What are the guitar string frequencies?

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The guitar string frequency, is the number of times a string displaces by its maximum amplitude (one full cycle) in one second, after being struck.

What each string frequency is, depends on what you tune them to.

If we’re talking standard tuning for open strings on a 6-string guitar, then they are the following:

Going from thickest to thinnest strings:

E: 82 Hz (E2 Musical Note)

A: 110 Hz (A2 Musical Note)

D: 147 Hz (D3 Musical Note)

G: 196 Hz (G3 Musical Note)

B: 247 Hz (B3 Musical Note)

E: 330 Hz (E4 Musical Note)

So, the lowest note on the frequency produced by a tuned guitar is 82 Hz from the open thick E string (E2).

Some guitars have extra strings in the lower region i.e. 7 and 8 string guitars.

7 string guitars add an extra B note (B1) under the E2 note of a standard 6 string guitar. The B1 note has a frequency of 62 Hz.

8 string guitars add a further string below the B1 note of a 7 string, which is normally tuned to F# (F#0). This note is a frequency of 23 Hz.

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Right, where were we?

This is a great thing to know when mixing music, as basically all frequencies in a guitar recording below 87 Hz are useless. They are likely to contain microphone rumble etc. rather than anything guitar related. Remove this can really clean up your mix and help your compressors out.

You just need to be careful of filter roll off (dB/octave) when applying any high pass EQ/filtering to a signal. As setting the cut-off frequency at 87 may lose you some audio information at this frequency and above it.

So, if you are going to cut, then keep this in mind and keep it a bit below 87 Hz.

It’s important to also note that the frequency content of a guitar string in motion is not just its fundamental tone.

A string vibrates with many harmonics that are numerically related to the fundamental frequency.

This combination of fundamental sound from the string resonance and the additional harmonics give the guitar its frequency content and sound.

What are the string frequencies dependent on?

The frequency of sound a guitar string produces is dependent on a few physical properties. Namely,

  • string tension (how far you’ve wound the string);
  • string mass (gauge of string); and
  • string length (nut to bridge).

The higher the tension, the higher the pitch.

The higher the mass, the lower the pitch.

The longer the string length, the lower the pitch.

Here’s a link to an article with more information on this topic  – How do guitar strings produce their sound?.

What’s the lowest it will go?

The limit to how low you can take the guitar is dependent on the setup of your guitar including:

  • string gauge;
  • height of bridge; and
  • guitar action (how high strings are above fret board).

Thicker strings can go lower in pitch, just think about the difference in thickness between a guitar and a bass guitar. The bass guitar strings are much lower in pitch.

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Drop C Tuning

Drop C Tuning is common place in heavier styles of music and most commonly the following notes (going from thick to thin):

C: 65 Hz (C2 Musical Note)

G: 98 Hz (G2 Musical Note)

C: 131 Hz (C3 Musical Note)

F: 175 Hz (F3 Musical Note)

A: 220 Hz (A3 Musical Note)

D: 294 Hz (D4 Musical Note)

People in the know among you will perhaps see this as simply being drop D tuning (DADGBE) but dropped down a full step.

It has a much deeper tone than standard tuning and is often found easier to sing to.

Bass Guitar

The lowest string of a 4-string bass guitar is one full octave below that of the standard 6 string guitar. The notes and frequencies of the 4-string bass guitar (going from thick to thin) are:

E: 41 Hz (E1 Musical Note)

A: 55 Hz (A1 Musical Note)

D: 73 Hz (D2 Musical Note)

G: 98 Hz (G2 Musical Note)

5 string bass guitars add an extra B note (B0) under the E1 note of a standard 4 string bass guitar. The B0 note has a frequency of 31 Hz.

6 string bass guitars add a further string above the G2 note of a 5 string, which is normally tuned to C (C3). This note is a frequency of 131 Hz.

How does the frequency range of a guitar compare against other instruments?

I’m going to stick to the fundamental frequencies of a standard 6 string guitar, when I compare it against other instruments.

In general, the guitar frequency range starts at the upper end of the low frequency range and typically goes as high at the thin E string on the 24th fret, which is an E note (E7) with a frequency of 2637 Hz.

If we compare this range to other common instruments we can see the guitar has a good range and sits near the middle.

Check out the image below:

In the traditional instrument pool, the piano has the biggest frequency range; which is based on strings too!

Modern music and synthesizers go lower and higher than this but the issue then becomes having the audio system to adequately reproduce the sound.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about the elusive topic of the frequencies of guitar strings.

I could carry on further and, in more detail, but thought this was a good place to stop for now.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the free membership are called the Fret Success Academy.

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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Is it normal for my hand to hurt while playing guitar?

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Is it normal for my hand to hurt while playing guitar?

First, a little about me!!

Feel free to scroll on, I won’t be offended; much!

I’ve played guitar for 20 years, been in all sorts of bands (professional and amateur), recorded songs, taught guitar (now have a website: https://www.fretsuccess.com), degree in acoustics, built a guitar etc. etc. So, I’ve been around a bit.

So, is it normal for my hand to hurt while playing guitar?

The short answer is, YES! It can be normal.

It can be normal in two ways:

One: we must work through a little bit of strain and muscle fatigue when building our strength, so it can be perfectly normal to feel some discomfort. But, if it lasts from session to session with no improvement or it gets worse, then there’s a more significant underlying issue with your body or technique; and

Two: it’s normal in the way that a lot of guitar players over do it and cause themselves harm. Let’s try a stop it from being a regular occurrence.

What are the different types of pain or uncomfortable feelings when playing guitar?

There are a few different types of pain that you experience when playing guitar.

But, most of them are related to overusing a muscle or just using it in a way you haven’t used before.

There’s a difference between pain and fatigue.

There’re a few conditions that can be developed if you’re not careful when playing guitar.

There is such a thing as too much practice.

Let’s investigate this in more detail.

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Right, where were we?

Where is the pain coming from?

In general, if you are experiencing pain during playing guitar it’s likely to be due to muscle weakness or disorders linked to over playing.

Pain is where your body is physically experiencing trauma and it is very uncomfortable to do anything with the pain. This is caused from putting too much pressure into your playing or putting your muscles and joints through a lot of repetitive motions.

You can develop pain through having your hand in the wrong position. I’ve seen this happen but it’s not as common as just over doing it.

I’ve been there.

Locking myself away for 6 hours playing Satriani licks or doing that 8-hour Jam session. Seems like you’re doing great things for your development, but you just need to remember to take it easy. Even the pros do that!

Cramp

That’s right, sometimes the pain is just cramp.

It comes from:

  • playing to tight on the neck;
  • not stretching before playing; and
  • issues with salt content in the blood.

Cramp can be alleviated easily my taking it easy, stretching and drinking enough water. You may also find that you could need medication if you find cramp happens too regularly and after little exertion.

Repetitive Strain Injury

This bracket covers the general area of guitar related injuries.

Repetitive strain injury is quite simply a muscle strain from doing a task over and over and over and over and over…

The muscle/joint/tendon gets tired.

If you have a short-term repetitive strain injury, where it’s a new feeling, then just taking it easy and relaxing for a day or two should get you back on track.

But, it’s important to then figure out what was causing you to get this RSI?

Most likely it was just playing for too long and maybe going over a certain track or riff repeatedly. Your muscles, and joints are tired, and they don’t like just doing the same thing repeatedly.

It may be that you’re playing a new chord shape that it outside of your comfort zone. It’s OK for your hand to feel uncomfortable.

But, just remember to take regular breaks; especially if you’re doing unusually long stretches of repetitive drills.

If you carry on through the pain, you may develop some of the more lasting disorders like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Tendinitis.

So just take regular breaks and work on drills to build more strength in your hands (tips at the end of the article to help) to minimize strain.

If you find yourself still being strained with relatively simple tasks, then it’s time to get a lesson with someone to get you playing in the right position.

The thing about lessons is, you don’t need to have a guitar tutor on a weekly basis, you can just book a “check up” lesson with someone to just put you in the right direction or sort any immediate issues out.

I’ve done this a few times over the years and it’s a great way to keep the cost down but still get structured guidance and ability to sort any potential issues out early on.

Having a couple of lessons at the start of your playing will really help you get off to the best start.

From then on you can probably just get away with correspondence based lessons.

Having a regular tutor isn’t cheap, it’s the best way, but not all can afford it!

So, if you carry on feeling pain and play through it then you’ll probably be able to expect some of the following, more serious issues.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is where you get a tingling sensation or numbing of the hands. It’s related to getting extra pressure on the wrists.

All you need to help with this is building up strength, which comes from doing specific exercises.

Tendinitis

This is a more serious result from overplaying.

It’s when your tendons become inflamed and they go tight and rigid.

This is normally caused by playing the guitar in the incorrect position and/or playing for a significant amount of time.

So, we know there’s a problem.

What can we do to reduce the effects of this? I’ve got a few suggestions to consider.

