Frequently Asked Questions
Should I take private guitar lessons?
Nothing can substitute the insight and direction you can receive from someone who has years of experience doing what you have only recently begun to do. I’ll never forget the teachers I studied under. A price can’t be put on what I gained from each one of them. Without guidance from an instructor the beginning student is like a ship without a rudder with no direction. It is very important to seek professional guidance from an instructor.
How long will it take me to learn to play the guitar?
People have asked me this question countless times. Each time I’m asked, I hesitate and stutter trying to find the appropriate answer. I could honestly say just a few months or the rest of your life and both answers would be true. Students ask me, “How long did it take you to learn to play guitar?” Well, I never woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror and said to myself, “This is a great day. Now I have mastered the guitar.” The truth is, you never stop learning and you never stop wanting to be better. If your idea of playing guitar is strumming some chords around a campfire while everyone sings traditional songs, then you’ll be able to play in just a few months (with a little practice). If you want to master the instrument, you will work at it the rest of your life. Regardless of your expectations, always remember music is a gift and it is to be enjoyed. So, enjoy the music above all else!
Should I buy an electric or an acoustic guitar?
When Learning the guitar I always say learn on a Electric guitar because the neck is not as fat and the string gauge you can have an 8 gauge which is like dental floss as opposed to telephone wire on Acoustic. Don’t worry your not throwing away the Acoustic guitar idea that you had in the beginning. Everything is transferable like chords and scales and you can always go back to the Acoustic guitar once you get a couple songs down on the electric. If your favorite entertainers play acoustic guitars and you love the sound, then you probably would want an acoustic guitar. An electric guitar is easier to play but your endurance and finger strength is improved with the acoustic.
What size pick should I use?
You should experiment with different styles of picks and find one the feels right for you. I prefer a medium to heavy gauge with the traditional shape. I never recommend thin picks. They tend to be floppy and hard to control. Thick picks tend to be noisy when you are strumming chords. I like Fender Medium confetti but experiment with different types of picks.
Just like runner that likes a certain pair of shoes and won’t change cause it feels strange. Every guitar player you asked will go into the reason why they like a certain pick so experiment.
What size strings should I use?
This is a matter of personal preference. Rock, Metal and country players generally do a lot of string bending. They tend to use a lighter string (.009 gauge on the first string) while many jazz and blues players prefer a very heavy gauge string.Heavy gauge strings have a better tone, last longer, and are easier to keep in tune. The flip side of the coin is that they are harder to play. I prefer a regular gauge (.09) on the electric and (.08) and my Shred style guitars and a light gauge on the acoustic guitar.
How often should I practice?
Developing good practice habits is very important in developing skill. The main objective is to be consistent. Practicing a little each day is better than skipping a few days and then practicing several hours trying to catch up. Practicing is a discipline that you will need to work at. There are many distractions that compete for our time. TV and the Internet are huge time hogs. I know someone that leaves the remote to his TV at his workplace so he won’t be tempted to waste time on silly TV shows. If there is something he thinks is worth seeing, he’ll bring it home for a night and take it back the next day. Always remember that time is the most precious asset we have and none of us knows how much of it we have. I tell my students that are small children to practice at least 30 minutes per day but teens and adults should try to practice an hour per day.
How should I care for my guitar?
Don’t leave your guitar in a car for several hours in hot or cold weather.
When you finish playing your guitar, wipe it off with a lint-free cloth and put it in your case.
Use guitar polish (available at the local music store) to clean your guitar. Don’t use furniture polish.
Your strings will last much longer if you clean them after each use.
You may want to put a dab of lemon oil on the neck once a year to avoid cracking from the wood drying.
If you are storing a guitar for a long time, you may want to loosen the strings.
Have your guitar serviced by a professional guitar technician periodically.
Hide your guitar from little brothers!
How do I know when it's time to change strings?
If the strings have a dull color, sound dead, muted, or are hard to tune, then it’s time to change them. Many beginners don’t realize their strings are dead until they hear how good their guitar sounds with new strings.
What is Tablature?
Tablature or tab is a system of lines and numbers that represent your strings and frets. Tablature is a very useful tool for learning to play guitar but it has limitations.
Should I learn to read music?
There has been many discussions and many musicians treat this as a philosophical subject. One extreme says you aren’t a true musician unless you read music. The other extreme is very proud that they learned to play guitar without reading music. It all depends what goal you are trying to achieve. If you just want to learn simple songs to play to family,around campfire or maybe your lucky to jam with some friends every Saturday then you don’t really need to learn to read Music. But if you want to be more serious and appreciate what music has to offer than you should consider Reading Music. Music notation is the language of musicians. If you walk into a library and pick up a book but you can’t read the English language then the book is useless to you. It’s the same with sight reading. We have a rich heritage of music from centuries past. Music that people spent their lives creating is at our disposal if we are able to read music. If you are a serious musician and you are unable to read music there will probably come a day when you wish you did.. On the other hand, some of my favorite musicians could not read music and yet were considered master musicians. Using tablature is useful especially for players that use altered tunings or play multiple instruments. The down side of using tab is you aren’t learning the names of the notes as you learn songs. Also, If you use tab there is a good chance you’ll avoid notation because tab is easier. Unlike tabs, with notation you are reading music and learning the names of the notes on the guitar fret board. With tabs you are only learning the fret numbers. I recommend that you make reading music notation your number one priority. It will take dedication but you’ll be glad you did when you see the results.