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.

I was lucky enough to meet Justin at the Guitar Institute during a summer school in 2004, and to have some private lessons with him afterwards.  He was the teacher who kickstarted my guitar career and persuaded me that I was ready to join a band.  That was 14 years ago and many dozens of gigs later.  I’m now just finishing a degree in Popular Music Performance.  Justin's online lessons are easy to follow and he has a manner about him which makes you believe that you can achieve.  Where he demonstrates songs, I have found his versions to be consistently more accurate and easy to follow than those of any other online teacher.  On this website you really will find all the skills and information you need to become an excellent musician.  Many thanks. Ian.
First, you need to determine what type of guitar you have - acoustic nylon, acoustic steel string, or electric. You want to be sure to use the correct strings for your particular guitar. Acoustic guitars that require nylon strings, such as classical, flamenco and some folk guitars, generally have lighter tops, or soundboards, with less internal bracing than those found on steel-string acoustics, and stand the risk of serious damage if fitted with steel strings. Steel-string acoustics are designed to withstand the added stress that steel strings exert on the top, bridge, nut and neck, and won't sound very good with nylon strings, if they even fit. Electric guitar strings must be made of ferromagnetic metals like steel and nickel, so they can interact with the magnetic pickups, while acoustic-electric guitars typically use a different type of pickup which senses vibrations from the bridge, so acoustic strings may just have a steel core wound with a phosphor bronze alloy wrap for bright tone. Guitars with whammy bars might require a few extra steps to keep everything stable, so check your manufacturer's instructions or look for online videos.
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Open tunings improve the intonation of major chords by reducing the error of third intervals in equal temperaments. For example, in the open-G overtones tuning G-G-D-G-B-D, the (G,B) interval is a major third, and of course each successive pair of notes on the G- and B-strings is also a major third; similarly, the open-string minor-third (B,D) induces minor thirds among all the frets of the B-D strings. The thirds of equal temperament have audible deviations from the thirds of just intonation: Equal temperaments is used in modern music because it facilitates music in all keys, while (on a piano and other instruments) just intonation provided better-sounding major-third intervals for only a subset of keys.[65] "Sonny Landreth, Keith Richards and other open-G masters often lower the second string slightly so the major third is in tune with the overtone series. This adjustment dials out the dissonance, and makes those big one-finger major-chords come alive."[66]
Another class of alternative tunings are called drop tunings, because the tuning drops down the lowest string. Dropping down the lowest string a whole tone results in the "drop-D" (or "dropped D") tuning. Its open-string notes DADGBE (from low to high) allow for a deep bass D note, which can be used in keys such as D major, d minor and G major. It simplifies the playing of simple fifths (powerchords). Many contemporary rock bands re-tune all strings down, making, for example, Drop-C or Drop-B tunings.
Open tunings improve the intonation of major chords by reducing the error of third intervals in equal temperaments. For example, in the open-G overtones tuning G-G-D-G-B-D, the (G,B) interval is a major third, and of course each successive pair of notes on the G- and B-strings is also a major third; similarly, the open-string minor-third (B,D) induces minor thirds among all the frets of the B-D strings. The thirds of equal temperament have audible deviations from the thirds of just intonation: Equal temperaments is used in modern music because it facilitates music in all keys, while (on a piano and other instruments) just intonation provided better-sounding major-third intervals for only a subset of keys.[65] "Sonny Landreth, Keith Richards and other open-G masters often lower the second string slightly so the major third is in tune with the overtone series. This adjustment dials out the dissonance, and makes those big one-finger major-chords come alive."[66]
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.
If you know how to play an E major chord, then you know how to play an A minor chord—just move the chord whole shape over a string. Make sure your first finger is curled, so the open first string rings clearly. Avoid playing the open sixth string when strumming the A minor chord. There are situations when it makes sense to reverse your second and third fingers when playing the A minor chord.
A capo (short for capotasto) is used to change the pitch of open strings.[28] Capos are clipped onto the fretboard with the aid of spring tension, or in some models, elastic tension. To raise the guitar's pitch by one semitone, the player would clip the capo onto the fretboard just below the first fret. Its use allows players to play in different keys without having to change the chord formations they use. For example, if a folk guitar player wanted to play a song in the key of B Major, they could put a capo on the second fret of the instrument, and then play the song as if it were in the key of A Major, but with the capo the instrument would make the sounds of B Major. This is because with the capo barring the entire second fret, open chords would all sound two semitones (aka one tone) higher in pitch. For example, if a guitarist played an open A Major chord (a very common open chord), it would sound like a B Major chord. All of the other open chords would be similarly modified in pitch. Because of the ease with which they allow guitar players to change keys, they are sometimes referred to with pejorative names, such as "cheaters" or the "hillbilly crutch". Despite this negative viewpoint, another benefit of the capo is that it enables guitarists to obtain the ringing, resonant sound of the common keys (C, G, A, etc.) in "harder" and less-commonly used keys. Classical performers are known to use them to enable modern instruments to match the pitch of historical instruments such as the Renaissance music lute.

