping the pressure even, allow the joint to collapse. Notice how much greater is the stress placed on the finger and hand. The reactive force seems to travel much further up the hand and even as far as the forearm.

Chromatic Exercise
Try playing through the following exercise, concentrating on correct, well-balanced finger placement using the on-off technique. An open string has been placed between each note of the chromatic scale. This ensures that you plant each finger independently rather than laying them all down in a rippling legato manner. Good legato is something to which all guitarists should aspire but first we need to master the on-off independent fingering technique if we’re to avoid our phrases sounding too mushy. Remember to avoid pulling off the finger after the fretted notes are played. Switch off before removing the finger to allow the open string to be played. This requires close attention to get right but is a vital skill.



Once you have got used to the on-off independent fingering technique you can remove the open string notes from whichever scale you happen to be playing and switch to playing the scale in the normal way using staccato to prevent any mushiness from creeping back in. Eventually you will need to use a smoother, more musical way of playing scales but only when you're really well balanced and relaxed, and you have fully mastered the on-off technique.
The default hand position as described above is also essential when finger picking. It is important to maintain the straight wrist and natural curling of the fingers in order to avoid fatigue, inaccuracy and thinning of the tone when striking the string. As with the left hand, it is vital not to allow the tip joint to collapse. The tip and middle joints must remain in the naturally curled position. The pivot must come from the knuckle joint and not the middle joint. We tend to do this naturally when picking at a sticky label on a CD cover, or when scratching an itch. But for some reason a lot of us abandon this natural method as soon as we pick up a guitar and pick at a string. Try this out by picking at a label on a bottle of beer or noticing what happens when you scratch at an itch. You should find that the finger(s) form a hook shape with a bend in all three joints. The tip and middle joint remain firmly fixed while the finger pivots at the knuckle joint. Apply this exact technique when finger picking a guitar. If in the past you have had trouble using the elbow as an anchor point while floating the right hand over the strings then you should find the natural position helpful.

Right Hand Tension
Anyone who has tried to play rapidly with a pick will know that with an increase in speed comes an unhelpful increase in tension in the right forearm. It seems impossible to play at speed while remaining relaxed. Fortunately it is possible; not only that but it’s absolutely essential.

Simply apply the Stop and Relax technique as described above. As soon as the tension begins to build, stop picking, relax your arm, reset yourself and resume. Do this every time the tension starts to mount. This will heighten your awareness of tension from the moment it first begins to happen, and eventually you’ll be able to relax without stopping. Finally you’ll reach a stage where the tension doesn’t happen at all as it’s completely unnecessary.

A great way to make right hand picking practice more interesting is to create different grooves rather than just sticking to the - ONE two three four ONE two three four etc. I call this the Indian drum beat groove… Hi ya ya ya Hi ya ya ya. This has a four pulse repetition with a heavy accent on the first beat. Try creating an eight pulse groove by simply moving the second accent back one pulse; ONE two three FOUR one two three four ONE two three FOUR one two three four and so on. Different grooves will make a huge difference to the feel of phrases and will make monotonous picking practice much more enjoyable. Play around with accents and see what you can come up with.

The Difference Between Practice And Performance
If you apply these techniques you might feel that all the stopping and starting is destroying the flow of your playing. At this point it’s important to understand the difference between practice and performance. Practice isn’t a performance and performance isn’t practice. During a performance, the piece has to be played from start to finish and the imperfections just have to be lived with. In the practice room however, we don’t have to live with imperfections. That’s what practice is for!

Hopefully you haven’t lost the will to live while reading this article. I went into far more detail than I originally planned. But programming the subconscious for accuracy is all about meticulous attention to detail. I might also have stated the obvious on occasion but it’s impossible to know at what stage of development the reader might be, so I felt it best to cover as much as possible. I hope there is something in here for beginners and intermediates alike. Thanks.

written by Chris Flatley

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Making Money Playing Guitar Over the Internet

This lesson will go over a few ways in which a person would be able to make money by playing guitar over the internet. I'm sure many people are curious how it can be done so hopefully by the end of reading this you will have some idea of where to start.

Skype Guitar Lessons

Guitar lessons are one way to make a steady income by playing guitar. The internet is something that allows people to reach out all around the world for new students to teach or even an audience who will tune in and truly listen. Alternatively to Skype, one could make video lessons or text lessons (similar to mine). By far, the most profitable are Skype guitar lessons.

example: Antoine Dufour makes $75 per hour by giving guitar lessons over Skype.