Tips for avoiding fatigue or pain when playing guitar

Here are some of my tips for reducing and hopefully avoiding pain/muscle fatigue when playing guitar:

  • Take regular breaks and adjust the number of breaks in relation to how strenuous the thing is that your trying to play. This isn’t meaning technical difficult but more strenuous on your fingers, wrists and arms;
  • Build up strength in your fingers and joints. There are plenty of tools out there to help but you just need to work on building up them muscles either using a Gripmaster style device or just something firm to squeeze, like a stress ball or tennis ball etc. You can do this whilst watching TV or doing other non-guitar related tasks;
  • Avoid playing repetitive segments for a long period of time. If something is repetitive, then be aware of this and take breaks from it.
    That doesn’t mean you have to stop playing it just means opt for something to break up that repetitive motion.
    If you’re working on a solo, then opt to mix in some chord or theory practice to break it up;
  • Warm up your hands. Do this by doing hand, wrist and arm stretches but also make sure your hands are physically warm.
    If they’re not warm just go wash your hands with hot water for a few minutes. Plus, your strings will last longer because your hands will be nice and clean before you start😉;

I find that if I haven’t played my acoustic guitar for a while, concentrating on electric too much, I get more fatigue. This is normal, but you need to just ease yourself back in to rather than assuming you have the same stamina as on electric.

  • Electric guitars are generally much kinder on your joints and muscles for a few reasons:
    • Neck profile is smaller, so easier to get your hands around the neck;
    • Electric guitar strings are generally lower gauge, so easier to press down; and
    • The electric guitar is typically an easier shape to get around, acoustics can be large and cumbersome. Whereas electrics are generally more ergonomically shaped;
  • Lower you string action. The height of the strings makes a big difference to play ability, especially if you’re just starting out;
  • Switch to a lower guitar string gauge. Careful, this will increase the height of the strings from the fret board, so make sure you adjust your truss rod or get someone to set it up for you, you should do this anyway as it will make your guitar play at its best;
  • You will typically get more strain on your joints when standing up, it’s a fact. So, try doing periods of standing up and sitting down; and
  • Design your set lists for live performance so that you mix up the playing style, so mix between chord work and solos.

I hope this article has helped you understand more about the sources of pain when playing guitar and how to reduce/stop them.

Just take it easy and plan your rehearsal time accordingly.

I go into more practice tips on a free email course on my best guitar practice strategies.

You can click here to sign up to it!

Happy guitar playing.

Cheers,

Dan

(https://www.fretsuccess.com)

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If I could have only 3 guitar pedals, what would I choose and why?

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Having guitar pedals is something you should really consider.

There are many different options when it comes to pedals.

Pedals come in many forms including those with single effects (the traditional ones that probably look most familiar, and the multi effects units.

As technology improves, there are many FX solutions on the market that are starting to combine amplifier and FX together in to a single unit that is then programmable and re callable.

I’m still a romantic and enjoy the single pedals, as I find you must tweak everything for each gig any way.

I play many different styles so picking 3 pedals only is very hard.

In my decision process, the way I decided was which pedals have consistently hung around on my board over the years.

I think picking a single pedal type rather than just a style is difficult. Especially as technology improves. Some people opt for the older vintage pedals, but I must admit that with the improvements in DSP, the digital pedals are hard to beat.

Note that I’ve always had an amplifier with a distortion channel, so my pedal selections assume this. Also, I’ve excluded channel selector pedals and attenuator pedals for your amp. My Orange Rockerverb Mark III has a brilliant attenuator on it, so I can have a fake boost switch by taking off the attenuator to produce the lead channel. Get an amp with an attenuator capability, it will change your life!

Here’s my list.

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Pedal 1: Tuner Pedal

This style of pedal has been on my board since I can remember, even before I got a board. Having a tuner is the most important thing in your guitar playing.

If you’re going to play live, then a tuning pedal is a definite fixture on the board for me.

However, having one for practice and recording is also crucial, especially one that can quickly check the tuning of all strings at once. If you don’t have a tuner in your chain for recording, overdubs and retakes can become messy. If one take is slightly out of tune compared to another then you’ll get an unprofessional sound, which will stand out.

Being in tune is King!

In terms of specs, for me, it needs to have:

    • Strobe tuning (very high level of sensitivity and resolution);
    • Multistring tuning (check if any strings are out of tune instantly from a single strum);
    • Output mute function when tuning (no one wants to hear you tune, it also doubles as a mute pedal for those instances you stop playing); and
    • True Bypass (having no influence on the sound).

I used a Boss TU range of pedals for a long time but when I saw that TC Electronic had released a tuner with all the capabilities above, I had try it out. The TC Electronic Polytune 2 has been on my board since it came out and I don’t really see me needing any other tuner ever, it’s brilliant.

Pedal 2: Compressor Pedal

This may be a slightly odd choice to some people, especially rock players. A distorted signal through an amp is already well compressed, so adding compression isn’t necessary.

A compressor pedal reduces the difference between the quiet and loud signals from your guitar, giving more consistency to the level.

However, compressors also make the noise floor signal higher due to increasing the lower signals. You must apply compression carefully. If you over do it, it will sound noisy and choked with a horrible slow and noisy decay. Use compression gently.

The reason I’ve selected a compressor pedal is for when I need to get a certain clean sound for Jazz, Country and Funk styles. These styles generally call for a consistent volume in the guitar parts and this is achieved with a compressor.

A compressor is part of the tone and sound for guitar in these styles.

If you dial in the compressor just right, you can make your clean sound pop and it also requires less effort to get the notes out and makes things sound more even in the process.

My current compressor of choice is the MXR Custom Comp. It’s much quieter than any compressor pedal I’ve tried and only having the two knobs makes it easy to use.

Pedal 3: Delay Pedal

The third pedal was a tough one to choose for me.

His could have been so many other pedals including Digitech Whammy DT, TC Electronic Mojomojo, Vox Wah, TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb, the list goes on.

I came to a decision by thinking what pedal I would need to complete a small board to take on tour with me. What is my most basic 3 pedal setup that I see myself needing?

Recent projects have seen me need to use the Digitech Whammy DT style pedal to change tuning or do some pitch shifting.

But this isn’t the norm, it’s an exception.

When it comes down to it, a delay pedal was the best candidate to fit that third slot on my board. It just makes sense.

I find that having a delay pedal to add space to a guitar sound, especially lead, is something that I often must do.

I’ve had my current delay pedal for over 10 years and that’s the BOSS DD-6 Digital Delay. It sounds great and is easy to use and adjust on the fly, especially to get some cool high feedback loops going for song transitions.

I’m sure others have their own choices and I have many more than 3 pedals on my board that have specific uses. I wrote this based on the pedals I use the most and tend to go to as a standard when writing, jamming and doing general performance work.

I hope this was interesting and maybe even useful to read.

I’d love to hear more about the pedals you would choose and why.

Drop a comment below with your pedals!

I hope this article has been of use.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

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Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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What guitar scales should I learn?

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So, your asking the question “What guitar scales should I learn?”? Let’s dig in!

Summary

When thinking about what guitar scales you should learn, it can seem very daunting.

There are so many scales out there but there’s lots out there that are standard ones you should really know as a guitarist.

All the scales in western music come from the same origin, the Chromatic Scale.

The Chromatic Scale contains 12 notes.

All other scales then choose a selection of notes from the Chromatic Scale to give a certain sound.

Scales themselves have no real meaning to a listener.

It is the order in which the notes are heard and the harmonic backing to those notes i.e. chords being played that give the notes of a scale their character.

I’ve referred to two types of scales, Diatonic and Pentatonic. The difference being the number of notes in the scale.

Diatonic has seven notes and Pentatonic has 5.

Many guitarists get by with only know the simpler Pentatonic Scales. I recommend you learn the Diatonic Scale versions first and then understand what the Pentatonic is after. It will help you understand where it all fits together.

If you struggle with learning all notes in the Diatonic Scale, then just get your head around the Pentatonic Scale first and fill in the extra notes when you’re ready.

The main article goes into more detail on each scale, but I’ve summarised the scales that I recommend you learn below:

  • Major Diatonic Scale;
  • Natural Minor Diatonic Scale;
  • Major Pentatonic Scale;
  • Minor Pentatonic Scale;
  • Blues Scale; and
  • Mixolydian Scale.

I’ve no recommendation for the key you select, it doesn’t make too much difference. The best way to dive right in is pick a scale that you’ve never heard of.

I’ll give you a few of the standards to

Some scales are linked to each other.

So, learning scales that are linked together would make the most sense to start with.

For example, learning the minor scale than uses the same notes as the related major scale and vice versa. If you learn the C Major Scale, then you’ve pretty much learnt the A Natural Minor Scale.

The only difference is that the notes are either heard in a different order or played against a different harmonically related backing.

Musical scales that guitarists tend to know are:

  • C Major Diatonic;
  • A Natural Minor Diatonic
  • C Major Pentatonic;
  • A Minor Pentatonic;
  • A Blues Scale
  • A Blues Scale
  • G Mixolydian Scale

There are obviously more scales you can learn but if you don’t know these then get them under your belt!

I’ve gone into more detail on the theory behind the list of scales and the notes within them I’ve recommended at the start in the Main Article below.

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Read on for the main article.

Hope this helps!

Main Article

So, you want to know what guitar scales you should learn?

