A lot of beginner guitarists, and even some intermediate players, have the bad habit of playing the strings using only downstrokes. If it has been a while now since you started playing the guitar, surely you already know what alternate picking is – the combination of downstrokes and upstrokes. Alternate picking is essential for all guitarists, regardless of genre – so the sooner you master it, the better.

The theory behind alternate picking is very simple: when you play single note lines, you should always pick your notes with a down-stroke, then an upstroke, then a down-stroke, upstroke, down-stroke, and so forth, alternatively (keeping in mind the shortest rhythm time). 

This kind of picking allows you to optimize the right-hand motion and reach speeds impossible to obtain with a one-way-only picking. And it is logical right? After all you’re utilizing both the down-motion and up-motion, giving you twice as fast a rhythm. Not all guitarists are as obsessed with fast playing as others, but speed is something the vast majority of guitarists will employ at least some of the time.

The Basics of Alternate Picking

There’s nothing really complicated about it. To alternate pick, all you have to do is: pick downstrokes and upstrokes consistently. That’s it! However, you must start off with holding the guitar pick correctly – that  is essential if you want to reap the full benefits of alternate picking. Watch Neli’s video below to check if you already have that covered. 

Once you’re holding your pick correctly, try having it at a slight angle to the string rather than holding it parallel to the string. With the pick at an angle, it will meet with less resistance from the string. This is because the curved edge of the pick will slide across the string.

Once you have found an angle that works, it is time to concentrate on the movement of the picking hand. With alternate picking, you should use small movements. An important thing to pay attention to is also where the picking movement is coming from – and that would be the fingers, not from the wrist for high speeds.The wrist is slow, as it requires a bigger movement to move the entire hand than it does to simply move the joints of the fingers. You can use your wrist movement for regular speeds. The important part is to NOT use movement from the elbow. Not only for technical reasons, but playing from the elbow can lead to injury.

What to note when exercising

Remember, you are alternate picking. The first stroke on each note should be a down and the second stroke should be an up. So when you exercise, you should begin with a downstroke and continue with an upstroke. Ideally, you want to get to a stage where you can play all exercises evenly and consistently. There shouldn’t be any big gaps between notes.

If you find yourself falling back into bad habits, give yourself time to think and practice slowly. You can play exercises at whatever pace is most comfortable for you, but the rhythm must be consistent.

When you are wondering what to play as an exercise remember that scales are a great way to practice alternate picking. Whenever you learn a scale on the guitar, unless you’ve been specifically told otherwise, you should play it using alternate picking. You can also use Neli’s Ultimate Scale Exercises by joining our Guitar Family. You will receive it straight to your inbox in a few days.

And one final thought – the best way to practice alternate picking is to use it as much as possible. Whether you’re playing lead, scales or even chords, try and use alternate picking in everything that you do.

For more tips and tricks we invite you to join Neli’s Guitar Family and subscribe to her YouTube channel! If you are ready to dive into the world of ukulele (or guitar) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

How much do you actually know about the ukulele except that it looks adorable and immediately gives you those Hawaian vibes? The ukulele was indeed born in Hawaii but has its roots found in Western Europe. Read on ahead to find out more about the four-stringed instrument.

The History

We can say that the ukulele has a Portuguese descend, since its parents – the cavaquinho and the machete, also known as braguinha – were born in the city of Braga, located in the north of the country. It was around 1879 when Portuguese immigrants from Madeira decided to leave their home in search of a better life. Some 25,000 people found such a life working in the Hawaiian archipelago.

With themselves, they also brought the machete, which immediately became popular with the local population. The European immigrants were excellent guitar players – so great that they even gained the appreciation of the royal family.

In less than two decades, the ukulele was born as a natural Hawaiian adaptation of those four and five-string Portuguese instruments that were brought to Hawaii. And so not long after the immigrants started working in local sugar plantations, they were opening woodworking shops where musical instruments and furniture were sold side by side.

The Etymology

The word “ukulele” itself has a curious meaning – “jumping flea.” It was given this name because of its small size, and vibrant, cheerful, and exuberant sound.

The technical specifics

There are four main sizes of ukuleles: the baritone ukulele (18-21 frets), the tenor ukulele (17-19 frets), the ukulele concert (15-18 frets) and the soprano ukulele (12-15 frets).