Youtube Videos and Itunes

Some people overlook this but youtube will pay you for any video that has good traffic. If you are good enough at guitar and can attract enough youtubers to your videos, some money will start trickling in (depending on your videos traffic).

Also, uploading studio recordings of your music and selling the recordings as albums or as singles over the internet can be profitable. Some sites such as Sound Click can ear you money for your songs. You can also sell your songs on itunes with companies like TuneCore. Prices are cheap and fair to get your songs onto itunes. you just have to have songs that are good enough for people to want to buy.

Non-Internet Money Making

The internet shouldn't be the only place one should look to in order to make money doing what they love. For many people, they don't know where to start. hopefully this video will give you some insight as to where you should beging.

Hopefully after viewing this video you will have some idea as to a money making niche that involves playing music. There are MANY options for you to try and explore.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Utilizing Unique Chords

A great way to make your chord progressions and songs sound awesome is to use open chord shapes.
I always love to use these chords to add some flavor to my chord progressions. One of my favorite chords is Fsus2.
That chord has got the whole package for me. It’s sounds beautiful, gentle, tight, cool and rough at the same time.
When you move an open chord up the neck the name of the chord changes and the chord gets extended with 1 or 2 notes. This way you can get beautiful sounds.
While you can play barre chords at every fret on the fingerboard, open chords can only be played at certain frets. If you play them at the right frets they sound amazing, if you don’t… well they just sound terrible. So be careful.
Because of all the extended chord names I didn’t bother to name every single one of them. That’s not the point here.
It’s all about incorporating these chords into your songs and chord progressions, putting your creativity to the test, experimenting with all the possibilities, replacing some basic chords for these extraordinary ones, learning to hear what sounds right and what feels good.
Learn these chords and put them into practice.
Here is an example of how to read the chords below:
E = eadgbe (the strings from left to right)
E = 022100 (the numbers indicate where to put your fingers on the fret)
E string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)
A string = 2 – put your finger on the 2nd fret.
D string = 2 – put your next finger on the 2nd fret.
G string = 1 – put your next finger on the 1st fret.
B string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)
E string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)
1 – Open chords in the key of E
11×11 11 00
0 14 14 13 0 0
2 – Open chords in the key of E (different approach)
x11 11 9 00
x12 13 11 00
0 14 14 13 00
3 – E chord shapes
8 10 10 900
10 12 12 11 00
4 – C shapes
x10 9080
5 – D shapes
xx09 10 9
xx0 10 11 10
xx0 12 13 12
xx0 14 15 14
6 – Open chords in the key of A7
x0 11 0 10 0
x0 12 0 12 0
x0 14 0 14 0
7 – Fsus2 shapes
x10 10 088
8 – F#m7(11) shapes
10×10 10 00
12×12 12 00
9 – Bb triad shapes
xx0 10 10 8
xx0 12 12 10
xx0 14 14 12
10 – Dmaj7sus2 shapes
xx0 10 10 0
xx0 12 12 0
xx0 14 14 0

Written by Klaus 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Importance of Improvisation

Up until now I have been compiling good lessons that I have found throughout my time playing guitar however today I want to write a lesson of my own so... improvisation and its importance!

The ability to improvise is a very overlooked skill. It takes intuition and creativity on a level that surpasses writing music in a studio. Every experience listening to an improvisation will be different and completely unique to that moment in time. This makes it possible to play the same song over and over again yet still find something new to enjoy, appreciate, and rock out to. hopefully this lesson will help people approach music from a jamming perspective which will in the end help you create new riffs, play music that sounds great without using music theory, and make you a much better overall musician.

So... what exactly is improvising?
Improvising is done everyday by you and me. When you are having a conversation with someone, you are expressing yourself to them without putting too much thought into it. Every thought is spontaneous and based on prior experiences that suggest to you what will express your desired emotions and thoughts most effectively. It is the same principle for music. Based on your past experiences playing music (you will have more as you play music for longer and thus a better improviser) you are expressing your current thoughts and emotions through the median of music. Your thoughts and emotions are always changing and thus your current state of mind creates and experience that will be completely unique to that moment in time.

Components of improvising
-Flowing naturally while you improvise without losing focus or control

-Communication with other musicians.

