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 Guitarist Ben Kay

I am proud to bring you articles and useful information from the world of Guitars.

If you are thinking of learning to play guitar, then you've come to the right place.

I am compiling all the best info that I can here, and over time I hope this will become a popular resource for guitar beginners.

So, feel free to look around and if you need to get in touch, just go to the "contact us" page :)


Holding Your Guitar

The guitar is a great and extremely flexible instrument, and can be played in very different ways. However, learning how to handle it can help learners go a long way.

holding your guitar

Basically there are three items to discuss, including your body and stance, what to do with your strumming hand, and how to use your fretting hand. Another important topic that I can't leave out is about how to hold a pick, and how to choose one that will work for you (see video below). Here are some tips dealing with each to help you improve your style and avoid acquiring bad habits.

Body And Stance

Here is how you can adjust our posture and sitting position to avoid long term problems when playing guitar (like fatigue) and also avoid developing bad habbits that can make your guitar playing miserable.

The first thing you should do is find a tall straight chair without arm rests. When you sit, your back should remain straight and parallel to, but away from, the back rest. Your legs should be slightly open in front of you, while your feet remain flat on the ground. Hold your guitar right against your chest and stomach, and place its waist or indentation on the leg that is farthest from the headstock.

Beginners tend to tilt the guitar towards them so they can see their fingers on the fret board while playing. However, this posture causes fatigue and it leads to bad habits.

Strumming Hand

strumming hand

It is important to maintain a position that does not cause your hand to tire or get injured. Your bicep should rest on the side of the guitar, holding it against your leg, and tilting the guitar slightly upwards. Your strumming hand must be able to cover the sound hole, and your elbow should point to the upper corner of the guitar body.

Fretting Hand

In order to get an effective and comfortable grip, we must place the thumb directly on the back of the neck. The rest of the fingers should form an arch over the fret board, pressing down the strings against it. We must avoid wrapping the neck with the thumb. It should push the back of the neck when playing chords in order to provide a firm grip. The fret hand should never be used to hold the guitar. The neck should remain in place without tilting towards the floor even if we are not holding it.

How To Hold A Pick

When you are just beginning to play guitar, it is very important to learn the use of the pick. Although a lot of beginners tend to shy away from it, that is a big mistake. It is vital to stick at it no matter how often you drop it, or how hard it is to hold, and then in no time at all, you will master it.

I found a great video about this that will explain it much more clearly than if I were to try to describe it by just text. In the video, Andy also discusses how to choose a pick thats right for you:

So, although it may seem simple or unimportant, the way you hold the guitar when playing can have a very big effect on your life as a guitarist. It is important to get the basics down at the beginning for a long and happy journey with your guitar.

Many people started to play guitar with great intentions, but later stopped, and much of that is because of not starting in a way that avoids fatigue, injury, and bad habbits. So start the right way by applying these tips, and you will have a wonderful experience with your guitar throughout your life.


Feeling The Beat

The guitar is not the easiest musical instrument to learn. It requires patience, perseverance and the development of a certain set of skills that go beyond music theory. In fact, many people try to learn to play guitar by going through some theory and rigid methods, but that is the easiest way to get frustrated with this amazing instrument.

The best was to learn, at least at the beginning, is not to study some method or music sheet. Instead, you should focus on feeling the beat and mood of a song and try to reproduce it on your guitar.

feeling-the-beat

Music is about emotions and aesthetics. When you like a tune, it is probably because you feel an emotional connection to it and you find the sound attractive. The best way to start learning a tune is to listen to it carefully and find this connection.

There are many place and systems to learn to play the guitar, both offline (traditional teacher-student relationship) and the online method. Online learning has really taken off in the last few years, with the availability of high speed internet for just about everyone, and the fact that it costs just a fraction of what traditional lessons cost.

Also, there's the added convenience of being able to access the lessons and content anywhere that you can get online. Some systems are obviously better respected than others, and they have great reputations. There can be quite massive differences in their methods, facilities, and pricing, and I found a great resource that compares the best online guitar lessons for beginners in table form so you can see how they stack up against each other.

Every song has a beat and a set of emotions attached to it:

guitar song emotions

Grab your guitar while you listen to the beat and the intensity of the tune:

After listening to it a couple of times, mute the strings with your fret hand and follow the rhythm with your strumming hand. This would help you “feel” each part of the song more clearly, and notice when chord or note changes. Listen to each section of the song, and divide it by the chords used.

