Saturday, 16 July 2011

How To Change Your Guitar Strings

An electric guitar
Changing your guitar strings might make you feel a litte uncomfortable if you have never done it before, but it's really quite simple and should become a regular part of your guitar care routine. Before you do anything, first take time to make some personal observations such as:

1. Which way do you have to turn the tuning keys to tighten or loosen the strings?

2. How are the strings aligned from the nut to the bridge?

3. Which is the heaviest string?

Taking mental notes will probably save you some frustration and make the job much easier.

Below you will find some helpful steps to follow for changing your strings. Once you've changed your guitar strings a couple of times your confidence should begin to grow and you won't need to refer to these steps any longer. I like to remove all of the guitar strings in order to give my guitar a thorough cleaning, but you can remove and replace them one at a time if you prefer.

Guitar Care and Maintenance Tools:

- Needle-nose Plyers (to cut string ends)

- String Winder

- Soft Cotton Cloth

- Guitar Cleaning Polish (do not use furniture polish, oils, or wax)


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Using the string winder , begin slowly loosening the string(s) until completely slack.

2. With the needle-nose plyers, carefully grab the string from the capstan (the part it winds around) and pull through the hole until it is free.

3. Taking the string winder again, use the cut-out at the end of it to grab the pin at the bridge. Gently pull the pin until it comes out of the hole.

4. Continue this process until all the strings are removed.

5. Clean guitar surface thoroughly.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

Follow steps one and two above. When you come to step three, take your needle-nose plyers and carefully loosen the figure eight knot at the bridge. Pull the string free.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for an acoustic steel string guitar. However, if you have an electric guitar with a movable bridge you may want to take it to your local music store and have them show you how to do it safely. If the bridge is moved from it's correct position you will not be able to tune your guitar after restringing it.


Acoustic Steel String Guitar-

1. Bend the ball end of the string slightly and place it inside the hole below the bridge. Some steel string guitars do not have pins. When this is the case, just pull the string throught the hole.

2. Line up the string with any grooves in the pin. Insert the pin into the hole, making sure it is secure.

3. Take the other end and insert into the hole on the capstan.

4. Pull the string through leaving a fair amount of slack between the capstan and the bridge.

5. Bend the string at the point it comes through the capstan to keep it secure.

6. Watching out for your eyes, begin turning the key with your left hand. Once you get it started it may be easier to use the string winder. (For safety reasons, you might want to cut off any excess string. I usually wait until after they're all on to do this).

7. As you are winding, apply some tension to the string with your right hand to help keep it taught. Make sure you are winding in the right direction! On the bass strings you will be winding counter-clockwise (away from you). On the treble strings you will go the opposite direction.

8. Continue to wind each string until all the slack is taken up. Do not worry about tuning yet.

9. Cut off all excess string length.

Classic Nylon String Guitar-

1. Put the string through the top of the hole found just below the bridge.

2. Pull about 3 inches through.

3. Bringing the string up over the tie block, pass it underneath itself at the original point of entry.

4. Come down over the tie block again and wrap the end of the string around itself in a figure eight type pattern.

5. Insert the other end of the string down through the hole on the capstan.

6. Wrap the string around the back and then underneath itself in order to secure it in place.

7. As described above, begin turning the key with your left hand while maintaining some tension with the other until all the slack is taken up. With a classical guitar you will wind clockwise on the bass strings and the treble strings.

8. Keep the string as straight as possible as it continues from the capstan through the nut and down onto the neck.

9. You should not have any excess string length, but if you do, cut it off.

Electric Guitar-

Follow the same procedure as described for the acoustic steel string guitar.

I hope you found this information to be helpful. Remember, establishing a good guitar care routine will insure many long years of musical fun and enjoyment!