-Creativity. Sometimes (actually a lot of the time) your going to have to think outside of the box while improvising.
-Technical and harmonic ability to play over chord changes in time or in a way that conveys your thoughts and emotions.

-Past musical experiences to expand upon. Having a skill set of basic vocabulary and phrasing to be able to play over any style of music.

-Control. A key to improv. You must be able to flow naturally and control what you play while playing in time with a band or jam tracks.

Practicing improvisation
Improvising can be hard to incorporate into a "practice routine" because it is not as simple as forming muscle memory by practicing for extended periods of time. Instead of practicing muscle memory, you need to practice and better understand your musical thought process. You need to understand how to transfer different techniques into various styles of music and how to rely on your musical instincts in order to create some kind of art instead of the note-for-note riff that you have been practicing for countless hours. Something else that is very important is utilizing your ear instead of relying on given scales and chords. If you hear something that sounds good, play it. It doesn't matter if it is "correct" because it is you expressing your current thoughts and emotions in that moment in time. more on ear training in the ear training lesson - located here. Some things that are good for helping to understand improvisation are playing along with unknown songs on the radio, learning basic intervals for scales and chords that can be applied to different styles, and jamming along to various backing tracks.

example of an improvisation:

This video is of Jimi Hendrix jamming at woodstock

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Transposing Music

There are several reasons to transpose the key of a song, the original key may be out of your singing range, or you don’t know the chords.  I’ve provided a chart of some of the most common keys and the chords within those keys. 
Here’s how to use the grid.  Let’s suppose you have a song in the key of  ”G” like Viva la Vida by Coldplay. Here’s your first line.
Em            C            D
I used to rule the world
                        G                                   Em
Seas would rise when I gave the word

So you’ve got Em, C, D, G, and then back to Em and repeat.  That would be vi, IV, V, I.  So if you want to move it to the key of “F” just find vi, IV, V, I in the key of F which would be Dm, Bb, C, F.  It’s almost the sensitive female chord progression.
Once you’ve figured out the Roman numerals with the grid you can transpose into any key.  Learning to think in Roman numerals is a good tool to have for a guitarist, but since this is a beginner lesson, I won’t go too much into why.  You can just use the chart and see that it works without having to worry too much about the mechanics of it.
Of course you can always use a capo to transpose a song, but that only works if you want to transpose a song higher.  You can transpose to a lower key with a capo, but you’ll have to change your chord shapes and then you’re back where you started, figuring out I IV V in your new key.
By the way, I can’t embed the YouTube video of the song because Warner Music Group forbids legions of people promoting their music all over the net for free.  For some reason the record companies are still confused why it is that nobody is buying and everybody hates them.

written by project-d

Nifty Guitar Tools

Guitar Videos:

A Metronome:

A chord finder:

A tuner:

Relative Major and Minor

We'll be working in the key of C, since it's the simplest key for me. And, since I love acoustic rock, the progressions in this lesson will have that acoustic rock feel.

To begin, I'll tell you what a relative minor key is:

A relative minor key of any major key is the minor key that has the same key signature as the major. For example, C Major's relative minor is A minor, since they both have no sharps or flats.

Luckily for us, we don't have to figure out key signatures, because:

The root of the relative minor key is the 6th scale degree of the major key. A is the 6th of C, A is the relative minor of C. E is the 6th of G, E is the relative minor of G.

As a point of notation, when I give a chord progression, say, I-IV-V, I mean that you should return to the I and just keep playing the same progression (or end on the I if you're done). Other people would call this a I-IV-V-I progression, but my progressions will just keep going around in circles anyway.

Using The Relative Minor Chord In A Chord Progression
Now that we know what it is, let's try to use it. If you've done any reading on chord progressions, you'll be familiar with the I-IV-V progression that is oh so familiar in music. For now, let's keep I-IV-V as our theme, and do some variations on that theme using the relative minor.

The first variation we're going to use is I-vi-IV-V. Here, we're using the relative minor as a quick interruption to the major progression. In the key of C, these chords are:

C -> Am -> F -> G

Notice how C and A sound like they mix when you're in this progression, and also notice how, once you're out of A and into the F chord, the progression sounds a bit different from the C -> F -> G. That little bit of minor takes the entire thing in a new direction. Musically speaking, this is because the iv scale degree is an embellishment to the progression and adds a bit of character, but doesn't fundamentally change anything. In other words, while we're still fundamentally working with the I-IV-V progression, we added a touch of embellishment, making it sound different but not changing the function of the important chords.