The price of an ukulele has a wide range – anywhere between $20 and more than $1,000, depending on the type and quality of the construction. High-quality ukuleles are made of acacia koa or mahogany. The cheaper models are built using plywood, plastic, or laminate woods. The ukulele strings can be made of nylon, fluorocarbon, titanium, wound nylon, wound metal, and steel.

The standard and most common ukulele tuning is G4, C4, E4, A4.

The best and most popular ukulele brands and manufacturers are Kala, Lanikai, Mahalo, Hola!, Luna, Oscar Schmidt, ADM, Sawtooth, Diamond Head, Lohanu, Ohana, Pono, Kamaka, and Kanilea, so if you’re interested in buying one, we’d recommend looking into these.

Don’t be fooled by its small size – the ukulele is a versatile instrument, and it is often used and heard in a broad range of musical genres, including jazz, country music, pop, world music, and rock. Just look up ‘metal ukulele’ an you’dd be amazed! It is also the instrument that best represents surfing and surfers.

The misconceptions

Thus far you must have already got it but just to make it very clear – the ukulele is not a small guitar. It is understandable why people think this way, but it’s always good to spread information and educate those who believe in misconceptions.

A ukulele does indeed share a lot of similarities with an acoustic guitar – more specifically the classical variety. We are talking shape, size proportions, principle of operations and generally how the instrument behaves. However, an ukulele is not only smaller, but it uses a completely different type of tuning, which means different chords and different playing techniques.

Whether or not someone who is proficient with a guitar could play ukulele right off the bat is questionable. They might have the general skill in their hands, but would have to start from scratch when it comes to the notes on the fretboard. However, a lot of the chord shapes can be adapted from guitar – just under different names because of the tuning. So knowing guitar chords well, means you’ll be able to play on and sing along to songs with a ukulele pretty quickly.

For more guides, tips and tricks we invite you to join Neli’s Guitar Family and subscribe to her YouTube channel! If you are ready to dive into the world of ukulele (or guitar) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

In Part 1 we covered 5 types of electric guitar body shapes – Stratocaster, Telecaster, Les Paul, SG and PRS. Now it is time to cover some more.

Semi-Hollow Body Type

The semi-hollow guitar is based on having a “tone block” that runs down the center of the body of the instrument. This reduces feedback issues while still maintaining the woody tone of the true hollow body instruments that are widely used in Jazz.

The  Gibson ES-335  is a long-time favorite of electric blues and fusion players, and is growing in popularity in other fields such as indie rock While these guitars are known for their warm woody sound, they are capable of being used in almost any genre that doesn’t require massive amounts of gain, which is prone to feedback.

Hollow Body Types

True hollow body guitars sound very similar to semi-hollow guitars, with the main difference being that there’s a higher presence of an acoustic-like tone. They also have a tendency to feedback more than semi-hollow instruments, which makes them a poor fit for genres that require high levels of gain. While many people associate the term “hollow body” guitar with big jazz guitars, the real definition is that a hollow body guitar doesn’t have a wood block running down the middle. So there are hollow guitars with the same body style as semi-hollow guitars.

While hollow guitars are best suited to jazz, there have been a handful of cases where rock musicians have utilized fully hollow jazz box guitars in rock and roll.

Single cut or double cut

A cutaway on the guitar construction is an indentation in the upper bout of the guitar body adjacent to the guitar neck, designed to allow easier access to the upper frets. Instruments with only a lower cutaway are known as “single cutaway” instruments, and guitars with both are called “double cutaway”. These terms are sometimes shortened to just “single cut” or “double cut”.

The advantage to any guitar with single or no cutaways is that the body of the guitar has more room to resonate and therefore will have a larger sound. The double cutaway has the advantage of a thinner body, and easier access to the higher frets.

Offset

The offset body style includes three main instruments: the Jaguar, the Mustang, and the Jazzmaster. While there are definite differences between them, offset guitars all generally have a bright and clear sound with a subtle mid and low-end response. These guitars are also well suited to rhythm work depending on how their tone knobs are adjusted.  

Offset guitars are very well suited to genres that require a lot of effects, especially fuzz. Good examples of this would be grunge, shoe-gaze, and alternative.

Miscellaneous (e.g. Flying V, Explorer)

Gibson released a number of famous guitars in the 50’s with their eyes set towards the future. They nailed it, because these guitars still look amazing and futuristic even nowadays.

The Flying V offered many of the same benefits as the SG with a much more distinctive body shape. It is now a very common guitar among heavy rock and metal guitarists. This electric guitar style has experienced surges and lulls in its popularity, but has never fallen off the scene, due to the number of great players who have chosen to use it.