WRITTEN BY - Kathy Unruh

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit:

Saturday, 7 May 2011

4 Simple Steps For Mastering Guitar Chords

The Cmaj chord in guitar, with bass in G
The guitar is a relatively easy musical instrument to play but it's also not something anyone can just pick up and learn overnight. This six string instrument is one of the oldest musical instruments to retain its basic function and it is played mainly by coaxing the melodies out through the use of guitar chords. Use these easy tips for mastering guitar chords and you'll be playing the guitar confidently in no time.

Use the right chord guide.

A chord guide may be written by a guitar genius but if you don't understand what it's trying to show you, it simply won't work. When mastering guitar chords, make sure you have the proper understanding of the guitar tab staff. This is the series of horizontal lines representing the 6 strings of the guitar. In a guitar tablature, finger positioning is marked by dots or numbers to indicate which strings and which fret the fingers must be placed on to play a chord. It's also a good idea to learn the different types of symbols that are commonly used in a guitar tab.

Develop muscle memory.

Mastering guitar chords is as much an exercise of your muscles as it is of your eye and mind. By learning the difference between an E major and an E minor, for example, you will develop the ability to play the right chords regardless of the song. Once you've committed the chords to memory, it will be effortless to change from one chord to the next. It will also help prevent any confusion in how a specific guitar chord is played, particularly if there is only a very slight variation.

Learn 3 chords each time.

When learning chords, it helps to work hard. As in all things, learning the guitar is only difficult in the beginning, so don't be afraid to challenge yourself. If you play the guitar for an hour each day, try to master 3 chords each time. Start with the easy ones such as A, E, D or G. As you master each of them, gradually add new ones until you've memorized them all.

Try simple changes.

When you're still in the beginning stages of learning chords, try gradual changes from one chord to the next. This will help "shape" each chord in your head and help you burn it into your muscle memory. Try transitioning from a G to a C to an A to an E and then back again. Once you've developed the hang of it, do the chords at random or add a 7 (such as a G7 and a C7), a sharp minor or major. You'll be surprised at how easy it will be for you to play these chords effortlessly within a short period of time.

online guitar lessons

Monday, 14 March 2011

History Of Martin Acoustic Guitars!

Martin acoustic guitars can be traced back in the USA to 1833 when C. F. Martin Sr. arrived in New York from Germany with his family and set up his luthier shop in the city. The legendary Martin guitars were born.

The company also made mandolins for a time, as well as ukuleles and steel-stringed Hawaiian guitars when these instruments were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, their mainstay was and continues to be guitars. Martin acoustic guitars lead the way, but now there are many electric guitars too in the Martin range.

One of the first American singing stars to have a Martin acoustic guitar built specially for him was Jimmy Rodgers. In 1928 Martin made the "Blue Yodel" 000-45 guitar for the man who was known as "The Singing Brakeman."

Jimmy Rodgers was at the top of his career at that time and arguably the most popular singer in America. The movie he made that same year, aptly titled "The Singing Brakeman," features Jimmy Rodgers singing and playing the "Blue Yodel" 000-45 guitar made specially for him.

The Singing Cowboys of the 1930s movies were the next to be attracted to Martin acoustic guitars. Gene Autry had the first D-45 created for him in 1933, 100 years after the company was started.

In the 1940s and 1950s it was Country Music that took up the Martin guitars in a big way. Stars of the Grand 'Ole Opry in Nashville are seen on stage playing Martins. Among the big names of the time are Hank Snow, Lester Flatt, Ernest Tubb, and the biggest star of them all, Hank Williams.

Modern day country rock singer, Neil Young, actually bought an old guitar that had once belonged to Hank Williams. He plays it regularly on stage believing that even a guitar that has gained iconic status as a result of having once been played by a superstar should be used. It's a 1941 Martin D-28 with herringbone purfling, and Neil believes it sounds as good now as it first did.

In the 1950s country music gave over to rock and roll. Elvis Presley was the young man taking the world by storm. As soon as he could afford a new guitar, Elvis chose a 1942 D-18. It wasn't long before he decided to get a bigger guitar, and in 1955 he bought a 1954 D-28, a big bodied guitar with a big sound. All of Elvis's famous Sun Sessions were recorded with this guitar.