A second way to use the relative minor chord is to let the V chord play with it a bit. A simple progression that lets you do this is: I-IV-V-iv-V. Notice how, here, we had to go back to the V before we were done. This is because iv doesn't really lead into I as well as V does (musically, V creates tension, which is resolved by going back to I. iv does not). In this progression, the iv chord (remember, our relative minor chord) acts to make the progression last longer. In the key of C, the chords are:

C -> F -> G -> Am -> G

The last progression I'm going to show you will really make that resolution sing out.

It's almost the same as the one above, but now we're using an extra IV chord. This progression goes I-IV-V-iv-V-IV or, in the key of C:

C -> F -> G -> Am -> G -> F

Notice how going from G to Am doesn't do much for the tension we've built up to (it's still there, but Am doesn't increase or decrease it), and notice how it really sounds like this progression takes us home to C when we start it all over again. Contrast this to the simpler I-IV-V-IV progression and see the difference that the iv chord makes.

Just like before, it doesn't change the fundamental feeling of the progression, it just changes its character.

Making The Relative Minor Do Something More
Now, let's move away from just using the relative minor chord, and start using the relative minor *key*. We're going to move away from the I-IV-V progression for the next two things I'll show you.

First, we're going to explore the relative minor key to mix two chord progressions into one. Consider this: I-iv-ii-V or, in C major:

C -> Am -> Dm -> G

See how the Am seemed to lead into Dm which seemed to lead into G? How did that work? Well, considering only the two middle chords, Am->Dm, we see that this is actually a i-iv progression in the relative minor key, meaning that Am and Dm work together much in the same way that C and F do in C major. But that's not all. Am and Dm work together, but Dm leads into G. Musically, this is because the ii chord has much the same function as the IV chord. So, considering this progression, it has the same function as the very first progression I showed you, but uses the relative minor to entirely change the way it sounds.

Finally, we're going to embellish this a bit by working with the v chord in the relative minor to work with us in the major key. As a starting point, try this chord change:

C -> E

See how they seem to go into each other? This is I-iii, which works really well (and is also the beginning of David Bowie's "Major Tom", if you were wondering). Now, using C as an anchor, here is a really neat progression that brings together the major key and its relative minor:

C -> Am -> C -> Em -> C -> Am -> Dm -> G -> C

Do you see how heavily we were relying on C? This is because we are fundamentally in C major, not A minor. If we stray too far from C major by just going straight into an A minor chord progression, we'll get that lost feeling where our ear is trying to figure out which key we're in. Plus, the minor key doesn't really have a i-iv-v progression that does the same thing as the I-IV-V in the major progression (take a look at jslick07's excellent lessons on chord progressions to understand why). Try it! Do: C -> Am -> Dm -> Em Can you see how it doesn't *quite* work as well?

Final Thoughts
This was a basic introduction to playing around with the relative minor chord and the relative minor key. Your job now is to experiment with other chord combinations in this set and see what works and what doesn't.

Guide written by crono760

What are Scales?

**What you can expect from this lesson**

If I’ve done it right, at the end of these notes you will know 3 things:
1. What a scale is.
2. How to play one scale on various positions of your fretboard.
3. What issues to consider if you want to extend your scales knowledge and practice.

**First, some definitions**

An interval is the space or distance between any 2 notes. Intervals can be described in various ways: a third, a tone, a step, and a fret are all terms that people use to talk about music intervals. In this lesson I will describe intervals by the number of frets involved.

An octave is the interval between 2 special notes. These notes will have the same sound and feel when you play them, even though they are not the same pitch.

On a guitar, the octave notes are any pair of notes 12 frets apart. The simplest example of octave notes is when you play a string open (no left hand fretting) and then the same string at the 12th fret. (This fret is often dotted on the side of the fretboard to help you find and play it)

Play this set of notes:

(highest pitch string)
1 E |--0--12------------------------------------|
2 B |---------0--12-----------------------------|
3 G |----------------0--12----------------------|
4 D |-----------------------0--12---------------|
5 A |-----------------------------0--12---------|
6 E |------------------------------------0--12--|
(lowest pitch string)

The first two notes are both E notes. The E note at fret 12 is one octave higher than the open E note. On string 2 the open note is B, and the fret 12 note is also B, one octave higher. And so on.
(By the way, acoustically an octave is created by a 2:1 proportion of harmonics. Fret 12 of your guitar is midway between the two bridges of your guitar. Playing at fret 12 makes your string half the length of the open string, and thus raises the pitch one octave.)