Alongside its brother, the Flying V, the Gibson Explorer allows easy access to the highest notes of the instrument, alongside dual humbuckers and massive sustaining bodies. The Explorer, much like the V, is now a very common electric guitar shape in the heavy rock and metal genres, but was widely used in other styles as well.

Did we miss any guitars? If you have some questions left, feel free to leave a comment below or join our Guitar Family and start a conversation there.

It is already the second week of 2021, but it is never too late to get inspired for some more New Year’s resolutions or to adjust the ones you have already set. Here are some goals that would benefit a great deal to any guitarist – no matter a beginner or an advanced player. Take a look and adopt right away ones that fit you!

Practice technique regularly – Whether you’re preparing for gigs, or just want to stay in top shape, technical exercises are your friends. Not the most pleasant of friends, but the ones that push you to be your best self. And you can only hang out with them for 10 minutes at a time 😀 so you’ll be able to manage this!

Learn Something New Each Week – even if it’s not a full song, or just doing something easy. After all variety is the spice of life 🙂

Join a Guitar Club – doing your hobby is great, but joining a club like our Guitar Family will make sure that you are held accountable to your goals. Also, you can always rely on your club members to back you up whenever you feel uncertain about something and have any questions, or just for a safe-space filled with like-minded people where you can share your progress.

Try a new genre – have you tried playing country? Or jazz? Or metal? Or classical? Pick a new genre just to tip your toes and explore what expressions and techniques are different in this genre. This will not only broaden your horizon, but also improve your overall technique and therefore your playing in the genres you love.

Read More Books – Do you want to improve on your skills? Get a book filled with notes so you can sight-read, or a book on theory or the neuroscience of music, so you better understand what lies behind the thing we love. Or just something lighter like the story of your favourite guitarist. It’s always great fun to read what people went through to get to where they are.

Plan a home concert – whether it is online, you’re alone or with people, planning a concert at home can help you stay focused on the songs you want to learn. If you set a clear date when you’d like to do a 15/30 minute or even 1h concert, you’ll also have that date to look forward to. And you can invite people closer to the time if you feel like you’d like to brave an audience, or you can just record yourself, so you’ll be able to look back on your progress from that moment in time 🙂

Share your resolutions one-on-one – “Some research shows that telling others your goal makes you feel like you’ve already achieved it,” says Dr. Oz. But other studies indicate that sharing progress can help you keep going, he adds. Dr. Oz’s advice: “Confide in one friend, then share achievements with others when you’re on the road to success.” And you can always share your goals or success in our Guitar Family. I love seeing you achieve your goals!

Invest in your Guitar Maintenance – grab a good pack of strings (you can see my recommendations at the Musician Toolbox), and if you don’t have this already, grab some fretboard oil, nut sauce to lubricate the nut and the bridge of your guitar and a good cloth. That way you can clean your guitar, take care of the fretboard wood and make everything feel brand new! And if you don’t want to do this yourself, head to your local guitar shop and ask for a set-up. They will also be able to adjust the neck of your electric or acoustic guitar and give your instrument some needed TLC.

Keep Healthy – take some walks or try out Yoga – that way you will keep your mind at ease, which does wonders for your focus when playing the guitar. You can also try lifting weights – this can do wonders for your durability while playing standing up, or just moving your gear 😀

Build a Budget for a New Guitar/Gear – what’s up with that guitar you’ve been dying to get? You can totally do that this year by planning ahead and creating a savings budget. Make sure that it is viable in the long run and you can stick to it.

Are any of these goals already on your list? Which ones will you add after reading them here? We are waiting for you over at our Guitar family to tell us! We would love to hear also if you have ideas for what we should add to the list.

The featured photo is by Haley Powers on Unsplash.

You are probably already familiar what an electric guitar is but let’s still cover the basics. An electric guitar is a guitar that requires external amplification in order to be heard at typical performance volumes. It uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals, which ultimately are reproduced as sound by loudspeakers. With the electric guitar you have the option to shape or electronically alter the sound to achieve different timbres or tonal qualities, which is a significant difference to an acoustic guitar. 

Electric guitar design and construction varies greatly in the shape of the body and the configuration of the neck, bridge, and pickups. In order to make the best decision when picking up an electric guitar, it is good to know a thing or two about the different types of electric guitars. There are several ways to distinguish them. According to the body is one of the most useful ones, so in this article we will take a look at that classification.

