Which Guitar Should I Buy?

Introduction

Being a Guitar Tutor at Guitar Academy Petersfield I get asked a lot about Guitar and Amp purchases. Unfortunately the answer can sometimes be compared to 'how long is a piece of string?'. Either way I thought I would write some top tips of what to look for when buying a Guitar for the first time or the 100th time. Also I have some recommendations for your first Guitar.

Things to Look For

  • Build Quality - Is the instrument well constucted?
  • Has the neck got an S shape in it? - This is fairly uncommon for new guitars but worth checking. Simply look from the back of the bridge of the guitar down the neck. You should see a relief in the neck (neck pointing forwards slightly) but no S shape or Curve in the neck. This is a problem. Unlikely but worth a check.
  • Action - how high are the strings from the fretboard? If its quite high it could be a sign of neck issues or poor set up. It should be at a playable and comfortable height. So give it a whirl and see if you can play it without any struggle. Action can also be too low and struggle to produce a consistent tone.
  • Buzzing - Every electric guitar and acoustic will buzz a little bit. But there are normal buzz noises and bad buzz noises. Simply play every single note on every single fret on every string. One after another and listen for any dramatic changes in the note in regards to buzzing. If you hit one of these notes that sounds way off or different then there might be a fret problem somewhere.
  • Check the frets - Check them for dings, notches, grooves make sure they all look good.
  • Inspect the wood - Check it over look for cracks, dry bits or distressed areas. 
  • Tone and Volume - Check any electric or moving components. Plug into an amp and listen for any noise and check the connections are good. If you hear a crackle. This is usually just some dust in the Pots. This can be solved with some Servisol.

Is It Right for You?

  • Go to a shop and play as many different Guitars as possible. When choosing a Guitar make sure you choose one that feels comfortable for you to play. We all have preferences and different size hands and many other variables. So the right Guitar is simply the one that feels easy for you to play.
  • Sound - When trying out an Electric Guitar make sure the amp sounds are set to a neutral setting to get an idea of how the Guitar sounds. If you have an amp at home make sure you try out the Guitar using an amp similar to yours. If you are testing an acoustic make sure you are not in a place / room with a lot of natural reverb. Everything sounds great with Reverb... sometimes.
  • Does it have all the features you want? - This goes for Guitar and Amps. If you know nothing and starting from scratch then keep it simple. If you are particually looking for a trem such as a floyd rose make sure you do your research first.

Be Careful Online

Be careful when buying a Guitar online. Especially if this is the first time you are buying a Guitar. Sometimes reviews are not enough or a true representation of the quality of an instrument.

Good Guitars are not cheap but Good Guitars also do not have to cost the earth. Sometimes its safer to make your own judgement and see the item in person. Also sometimes it pays to stick to a brand name. I often get some customers that buy unbranded Guitars from EBAY or Amazon and they are literally the worst. Difficult to play and poorly made. Not saying every Guitar or Ebay and Amazon is this way but just be careful. You know the saying.. 'Buy Cheap Buy Twice'. (I have often falling foul of this but luckily not with Guitars).

 

Let me love you – Justin Bieber Guitar Lesson

Video Lesson

Description

In this short video I will show you how to play 'let me love you' by Justin Bieber. Any questions please feel free to ask.

Check out more of our videos on our youtube channel. Link at the top right of the page.

Is there a formula for a hit song?…. possibly

An ongoing subject in many songwriting blogs, articles and books as to whether there is a formula for a hit song and the typical conclusion is no. However their are some interesting considerations that can be taken on board when songwriting to potentially make your song hit worthy.

The digital revolution in regards to streaming, downloading and production of music has created a wealth of data that many musicians can use to effectively market their music to their key demographic. But this data can also produce some interesting facts about the songs construction and tonality.

For example Spotify regularly on its blog displays insights relating to the music distributed on their platform. One statistic in particular is the popular keys of songs on its database. Below is a graph that shows the typical keys of songs. In conclusion from looking at this graph you could determine that the most popular key of a song is G major.

Chord Progressions

Its also not a secret that many popular songs use the same chord structure as shown in this video. Remember not all songs are in the same key but this video does reveal a surprising insight into the chord structure that is commonly applied.

Axis of Awesome – Four Chord Song

Audio Insights

This video below is an interesting insight into commonly applied melodies and phrasing. Moving from the 5th to the 3rd interval. An observation that has been noticed in many popular hit songs. 

Possibly something worth applying to your songwriting?

The Millennial Whoop

Genre Statistics

Spotify also reveal some surprising statistics in regards to genres and fanbases. This kind of data is great when considering the style of a piece of music you wish to create (if purely aiming for the most popular) or even help towards developing your marketing campaign when promoting your work. The graph below creates a visual demonstrate of fan loyalty by genre. 

If developing a marketing campaign it is well worth doing some research using some of the insights scattered across Spotifys blog. This type of free information can help you make some important decisions for marketing and get your music towards to your key listeners. 

Authors Conclusion

I intend to update this article over time and share some more observations and insights of my own as well as what I find on the internet. I feel this information that is available to us as musicians can help us make key decisions as songwriters and music publishers. We commonly use data to help us move forward and make marketing decisions in music but its also interesting to consider whether this data when making some key decisions about our songwriting.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tools for Guitarists: Riff Master Pro Review

Today we had a play with riff master pro and took it for a spin to see if this piece of software was worth a mention on our blog.

We have been using this for a few days now in our teaching studio and its actually become a handy tool. The software is quite simple and easy to use. It simply allows you to slow down, speed up pieces of music or change the pitch of a piece. As well as loop, EQ and Reduce vocals.

There are already many services online that offer these tools for you to use but one thing we noticed with riff master pro was it didn't diminish the quality of the audio in comparison to similar software and websites online. Obviously changing the pitch and speed of a piece is going to make the track sound weird. But we did find that the overall integrity of the track was well maintained during this process.

We have been using it to slow down pieces of audio for our learners when practicing along to a track. When you learn a track for the first time you might not be able to get it quite up to speed without practice. With riff master pro we were able to slow down the audio to a comfortable speed for our learners to practice with. By doing this our learners were able to also learn the arrangement of the track quicker than if they practiced without.

As far as the pitch controls go this was also a useful tool especially when wanting to learn tracks in different keys. Its good for small pitch shifts but when pushed to the extreme, as in any case the audio becomes weird and pretty useless. 

As a tutor we regularly come across tracks that are quite simple to teach but played on guitar half a step down. With riff master pro we were able to raise the pitch of the track to enable our learners to play along without wasting time re tuning the guitar. Obviously for more advanced learners you can just use different chord voicings to get around slight differences in tuning. But for our beginners this was a great tool to utilise.

Overall we reckon this is a good piece of software for learning tracks and playing along. We also found it useful for transcribing complex riffs. We used the software quite often to slow down complex riffs so we could identify the notes played then transcribed them.

Again there are many pieces of software on the market and websites that offer these services. However riff master pro is worth a look and offers a free trial. Its also available for android and IOS.

http://riffmasterpro.com/

 

Practice Tips: Slowing Down Audio

Slow down audio

In this video we will show you a cool and free resource you can use to slow down the audio in a youtube video. This helps you when practicing playing along to tracks and perfecting your performance and phrasing of difficult parts.www.youtubeslow.com