Next, a scale is any set of notes that leads from one note to a second note an octave higher or lower. If you start at the low note and finish at the high note, you have played an ascending scale. And obviously, going from high to low creates a descending scale.

All of these examples are scales. Try them out.

eg1 |--0--12-----------------------------|

eg2 |--0--7--12--------------------------|

eg3 |--0--7--11--12----------------------|

eg4 |--12--7--0--------------------------|

eg5 |--0--2--4--6--8--10--12-------------|

eg6 |--12--11--10--9--8--7--6--5--4--3--2--1--0--|

Some points to remember. First, there is nothing in those examples to tell you which string to play. The scale is created not by particular notes but by the 12 fret gap, so you will play a valid scale whichever string you choose. So you should try the examples on different strings. If you listen carefully you will start to hear how the patterns are all the same, even though the pitch may be higher or lower.
Secondly, if you compare example 2 and example 4, you will see the notes played are the same. The only difference is the direction of the scale. So we have played the same scale in both examples. One is ascending, the other descending.

Try creating your own scales according to the above principles. Start with any open string, end on fret 12 of the same string, and in between play as few or many notes as you choose. Or start at fret 12 and play a descending scale, finishing with the open string.

A root note is the main note of the scale, and is usually the note you start and finish with. If you play these notes...

1 E |--0--12------------------------------------|

...your root note is probably E. And if you play these notes...

2 B |---------0--12-----------------------------|

...your root note is probably B. (I say probably because if you get as far as studying the different modes of a scale, you will find out that there are exceptions to this principle. But for the rest of this lesson, the root note and first note will be the same.)
Finally the root note sets the key for your music. The key is simply the overall range of your music. If you take your music up or down a step, you have changed key. For example, here is the first line of “Mary had a little Lamb” in 3 different keys. If you play the tune, hum or sing it as well. That will give you a better feel as to how the key varies.

Key 1
1 E |--4--2--0--2--4--4--4---------------------|

Key 2
1 E |--6--4--2--4--6--6--6---------------------|

Key 3
1 E |--8--6--4--6--8--8--8---------------------|

Same tune; 3 different levels.
**A picture to hang your hat on**

If you are a visual person, try this picture. You are in the stairwell of a multi storey building. There is a flight of stairs connecting each floor. As you walk up or down the stairwell you count the steps. You discover that there are 12 steps between each floor. This means that if you start at the foot of one flight of stairs and go up 12 steps, you will be at the foot of the next flight. Or if you start on the 3rd step of one flight, 12 steps later you will be on the 3rd step of the next flight.

This is a picture of our scales and octaves. Step 5 on the 2nd flight and step 5 on the 3rd flight are “octave steps”, and the “scale” is the set of the steps you take (up or down) to get from one to the other. A five foot person might touch down on every step and create a “12 stride scale”. A six foot six walker might only touch down on every second step, and thus create a “six stride scale”. And the bank robber being chased by the police might get from one landing to the next in only two strides. A different kind of “scale” again.

**The major scale**

As we have seen, in theory there are many note patterns that could form a musical scale. However a few special patterns have come to predominate. The major scale is the most important and commonly used pattern in all Western music. So in the rest of this lesson we will learn the basics of this scale pattern, and then finish with some suggestions about further areas to work at.

Start by playing these notes on string 1. Play them often enough so that you can hear the sound of the scale as a whole. At this stage don’t worry about your fingering. Fingering is important, but that is a matter for further study.

1 E |--0--2--4--5--7--9--11--12--|

Now play these notes on string 2...

2 B |--0--2--4--5--7--9--11--12--|

As before, you will see that it doesn’t matter which string you choose. The overall sound of those 8 notes remains the same, because they are in the same proportions to each other. Try the same pattern on the other strings.
Now play these notes...

1 E |--1--3--5--6--8--10--12--13--|

Again, you should hear the same scale sound as before. We didn’t start with an open string, but the first and last notes are 12 frets apart, and the proportions between each note in the scale are once again the same.
Finally, play this set of notes. It is a different scale, created by two small changes in the pattern. By now, you should be able to hear the change in the sound of this pattern and hence know that this is not a major scale.