Strat (comes from Stratocaster)

Chances are, that the first image which pops in your head when you hear “eclectric guitar” is a Fender Stratocaster – since it is probably the most widely recognized model of electric guitar. It features distinctive cutaway “horns” that allow the player to access the higher frets and the back of its body is contoured for comfort. In the standard configuration, Stratocasters have three single-coil pickups and a tremolo bar. A tremolo is a device that allows you to change the pitch of a guitar by moving the arm up (raising pitch) or down (lowering pitch).

The Strat is a versatile guitar, and can be used to play in a huge variety of genres (country, rock, pop, folk, soul, blues, R&B etc), so it is a great companion if you want a guitar that you can rely on for several types of music.

Tele (comes from Telecaster)

The Fender Telecaster is another instantly recognizable guitar. Its design is simpler than that of a Stratocaster, featuring a single cutaway, two single coil pickups, and lacking a tremolo bar and contoured body. Instead of a Tremolo bridge, the Telecaster has what is called an “ashtray” bridge (the name came about from the original metal covering over the bridge that players decided to remove and use as an ashtray). Instead of six saddles, the original ashtray bridges had three that in conjunction with its single coil pickup and larger metal surface, created a sound perfect for any country music.

While the guitar is generally associated with country, the Telecaster is actually a pretty versatile instrument and can fit to any genre with the exception of harder varieties of rock, unless fitted with the right combination of pickups.

 Les Paul

The Gibson Les Paul is a heavyweight electric guitar known for its thick sound and high sustain. And yes, the Les Paul is a signature model for the great guitarist Les Paul who used this model extensively in his career. Like the Stratocaster, it’s hard to say that the Les Paul has a single tone which defines the instrument. The Les Paul can cover just about every genre – it has been widely used in jazz, metal, R&B, countless varieties of rock, and even punk. While it is arguably best for rock and some variants of jazz, the only genre it is not suitable for is country. 

The original Les Paul featured two P-90 single-coil pickups and the distinctive single-cutaway shape. While many variants are produced, the double humbuckers put the Les Paul in a league of its own, separate from the offerings of Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster. Other defining features include its 3 on a side tuners on a painted headstock, a bound neck and body with trapezoid or block inlays on rosewood or ebony, and its Tune-O-Matic bridge with the Stop Bar tailpiece.

SG

The SG stands for “Solid Guitar,” and it is indeed not only quite solid but also famous all over the world. The Gibson SG features a twin-horn, long-neck design and is a lighter guitar than a Les Paul. In its standard configuration it is equipped with neck and bridge humbucker pickups, both of which have their own tone and volume controls. The double cutaway body and its higher fret access made the SG become the perfect axe for the slide guitarist.

SGs produce a reasonably powerful, thick sound that is suitable for blues and metal. While their long necks mean that they don’t feel quite as ‘balanced’ as other guitars and that takes a bit of getting used to, the SG is a simple but versatile guitar, currently enjoying a wave of popularity with rock and indie players.

PRS  

The Custom 24 is the definitive guitar from the PRS (Paul Reed Smith) Guitar brand.  Distinctive for its flying bird fingerboard inlays, dual humbuckers, carved Flamed Maple top, 24 frets and ergonomic contours, the Custom 24 is considered a modern classic among guitarists. It features a tremolo systems and also locking tuners that ensure greater tuning stability. Many cite the Custom 24 as a Les Paul/Stratocaster hybrid of sorts, in terms of its sound, playability and looks.

This instrument is acclaimed for its versatility and has been used by countless high-profile artists over the years, including internationally touring artists, gigging musicians, and aspiring players.

Part 2 with even more guitar body shapes is coming soon! You can always also ask your questions, if something is still unclear, in the group of Neli’s Guitar Family. Become a part of it HERE and share which body type is your favorite.

There are two main reasons why you clicked on this article: either you have a guitar player in your life who you want to surprise or you are a guitarist yourself and are curious if we really have good ideas. Well, either way we’ve got you covered! The list below includes a wide range of options for beginners to proper guitar nerds and includes all price points, so chances are you will find what you are looking for. And if you’re a guitarist, feel free to share this article to give those around you a good hint as to what to get you. 😉

10. Guitar Mug 

Starting of small, but strong – a cup with a funny guitar joke or a nice image of a guitar is a sure way to make your person smile. There’s plenty of them online, but you could always explore your local shops, or even get a custom one printed.

