How to play guitar like a pro at KPRC

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Welcome, If you want to learn how to play guitar better, like a pro, then you've come to the right place.

Becoming expert in any activity takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Aside from that, you need good association of like minded people, that are up-beat, enthusiastic, and positive. We are here to provide as much of that as we can. We love guitars, and we love playing them.


Although the above are vital for success, there is one other ingredient that only a very rare few can do without, and that is great instruction. Great, means appropriate and challenging! It must be suitable to where you are at right now, with a vision on where you want to get to. Also, by challenging, we mean, that it inspires you to grow as fast as possible in a natural and wholesome way, avoiding the maximum number of pitfalls as possible.

If, like us, this is your vision, then we welcome you onboard as we journey through the world of guitars, and learn how to play like a pro...




 Learning Chord Structure: The Easy Way

It is possible to learn to play guitar without having extensive knowledge of musical theory. However, it is important to have at least an idea of some basic concepts and their use in order to understand how chords are constructed.

Harmony is the fundamental concept behind chords. The guitar allows the player to play many different notes simultaneously, and harmony explains the basic rules that help make it right. A guitar chord is a combination of three or more notes of a scale played simultaneously.

Constructing a Major Scale

Every fret on the guitar represents a half interval. This means that to complete a whole interval one must slide the finger two frets. Basic scales are normally made of seven consecutive notes. They are actually pitch intervals. Scales are specific succession of ascendant notes in whole or half intervals, and they are formed following a specific formula where W stands for whole intervals, and H stands for half intervals.

So we have that major scales are formed thus: WWHWWWH.

If we follow this formula, we can complete any major scale by just playing a tonic at any point of the fret board and then sliding the finger to the next position. Now, let´s see how to construct chords.

Major Chords

The simplest and most common chords used by guitar players are the major triads. The C major scale is the classic do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si that most people are familiar with. Major chords are formed when 3 specific notes of a given scale are played at the same time: The first, or tonic, the third, and the fifth. In this case, a C major chord is formed when do (c), mi (e), and sol (g), are played together.

fretboard and notes

Image courtesy of Flickr

On the fret board, (c) is located on the third fret at the fifth string, (e) is on the second fret at the fourth string, and (g) is heard when the third string is left open. This particular position requires you to put another finger on the first fret at the second string in order to obtain an additional (c). The rest of the strings are left open as they are both (e) and are part of the chord.

As we can see, you can play any number of instances of every note contained in the chord without a problem. It will always be the same chord, but its pitch, depth or even texture might change. You can also play the same chord using different positions on the fret board, as long as only the right notes are played. However, the lowest note should generally be the tonic.

Minor chords

Knowing how to construct major chords means that we´re just scratching the surface of harmonic possibilities. Minor chords are as important as their major counterparts, and constructing them is a really easy task. One must only reduce the third note by half.

Let´s take the A chord as an example. The A major chord is formed by three notes: the tonic (a), the third (c#), and the fifth (e). So, we must place our fingers on the second fret at the second (c#), third (a), and fourth (e) strings. Now, if we want to transform it into an a minor chord, we must only slide down the finger on the second string by one fret to (c).

Try constructing major and minor chords for all other notes using these formulas. Remember that practice makes perfect.


 Toughening Up For Guitar Playing

One of the main concerns of new guitar players is how to develop the coveted calluses that most serious guitar players boast. It would certainly be great if we could toughen up our fingers in a painless and quick manner, but there are no shortcuts for this. Calluses are the product of practice and perseverance, and they must be earned through hard work. Here are some tips to help you endure the process more easily.

What are Calluses?

Calluses are thick protective layer of skin that cover the tips of your fingers as they are exposed to constant abrasion from your guitar strings. So, theoretically, if you grind your fingers to the bone every day, you would develop calluses faster. However, this is not true. You should be careful and avoid overdoing it in order not to damage your fingers or hand.

