A "guitar pick" or "plectrum" is a small piece of hard material generally held between the thumb and first finger of the picking hand and is used to "pick" the strings. Though most classical players pick with a combination of fingernails and fleshy fingertips, the pick is most often used for electric and steel-string acoustic guitars. Though today they are mainly plastic, variations do exist, such as bone, wood, steel or tortoise shell. Tortoise shell was the most commonly used material in the early days of pick-making, but as tortoises and turtles became endangered, the practice of using their shells for picks or anything else was banned. Tortoise-shell picks made before the ban are often coveted for a supposedly superior tone and ease of use, and their scarcity has made them valuable.
Most electric guitar bodies are made of wood and include a plastic pick guard. Boards wide enough to use as a solid body are very expensive due to the worldwide depletion of hardwood stock since the 1970s, so the wood is rarely one solid piece. Most bodies are made from two pieces of wood with some of them including a seam running down the center line of the body. The most common woods used for electric guitar body construction include maple, basswood, ash, poplar, alder, and mahogany. Many bodies consist of good-sounding, but inexpensive woods, like ash, with a "top", or thin layer of another, more attractive wood (such as maple with a natural "flame" pattern) glued to the top of the basic wood. Guitars constructed like this are often called "flame tops". The body is usually carved or routed to accept the other elements, such as the bridge, pickup, neck, and other electronic components. Most electrics have a polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Other alternative materials to wood are used in guitar body construction. Some of these include carbon composites, plastic material, such as polycarbonate, and aluminum alloys.
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Almost all guitars have frets, which are metal strips (usually nickel alloy or stainless steel) embedded along the fretboard and located at exact points that divide the scale length in accordance with a specific mathematical formula. The exceptions include fretless bass guitars and very rare fretless guitars. Pressing a string against a fret determines the strings' vibrating length and therefore its resultant pitch. The pitch of each consecutive fret is defined at a half-step interval on the chromatic scale. Standard classical guitars have 19 frets and electric guitars between 21 and 24 frets, although guitars have been made with as many as 27 frets. Frets are laid out to accomplish an equal tempered division of the octave. Each set of twelve frets represents an octave. The twelfth fret divides the scale length exactly into two halves, and the 24th fret position divides one of those halves in half again.
Learn the C chord. The first chord we will cover is a C chord—one of the most basic chords in music. Before we do, let's break down just what that means. A proper chord, whether played on a piano, a guitar, or sung by well-trained mice, is simply three or more notes sounded together. (Two notes is called a "diad," and while musically useful, is not a chord.) Chords can also contain far more than three notes, but that's well beyond the scope of this article. This is what a C chord looks like on the guitar:
Traditional electromagnetic pickups are either single-coil or double-coil. Single-coil pickups are susceptible to noise induced by stray electromagnetic fields, usually mains-frequency (60 or 50 hertz) hum. The introduction of the double-coil humbucker in the mid-1950s solved this problem through the use of two coils, one of which is wired in opposite polarity to cancel or "buck" stray fields.
If you're looking for some of our older videos - you can browse the guitar lessons archive. You may also be interested browsing our guitar lessons on YouTube. There you can learn how to play guitar with all of our most popular beginner guitar lessons, rhythm guitar lessons, lead guitar lessons, and blues guitar lessons. We have something for guitar students of all skill levels.
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.
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