(Make sure you just briefly read the summary above first before reading the main article, if you haven’t already)

You’ve picked up some basics or even learned a few songs but want something more.

The most obvious next step in the progression is to start thinking about scales.

You may have heard someone talking about them or just know they exist and that they’re something you should probably think about learning.

The thing is, learning scales is so important!

Asking this question puts you ahead of a lot of people who are happy just reading tab and learning songs without the context of what they’re learning.

That’s fine!

But if you really want to develop as a guitar player you must learn some scales. You’ll thank your past self later for doing so.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the massive task of learning all the scales.

But if you learn a few basics then you’ll find learning the rest a lot easier!

Let’s get into these mythical scales then.

Chromatic Scale

The chromatic scale is the master scale.

It’s the scale that contains all the notes we can use in Western Music.

All the other scales just cherry pick a selection from the Chromatic Scale to create a certain sound.

What is the Chromatic scale?

The chromatic scale is a representation of all possible notes in music. It’s an important concept to grasp that musical notes in the chromatic scale are not linear (i.e. in one line) but actually circular in a continuous pattern; increasing in pitch with no start or end point.

Check out the figure below to see all the possible notes in western music.

Each note is a semitone apart, and the smallest amount we can move in music.

So, let’s learn more of these other scales that come from selecting certain notes from the Chromatic Scale.

For simplicity, I’m going to first list the formula for each scale type and then give a real-life example for the A tonality, i.e. A Major, A Minor etc.

Major Diatonic Scale

What is this scale?

The major scale is one of the simple diatonic scales that all musicians should learn.

Major Scale Formula

It’s really important that you get your first guitar scale under your belt as soon as possible. Scales are very simple to understand, once you grasp the basic concepts. It’s very tempting to put off learning scales but understanding them now makes life so much easier in the long run.

A scale is a set of notes that are related to each other, when played either together or one after each other. The spacing between these notes is known as the ‘interval’ between them, which are normally described as either semi-tones or tones (two semitones).

The best way to think of scales is that we’re picking a grouping from the Chromatic Scale Wheel, which all relate to each other harmonically (i.e. they complement each other when played in sequence).

We need to pick a starting point, which is our “root/tonic” (name) of the scale and then move around the wheel in a set pattern to get the notes of the scale.

The major scale has an associated set of intervals that give it that happy character. The concept to grasp here is that the sound of each note in the chromatic scale does not give the scale its character. It’s actually the intervals between them that do this. Your brain automatically recognises the intervals between the notes and that is the basis of harmonic music.

The intervals for a major scale, starting from the root, are Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Tone; and Semitone. Each note in the scale is also given a reference name which is the ‘Scale Degree’ i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc. See the image below to get more of an idea of this.

C Major Scale

The C major scale is the simplest to understand as there are no sharps or flats within it. The figure below shows how the notes in the C Major scale are taken from the chromatic scale of all possible notes. The notes are C, D, E, F, G A, and B; easy to remember right?

C Major Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the C Major Scale, with the yellow notes indicating the root of the scale.

Minor Diatonic Scale

So, let’s talk about Minor Scales!!!

Just like the Major Scale, we need to pick a starting point, which is our “root/tonic” (name) of the scale and then move around the wheel in a set pattern to get the notes of the scale.

The minor scale has an associated set of intervals that give it that unhappy character. The concept to grasp here is that the sound of each note in the chromatic scale does not give the scale its character. It’s actually the intervals between them that do this. Your brain automatically recognises the intervals between the notes and that is the basis of harmonic music.

We’re going to go through the most commonly used Minor Scale, the natural minor.

The intervals for a natural minor scale, starting from the root, are Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; and Tone. Each note in the scale is also given a reference name which is the ‘Scale Degree’ i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc. See the image below to get more of an idea of this.

A Minor Scale

The A minor scale is the simplest to understand as there are no sharps or flats within it. The figure below shows how the notes in the A Minor scale are taken from the chromatic scale of all possible notes. The notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G; easy to remember right? Do you notice a similarity with the C Major Scale?

A Minor Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the A Minor Scale, with the yellow notes indicating the root of the scale and blue notes the rest of the scale.

Major Pentatonic Scale

What is this scale?

The major pentatonic is a simpler version of the major scale. So, if you already know the major scale then you probably don’t need to know the pentatonic version. Pentatonic scales are used by beginners or those instances where you’re not too sure what notes to play over a chord progression, taking the dissonant notes out of the equation, i.e. the ones that are harder to fit in harmonically.

The Major Pentatonic is the notes 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the Major Scale.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Notes

In the instance of the C Major Pentatonic Scale, we’re looking at notes C, D, E, G, and A.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the C Major Pentatonic Scale. The root notes are in yellow and the rest of the scale in green. The remaining blue notes show the remaining C Major Scale notes that aren’t in the C Major Pentatonic Scale.

Minor Pentatonic Scale

What is this scale?

The minor pentatonic is a simpler version of the minor scale. So, if you already know the minor scale then you probably don’t need to know the pentatonic version. Pentatonic scales are used by beginners or those instances where you’re not too sure what notes to play over a chord progression, taking the dissonant notes out of the equation, i.e. the ones that are harder to fit in harmonically.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Formula

The Minor Pentatonic is the notes 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the Minor Scale.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Notes

In the instance of the A Minor Pentatonic Scale, we’re looking at notes A, C, D, E and G.

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the A Minor Pentatonic Scale. The root notes are in yellow and the rest of the scale in green. The remaining blue notes show the remaining A Minor Scale notes that aren’t in the A Minor Pentatonic Scale.

Blues Scale

What is this scale?

The blues scale is probably the next scale that guitarists learn after the basic major and minor scales and their pentatonic versions. It’s a versatile scale in some ways but also has a definite sound to it.

The blues scale is in the middle of the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic, in that it contains six notes. It is in essence the minor pentatonic scale plus the flattened 5th note of the scale (same for major and minor).

Blues Scale Formula

The Blues Scale contains the notes 1, 3, 4, 5b, 5, and 7 of the Minor Scale.

A Blues Scale Notes

In the instance of the A Blues Scale, we’re looking at notes A, C, D, Eb, E G; with Eb being the flattened 5th note. Flattening a note means to drop it by a semitone on the chromatic scale.

A Blues Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the A Blues Scale. The root notes are in yellow and the rest of the scale in green. The remaining blue notes show the remaining A Minor Scale notes that aren’t in the A Blues Scale for reference.

Mixolydian Scale

What is this scale?

The Mixolydian scale is a very interesting scale and one of my favourites. It’s a very cool scale for adding flavour in the blues style. This is because it has both a major and minor sound depending on the part of the scale you’re in.

Mixolydian Scale Formula and Theory

If we think in terms of the Major scale, the mixolydian scale contains notes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and b7. The flattened seventh note is similar to the natural minor scale. If you play through the mixolydian scale in note order you can hear the little nuances of the scale with it’s major and minor flavour.

G Mixolydian Scale Notes

In the instance of the G Mixolydian Scale, we’re looking at notes G, A, B, C, D, E, and F.

G Mixolydian Scale Fretboard Example

The fretboard diagram below shows the notes of the G Mixolydian Scale. The root notes are in yellow and the rest of the scale in blue.

Drop a comment below with your favourite scale from the list, or even one that you’ve been struggling with!

I hope this article has been of use.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

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Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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What is the purpose and proper use of a tone knob on a guitar?

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­­­What is the purpose and proper use of a tone knob on a guitar?

This article will help you understand more about the use of the tone knob including why it works the way it does and why we use it.

I’ve written a brief summary article and also a full detailed version for you to dig in to later!

Summary

What is the purpose and proper use of a tone knob on the guitar?

Just in case you really need to know right now, I’ve put a quick summary of the main article hear.

Well it affects the top end or high frequencies of your guitar signal.

The lower the number on the tone knob, the more high frequencies are removed from your signal.

In terms of proper use, this is really up to the player but it’s generally used to remove harshness from the guitar sound. You can also use it for more artistic effects such as a more mellow, jazz type sound or even more drastic effects such as in combination with a fuzz pedal.

Have a play with it and see what you make of it.

The main article goes through some background as to why the tone knob removes high frequencies and is hopefully useful!

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Read on for the main article.

Main Article

So, what is the purpose and proper use of a tone knob on a guitar?

To put it simply, the tone knob’s purpose is to change the way your guitar sounds.

The proper use of it is up to the player and depends on what you want from your guitar sound.

It can be used to reduce the high frequencies to tame any harshness or take them away more drastically to get more of a mellow jazz tone or even a simplified Slash (Guns n’ Roses) sound.

The most basic form is a single knob that goes from 0 to 10 but there can be more sophisticated versions including those that can alter the bass and treble content of your signal.

Electroacoustic guitars typically have even more control with bass, middle and treble dials and even through to microphone modelling simulators to give a more natural sounding signal.

Let’s start with the basic, single knob, version first.

How does a single tone knob work?

Simply put, the tone knob changes the resistance in the guitar circuit and starts to introduce the influence from a capacitor to send some of the signal to ground.

A capacitor has the function to change the frequency response (how sound is affected when put through an electrical/acoustic system) of a circuit, i.e. the way the sound is changed when your guitar signal passes through it.