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.

Adjusting the truss rod affects the intonation of a guitar as well as the height of the strings from the fingerboard, called the action. Some truss rod systems, called double action truss systems, tighten both ways, pushing the neck both forward and backward (standard truss rods can only release to a point beyond which the neck is no longer compressed and pulled backward). The artist and luthier Irving Sloane pointed out, in his book Steel-String Guitar Construction, that truss rods are intended primarily to remedy concave bowing of the neck, but cannot correct a neck with "back bow" or one that has become twisted.[page needed] Classical guitars do not require truss rods, as their nylon strings exert a lower tensile force with lesser potential to cause structural problems. However, their necks are often reinforced with a strip of harder wood, such as an ebony strip that runs down the back of a cedar neck. There is no tension adjustment on this form of reinforcement.


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.
Unlike a piano or the voices of a choir, the guitar (in standard tuning) has difficulty playing the chords as stacks of thirds, which would require the left hand to span too many frets,[40] particularly for dominant seventh chords, as explained below. If in a particular tuning chords cannot be played in closed position, then they often can be played in open position; similarly, if in a particular tuning chords cannot be played in root position, they can often be played in inverted positions. A chord is inverted when the bass note is not the root note. Additional chords can be generated with drop-2 (or drop-3) voicing, which are discussed for standard tuning's implementation of dominant seventh chords (below).
Are you stuck in a musical rut? New tunings and tricks can help you keep learning guitar in fresh, fun ways. Try one of these great tips from guitar teacher Samuel B. to breathe new life into your guitar playing... One of the first things I tell any new student is that I don't specialize in a formal discipline. If jazz or classical training is your objective, then I'm not your guy. Instead, I specialize primarily in American roots music (that which we tend to casually lump together as "folk" … Read More
Phosphor bronze strings have a warmer sound with a smooth (if somewhat understated) high end response. This makes them a great fit for genres that benefit from a mellower tone, like a lot of folk or finger-style work. These strings pair well with smaller bodied guitars, though many musicians who play more relaxed genres prefer these strings on larger bodied instruments as well.

The hardest thing about playing chords when you get started is changing between them. To effectively change between chords, you need to be economical with your movements. Spend a bit of time thinking about where your fingers need to be for each chord, and work out the most efficient way to move from one to the other. For example, from a C major, you can flatten your index finger so it covers the first string too and move your middle and ring fingers both down a string to switch to an F. Easy changes to start with are between C major and A minor and G major and E minor.
The Guitar Program at Musicians Institute is designed to develop professional level technique and musicianship through performance-intensive and immersive experiences. Guitar classes are taught by leading professionals and students will get trained in the basics of guitar playing, including performance, ear training, melodic soloing along a huge variety of contemporary styles.
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