The next step is listening to the bass, if possible, as it is usually the best way to know what chords you need to play:

Try humming the bass if you can and find the matching notes on the sixth or fifth string of your guitar. Do not worry about complicated bass lines, just focus on the main note or the one that matches the rest of the guitar chord you hear. After a while, you might notice that these notes are repeated through the whole song. Try playing them yourself by strumming those bass notes on your guitar. Remember to keep the beat and try to predict when the notes will change so you can keep the timing.

Now that you know the basic bass notes, try discovering the corresponding chords:

Find out the name of the first note you´re playing:

playing the guitar chords

If you find that the first note of the song matches that of the third fret at the sixth string on your guitar, then it is a G. If the second note matches that of the open fifth string, then it is an A. All you have to do now is play the complete chords. Pay attention to the differences between major and minor chords.

After you understand the song, you can start trying to play it by ear:

But this does not mean just playing the chords in the right order. It means you should try to convey the same feelings of the song by combining the sound of the chords, the tempo and the intensity of the strumming each time you stroke the guitar.

You can do this with your first few songs, just to learn to feel them and understand the emotional process. Every time you learn a new song this way, you will become better and faster at it. However, there is a lot more to playing guitar than just imitating sounds.

For improving your hearing abilities you should develop certain skills individually.

First, it is important to develop your relative hearing:

You might not be able to tell the name of a note by just hearing it, but you can recognize their position on the fret board relative to others. Practicing your scales can tell you a lot about the relation between each note, and can help you recognize the intervals, allowing you to know what chord will be played next.

Rhythm and timing are as important as note recognition:

Developing this skill will help you recognize patterns and reproduce them convincingly. This will allow you to feel when a note should be played without having to think.

Just remember that, for acquiring all these skills, you must practice a lot and never stop playing your instrument.


What is the Capo?

As a guitar player, it’s always important to recognize the base pitch of our favorite songs. When you´re beginning to learn how to play a song, it could sometimes be frustrating to realize that your guitar sounds way off key, even when you´re fingering the right chords. This could be a problem if you’re not familiar with some of the gadgets and tools that might help you broaden your options.

This is where the Capotasto, or Capo, comes in handy. But, let´s find out a bit more about this device:

  • What is the Capo?
  • Why should a guitar player have a Capo?
  • How do you use it?

First things first: what is a Capo?

the capo

The word Capo comes from the Italian word “Capotasto” or “capodastro”, which basically refers to the guitar nut. It is a tool that is attached to the neck of a guitar to reduce the vibration length of the strings. This effectively increases the pitch of the guitar by simply relocating the nut.

Used by famous bands like The Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel, this tool is useful whenever you want to play a song using basic chord positions but in a higher pitch. For example, when you place the capo on the first fret, you are be able to play all the regular open chords one fret higher than normal, effectively raising them one semi-tone. Meaning that when you now do an E chord, you would be actually playing an F. Likewise, a capo placed on the second fret, will raise the pitch of the guitar one whole note.

Why should a guitar player have a Capo?

You might notice that some songs are in a different key, or that they are either too high or too low for you to sing to them. Sometimes, the notes for a song are E#, A# and C# and you would like to play them without having to use barred chords.

(Here's a quick video showing how to use a Capo on your guitar)

Well, the Capo gives you the possibility to change the pitch of your guitar, as it allows you to play those sharp chords easily. Having a Capo at hand will allow you to customize your guitar and suit it to your vocal range, or play songs that are in a different key without having to retune your guitar before every song. On other hand, this useful gadget gives you greater flexibility of composition. You might try the same chords you know in different positions and they will sound very differently, allowing you to have access to a wider array of sounds.

Most Capos are really easy to use. Maybe you have seen some amazing guitarists having a capo on their fret board, and thought they were only for advanced players. Actually, capos are a tool for every guitar player.

There are several kinds of capos

The spring loaded capos allow you to attach them or remove them from your fret board quickly, but the pressure on the strings cannot be adjusted. The C-Clamp type is very sturdy and does not interfere with your fret hand, but it is more difficult to attach. The elastic capos are cheap and light, but could lose their elasticity with time. Most of them are made of sturdy materials, but covered by soft rubber so it does not damage the guitar finish when attached to it.

spring clamp capo

There are a few recommendations to follow when using a Capo. Clamping your strings can cause several problems if done incorrectly, such as buzzing sounds and your guitar going out of tune. To avoid this, do not place the capo between two frets. Instead, clamp it right behind the desired fret, but be careful to leave some space for your fretting hand. Also, make sure the capo is not too tight as it could cause your strings to go out of tune.