Musicians Institute programs are fast paced and certain fundamental musical skills are required before you can begin your program. If you meet entry requirements and are accepted, a one-on-one performance evaluation and placement testing will be held during registration to determine whether you qualify for advanced placement in any area of course work. You are evaluated based on the content of your submission. For more info, please see the MI Course Catalog.


When you play a guitar, bass, ukulele, mandolin or any other instrument in this big family, it's the vibration of the strings that creates your sound. That's common knowledge, of course, but have you ever stopped to really think about the implications? It's all too easy to dismiss your strings as just another part of your instrument, but the truth is they're more like its heart - and since playing the instrument means touching its strings, they also have a huge impact on the way it feels to play. With all that in mind, it's easy to see why the choice of strings is such an important one: it can make a massive difference in every aspect of your instrument, especially playability and tone. Picking out a new set of strings involves a number of choices, and those will depend on the specific instrument, so don't forget to filter the lineup by selecting a category. In most cases, that'll leave you with an easy-to-browse range of options - although if you're a guitarist or bassist, you'll still have hundreds to look at... and it might take a little more filtering to narrow things down further. Choosing your gauges will go a long way, not to mention material, which ranges from nylon for classical guitars to phosphor-bronze in acoustics and steel, nickel or even cobalt for electric guitars. Another aspect of strings to consider in your decision is coating. Traditional coated strings have a smoother feel than their uncoated cousins and usually last much longer, but they're also wider and that can make them sound different. If you like the idea of coated strings, but don't want to give up the tone you get with uncoated ones, then check out Elixir and Cleartone strings: these two manufacturers have mastered the art of ultra-thin, "barely-there" coatings that behave more like traditional strings. We've only just scratched the surface of what's available in this section, and there's a lot to see no matter what instrument you play. Different materials and gauges, coated or uncoated - it's up to you. You can buy your strings one at a time, go for a set or even stock up with multiple sets of strings at once. Still not sure where to begin? Try starting with the top-selling and best-rated strings and go from there. Finding the perfect set will probably take some experimentation, but there's no better guide than other musicians to get you on the right track.
For the longest time I have "messed around" with my guitar. I bought a book on Jazz guitar chords many years ago and found that those fingerings were way above my skill level. I decided to get a basic chord book to reinitiate myself. This is that book. Going through these pages has re-ignited my lust to learn more about playing my guitar. One chord at a time. Simple. Skip to another key just as simple. Actually, I haven't realized how many chords I really know how to play. I just need to learn the name of those chords. This book will help with that too. Give it a try.
A chord is inverted when the bass note is not the root note. Chord inversion is especially simple in M3 tuning. Chords are inverted simply by raising one or two notes by three strings; each raised note is played with the same finger as the original note. Inverted major and minor chords can be played on two frets in M3 tuning.[56][74] In standard tuning, the shape of inversions depends on the involvement of the irregular major-third, and can involve four frets.[75]
Pickups are transducers attached to a guitar that detect (or "pick up") string vibrations and convert the mechanical energy of the string into electrical energy. The resultant electrical signal can then be electronically amplified. The most common type of pickup is electromagnetic in design. These contain magnets that are within a coil, or coils, of copper wire. Such pickups are usually placed directly underneath the guitar strings. Electromagnetic pickups work on the same principles and in a similar manner to an electric generator. The vibration of the strings creates a small electric current in the coils surrounding the magnets. This signal current is carried to a guitar amplifier that drives a loudspeaker.
Archtop guitars are steel-string instruments in which the top (and often the back) of the instrument are carved, from a solid billet, into a curved, rather than a flat, shape. This violin-like construction is usually credited to the American Orville Gibson. Lloyd Loar of the Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co introduced the violin-inspired "F"-shaped hole design now usually associated with archtop guitars, after designing a style of mandolin of the same type. The typical archtop guitar has a large, deep, hollow body whose form is much like that of a mandolin or a violin-family instrument. Nowadays, most archtops are equipped with magnetic pickups, and they are therefore both acoustic and electric. F-hole archtop guitars were immediately adopted, upon their release, by both jazz and country musicians, and have remained particularly popular in jazz music, usually with flatwound strings.
In major-thirds (M3) tuning, the chromatic scale is arranged on three consecutive strings in four consecutive frets.[83][84] This four-fret arrangement facilitates the left-hand technique for classical (Spanish) guitar:[84] For each hand position of four frets, the hand is stationary and the fingers move, each finger being responsible for exactly one fret.[85] Consequently, three hand-positions (covering frets 1–4, 5–8, and 9–12) partition the fingerboard of classical guitar,[86] which has exactly 12 frets.[note 1]
The black dots found on the chord diagrams tell you which fret to press down, and on which string and with which numbered finger. Additionally, you will sometimes see circles above the nut. These circles tell you to play that open string without pressing any fret. So using what we know so far about strings, finger numbers, and dots, let’s check out that same chord diagram again:

The California Conservatory of Music offers guitar lessons with the most qualified teachers in the Bay Area at both our Santa Clara and Redwood City schools. Whether you're looking to start your young child with Suzuki guitar lessons, preparing for a college audition, or getting reading for an upcoming concert, we can assist you. We offer the Bay Area’s most comprehensive guitar lessons which include technique, sight reading, music theory, and in addition to the private lessons, we offer ensemble, repertoire, and theory classes on the weekends. For students under the age of 8, we ask the parents to be involved in their guitar lessons and practice at home. To better help parents develop in to this role, the first three lessons are dedicated to the parent education class. The child can then begin their guitar lessons. This helps ensures the student’s success and motivation. 

Private Guitar lessons with a certified TakeLessons teacher are customized to each and every student based on their current skill level, and goals. Beginner students get to practice basic songs, basic exercises, and basic techniques. From there, the difficulty increases in order to properly challenge and motivate intermediate and advanced level guitarists to develop greater skills, to break through their preconceived limitations, and to ultimately get more satisfaction, meaning, and even paid opportunities from the becoming a skilled guitarist.
We use technologies, such as cookies, to customize content and advertising, to provide social media features and to analyze traffic to the site. We also share information about your use of our site with our trusted social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You indicate your consent to this use by clicking “I Agree” or by continuing to use this website. View details.
Stacking the C-major scale with thirds creates a chord progression  Play (help·info), traditionally enumerated with the Roman numerals I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viio. Its major-key sub-progression C-F-G (I-IV-V) is conventional in popular music. In this progression, the minor triads ii-iii-vi appear in the relative minor key (Am)'s corresponding chord progression.

Ask any veteran musician, and they'll tell you that the early stages of learning a musical instrument go by a lot smoother when you're having fun. For this reason, Guitar Center strives their hardest to ensure every guitar lesson they offer is fully-engaging and an absolute blast for everyone involved. Whether you're into the warm, natural sound of an acoustic guitar or have aspirations of blowing out ear drums on the biggest stages in town, GC's guitar lessons are designed so that players of all ages, skill levels and tastes learn the chords and scales they need to know (and want to know) in a comfortable environment.


Renaissance and Baroque guitars are the ancestors of the modern classical and flamenco guitar. They are substantially smaller, more delicate in construction, and generate less volume. The strings are paired in courses as in a modern 12-string guitar, but they only have four or five courses of strings rather than six single strings normally used now. They were more often used as rhythm instruments in ensembles than as solo instruments, and can often be seen in that role in early music performances. (Gaspar Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española of 1674 contains his whole output for the solo guitar.)[10] Renaissance and Baroque guitars are easily distinguished, because the Renaissance guitar is very plain and the Baroque guitar is very ornate, with ivory or wood inlays all over the neck and body, and a paper-cutout inverted "wedding cake" inside the hole.
The shape of the neck (from a cross-sectional perspective) can also vary, from a gentle "C" curve to a more pronounced "V" curve. There are many different types of neck profiles available, giving the guitarist many options. Some aspects to consider in a guitar neck may be the overall width of the fretboard, scale (distance between the frets), the neck wood, the type of neck construction (for example, the neck may be glued in or bolted on), and the shape (profile) of the back of the neck. Other types of material used to make guitar necks are graphite (Steinberger guitars), aluminum (Kramer Guitars, Travis Bean and Veleno guitars), or carbon fiber (Modulus Guitars and ThreeGuitars). Double neck electric guitars have two necks, allowing the musician to quickly switch between guitar sounds.