Guitar CallusCallus from playing guitar

If you play too much the first days you grab a guitar you could develop blisters, which are painful and last for days. And if you don´t rest your fingers regularly you might develop tendonitis, which could force you to stop playing the guitar for months. So, the best way to get nice calluses is to create good conditions for them to develop naturally. Find out how to ease soreness caused by calluses when learning to play guitar.

The Best Conditions For Callus Formation

callusThe first condition that you must consider is the string gauge. If you want less pain while you´re learning to play, you should go with light gauge strings on an electric guitar. However, this could make the process take longer. The next option is to get a medium or heavy set of strings. This will make the process a lot faster, but will certainly hurt more. The last option is practicing on an acoustic guitar with steel strings as they are harder and more difficult to press. Again, this is a road full of pain, but the results are worth it.

The second condition that might help you develop calluses faster is the guitar action. An instrument with high action, or more space between the strings and the fret board, needs to be pressed harder when playing chords and scales. Again, acoustic guitars tend to have higher action than electric guitars. However, you can raise the bridge of your electric guitar, or take it to the closest instrument store and ask someone to do it for you.

 

Gadgets That Can Help Form Calluses

There are some gadgets that might help you continue the process of conditioning your fingers. You might want to check stores specialized in mountain climbing gear. Some guitar players keep objects with rough surfaces in their pockets that they use to gently grind the tips of their fingers when they are outdoors. Just try not to bite or scratch your calluses away when they start appearing. Moreover, try not to play right after you take a shower or wash the dishes. If your fingers are wet, your calluses soften up and is easy for them to come off.

Are You New To Guitar Playing?

Now let´s talk about the actual effects of playing the guitar for the first few days and how some people deal with them. You will notice that after playing for a while, your fingertips hurt. Many guitar enthusiasts try to ignore it, or focus on their sound more than their fingers. However, there are other ways to make the pain more bearable.

Some Tips That May Help

1. Some people like soaking their fingers on cider apple vinegar for half a minute before and after a session. It helps relieve the feeling of burning and prevent the appearance of blisters.

2. Others prefer to put their fingers on ice to numb them down.

3. If you feel you cannot handle the pain, try coating the very tip of your fingers with superglue. It creates a fake callus that lasts for a while and lets you have a painless practice. Just make sure you don´t stick your fingers together or to the fret board.

Notice that all these suggestions only work if you are serious about practicing. In order to strengthen your fingers, you must practice for at least an hour a day.

If you are not constant, your calluses would never fully develop, and you will have to deal with sore fingers again every time you pick the guitar. However, everything has a limit. Playing guitar is mainly a physical activity, and can be compared to that of an athlete in certain aspects.

Be sure to take regular breaks of 15 minutes every hour or so. Walk around and stretch your arms and hands for a while, then sit back and continue. Try not to push the strings too hard when playing. They sound better when you apply just the right amount of force, and you avoid tiring or injuring your hand unnecessarily.

If you follow these simple suggestions, and practice constantly, your will develop calluses in a week or two. The pain will go and playing guitar will become even more enjoyable.


 Tuning Your Guitar - A Challenge For Most Newbies

One aspect that most new guitar enthusiasts seem to find particularly puzzling is that, at least at the beginning, it seems impossible to play a chord that sounds right. The first few times we grab the instrument, no matter how perfectly we imitate the finger positions of the chords, they tend to sound discordant and out of tune, which might be actually the case. You then need to learn how to tune your instrument. It might take a while to learn how to properly tune a guitar, but this article might give you a little help.

If you are just starting out, or don't feel confident yet with your guitar tuning or playing skills, then it can be a bit daunting. That's why it's important to have someone to guide you along the way. It's your choice whether you choose to take lessons privately in person, or to learn guitar online at one of the top video learning sites. Before choosing an online learning program, checkout the best online guitar lessons comparison table here, to see which will suit you best.

Each string of the guitar is designed to withstand a certain amount of tension. Its thickness determines its tonal range, the thinner the string the higher the tonal range. This is why we see that the sixth string of a guitar, the low (e), is way thicker than the first one which is the thinnest and produces the highest notes.

image of the strings and names

The names of the strings, starting from the sixth, are E, A, D, G, B, E. Get familiar with their names and order, as well as the tuning keys associated with each of them. However, in order to tune them correctly, we must rely on a tonal reference.