Capacitors have the potential to affect the audio signal depending on their capacitance and where they are in the circuit.

Changing the capacitor will change the function of the tone knob and especially how effective the tone knob is throughout its range.

Generally, as the tone knob value increases the less influence the capacitor has on the signal.

The lower the number on the tone knob the lower the cut off frequency of the low pass filter is apparent.

What is a low pass filter?

A low pass filter is one of the simplest audio filters there is.

The name gives you a clue!

It basically allows the low frequency signal through (low pass) and stops the high frequency sound or removes it from the signal.

The image below shows a low pass filter represented as a graphic equalizer (EQ).

You can see that the high frequencies are being attenuated by the graphic equalizer simulating a low pass filter.

­­

The frequency at which the high frequency content is stopped by the filter is called the cut-off frequency.

In a guitar circuit, the tone knob and capacitor influence the cut-off frequency.

This is essentially the frequency at which the higher frequency audio signal is sent to ground and removed from that which is sent to your guitar output jack.

Typically, the range of a tone knob will go from 0 to 10. 10 has the minimum influence on the tone (full audio signal) and 0 has the maximum (most affect on signal).

Basic Electric Guitar Circuit

One of the simplest guitar circuits is that of the glorious Fender Telecaster using two single coil pickups, 3-way switch, single volume and tone knob.

The image below illustrates the Fender Telecaster circuit.

­

The pickup signal is essentially a voltage and current source.

The tone and volume knobs are the key resistive elements. You can get difference values for these but the most common at 250 kΩ and 500 kΩ.

The tone and volume knobs are used to vary the electrical resistance in the circuit. The knobs are variable resistors or potentiometers.

The resistance of a potentiometer is increased when the potentiometer is turned clockwise (from 0 to 10).

The tone knob then works with the capacitor to remove high frequency signal from the chain at the user’s discretion.

The resistance of the tone knob doesn’t really change with frequency but the capacitor’s resistance (impedance) does and is influenced by both the signal frequency and the capacitor value.

There is an equation that shows the relationship between all these elements are given below:

The higher the tone knob resistance (towards 10), the less high frequencies go to ground and the pickup signal is maintained and passes to the output socket; as electricity prefers the path of least resistance.

The images below show the frequency content of the signal out for Tone settings 10, 5 and 0.

It can be seen that the high frequency drops of when the tone number is lower.

­­

­­­

How does the type of capacitor influence the tone knob function?

How do different capacitors influence the tone knob function?

The capacitor resistance is decreased if the capacitance or frequency of the signal passing through increases.

The physical nature of capacitors mean that high frequencies are less influenced by resistance of a capacitor when compared to low frequencies.

So, one way we can change the frequency response of the tone knob is by changing the value (capacitance) of the tone capacitor. A higher value tone knob capacitor equals a lower cut off frequency of the low pass filter.

You can use any capacitor you want but the I’ve listed the most common capacitance types going from highest cut off frequency to lowest below:

–              0.047 μF

–              0.033 μF

–              0.022 μF

–              0.01 μF

What are potential uses of the tone knob?

In terms of potential use of the guitar tone knob, this is really up to the player.

It’s generally used to remove harshness from the guitar sound.

You can also use it for more artistic effects such as a more mellow, jazz type sound or even more drastic effects such as in combination with a fuzz pedal.

If you have a slightly harsh sounding guitar just try putting your tone knob on the 8 setting and you should hear it mellow out a bit.

I use this technique if I’m using a slightly harsh amplifier, especially on the clean channel. You can also push this further and take the tone setting to 5 to get a mellow jazz sound.

Have a play with it and see what you make of it.

Drop a comment below with your favourite tone knob settings and what you use it for!

I hope this article has been of use.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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What is a Pentatonic Scale?

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So what is a Pentatonic Scale?

This article will help you understand more about the Pentatonic Scale including where it comes from and why we use it.

I’ve written a brief summary article and also a full detailed version for you to dig in to later!

Summary

In the full article I’ve covered the following:

  • What are musical scales?
  • What is the Chromatic Scale?
  • The difference between major and minor scales
  • What are musical intervals?
  • Major scale intervals
  • Minor scale intervals
  • What is a Pentatonic Scale and where do they come from?
  • Some commonly used Pentatonic scales

Pentatonic scales are a simplified version, or selection, from the wider full scale, whether it be major or minor.

They tend to be used by beginners as they are easier to make sound good over chord progressions and you don’t need to remember as many notes as the full scale.

The order of notes that are played define the sound that they will make.

The Major Pentatonic Scale is 5 notes from the wider major scale namely notes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.

The Minor Pentatonic Scale is 5 notes from the wider natural minor scale namely notes 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7.

The most common pentatonic scales are major and minor but they can be related harmonically and even contain the same notes such as C Major Pentatonic and A Minor Pentatonic.

I’ve got more detail about musical scales and guitar chords that you must know in my free Online Guitar Academy.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Please read on to the full article for more detailed information, graphics and some guitar neck diagrams to help you learn about some of the most common pentatonic scales there are.

Main Article

Before we get into what a Pentatonic Scale is, I want to lay down some basics first.

What are Musical Scales?

Musical scales are a grouping of notes that relate to each other and give a distinctive sound when played in sequence or when a certain selection is played together.

In music, you only need to know one scale and then everything else comes from that scale.

So, what scale is this? It’s the Chromatic Scale.

Chromatic Scale

The Chromatic Scale contains all the notes that we can play in music.

There are a finite (limited) number of notes (12 in total) within the Chromatic Scale as shown below.

The ‘#’ symbol indicates a sharp note and the ‘b’ symbol represents a flat note.

It’s not important to know the exact reasons for these, in the initial stages of guitar; which I’m guessing you’re at if you’re wondering what pentatonic scales are.

You just need to know they exist and be aware of them.

Sharps (#) and flats (b)are interchangeable for certain notes i.e. A# is the same as Bb in that is the same note.

However, they have different meanings depending on the scale they are in.

It’s an important concept to grasp that musical notes in the Chromatic Scale are not linear (i.e. in one line) but circular in a continuous pattern; increasing in pitch with no start or end.

But there can’t be just one scale I’ve heard of major and minor scales!

That’s right but all the other scales still use the Chromatic Scale. It’s just a matter of the order you hear the notes and the spacing between them.

For example, the major scale is a selection of notes from the Chromatic Scale with a standardized space between them called intervals.

What are Musical Intervals?

A musical interval is the spacing between notes when played in order or together but what does that mean?

The Chromatic Scale goes up in “semitones” (the smallest interval between notes).

The easiest way to remember this is the change in pitch when you move up or down by one fret on the guitar; this is a semitone.

Try doing this on your guitar, so you get an idea of how this sounds.

The next most common interval is the “tone” (sometimes known as whole note).

This is easy to remember as it is a spacing/interval of two semitones. Just think of it like a circle, i.e. two semi circles make a circle and so two semitones make a tone.

A musical scale is made up of a combination of a mix of tones and semi tones; depending on the type.

Just know that if you remember the Chromatic Scale you won’t go far wrong.

It might seem that there are so many scales that you don’t know where to even start learning and remembering them.

All a musical scale is, is a selection of notes from the Chromatic Scale played either in order (traditional scale/arpeggio) or a chord (notes played at the same time).

Each type of scale has a different interval pattern between each note i.e. for major and minor. It’s easiest to initially think of the major scale pattern when you first start learning this.

Major Scale Intervals

The intervals for a major scale, starting from the root, are: Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Tone; and Semitone.

Each note in the scale is also given a reference name which are the ‘Scale Degrees’ i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

The diagram below shows the different intervals between notes in the major scale and the names of each of the notes i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

As an example, the below diagrams show the C Major Scale notes and the intervals between the notes along with them over the chromatic scale wheel.

What is the difference between Major and Minor?

The main difference between major and minor chords and/or scales is the sound they make.

Major scales/chords are very pleasant and happy sounding whereas minor scales/chords have a moody sound.

Even though there’s such a huge difference in emotion and sound between major and minor, there’s a very small technical difference between them.

Let’s go through this.

Why do Major and Minor Sound different?

So why do minor scales sound different to major scales?

It’s because there are different intervals between the notes.

If you remember from above, we covered the Chromatic Scale and that we only have a total of 12 notes to choose from.

There are no more and no less. It’s all we’ve got, sorry.

We take a selection of the notes from the Chromatic Scale to make a major/minor scale. But the intervals (spacing between notes) are different for each.

Let’s look at the Minor Scale now to see how major and minor differ.

Minor Scale Intervals and Pattern

The intervals for this minor scale (known as the Natural Minor Scale), starting from the root, are: Tone; Semitone; Tone; Tone; Semitone; Tone; and Tone.

The diagram below shows the different intervals between notes in the major scale and the names of each of the notes i.e. Tonic, Supertonic etc.

As an example, the below diagrams show the A Minor Scale notes and the intervals between the notes along with them over the Chromatic Scale wheel.

You can see that the notes in the C Major and A Minor Scale are the same. This shows that it is just the order that the notes are heard that makes them have a different sound.

What is a Pentatonic Scale?