9. Guitar Strap

This is a guitar accessory, which can also be a fashion item! Look for a strap of a high quality with a design that the person you are gifting will like. And depending on your budget, you could get one with a cool design, or a thick comfortable leather one that will last them years!

8. Guitar Care Kit 

As guitarists are very attached to their instruments, a guitar care kit will for sure make their eyes sparkle. In one such you will find everything needed to keep a guitar maintained – cleaners for the guitar’s body, neck and strings; micro fine fret polishing cloths; cotton cloths; care instructions and other stuff depending on the kit you choose. This kit from Dunlop for example has everything one needs to clean a guitar and keep it looking shiny and fresh for a long time.

7. Mini Guitar Amp

A gift perfect for the electric guitarist! A small practice amp that you can also use as a speaker via Bluetooth is an excellent two in one present. This one and this one in particular that Neli recommends produce a really great guitar sound for their size and are very convenient during travel.

6. Guitar Pick Wallet 

Picks are the bobby pins of guitar players – at one point they just disappear without a trace. A good way to prevent that from happening is to have a guitar pick wallet. If the guitar player in your life doesn’t have such – get them one asap, it is a game changer.

5. Pick Punch

While we are still on the topic of losing guitar picks – if your person is opposed to keeping his or her picks in a wallet, then try a different approach. Instead of saving their picks, gift them a tool for an infinity of picks – a Pick Punch! This device can turn most pieces of thin plastic – credit cards, lids and so forth – into new picks. The quality of the picks you get might not be the best, but this is a fun and creative way to supply yourself with a guitar pick at any given time.

4. GuitarPro Software

The GuitarPro software for creating, playing, and sharing tabs is basically unmatched. It is just the best such software out there. It allows you to edit your music scores and tablature for guitarbass, and ukulele, as well as create backing tracks for drums or piano. It is a thorough yet user-friendly tool for musicians who wish to get better, compose, or simply play along. So yeah, basically a dream tool for any guitarist.

3. Voucher for lessons

If you really want to go above and beyond for your guitarist – then this is the one. Any aspiring guitarist would be delighted to get a voucher for lessons, but even an advanced player would benefit a whole lot from such a present. If you get a 10 lessons voucher from Neli, you even get a 10% discount!

2. Headphones 

Too simple, yeah? Very underestimated I would say! With many players relying on smartphones or tablets nowadays for practice, a good set of noise-cancelling headphones is always a solid choice for a gift. Some even double as an amp! And click here for a cheaper option too.

1. Help them make their dreams come true! 

This one needs a bit of preparation. Pay attention, find out which are the guitar shops your guitarist likes, and then get them a gift card from there! This way you do not run the risk of getting something they don’t need or want, while giving them the freedom to make the best out of your money.

+ Bonus

A cool guitar related present you can add to any gift of your choice is a music-themed sticker pack like Neli’s Guitar Family Sticker Pack! So even if you opt to get your guitarist something totally different, you can still make a nod to the world of music with this stocking filler.

Did we miss a present that should have been on our list? Comment below what you would add! Join Neli’s Guitar Family for FREE guitar tips, exercises and lessons HERE.

Childhood is a magical time when kids discover the world and in this time, it is important to give them opportunities to explore. One of the best ways is to introduce them to the world of music – not only is learning an instrument a fun activity, but also a tool for development in many areas. If your child has expressed the desire to play a musical instrument, and especially if that instrument is the guitar, they could hardly have made a better choice.

Let’s get something out of the way – when is the best time for a child to begin taking guitar lessons? The answer to this question is largely dependent on the child – some kids are ready to begin guitar lessons very young, while others need more time. The biggest physical hurdle young kids generally need to overcome when learning guitar is their lack of fine motor skills and hand strength. A way to cope with that is to start with learning the ukulele – due to its size, it is perfect for children. The best option though is just to try – a trial lesson with a guitar professional is a sure way to check whether the child is ready to start lessons.

Let’s now talk about some of the benefits of learning the guitar for a child. They are numerous, but read further to find some of them.

Develop Concentration

Concentration is often one of the first skills that children must master when they are learning how to play the guitar. Due to having to focus on a specific task over extended periods of time, concentration is something that comes hand in hand with learning the guitar. Developing it like this will also help them when they need to focus their attention in other educational subjects and generally in life.