1 E |--0--2--3--5--7--8--10--12--|

(If you’re curious, you’ve just played an E minor scale!)
What is it that makes a major (or any other) scale? The answer - intervals. The interval between each note in the scale has a certain pattern. Change the pattern, and you change the kind of scale you are playing.

Let’s look at our major scale again. This time we will also record the interval (the number of frets) between each note in the scale.

1 E |--0---2---4---5---7---9---11---12--|
interval 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

or more generally,

note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
interval 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

So all you need to do to produce a major scale anywhere on the guitar is to find your starting note and then play an 8 note scale with this 2-2-1-2-2-2-1 pattern.
**A scale by any other name...**

Our next step is to learn briefly how major scales are named. Because there are 12 frets between the octave notes, there are in fact 12 different major scales. The scale type is the same, but the root note is different in each case. This creates 12 different keys. The first key, and the only key we are going to study in this lesson, is the key of C major. The notes of the scale are named using the first seven letters of the alphabet, like this:

note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
name C D E F G A B C

(Remember that the scale has 8 notes, but the first and last notes are the octave notes. They have the same “essence”, so they have the same name.)
You will recall that there are 12 frets in an octave. However we have only named 7 of those frets by letter. The other 5 frets are named by using the adjacent letters plus a sharp or flat sign. For example, C and D are the first 2 notes of the C major scale, so between C and D there is a 2 fret interval (remember the pattern? 2-2-1-2-2-2-1). So what about the note in between? This note can be named in two ways: C sharp (1 fret up from C) or D flat (1 fret down from D).

The sign for a sharp is a stylised hash symbol (#) and the sign for a flat is a stylised b. So C sharp is written as C#, and D flat is written as Db.

Put all this together and you get the names for every fret in your octave. They go like this:

A# or Bb
C# or Db
D# or Eb
F# or Gb
G# or Ab
(and back to A)

If you play all 12 of these notes in a row you have played a special scale known as a chromatic scale.
You can now use these note names to identify the note of every fret on your guitar. For example, the frets on string one are named like this...

1E fret |--0--1--2---3--4---5--6---7--8--9--10--11-12--13-|
name E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F etc
(Gb) (Ab) (Bb) (Db) (Eb)

...and the frets on string 2 have exactly the same 12 note names, except they start with B rather than E.
You may have questions about all this, such as “Why does this scale run from C to C, and not A to A?” or “Why not 12 letters to name the 12 frets between the octaves?” Good questions. There are answers, but to deal with them we would need a more extensive knowledge of historical music theory and sheet music notation. It’s like asking “why does one culture write left to right, and another culture right to left?”

So for the present just accept that we start with C. In music C could be described as the “default” scale. It’s the only major scale that has no sharp or flat notes added. Every other major scale needs to use at least one sharp or flat to fill in the gaps. This makes the C major scale easiest to learn at this point.

So, C it is. Let’s play this scale on our guitar. There is a C note on string 2, fret 1, so we could play it as follows:

2 B |--1---3---5---6---8---10--12--13--|
note 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
name C D E F G A B C
steps 2 2 1 2 2 2 1

Congratulations! You have just learned your first official scale.

**Scale patterns on the fretboard**

So far we have focussed on playing scales on single strings. This is a good way to learn about scales, because you get a better sense of the intervals that you need between the various notes. But to play scales smoothly at speed, we need to use the notes on different strings. We will do this now, using the C major scale as our template.

Remember the essence of a scale - a pattern of notes leading from a starting note to the same note an octave higher or lower. So if we are studying the C major scale we need to know where each C note is on our guitar.

For a guitar using standard tuning the pitch of the open strings is as follows (remember that string 1 is closest to the floor):

String 1 = E
String 2 = B
String 3 = G
String 4 = D
String 5 = A
String 6 = E

So if you know those values, and if you have learned the 12 note names of your chromatic scale above, you should be able to work out the name of any note on any string and fret on your guitar. You may not be able to do it instantly, but that skill will come as you practice. For example, on string 5 the open string is A. Therefore the note at fret 1 is A#. At fret 2 the note is B, and at fret 3 it is C (see the tab below).