The Pentantonic Scale is talked about a lot in guitar playing, especially among beginners/intermediate guitarists.

This is because the Pentatonic Scale is a simplified version of other scales.

The most common forms are the Major Pentatonic and Minor Pentatonic scales.

So, what is the Pentatonic Scale?

It’s essentially a selection of 5 notes from each respective scale  within one octave.

Major Pentatonic

The selection of notes with respect to the wider major scale is given below:

Root – Second – Third – Fifth – Sixth

The Major Pentatonic Scale is taken from the Major Scale and the Minor Pentatonic Scale is taken from the Natural Minor Scale.

Minor Pentatonic

The selection of notes with respect to the wider minor scale is given below:

Root – Third – Fourth – Fifth – Seventh

Where do Pentatonic Scales Come From?

Pentatonic Scales are believed to date way back to the ancient Greek period to even predate Pythagoras (500 BC).

Simple musical instruments were made and tuned to the Pentatonic Scale for a few reasons but essentially the number 5 was believed to have cultural significance.

Pentatonic Scales are used commonly as they tend to fit well when played randomly as they lack the more complicated dissonant intervals.

Common Pentatonic Scales

The most commonly used versions of these scales in guitar playing are the C Major and Minor Pentatonic.

These scales are harmonically related, so we’ll go through those now.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Wheel

 

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Wheel

Notice that the notes in both C Major Pentatonic and A Minor Pentatonic are the same, as per the wider full scales.

The different sound comes from the order they are played in and therefore the intervals between each note.

Starting on C and playing through the pentatonic scale sounds different to starting on the A note and playing through.

I’ve also given some example neck diagrams for the C Major and A Minor Pentatonic Scales.

C Major Pentatonic Scale Guitar Neck Diagram

A Minor Pentatonic Scale Guitar Neck Diagram

For further reading and improving your knowledge you can find and explore other Pentatonic Scales such as the Egyptian Suspended Pentatonic, Blues Minor Pentatonic, and Blues Major Pentatonic.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about the elusive question of “What is a Pentatonic Scale?”. I could carry on further and, in more detail, but thought this was a good place to stop for now.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN NOW!

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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What guitar gadgets would you recommend to any guitar player?

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Summary

Gadgets are wonderful. Most I can’t live without and, sure, some are just nice to have/fun. They all have their place though. It’s hard to pin down a shortlist but I’ve had a go at prioritising my recommendations. Plus it’s that time of year where you probably want to get a gift for the guitarist in your life.

I’ve listed a few gadgets that can help improve your creativity, progression and musical expression whilst also reducing wasted time. Here’s a summary of the gadgets I’ve put on my list:

  • Clip on Tuner
  • Guitar Stands or Wall Hangers
  • Guitar Maintenance Gadgets
  • Plectrum/Pick Holders
  • Capo
  • Time/life Savers
  • Technique Improvement
  • Musical Expression and Songwriting

This list isn’t everything but will likely give you insight into some gadgets that could save you time, patience and help with your musical process.

Have you joined the free Fret Success Academy yet? Just visit here to find out more and join!

Plus there’s a free 7 day email course with my top guitar practice strategies, just wait for the pop up on the site!

Anyway, on to the main article!

Main Article

Let’s answer this question that you either have thought about for improving your playing, that you think you’re missing out or if you’re wanting to get a guitarist a gift.

So, “What guitar gadgets would you recommend to any guitar player?”?

Let’s go through some categories and options.

There are so many guitar gadgets out there, especially those that promise to improve your guitar playing or even just the next “must have thing”.

It’s nice to treat ourselves every now and then and I am partial to this, as life is too short right?

It’s easy to keep buying a new guitar gadget or the latest thing but what are the things that are a staple to most guitar players?

You know the things that you’ll use to enhance or improve your playing or musical expression?

Well, there are a few gadgets that I find that I use every day, other gadgets that I’m glad I have in my possession for occasional use, and some that are pretty much just toys.

Each of these has its place and of course depends on the budget you have available.

So what types of gadget are there?

When I think about when I’m asked, “What guitar gadgets you would recommend to any guitar player”, I just think about what I have recommended to my students over the years and through the conversations I have with other fellow experienced guitarists.

I’ve made the following lists based on what I have found to be the most effective gadgets for not just helping not just improving technique and musical expression but to also just make life easier.

The following sections take you through the gadgets for each of the following uses,

  • General day to day gadgets;
  • Make your life easier;
  • Technique improvement; and
  • Musical expression and songwriting.

General Day to Day Gadgets

Clip on Tuner

I must admit that I bought one of these years ago and just never got along with it.

The technology just didn’t work well, especially for the lower strings.

I just found it easier to use the pedal versions, especially with there being no strobe tuning function on it (if you haven’t used a strobe tuner, use one and you’ll never go back).

This opinion changed when I came across the TC electronic PolyTune Clip.

The Polytune Clip is the best clip on tuner I have tried. It has a couple of great features including recognizing what strings are out of tune when all are strummed and strobe tuner functionality.

This is a must have gadget for any guitarist.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/TC-Electronic-966111001-PolyTune-Clip/dp/B00ZU4G0ZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540512822&sr=8-1&keywords=polytune+clip

Guitar Stand or Wall Hanger

If you’re a gigging person, then having a guitar stand is a must; as just leaving it propped up is asking for trouble.

I’ve seen so many nice guitars slide away from the wall and crash to the ground with an almighty bang and strike of the strings.

So, if you gig then you need to get a stand, no questions asked.

Another way to think about it is considering one of the main things that generally hinders you wanting to practice.

This is where your guitar is stored.

Have you ever thought about practicing your guitar and then you can’t be bothered because it’s locked up in a case in the wardrobe?

Well, one of the best things to do here is just make it more accessible using a guitar stand.

There are so many options out there for guitar stands, some good and some bad; with varying functionality.

If you have more than one guitar you might find it beneficial to have either a dual or multi guitar stand. I’ve found that having them hung on the wall is best, if you have space and permission.

This is because they are out of the way, not getting tripped over and you can easily just grab it off the wall and get playing.

So here are some guitar stand options with varying styles, so it really depends on what works for you.

Acoustic Floor Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GS301B-Travlite-Acoustic-Guitar/dp/B000P5RVRU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542310267&sr=8-1&keywords=hercules+acoustic+guitar+stand

Electric Floor Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GS302B-Travlite-Compact-Electric/dp/B000P5WTQS/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310284&sr=1-1&keywords=hercules+electric+guitar+stand

Dual Guitar Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/AXL-SG-302-Multiple-Guitar-Guitars/dp/B004WDZJFW/ref=sr_1_8?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310305&sr=1-8&keywords=dual+guitar+stand

Multi Guitar Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/PGST43-Guitar-Stand-Multi-Instrument-Holder/dp/B01HTG4WG0/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310328&sr=1-2&keywords=multi+guitar+stand

Single Point Wall Hanging Stand:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hercules-GSP38WB-Locking-Mounting-Guitar/dp/B0009K9MUA/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310358&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=hercules+wall+hanger&psc=1

Multi Point Wall Hanging Stand:

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JDP3J10/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B00JDP3J10&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=f0dedbe2-13c8-4136-a746-4398ed93cf0f&pd_rd_wg=1JUC1&pf_rd_r=QMJM07B6DH7EDNDC3AA5&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&pd_rd_w=qhrEm&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pd_rd_r=5a80b089-e90d-11e8-b8bf-2d5ac68107a8

Maintaining your Guitar

These are the cheapest gadgets you can get but easily the most overlooked, especially for beginner guitar players.

The guitar strings pickup all sorts of scum and dirt from your fingers when you’re playing, the natural oils are corrosive to strings and the tone is affected quicker than you might think.

There are a few ways of increasing the longevity of strings, and the following gadgets can help with this.

Don’t forget to wash and dry your hands well before using the guitar too.

Clean Rag:

Wiping down your guitar after you play is a sure-fire way to increase the life of your strings.

Any microfiber cloth will do but here are some small ones you could use!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Auntwhale-15x17cm-Polishing-Cleaning-Instrument/dp/B07CGNNJKZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1542310516&sr=8-2&keywords=guitar+wipe+cloth

Guitar Case Dehumidifier:

Regulating the amount of moisture content in your guitar is crucial for keeping it in good conditioner.

There are some pretty weird and wonderful devices that can give you amazing control but why not start with something small, cheap and manageable.

These little packs work a treat.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Ever-Bamboo-Dehumidifier-Natural-Charcoal/dp/B01D9P1KNI/ref=sr_1_1?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310550&sr=8-1&keywords=guitar+case+dehumidifier

String Preserver and Lubricant:

You know that sound that your guitar strings make when you slide your hands on them, it can be a bit bearing on the listener.

Also, you may find that sliding up and down the neck isn’t as easy as you would like.

Well the FretFast is perfect for these symptoms/woes. They also make it harder for the sweat and corrosive materials to degrade the string over time.

I highly recommend this product and it lasts ages!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/GHS-Strings-A87-FAST-FRET/dp/B0002D0CQC/ref=sr_1_2?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310572&sr=8-2&keywords=fast+fret

Lemon Oil by Jim Dunlop:

Caring for your guitar is essential and one way of maintaining the moisture content in the neck and provide some lubrication is through applying lemon oil.