Folk music was also big in America during the 1940s through to the 1960s. Legendary singers like Woodie Guthrie played Martin acoustic guitars, as well as other popular groups such as The Kingston Trio, Pete, Paul and Mary, and the Weavers.

In 1990 the 500,000th Martin guitar was produced. It was a HD-28 and it was signed by all employees and placed in the factory museum. Four years later in 1994, Martin went into space when the Shuttle carried a small Backpacker and orbited the earth.

The 1,000,000th of the Martin acoustic guitars was produced in 2004. Two years later the company had the grand opening of the Martin Guitar Museum and Visitors Center, and two years after that in 2008, C.F. Martin & Co celebrated 175 years in business and the oldest surviving makers of guitars, Martin acoustic guitars, in the world!

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tuning You're Guitar By Ear!

The Cmaj chord in guitar, with bass in G
Guitar tuning is fast becoming a lost art, what with the ready availability of electronic guitar tuners and their relative cheapness (you can get them for just a few dollars). More and more guitar students feel it is not necessary to learn, and indeed many instructors have stopped teaching, this tedious but nevertheless important aspect of guitar playing.

A good guitar tuner can be a big help on a noisy stage, allowing you to tune up silently, without inflicting your dreaded rendition of that well known and much reviled Chinese anthem "Tu-Ning", on your unsuspecting victims (audience, other band members, or whatever) you really need to develop the ability of tuning the beast "by ear".

Just imagine! You get to your show with a truck full of, amplifiers, mountains of pedals, to make you sound like the latest rock icon, and your trusty security blanket (guitar tuner) stops working.... Or the aging grand piano, supplied by the venue, is tuned way off concert pitch (the industry standard where A is deemed to be the frequency 440Hz, creating the term A-440) you could not do the gig unless you can get and keep your guitar in tune.

Also consider this... you have spent weeks or maybe months bragging, to anyone who will listen, about what a great guitar player you are.... And then, out of the blue, someone thrusts an "out of tune" acoustic at you at the works party and now everyone you know is looking at you expectantly. You need to get it in tune quickly so you don't look like a fool in front of all your friends.... Or the boss.
So do yourself a big service and take the time and effort to learn how to tune your guitar manually.

Ok! So how?

Well, you'll need a reference, another instrument, tuning fork, pitch pipes etc from which to get to a starting point. (If nothing else available you will just have to choose a string and tune the other strings from that, (however, in this situation, you will not be able to play along with other musicians).

Try to avoid using recordings as your reference as many have had their pitch altered during the mastering process and will not be very accurate.
Firstly you will need to know what notes the strings will be tuned to in standard tuning. There is a multitude of different guitar tunings people use but in this instance we will assume you are going to use standard tuning as it is far and away the most used, about 98% of the time.

The notes of the open strings are E, A, D, G, B, E, this is going from bottom to top (bottom being the lowest in pitch which is the top string physically i.e. closest to your head).

So your reference should sound an E and you tune the low E (the thickest string) to that. When the two notes sound the same the string is in tune and you have finished with the reference instrument. We will now tune the rest of the guitar to the low E string.

Next place your fingertip behind the 5th fret (in the space between the 4th and 5th frets counting from the guitars headstock towards its body) on the E string we just tuned and pluck both that string and the next one (The A String).

Tune the A string to the E until they sound the same.

Repeat this process with the D string, (tuning it to the A at the 5th fret)

And the G String (Tuning to the D at the 5th fret).

Now comes the odd one out. The B string is tuned to the G string but not at the 5th fret, move back to the 4th fret for this (the space between the 3rd and 4th frets). Tune the B until it sounds the same as the

fretted G.

Last go back to the 5th fret for the High E.

Now, if you have followed along successfully you will have a guitar which, for the time being, is in tune and you are ready for your next lesson. Please always remember! The most important thing about learning the guitar is:

Always have fun and be the best guitarist you can be.

Learn the 3 chord trick
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