1 E |----------------------------------|
2 B |----------------------------------|
3 G |----------------------------------|
4 D |----------------------------------|
5 A |-0--1--2--3-----------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------|
note: A A# B C (C#, etc)

For our second C note we will use the C on string 2. The open string is B, so the C note is on fret 1:

1 E |----------------------------------|
2 B |-0--1-----------------------------|
3 G |----------------------------------|
4 D |----------------------------------|
5 A |----------------------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------|
note: B C (C#, etc)

And so we can play our C major scale across strings 5, 4, 3 and 2, starting at the low C and ascending or the high C and descending. All we need to do is play the same notes in between that make up the C major scale. Here is the C major scale, both ascending and descending:

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---||-1--0-----------------------|
3 G |-------------0--2---------||-------2--0-----------------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------||-------------3--2--0--------|
5 A |-3------------------------||----------------------3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
note: C D E F G A B C C B A G F E D C

As you play this scale, try to hear the major scale sound. The notes and the intervals between each note are exactly the same as when you played your major scale on one string.
**A brief detour**

By now you need to start thinking about the fingering for your fretboard hand. Play these 4 notes:

1 E |--1--2--3--4------------------

You could have played all 4 notes by using just your first finger and moving your hand sideways for each note. But a better fingering is to play them with all four fingers, keeping your hand steady, as below.

1 E |--1--2--3--4------------------
finger 1 2 3 4

Your hand at this point is said to be in first position, because the first finger is playing the note on fret 1.
Now play these notes.

1 E |--2--3--4--5---------------

Again, the best fingering is to use all four fingers and keep your hand steady:

1 E |--2--3--4--5---------------
finger 1 2 3 4

In this case your hand is in second position, because your first finger is playing the second fret note. Both sets of notes are identical in terms of finger movements and patterns. The only difference is the positioning of your hand.
In the scales that follow I will add the hand position and fingerings that I use. Feel free to use them or not as you wish.

**Back to C major**

We can expand our C major scale further as we learn more about the notes on our fretboard. In the previous example, we played the C major scale from the C on string 5 to the C on string 2. But in fact there is a C note on each string of your guitar somewhere between the open string and fret 12. As we learn where they are, this opens up possibilites for new ways to play our scales. Some scales will be the same as the one above, but played in a different position on your guitar. Others will be different scales - still a major scale, but covering a different octave.

Here are the 6 C notes:

1 E |--8------------------------
2 B |-----1---------------------
3 G |--------5------------------
4 D |-----------10--------------
5 A |---------------3-----------
6 E |------------------8--------

So using these root notes we can create scales in various positions on our guitar. You have already learned to play the C major scale like this...

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---|
3 G |-------------0--2---------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------|
5 A |-3------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

...but it could also be played like this:

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5---|
4 D |-------2--3--5------------|
5 A |-3--5---------------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

The scale is identical. The only change is that you have chosen notes on different strings to create the scale. My suggestion for fingering is to play the first scale in first position (play C with your third finger, D open, E with your second finger, and so on), and the second scale in second position (so you will now play C with your second finger, D with your fourth finger, E with your first finger and so on).
The six patterns that follow are all examples of a C major scale. Each pattern is distinguished by which pair of strings the first and last notes are on.

Pattern 1
From string 5 to string 2
Play in first position (play note 1 with your third finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |-------------------0--1---||-1--0-----------------------|
3 G |-------------0--2---------||-------2--0-----------------|
4 D |----0--2--3---------------||-------------3--2--0--------|
5 A |-3------------------------||----------------------3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
Pattern 2
From string 5 to string 3
Play in second position (play note 1 with your second finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5---||-5--4--2--------------------|
4 D |-------2--3--5------------||----------5--3--2-----------|
5 A |-3--5---------------------||-------------------5--3-----|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
Pattern 3
From string 6 to string 4
Play in seventh position (play note 1 with your second finger)

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------||----------------------------|
4 D |----------------7--9--10--||-10-9--7--------------------|
5 A |-------7--8--10-----------||----------10-8--7-----------|
6 E |-8--10--------------------||-------------------10-8-----|
Pattern 4
From string 6 to string 3
Play in fifth position (play note 1 with your fourth finger). You will need to move to fourth position for the last 2 notes.