You don’t need to use it regularly, but I give my unstrung neck a good clean with a strong rag/cloth and then apply lemon oil to protect it!

It’s a great product to have around.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-6554-Ultimate-Lemon-Oil/dp/B0002OOMW6/ref=sr_1_1?s=sports&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310611&sr=8-1&keywords=lemon+oil+jim

Pick/Plectrum Holders

One of the biggest pet hates for guitarists is losing picks/plectrums!

Who know where they go sometimes?

I’ve moved to a new house and never been able to find a plectrum that went missing.

I’ve heard rumours that they travel to another dimension to live out the rest of their lives.

Another issue is the long search to find a pick/plectrum to use.

Also, you could be playing a live show and lose a plectrum then be searching for it mid song!!

So many plectrum/pick related woes!

So, one of the best things to do to solve this issue is get a device to hold them in place or at least store them somewhere. Here are a few devices to help you with this trying time.

Convenient Pick Store:

Store them in a fixed location on the back of your guitar headstock, desk etc. using a pick store

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-5005-Pickholder-1-Pack/dp/B0002OOMU8/ref=sr_1_cc_5?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310644&sr=1-5-catcorr&keywords=guitar+pick+holder

Microphone Mount Pick/Plectrum Store:

Slide this on your microphone stand at a gig, load it up and stop looking for plectrums/picks mid song.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Dunlop-5010-Stand-Pkhldr-7-Inch/dp/B0002D0CNA/ref=sr_1_cc_6?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310733&sr=1-6-catcorr&keywords=guitar+pick+holder

String winder:

It can take an age to change strings and sometimes you haven’t got the time, say mid performance.

This neat little device speeds things up and keeps everything you need to change strings handy including a string winder, peg remover and trimmer.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Guitar-Bass-Maintenance-Strings-Extractor/dp/B0716F22K8/ref=sr_1_3_sspa?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310746&sr=1-3-spons&keywords=string+winder&psc=1

Capo:

A capo is a must have device for any guitarist. They are so useful! Everyone should have one and that’s it really.

If you’re not sure what a capo is for, Click here for my article on the very topic!

I’ve given a link to a cool looking and functional capo.

There are a massive range out there though and lots of different concepts.

It’s personal preference but I’ve always preferred the quick clamp on/release ones just for convenience and consistency, especially for playing live.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Guitar-Acoustic-Electric-Feeling-Durable/dp/B071JFRL3C/ref=sr_1_10?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310783&sr=1-10&keywords=guitar+capo

Power conditioner and surge protector:

Protecting your electronic equipment and yourself is very important. Poor electrical connections can damage equipment.

They can fluctuate quite a bit and you’re at the mercy of it in most scenarios where you use your gear.

You should at least have a surge protector but think about going to the next level by conditioning your power supply with an all in one unit!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B003BQ91Y6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Make my life easier

It’s one thing having your lesson content easily accessible on your portable device but trying to prop it up somewhere and be able to see it from your guitar is another matter.

There are a few items that can help you position that device in a better location for access whilst playing your guitar for either live or rehearsal.

Phone & iPad holders for mic stand and guitar

Phone:

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Holder-Guitar-Singing-Suction-Musicians/dp/B079WHWQWF/ref=sr_1_11?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310890&sr=1-11&keywords=phone+holder+for+musician

iPad/tablet:

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/CTA-PAD-MTG-Microphone-Gooseneck-Performance/dp/B06X9S2VWQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310925&sr=1-1&keywords=ipad+holder+for+musician

Technique Improvement

Grip trainer:

Now let’s look at a standard technique improvement product that I even use now.

It’s not just for improving technique but also for maintaining strength in your fingers as an experienced player.

You just need to squeeze this device when you’re relaxing, like watching TV/browsing internet etc.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Strengthener-Adjustable-Exerciser-Dexterity-Instruction/dp/B07GPB8CQB/ref=sr_1_5?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542310992&sr=8-5&keywords=guitar+grip+master

Musical Expression and Songwriting

If you have some/all of the above items and you’re confident with your playing, it’s probably time to work on getting gadgets to help with your musical expression and songwriting.

The following gadgets are perfect for this.

Mobile Phone Voice Recorder App:

Getting a voice recorder app on your phone is a complete must.

You never know when the next idea will come to you, a riff, a lyric etc.

The one thing you do know is that you need to be ready for it.

Remembering ideas is tough, especially if you’re not ready to progress that idea there and then.

Android: http://andauth.co/QSZKLW

Iphone: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/voice-recorder-audio-editor/id685310398?mt=8

Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder:

This device is great if you want to improve your audio recording quality or even want to record audio for YouTube covers etc.

Phones are great and convenient but if you want more then this is the next step up.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Zoom-Handy-Portable-Digital-Recorder/dp/B003QKBVYK/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311094&sr=1-2&keywords=Zoom+H1+Portable

Guitar Slide:

This next one is a stylistic gadget.

It’s simple but not the easiest thing to use and make sound good.

It’s a must for blues and rock players but it’s also worth getting if you just want to spice up your playing. Use it to add a cool fretless slide effect to your playing.

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Jim-Dunlop-222-Guitar-Slide-Medium/dp/B0002D0ELU/ref=sr_1_4?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311063&sr=1-4&keywords=guitar+slide

Sound Card and DAW:

So, you’re ready to record an album and hit the big time?

You used to have to wait for a record deal but now you can do it all from the luxurious and inexpensive environment of your home.

The next gadget to consider in this realm is a dedicated external sound card and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

There are lots of options out there but the new Focusrite Scarlett series is a great value for money product. It only has two inputs but if you get yourself a drum sampler plugin and amp simulator then there’s nothing stopping you for electric.

If you’re acoustic, just get a microphone and stand and you’re off!!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2-Audio-Interface-Tools/dp/B01E6T56EA/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1542311143&sr=1-2&keywords=focusrite

PRS Supermodels:

For the electric guitarists amongst you, I have come across one of the best amp simulators there is.

Sure, there are much more sophisticated and flexible options out there but for this price, it’s unbeatable!

Get this series and do away with all the frustration with getting a good guitar sound and hit the ground running with your ideas and focus on the songwriting instead.

Link: https://www.waves.com/plugins/prs-supermodels

Hammer Jammer

This is the only novelty type gadget that I’ve mentioned in this post.

If you have the budget and the sound fits your style, then this little product could be the thing you’re looking for.

Google it and check out the videos, it’s quite a cool little device and unique.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Hammer-Jammer/dp/B00Z7Y9XU2

Ditto Looper

Looping is very fashionable now, but it also serves another purpose.

When you’re practicing it can get a bit tedious just playing solos or parts on your own.

With the help of a looper you can record a chord sequence into the looper, loop it and play back with it and then you’re not so lonely anymore.

I believe the ditto looper can also store your recorded loop and have song ideas put onto it. Pretty damn cool!

Link: https://www.amazon.ca/Electronic-Guitar-Ditto-Looper-Effects/dp/B00AZUAORE

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of my recommended gadgets has helped you either find a new toy, get a crucial new tool or give you some gift inspiration for a guitarist in your life.

There are so many guitar gadgets out there and more released every year. Check out videos from NAMM to get ideas of the latest releases and gear that’s out.

Have you joined the Free Guitar Academy yet? Why not? Click here to Sign Up!!

Dan

(Fret Success Founder)

https://www.fretsuccess.com

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How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?

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Summary

Here are a few summarizing points to help if you haven’t got time to read the whole article on “How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?” now:

  • The sound is produced in the string through a series of energy conversions from energy in your arms to air fluctuations caused by the string moving in the air and then the behavior of the string under clamped conditions;
  • As the string movement is restricted at both ends, this causes a standing wave pattern at the fundamental frequency and harmonics of that fundamental;
  • The fundamental frequency of a vibrating string clamped at both ends is the fundamental tone of the guitar string, i.e. what it is tuned to. The harmonics add the richer, more complex sound to the fundamental string to create the sound you hear when you play a guitar string;
  • Damping in the guitar from the bridge, nut and other connected elements reduce the amplitude of a guitar string vibrating over time; length a string vibrates is commonly known as sustain; and
  • Electric guitar pickups do not act like a microphone, they produce sound through the strings vibrating in the pickup’s magnetic field.

I hope you find this content interesting and useful and that you find time to read the full article. You can also find lots more guitar tips in the free online FRET SUCCESS ACADEMY!

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Main Article

This is an easy one, vibrations and acoustics cause a guitar string to produce their sound.

If you’re sensible, you’ll take this sentence and call this topic of “How do guitar strings produce their sound?” understood. However, if you want to know more on this interesting topic, then read on for more juicy content.

This information isn’t just applicable to guitars, it applies to all stringed instruments. Note that I’m not going to go into all the little details about this topic, as it’s too much for this article but I’ll give you enough information to give you a better understanding and whet your appetite to read more into how guitar strings produce their sound.

The Basics

When a guitar is not being played, it obviously doesn’t make any sound; well most of the time…

Let’s think about how you make a guitar create sound in the first place? Well you either pluck or strum the strings, right? But first, let’s talk about this in terms of energy transfer to help understand how do guitar strings produce their sound?

