Guitar News

Archive for September, 2008

As soon as you get your new guitar, or used guitar, you should want to pick it up and jam away to your favorite rock band. But you most likely wont know the top from the bottom of your guitar yet. This will be the lesson that starts off a series of lessons designed to get you playing guitar as efficiently and quickly as possible.

The Guitars Neck and Headstock

Don't expect to be the next big guitar player over night. Some players learn quickly and others learn when they have time to practice and read material. Everyone learns differently, find out what works best for you and stick with it. We have taken the time to figure out what techniques and theories should be learned before others so that you can pick up the guitar and get to playing in the shortest amount of time without having to backtrack and be confused because you didn't.

To start out, we need to cover some basic guitar anatomy. Like a car, you can’t use a guitar without knowing what does what! Let’s take a look at the most common type of guitar parts.

Your guitar might have new and break through equipment or gadget on your guitar but the following parts are the most common components to any guitar. If you have anything on your guitar that isn't listed here it is probably something that is not usually on most guitars, if this is the case you can always ask the GLI forums or call your manufacturer for info.

Tuning pegs – Tuning pegs tighten and loosen your strings; use these to tune your guitar.

Tuning Posts – The tuning pegs are connected to the pegs and are what the strings are physically attached to.

Truss Rod – This is a metal or carbon rod that goes through the neck of your guitar. Truss rods counteract the tension that the strings put on the neck, giving you a strait guitar neck. Without a truss rod your neck would warp over time or the strings may be hard to push down.

Nut – The nut keeps the strings spaced apart at a comfortable distance. It also acts as a fret when you play the strings open. Some nuts are plastic, some are ivory and some have a lock on the that holds your strings in place while you take dives with the whammy bar.

Fret – Frets are pieces of metal pushed into the neck. Frets are a quick way to shorten the length of the string to create different pitches. These are the basis of guitar playing.

Fretboard – The fretboard hold the frets in place and is glued to the top of the guitar neck.

Headstock – The headstock holds the tuning pegs and posts. It will usually have the brand and model of your guitar and the serial number on the back.

Fret Marker – Fret markers are pieces of plastic or ivory inlayed into the fretboard as a reference point. They help players to jump around the fretboard without having to keep track of what number fret they are on.

The Guitar's Body

If your headstock looks like the one above, then the body of your guitar should look close to this one. All guitars are not shaped the same but essentially contain the same basic components.

Single Coils – These are pickups, tiny magnetic cylinders sense the vibrations of the strings and convert them into an electrical signal.

Humbuckers – Humbuckers are pickups that have two single coils wired together. The two coils are wound in different directions to cancel out any noise or hum when the strings aren't moving.

Bridge – The bridge hold the string like the nut, but at the other end. It can also set the action and intonation of your guitar.

Whammy Bars – A Whammy bar is attached to the bridge and moves it to quickly detune the guitar.

Strap Button – Strap buttons simply hold the strap to the guitar.

Pick Guard – The pick guard protects your guitar from being scratched by the pick.

Pickup Selector – This switch selects which pickups are on or off, often a 5 way switch.

Ton and Volume Knobs – The knobs help to shape your guitars tone. You can turn the volume up or down, or change the tone.

Input – Ironically called the input in many cases, this is where the signal of your guitar is sent to the amplifier. But you do plug a cable from your amp into this jack.

Make sure you know the parts of your guitar and how the work.

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David Coates has been playing guitar his whole life, and is presently a team member of a Free Online Guitar Lessons site. The site features free tools, lessons and resources for guitarists of all ages and stages. So if you are interested in learning to play guitar there will be an enormous variety of tip, tools and tutorials for you.

Before you can start learning to play the guitar you have to know what all the parts are called and what they do. Just like learning to drive a car you don’t just hop in a car and go for it, you have to know what each pedal does and how to use the steering wheel.

The biggest part of the guitar is the body. The body holds most of the other components of the guitar. The body comes in a variety of shapes with the dreadnaught style being the most common. They also come in an assortment of wood types. The body holds the soundboard which helps produce the sound of the guitar. The sound hole is what lets the sound out of the guitar. The bridge is what holds one side of the strings to the guitar, is sets intonation and transfers the vibrations from the strings to the body. The bridge also sets the distance between the strings. The piece that directly touches the strings is called the saddle.

The neck of the guitar is the long piece of wood that extends from the body and holds the frets and fretboard. The neck hold the fretboard which also hold the frets and fret markers. Frets are the metal pieces that are across the fretboard and are used to change the length and pitch of the strings. Fret markers are inlayed into the fretboard for easy reference to the frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12. At the end of the neck is the headstock.

The headstock holds the nut. The nut holds the distance between the strings at the other end of the guitar and also acts as a zero fret. The headstock also holds the tuning pegs. The tuning pegs and post hold the strings in place on the headstock end of the guitar. They are also used to keep the guitar in tune. By turning the tuning pegs you can tune each individual string of the guitar for optimal playing.

To fret notes take your finger of choice, probably the index and push a string down so that it rests against a fret. If you push to hard the string may bend down and out of tune. If you don’t push hard enough the string may buzz. Take a few minutes to practice this. Make sure you are comfortable with playing and fretting notes before you go onto any other lessons. Try fretting with all of your fingers, even the pinky. Also make sure you are comfortable with plucking the strings with your other hand. As you practice you will be able to memorize were the strings and frets are so you don’t have to look back and forth all the time.

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Exercises For The Fingers Before Playing Guitar

If you exercise often and for more than an hour at a time, you will be able to build up decent finger strength on your own. But if you're looking to have stamina as well as finger strength fast, there are an infinite number of exercises you can do to speed up the process. Most finger exercises are mentally challenging as well, which adds a second degree of practice. The following examples are exercises that sound horrible but yield great results if used actively. The purpose of these exercises is you help your mental and finger skills.


The best way to get quality practice time is to exercise your scales up and down. Start with a simple major or minor scale and play it up and down without stopping for about 5 minutes. While you're playing, focus on making clear, crisp notes and keeping both hands in time. Make sure that you also focus on the feel of the scale and the sound. Make sure that our fingers are between metal frets. Keep your fingers down on the fretboard until you have to move them to a new string. When you move to a new string, don’t lift your fingers off the fretboard farther than you have to. This is a very common mistake in brass horn players and can happen to guitarists as well. Only move your fingers as far as you must so you can avoid wasting time moving your fingers farther than you have to. With ALL of these points in mind, let's move on to the next exercise.

Staircase Exercise

This is a well-known John Petrucci riff that can take you a long way. This exercise can also be used on both acoustic and bass, maybe even more effectively because of their higher string gage. The shape used in the exercise is like a staircase that is inverted several times. Each time you play the shape once normally and once inverted, then you move it up one fret and continue. Make sure to keep your fingers on the fretboard as long as possible, and let the notes ring out the best you can. Keep the whole exercise flowing and moving. Start off slowly and pick up the speed gradually as you feel more comfortable. Don’t focus on making the shape and then playing, but start playing the shape before all of your fret fingers are all the way down. It’s the best way to keep everything flowing smoothly. This exercise will greatly help your fingers' accuracy and speed.

Chromatic Exercises

Another great exercise is the chromatic scale, or any chromatics for that matter. Running up and down the chromatic scale can help speed, accuracy and of course finger strength. Do this often to keep your fingers synched up. And of course, if you have some favorite guitar solos with long eighth- or sixteenth-note runs, you can practice them over and over as well.
For more Bass Guitar Lessons, please visit our site for Online Guitar Lesson