Physical Benefits

Taking guitar lessons helps children develop physically, and also strengthens the links between physical and mental action. As they learn to place their fingers on the neck of the guitar and coordinate their hands, children will improve their general coordination and learn to use their hands independent of one another. They will also learn proper posture and positioning.

Improve Memory

Children have the ability to absorb a lot of information, and learning guitar will help them structure their memory and improve this skill. Playing an instrument and reading music requires the kids to constantly build up their knowledge and make links between the different pieces of information, which trains their memory and cognitive abilities.

Teach Discipline

Guitar lessons also improve children’s self discipline. In order to play well, they have to spend many hours practicing. By persevering in their practice sessions and keeping on with basic music theory even when they are frustrated, children will then be able to apply that same dedication to school and to life in general.

Boost Self-Confidence

By providing children with the opportunity to learn guitar, together with the encouragement of a good teacher and also the family showing plenty of support, a child can develop a sense of pride as well as increasing confidence. It is widely believed that children who practice creativity and self-expression that goes with playing guitar often become better communicators and happier individuals.

Increased Creativity and Critical Thinking

By learning guitar from a young age, children learn to develop their critical thinking. When they read sheet music or guitar tabs, they learn to analyze and deconstruct a piece of music by examining its structure. By learning different pieces of music in different styles, children also engage their artistic sensibilities and creativity. They begin to identify their own preferences and when improvising develop their creativity.

Expressing Emotions by Playing Guitar

Music is a universal language – you often hear that it’s a channel to express the soul of the musician, and it’s definitely a way to explore one’s emotions. By playing the guitar, children will explore new dimensions of their personality, give voice to what is in their hearts, and be more in tune with themselves.

While letting a child try guitar lessons is a wonderful thing, it is also important not to force the child to do something he or she doesn’t want. Developing a negative impression of guitar lessons early in life can repel kids on playing music in general. So don’t be too disappointed if your child has no aspirations to become the next Jimi Hendrix…

If you would like to sign up your child for a trial guitar lesson, you can do that HERE – the first one is 50% off! Also feel free to reach out to ask for a list of recommended tutors.

The first time experiencing jazz music can be overwhelming for any listener. Its structure is typically more complex than the other popular forms of music we are used to. Jazz is of an improvised nature – it consists of multiple melodies and rhythms working together – which can be hard to follow for listeners accustomed to more structured, predictable forms of music. Exactly the things that make jazz difficult to appreciate at first though, keep listeners interested for the long run.

The number of musicians in a Jazz ensemble can vary all the way from two to 20 players. Besides size, they also range in style and instrumentation. But they all have three basic elements in common: improvisation, syncopation and blue notes.

Improvisation is the heart of jazz. It happens when a player follows a moment of inspiration into unwritten territory, and composes while playing. Improvising takes a great amount of skill, a good ear and a lot of focus. Another thing it requires is willingness to experiment, so it’s never too early to start! Improvisation allows communication between players known as a call-and-response pattern. It starts when a soloist, singing or playing, issues a “call” and the other participants sing or play back a “response.” It’s a fun way to improvise and get involved with other band members, especially when you’re jamming.

Syncopation refers to shifting the emphasis of a song’s rhythm, or beat pattern, to weak or unaccented beats and notes. Skilled musicians can syncopate smaller denominations of notes, dividing the offbeats into eighths and 16th notes in the beats. Syncopation appears in jazz when two rhythms are played against each other. This is also a feature that appears in latin-style music and a lot of dance music. And this is where jazz gets its swing, which makes listeners want to tap their feet or dance. Not to be mistaken with swung notes, which actually mean to change the length of notes, holding some longer and making others shorter.

Blue notes occur when a musician plays or slides through a scale, flattening some of the notes (playing them a half-step lower than expected). A blues scale is a minor pentatonic scale with an added flat 5 (or a tritone, or the so called blue note) This for example is how the A minor pentatonic scale: A C D E G turns into the A blues scale: A C D E♭ E G.

However you approach listening to jazz, it’s best not to try to take it all in at once. Focus on one thing at a time. In jazz often times you don’t just use the one scale for a whole song. It is possible, but often times notes that are outside of it are added. That is because most jazz songs have chords that don’t just fit in one scale. So what people often use instead of scales when playing jazz is arpeggios. Another possibility is to use the scale that best fits the song and some chromatic notes around it. If we dive even deeper, Sometimes instead of the Natural Major or Minor scale, a jazz song revolves around the modes of the major scale – Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian, so let us know if you’d like more information on that topic.