A Tonal Reference

The easiest way is to use a piano and find the (e) note. Then pluck the sixth string, the thickest and topmost one, while listening to the (e) note on the piano. You might notice that the note given by the string is higher or lower than the one you hear from the piano.

piano e note

Turn the corresponding tuning key up or down to loosen or tighten the string, until the sounds match. The tighter the string, the higher the note. As you hear the notes get closer, you will notice that the sound “wavers”. This wavering will slow down as you turn the key to get match the right note. The wavering will stop completely when both notes are the same, and will start again if you go too far.

Now you have a perfect (e) and are ready to use as reference for tuning the rest of your strings. The fifth string is (a), so you must look for this note on the fret board at the now tuned sixth string. It is located on the fifth fret. Push it down and pluck both strings alternatively to compare their sounds and start tuning your (a) string the same way you did with (e). Remember to turn the corresponding tuning key for the fifth string, and listen for wavering sounds as you get close to the right note.

For tuning the next strings you repeat the process. Pushing down on the fifth fret of your fifth string will give you a (d), which is used to tune the fourth string, and the fifth fret of that is the (g) you need for tuning the third string. Now, the second string is a (b) which is given when you push down the third string on the fourth fret. Notice that this is the only time you use the fourth fret to tune a string. Finally, first string is an (e). Push down the second string on the fifth fret to obtain the reference.-*

Since both the first and the sixth strings are (e), you can pluck them together to see if the notes match. Usually, if the guitar was way out of tune or was tuned in a different key, they won´t match because the tension on the neck changes dramatically. Repeat the whole process one more time if this happens. This is a big problem with low quality inexpensive guitars.

We used a piano here, but it is certainly not the only instrument that can help you get a reference. You could use almost any instrument or device that could produce a perfect (e) or (a) note and use it as reference. One useful little device is the tuning fork. It vibrates rapidly when tapped against any solid object, producing a clean high pitched (a).

tuning fork

For tuning your guitar, especially acoustic ones, tap the fork lightly and let the handle gently touch the body of the guitar, above or below the soundhole. Slide it towards the bridge and you will notice that the sound is louder at one spot where the resonance box amplifies the vibration of the fork. You can use this sound to tune your fifth string, and start tuning the rest of the strings.

Compare Harmonics

Our guitar now seems to be tuned, but we might hear that some chords sound a bit off, especially on the higher frets. Do not worry, there is a way to tune your strings more accurately. Gently put your index finger on top of the sixth string, right above the fifth fret strip. Just touch the string without pressing, and it should now make a high pitched delicate sound when you pluck it with your strumming hand. This is called a harmonic. Now put your ring finger on the fifth string right above the seventh fret strip. Both strings should produce the same harmonic.

If you hear a wavering sound, you should tune up or down the string that´s causing the problem. This technique works with all strings except for the second. You must put your finger above the fourth fret strip on the third string, and the fifth fret strip on the second string to get matching harmonics. This one is tricky and requires practice.

Electronic Devices For Tuning

Of course, the easiest way to tune your guitar is to get an electronic tuner. There are some that have a small microphone built in that captures the sound. A little screen then tells you if a string needs tuning. If your guitar is electric, you can plug it directly to the tuner and read what the meter tells you. Some of them can also emulate the notes you need for each string so you can have a reference and tune by ear.

electronic tuner for guitar

You might think that tuning your guitar is a long and tedious process. It could take you from 3 to 5 minutes the first few times. But we promise that it will be easier and faster once you get the hang of it. Experienced players can tune their instruments in less than 30 seconds.

If your strings are brand new, they will go out of tune almost immediately. You need to stretch them a bit by pulling them a few inches away from the fret board right after you tune them, and repeat the process until they stay tuned, which is usually after 3 or 4 times. Never go to a gig with unstretched new strings as they could go out of tune in the middle of a song.