Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

I found this video which has some pretty good information about how to adjust you truss rod.  Be careful!  Broken truss rods are a very common occurance.  I’ve never broken one myself but seem to run into them all the time when friends ask me to take a look at their setups.  A misconception is that ratcheting on you truss rod can improve you action.  The truth is that you need to make minor adjustments and then check in an iterative manner.  If you crank too hard, it WILL break!

Tune the guitar up normally. Play the 12th fret harmonic, and compare it to the 12th fret note. If the Fretted note is Flat, move the saddle Forwards(towards the neck), and vice versa.
If you have a 6 saddle bridge like the one shown to the left, you’ll be able to adjust each saddle position independantly. If you have a single saddle, like most acoustic guitars, adjusting the saddle will affect more than one string so small adjustments need to be made and then rechecked after you work on the next string. Note that it’s probably a good idea to loosen you strings a bit before you attemp to move the saddle. This will help to prevent messing up the screw heads. 

You should consider setting the intonation when you change the gauge of strings you use.  The thickness difference can play a role in changing the intonation. 

You really should check your guitar manufactures web site for any information they have about setting the intonation.  Fender has pretty detailed instructions but is a little overwhelming.  Others are the same way, but you should check them out anyway just to make sure you’re not missing anything.  My experience, however, is that if you follow the steps aboove, you’ll be happy with the results.

The ability to play a spontaneous, improvised guitar solo is a truly impressive skill. Whilst anyone can pick up a guitar and play a song using three chords, playing a guitar solo, on the other hand, requires a lot of hard work and practice. I have therefore decided to write a short article on guitar playing to share with you 4 tips which have certainly improved my guitar soloing and improvisation skills over the years.

Tip #1 – Learn More Licks
In order to play a good guitar solo you need to have a good vocabulary of guitar licks. Most beginners don’t realize that only 30% of what good guitar players play during an improvised guitar solo is improvised – the other 70% are actually licks which they have pre-learnt and internalized. Too often, we run into the problem of playing the same licks over and over again when we solo – which is boring! Having a good number of licks stored in memory will make you a more versatile guitarist. Guitar licks can be learnt from a variety of books, websites or by listening to your favorite guitarist and figuring out their licks. The resources are there, so there’s no excuse not to learn your guitar licks!

Tip #2 – Practise Smart, Not Hard
A lot of guitarists either practice too little or practice too much. Whilst being lazy and only picking up the guitar twice a week is obviously not going to get you very far, playing your guitar for up to 8 hours a day can be bad for you. I have a friend who developed carpal tunnel syndrome because of playing the guitar too much. Having a sensible practicing schedule, and sticking to it, is the key to success. In my opinion, it’s better to learn a little everyday then to cram everything in one day. For example, why not promise yourself that you will learn one new guitar lick a day? Seems like nothing, but that’s seven guitar licks in a week, and 365 guitar licks in a year!

Tip #3 – Practise over Backing Tracks
OK, so you’ve learnt your licks. The only way you are going to learn how to apply these learnt licks in a guitar solo is to play them over a backing track and practise joining the licks together. There are numerous free backing tracks available over the internet which you could use to practise soloing over. Backing tracks for the 12 bar blues are the most readily available, which is great because the blues is the best place to start when learning to guitar solo. Alternatively, if you want more exotic chord changes, it may be a good idea to buy some professionally-made backing tracks or even create your own backing tracks. Software such as Band-In-A-Box allows you to input a chord progression of your choice and it literally creates a backing track for you.

Tip #4 – Be Self-Critical
The only you are going to improve, especially when it comes to guitar soloing, is to be critical to yourself. Unfortunately, when we are playing the guitar, how we think we sound is often quite different from how we actually sound. Recording yourself play and then listen back, is a great way of self-evaluation. Often times, you might even be shocked at how bad your playing sounds but don’t despair – continual practice using the tips outlined above will polish things out. It may even be beneficial to get a friend or bandmate to listen to your playing and get them to critique on you. You might find that you’re not very good at taking criticism – but it’s the best way for you to grow as a guitar player.

About the Author

Lex Robben is a guitar enthusiast who is on a path of musical enlightenment. For more FREE guitar tips, licks and lessons, visit The Shadow Guitarist Blog.

OK, this is a pretty basic tip but it’s my first one so give me a break…lol. I believe that you absolutely need to tune your guitar (or Uke) everytime you pick it up, even if it’s just for a minute. The reason for this is that you need to develop an ear. What I mean by this is that you need to get to a point where you can strum a chord and know that something is out of tune. You can develop this skill by always having an insturment that is in tune. A benefit of knowing what an “in-tune” E sounds like, for example, is that when you hear one on the radio, you’re going to know it. That puts you that much closer to being able to listen to a song and be able to decipher it into the appropriate chords. If you let your tuning go, you won’t be centered where you should be and your ear won’t get trained. So tune it EVERY time you pick it up. It only takes a minute or two.

Here’s a link to an online tuner that you can use if you don’t have a tuner or a piano as a reference.

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