When a guitar is played, there is an energy transfer from you to the instrument, starting with the kinetic energy from your arm/fingers. This kinetic energy is transferred to the string when it is plucked or struck. The kinetic energy is produced due to the action of striking/plucking the string displacing the string from its rest position and releasing it.

As the string is under tension and secured at both ends, an oscillation occurs with the string moving back and forth past the rest position. The string then vibrates, and now we have the first building block for the string to produce sound.

How do guitar strings produce their sound

The motion of this string then interacts with the air around the string and turns the kinetic vibrational energy into acoustic energy or “sound”. Let’s go into that a little deeper.

String Vibration to Sound

You’ve probably heard that there isn’t any sound in space and this is true (well not sound that humans can hear), this is because there isn’t much “stuff” for it to transfer the energy through; an air vacuum. The fact is that for the vibrational energy in a moving string (or any vibrating source) to be heard, or considered as sound, there needs to be a medium for it to transfer to and propagate through.

When we play the guitar (assuming you’re not in space here), this medium is the particles in the air! We also get an energy transfer through the vibration of the guitar but I’m not going into this now, it’s less relevant to the topic of how do guitar strings produce their sound.

The vibrational movement of the string causes local air pressure changes to occur, which is more commonly known as sound intensity/pressure. This sound intensity/pressure then propagates and changes through the air, as what we know as sound, and eventually reaching our ears. However, this level of sound from the strings alone is very small, just think about an unplugged electric guitar. It’s the rest of the instrument that helps amplify this signal either electrically or acoustically through body/sound hole.

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Pitch

The pitch of a vibrating string is essentially determined by the tension/stiffness, mass, and length of the string and is related to something called the natural frequency (often referred to as the fundamental frequency or just the fundamental). The physical relationship is based on a mass-spring system for a resonant oscillation.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

The vibration of a guitar string involves a standing wave concept (as both ends of the string are clamped by the nut and bridge, changing the way it behaves). The phenomenon of standing waves also causes other frequencies to be produced, called harmonics/harmonic series, which relate to the fundamental resonant frequency.

What is a standing wave?

The first possible instance of a standing wave is called the fundamental/first harmonic. The fundamental standing wave is apparent when there are two ends of a string clamped down and unable to oscillate. Though, the center region is free to move.

The fundamental standing wave is apparent when the system is excited at its natural frequency. The natural frequency, Hz is the frequency that the string wants to vibrate at. You can easily see this happening with your guitar when there is an external sound that excites the guitar string, such as a bass guitar. If a bass guitar note of A is struck near a guitar, you will find that an unattended guitar’s A string will start to ring/vibrate. This is because an external acoustic force is exciting the string at its resonant frequency. It loves it!!

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

The above diagram shows the string vibrating at its natural standing wave frequency at a snapshot in time. The string will go up and down/back and forth, but the center point will always be where the maximum movement/displacement occurs. This is called the Antinode. The points where the strings are clamped are called Nodes. This state of the string shows the half wavelength.

So how does this relate to pitch?

The length of the guitar string determines the fundamental standing wave and relates to the natural frequency of the string. This is easy to understand if you consider the instance of a sine wave (remember back to school?). If we take one full cycle of a sine wave, we can then compare this to the standing wave pattern. You can see that the standing wave pattern is half a full wavelength (path zero (node) to max (antinode) to zero (node) to min (antinode) to zero (node).

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

We can then determine the natural frequency of the string vibration using the following equation, which describes the relationship between mass, tension and string length for a standing wave:

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

Pitch is directly related to the frequency of sound, being the descriptor for the way that humans determine and hear the different frequencies of sound.

There are other higher frequency resonances that occur in the guitar string, which relate to the fundamental; typically, by a whole number. These are weaker in amplitude compared to the fundamental but help add the richer/more complex sonic properties to a resonating guitar string. These are called harmonic frequencies. The harmonic frequency number relates to the number of half wavelengths in the string’s vibration. The diagram below shows the third harmonic, as there are three half wavelengths in the string vibration.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

You can see this easily if you have a recording setup at home. Just record a guitar string being played and then listen back with a frequency analyser on the channel and you will see the fundamental note (f1) and harmonics (f2, f3 etc).  The diagram below shows this for the A note with the fundamental at 110 Hz, 1st harmonic at 220 Hz, 3rd Harmonic at 330Hz.

Fret Success - Frequency Analyzer

Damping

Have you noticed that when you strike a chord on a guitar it doesn’t ring out forever? Some guitars have pretty good sustain but eventually, the sound from the guitar strings will stop. It’s also obviously due to the vibrational energy lost as sound but that’s a given.

It’s also because there is an element of damping applied to the guitar strings through the various restrictive parts of the instrument including bridge connection, nut, guitar neck, guitar body and basically anything coupled to the string in some way, including the air around it. You just need to think of damping in terms of something that converts the kinetic energy in the active string to another form of energy, mainly vibration and acoustic energy but also an element of heat too.

Acoustic to electric?

We’ve been through the physical elements that cause a guitar string to make acoustic energy or sound. However, let’s just briefly go through how an electric guitar generates sound from the vibrating strings.

The way an electric guitar produces sound is completely different from the way an acoustic one (forget about electro-acoustic for now). You’ve probably guessed that the pickups have something to do with this and you’d be right; it’s obvious from the name if you think about it (pickup = pick up the sound). These wonderful things called pickups are basically metal poles placed in a magnet with a wire coil wrapped around them. Why do you think that is? Do you have an idea, is the pickup just like a microphone that picks up the sound from the guitar strings? First, let’s look at what a microphone is.

You may be familiar with a condenser or dynamic microphone in that that it directly picks up the fluctuations in the air by moving the diaphragm in the microphone capsule, I’m not going into these differences now; maybe another topic. This being the nearest tool we have for picking up changes in acoustic energy directly. The acoustic energy from the moving of the diaphragm is converted into a voltage detected by your mixing desk or pre-amplifier and then transferred back to acoustic energy by a loudspeaker. A microphone is a transducer, which converts energy from one form to another i.e. electrical potential to acoustic energy.

How do guitar strings produce their sound?

A microphone can be used to pick up sound from many sources of different amplitude, but an electric guitar is a very quiet instrument, quieter than a voice. If you’re a performer, you’ll know that using a microphone to amplify a quiet instrument is a nightmare in a live performance environment and can produce feedback issues very easily. If guitar pickups were microphones then we would have so many issues with them and would likely pick up other sound sources with higher levels over the guitar, which wouldn’t make sense in a live band scenario.

Guitar pickups generate “sound” in a completely different way to microphone. The strings sit in a magnetic field produced by the pickup and it is the movement of the strings within that field that cause fluctuations in voltage. These voltage fluctuations are then sent to the amplifier via your guitar lead. The voltage is then converted by the amplifier and loudspeaker into acoustic energy, which you then hear. This is a far more efficient way of getting a better signal to noise ratio from the guitar string movement.

So, what about an electroacoustic guitar well these can use up to three mechanisms to generate the sound from the guitar strings. These are a magnetic pickup, piezoelectric pickup or a microphone. The microphone is mainly used to get the sound generated from within the sound hole, to give that extra realism that is expected from a natural acoustic guitar sound. The under saddle piezoelectric pickups are very common but typically give a very unnatural guitar sound.

I hope this article helped you to understand more about the elusive topic of “How do Guitar Strings Produce Their Sound?”. I could carry on further and, in more detail, but thought this was a good place to stop for now.

I also have lots of free guitar lesson guitar available when you subscribe to the Fret Success Academy.

Thanks,

Dan

(Founder)

www.fretsuccess.com

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What is the use of a guitar capo?

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Summary

So, what is the use of a guitar capo?

Here’s the summary of the topics covered in the article below, just in case you’re too busy right now! When you get time just pop back and take a look in more detail!

The use of a guitar capo is to change the pitch of open strings but shortening the open length of the guitar strings in relation to the open chord shapes. This can be useful in all sorts of instances including:

  • changing the voicing or sound of chords;
  • shifting the key of a song or arrangement to work with a vocalist; and
  • to make a barre chord easier to play.

Main Article

Let’s start with the basics of what a guitar capo is.

History and Concept

If we head back a few centuries, the term capo, like lots of music terms, comes from the Italian language. In Italian, the word capo translates as the “head of the fingerboard”. This may give you a clue as to what it’s function is, don’t worry I’ll now explain the significance of this translation.

What is the fingerboard?

Let’s start an easy one, what is the fingerboard? Plain and simple, this is the part of the guitar where your fingers sit on/push the strings against; the piece where the strings hover over and the frets are located (sometimes referred to as the “fretboard”).

So, from this, the term “head of the fingerboard” can be visualised as the top of the fingerboard i.e. the nut of the guitar. The nut is the part of the guitar that the strings pass over on the headstock, near the tuning pegs. The nut is basically the top of the fingerboard where the active region of the strings starts.

Struggling to keep up?