1 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------||----------------------------|
3 G |-------------------4--5---||-5--4-----------------------|
4 D |-------------5--7---------||-------7--5-----------------|
5 A |----5--7--8---------------||-------------8--7--5--------|
6 E |-8------------------------||----------------------8-----|
Pattern 5
From string 3 to string 1
Play in fifth position (play note 1 with first finger)

1 E |----------------5--7--8---||-8--7--5--------------------|
2 B |-------5--6--8------------||----------8--6--5-----------|
3 G |-5--7---------------------||-------------------7--5-----|
4 D |--------------------------||----------------------------|
5 A |--------------------------||----------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
Pattern 6
From string 4 to string 1
Play in seventh position (play note 1 with fourth finger)

1 E |-------------------7--8---||-8--7-----------------------|
2 B |-------------8--10--------||-------10-8-----------------|
3 G |----7--9--10--------------||-------------10-9--7--------|
4 D |-10-----------------------||----------------------10----|
5 A |--------------------------||----------------------------|
6 E |--------------------------||----------------------------|
And there you have it! Hopefully you understand something of what a scale is all about, and can play your first scales up and down your fretboard.

**For further study...**

Scales in music is a huge area. There are lots of good resources on this web site and elsewhere. Here are my tips for other areas you should look at.

1. Work on your fingering.

It’s worth taking the time to learn healthy techniques for both your left and right hands.

2. Develop practice strategies.

There are lots of ideas around. One exercise that I give my students is the “mini scale”. They start with notes 1-3, and when they have mastered those notes, they add one note at a time until they can play the scale:

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------|
4 D |----0--2--0---------------|
5 A |-3-----------3------------|
6 E |--------------------------|

1 E |--------------------------|
2 B |--------------------------|
3 G |--------------------------|
4 D |----0--2--3--2--0---------|
5 A |-3-----------------3------|
6 E |--------------------------|

1 E |---------------------------|
2 B |---------------------------|
3 G |-------------0-------------|
4 D |----0--2--3-----3--2--0----|
5 A |-3-----------------------3-|
6 E |---------------------------|

and so on.
Another tip here - make sure that you practice your descending scales as much as your ascending scales.

3. Create other patterns with your scales.

There are many ways you can take the basic scale notes and weave them together in different combinations. Here is one example. It is based on pattern 1 with the “third” notes added (a musical third is 2 notes up in the scale from the previous note. In the scale of C major, C to E is a third; so are D to F, E to G and so on.)

1 E |---------------------------------------------|
2 B |----------------------------0-----1--0--3--1-|
3 G |----------------0-----2--0-----2-------------|
4 D |----2--0--3--2-----3-------------------------|
5 A |-3-------------------------------------------|
6 E |---------------------------------------------|
notes C D E F G A B C
4. Explore other kinds of scale.

We have only looked at the major scale here. The arpeggio, pentatonic and minor scales are other patterns that you should try out when ready.

5. Learn to play scales over more than one octave.

By combining your scales you can play music that covers more than one octave. Here is one example to give you the idea. It combines pattern 2 and pattern 5. If you can already play these two patterns, the only detail of technique you need to consider is the fingering when you move from the first octave to the second and back. The shift is between 2nd position and 5th position, and it happens on string 3, so I have given the fingering for each note on that string.

1 E |-------------------------------------5--6--8--|
2 B |----------------------------5--6--8-----------|
3 G |----------------2--4--5--7--------------------|
4 D |-------2--3--5--------------------------------|
5 A |-3--5-----------------------------------------|
6 E |----------------------------------------------|
| 2nd position... | 5th position...
fingering: 1 3 1 3

1 E |-8--7--5--------------------------------------|
2 B |----------8--6--5-----------------------------|
3 G |-------------------7--5--4--2-----------------|
4 D |-------------------------------5--3--2--------|
5 A |----------------------------------------5--3--|
6 E |----------------------------------------------|
| 5th position... | 2nd position...
fingering: 1 3 1 3
6. Put your scales to use.

There are of course thousands of ways to do this. One simple idea is to play the melody line of any song using one specific scale pattern. For an example, see “Doe, a deer” from the Sound of Music (I have recently loaded a version of this song onto U-G - choose the chord version, which also has the melody line). You will see that this song uses the 8 notes of a major scale, and to play it smoothly you need to know your scale well. You could take a song like this and learn to play it with each of our 6 scale patterns.

Happy scale surfing!

Written by peterk