If you want to be able to play jazz music – take your time. When learning improvisation people often draw parallels with learning a foreign language. New words, phrases, and grammar make it possible to communicate in a new environment. Improvisation is very much the same: as you learn patterns, licks, chord shapes, different tonalities, sequences, and harmonies, you gain more flexibility and fluency in your improvisation. And also you start creating your own patterns and style – which is the whole point of jazz being so free.

Read more about jazz and its’ history HERE and join Neli’s Guitar Family for FREE guitar tips, exercises and lessons HERE. You can also have a listen to a Wes Montgomery cover Neli did before she went to music Uni HERE!

For sure you already know the basics of what an acoustic guitar is –  a guitar that uses only an acoustic soundboard to transmit the strings’ energy into the air in order to produce its sound, whereas an electric guitar relies on electronic amplification. 

So far so good. But acoustic guitars come in many body shapes, styles, sizes, materials and number of strings. With so many variations, it can be really overwhelming for anybody to tell them apart. The good news is that they all fall into a category somewhere and this article will give you an overview of the most important things you need to know.

The type of acoustic guitar is often dependent on the acoustic guitar’s size and that’s how you can tell apart a lot of them. Starting from largest here are some of the most popular types:

Jumbo

This would be the largest and loudest acoustic guitar shape on this list. From strumming hard to finger picking softly, if you invest in a Jumbo you will get the most volume for your money. They are most suitable for players who want to perform to a large group of people with no additional amplification and are not very suitable for smaller players (especially children). Jumbo guitars are also known as the traditional ‘cowboy guitar’, because they are particularly popular with country players and were a favorite of Elvis Presley.

Dreadnought

This is the most popular acoustic guitar body shape, used for both budget guitars as well as very expensive ones. These guitars have a big build with a large, wide soundboard. Due to the larger shape, a Dreadnought produces a bold, balanced sound, which makes it popular among rock, country and bluegrass players. But again, because of its size it is not the best for children.

Parlor guitar 

They have small bodies and used to be played mostly by women back in the day because of their size. Parlor guitars usually have a small overall length and an elongated body, retaining a standard nut width to make them suitable for all styles of playing, from strumming to fingerstyle. Speaking of tone a Parlor guitar is light and well balanced, although with less bass and more midrange emphasis. They are of course quieter than big-bodied acoustics and suitable for smaller players as well as singer-songwriters, as the quieter sound means you don’t have to compete with the guitar when playing. 

Classical

The classical guitar is a nylon-stringed acoustic, whereas the rest on this list so far featured steel strings. A typical classical guitar differs from a steel-string acoustic also in the neck and fretboard – they are wider on a classical guitar, and in terms of scale length, a classical guitar tends to be a bit longer. Of course we can dive a lot deeper in the details depending on how snobbish you take it – the reality is that even guitar specialists have different opinions on the matter of what makes a guitar truly a classical one. Good to know is also that the sound is softer and balanced, and this style of guitar is a good choice for acoustic guitar beginners, as the nylon strings are easier on the fingers in the budget range of guitars.

Flamenco

A guitar similar to a classical one but with some important differences – flamenco guitars generally have tap plates on the top to facilitate the rhythmic tapping that’s an integral part of flamenco music. The strings are also closer to the body. Like classical guitars they tend to have a significantly wider nut width than a standard steel string acoustic, but are defined by their growly and passionate sound.

Resonator Guitar

A distinctive instrument in its own right, the resonator guitar (also commonly referred to as the ‘dobro’ or ‘steel guitar’) differers from an acoustic guitar because of the way in which it produces sound. Where an acoustic guitar amplifies the vibrations of the strings through their contact with the wooden soundboard or top via the bridge, a resonator instead amplifies the strings through the use of one or more metal coils which are in contact with the underside of the bridge. Whilst creating a distinctively different tone to the instrument, a resonator guitar is also much louder than a regular acoustic guitar.

Electro acoustic

Another type of acoustic guitars are electro acoustic ones. Not to be confused with electric guitars, which are a completely different kind of instrument. Electro acoustic guitars can be of any kind above (well, some classics would say that when you add electronics to a classical guitar, it ceases to be so, but you decide if you share this opinion – I personally try not to fall into such details :D). Electro acoustic guitars have a built-in adapter, or (less commonly) a microphone, that allows you to plug your guitar into an amplifier, mixer, or recording interface. Most musicians performing acoustic music on stage have this type of guitar to make it easier to amplify its sound. Acoustically, the guitar would not be loud enough to be heard in a restaurant, club, or concert hall.

