How To Tune A Guitar

Tuning a guitar properly is just about the most important thing a guitar player has to do. No matter how good you are at playing guitar, if it’s out of tune then whatever you play will sound terrible (unless you are into punk rock then it will probably sound perfect!) haha.

A guitar is tuned by turning the tuning pegs at the top of the guitar (the headstock). Turning the peg in one direction will tighten the string and so raise the pitch. Turning the peg the opposite way will loosen the string and so lower the pitch. This enables you to tune the strings in harmony together.

For a full instruction on tuning a guitar using 3 different methods then watch the video below:

Visit Guitar Tots for the online tuning app designed to teach youn children how to play guitar: Guitar Lessons For Children >>

Practice Phrase

Have you ever seen a great musician or band playing live and been amazed at how flawlessly they seem to play? It’s extremely rare to see top musicians make a single mistake throughout an entire performance.

Well I heard this short phrase on the radio recently and think that this is the key.

If you use this phrase in your learning routine then you will not fail!

DON’T PRACTICE UNTIL YOU CAN GET IT RIGHT.
PRACTICE UNTIL YOU CAN’T GET IT WRONG!

Guitar Lesson For Kids & Young Children

Useful information about learning how to play guitar

I thought that it would help you if we provided an insight into the process of learning how to play guitar and what to expect as progress is made.

Playing guitar is quite challenging as it requires a lot of co-ordination from both left and right hands. Notes are held down (fretted) on the fret board and a string is strummed or plucked to sound out the note or chord.

Along with the physical activity there is also the actual mechanics of the guitar to consider.

1) You have probably purchased a small scale guitar for your child, maybe a half-sized or three quarter sized guitar which is ideal for youngsters, however it also provides some extra challenges. On small guitars the strings can be quite difficult to press down onto the fretboard because they tend to lay quite a distance from the fretboard. This is known as the guitar’s ‘action’. With a high action you have to press down harder so this can lead to sore fingers for a period of time, but with a little practice this subsides quite quickly.
***If your child says that their fingers are hurting then they probably are! Make practice sessions short initially and gradually increase them.

2) The good news is that the discomfort felt whilst playing does clear up quite quickly as the finger tips begin to toughen up.
***This toughening process is essential for playing guitar because without having hard skin on the tips of the fretting fingers notes and chords can sound dull and maybe even muted.

A chord

3) Chords – Let’s take a chord such as A Major (Andy Ant without his spade). It requires 3 fingers to be pressed onto 3 strings all on the same fret (the 2nd fret). It also has 2 open strings (the A string and the open top E or Ellie string).

It is quite difficult even for beginner adults to press the 3 required strings down on a full scale guitar and make them all sound out. It is probably even harder for a child on a small scale guitar with a poor action, but here’s some more good news…

***Chords do not necessarily need ALL strings to sound out clearly, in fact only one or two notes are required.

With the A Major chord, if your child can make sure that open A string (the Andy Ant string marked with a STAR) and the fretted note below it on the D string (the red big finger) sound out cleanly then this will sound just great!
*** The same applies to all chords. Just 2 clean notes will do to begin with.

Conclusion

So to sum up…
1) Playing guitar can cause mild pain initially – don’t over practice.
2) Notes and chords will sound better as fingers toughen up so be patient
3) Make sure that chords are formed correctly but don’t worry initially if all the strings do not sound out. 2 clean strings make a great sounding chord.

For more information then visit Guitar Tots – Guitar Lessons for kids and young children

Possibly my No.1 Guitar tip!

Wait for it…here is my No.1 tip of all time…

…Buy a guitar stand.

I know that doesn’t sound like much of a tip…BUT…one thing I always say to all my students is NEVER leave your guitar tucked up snug in its case, and here’s why…

As we all know, if you put an obstacle in the way of anything then it becomes harder to do, and learning guitar is no different. If your guitar is kept hidden away in its case then it means you have to make an effort to get it out to play it. And you need to PRACTICE A LOT!

So make your guitar part of your home, buy a guitar stand and have your guitar accessible at all times.

Even picking your guitar up for 5 minutes makes you 5 minutes BETTER than you were, and not only that, a guitar makes a great feature in your living room.

Even a cheap guitar is a thing of beauty, so give it pride of place in your home and you’ll find yourself, or your child picking it up and playing it more often if it is accessible at all times.

Guitar tips for teaching very young kids

I took a call recently from a mother asking me if i could teach her 4 year old how to play guitar. I have to be honest but my first reaction was “no, sorry that’s too young”, and the honest truth is that it is really too young for a child to play guitar to a good level.