Flatwound strings have a flat surface. These strings are very popular among jazz guitarists because they have a very dark and understated tone. However, they are also more difficult to play. These strings are not a good fit for rock or blues, because they’re stiffness and dark tone means that it’s hard to cut through the mix and pull off the fast and intricate runs and bends that define blues, rock, and metal.
The truss rod is a thin, strong metal rod that runs along the inside of the neck. It is used to correct changes to the neck's curvature caused by aging of the neck timbers, changes in humidity, or to compensate for changes in the tension of strings. The tension of the rod and neck assembly is adjusted by a hex nut or an allen-key bolt on the rod, usually located either at the headstock, sometimes under a cover, or just inside the body of the guitar underneath the fretboard and accessible through the sound hole. Some truss rods can only be accessed by removing the neck. The truss rod counteracts the immense amount of tension the strings place on the neck, bringing the neck back to a straighter position. Turning the truss rod clockwise tightens it, counteracting the tension of the strings and straightening the neck or creating a backward bow. Turning the truss rod counter-clockwise loosens it, allowing string tension to act on the neck and creating a forward bow.
MIDI converters use a hexaphonic guitar signal to determine pitch, duration, attack, and decay characteristics. The MIDI sends the note information to an internal or external sound bank device. The resulting sound closely mimics numerous instruments. The MIDI setup can also let the guitar be used as a game controller (i.e., Rock Band Squier) or as an instructional tool, as with the Fretlight Guitar.

Guitar Compass features hundreds of free guitar lesson videos. These online lessons are designed to teach you how to play guitar by covering the absolute basics up to more advanced soloing concepts and techniques. The lessons span different difficultly levels and genres like blues, rock, country, and jazz. Each lesson is designed to introduce you to a subject and get to know our instructors and their teaching style. To access more lessons and in-depth instruction, try a free 7 day trial of our premium membership.
The loud, amplified sound and sonic power of the electric guitar played through a guitar amp has played a key role in the development of blues and rock music, both as an accompaniment instrument (playing riffs and chords) and performing guitar solos, and in many rock subgenres, notably heavy metal music and punk rock. The electric guitar has had a major influence on popular culture. The guitar is used in a wide variety of musical genres worldwide. It is recognized as a primary instrument in genres such as blues, bluegrass, country, flamenco, folk, jazz, jota, mariachi, metal, punk, reggae, rock, soul, and many forms of pop.
Certain guitar brands are renowned and respected worldwide, and you don't have to be a player to be aware of them. Companies like Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, Ibanez, Yamaha and many others have built a solid reputation for providing exceptionally crafted guitars. In fact, these names are consistently endorsed by the greatest players of all time. However, you'll find more than enough guitar brands from lesser known manufacturers as well; these smaller companies take enormous pride in offering models of equally extraordinary playability, tone and construction.
In major-thirds tuning, the interval between open strings is always a major third. Consequently, four frets suffice to play the chromatic scale. Chord inversion is especially simple in major-thirds tuning. Chords are inverted simply by raising one or two notes by three strings. The raised notes are played with the same finger as the original notes.[22][23] In contrast, in standard tuning, the shape of inversions depends on the involvement of the irregular major-third.[24]
With the C major chord, put that shape on the guitar for thirty seconds, take it off, shake it out, and repeat the process a few times. As you’re making the shape, remember to come right behind the frets on the tips of your fingers. When you’re starting out, you may have to place each finger down one at a time, but that’s natural. You’ll get better with time and eventually be able to go right to the chord.
With that being said, nickel strings definitely have a richer tone with more body than steel strings. This warmth is especially pleasing when used to play older genres of music, blues in particular. The strings are also a great fit for rhythm work, because the warmth inherent to these strings helps to increase the overall body and richness of a mix.
Left-handed players sometimes choose an opposite-handed (mirror) instrument, although some play in a standard-handed manner, others play a standard-handed guitar reversed, and still others (for example Jimi Hendrix) played a standard-handed guitar strung in reverse. This last configuration differs from a true opposite handed guitar in that the saddle is normally angled in such a way that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings to improve intonation. Reversing the strings, therefore, reverses the relative orientation of the saddle, adversely affecting intonation, although in Hendrix's case, this is believed to have been an important element in his unique sound.
The two most common types of acoustic guitar are the steel-string guitar and the classical guitar. The classical guitar, also known as the Spanish guitar, usually uses nylon strings. Steel-string guitars originated in the United States and are also referred to as western guitar and folk guitar. Steel-string guitars sound louder and brighter than classical guitars, which have a warmer, mellower sound. Steel-string models usually have larger bodies and narrower necks, and they often have a pickguard to protect the body against scratches by picks and fingernails. Most acoustic guitars have six strings, but there are also 12-string versions. When an acoustic guitar is hooked up to an amplifier, it is referred to as acoustic/electric. Some acoustic/electric guitars incorporate a cutaway design, which makes it easier for electric guitar players to cross over to acoustic.
×