There's no other instrument with as much presence and cultural identity as the guitar. Virtually everyone is familiar with tons of different guitar sounds, from intense metal shredding to soft and jaunty acoustic folk music. And behind all those iconic guitar tones are great sets of strings. Just like a saxophonist changes reeds from time to time or a drummer replaces sticks, putting new strings on your guitar every so often is an important part of owning and playing one.
If you’re interested in playing lead guitar or performing guitar solos, you’ll want to check out the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. It’s a collection of 12 lessons that cover everything you need to know to start exploring lead guitar. You’ll learn basic picking technique, the major scale, the major pentatonic scale, the minor pentatonic scale, how to play a guitar solo, and much more.
The Master of Music in Performance (Guitar) from Musicians Institute combines advanced performance training with additional study in both traditional and contemporary disciplines such as music history, theory, education, research skills, recording technology, production, business relations and online brand management, taking your guitar skills to the highest level.
Only two or three frets are needed for the guitar chords—major, minor, and dominant sevenths—which are emphasized in introductions to guitar-playing and to the fundamentals of music. Each major and minor chord can be played on exactly two successive frets on exactly three successive strings, and therefore each needs only two fingers. Other chords—seconds, fourths, sevenths, and ninths—are played on only three successive frets.
There are two basic types of electric guitars: solidbody and hollowbody. Today, the electric guitar still features in all types of music Ð rock, blues, jazz and big bands Ð and is played by men and women, young and old, throughout the world. Some well-known electric guitarists include Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, Chrissie Hynde and Liz Phair.
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.
Getting to grips with how chords are formed gives you a basic introduction to music theory and helps you understand the ways you can alter them to create more interesting sounds. All chords are built from certain notes in scales. The C major scale is the easiest, because it just runs C, D, E, F, G, A and B. These notes are numbered (usually using Roman numerals) in that order, from one (I) to seven (VII).
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Quartal and quintal harmonies also appear in alternate tunings. It is easier to finger the chords that are based on perfect fifths in new standard tuning than in standard tuning. New standard tuning was invented by Robert Fripp, a guitarist for King Crimson. Preferring to base chords on perfect intervals—especially octaves, fifths, and fourths—Fripp often avoids minor thirds and especially major thirds, which are sharp in equal temperament tuning (in comparison to thirds in just intonation).
Peterson, Jonathon (2002). "Tuning in thirds: A new approach to playing leads to a new kind of guitar". American Lutherie: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers. 8222 South Park Avenue, Tacoma WA 98408: USA.: The Guild of American Luthiers. 72 (Winter): 36–43. ISSN 1041-7176. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
Further simplifications occur for the regular tunings that are repetitive, that is, which repeat their strings. For example, the E-G♯-c-e-g♯-c' M3 tuning repeats its octave after every two strings. Such repetition further simplifies the learning of chords and improvisation; This repetition results in two copies of the three open-strings' notes, each in a different octave. Similarly, the B-F-B-F-B-F augmented-fourths tuning repeats itself after one string.
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.
SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.