But that’s not to say that it is a waste of time spending half an hour or so a couple of times a week allowing a youngster to explore the instrument, and it can be great fun for you as a teacher or parent too.

At 4, 5 and 6, kids have a concept of music, they have a basic understanding of rhythm, they can count, sing, dance and strum, so I really would encourage anyone to give teaching a young kid a go!

The challenge is keeping kids enthused and interested, but my philosophy is that nothing is a waste of time with kids. Even if they only are interested for a few weeks, the fact that they have heard the sounds of a guitar, strummed the strings, held the instrument etc…gives them something for the future.

Here are 12 tips that I’ve found can help:

1) Don’t expect too much. Even if they can just strum across all the strings in a very basic rhythm to a song then that’s fine to begin with.
2) Play very simple nursery rhymes.
3) Get them to sing along.
4) Just get them to strum open strings in time.
5) Try to get them to strum individual strings if possible.
6) Let them use other props such as cuddly toys and maybe make a game out of it.
7) Get them a guitar strap otherwise they’ll probably just play the flat guitar on its back.
8) When they’ve had enough…they’ve probably had enough, so never force them to play.
9) Leave the guitar in a visible place.
10) Get them a guitar stand. Give the guitar some importance.
11) Give the guitar a name…Gonzo, Gertrude, Groovy…
12) Never force anything or tell the child off. Make it a fun thing to do for however long you can.

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Left Handed? No Problem!

If you are a complete beginner to guitar and left handed then before you start worrying about where to get yourself a left handed guitar then why not consider playing right handed. Sounds hard right, but in all honesty, I’ve now taught 2 left handed beginners to play right handed from scratch and neither of them had any problem adapting. Plus they then gain the benefit of saving money buying guitars because generally left handed guitars are more expensive to buy, along with now being able to pick up their mates guitar and rock out!

So my advice is to try and play right handed as soon as possible!

Enjoy the challenge

Learning to play guitar can be difficult at times. There are peaks and troughs, so maybe one day you’ll be riding on the crest of a wave and feeling great about your playing, only to hit a wall and really struggle to make progress.

Learning how to play bar chords is one of these major stumbling blocks and has caused many a beginner to quit learning guitar. Playing scales with alternate picking is another tough thing to crack.

It’s just the nature of learning.

Most things that are worth doing don’t come easy, so try and accept that parts of learning are going to be hard to do…but achievable…so the tip is to ENJOY THE CHALLENGE and ride those waves right up to the dunes!

Electric or Acoustic guitar. Which is best for beginners?

If you are a complete beginner to playing guitar then I’d always recommend learning on an acoustic first, then moving on to electric later if that’s what you want to do.

The main reason for this is that from my experience most bad habits are picked up playing electric guitar, such as poor picking technique and chord shortcuts which can lead to poor chord changing.

Also, playing acoustic guitar is far more immediate as there is no setting up involved.

The last thing you want to do when learning anything is give yourself an excuse not to do it or to put obstacles in the way.

You can just leave your acoustic guitar laying around on the place and just pick it up when the urge hits you.

There’s no need to plug anything in or switch anything on. No effects pedals to mask dodgy technique, no cables to go faulty or fuses to blow! (well maybe the odd one in the brain when trying to figure out a new chord change).

Acoustic guitar is as pure as you can get it.

So my advice is to start from the ground up, learn the basics on acoustic first, then if you want to go on and become the next Jimi Hendrix later then you’ll at least know that your guitar technique is sound!

You’re never too young or too old to learn guitar

Learning to play guitar is something that can be done at any age. Young or old, it is never too soon or too late to start and it is such a fun and rewarding thing to do.

Progress really comes down to practice and I’ve seen people go from literally not being able to playing a note to singing and playing their favorite song in a matter of months.

I’d suggest that younger children under the age of about 10 should initially learn to play on a 3/4 size guitar because stretching to play chords on a full size guitar can be a little difficult.

Grown ups…just grab yourself any full size guitar and jump in!

Guitars can be picked up really inexpensively online and if you’re in the right place at the right time you may even bag yourself a right old bargain at your local charity shop.

A beginner student of mine recently turned up with a really nice acoustic guitar they picked up for a tenner :).

Or just ask your friends. I guarantee someone will have an old acoustic from their student days tucked away in the loft somewhere…shame to leave it to gather dust so pick it up and give it a friendly strum!

There really is no excuse.