If you want more general guidance and explanation on some of these basic guitar elements, go visit a page from the Fret Success Academy – Introduction to the Guitar Course I’ve devoted this course to cover the basic topics you need to learn at the start of your playing. Visit here to get learning: https://fretsuccess.com/what-are-the-parts-of-a-guitar/. All you need to do is sign up to the Free Fret Success Academy and you can get lifetime access today!

How is it used?

That’s all well and good Dan but how does that help me use a guitar capo? Well, imagine that you want an easy way to shift this nut location/start point/head of the fingerboard of the active string region to a higher pitch. If so, then you need a guitar capo!

The image below helps you visualise how the capo changes the active string region.

A capo is used to easily change the pitch of the open strings at the nut in relation to open chords, basically getting around the issue I mentioned earlier. If you just moved up your chord shape without changing the open strings, then you will lose the relative pitch of the open strings, and this won’t sound as you intended, typically terrible. Try playing these chords shapes below to see what I mean.

For example, if we want to move our chords up by 3 semitones then we would place the capo on the 3rd fret of the guitar to correctly shift the open strings to the desired relative tuning. If we form an E Major Open Chord shape in this position (after the capo) it will now sound like a G Major Barre Chord on the 3rd Fret.

If you think of a barre chord and notice that they can all be placed on any location on the fingerboard (moving up or down the neck) to get a different pitch of chord. Just incase you don’t, let’s recap that now…You can visualise this effect using barre chords, as a different way to get your head around this concept.

How does this relate to chords that I know?

So, if you move the A Major Barre chord (5th fret version) up the neck (towards the pickups) one fret then you get A# Major or Bb Major; depending on your outlook on life. If you notice your barre finger (the one spanning all strings) is acting like a false nut location and the rest of your fingers are forming an E Major Open chord shape.

This should remind you of how a capo works. Have a play around with these and see if you can grasp the nice relationship between the capo and the barre chord method.

Why use a capo?

Well a capo can be used for a couple of different reasons including:

  • To quickly change the key of a chord progression, to align with a vocalist’s preferred range: All vocalists have a range of notes/key where they sing most naturally. In the world of covering other songs/arrangements written by someone else, there is a huge variation between vocalists. Therefore, the capo is a great tool for easily changing the key of a chord progression to one that matches that of the new vocalist. This will alter the sound of the guitar from standard tuning; when playing open chords, as you’ve essentially changed the reference pitch of the open strings. However, this is just a consequence of the convenience; and
  • To change the timbre/sound of a chord progression: Singer-songwriters may also use the capo as a tool to change the voicing of a chord progression in the lower open string region. You can essentially play the same chord but in a different finger arrangement, to get a different sound. So, an open D Major Chord with open strings will be the same chord as the A Major Open Chord but with a Capo on the 5th fret (think D major barre chord on the 5th fret, to help you get your head around this). Play them both and see if you can see the similarities and differences between the chords.

As always just fire any questions to learn@fretsuccess.com.I hope that this helps you understand more about what the guitar capo is used for.

Thanks

Dan

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What is the Order of Guitar Strings?

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What is the order of guitar strings?

Summary

Here’s the summary of the topics covered in the article below to help you get more insight to know the answer to “What is the order of guitar strings?”; just in case you’re too busy right now! When you get time just pop back and take a look in more detail!

I always refer to the order of guitar strings from the thickest to thinnest. Some people opt for the other way around but I always found it easier to go from the lowest pitch to the highest in pitch, it just made more sense to me.

Standard Tuning: E, A, D, G, B, E

For the following tunings, I’ve made the strings that deviate from standard tuning in bold and italic.

Drop D Tuning: D, A, D, G, B, E

DADGAD Tuning: D, A, D, G, A, D

E Major Open Chord Tuning: E, B, E, G#, B, E

Half Step Drop Tuning: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb

Full Step Drop Tuning: D, G, C, F, A, D

Main Article

This is a curious thing to discuss and all guitarists ponder this question, especially when they first start learning to play. I thought I would go through a few different angles on this topic by explaining some of the most common guitar string configurations and preferences.

Firstly, let’s go through the basic concepts before I dive into the specifics. If you’re asking which order the guitar strings go then we need to identify the start and end point first. If I think about the question of “What is the order of guitar strings?”, then it is really important to define a few concepts here.

Throughout my years of playing, the majority of guitarists list the name of the guitar strings in order from thick to thin (from top to bottom when playing the guitar). I guess this is most likely due to the strings going up in pitch from the thickest to thinnest. Some instructors list the strings from thinnest to thickest but this is just counter-intuitive to me, for the reasons above. It’s personal preference when it comes down to it, so you choose which you prefer.

Guitar strings are assigned a letter, corresponding to a certain musical note. That’s because they are tuned to that musical note, get it? So, when you think about the notes/order of the guitar strings then all this means is the musical notes that they are tuned to. Which notes? It’s up to you really.

I’m now going to go through a few of the different tunings and the string order of these, always going from thick to thin 😊.

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Standard Tuning

This method of tuning the strings is the generally accepted standard way that most guitarists go for. It’s also the most likely tuning that the songs you’ll be learning to play will use; at the start of your journey. From thick to thin (top to bottom) the string order and names are E, A, D, G, B, and E; see the diagram below and also the little funky rhyme to help you remember the order.

Standard Tuning Diagram

Drop D Tuning

The next tuning is normally the next one that you learn/become aware of, especially if you’re into rock/metal music. It’s a very simple concept to grasp, once you’ve understood and know the standard tuning when you think about the question, “What is the order of guitar strings?”.

. All you have to do is drop (tune down) the top E string (top, very thickest string) by a tone/two semitones to make it a D note. This is where the Drop D comes from (dropping the E note to a D note). All of the other strings stay the same to standard tuning, so it makes it super easy to remember.

From thick to thin (top to bottom) the string order and names are D, A, D, G, B, and E; see the diagram below.

Drop D Tuning Diagram

A very easy way to get there, even without a tuner is to play the top thick E string and the D string together then tune the top thick E string down until it sounds the same as the open D string. Have a go at this. If you get stuck in drop D and want to get back to standard, there are two methods to get back; without using a tuner. These make use of the other standard tuned strings:

  • Play the thin E string at the same time as the tuned down top thick D string (E string in standard tuning). Then tune the top thick E string (tuned down to D at the moment) back up so it sounds the same as the thin E string; or
  • Fret the D string on the 2nd fret (an E note) and play this note at the same time as the top thick E string. Then tune up the top thick string (currently D string) to the same pitch as the string you’ve fretted to make it return to E.

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DADGAD Tuning

This is a wonderful tuning!! It’s pretty much my favourite tuning, especially for acoustic playing; in particular percussive styles. It’s also a really easy one to grasp, especially if you’re in drop D already or understand the drop D tuning concept well; you may have already guessed how to get there. You normally describe it by the tuning of the notes, DADGAD (“DAD”, “GAD”). The string order goes from thickest to thinnest again D, A, D, G, A, and D.

It’s really easy to get there. All you have to do is tune the two E strings down by a tone/two semitones to get to DADGBD. So, from Drop D tuning all you need to do is drop the thinnest E string and you’re there! Then the final step is playing the Open A and B strings together and detune the Open B string until it sounds the same as the Open A. You just detune it by a tone (two semitones). Check out the rhyme for this one below!

DADGAD Tuning Diagram

Open Chord tuning

There’s no standard way to tune using this concept but don’t worry, it’s a really easy one to understand. It’s quite obvious really, all you do is tune all the open strings to the notes of a chord. The basic form of a guitar chord uses 3 notes, i.e. notes 1, 3 and 5 of the E major scale for the E major chord. As the guitar has six strings, we need to double up some of those notes to get a full open tuning of a chord. Let’s stick with the E Major open chord and tune to those notes.

So, the E Major Open Chord notes are E, B, E, G#, B, E; and ordered from thickest to thinnest. If we consider the standard tuning for a second, the A string, D string, and G string need to be retuned from that to form E Major Open Chord tuning.

Open E Major Tuning Diagram

The beauty of this method is that you can tune to any open chord you want, the most common ones being G Major Open Chord, D Major Open Chord and A Major Open Chord. Go give them a try and see which you prefer.

Half/full step drop tuning

The final string tuning I’ll take you through is one that guitarists use for multiple reasons including:

  • Giving a lower end to the guitar sound i.e. changing the tone with a lower tension; and
  • Making it easier to sing along with when playing songs in E scales.

It’s common to find this tuning used in rock and metal music, especially male singers; requiring a lower musical pitch to make vocal performance easier. However, it can also be used just to fit with any singer’s preferred vocal key.

If you’re struggling to play along with a track and you’re sure you have the transcription correct, then it is likely that the guitar was recorded with a drop tuning, such as half/full step.

There’s no quick and easy way to tune to half/full step drop tuning, so the easiest way is to use a tuner.

 

The following notes are used for half and full step drop tuning:

  • Half Step: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb (your tuner might struggle with these so you can also tune to D#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D#, which are the same notes); and
  • Full Step: D, G, C, F, A, D.

Half Step Drop Tuning Diagram

Full Step Drop Tuning Diagram

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

Founder

Fret Success

https://www.fretsuccess.com

 

 

 

 

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