‘What kind of acoustic guitar should I buy?’ is a very common question. It depends on a lot of things, including budget, interests, etc., so if you want an article on this topic, comment below 🙂

We could also talk about the different types of acoustic guitar brands, types of acoustic guitar strings, but these are topics that would take up a whole article of their own, along with what the best acoustic guitar is. The latter of which is also based a lot on a personal preference, but more on that, another time!

Did we miss any guitars? If you have some questions left, feel free to leave a comment below or join our Guitar Family and start a conversation there.

This is one of the first questions that beginner musicians face. However, tuning the guitar is very important not only for them – when you play regularly, you have to tune your guitar regularly. It can get easily out of tune due to factors such as changes in temperature, transportation, and simply due to frequent use. Don’t worry though – there’s nothing complicated in tuning a guitar. Once you understand how it works, it will become a routine. Below you will find instructions that apply to both acoustic, classical and electric guitars.

Tuning a guitar actually means tuning its strings. It doesn’t matter which string you begin with, but to avoid confusion, it is best to start with the thickest one at the top of the neck or the E. Then continue down until you finish with the thinnest string at the bottom of the neck, also known as the e string. Here is a fun way to remember how the strings go: E-very B-ear G-oes D-ancing A-fter E-ating or E-B-G-D-A-E!

Tune a guitar with an electric tuner

This is one of the easiest ways to tune a guitar. Instead of using the strings to find the right tones for the other strings, the electric tuner will detect the sound waves your guitar creates and show you which note they correspond to. All you have to do is turn on the tuner and pluck the string. The tuner will show you if the string is in tune in a few seconds. If not, you just need to rotate the appropriate tuning peg until the string plays the desired tone. You can find out which key to turn by tracking where the string you just played goes.

Tuners that I recommend can be found HERE.

                      

How to Tune a Guitar by Ear

If you insist on knowing how to tune a guitar the old-fashioned way, first tune the 6th string to low E. If you already know this pitch, go right ahead. Otherwise go online to find samples of a low E, use a tuner or other reference tones such as a piano or other musical instrument. Otherwise, you can always just proceed with the steps below in order to make your guitar in tune with itself. That way when you play, the things you play won’t sound wrong.

Pluck your tuned low E string with your right hand (or left hand, depending on with which you play) while holding the string down with your left hand at the 5th fret. The note that rings will be an A.

Pluck the open string below it (“open”, because you are not holding down the string on any frets) and turn the second tuning peg until your A string produces the same tone as your low E string when played at the 5th fret. Following this, play the A string at the 5th fret to find the correct tone for the D string, and the D string at the 5th fret to find the G string. When you’re tuning your B string, you have to then play the G string at the 4th fret instead of the 5th (the one exception). To tune the last high E string, move back to the 5th fret and play the B string to find your high E tone. 

It may sound confusing to you now, but after doing it a few times, it will become second nature.

Via harmonics (2nd way to do this by ear)

This technique is for the more advanced players. If you don’t know what a harmonic is and how it’s played, it might be best to skip this way of doing things, as you should be confident playing them before you proceed. This technique is ideal for tuning your guitar to itself quickly. But if you’d like to be in tune with other instruments, then you need to tune your high E string first.

Then we continue with tuning our 6th string. Play a harmonic on the 6th string, 5th fret and tune it to the open 1st string. They need to be making the same sound. To tune the 5th string, play a harmonic on 5th fret, 6th string and 7th fret, 5th string. Same for the 4th string – a ahrmonic on 5th fret, 5th string and 7th fret, 4th string. Also for the 3rd string – a harmonic on 5th fret 4th string and 7th fret, 3rd string. As before, the 2nd string is the exception – for it, you need to play a harmonic on the 7th fret, 1st string and 5th fret on 2nd string.

Help from a friend

We’re sure you can handle tuning your guitar, but if all this is confusing, you can always ask for help. Any more advanced guitarist has certainly mastered their guitar tuning skills and probably wouldn’t mind helping you. You can also sign up for a guitar lesson – in her first lesson with new students, one of the things Neli does is exactly to show how to tune a guitar. The first lesson with Neli is also with a 50% discount!

You can always also ask your questions, if something is still unclear, in the group of our Guitar Family. Become a part of it HERE and share how you prefer to tune your guitar.